A choice between boring and freezing

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles
Yesterday’s workout (elliptical): 30 minutes
Last Sunday’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

It’s cold. The real feel in my town is -5° and it’s going down to -16 tonight. I’m doing my best to avoid the freezing weather. I haven’t been in a blogging mood so I didn’t post anything about last Sunday’s run. Here’s my writeup for 2/7:

I got on the treadmill and ran 3.2 miles and then stopped.

I worked from home on Friday. I would normally do a neighborhood run before beginning my workday, but due to our tight morning schedules, my wife and I had the same time window for our workouts. She doesn’t care for the elliptical and I don’t mind it, so we divided up the machines and exercised together. It was like having our own version of Equinox in the guest room. The only thing missing was the juice bar.

This morning it was even colder. The sidewalks are still covered in snow so there was no way I was going to run on the street. I liked the change of pace using the elliptical on Friday, but I really felt I needed to run today. The heat in the house was not energizing and I stalled as long as I could before facing the treadmill. I didn’t expect to enjoy the run.

And I didn’t. Treadmill running would be tolerable if there was a way to turn off  my brain or redirect it from a constant thought-stream that usually goes like this: “OMG is this boring…I can’t believe I’m still on the same minute…why do the news stations have so many commercials…” I find treadmill running very tedious without the sense of progress I get when running outdoors.

To distract myself and combat my treadmill frustration, I challenged myself and pushed my speed to the edge of tolerable. Actually, that was only true for the last half mile. Most of my run involved self pity. I ended up having a pretty good run which is different from have an enjoyable one.

The weather isn’t supposed to be much better tomorrow and we have a full day planned, I expect to be back on the treadmill in the morning. Yay.

Frozen face syndrome

Saving face

Today’s run (street): 3.5 miles

Winter in January can be brutal and we got a taste of that today. The news was displaying 24° this morning and the howling wind made it seem even colder. I debated staying inside and running on the treadmill until I became distracted with a home electronics project. After finishing that, I bundled up and headed outside to face the freezing cold.

“Feels like” winter

I knew I’d be dealing with wind chill, so I went with track pants, two top layers, plus a windproof jacket, mitten-gloves, fleece hat and the buff that KWL gave me. The buff turned out to be my most valuable piece of gear, protecting my face from the 14 MPH winds. No matter how hard I try, I can never get my clothes completely right. My core got fairly warm, but my extremities bordered on freezing throughout the entire run.

At one point in the run, a neighbor yelled from his front porch, “Boy oh boy, this is some cold running weather!” I replied, “Grab your shoes and join me!” He laughed and wished me luck.

Although the roads were clear of snow, there were patches of ice that I was careful to avoid. The wind, cold, and my freezing face tempted me to head home to the treadmill after a mile. I decided to tough it out and was glad that I did. Running a little distance yesterday should have primed me for a more energetic run today. Unfortunately I had trouble generating speed except in those cases when I was running downhill with the wind to my back.

This will be another tough work week and, once again, I’ll need to go into the office rather than work from home on Friday. That will impact my running schedule, but I’ll try to fit in an elliptical session or treadmill run one night this week.

The Christmas trees of Trailview

Because nature isn’t pretty enough

Today’s workout (elliptical): 45 minutes

I’m not sure why, but I was exhausted by the end of the day on Saturday. It may have had to do with running in the morning and then doing a hike in the afternoon. It could also been due to the fact that I’d done eleven workouts over the prior twelve days. Either way, I slept reasonably well last night and had no trouble getting through an elliptical session this morning. It was the 12th workout of my holiday break.

Yesterday my son and I headed over to Trailview State Park to hike the relatively short, but fairly technical trails. He and I have been hiking there since he was in grade school. Over the years, our conversations have progressed from silly topics related to sci-fi and robots to fascinating and challenging discussions about science and politics. We still occasionally talk about sci-fi and robots.

Did I mention it was cold on the trail?

Along the way we encountered a couple of trees in the woods that people had decorated with ornaments. That was unexpected and funny. What wasn’t so funny were the two large dogs that were running around unleashed, one with a GoPro camera attached to its back.

I mentioned to the owner that the dogs should be leashed (actually dogs aren’t even allowed in the park) and he gave me attitude. Not that I don’t like dogs, but some people are afraid of them and it’s obnoxious when people let their dogs run loose because they’re supposedly friendly. A big dog ran up and knocked over my daughter in Stillwell Woods when she was little. That was a terrible experience for her.

Today is the last day of a long vacation and I’ve had a great time away from the office. Reality will hit tomorrow morning when I’m back to my long commute. My 2015 running mileage suffered greatly due to a few periods when I used the elliptical or alternative cardio machines while I recovered from my disc problem. I’m hoping that I can surpass 700 running miles in 2016 and supplement that with regular elliptical workouts. My schedule won’t make that easy, but I’ll do my best.

