Missing an experience that I used to call mundane

Miss you

Today’s run (treadmill): 35 minutes

After so many days away from running, it was hard to justify taking my usual rest day today. This hiatus was necessary to get me through the past week. One thing I’ve learned is that running while ill is a zero sum game. Benefits gained through a hard workout may be canceled out by the strain put on a weakened body.

Before I could consider a run this morning, I needed to consider the driveway. A foot or more of snow had been predicted over the weekend, but that number was lowered to 2″-4″ for our area. We ended up with barely an inch. I didn’t want to leave it to freeze into a sheet of ice (supposed to get into the single digits tonight), so I went out early and shoveled. My level of required effort compared to Saturday’s ice-moving exercise was fairly low.

I had a number of items on today’s schedule, so I carved out 35 minutes for a treadmill workout that was similar to yesterday’s, except I set the incline to 2% today. This was not intended to be a difficult workout (see first paragraph). It was more about moving, getting my heart rate going and preparing for what I hope will be a higher performance run tomorrow.

After I’d completed my workout, I drove to the bank to deposit a check. I inspected my local roads and thought about how I’d often complain about the mundanities of neighborhood running. I looked up and down these long strips of open pavement and wished I could return to them. There’s still too much ice and snow to do that now, but soon it will all melt away. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Tuning up for an outside run

Foggy view from the treadmill

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.3 miles

This has been a great week with the kids being off from school. I’ve had to work on projects, but I’ve also had a good amount of family time. My business in the city yesterday produced the need to do lots of work today. I didn’t get to run on Thursday, but I covered a few miles on foot. I’m loving those gel insoles.

I’d hoped that this morning would provide an opportunity for me to finally get outdoors and run. However, the snow hasn’t melted much and there was a thick fog that was produced by a rapid change in temperature. Both of these things made street running too dangerous, so it was back on the treadmill. I no longer curse my fate as I look outside at the still-icy roads. I know I’m fortunate to have the option to run indoors.

I’m planning to run with my Runsketeer buddies on Sunday, so I tried to up my game in terms of speed. I’ve been extremely complacent in terms of performance and I shocked my body a little by doing a progressive speed run. This treadmill regimen has taken me out of race shape so I hope I’m able to keep up with the “twin turbos” this weekend. I usually do better on the road than on the treadmill in terms of pace, but the last time I ran on pavement, my legs did not like it at all.

Forget running shoes, this is what I want

On my wish list

Today’s run (treadmill): 4.5 miles

Hey guess what, it’s snowing again! I really don’t mind all the snow this season, since I no longer need to commute every day on the Long Island Railroad. What I don’t like are the limited options I have for running these days. The treadmill is a handy choice, but even with the TV or music on, I find running in place to be tough on the mind.

Last week I was in industry meetings and I had a chance to catch up with my friend (and occasional running partner) KWL. We were talking about how the weather has affected our training and we agreed that snowshoes would be a handy thing to have. I’ve considered buying them in previous years, but the cost seemed high for the use I’d get out of them.

Now that we’re into the last months of winter, I’ve noticed prices are dropping. But the lowest cost I’ve seen for adult snowshoes is still over $100 a pair. If I was confident that we’d see similar levels of snow in 2015 I’d certainly consider the investment. KWL, who is a master craftsman, suggested that we build our own. Easy for him to say.

This looks like a lot of trouble

Without snowshoes to get me outside, I wound up on the treadmill again today. It was a fine workout and I went as long I could with the time I had. The light snow coming down right now shouldn’t amount to much, compared to everything we’ve seen this week. My kids go out in the snow at every opportunity. Even without snowshoes, they always seem to have a great time. Maybe that’s a workout I should consider.

A Valentine’s running treat

I heart insoles

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.5 miles

Happy Valentine’s Day. This is a nice holiday because it’s providing a nice diversion from all the cold, ice and snow we’re having. I got some shoveling in today so I can check the cross training box once again. I also ran on the treadmill this morning and can check the running while un-stimulated box. But I did give my feet a Valentine.

A few weeks ago I bought two pairs of gel insoles for my shoes, so my feet wouldn’t end up blistered and sore after a walking around NYC all day. They do a good job compared to regular insoles and I’ve felt much better after covering five or more miles on city streets. My Saucony Kinvaras have about 700 miles on them and they have served as my treadmill shoes for the last 200. The Kinvara 3’s have held up very well, but I think the mid-soles have lost a lot of their support. I decided to try the other pair of insoles for today’s run and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

I was concerned that the gels would be too mushy, but they turned out to be very supportive. My Kinvaras suddenly felt more like my old Adrenalins which provided a nice combination of cushioning and response. The biggest benefit came from lower fatigue in my calves and less strain underfoot. The tedium of the treadmill was somewhat mitigated by this additional comfort. Why hadn’t I tried this before?

