Running in the right direction

A subtly better run 

Today’s run (street): 4.4 miles

This morning’s run was 25% longer than yesterday’s and 1% faster. In other words, better. What the numbers don’t show is how I felt during and after the run, and that’s real reason why I was pleased with today’s workout.

Friday’s run was the first one I’d done since the Brooklyn Half and, after five days rest, I’d hoped for a good rebound. What I actually got was a rough 3.4 miles featuring a cranky stride and more fatigue than the distance should have produced. Rather than benefiting from an (almost) full week’s recovery, I felt as if I had over-trained. I don’t know if it was related to the run (or a fairly intense week at the office), but I was tired for the remainder of the day.

This morning was sunnier than Friday and a little breezier. I didn’t get out as early as I’d planned because I got caught up watching an episode of Lillyhammer with my son. Worth the wait. Once I got outside, I was ready to run. There was no delay with the GPS this time, 20 seconds and I was good to go. The air smelled of cut grass and something that might have been mesquite. I took off in a direction that bypassed the landscaping crew trucks that were parked up and down the road.

I had targeted four miles for my run today without any particular route in mind. I encountered some runners and walkers along the way and I observed a number of people packing up their SUV’s for what I guessed were Memorial Day getaways. I felt relaxed and tried to open up my stride as the run progressed. Overall, I slightly improved on yesterday’s pace.

I may go out for a little more distance tomorrow, depending on how our schedule goes. While I didn’t see a dramatic improvement in performance over yesterday’s, I certainly had a more encouraging experience. I finished the run feeling strong and had no after-effects like I did when I finished Brooklyn. After feeling a little down about running this week, my motivation is on the rise.

First run after Brooklyn

 

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

It’s only been six days since I ran the Brooklyn Half, but it seems like a long time ago. I’m sure that’s due to a five day hiatus from running and the fact that my business focus is taking up most of my attention these days. I planned to take more than my usual three days off from running after Brooklyn and it wasn’t until this morning that I finally got out on the road again. I’d hoped that all the rest I’ve had this week would result in an energizing run. Not quite, but it wasn’t all that bad.

It was a gloomy morning and I’ll admit to being less than motivated to do this workout. I had a lot of business items that I could manage from home today, so I replaced some of the time I’d be driving to the office with a short run. The skies were growing darker, so I got out early to try to beat the rain.

It took almost ten minutes for my Garmin to acquire its signal through the low cloud cover. I grew increasingly anxious as the progress bar on the watch moved slowly to the right. It repeatedly went 9/10ths of the way before dropping back toward the middle. I’d almost gave up on timing the run when it finally showed ready.

Once I got moving, I began to think about the run itself. Three miles was my target, give or take a few tenths. It seemed inconceivable that I’d participated in a 13 mile race less than a week ago. I wasn’t feeling a long run, but I figured I could easily handle three miles today. The temperature was a mild 58°, yet I felt a slight chill with my short sleeve shirt and running shorts when I stepped outside.

With only one workout done in the past week (40 minutes on treadmill, not running), I was dealing with tight muscles. My stride felt cumbersome and mechanical. My form evened out after I’d fully warmed up and my cadence began to feel more natural. Even though it was a short run, my performance was marginal. I didn’t try to push today as this run was primarily about getting back to routine.

I have hopes of putting in a couple of longer runs over the long weekend and, if possible, try to get in a trail run. My motivation remains fairly low right now, but that can probably be corrected with a couple of good runs.

Feeling the run, but not the runner

Thursday’s city walking

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

My schedule on Wednesday and Thursday prevented me from running, although I did cover close to seven miles on foot yesterday. I’ve managed to get free of my cold, but I still feel like I need to build back some fitness. I’ve read that taking a week off from running (as I just did) should not affect your your level of conditioning. That’s probably true, although I’m finding it harder going when I push to my anaerobic threshold. I really need to do some speed work.

This was a busy morning and I was down to business by 6:30 AM. Around 10:00 AM I took a break and got on the treadmill for my first run since Tuesday. Knowing that I’m not back to 100% in terms of fitness, I opted for just a slightly faster speed than the last treadmill session. I managed to hold that pace without difficulty and, after a time, began to increase speed every quarter mile. By the end I was fairly tired, but not exhausted.

