My first winter run but it’s still weeks away

Face freezing run

Today’s run (street): 4.3 miles
Yesterday’s run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

Brrrr. There are still twelve days until winter, but this morning it felt like January. Even with moderate wind, the 30° temperature felt like 23°. Yesterday morning was a little milder, but still very cold. Due to that (and an early work schedule), I opted to run on the treadmill. I felt like I should get outside even though today’s conditions were even worse than yesterday’s.

My treadmill experience on Friday was actually pretty good. By wearing only running shorts and cranking the fan on my treadmill to maximum, I remained comfortable through most of the run. I set a challenging pace and put on a cable music channel in the hope that it would distract me from the usual tedium. And wouldn’t you know it, it did. Time didn’t stand still as I’d feared and I got to the end faster than expected.

I knew it would be chilly today so I took a little extra time to decide what to wear. Wool running socks, check. City Sport track pants, check. A Nike DriFit base layer, winter weight half zip, lined winter beanie and ASICS mitten gloves rounded out the gear. I added a thin buff that I could pull up to my chin when the wind hit straight on.

Even with that getup it still felt frigid when I stepped outside. Fortunately my Garmin acquired its signal immediately and I was on my way.  A half a mile in, I was still waiting to warm up. The cold wind amplified the low temperature and made my sunglasses feel frozen against my skin. I didn’t began to feel comfortable until I was halfway through the run.

It looks like tomorrow’s weather will be more of the same so I’ll do my best to protect my face from the freezing wind. I know there’s always the treadmill option, but I’ll tough it out as long as I can. If this January is anything like the last, I’ll be spending plenty of time running indoors.

Frozen face syndrome

Saving face

Today’s run (street): 3.5 miles

Winter in January can be brutal and we got a taste of that today. The news was displaying 24° this morning and the howling wind made it seem even colder. I debated staying inside and running on the treadmill until I became distracted with a home electronics project. After finishing that, I bundled up and headed outside to face the freezing cold.

“Feels like” winter

I knew I’d be dealing with wind chill, so I went with track pants, two top layers, plus a windproof jacket, mitten-gloves, fleece hat and the buff that KWL gave me. The buff turned out to be my most valuable piece of gear, protecting my face from the 14 MPH winds. No matter how hard I try, I can never get my clothes completely right. My core got fairly warm, but my extremities bordered on freezing throughout the entire run.

At one point in the run, a neighbor yelled from his front porch, “Boy oh boy, this is some cold running weather!” I replied, “Grab your shoes and join me!” He laughed and wished me luck.

Although the roads were clear of snow, there were patches of ice that I was careful to avoid. The wind, cold, and my freezing face tempted me to head home to the treadmill after a mile. I decided to tough it out and was glad that I did. Running a little distance yesterday should have primed me for a more energetic run today. Unfortunately I had trouble generating speed except in those cases when I was running downhill with the wind to my back.

This will be another tough work week and, once again, I’ll need to go into the office rather than work from home on Friday. That will impact my running schedule, but I’ll try to fit in an elliptical session or treadmill run one night this week.

Windy run with wildlife

Hi neighbor!

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

Somehow it’s gotten to be November and the weather is beginning to hint at winter. I’ve already started planning business for next year. This week, in a moment of insanity, I agreed to a new contract with my present employer for 2015. It’s not that I don’t love what I do. The company is great, the people are wonderful and my work is both interesting and challenging. But the commute is enough to drive a person insane.

All the same, I do enjoy the freedom I have to work from home when it makes sense to do that. Most Fridays I do, including today. Last week I needed to go into the office and that prevented me from getting out for what I think of as my weekend kickoff run. Consequently, I only managed to eke out 12 miles for the entire week. Part of that was because I fell short of my planned distance on Sunday due to the ferocious winds.
Today’s weather was more cooperative, but there was still plenty of wind to deal with. I wore layers to stay comfortable and they came in handy while I waited ten minutes for the Garmin to find all its satellites. I don’t understand why it has trouble acquiring a signal under a cloudless sky, but that has been happening frequently.
Once the GPS was ready, I was off and running (hah!) and I found myself pushing against a fairly stiff wind from the north. Not as bad as Sunday, but enough to slow me down a little. I wondered if I’d get a speed bump when I reached the top of the road and returned in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, having wind at your back never enables progress the way head-on wind inhibits it.
Nothing remarkable on today’s run. The usual negligent drivers and a few dum-dums running with their backs to traffic. I did cross paths with a possum (or is it opossum?) who was waddling across the road as I approached. It looked up at me with its rat-shaped snout and beady pink eyes, but didn’t seem too concerned to see me. It scampered off once I got within ten feet. 
This weekend is the Hope for Warriors 10K, a race I would normally run but I’m still stuck in competitive abstinence mode. My wife and kids will be volunteering again at the race, so I feel a little guilty about not participating. I think my running buds are going to do the Hot Chocolate 5K in December. I’m going to join them and I’m hoping it will reignite my interest in racing.
I’m not sure what I’ll be doing this weekend in terms of training, but I need to make up for my poor showing last weekend. I didn’t even crack 6 miles on Saturday and Sunday was a disappointment. No more admission fees at Bethpage until spring. I may park in the lot and run the southern route tomorrow.