Time for a snow bank withdrawal

Today’s weather took a turn for the better and the temperatures finally rose above 32°, allowing some snow to melt. There’s still plenty left and the snowbanks along my driveway remain about 4′ high. I had hoped this would be enough to clear the roads for weekend running, but today’s melt hardly made a dent. Temperatures have dropped again and we’re expecting about three more inches tomorrow. So more treadmilling this weekend. At least my feet will be happy.

Hey, remember me?

Hence, the treadmill

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

It’s been a few days since I last posted due to both a lack of time and subject matter. It’s Thursday and my grand total for the week is three and a quarter miles. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in the city. Those days started early and went late and I didn’t have an opportunity to work out. I covered plenty on miles on foot, so that counts for something, right? Most of that walking was done at a brisk pace due to the face-freezing temperatures that were caused by head-on winds.

But I write about my running, and not my walking (generally), so I didn’t have much to post. I suppose I could have written about my meetings, but this blog isn’t The Emerging Business Guy. I’ve felt weirdly out of the running loop, especially since the Runsketeers were due to dominate on Saturday’s trail relay and there were probably things to discuss. We learned that the race was canceled due to the two feet of wet snow that’s being dumped on us right now.

I have to admit that I’m partially relieved that this race has been postponed until March. I have not trained well for the Bethpage relay that requires full tilt running for two miles. All the treadmill running that I’ve been doing has taken away whatever edge I had. My treadmill sessions haven’t been as performance oriented as an equivalent run on the road. My experience on Sunday, running on pavement for only the fourth time in 2014(!), revealed a conditioning gap caused by a lack of road time.

Today’s run was on the treadmill, due to the foot-plus of snow already we’ve received. I’d shoveled in the morning and I suspect that explains the lack of focus I had on my run. I ran at my normal speed but I felt detached and unconnected the whole time. On the plus side, I got in my first run after three days off, but I’m definitely not in the zone. I’ll blame it on the weather and look forward to the clear roads and warmer temperatures that will eventually come. Unless we’ve just begun a new Ice Age…

Snowed out at the track, but not at the park

Track was snow go

Today’s run (street): 4 miles

I ended up wimping out of the GLIRC run today. I debated whether to head over and see the condition of that route (it would have been a five minute drive), but finally decided to pursue a different workout. I haven’t focused much on my speed lately and the Bethpage trail relay is next week. A track workout would be ideal so (after much preparation and stalling) I made my way to the high school track.

I was hoping the track would be clear, but when I arrived I saw that it was covered by at least three inches of snow. It would have been perfect conditions for Yaktrax or snowshoes. I was dressed for a cold outdoor run and didn’t want to return home to the treadmill so I thought about my other options. First was the paved area at Stillwell that was right across the street. I knew that I could run a .6 mile loop there. Similarly, I thought about running the half mile route around the driveway loops at the middle school in my neighborhood.

Neither choice appealed to me, so I started to head toward the GLIRC office. I figured that I could park around there and pick up the northern end of the bike trail where the Clubhouse runs start. On my way there, I swung through the local business park and saw that it had clear roads and sparse traffic. I pulled into one of the lots and started a run going clockwise around the loop.

I had put on a lot of layers and immediately noticed how it restricted my stride. The 1.2 mile loop rises and falls with the clockwise direction, providing about 40 feet of elevation gain within a .4 mile section. I usually run it that way, rather than going in the opposite direction where that elevation stretches across 3/4 of a mile.

After so many treadmill runs in the past few weeks, I found the pavement a little jarring. I thought about my blogger buddy SIOR who goes out for runs in the double digits a few times a week (20 miles yesterday!) while I struggled to get my road legs back. Soon enough, the snow will leave us and I’ll begin my base training runs for the half marathon that will culminate with 12+ mile runs.

At 2.8 miles I needed to stop at an intersection where a few cars were taking a left toward Jericho Turnpike. I hit stop on the Garmin while the cars went by and (apparently) did not properly restart it. About five minutes later, I heard a beep and saw that the Garmin was shutting down to preserve battery. I restarted the watch and tried to estimate how much further I’d need to run to cover four miles.

Round and round the park

I figured that a side route towards the Route 135 underpass would gain me the distance I’d need to make four miles. I would have aimed for more distance, but my right knee was feeling slightly sore. I finished up fast, with my best pace of the run on the last quarter mile. I knew it was the right time to stop when I reached the lot where I parked. I Gmapped my route when I got home and confirmed my distance.

I only covered about eight miles over the weekend, despite my goal of doing ten. That was fine because my legs got a good workout, especially today. I do need to dial up the speed to help prepare for next weekend. With snow falling tonight, that will probably have to happen on the treadmill.

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.

The freezing rain workout

 

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

Yesterday morning did not work out for a run. The overnight snowfall was saturated with freezing rain and my schedule was too tight to allow time for both shoveling and doing a workout. I was due to give a webinar later in the morning, preceded by some planning calls. Weather conditions were so bad they closed the schools and I figured that was due to the ice covered roads.

