Variability, structure, running and Thai food

Post run reward

Yesterday’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles
Today’s run (street): 3.2 miles

My definition of work is much different than it used to be. When I was going into the office every day, I’d follow the same routine. My morning regimen would usually include a workout and shower, followed by a train ride into the city. Now that the world is my office, the flow of my day can be very different. The consequence of having a less structured schedule is that my posting frequency has (slightly) suffered.

Due to this, I couldn’t find the time to write about a treadmill run that was almost exactly the same as the one I ran the day before. So here’s a recap: I turned on the treadmill, ran about 30 minutes, then stopped. For details, see my prior post.

Today was different. I had a mid morning appointment, so I did an early run outside. It was my first outdoor run since Tuesday, and I appreciated the sunny and warm conditions. I spent most of my time on the road, rather than the sidewalk, and I’ll admit that I preferred it that way. It wasn’t an easy run and I’m not really sure why. I can’t blame it on hard work, as my pace was exactly average.

Since I now follow a variable schedule of my own design, my wife and I took a time-out for lunch and headed to the Lemonleaf Grill (my favorite Thai restaurant in the area). Soon after that, it was back to business, but only through mid-afternoon. It was a beautiful day so I decided to start my weekend early. After all, a variable work schedule also means variable leisure time.

You have 28 minutes…Go!

Beat the clock

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

That annoying thing called a schedule forced me onto the treadmill this morning. I lost track of time and realized that I wouldn’t have enough time to do an outside run and still make my first appointment. My only hope was to get it all done in less than 30 minutes. Since I’ve “retired”, I’ve made three miles the minimum distance for my weekday runs. If I was to meet that rule today, I would have to run fast.

I hit the start button and set my speed a full MPH higher than usual. Surprisingly enough, that pace seemed sustainable and I looked at my HRM for guidance, in terms of how far to push. I don’t really trust the treadmill display’s accuracy, so I mostly go by perceived effort. When I run a 9:20 pace on the treadmill, it feels like 9:00. I really should put a new battery in my Garmin foot pod to compare speeds and see whether there really is such a margin of error.

I watched the clock as I nudged against my critical time window. I knew I needed to meet or beat 28 minutes to get in a full 5K distance. When I got to the 20 minute mark I punched my speed up to 7.1 MPH and rode that pace until I’d reached 3.1 miles. My heart rate was at around 88% of max by the time I finished, and I was about as sweat-soaked as a person could be when I turned off the machine.

I quickly toweled off and drank a big glass of water before changing into dry clothes. I was fortunate that this wasn’t going to be one of those Skype conference calls that would have required me to look more presentable. I did let the time get away from me this morning, but running hard got me back on schedule. I’ve been wanting to do some speed work lately, but haven’t been motivated to do it. Sometimes motivation comes in unexpected ways.

Spring run in winter weather

This morning it felt like this

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

I’m pressed for time this week and I’m concerned that I won’t even have time to do my scheduled workouts tomorrow and on Friday. Today had its scheduling challenges, so I made sure that I got outside for a run before being consumed with the business of the day.

Yesterday felt a lot like spring, but this morning felt just like winter. I didn’t want to deal with the cold, so I added enough layers to be comfortable from the start. The sun was bright, and the air was dry and crisp. I couldn’t bring myself to follow my usual neighborhood loop that, after hundreds of runs, has become extremely tedious. Instead, I charted a new route that was different enough to distract me a little.

Pounding the pavement didn’t provoke any soreness or pain from my hip and I was grateful for that. Although I had dressed to battle the cold, the extra layers I’d worn were making me sweat. I found myself appreciating the freezing winds that hit from certain directions – nature’s air conditioning.

I wish I could say that the cold helped me to run faster today, but that wasn’t the case. I knew I wasn’t making my targeted pace and all I could think about was how woefully unprepared I am for my upcoming 5K. The possibility of missing my next two workouts can’t help that situation. Then again, two day’s rest might be the perfect setup for some good speed work this weekend.

