Laboring through another humid run

Today’s run (street): 3.6 miles

It’s been years since Labor Day weekend signaled a return to classes for me, but ever since my kids reached school age the holiday invokes some anxiousness. My kids have had a great summer and they’re prepared for tomorrow. They’re excited to see their friends, but not for the sudden return to early mornings, long school days and evenings full of homework. This is the last weekend before we close the pool and that always makes me a little sad. But the kids have enjoyed every minute of the day.

September 1st is still summer and the humidity is abundant (94% today). I got out this morning and did a short, flat run around the neighborhood. After yesterday’s similar weather, I had no performance expectations on the run. I kept to shadier roads and appreciated the slight breeze that came from the north. Though still slow, I ended up running half a minute per mile faster than yesterday.

I’ve run every day since Friday, totaling almost 18 miles. No special venues or social running this weekend — I stayed local but mixed up my regular routes to keep it interesting. I’ll likely rest tomorrow and do a treadmill run on Wednesday. Tomorrow is just another work day, but I’m feeling the back to school vibe. I’m hoping everyone has a great day tomorrow.

8 miles at Bethpage, but parking was the toughest part

X marks the parking spot (map and picture)

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 8 miles

Today was my longest run of the week and I knew I’d be doing it somewhere on the Bethpage bike trail. I just didn’t know when or where I’d start. GLIRC had a clubhouse run scheduled for this morning and I considered joining them for that. Those runs start at 8:00 AM sharp in the parking lot of the GLIRC office in Plainview. I wasn’t in the mood for running with a big group, so I decided to skip that event and do my long run solo.

TPP was also doing her long run at Bethpage today and I’d hoped to cross paths with her at some point. We did end up finding each other on the trail (she was easy to spot in her vivid pink running gear) and we ran together a bit. TPP was having a tough time this morning and decided to head back to her starting point. Despite that, she ended up covering almost 8 miles.

The Hal Higdon plan called for 8 miles today, although my ER plan had me down for 9. Since I ran 7 miles last Sunday, I decided that eight was enough today. I recall from my last half marathon training cycle that the challenge of going from 5-6 miles to 8-10+ took some acclimation. I was concerned that I’d hit the wall after 45 minutes or so, but I never felt depleted. I stayed around 80% of max HR throughout the run, largely due to maintaining an easy, but steady, pace.

Before I took my first step on the Bethpage bike trail, I had a frustrating experience trying to find a place to park my car. I’m planning to get a 2014 Empire Passport so I didn’t want to pay the Bethpage parking fee today. I was hoping that they weren’t charging for entrance this morning, but when I arrived I saw that the toll house was open for business. I thought about other options and turned around. I then drove to the small lot that is located off E. Bethpage Rd near Old Country Rd.

When I arrived at this lot, every one of its ten or so spots was filled. So much for that. I was 30 minutes past my planned start time and still had no place to park my car. I was going to park along Haypath Rd. but I wasn’t sure that was okay. I then noticed some cars with people who looked like runners parking along Colonial Rd and found a spot near them. I took care to see any signs restricting parking along the street. Seeing none, I parked and crossed the road to the bike trail.

It was only a few minutes after that when I saw TPP. Despite her claim that she was struggling, she looked strong as I watched her coming south in my direction. I wanted to follow the trail north all the way to Sunnyside Blvd. After a few minutes of running in that direction, TPP decided to head back to the lot where she’d parked. She’s really cut down on simple carbs and sugar and has been having trouble maintaining her targeted performance levels. I’m confident that will soon change.

I wasn’t thrilled about covering the section of trail north of Washington Ave because it has a series of long hills. It was no picnic, but I did better than expected. I’m sure last weekend’s hilly workout helped prepare me for today’s. The only difficult times were when I was coming up steep hills against 12 MPH winds. I maintained the best pace I could, shortened my stride and got through those situations fairly well.

Today’s route, with out-and-backs at both ends

It takes a while to cover eight miles and I ended up needing to go south of my starting point to pick up miles 7 and 8. That took me close to the start of the north trail. I kept waiting for my energy level to drop but it never wavered, except when I was a couple of tenths away from my finish point. That was obviously a psychological response to almost being done.

This training program has been nudging my weekly mileage beyond my average of 18. The past couple of weeks were 21 miles and this week I covered 23. That was with two rest days instead of my usual one, meaning my average run length has increased measurably since I’ve started training for Brooklyn.