2016 Hangover with the Runsketeers

Mini photo bomber, SIOR, TPP, ER

Today’s run (Hangover Fun Run): 4 miles

2016 has arrived and the Runsketeers rang in the New Year this morning with the LIRRC Hangover Run at Eisenhower Park. After so many days of unseasonably temperate weather, the cold returned for real. I arrived a little after 9:00 AM and met up with TPP. She and I walked over to the staging area where we signed the waiver doc and tucked into a corner to avoid the the chilly winds. SIOR texted that she was delayed and would join us after the start.

The Hangover Run is a perfect running event for me, because it has elements of a race like a formal start and timing clock, but no individual tracking of runners. Running distance is at the discretion of each participant although most people run five 1-mile laps. I normally do that as well, but I wasn’t feeling great this morning and elected to run only four.

There’s a lot of construction work going on at Eisenhower Park and today’s route differed a little from the previous four times I’d done the Hangover. The old route was basically a half circle. This year it looked more like a giant comma. I actually like the new course better,  even though you still end up looking at the same scenery, mile after mile.

Comma course

TPP and I took off, she was the hare and I was the turtle. The course allows you to see runners coming back in the opposite direction and I was able to monitor her progress. TPP seemed to be running half a lap ahead of me but she covered five miles in almost the same time as it took me to complete four. I watched for SIOR and I think I saw her once along the way. She did a lap after TPP and I had finished and we took pictures and videos of her as she came around at the end.

SIOR showing her signature maturity

Once done, we made our way to the lot. SIOR started a conversation with a random runner who was walking ahead of us. She complimented his running tights and told him some websites that have good running gear bargains. The guy said to TPP and SIOR that they probably shop on-line a lot. I thought that was a sexist thing to say. I stood up for them and told him that SIOR prefers stores because you can’t shoplift on a website. He left quickly after that.

As tradition dictates, we headed to Starbucks. Our timing was perfect because a motorcycle gang was just leaving when we arrived. We practically had the place to ourselves until some guy SIOR knows showed up and sat at the end of our table. To her credit, she didn’t talk to him about his pants.

The Runsketeers exchanged holiday gifts. SIOR gave me a runner’s headlamp and TPP gave me a framed picture of the Runsketeers that also included KWL and NIMC. Knowing them as I do, I gave them red wine and homemade chocolate truffles. As usual, we talked about everything and I was shocked when I looked at my watch and saw it was almost noon.

We said our goodbyes and talked about our next run which we hope will happen in January. Once again, the year started out great, with a bracing run and the company of good friends. Happy New Year to all.

Personal distance best at Bethpage

Hardly sweating after seven

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 7.1 miles

I was determined to make progress against my distance goals this morning and set my sights on the Bethpage trail. I targeted seven miles to make this my longest run this year. The chilly, high 30’s temperature compelled me to pull my Opedix Knee-Tecs out of storage as well as a mid-weight quarter zip. All geared up, I headed out early because I knew it would take a while to get through this run.

I didn’t bother to drive to the park because last week they were still charging to use the lot. I went to our regular rendezvous spot and immediately took off south. I do most of my Bethpage runs north of Haypath Road, but lately I’ve been missing the old trail. I took off south and quickly got past the short, steep hill that greets runners about a third of a mile into that route.

This morning I read an article in Runners World that encouraged hill-haters to embrace them for their conditioning benefits. I tried to keep an open mind as I encountered one hill after another. The Bethpage bikeway is rolling, with a few challenging hills and a lot of elevation changes. Sometimes these lesser hills seem like bumps and other times they seem mountainous. It may have been the mindset I got from the article, but none seemed that bad today.

Record breaker

My longest run in 2015 had been about 6.4 miles, so my plan was to turn around after 3.5 to guarantee my seven. Since I went out early, I had the path pretty much to myself. I appreciated the sights, sounds and maple-y smells of the late fall morning. The few who were out on their runs were friendly, although there were two teams of three cyclists who didn’t quite get the concept of sharing the path. One of them passed me pretty closely and almost got the concept of my sharp elbow.

Despite my layers, I remained fairly comfortable as the temperature rose to low 40’s. It struck me that today’s run felt no more taxing than yesterday’s, even though that was less than half the distance. With four workouts this week and my personal best for distance, I’ll consider this a good week of running.

Recovering on the Bethpage trail

Today’s gear. Black is the new black.

Today’s run (Bethpage Bike Trail): 5.6 miles

As the song goes, what a difference a day makes. The work week was exhausting and I counted on Saturday for recovery. Unfortunately, I felt ill all day with a pounding sinus headache that persisted throughout the evening. This morning I woke up feeling one hundred percent better and looked forward to getting outside. While Saturday’s perfect weather gave way to much colder temperatures today, conditions were still great for a run.