Afternoon runs are hard when you’re a morning runner

I wish all races started at 10:00 AM

Today’s run (street): 5.3 miles

All things being equal, I run much better in the morning than I do later in the day. The numbers don’t lie and I have had enough bad afternoon runs to know it’s true. I don’t know if it relates to biorhythms, psychology, or nutrition (or some combination of the three). In any case, I usually avoid running during the second half of the day. The above chart is an unscientific but fair representation of my performance throughout the day.

I’ve felt a little off my game this week. Not exactly tired, but not as strong as usual. I skipped my run on Thursday to give myself a day to catch up. Yesterday’s run on the treadmill was fine, although I didn’t feel as energized after the run as I usually do.

This morning I woke up at 6:45 AM, a full hour later than usual for a Saturday. I clearly needed the sleep and was happy to lose a little time to gain the rest. Due to that, the morning schedule was compressed and I lost my window to run. Other things took priority and it wasn’t until after lunch that I finally headed outside.

Today’s plan was to go to Bethpage, but I didn’t feel like taking the drive over there. I wasn’t pleased about my late start and I really wanted to get my run done as quickly as possible. At around 2:00 PM, I finally had my act in gear and started off. My targeted distance was five miles. Normally that would be easy, but I was concerned that the later hour would make it tough.

The weather felt cool, even though the reported temperature was 45 degrees. A very light rain was falling and I considered wearing my running raincoat but I feared overheating. I ended up putting on my Zensah calf compression sleeves for warmth and that was a good call. Plus they have an energizing effect that I’d hoped would help.

In terms of performance, it wasn’t the worst five miles I’ve run on a Saturday. My pace was acceptable but nothing to brag about. For some reason it was really hard to tie together five miles of roads today. The run seemed to take far longer than 52 minutes, but I didn’t have any issues with stamina. I occasionally picked up the pace during the run. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to help my overall time.

Running at 2:00 PM wasn’t the disaster I’d feared, but I suspect that I would have done better had I gone out earlier as planned. Tomorrow I hope to get to Bethpage and execute on my goal of doing one non-neighborhood run each weekend. Even if I can’t for some reason, at least today’s later run provided a different expereince. And for runners who train almost daily, a little difference can go a long way.

Hitting the running reset button

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

Today is my last day in the office until after New Year’s. I have a short business trip on Thursday and Friday and then I’ll be on vacation through January 1st. Due to travel and weekend plans, I’m looking at another low mileage week. That’s okay, because I plan to get out as much as I can next week.

I’ve gotten into the habit of running on the treadmill in the morning, rather than hitting the streets with a headlamp and reflective vest at 4:00 AM. I’m finding it easier to manage my time that way and it’s making me really appreciate my outdoor weekend runs. I probably won’t get a chance to run again until this Saturday and then I’ll need to take another break until next Tuesday. I’m not pleased to be taking so much time away from running, but I’m looking at it as an end of the year reset.

The habitual runner

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

Daily miles

At some point in my life I became a creature of habit. Twenty years ago I’d vary everything in my life, from my morning routine all the way through to my bedtime. Marriage, kids and commuting by train necessitated an eventual compliance to daily schedules and structure. But when I began running in 2008, all bets were off in terms of where, how and when I would run. Even on the streets of my neighborhood at 4 AM, I would rarely cover the same route two days in a row.

That has all changed, and my running routine now contains less variability than a watch assembly line. Every night my running gear is readied for morning, and my process going from waking to running is done on a minute by minute schedule. Instead of mixing up my route each day, it’s always the same roads run exactly the same way to cover exactly the same distance (2.53 miles).

After almost four years of competing, my race schedule has also become a bit of a habit. My expectations were upset this week when I discovered that the Run for the Warriors 10K has been pushed forward from mid-November to this weekend. I love that race but my schedule won’t work with the timing. I feel badly about missing this race, because even though I’ve only run it the past two years, it’s on my racing schedule.

