Emerging Runner Vlog #1 – Being Cheap Pays Off

Hey Emerging Runner readers. For a change of pace, I’m vlogging instead of blogging this post which is about my recent experience getting and using a rowing machine. Running will always be my primary workout, but I’ve been thinking of ways to supplement my routine and put more attention to areas that don’t benefit from daily runs. I’ll see how this works out and what kind of a response I get. Please forgive the low production values. I promise to upgrade my camera and editing software if vlogging becomes a regular thing.

Faint praise for the elliptical

ProForm CE 6: I look different in workout clothes

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

It’s been another busy week, but at least tomorrow is Friday. Today was my first opportunity for a morning workout and my intention was to do a treadmill run. I got up this morning and decided that I couldn’t deal with the treadmill’s racket, so I fired up the elliptical instead. Although I’ve never warmed to this unit (it’s far less substantial than its predecessor) the Pro-Form does provide a good cross training alternative.

Compared to the treadmill, using the elliptical is a breeze. Besides the fact that it’s self propelled and quiet, the elliptical doesn’t make me constantly worry about a bad slip and fall. In fact, you can use the elliptical with your eyes closed. That’s something I’d never recommend doing on a treadmill. I ended up getting a decent workout and avoided a noise-related headache.

I always look forward to Friday’s because I can get outside in the morning for a few miles prior to starting my working day from home. Tomorrow will be extremely busy so I’ll need to get out early to fit in a workout. I’m getting mixed messages online about Friday morning’s weather. One prediction calls for morning rain and the other calls for cold but dry conditions. I’m hoping for the latter.

I’d like to avoid the treadmill if possible. And as much as I appreciated it today, I’m not in the mood for another elliptical session.

No resting on this Labor Day

Hard core

Today’s  workout (core, upper body): 30 minutes

Happy Labor Day. It has always bothered me that this holiday serves as a gateway to the start of the new school year. After all, how can you enjoy the day knowing that your summer will end abruptly at 6:00 AM the next morning? It’s been a while since I’ve personally experienced that dread, but I still feel it for my kids. However, they seem to be just fine about it.

Grey skies and high humidity undercut the opportunity for outdoor fun most of the day, but we managed to get out for a while for some backyard fun. Monday is usually my rest day, but I felt the need for some additional activity. I pulled out my floor mat and my four year old issue of Runner’s World that has my favorite set of Lolo Jones core exercises. I followed that with some upper body work, along with a set of sit ups and push ups.

That may sound like a lot of work, but it really wasn’t too bad. Just like yesterday’s experience on the elliptical, I realized how long I’ve neglected core and upper body exercise. Does my departure from running over the last two days mean that my workouts will now involve more cross-training? Based on my history, I’m guessing no. But for now, it may provide some extra dimension in my Cow Harbor training.

An object of neglect provides the perfect workout

Today’s perfect choice

Today’s workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

Yesterday’s run affected me more than I realized, and I found myself exhausted by the end of the day. This morning I woke with a pressure headache that was quickly dispatched by my standard cure of aspirin and Sudafed. Unfortunately, pseudoephedrine and running don’t mix well, so I decided to put off my workout until later.

Once the day got going, I started to doubt whether I could fit in a workout. I generally dislike afternoon running, especially when I plan to run again the next morning. I remembered that tomorrow is my weekly rest day, so even with a late day run, I’d have plenty of recovery time. All I needed to do was figure out a workout. Given yesterday’s tough going, I didn’t think a speed run was advisable. I also didn’t want to do a recovery run outside, in conditions that matched Saturday’s oppressive humidity.

Then it hit me – the elliptical, that I’ve neglected for months, would be a perfect workout. I decided that a hill simulation, done at  moderate speed, would provide a good a balance. I set up the floor fan, put the speed on high, and set the machine’s resistance to 80%.  Once I got past the first few minutes, it was smooth sailing and the time went quickly from there.