According to the local station, it was 33°, so I pulled out my Opedix running tights, Alpine Design quarter-zip top and ASICS lightweight running beanie. Not my warmest collection of gear, but good for today’s weather. I also wore my Saucony Triumph ISOs thinking they would be warmer than the Kinvaras. It turned out they aren’t and next time I’ll remember to wear wool socks.

I wanted to cover 5+ miles so I went to the Runsketeer staging area off Haypath. I ran south to Bethpage Stage Park and turned around at the start of the north trail. The Bethpage bikeway is a rolling path with a couple of steep but short sections between the park and Haypath Rd. I know the constant elevation change is great for conditioning, but I always dread those hills.

I ran north all the way to Old Country Road, passing many walkers along the way. Most were bundled up against the cold. There were surprisingly few runners and cyclists so the path was relatively clear. My gear kept me perfectly comfortable with the exception of my feet that felt the chill when the wind was blowing.

Today’s route

I would have liked to cover another .4 miles to make it an even six, but I ended up back where I started and felt good about how I’d run. Yesterday’s workout contributed to my fatigue that lasted throughout the day, while today’s run is still producing energy. One day made a huge difference, and I’m happy to be ending the weekend feeling this great.

Too short to be endless runs

January volume to date

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

Yesterday morning I ran for the first time in four days. It had been a busy work week culminating with Thursday, where I had to give presentations five times in a single day. The week was exhausting and it left me no time for workouts. Friday morning was freezing cold, but I knew I needed to get back outside and get my run in.

The cold has gotten to me more this year than it ever has in the past. I used to look at 21° runs as a fun challenge, bundling up, but not so much that I’m overheated after a mile. This year, I’ve been especially sensitive to cold (especially my face) and I’ve been layering so I’ll be comfortable at the start. I almost always regret that by the end.

I’d hoped that taking four days off from running this week would provide me good energy on Friday. Initially it did. I moved swiftly through the first half mile and felt relatively strong, although I was colder than I’d wished. At some point, my gear began to work against me. As my body temperature rose, I considered passing my house so I could discard my outer layer. Unfortunately, I didn’t, and the ensuing heat made my short run seem endless.

This morning we needed to head into the city, so I fit in an early treadmill run. It was 16° outside (which didn’t seem to stop SIOR and TPP from tearing up the Run to the Brewery course today) and I wasn’t going to subject myself to another freezing workout. Despite the climate controlled environment, my experience was similar to yesterday. Endless, until it ended.

My weekly volume has really dropped since the New Year and I need to correct that. Running 3-4 miles at a time (as I have) isn’t going to get me there. I need to start putting some 5+ mile runs on the board soon. Tomorrow is supposed to be very rainy, so I don’t know whether I’ll be able to get outside for a long run. 6 miles on the treadmill isn’t going to happen, but I’d consider a dual workout with both elliptical and treadmill.

Snowy, icy Bethpage run

Stretching the definition of “great shape”

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 3.75 miles

This morning I looked out the window and determined that the roads were too messy for running. With the temperature stuck below zero since last Thursday’s snowfall, there was still ice along the curb and snow on the sidewalks. I’d heard a tip that the dirt trails at Bethpage were in “great shape.” That got me out early for a run in the park.

It was very cold so I wore numerous layers, more than I needed as it turned out. When I arrived at Bethpage, I encountered a group of runners making their way downhill along the main driveway. Seeing people running off the trail was my first sign that the paths were in pretty bad shape.

The lot was barely plowed but I parked in one of the few open spots. I decided to run up to the north path extension and then cut over onto the dirt paths at the first trail head. There were a surprising number of runners braving the thick coating of icy snow on the paved trail, but no one followed me into the woods when I turned in.

Off the snowy beaten path

From what I was told, I’d expected the paths in the woods to be in better shape than the main trail. In fact, they were a mess, with thick snow along the edges and rutted ice at the center. Neither easy nor safe to run. I followed the route back to the main trail and then headed south on the snowy paved path. My plan was to head back toward the lot and run on the road as that group was doing when I arrived.

No chukkers in the snow

Before I made it all the way there, I noticed that a path leading into the soccer and polo fields was clear. With nothing to lose, I followed it around and saw that it looked clear all the way to the golf course. I’d been chased out of this area in the summer because no running is allowed during the season, but I had little concern about that this morning.

View from the 12th hole

The path continued southeast and I followed it all the way to its termination point on Round Swamp Road. There were a few steep downhills that became noticeable hills on the way back. When I reached the south side of the polo field, I saw that I could continue on the clear path southwest. I stayed on that until I reached a wider snowier road that took me back to the north trail head and ultimately back to the lot.