My activity record over the first two months of 2014 looks very similar to prior years. The big difference is where I did my workouts. All the treadmill running that I’ve done this year has created a level of detachment that I never get when I’m running primarily on the road or on trails. Yes, I’m maintaining (more or less) the same weekly mileage, but I don’t feel much like a runner these days.

Unless we get some unexpected snowfall overnight, I plan to return to the road tomorrow. This will be my first neighborhood run in over a month. I really feel the need to reconnect to running. My interest in racing is at an all time low. With the Bethpage relay, Marcie Mazzola 5K and the Brooklyn Marathon on the schedule, it’s important that I get back on track. And back to the track.

Missing my houses and cars

 

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

The biggest difference between today’s and yesterday’s workouts was the timing. I got to it early and my energy level and mental engagement were much improved. Even though I set my speed faster than on Tuesday, I felt far more comfortable. There’s always an element of tedium on the treadmill, but today it was bearable.

A good run that follows a bad one helps us keep our perspective. The sameness of the treadmill experience, with the unchanging view out the window, can easily sap motivation. But physically, your body doesn’t know the difference. I’m ready to return to my neighborhood roads where the scenery is constantly changing. As far as that scenery goes, it’s just houses and cars. But those houses and cars are all different in their own way.

Snowbound and demotivated (but still running)

Our snowman is happy, but I’m tired of the treadmill

Yesterday’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles
Today’s run (treadmill): 4.3 miles

I’ve been off the grid since yesterday morning, so I didn’t end up posting on Friday. It was a busy day, but I was able to work in a treadmill run in the morning. As much as I would have liked to run outside, the snow has been a barrier. I’d briefly considered running around the clear and relatively safe driveway loops at the nearby middle school, but I determined that would be trading one boring situation for a another.

This morning my motivation meter was very low. The thought of another indoor run was disheartening. I considered doing some type of cross training, but my options were few. On a day like today, having access to a gym would be great. I got on the treadmill and told myself that I’d mix up the workout, either by switching up the program, or folding in an elliptical session.

I ended up staying with the treadmill because I became distracted by Olympics coverage. I made it past four miles, but tedium prevailed and I couldn’t convince myself to go a full five. I was happy that I did the run, but I felt guilty for not doing more. I’m debating whether I should do an additional workout on the elliptical. The only problem with that is the need to go through the whole showering process again when I finish.

I saw in Footnotes magazine that GLIRC is doing another Clubhouse run tomorrow, although it’s not listed on the events calendar. I check the date again. I don’t know if the bike trail I ran with TPP and SIOR during the last GLIRC run are clear of snow and ice. If they aren’t, I’m not too sure that I want to risk a slip. But it would be nice to run outside. I’ll see how adventurous I feel in the morning.

A harder effort, but an easier run

Today’s afternoon snowfall

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.4 miles

I had some early work that needed attention, so I didn’t get to running until late morning. We saw some snow yesterday and I had little expectation that I could get outside for a run. The roads had improved, but not to the point of safety. It was back to the treadmill, once again.

Instead of music, I decided to put on Meet the Press for distraction. That helped a lot, especially the Rand Paul segment that provided some good energy-producing anger. I’d set the treadmill’s speed 5% faster than yesterday’s pace. It felt about the same and I hoped that would continue. Maintaining the same speed throughout yesterday’s run had caused my heart rate to increase 16% by the end. Even with today’s more challenging effort, I didn’t reach yesterday’s 88% of max.

My late start forced a shorter run than I’d usually do on a Sunday. I was fine with it, although I probably would have gone a little longer if I was running outside. Monday’s temperature is supposed to rise to 37°. That, along with predictions of rain, could get rid of the snow that’s been keeping me off the road for so many days (including today’s mini-snowstorm). Clear roads would be a welcome sight, although a return to 11° temperatures is also part of the deal.

The will is there, but the spirit needs some help

Getting out of the ordinary

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles

I have definitely reached a point where my running routine has become just that — routine. I was hoping that last Sunday’s race would reset my focus, but I seem to be caught up in a cycle of three to four mile neighborhood runs done with mediocre pacing. I could blame the hot, sticky weather and my seemingly endless bout of coughing and chest congestion to explain my current state of stagnation. I think I need some sort of change to reignite my running excitement.