Barely okay, but better than the last one

Ready for some speed play

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

My definition of an okay run has changed a lot in the last couple of weeks. If not for the intervals I ran on Tuesday, I’d be convinced that I’ve lost my ability to run at any speed but tepid. Wednesday was a difficult experience, made worse by the wind. I did manage to get through my five miles that day, but it was rough. I hoped today’s three miles would be easier, and they were. It was…okay.

The warmer temperature this morning seemed to help, and I improved my pace by over a minute compared to Wednesday’s. I was supposed to do today’s workout at half marathon race pace, but I fell short by about 35 seconds per mile. In truth, I wasn’t going for speed as prescribed, I really just hoped to have a decent experience.

I think about my friends who frequently run long distances at paces that I cannot match (except when I’m running 400’s and, in some cases, 200’s). Are they working that much harder than me? Probably, but I suspect it also has to do with being better disciplined about their workouts and putting in the necessary miles. I understand that running 18 to 20 miles a week is not going to build enough endurance get me to a competitive state, but I don’t think I can fit many more into my schedule.

I knew I wasn’t pushing as hard as I could today, but it wasn’t a leisurely effort. There’s a certain amount of energy that I’m willing to expend during a race that I seldom bring to my daily workouts. I’m always concerned about running out of energy on a training run and I tend to hold back to conserve what I have. Tomorrow I plan to add some fartleks (Swedish for “speed play”) to introduce interval level running into a continuous run. If I run out of energy, I can always take down the pace. Or take a recovery rest on the sidewalk.

Winter winds down and training ramps up

Safety first!

Today’s run (street): 4.4 miles

Spring starts tomorrow at 12:57 PM but you wouldn’t know it by this morning’s chilly temperatures. I was excited to get back to my neighborhood roads after so many (many, many) treadmill workouts. It’s inevitable that I’ll be writing a lament about the tedium of neighborhood running in the coming months. Right now, access to the roads is a treat.

I was anxious to get out today to validate that my recent sub-par running experiences were an aberration and not a trend. I was going on two day’s rest and despite the cold, I felt like I was in for a good run. I wore my day-glo orange long sleeve jersey over a short sleeved bamboo-cotton running shirt. I was tempted to add another layer (the temperature was 33°) but I didn’t want to feel restricted. I wore my medium weight track pants, a warm hat and gloves.

One new piece of gear I brought along was a clip-on blinking red LED light that I attached to the back of my shirt at the top. This light was a giveaway from one of my 2013 races and I came across it while looking for my HRM in my gear drawer. It’s a really nice gadget and it barely weighs an ounce. Even with a bright orange shirt, I felt it couldn’t hurt to also have a flashing beacon to get the attention of drivers.

Ten seconds into my run I knew I was in for a better experience than Sunday’s. My target distance was 4.2 miles and I ended up covering almost 4.5 today. I didn’t worry about my speed at all. Before I can sustain race pace over 13 miles, I need to increase endurance. My plan is to run increasingly longer Sunday runs and then run 80% of that distance on Wednesdays. Next Sunday I’ll move up to six miles and the following Wednesday, my target moves up to 4.8. And so on, until the penultimate training week, where I’ll run eleven miles on Sunday and 8.8 the next Wednesday.

Getting through today’s distance was not a big challenge and I enjoyed the parts when the cold wind wasn’t hitting head on and freezing my face. My pace wasn’t impressive, but I ran a minute a mile faster than on Sunday. I’m buying into the idea that more miles and weekly speed work will eventually lead to better performances.

Tomorrow I’ll get a break and will only need to cover three miles plus “strength” whatever that means. I know what it means. I just have to do it.

How many miles will you get from your running shoes?

Kinvara 3’s: 1000 Km and still looking good

Today’s run (treadmill): 4.1 miles

Besides race entry fees, shoes are usually a runner’s biggest expense. If you look on the web, you’ll find different recommendations for when to replace a pair. Running shoe companies like Brooks recommend replacement between 400 and 500 miles and even less for minimal models. However, a study conducted by a German University biomechanics lab concluded that “the lifetime for a high quality running shoe is expected to be much higher than 1000 km” (621 miles).

In an interesting coincidence, I saw on my Daily Mile gear tracker that my Saucony Kinvara 3’s have just hit 621 miles. I had covered 470 miles running on roads and put on the last 151 running on the treadmill. Now that I’ve reached this point, I wonder how many more miles these shoes might have before they need to be replaced. Does “much higher than 1000 km” mean 200? 500? Even more? The shoes don’t feel any different than they did when I got them, and I don’t experience any knee pain after I use them.