It’s often hard for me to focus on cross-training, because I always prefer to run. But after today, I won’t be so quick to dismiss the elliptical, especially on the day after a really difficult run.

Kicking cross-training to the curb

BH Fitness X1: it was fun while it lasted

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles

The snow began to fall as I ran through the streets of my neighborhood this morning. It didn’t amount to much, although I’d hoped to see some accumulation during the time that I ran. The streets remained clear for the thirty or so minutes that I was outside. Since then, the snow has mixed with rain.

Earlier in the day, I took on the task of disassembling our BH Fitness elliptical machine. This was a disappointing end to a machine that promised both quality and durability when we made our purchase. It was probably a mistake to buy this unit, rather than opting for the cheaper Schwinn model that we liked at Dick’s. After nine months waiting for parts that never arrived from BH Fitness, we had no choice but to give up on the machine.

Had we bought the Schwinn, I’m fairly sure that it would still be working today. Further, if it did break, the manufacturer would have surely provided the necessary parts. BH Fitness and Fitness Showrooms (where we bought our elliptical) will never see another dollar from us. Still, I’ll be sad to see the X1 sitting on the curb, waiting for the sanitation people to pick it up.

We’re hoping that the stores will have some post-holiday sales on fitness equipment so we can replace the X1. It’s been almost a year since I’ve had a weekly cross-training option and I miss the variety. At least now we know the value of buying equipment that can be easily repaired.

I’ve continued to fight my cold head-on by running every day since Tuesday. It was a chilly 30° this morning but that didn’t discourage me too much. Today’s run was about getting in some miles and raising my heart rate, but performance wasn’t a priority. I probably overdressed but the short distance prevented me from overheating. Tomorrow may be the last opportunity to get in a trail run before I return to work on Wednesday. If the weather improves I’ll head over to Stillwell. If the rain and snow continue, I’ll probably take a pass on the trails.

Running in the morning and biking after noon

Yesterday afternoon workout (bike): 3.5 miles

Although I only logged seven miles running this weekend I felt like I made progress. I rode my bike on both Saturday and Sunday and added ten miles to my weekend total. In terms of conditioning and recovery, this was a good thing. To be sure, biking miles are not running miles, although the work that KWL and I did trail riding on Saturday definitely contributed to my strength and stamina.

After my Sunday morning run the rain came back and I was glad that I got out ahead of it by running early. By late afternoon the sun was shining and the air felt cool so I took a leisurely bike ride around my neighborhood for about 20 minutes. Just like at Stillwell, it’s a different experience when on a bike. You go twice as fast with half the effort. The best part is that biking provides a way to work on leg turnover without impact. My knee has improved well and I attribute that to this weekend’s mix of shorter runs and biking. I don’t expect to increase the length of my rides but I plan to take the bike out more frequently. It’s great to have another non-impact option for cross training. But in the end, the goal is to make me a better runner.

Variety is the spice of running

Over the past four days I have experienced a broad selection of running conditions. I rested today, as I usually do on Mondays, and noticed that my legs feel great this morning. I believe that the diversity of my runs contributed to this. It may be worthwhile to continue to keep variability in my training program.

Last Thursday I was in Philadelphia and chose to stay indoors for my workout. I did a short but fast (for me) treadmill run. On Friday I ran in my neighborhood wearing the Skechers Resistance Runners that provided a different road experience with the unstable mid-sole that proved challenging even on a relatively short (3 mile) run. Saturday I ran just short of 5 miles in my Kinvaras that, despite their minimal construction, are beginning to edge out all other running shoes in my collection. Yesterday I was back on the trails and attacking short steep hills over different surfaces.

I don’t do as much cross training as I should, mostly just a weekly elliptical session. Perhaps by varying the way I run I can focus on different muscle groups and achieve some benefits that are lost when running on pavement 90% of the time. I’m planning to run two 10K races in November, one week apart, so I need to get into race training mode. It will be interesting to see how diversity and distance training will affect my performance.

