I wish my run training worked like the movies

Another day, another 3.64 miles

There’s a common trope in film, where the lead character goes all out training for a major challenge. There is usually one scene, played out in a series of quick cuts, showing the overwhelmed hero progressing beyond his or her physical limits. Typically, this is all done to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger.” Two minutes later, the protagonist is ripped and ready to make something big happen.

I thought about that on my run this morning. Since I’m the hero of my own personal movie, I’ve set my sights on returning to performance levels I haven’t seen for a few years. I’m not completely delusional. At my age, I know I’m not going to match my best times and that’s okay. My issue is that I’m not where I feel I should be for my age range. In competition, I would usually finish between the 25th and 50th percentile (I placed best in 5Ks and worst in halfs). I’m not sure I’d even show up on the bell right now.

So my equivalent of this cinematic convention is the work I’m doing to build up my monthly mileage. In my movie, you would see a series of shots of me taking off on my daily runs, with a calender showing the day of the week superimposed transparently over my disappearing silhouette. In one shot, I’d pull up at the finish, look at my Garmin, and gasp at the evidence of improvement. My legs would bulge with muscle tone and I’d resemble one of those ectomorphs who start races in the front row and finish before most runners reach the halfway mark.

Well, in the 50 days since I rebooted my running approach, I’ve made some gains, but it’s nothing dramatic. I’ve doubled my monthly distance in that time and my average run is a half a mile longer than it was in April. Despite all this running, my average pace has improved zilch. However, in the same period, my average heart rate during runs has dropped 8 bpm. That’s telling me my fitness is improving, but I’m not taking advantage of it. I’m going to try to focus on that tomorrow to see if it’s that simple. In the movies, the hero turns their hard work into victory. I’d settle for a mid-pack pace.

Dinner and a movie with the Runsketeers

Hey, that ain’t Starbucks!

Photo courtesy of KWL

Today’s run (street): 3.8 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.3 miles

The Runsketeers got together yesterday to see the new film, Patriot’s Day. I was initially disappointed that the film wasn’t about my birthday (April 19) but I soon forgot the injustice. I remember the Boston bombing very clearly, but I learned a lot of new stuff in this movie, including the fact that Marky Mark figured out almost everything about the perpetrators for the Boston and Watertown Police and the FBI special agent in charge, even though Markey was suspended or on probation for some unexplained reason.

I also learned that if I ever find myself in the middle of a street shootout between police and terrorists, I should take cover behind a Mercedes GLS and not a Ford Explorer. Besides these valuable insights, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and encourage all runners and non-runners to see it. It wasn’t really about the Boston Marathon itself, but for those of us who grew up watching it live each year (me) or actually qualified and ran it (SIOR), it was personal. TPP and KWL also gave it two thumbs up.

It was fun to see my Runsketeer buddies wearing something other than compression gear. We settled into the theater’s la-z-boy seats to watch the movie trailers that were basically a bunch of flashy cuts with lots of explosions and aliens, and a soundtrack loud enough to feel. I suppose that was the Dolby sound system turned up to 11. I don’t get out much but I guess this is the new normal. The last time I’d gone to the movies I had to sit in a seat without a built-in foot rest or a cup holder capable of securing a gallon of soda.

It was a good thing those cup holders were as big as they were, because SIOR purchased a drink so big that Michael Bloomberg would have arrested her on the spot for possessing it. She needed it to wash down her one-two combination of Milk Duds and popcorn. We planned to have dinner afterward but I figured that all that junk food would ruin an appetite. Nope.

We ended up going to a Sushi place in Garden City. I couldn’t stay for dinner, but I did have a beer and got to hang out with my buddies until my mommy wife picked me up an hour or so later. Along with TPP, KWL and SIOR, we were joined by Mr. SIOR and their four mini-SIORs. They were adorable and very well behaved and it was good to seem them all again.

I did get a couple of runs in since Friday, both around my neighborhood. Yesterday’s route was a series of loops that never took me more than half a mile away from my house. I didn’t match Friday’s pace but I got it done. This morning I wanted to get out before the weather started to turn. We’re supposed to get over 2 inches of rain and see 50-60 MPH winds by tonight. The skies were clear of precipitation but the moderate coolness and 93% humidity created a lot of fog which was fun to run through.