The venerable GTS-10’s

I retired my Brooks GTS 9’s at 711 miles but stopped running in the 10’s before I hit 400. That was because I moved to more minimal shoes (the original Kinvara and Hattori). Although the GTS 10’s were retired for running, they have been my daily casual shoes for over three years. Further, they still feel good enough to return to my running shoe rotation.  

I’ve put more than 200 miles on my main road shoes (Saucony Virratas) and I’m expecting to get at least 500 more before I’m done with them. Since I rotate in my Brooks Puredrifts, Spira XLT’s and Helly Hansen Trail Lizards, I probably won’t be buying new shoes in 2014. But if one of these running shoe companies wants to send some new shoes to test on Running Gear Adviser, I would certainly give them a try.

A little Xmas contribution to my 2013 mileage

A white-ish Christmas

Today’s run (street): 3.3

It’s Christmas day and even though it’s a Wednesday, it really feels like a Sunday. That being the case, I was prepared to go out for a long run this morning. When my wife mentioned the combination of 20° temperatures with a wind chill making it feel like 11 degrees, I considered an indoor run. But I had counted on running outside today along the quiet, snow-dusted roads, and I decided to deal with the cold by adding extra layers.

I thought about how wearing compression pants under track pants, along with three upper layers, might slow me down. Since I wasn’t planning to go out for a fast run today, a little speed restriction didn’t bother me at first. I made my way through the first few roads at a jogging pace and encountered some bundled-up couples who were taking a Christmas morning walk. They greeted me happily when I went by. My present was not giving them a lecture about walking on the wrong side of the street.

The conditions made the going tough and my face was beginning to freeze. It can be very uncomfortable running with glasses in the cold, especially when the wind is hitting head-on. I own a balaclava, but it restricts my breathing and traps moisture that causes my glasses to fog up. Besides that, the tightness at the sides creates a fit issue at the temples that can tilt the lenses and distort my view. I haven’t worn contact lenses in 20 years, but days like today make me miss them.

At around the one mile point I began to tire. I was running easy so I didn’t understand it, but I definitely lacked energy. It could have been the cold or the extra weight of so many layers, but I just couldn’t generate much speed. I toughed it out and ended up covering 3.3 miles. I’d planned to go longer but I was glad to finish when I did. It was nice to run without needing to share the road with cars, trucks and buses, but I was somewhat disappointed with my performance.

Mileage history (2013 projected)

My speed and stamina have taken a dip since the Hot Chocolate 5K and I wonder if I need to take a few days off to rest. I may do that tomorrow, but I need to get back to schedule after that. I’m 12 miles short of hitting 900 miles for the year, which means I’ll need to cover at least that distance in the next week. Even so, I’ll end up running 41 less miles in 2013 than 2012. But that would still be 100 more miles than I ran in 2011.

How pounding headaches lead to base building

There’s something about daylong meetings spent in airless conference rooms that causes me to experience pounding headaches. Tuesday’s meeting was intense. I lead an industry group that focuses on some fairly technical subject matter. After the sixth hour of intense debates and discussions, it became exhausting. A different meeting followed on Wednesday, and by 10:00 AM I knew I’d be in for a rough day.

I went to bed last night hoping I’d wake up feeling better. I set my running clothes up for a morning workout,  but the need for additional rest and the slight presence of a headache dissuaded me from getting on the treadmill. I think it was a good decision. This is the second or third week in a row where I took Thursday as an additional rest day, but in every case I felt the rest was justified.

The difference between running five days a week versus six isn’t great, but it does put me a little behind against my weekly mileage target. So far, I’ve managed to make up for the loss of weekday miles on weekends. In a way, it has motivated me to extend my weekend long runs a little further than normal. I’ve been looking to build my base back up and that’s a way to do it. I just wish the process to get there this week wasn’t so painful.

Running shoes: your mileage may vary

Adrenaline and Kinvara are best in the long run

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

I like running shoes for the same reason I like sports cars. They are the only layer between you and the road and they’re engineered to enable performance. If you use your imagination, sports cars and running shoes even look similar, sharing the same aerodynamic profile. The biggest difference between the two is that while anyone can go fast in a Porsche, the best thing a running shoe can do is optimize a runner’s potential.