We only received a few inches of snow so I thought I could easily push it off the driveway. That was a bad assumption. The weight of this snow made it hard to move it more than a couple of feet. A full shovel’s worth of the stuff probably weighed over 30 pounds. I figured out a way to clear the drive and walk, but it took me three times as long as it did during the last snowfall. After about 40 minutes, my wife was able to join me and that cut the time considerably. No run yesterday, but I did get a good upper arm workout.

The still icy roads made the treadmill my only option this morning. I could have also used the elliptical, but I wanted to run. I had an early call scheduled, so I set the speed slightly faster than my comfort level. If everything went according to plan, I’d be able to finish, shower and still have a few minutes before the start of the call. I ended up cutting it close, but I made it. I was very tired by the end.

I’m in there!

Earlier this week I received my first copy of Footnotes, the Greater Long Island Running Club’s (GLIRC) official magazine. That, added to my recently received GLIRC 2014 calendar, made me feel like a real member. It was interesting to see that there are group activities listed in the magazine that don’t seem to be on the website (if they are they’re hard to find). Looking further, I saw that I was mentioned as a new member. Yay!

Black ice and snowy running at Bethpage

One of the clearer spots on the trail

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 4.3 miles

Enough was enough after two weeks of nothing but indoor running. I felt the need to get outside and reacquaint myself with the road. My neighborhood streets have pretty much cleared and yesterday’s “warmer” temperatures exposed a lot more of the sidewalks. Safer for running, but not ideal. Assuming the Bethpage bike trails would be similarly clear, I figured that would be a better bet. This is why I don’t gamble.

I’d traded Facebook notes this morning with The Petite Pacer (TPP) and She Is Out Running (SIOR) and mentioned my plan to run at Bethpage Park. TPP expressed some interest in running there as well. I wasn’t sure I would be heading there, but I hoped I’d see her if I did. When I arrived I was disappointed to see that the trails were covered in white. The only views of the pavement came from the narrow tire-tracked sections.

View of the southern trail head

I parked in the lot and was delighted to see TPP’s very distinctive car pull in a minute later. I think I surprised her when I walked over while she prepared her gear. We noted the poor condition of the trails and started our run at the northern trail head along the 4″ of exposed asphalt. Soon enough, we reached sections consisting only of ice over snow. This forced us to the edges, that were a more stable crusty snow.

Most of our running required side stepping between tire exposed asphalt, packed (but not icy) snow and compressed leaves flattened by vehicle traffic. I followed TPP for the most part, and she did a great job of guiding us through the more treacherous segments. Every once in a while she’d point to black ice. I did have a couple of missteps along the way, but thankfully nothing that caused a fall.

Can you believe we just ran that?

My plan, after seeing the poor trail conditions, was to cover four miles rather than my original target of five. My reasoning was that every step I took was a potential chance for a spill. That, along with the additional work that was required to avoid hazards, made four miles a great workout. We returned to our starting point where I finished my run and TPP headed off to do another couple of miles.

I would have liked to cover a little more distance today, but perhaps I will tomorrow. The temperatures are supposed to remain above freezing through the weekend, so I may try a neighborhood run on Sunday. With most people staying home to watch Superbowl pre-game shows, the roads may be fairly free of traffic. At the very least, I won’t be dealing with the hazardous conditions I saw at Bethpage this morning.

Nature’s gym: early morning workout

4:30 AM workout (Mrs. Emerging Runner)

The ten or so inches of snow that were dropped on Long Island today provided an excuse to skip my run and forced the need for some upper body exercise. I’m not a big snow-blower fan and hiring people to plow the driveway is a hit-or-miss thing (Are they coming? What if they don’t?). Over the years my wife and I have followed a strategy where we shovel the drive throughout a snowstorm so we never have to deal with big accumulations.

In the past we’ve gone out in the middle of the night to shovel, went back to sleep for a few hours and went out again early in the morning. Those were the days when I needed to get to the LIRR by 6:15 AM to catch the train into the city. I’m happy to say those days are gone. So instead of getting up at 1:00 AM, we went out this morning at 4:30 and dealt with about six inches of snow, freezing temperatures and blowing winds. My glasses alternated between fogging up due to trapping breath in my balaclava and going opaque from the snow freezing on the lenses. It was not as much fun as I’m describing it.

That was the worst of of it and we all went out again later to clean up the residual inches and dig our way past the wall left by the town plows. Through all of that, I got to use many neglected muscles above the waist, but I pushed far more than I lifted. I could have done a treadmill run today but I thought the shoveling workout would suffice as my workout of the day.

I don’t think the roads will be in shape for outdoor running tomorrow so I’ll definitely be on the treadmill on Saturday. Sunday’s temperatures are supposed to reach 41° and that might be an opportunity to get back outside. My 2014 running streak has come to an end all too soon, but 33% of my workouts this year have been upper body! If I could continue that ratio throughout 2014, I’d be in great shape.