Crossing off cross training

I went to bed last night expecting to do a morning elliptical session but I’ve decided to forgo my workout today. I’m still feeling some residual soreness from Sunday’s race and I’ve been feeling tired — more due to work intensity than running. I’m glad I rested and I have no regrets that I didn’t do my cross training this morning. The weather looks promising tomorrow and I’m thinking about doing a city run around midday. I’ve planned a long training run on Saturday with DaveADK and another run on Saturday morning with KWL. With all that upcoming running the benefits of rest seems to outweigh the benefit of one more workout. At least that’s how I’m viewing it today.

My Life on the Run – a fun read for runners

Today’s workout (elliptical): 24 minutes

I’ve just finished Bart Yasso’s book “My Life in the Run” and I recommend it as a good light read. Yasso is Runner’s World’s “Chief Running Officer” and he writes about his adventures running in exotic races all over the world. He is also the originator of the Yasso 800’s training method that involves running a series of 800 meter intervals to help predict your marathon finishing time. For example, if you average 3:30 on this exercise you can reasonably expect to run a 3 hour, 30 minute marathon. I’ve often thought about trying this because I truly have no idea how I’d do in a marathon. That is, if I could even make it through one. Of course testing this theory would require me returning to the track and doing speed work. Maybe when it gets a little cooler…

At the end of the book Yasso lists a number of training programs for various races that would probably be valuable to people who are willing to follow disciplined training routines. I’m not good in that area. I prefer to train “organically” which probably explains my less than stellar times in my last few races. Yasso also talks about cross training and its importance within a runner’s training cycle. So inspired. I decided to get back on the elliptical this morning and put in more of a whole body workout than I’d been getting from simply running. The humidity is unrelenting and inside is worse than outside but I did my minutes accompanied by the early morning news on TV. We’re heading to Boston this weekend to see family so I’m not sure how that will impact my running schedule. My brother and I talked about doing a Memorial Drive run on Saturday which will be excellent as long as the weather cooperates. I’m bringing my son in to the office tomorrow so no Central Park run this week. I’ll probably aim for a late afternoon run at home instead.

A little Sole and a lot of X1

My BH Fitness X-1

Today’s workout: Treadmill and elliptical, 26 minutes

I haven’t been on the elliptical for a while so I thought I’d return to using it this morning for a change of pace. I prefer running over most other workout options but I also recognize the benefits of cross training. The elliptical, with its no impact motion, along with some upper body resistance, provides a good workout. As a bonus, it’s user powered so it operates fairly quietly compared to other gym equipment. As I prepared for my session I couldn’t ignore our Sole F63 treadmill that now operates correctly since a technician realigned the belt and replaced the motor last week. I had not used the machine since this work was done so I was a little curious to re-experience running on the now-stable unit. I decided to run for about five minutes, just to confirm that the belt slipping had truly been cured. I hit the 6 MPH button and started running, edging the speed up to about 6.7 after a minute. The treadmill worked fine but I wasn’t enjoying the experience at all. Unlike my wife who is able to focus daily for 45 minutes on this machine I could not wait to stop. No matter, with all the rain we’re expecting this weekend I’ll likely be spending a lot more time on it in the coming days.

After about five minutes I switched over to the elliptical, setting the resistance to generate 75 watts (medium high) and starting at a fairly fast pace. The treadmill warm-up helped me get to speed quickly and I continued for about 21 minutes. I’ve said before that the elliptical provides a deceptively effective workout. It doesn’t seem as hard as running but the sweat index is often greater. I’ve compared my heart rate between a treadmill run and an elliptical session (of the same perceived level of effort) and noticed running definitely provides a more elevated pulse rate. Different benefits and different effects. That’s why we cross train. I’m due to run in the city tomorrow with a friend (weather permitting) and I have a Central Park run scheduled with another friend, CK, on Tuesday. That walk in Central Park on Monday made me wish I was running that run/bike loop. Next week I’ll finally get to do it.