A nice change of pace

I decided to partake in some elliptical training this morning rather than repeat yesterday’s treadmill run. My legs need a little more time to strengthen and I thought a lower impact workout would be the right choice. Although I much prefer running to any other athletic activity I appreciate my sessions on the elliptical as a good change of pace. Unlike the treadmill, the elliptical is quiet enough to allow me to watch the television at a normal volume so I can enjoy the mindless junk that they show at 4:00 AM including oft-repeated graphically disturbing PSA’s about the dangers of smoking and commercials for anti-depressants that spend half their duration warning you about their dangerous side effects.

Like my current program for running I took it easy on the elliptical and programed modestly low resistance. My goal is to rebuild my endurance, not my speed, as speed will come in time. About ten minutes into my workout I began to sweat and that always makes me happy because I know I’m doing some work. I was somewhat surprised and pleased to see that I was striding on my forefoot without even thinking about it. Perhaps the fact that I am trying to reinforce that style in my running and walking spilled over naturally to the elliptical. It’s been a good transition so far and I have not experienced soreness in my calf muscles from the change.

Tomorrow I’ll return to the treadmill and this weekend I hope to hit the trails again. That will be a great moment for me and I’m excited that it could happen so soon.

Good progress, surprising distance

After yesterday’s invigorating run I was anxious to get out this morning and duplicate my good experience. It’s due to rain fairly hard today but it was dry at 8:20 AM when I began my run. It may have been a little warmer than yesterday at that time, closer to 30 degrees than 25, and there was some moisture in the air that made it feel even warmer. Like yesterday I wore three top layers but I traded the running tights for lined running pants. That was a good choice and I remained comfortable throughout my entire run.

I’d covered 2.15 miles on Saturday which was a good distance in terms of progress and my current readiness. I mapped out a route this morning that would add about 10% more length fthan yesterday’s run. Somehow during today’s run I forgot some details of the route and I ended up covering 22% more distance – 2.75 miles in 28:15. My pace was slightly faster than yesterday’s: 10:16 per mile although I didn’t think at all about speed. Instead I tried to focus on my forward lean and front and mid-foot landing. I only monitored the time on my Garmin as I ran and ignored the other metrics. When I passed 25:50 I thought wistfully of recent past glories – back in November I PR’d in a 5K race at that time. Today I ran 2:25 minutes longer than that but covered 11% less distance. My reaction to running 2.75 miles at 10:16 was great happiness. I didn’t want to go as far as I did but I recovered well, re-hydrating with a can of coconut water. As of now, I feel no inclination to rest or nap.

Next week will be a test in terms of my returning to my usual 4:00 AM running schedule. I’m thinking that I’ll rest on Monday, treadmill run on Tues and Wed and rest or elliptical on Friday. That’s the plan for now. If I’m dragging during the second half of the work day I may need to cut back a little on that program.

The short and the long of it

I learned a valuable lesson Friday morning about checking the temperature before heading out for my run. As I prepared to go out it felt warm, even humid, although the heat didn’t seem to be on. I skipped the compression shorts I’ve been wearing under my running shorts on cold mornings and when I stepped outside and got hit with the 20-something degree wind chill I knew I was in for a frosty run. As I set off I realized how cold my hands were and I questioned whether I’d manage to break a sweat in the 22 odd minutes I allocate for this workout. I didn’t want to push speed because I hadn’t had a chance to stretch prior to the start. I was tempted to throw in some sprints to get my heart rate up and try to get a little warmer but I was concerned that could lead to a muscle pull. Along with the cold, there was some light precipitation and I soon realized that it was, in fact, snow. The outside temperature, with the wind, was in the high 30’s so there was no accumulation although the streets were wet. Given the distractions of cold and wind, the run went by very quickly and I completed 2.4 miles at about 9:13 per mile. By the time I reached home my hands were really hurting from the cold and from the sting of the wind and the rain. I won’t forget my gloves again.

This morning I got out by 7:00 AM and the weather was mild compared with yesterday but it was still pretty cool. I bought some tight running sweats at Target last weekend and I wore them with a double layer of tech jerseys. I also wore gloves and it was a perfect set of gear for my run. I wanted to cover more than five miles to reinforce distance as I move closer to the race on the 25th but I had no specific plan. After running north to Jericho Turnpike I headed west and ran about a mile in that direction before ducking into the western edge of neighborhood #3. This is a big neighborhood and I have no familiarity with the layout of the roads so I headed south and guessed where I was in relation to my own neighborhood that’s separated by a busy road. I ended up guessing well and crossed the road, heading south along the main road to the highway service road. I was little past the three mile mark and I felt some fatigue along with some pain in my right quadricep. After some time I cut over to neighborhood #2 and I realized that I often hit a wall at that point and today I decided to ignore it and wait for a second wind. I did a loop through neighborhood #2, passing a number of people who were out walking their dogs. I headed back to my neighborhood and reached home feeling strong after covering 6.53 miles at 9:11 per mile.

After my post-run shower I iced my right leg quad and calf with the Active Wraps. The unit fit well and my leg felt pretty good. I’m planning to try it with heat later today. Tomorrow I may head to Stillwell for some trail time although I’m wondering it it would be better to practice for memorable hills in the industrial park. I’ll decide tomorrow. Tonight I’ll just enjoy the fact that I had a very good run.

Weekend plans

I’m looking forward to this weekend, not only because it comes with an extra day off but because, as of this weekend, I’ll have an opportunity to jump in the pool after my long runs. I’ve been reading about different approaches to cross training and swimming appears to be a good choice. I’m eager to try running under water as a no-impact training alternative but mostly I’m looking forward to the instant cool-down after diving in.

Another thing I’ve been reading about is the relationship between speed training and distance. I’ve both read and have been told that tempo runs and intervals are extremely beneficial to distance runners, especially those that need to increase their anaerobic efficiency. I appreciate that but my reaction to anything like drills is fairly negative. I have done speed drills and I’m sure that it’s helped me but what I really want to do is get into the zone and just run. I’m looking to combine tempo training and trail running this weekend. I’m targeting the bike trails at Bethpage State Park for that. I don’t know what to expect from that in terms of surface. I know the bike paths are paved but I’ve also heard there are good dirt trails.

Instead of facing the treadmill this morning I ran 1.6 miles in Central Park before starting my work day. It was cool and sunny – perfect conditions for a light run. AG is doing her second consecutive weekend of torture, this time she’ll be running up and down four mountains in the Patch Sprint race. I have about two weeks before my next race so I’ll continue to work on distance and aim for 20 miles per week until then. It’s been a great week for city running, once in Boston and twice in NYC. I’m dreading the heat of summer but I’m thinking that even on the hottest days, running in the early morning hours can still be bearable.

I’m using the Moji Knee this morning to see how it feels post-run. AG will field test it this weekend during her 12 mile mountain race and we’ll report on its performance. So far I like the way it feels.

In addition, I will be testing a product from QStarz, a Hong Kong based company that makes the BT-Q1300S which, according to the company is “a GPS sports-recorder designed for out-door sports fans to set up the weight loss plan, Keep Track of workout status, and strive toward even the best record.” I am eager to to try it.