Glittery roads lead to an indoor challenge

From sparkly to sludgy

Today’s workout (treadmill speed and elevation run): 50 minutes

The snow began falling last night when I left the office and it had coated the streets and lawns of my neighborhood by the time I got home. The reflections from the streetlamp revealed ice in the mix, prompting my daughter to compare it to glitter poured all over the road. By morning, that beautiful scene had changed to a dangerous combination of dirt and ice and my only choice would be an indoor workout.

The freezing cold has made outdoor running hard over the past week and I’ve grown tired of the treadmill. I wished we’d already received our new elliptical because it would have been the perfect workout for this cold morning. With no other options, I headed to the treadmill with some new ideas about the run.

Since it was the weekend, I had more time for my workout. I decided to focus the first half of my run on elevation and the second half on speed. I started with 1% elevation and increased that every few minutes until I hit 4%. I maintained the same speed throughout these elevation increases and watched my heart rate climb toward zone 4. At the 15 minute mark I began stepping down the elevation. At 25 minutes I was down to 1% and soon leveled off while blipping up my speed.

It was tough to get through the first 25 minutes with both the elevation and the indoor heat. I began to feel a second wave of energy around the 30 minute mark and wondered if it was induced by ketosis. I took full advantage and increased my speed periodically until my heart rate reached my target. I maintained that pace through the remainder of the run.

It was a really tough workout, far more challenging than my usual treadmill session. I was pleased with today’s effort and glad that the speed and elevation workout had distracted me from the tedium  of the treadmill. Tomorrow I hope to be back on the road or trail. I’d like to cover enough miles to reach my weekly goal.

Even with this freezing weather, my friend KWL is planning to run his first half marathon tomorrow morning in Central Park. I’m wishing him the best, and I know that he’ll do well. I’ll be thinking of him and my friend FS (who will do this Half or a different run) while we all go out in the 18 degree temperatures. Why do we do it? That’s probably a good subject for a future post.

The best $20 you’ll spend on winter running gear

Train station salvation

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

One of the greatest inventions of the 20th century happened in 1994: the creation of 180s™ ear warmers. Yes, I know some people would say that the Internet, the airplane and antibiotics have provided more social benefits, but I think those inventions have just had better marketing. The morning weather around New York has been hovering in the low teens most of this week. My 180s have helped me a heck of a lot more than anything coming out of Silicon Valley. These ear warmers make a huge difference when the chilling winds blow across the train platform.

With the temperature at 14° degrees this morning, I had no intention of running outdoors. Instead, I slogged my way through another treadmill run. Although I pushed a little less today, the workout seemed harder than yesterday’s.  The guestroom, where we keep the treadmill, can get warm on days like this. Although it does a great job of cooling me off in summer, I haven’t been running the big fan this winter. The air is very dry right now and having it forcefully blown into my face seems worse than dealing with sweat-producing heat.

The cold will continue this weekend and I’m going to have to deal with morning temperatures in the teens. I hope that I can choose the right amount of layers to keep me comfortable without making me sweat too much. I have some decent over-the-ears running hats, but on cold mornings (like today) I’ll be adding my 180s to my gear list.

A run that went according to plan

Today’s run (street) 5.3 miles

Although we’d been hearing that the temperatures would rise by this weekend it wasn’t the case this morning. It was barely 20 degrees at 8:00 AM and the sun was blocked by clouds. I’d dressed for the cold (layered compression pants, warm hat, running gloves) but I only wore a half-zip, with a short sleeved jersey on top because I knew I’d eventually get hot. It was breezy but the winds didn’t have the same force as those that I’d faced on Thursday in Central Park.

Once I got going I started to think about route and distance. I often have great ambition at the beginning of a run in terms of what I’m prepared to do. Sometimes I match, or even succeed my intended goal but there are still occasions when I don’t. Happily, today’s energy level matched my plan. I’m on target to run more miles this week than I have in the prior two weeks and it’s easy to explain why. Twice this week I’ve run outside and I’m planning another outside run tomorrow. My runs on the treadmill are great workouts but I just can’t endure it for long periods of time.

Although this morning’s run was contained within the streets of my neighborhood, I still appreciated the winter scene. The snow covered lawns made the suburban roads appear more like country lanes. The cold air helped me along and I maintained a decent pace throughout my planned course. I finished up after completing a little more than five miles. I could have gone longer but I stuck to my plan. It was great to be back on the road again. I could get used to that.