I wore my highest visibility shirt and took a circuitous route around my neighborhood that got me to almost four miles. My performance was better than Saturday’s but slightly slower than Friday’s. I’ll admit that I’ve fallen back into the 3-4 mile distance rut and that probably won’t change until get back to the Bethpage trail. Maybe next weekend.  In the meantime, I’m happy that I’ve been able to resume my weekend running routine. And very glad I got to see the mighty Runsketeers two weekends in a row.

A little tradition and a lot of food

All I want for Christmas is a towel

Today’s run (street): 3.5 miles

‘Tis the day before Christmas, one of my favorite days of the year. Office worries are set aside as people look forward to a few days of fun and family. Although the holiday falls on Friday, we celebrated today, with a special lunch and our annual viewing of the movie Elf. Christmas isn’t a religious holiday for us, but we love it all the same. There’s still more to come with dinner, however, I’m not sure I’ll be ready for another meal until tomorrow’s breakfast.

I’m not due to return to the office until January 4th. That seems like a long time from now, but I know it will go by quickly. It’s only Thursday, but I’ve managed to get in three workouts already this week. I was on the fence about my run this morning, thinking I’d keep it to just a couple of miles. I know I’ll have plenty of opportunities to run during my break. I ended up covering more distance than I planned because it felt easy. The weather (61° and cloudy) would have been perfect for running but the humidity bordered on oppressive. That’s something I’ve rarely experienced on December 24th.

I’ll get out for an early run tomorrow morning. It’s a tradition I started in 2008 and I always look forward to it. My neighborhood is usually so quiet that I cover my entire route without seeing a car. My other Christmas day tradition is to remind people I encounter on my run to be careful if I see them walking with their back to traffic. That didn’t turn out so well last year so I may give into the scrooges this year. In the meantime, I wish my friends, family and awesome Runsketeer buddies SIOR, TPP and KWL a wonderful holiday tomorrow. I hope Santa brings you great running in 2016.

Eco challenged and rainy run

Imagine this car much dirtier
Today’s run (street): 3.5 miles

Yesterday’s run (street): 5.3 miles

Yesterday was extremely busy and I didn’t get a chance to post anything about my run. Although I’d made a goal of breaking out of the confines of my neighborhood at least once every weekend, I didn’t have time to do that on Saturday. I decided to cover some less familiar ground on local roads to make the route more interesting. And it was a little interesting.

After running a mile or so around my own neighborhood, I headed over to the adjacent business park to run the main loop. On my way out of the park, I noticed a rough looking Delorean making its way slowly up the road belching thick black smoke. Obviously a problem with the flux capacitor. With all the gleaming Deloreans shown in the news this past week because of Back to the Future time travel date, this seemed ironic, not to mention environmentally unfriendly. I thought those things ran on garbage.

Soon after that, I began to notice that many people’s homes still had their sprinkler systems going despite the pact that we’re in late October and the temperature was in the mid 40’s. It seemed to be the day for eco-criminals, but the beautiful fall weather helped offset my annoyance. I covered more than 5 miles, which was my plan, and got home in time to stay on schedule. Our evening plans kept us out late, so the blog had to wait.

This morning I was hoping to run at Stillwell Woods or at the wooded trails at Bethpage, but the possibility of rain discouraged that. When I stepped out around 8:00 AM for a run in my neighborhood, the light rain was beginning to increase in intensity. I considered getting my waterproof running jacket or even taking my workout indoors. I decided to stay out despite the wet conditions. The rain was steady, but it wasn’t a downpour. I did regret that I had my Kinvaras on instead of a more water friendly shoe.

Rainy run

I ended up fairly soaked, but it was more rain than sweat. I had one experience with a driver who was frantically trying to get his car into the drop off circle of the middle school so he didn’t have to park in a lot that was 50 feet further away. As I ran through, I could tell he was focused solely on getting past the other cars. I yelled “Hey!” so loud that he practically slammed on his brakes. These people drive like animals and that’s an insult to animals.

