Can I adapt to late day workouts?

Evening elliptical

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

It wasn’t much, but I managed to get in a second weekday workout this week. I decided on Tuesday that I would get back to early morning activity, starting with a 4:00 AM elliptical session. Although I’d laid out my workout stuff the night before, I woke up with a sinus headache and didn’t want to deal with additional fatigue before a long drive to my office. I passed on the workout.

There’s a lot happening at work right now and the energy of the day (along with a well timed hit of nasal spray) put me in much better shape by the end of the workday. I decided to do my elliptical session when I got home, even though I don’t particularly like late day workouts. I had scheduled all my hybrid elliptical workouts in the mid-afternoon, so I was somewhat conditioned to the time.

My concern about doing a 6:00 PM workout was that I’d be too wound up at bedtime to fall asleep. That turned out to be a non-issue. In fact I had a great night’s sleep. I may aim for after-work runs and elliptical sessions going forward, rather than return to 4:00 AM workouts. I hope I can sustain the late day energy.

I worked from home today and got out during the time between middle school and elementary school drop-offs. It was nice to have relatively empty streets and the 55° temperature, cloudy skies and moderate humidity made for great running conditions. I wore my Spiras and I’m pretty convinced at this point that I run better in more minimal running shoes. I feel guilty having the expensive, well cushioned Saucony Triumphs because I don’t feel that I run that well in them.

Today’s run was really nice. Besides the good weather, I felt energized and seemed to be running better than usual. I naively expected to finish my run and see numbers that matched my pre-2015 performance. Compared to how I have been running, I did measurably better, with a :40 per mile improvement over last weekend. At the same time, I’m still over a minute per mile slower than I was in early 2014.

I’m thinking about a Bethpage run tomorrow morning and, if I’m up to it, I’ll aim to do my longest run in 2015.

Dog day run

When I Googled Dog Days, all I got was pages of this anime

Today’s run 4.2 miles

Well, it looks like a dog to me

This morning’s run looked more like a dog than a cheek-shooting bi-athlete. I think that’s appropriate because today was definitely a dog day. Predictions of rain got me out the door earlier than yesterday. Overall, I had a slightly better experience than Saturday, because the humidity and pollen levels were a touch lower. Still, the difference in comfort between shaded and unshaded sections of the road was huge.

I first thought about running at Bethpage and taking a route that toggled between the paved trail and the dirt side paths that cut through the woods. It came down to convenience and timing and I decided to stay local to get out faster. I’d put on my aging Virratas that would be a good shoe on both pavement and dirt. After I made the decision to stay in the neighborhood I forgot to switch to either the Kayanos or Triumphs – my current trainers.

I mentally mapped a new route and took off, keeping an eye peeled for my teenage daughter who was out practicing her driving. I immediately noticed how much I preferred the Virratas over the newer pairs of running shoes. Although some people I know love their super-cush sneakers, I’m still a fan of minimal models.

Probably due to pre-hyperthermia delusions, I took a wrong turn around the 2.5 mile point and made an ad hoc change that took me outside the neighborhood. It was fine but it forced me to negotiate some really broken sections of concrete. I watched my steps carefully to avoid a face plant. I cut back into the neighborhood at my first opportunity and completed the run by focusing on the tall glass of water that I would drink the moment I got home.

I ended up running close to 13 miles this week. Low by historical standards, but I only ran three times. I have moved out out of my 3 mile rut and next weekend I want to cover at least 5.5 miles on at least one of my runs. How I do in terms of workout over the next four days will depend on my schedule. I’m determined to get at least one workout in before Friday, even if it’s on the elliptical.

The highs and lows of running shoes

Kayano & ISO (L), Virrata & Kinvara (R)

Today’s run (street): 3.5 miles

I’ve fallen down on my plan to continue my weekday workouts. Three weeks of testing alternative running machines made it easy to stay on schedule. I did those sessions at the end of my work days and left the office immediately afterwards. I did surprisingly well with those afternoon workouts and they really energized me for my long drive home.

I’d done no workouts since Sunday’s Runsketeer run at Bethpage so I went out this morning for a loop around the neighborhood. The weather was surprisingly cool – not even 60° – so I put on a fluorescent orange long sleeve running shirt and shorts. I wore my Saucony Triumphs to compare my last experience with the Kayanos.

