Reunion with the road and the wind

A sight for sore piriformis

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

It’s been such a long time since I’ve run outdoors that I was surprised to see that Milemeter has reverted back to being called Gmaps Pedometer. I realize that’s an esoteric observation, but it shows that things have changed in the eight weeks since I last did a neighborhood run. Not much changed in the neighborhood except for a whole lot of tar and gravel being laid down to fix this winter’s potholes.

I was excited and a little nervous prior to going out this morning. My cold is still present, but it hasn’t gained much of a foothold. Despite some sniffles and nasal congestion, I’ve had no breathing issues doing indoor workouts. My concern centered on my self-diagnosed piriformis syndrome. I already knew what to expect when running on the flat, flexible surface of the treadmill. How would the injury feel when running on unyielding pavement over varying elevations? What will the longer stride do to my form?

The other thing on my mind was the weather. The strong winds were evident and the local station said they’d be increasing throughout the day. I knew I should get out early to minimize that effect. I procrastinated predictably, and didn’t start my run until after 9:00 AM. I probably overdressed because of the winds, but never felt overheated during the run.

I knew within ten seconds that I’d be okay once I reached the road. The piriformis/sciatica pain was there, but it didn’t bog me down too much. I did notice that it affected my gait and it underscored my need to get to an orthopedist. Overall it was fine and it proved I could run. Not real fast, but it was real running.

The strong winds hit when I rounded a corner around the half mile point. It felt like a huge invisible fan and the mild air suddenly became very chilly. My route soon changed direction and all was well, although half of the last mile was spent running against strong headwinds.

I didn’t have my HRM for this run, so I can’t gauge my real effort. My perceived effort was moderate and I felt I’d passed my fitness test. That said, I’d purposely kept my expectations low. I’m very aware that I tend to take recovery progress as evidence of readiness and I end up overdoing it the next time I run. Tomorrow I’ll aim to go a little longer and, if feels okay, perhaps a bit faster. But not fast. I’ve learned my lesson with this injury.

The soul of weekend runs and the Sole of weekday workouts

Sole F63 – my frequent morning companion

Today’s run (street): 4.2 miles

It’s more than halfway through the weekend that followed my short week back to work. The real test comes next week with five straight days of waking up at 3:45 AM. Four of those mornings will involve a run that starts before 4:00. It’s harder in the winter, especially on those days where the temperature falls below freezing.

A year ago I would bundle up and get outside every morning unless it was raining. These days I usually choose the treadmill because it saves me time. Instead of dealing with layers of clothes, headlamp, etc., I can be running in minutes. Is it the same experience? Far from it. It always feels like I work harder on the treadmill but the benefits are lower. The machine might be a Sole, but the workouts are somewhat soul-less.

The weekend provides far more opportunity for interesting running. Adding to that is the flexibility to start my run later and to run longer. Yesterday I enjoyed a trail run after a leisurely morning having coffee and spending time with my family. I wasn’t that excited about doing another neighborhood run today, but it was better than staying inside.

I probably overdressed this morning in response to the 34°temperatures reported on the news. The skies were dark and gray when I stepped outside so I left my sunglasses behind. About a mile into my run the sun came out and I began to regret that decision. The sun also started to warm things up and I hoped I wouldn’t end up completely saturated in sweat before I finished my workout.

Somehow I managed to stay comfortable throughout the run and I even picked up the pace a few times. I wanted to run at least four miles today to hit my weekly distance target and I ended up totaling 21 miles. It’s been a while since I’ve run at Bethpage so I’m thinking of heading there next weekend. In the meantime, the next four runs will probably happen on the Sole F63.

Night or day, inside or out?

Worth a read

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

In her new book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”, Mindy Kaling writes, “There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it.” I thought that was a very funny line (it’s a great book) but I have to disagree a little. As I stood at the train this morning I saw the sun coming up and the first thought I had was, “Finally, I can now go out on my long weekend runs before 6:30 AM without needing a headlamp.”

There’s a big difference, psychologically, when I run in the dark versus running in daylight. My 4:00 AM runs serve a purpose, but that purpose is primarily fitness maintenance. My weekend runs provide a far wider benefit to both mind and body. A run on the trails is visually fascinating, the terrain is challenging and the lack of concern for traffic (except for mountain bikers) allows for deep thinking.

This morning I was at the complete other end of the spectrum, running my 25 tedious minutes on the treadmill. A friend of mine just bought a True treadmill that is very feature-rich. One capability is heart rate cruise control — the machine will automatically speed up, slow down or change elevation to keep the runner at a specific heart rate. It also has a 14″ LCD screen that takes input from a smartphone, PC, iPad, etc. That would be amazing compared to my humble Sole. But in the end, I’d far prefer to be running outside, just after sunrise.