The Emerging Runner family caught up with Adventure Girl via Hangout  a little later and it was great to see her. She recently ran a 54 mile unsupported Ultra! That’s 40.9 miles farther than I’ve ever run at one time. I think I’ll make a goal of running longer than I ever have in a single run. That would be 13.2 miles. Hey, I may even go for 14!

A hard workout inspired by a movie

Hey Hollywood, I have an idea

Today’s workout (Elliptical): 40 minutes

I never think that elliptical sessions are as difficult as running, but occasionally I’ll finish a workout that has my legs vibrating like a tuning fork. That was my experience today, although I didn’t plan it that way. We had early morning plans that threw off my run schedule and I almost took today to rest instead of tomorrow. I felt off-cycle most of the day and by mid afternoon I was ready for some type of activity.

The temperature had risen measurably since yesterday and I considered doing a neighborhood run. But the convenience of the treadmill drew me upstairs. Before I reached it, I was distracted by the elliptical. It’s been a while since I’ve used the machine and since I’m tapering for next Saturday, I thought it would be good to work on a few different muscles. I set the resistance to medium and hit start.

It took me a few minutes to start sweating and that inspired me to work a little harder. About halfway through my session, I noticed the display metric that indicated the amount of energy being expended. I decided then that I would not let it drop below a certain number (a la the movie Speed). Happily, maintaining that level distracted me from the effort I had to expend to do it.

I set an even higher target for the last five minutes, hoping to simulate the anaerobic experience that comes at the end of a race. The last two minutes felt endless, but I kept the effort meter above the danger zone. After I finished, I moved to the treadmill to cool down for a few minutes at an easy pace. My legs were definitely worked out and I was glad to have completed a vigorous training session. I’ll go out for five or six miles either tomorrow or Tuesday before stepping down my taper before the weekend,

Where can I get a SAG card?

Making the scene, literally

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

Only in NYC can you get to your office and not be surprised to see camera and lighting trucks setting up along the street. They’re filming a major studio movie here and the subject matter relates to one of my company’s iconic brands. This is the second time they’ve filmed here in the last few weeks and I have a great view of the action from my office window (see above). Hmmm, I wonder if they need any extras?  

This morning I did a treadmill run because the weather report had predicted rain. I’m not sure it was raining when I got up to work out, but the humidity indoors was extremely high. This was my penultimate run before the New Hyde Park 8K, so I increased my effort by adding some incline through my progressive speed workout.

I felt fine the entire run except for my feet that are still sore at the bottom. In an odd way, the soreness helped, because it took my mind off the hard effort of running in the heat and humidity. As strange as it sounds, I think that made a difference. Despite the hot conditions, my run seemed to go by quickly and it never really felt like it was too much to bear. One more run to go and my taper is complete. Then onto Hollywood. I mean New Hyde Park.

Running in the movies

Marathon Man 1976

Today’s workout: Rest day

Early on Sunday morning I was flipping through the channels trying to find something resembling news when I came across the movie “Marathon Man.” Although I’d seen it before, the thing I’d remembered most about that movie was the famous scene with Dustin Hoffman in the dentist chair being asked “Is it safe?” As I watched it on Sunday I paid more attention to Hoffman’s character as a runner. His training paid off for him near the end when he literally outruns his captors. My obsession with running metrics got the best of me while watching a scene near the beginning when Hoffman runs around the reservoir in Central Park while his girlfriend times him. I was thrilled to see that the reservoir hasn’t really changed since 1976 and I’ll think about the movie the next time I make that circuit. When Hoffman ran by his girlfriend she yelled “11:47, you’re getting faster!” I grabbed my iPhone and, knowing one loop around equals 1.58 miles, calculated that he was running at a 7:27 pace. Not bad.

It was fun to watch a great movie that had running as part of its theme. Besides the obvious, Chariots of Fire, I haven’t connected great films with running. Now, as a  runner, I notice things I’ve never noticed before. Thinking about it now, one of my favorite films from the ’80’s was The Big Chill where one of the lead characters owns a running store. I recall a scene where he gives his house guests new pairs of running shoes and most of them go out early on a Sunday morning for a group run. Perhaps I’ll stumble upon that movie again as I navigate the channels on some early weekend morning.