I like both pairs, but I’m still preferring the lower, more minimal design of the Kinvaras and Virratas. SIOR, who is switching to ultra cushioned Hokas, pointed out that my flat arches better match low drop running shoes while higher arched runners like her prefer a wider variance between forefoot and heel heights. I feel it’s wasteful to invest in new Kinvaras while I have two pair of almost-new high end trainers, but I’m going to run in my well-used Virratas this weekend to see if I do better in them.

My disc issue is almost completely gone, although I still have a slight flexibility issue in my left hamstring. That’s causing me to land off-center on that side, resulting in slight mashing of my foot near the front. I’ll be curious to see if that condition appears with the low platform Virratas.

My run this morning went fine, although I did feel some aerobic challenge throughout the run. It’s hard to believe it was just a year ago that I managed through the Brooklyn Half. I have a long way to go to get to my 10K base.

It’s a three day weekend and that will provide time to string together three more runs. I really need to get out of the 3-4 mile rut and start edging closer to five or more. My orthopedist discouraged trail running while recovering from my disc injury, but I may be ready for a return to Stillwell at this point. I’ll be happy if this cool weather continues on Saturday. I want to enjoy the spring as long as I can.

New shoes and nowhere to run

ISO excited!

It’s a little ironic that my new Saucony Triumph ISOs came today. They look cool and my first impression of them is that they feel great. Unfortunately, all the snow we’ve had during the past two weeks makes outside running seem too risky. The treadmill has always been my alternative to the road, but that’s no longer a viable option. Until we have a thaw or we get a new treadmill, the Sauconys will have to wait.

I’m excited about the Triumphs. They look to be the trainers I’ve been hoping for. My ASIC Kayanos, a similar type of running shoe, have been a disappointment. I can already tell that the Sauconys will provide a greater balance of energy and comfort than the ASICs and I expect that I will like them a lot.

With temperatures expected to stay around freezing this weekend, it looks like my only opportunity to try the Sauconys will be when I’m using the elliptical.

Shoe de Triomphe

Hopefully I won’t be saying “Whoa is me.”

Today’s run (treadmill): 40 minutes

I love a bargain, especially when it comes to running gear. Unfortunately, not all bargains pay off. Back in November, I was able to purchase a pair of ASICS Kayano 20s for $64. I’ve subsequently seen these shoes selling for $109 (discounted from $160 MSRP) because the 21s have since replaced them. So saving $45 on these highly rated “top of the market, super cushioned” shoes should have been a win-win. At best it’s a win-tie.

I’ve done my best to appreciate the Kayanos, but they don’t provide the fit or the comfort that I’d expected. If I’d paid full price, or even current market price, I’d be upset. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to put the Kayanos aside with no penalty. Saucony has asked me to test a pair of their new Triumph ISOs. This is Saucony’s top neutral shoe, with some very promising attributes.

Like the Kayanos, the Triumphs are designed for bigger runners who do a lot of mileage. That describes me not at all. According to CDC.gov, I weigh 13% less than the average adult male in the US (although I’m sure the gap would be smaller compared to the average male runner). In terms of volume, I run 50% of the weekly mileage of the average competitive runner. So this shoe may not be a match made in heaven. My plan at the moment is to love the Triumphs and relegate the ASICS to weekend casual shoe status. We’ll see. I should be taking delivery next week,

This week has been awful in terms of running. I worked from home on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and all three days should have provided opportunities for running. Between the big snowstorm on Monday and workdays that tied me up from 7:00 AM to early evening, I could not fit in a workout. I was scrambling to get some documents together before a video conference call yesterday and cracked my toe on one of the slate steps that lead down to the den. My hopes for a lunch hour treadmill run were dashed by what I thought was a broken toe.

This morning my toe was a little better. Still swollen, but the pain wasn’t as sharp. I put a little foam padding under the toe joint and wore my Kinvara 3’s on the treadmill with decent results. I kept it to 40 minutes just in case. I’m probably going to do the same tomorrow. With more snow coming on Sunday and Monday, it looks like I’ll be spending a lot more time running inside.

New life for some old gear

Aging like fine wine

Today’s run (street): 4.3 miles

I was recently in SA Elite looking at their holiday sale items. They had ASICS running vests for 20% off, but the price still seemed high for a jacket without any sleeves. Since then, I read a piece on winter running that mentioned the benefit of keeping your core warm on very cold days. A warm core helps keep your extremities and the rest of your body warm.

I didn’t buy a running vest, but with this morning’s wind chill, it felt like 28° outside. Rather than put on two long sleeve layers, I put on an acrylic fleece Sports Illustrated promo vest that I had from my Time Inc. days. The vest is lightweight and has a mesh liner inside. After a decade using it to keep warm in my office, it had a new use.