In the 4+ years that I’ve been running, I’ve acquired a number of shoes. Some of them were great and some are best forgotten. I started logging my workouts on Daily Mile in April of 2010 and that service provides me with a tool to track the mileage of my running shoes. With the exception of the first few pairs I bought back in 2008, I have a complete history of my time spent with every shoe that I’ve owned since late 2009.

Saucony Kinvara (original)
Brooks GTS 10

I recently exported my shoe mileage data and graphed it to visualize the range (above). When people tell me that they notice their running shoes breaking down after five months, I’m usually skeptical because my Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9’s held up for more than 700 miles. My all-time favorite running shoe, the original Saucony Kinvara, performed well for almost 500 miles before giving out. I ran a little too long in those and suffered a bad knee problem due to it. Despite that, I still can’t bring myself to throw them out.

My current shoes of choice are the Kinvara 3’s for the road and, for the treadmill, the Pure Drift prototypes that I tested for Brooks. Had I requested size 11’s instead of 10.5’s for the Pure Drifts, I’d probably be wearing them more often. The fit in the toe box is just a little too narrow for my foot, so I don’t use them for long runs on pavement.

The good thing about running shoes (vs. sports cars) is that you buy new ones often without breaking the bank. I suspect, based on history, that the Kinvara 3’s will need replacement in the next few months. I’m tempted to replace them with the production version of the Pure Drift, but there are a couple of New Balance models that interest me. Plus, a whole new crop of 2013 models will soon arrive from the other brands.

While I’m thinking about it, it might be time to add a new trail shoe to my collection. Why not? It would certainly be cheaper than getting a Land Rover.

Running through a headcold is usually the best medicine

Today’s run (treadmill): 30 minutes

Without fail, I always experience some health related issue during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. With the exception of the accounting team who are called upon to close out the the year, my company pretty much shuts down during the final week. I usually take this week off and, in the past, have suffered the flu, pneumonia or colds during this time. This week it’s a mild head cold and I hope it stays that way.

The fourth quarter of the year is usually the most stressful, and I’m sure that’s why I get sick when things come to a halt. I started taking flu shots a couple of years ago and that’s probably paid off more than I know. Since my current cold is limited to stuffiness, sneezing and an occasional cough, I’ve chosen to ignore the symptoms and keep my running schedule. I’ve already covered 14 miles this week and the weekend is still to come.

We needed to get out fairly early this morning, so I returned to the treadmill to save a little time. I’ll admit that when News 12 stated that it felt like 20° outside with wind-chill, I decided to “protect my health” and run indoors. I didn’t push too hard at the beginning, but I steadily increased my speed and finished running with my heart rate at the low end of zone 4.

I still haven’t got out of my own neighborhood to run this week, like I usually do when I’m on vacation. Maybe I’ll do a trail run this weekend and I’ll look forward to the LIRRC 5-Mile Hangover fun run on Tuesday at Eisenhower Park.

Easy doesn’t always do it after race day

Today’s run (street): 5.4 miles

Between tapering and running just 3.1 miles on race day, I usually come up well short of my weekly average when I run a 5K. That was the case this week where my total miles barely cracked the teens. Despite the lower volume, I can say confidently that both runs this weekend were high quality efforts.

I usually rest the day after a race, not because it’s a good practice, but because most races are on Sundays and my rest day is Monday. For Saturday races, I usually try to get out for a recovery run because I read once that an easy workout that follows a hard effort effectively forces out lactic acid that can cause leg soreness.

My lower output this week prompted me to target at least 5 miles today. The last couple of times when I followed a race with an LSD run, I found myself struggling after 30 minutes despite going slow and easy. I realized last time that running a little harder actually felt better.

I had that in mind when I went out this morning, taking the first mile at around a 9:00 pace before settling into a mid-9 pace for the duration of the run. I chose the hilliest streets in the neighborhood to get my heart rate going. After a race, almost any effort below race pace feels easy and that was the case today. I could have gone another few miles but I didn’t want to overdo it. Besides, we are celebrating my son’s birthday today and I needed to get home to shower before we all went out.

I look forward to tomorrow’s rest day but I’m eager to start training for two 10K’s in November. I have always run my best 10K times at these races and that’s probably due to the cooler weather and relatively flat courses. Still, I’m planning to maintain my hill training because that seems to make me  a better runner, regardless of the elevation.