I took to the streets again this morning and, like yesterday, it was cold outside. I dressed with more layers today and didn’t get around my route as quickly as I did on Tuesday. In fact, it took me over a minute longer, which calculates to about 30 seconds per mile. One thing that remained the same was my route. Some habits are hard to break.

A lack of time but no lack of heat

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

After all the rest and downtime that I got during last week’s vacation, I’ve returned to an especially busy time at the office. All day off-sites and industry events will keep me busy throughout the week. That said, I wasn’t even able to post yesterday, and I’m probably not going to be able to post again until Friday.

This morning I decided to do my workout indoors to save a little time. We’ve had a heatwave in the NY area and, after a few minutes on the treadmill, I was regretting my decision to stay inside. I didn’t want to push too much since I’d run hard during Sunday’s race, so I kept the pace moderate and ran solely for time.

I was glad I got a workout in today, as I may skip tomorrow due to a tough schedule. I’m looking forward to a weekend free of work frenzy. 12 miles is planned, I hope the heatwave will be gone by then.

The myth of the morning person

Although I struggled with a bad sinus headache most of the weekend, I did manage to get in a couple of good workouts. As planned, I ran a set of intervals on Saturday and then did a slow, easy run on Sunday morning. My headache caused some dizziness, and that was further exacerbated after viewing Madonna’s Superbowl Halftime show. Despite the close game and my hopes for the Pats, I went to bed before 9:00. It was the right thing to do because I feel much better this morning.

Last week, my wife had breakfast with a friend that she hasn’t seen in a while. Their discussion turned to exercise and my wife mentioned that she runs on the treadmill first thing every morning. Her friend said, “Oh, that’s easy for you, you’re a morning person.” My wife responded, “True, but is anyone really a morning person at 5:00 AM?”

That’s the thing about workouts. It’s not the time of day that you do them. It’s simply that you do them. A morning person will probably do better with a morning workout, and conversely, a night person will do better going for a run after dinner. But being a morning person doesn’t make it any easier to roll out of bed in the early hours and hit the treadmill or the road. What it really takes is a commitment to staying healthy. That can work for people at any time of the day.

Crazy Days

This week is a bit intense for me in terms of business schedule. Consequently I’m not able post with regularity but I’ll catch up later this week. I had higher hopes than this for my 800th post on the Emerging Runner, but this is it!

Racing to run

As I’ve mentioned in past postings, my morning routine is planned with a similar precision to a space shuttle launch. The alarm goes off at 3:55 AM, I pour my coffee at 3:58, turn on the treadmill at 4:00, put on my shoes and running clothes by 4:05, set up the HRM by 4:06, consume half my Special K bar and 1/3 of my coffee by 4:08 and start my warm-up by 4:09. This gives me approximately 20 minutes to run two miles at target pace before ending with a couple of minutes to cool down and reduce my heart rate.

Some mornings the routine goes flawlessly and I sometimes gain a few minutes and run a little longer. Other times, like this morning, time went by in fast motion and before I had even started my run the clock read 4:12. This left me with only 15 minutes to run, forcing me to get up to speed faster than normal. I ended up running 15:00 at 9:05 (1.66 miles). I thought I’d actually run faster than that but the Garmin doesn’t lie (unless I calibrate it wrong). Making things worse was my treadmill display that sputtered out after about 5 minutes. That left me no easy way of monitoring progress and performance short of toggling through my watch settings as I ran. That’s fine once or twice during a run but repeating this process soon becomes tedious.

It seems like 9:05 is my new default pace, quicker by far than my average daily performance in 2008, but again, not under 9:00. I could blame my cold and my leg soreness for being off goal pace but I know that I could have pushed harder than I did today. I’m working from my home office tomorrow which will give me an opportunity to run a little later (possibly outside) and longer. If I keep it under 3 miles tomorrow I won’t be happy with any pace above 8:59.