After choosing the vest, I needed to pick the shoes I’d wear on today’s run. I’m no longer concerned that the Kayanos are causing my sciatica, but I decided to go back to my Sauconys to see how they felt on a run. The appropriation of the vest as running gear inspired me to pull my ancient Brooks Adrenalin GTS 10s out of the closet and use them instead. The 10s probably have 1,000 miles on them, but they are still viable.

I’ve always worn my Adrenalins when dealing with minor injuries because they seem to correct whatever problem is plaguing me. My shoe size has increased in recent years and the toe box is too tight for longer distances. If they were a half size bigger I’d put them into the rotation. The soreness in my glutes was there when I started, but it wasn’t as pronounced as it was at the beginning of yesterday’s run. I was hoping for a further reduction in the pain once I began to warm up.

Some mild discomfort remained throughout the run. Surprisingly enough, I found the pain to be a good distraction from the boredom of my neighborhood roads. I decided to be cautious and keep the run under five miles today. I may go further tomorrow. I’m out of the office until January 5th so I’ll have a lot more days to run during the week. I’m really hoping to be free of this soreness by the time me and my buddies do the LIRRC Hangover run on January 1.

First impression of the new Kayanos

So far so good

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles

It wasn’t until I was ready to put on my running shoes that I remembered I had a brand new pair of ASICS Kayanos sitting in a box in my gear cabinet. I was excited to try them out and experience a very different platform. After years of low, minimal running shoes, I’m returning to a more cushioned trainer. It’s a little like going from a sports car to a luxury sedan. Both are great, but for different reasons.

Today was going to be busy and long and I was grateful not to have to do my long commute. I got myself out the door early enough to keep on schedule but (unfortunately) it was just in time to play “dodge the school buses and recycling trucks” in my neighborhood.

Once my Garmin got its signal I was off. The Kayanos definitely felt different from my Virratas. It wasn’t the pillowy float that I had expected. Instead, my impression of the shoes was a combination of comfort and purpose. The shape of the mid-sole facilitated a good rolling gait and that meant something today. My legs were not feeling too springy.

I really liked the Kayanos but, as short as it was, I didn’t enjoy the run all that much. It may have been due to all the things I needed to do once my workday started, but it was probably more related to how I felt. Despite being far below aerobic threshold, I had some labored breathing during the first half of the run. Warming up corrected that, but I began to feel some leg fatigue near the end. Some days are like that, even on shorter runs.

I ended up pacing decently – still below target, but better than prior weeks. I think the responsive Kayanos actually helped me today. I’m disappointed to read that rain is expected overnight and into the morning. I really don’t want to face the roar of the treadmill, so I’ll run with my rain jacket if it isn’t a downpour. If that’s the case, I won’t be wearing my new shoes.

Kayano say good deal?

My bargain babies

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

Thanksgiving break seemed like it would go on forever but Sunday is finally here. We had morning plans, so I went out for an early run. Although I didn’t intend to run with a lot of intensity, I kept my max HR between 81%-91%. This produced a nice speed improvement over yesterday. I’m still outside my target zone for performance, but I’ve brought my pace down almost a minute over my last four runs.

There were two factors that held me back today: a miscalculation in terms of dress (too many layers for 50°) and an 11 MPH wind that hit head on during a couple of long stretches. In neither case was I particularly uncomfortable, but I did wish for shorter sleeves and a gentler breeze. The smell of burning leaves enveloped the neighborhood and inspired me to push a little harder. In fact one of my splits was my fastest mile this year, not counting track intervals. I’m sure the Garmin was confused to see me running in the eight minute range.

The real news of the day happened after my run, when we did some end of break shopping at the Gallery at Westbury Plaza. After some awesome Thai coconut curry at Noodles & Co., I stumbled upon one of the biggest running related bargains I’ve ever seen. My daughter was looking for some new running shoes so we stopped into Famous Footwear to see what they had.

I usually view Famous Footwear as an outlet for low end models and slow selling remainders, but they do occasionally surprise me. As I scanned the shelves in the men’s section, I noticed a pair of ASICS Kayano 20’s with a sign that said $64 | regular price $159.99. I knew that ASICS had introduced the 21s, so I would have expected to see these discounted (at best) to the $110-120 range. $64 seemed way too good to be true.