This morning’s effort was done more of habit than to help reach a specific training goal. While running for the sake of running doesn’t generate a lot of progress, it does have its benefits. Having the will to run, even in the absence of adventure, novelty, stimulation or objective, reinforces overall commitment.   Like so many other runners, I’ve reached the point where lacing up my shoes and going outside is no longer a choice, but a necessity.

So what’s the thing that projects my running beyond the routine? Is it a return to Central Park, a destination race or a new trail location? I don’t know if any one thing will get me there. It could come down to something as simple as a new pair of running shoes. Yesterday I noticed that the combined mileage of my Kinvara 3’s and Pure Drifts (my two main trainers) now totals over a thousand. I’ll admit that my level of excitement was raised when I looked into pricing deals on a new pair of Virratas.

Do U really like me or is it just the code talking?

 

Today’s workouts (treadmill): 3.2 miles + 1 hour shoveling 

My Fitbit likes me. I know this because it told me so. Right on the display it said, “I LIKE U.” Every once in a while it will tell me something like “LET’S GO!” or “MOVE IT.” It’s kind of pushy. I think the reason it was liking me right now relates to my double workout, courtesy of today’s snowfall.

Believe it or not, this is a color photo

The neighborhood was already covered in snow by the time I woke up and it hasn’t stopped yet. I went out early to shovel and was surprised to see 4″ of the heavy stuff already on the driveway. It took almost an hour to clear both the drive and the walk. By the end, my Fitbit showed I’d covered over 4,000 steps and almost two miles of distance. I did go back and forth and up and down quite a few times.

After taking a break for a cup of coffee, I changed into running clothes and started a treadmill run. I decided that my morning effort gave me license to set an easier pace than normal. Shoveling all that snow had provided a nice (and well needed) upper body workout and running took care of the balance. By the time I finished my run I was almost to 10K steps and approaching 6 miles for the day. I didn’t do it so my Fitbit would like me. But I’m glad that it does.

Friends don’t let friends push the pace

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

“Easy” is relative

Yesterday I ran into a colleague whom I hadn’t seen in a while. She told me she was running again after taking a long break. About a year ago she’d gone from walker to runner and, by April, she was running about 15 miles a week. We last touched base in early summer when she planned to run in her first 5K. My friend said that, since that time, her discipline had really slipped. By September, she’d stopped running altogether. The New Year prompted her to restart her running routine, beginning with a three mile run on New Year’s Day.

I asked her why she had stopped after making so much progress and she told me she had felt too much pressure to run fast. Part of her interest in running came from the social interaction with her friends who also ran. Their easy pace required her to run a lot harder. She struggled to keep up and couldn’t really participate in their conversations. She ran her 5K and decided that running was no longer enjoyable, so she went back to walking for fitness.

This experience did not surprise me. My early-’90’s attempt to become a runner was thwarted by similar conditions. My only running partner at the time had run track and cross country in school and I found it difficult to keep up with her when we ran. I figured that was what running was all about – you push yourself hard and eventually you’ll like it. Or you’ll quit.

After many years, I returned to running on my own terms and set realistic performance expectations. I was amazed to see that running can actually be fun if you find a pace that works for you. My friend says she learned her lesson and will not sacrifice her running experience for the sake of social inclusion. I told her that this doesn’t mean she has to give up running with friends. If she suggests it, I’m sure they will be happy to run with her at a relaxed pace that works for everyone.

Hoping seasonal happiness is just a trail run away

We are only weeks away from New Year’s Eve, but I’m not feeling the holiday season like I have in prior years.With last Friday’s unconscionable violence in Connecticut, and worries about an impending “fiscal cliff” that could drive us back into recession, it doesn’t seem like the best of times. On the bright side, I’ll get to spend some good vacation time with my family next week. I’m also looking forward to running the LIRRC Hangover Run on January 1st.

That’s the thing about running. No matter what’s troubling you, you can always look forward to your next event. Over the past few years, I’ve found that an upcoming race can help offset negative thoughts and motivate me to train harder. Thinking about running on the trails at Stillwell or Bethpage has helped me through more than one difficult work day. Unfortunately my schedule will prevent me from doing any off-road running until later next week. But when I do, I hoping to finally recapture that elusive holiday feeling.