Looking north from Round Swamp Road

I crossed paths with the same group of men and women at different points during my run. They were moving along well despite the snowy surface. I last saw them entering the woods as I was getting into my car. Based on all the places I spotted them, I’m guessing they were covering close to ten miles. All my layers contributed to overheating, except for my face that was freezing for most of the run. I had hoped to cover at least four miles today, but conditions were ultimately difficult.

Later, when I got back to my neighborhood, I spotted a few people running on the road. The streets looked clearer than when I looked in the early morning (probably due to the sun) and I realized, if I’d waited, it probably would have been safe to run them. No matter, I got to run some new parts of Bethpage Park on a combination of trails, pavement and golf cart paths. I may not have covered my targeted distance, but I had a great workout. When I got home I did ten push ups. Just because I could.

Snow good reason to run outside

Pretty snow. Awful run.

Today’s workout (run): 1.2 miles, (elliptical): 25 minutes

Just a snow flurry moving quickly through the area, nothing to worry about. That’s what they were saying at 6:00 AM when I started planning my morning run. The news stations began reporting heavy snowfall had started in NYC around 6:30. I naively assumed it wouldn’t reach Long Island for a while, nor did I think we’d have much accumulation. Wrong.

After a cup of coffee, I made my way upstairs to change into running gear. I saw that my wife was already on the elliptical. I also noticed that the snow was coming down pretty hard. No problem, I’d dress for bad weather and wear my Cascadias for traction. After all, running in snow is fun, right? I took one more look at the elliptical and considered that option before heading out into the winter wonderland.

This was to be my first run since New Years Day. I’d resisted the temptation to resume workouts once my sciatica pain began to lessen and targeted today to start. The soreness remains, but it’s minor. I knew that the inch-plus of snow would slow me down and provide a softer surface than pavement. I hoped that both factors would help minimize the chance that I’d re-aggravate my injury.

The temperature was in the mid-20’s with moderate wind. I made my way through the neighborhood, keeping to the sidewalk for safety. Between the spongy snow and uneven sections, that seemed equally risky. By the time I reached the top of the first road, my feet began to feel numb. The volumes of snow blowing around made it hard to see and I felt sinus pain where my freezing glasses touched my face.

I’d intended to run about three miles but the growing discomfort changed my mind. I redirected my route and returned to my house after covering 1.2 miles. By the time I returned home, it was almost white-out conditions. So much for a fun run in the snow. Even with my Opedix and under-layer, three top layers, a waterproof running jacket, headband and cold weather beanie, I was uncomfortably cold.

I quickly headed upstairs and shed most of those layers before jumping on the elliptical. Compared to the cold, slippery conditions I’d just left, the elliptical experience felt great. I completed a 25 minute session and capped it off with ten push ups. We had a nutritionist in the office yesterday and I talked to her about fat burning efficiency with aerobic, cardio and weight bearing exercise. The nutritionist told me that strength focused workouts are the most effective way to reduce body fat while maintaining muscle mass. Thus, the push ups.

Tomorrow should be free of snow but still still extremely cold. It warmed up into the 30’s this afternoon so there’s a chance the roads may be clear of snow. Last January there was so much snow that I was forced to use the treadmill for over 70% of my workouts. The current condition of our treadmill makes that an unappealing option. In the meantime, I’m back to running and that’s the progress I’ve been hoping for.

Close encounters on the trail

 

Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 3.5 miles

This morning I went out for a trail run at Stillwell Woods for the first time since late November. I’m still dealing with pain from sciatica and hoped that running on softer terrain might provide some relief. The temperature was in the high 20’s and Stillwell’s trails were mostly frozen mud. Even so, it provided a more forgiving surface than pavement.

When I arrived I saw a few groups of high school aged runners entering the woods. I wondered if I’d run into these speedsters on the trail. I ran by the first group who were standing around planning their workout. I followed my usual route, going north before turning southeast. When I came around the bend, I saw a couple of guys sprinting toward me on the narrow path. That was disconcerting because the protocol is to follow that section of trail in the direction I was running. I’m glad I heard them a second before they appeared so I could move over and give them room to get by.

I had a few other situations when my path crossed a group, but had no more close calls. I was disappointed that the soreness I’ve been having was present throughout the run. The pain was minor and my concern was more that running (instead of resting) was enabling the problem. But a runner’s gotta run, run, run, run, run so I decided I had to shake it off.

I’ll be resting tomorrow and going out next on New Years day with my buddies for the LIRRC Hangover Run. In the meantime, I’m putting heat on the source of the problem and using the massage stick often. Next week I return to work and that will mean a reduction in volume. Usually I’d be unhappy about that, but I realize that it’s probably the best thing for me right now.