Note the $95 “price conflict”

I found a pair in my size to try on. I figured that if they fit as well as Kayanos usually do, I could ask the actual price and see if it was still competitive. I was slightly ambivalent when I put them on, but after a few quick steps at the back of the store, I wanted them. I asked the assistant manager for the actual price and she said, “$159.99.” I showed her the shelf tag and she said I could have the Kayanos at that price – that it was their error. She was really nice and even let me use their deal of the day (buy one pair and get another at half price) to buy my daughter her shoes.

Needless to say, I’m very excited about this purchase. After five years wearing lighter, more minimal running shoes, I’ve been thinking lately about the industry’s pendulum shift toward more substantial and cushioned models. I’d considered the Hoka Cliftons as well as the Brooks Transcend and the new Adrenalin 15s, among others. The Kayano is THE classic stability trainer and I’m curious to see how I’ll do in a shoe that weighs 25% more than my Saucony Virratas. I suspect I won’t miss the lightness at all.

A chilly, windy, wonderful run

Circuitous route

Today’s run (street): 5.6 miles

Yesterday’s steamy treadmill workout reminded me that we’re not quite done with humid days. All I hoped for this morning was clear skies so I could get outside for my run. What I didn’t expect to see were temperatures in the mid 40’s — cold even for early October. Goodbye humidity and hello dry air. I was thrilled.

45° is chilly enough to wear long sleeves, yet warm enough for shorts. Since I’m more concerned about comfort than fashion, that’s the combination that I went with. The stiff wind from the west made things occasionally unpleasant. Changing direction along today’s circuitous route helped to keep things manageable.

Unlike last Sunday’s long run, I didn’t encounter too many oddities along the way. I did notice that the Justice Monkey sign was replaced by a small kick board that someone had hung in its place. Once again, puzzling and strange. I also followed a skateboarder down one of the longer roads. I tried to stay with him, but was never able to catch up. How fast do skateboards go?

I would have liked to do a full six miles this morning, but I needed to get back in time to meet our day’s schedule. Even so, it was great to be outside and running in the crisp fall air. A review of the run data shows that, despite replacing the battery in the foot pod, it didn’t record my cadence. That was disappointing because I tried to work on that and would have liked to see the results. I’ll probably have to re-link the foot pod to my Garmin 210 to make it work again.

Hoka Clifton (top), Saucony Kinvara 5 (bottom)

Today’s run was a nice antidote to yesterday’s treadmill slog and I hope this cooler weather sticks around until next weekend. I’m starting to think about replacing my Virratas and I’m on the fence on whether to stay with a minimal platform (i.e., Kinvara 5) or join the new wave of cushioned running shoes that Hoka started. After running in Hattoris, Kinvaras, Pure Drifts and Virratas over the past four years, I’m open to a change.

Good with my running right now

Give me a Boost?

Tuesday’s run (treadmill): 2.3 miles
Today’s run (street): 4.3 miles

Happy Labor Day weekend. It’s been a busy week, but I was able to get in a treadmill run on Tuesday. But after a long day at the office on Wednesday, I was in no shape for a Thursday run. That leads me to this morning, when I went out for a pleasant neighborhood run before starting a busy (though holiday-truncated) day working from home.

Conditions were superb at 7:00 AM – 60° and not very humid. With the sun still low in the sky, it felt a lot like fall. Friday morning I’d driven through Bayville and Seacliff and counted at least a dozen runners along the way. I envied their freedom as I made my way towards the Cross Island Parkway on the way to work. I appreciated that today I got to be one of the people running.

I covered no new ground on today’s route, but still enjoyed the experience. I thought about my current state of running, definitely slower than it was a year ago. I usually beat myself up at the beginning of each run, thinking about this difference. Am I not trying as hard as I used to? The effort feels the same, even if the speed has dropped. After going through both a stress test and physical that revealed no underlying issues, I don’t have much to blame it on besides age.

I decided today not to care. I’m not interested in competing right now, so speed isn’t that important. I’d like to get back to my previous level of performance and I think I can if I focus seriously on speed. Right now, I like my running for what it is — a way to maintain mental and physical fitness. I ended up running a little faster today than I have in recent weeks. I attribute that to the cool weather and a good night’s sleep.

I cut my day short since the office closed early for the holiday. The Emerging Runner family went out to finish our back to school shopping. We stopped into Dick’s and I tried on a pair of adidas Boost Response trainers. I’ve been curious about these shoes because they have adidas’ Boost foam that supposedly returns 30% more energy than EVA.

The fit was great and the shoe had a nice rocking effect that facilitated a rolling gait. I’m not quite ready to replace my Virattas at this point, so I put the shoes back on the shelf. In a few months I’ll be looking more seriously and will give them another go.