Tuesday, December 10, 2013
It's Tuesday, a work at home day and a day to run on the lunch hour. Noon found the temperature at 26° F, with west winds 13-16 mph. I started running in a snow shower, but that quit and I had hazy sunshine by the time I finished. This is good running weather, as I'm not drenched in sweat when I get done and I can just sit at the computer and respond to emails in the afternoon while still wearing my running tights and base layer. They're quite comfy at the 68° temperature indoors.
While the weather conditions were similar to those for my run Saturday, this time the wind was expected. I made a minor adjustment to clothing, and I ran a more sheltered route around the neighborhood than I had run on Saturday. This put me heading into the west wind on the home stretch, but that was fine.
The plan today was 4.3 miles with three small hills, a familiar lunch route that will become impractical when there is snow on the ground. Since I have a limited amount of time, the idea was to run faster than I did on the weekend, approximating what McMillan would call a tempo run. While I was running harder, the gloves that had been barely adequate on Saturday were fine. I didn't even need to tuck my thumbs into my fist when headed into the wind. Good thing, because I haven't got around to getting warmer gloves yet.
When I got back to my driveway, it wasn't yet thirty minutes; so I kept running until I got the thirty minute beep. RunKeeper reported the effort as 4.41 miles in 29:59, for an average pace of 6:48 per mile. Mile splits were 6:43, 6:57, 6:45, 6:47, and a 6:54 pace for the fraction of a mile. Based on my time in the Thanksgiving Day 10K, McMillan says a tempo run should be at a pace of 6:44 to 7:01 per mile. Close enough.
A few people have commented about my running in cold weather at various times. One mentioned being impressed with my commitment, running in the cold and wind. Another asks if running at the gym is an option. And there will always be comments in favor of the treadmill, when the weather is chilly. Some people express agreement with my preference for cooler running weather, or concern about slick running conditions. As a whole, these comments have motivated me to think a bit about why I like running in the winter.
The first thing I need to bear in mind to understand the various comments is that what temperature is considered cold is relative. I run in what is normal weather for where I live. Cold here is below 20° F. What's cold here would not be cold in Minneapolis, and would not be anywhere near what is considered cold in Calgary. OTOH, temperatures where I debate whether to run in shorts or light tights might be considered very cold in Houston.
I don't live in Houston or Calgary. I live in the Rochester, NY area and I deal with the weather that we get here. That includes lake effect snow in the winter, but after a couple decades you get used to it. For the most part, winter gives me good running weather. Yes, if I had access to an indoor track I'd consider it for the very worst days; but I have not yet seen the very worst days this winter. And the running conditions will have to be truly awful to drive me into the gym onto a treadmill. That, and all the elliptical machines would have to be in use.
But I do understand that when someone in Houston talks about running in 40° weather, to them that's like running in 15° weather would be for me. And I don't even want to think about what it's like to run in Houston in the summer.
This is kind of a long winded way of saying that for me, running in the mid-20s and wind doesn't show commitment. It shows passion. I love to run. Yesterday, on a non-running day with a sedentary morning and an early afternoon blood donation, I showed commitment by walking in a chilly 41° F light rain. That felt colder than today's run did, and it wasn't nearly as much fun as running in a 41° F light rain would be. But I did it, because I'm committed to getting my 10K steps, and I'm committed to taking scheduled days off running to prevent injury.
Today, yesterday's commitment looks like a good idea. The feet are muttering a little less than they did this past weekend. If that trend continues, Saturday might be a good day to start stretching the mileage on the slow runs again.
Sunday, December 08, 2013
There was no snow today. That's always nice in December. I'd prefer that the snow wait until the Christmas traffic is off the roads.
Today was also the second Sunday of my conversion to running four days a week. I got dry roads, shoulders, and sidewalks to run on. When I hit the roads this afternoon, it was 31° F with east wind 6-9 mph and hazy sunshine fading behind light clouds. This is kind of blah walking weather, but it's good running weather.
I wanted to run about the same amount I ran last week, so I ran a minor variation of the same route. I set out to run at the fast end of McMillan's easy run pace, which is 7:33 to 8:33 per mile according to my last 10K result.
Toward the end, it looked like I wouldn't have quite the distance I wanted, so I took an extra jog down my street away from home before turning around. As things happened, that jog was a bit longer than planned because I waited for some cars to pass before turning around. So instead of running just a bit under 5 miles, I ran just a bit over 5 miles. RunKeeper reports the effort as 5.06 miles in 38:18, for an average pace of 7:34 per mile. Yup, fast end of the easy pace range. Mile splits were 7:36, 7:38, 7:39, 7:29, 7:29, and not meaningful for the short distance in excess of 5 miles.
With less wind than yesterday, my gloves were okay without the windproof mitts. But I will need to buy warmer mittens for when it gets colder. Either that, or only do tempo runs in the cold weather. I've been there, and got injured two winters in a row. I think I'll buy warmer mittens.
I'm also seeing some small variations in how I need to dress for the temperature, running deliberately slower. I have the clothes for this, other than the mittens; but I need to learn to deal with another variable (run speed) when selecting winter running clothing. This can be done, and will keep things interesting till I get it down.
I recall that the guys who finished first, second, and third in the 10K on Thanksgiving wore short sleeves and had bare legs, with the temperature possibly below 20° F at the start and probably in the low 20s when I finished. But they ran faster than I can, and presumably generated more heat. I wouldn't have been comfortable with bare legs or short sleeves in that race; but I was comfortable in the same gloves that were a bit chilly at a warmer temperature today, when I was running slower.
Today's run puts the Monday to Sunday week's mileage at 20.51, compared to 20.02 a week ago. I'd wanted to hold close to steady. Given that the prior week included a race, I think this is close enough. Now I need to hold it fairly steady for another week, unless the level of grumbling by my feet decreases (indicating I can run further) or increases (indicating I need to back off).
The wild card is the weather. The last two winters, I was fine until there was snow on the ground, and then I developed issues. At some point this winter, I'll need to deal with snow. History indicates I should deal with it cautiously. A good start is running slower, which I've already been working on. Just have to see what other lessons the snow teaches me, when it arrives.
But for now, I'm enjoying weather that requires neither mowing the lawn nor shoveling snow.
Life is good.
Saturday, December 07, 2013
It's Saturday, and the weather is a bit different from what it was for my Thursday run. When I got out to hit the roads, it was 29° F with WNW winds 13 mph and snow showers. The temperature was expected. The wind was a little stronger than I had expected. The snow showers were not a big deal, and generated no accumulation. But they definitely put a winter feel into my run.
I had chosen to wear my lighter weight running tights, figuring this was a shade too warm for the heavier tights. For the first half mile, I wondered if that was a mistake. After that, my legs were fine. The only other surprise was that I needed to pull the windproof mitts over my gloves, which is rare at this warm a temperature. I guess I'm not yet acclimated to a normal amount of winter wind at a normal winter temperature. Or perhaps I'm still adjusting to running slower; I might have felt warmer running a 7 minute mile.
As things were, I tried to pace today's run like a long run. I started out feeling like I was barely moving, which I need to do if I'm going to have any hope of holding the pace slow later on. This was cold, and I started speeding up a bit during the first mile. After I hit the two little hills just past the second mile, my pace got irretrievably faster than an 8 minute mile; but I stayed within the McMillan recommendation of a long run pace for my 10K time, which gives me a range of 7:37 to 8:52 per mile.
It's hard to run slow in the cold weather. The natural inclination is to speed up to get warm. I may have to learn to dress differently when I want to do a slow run, and I think I need to buy another layer of running gloves if I'm going to run slow at colder temperatures than today with as much wind as today.
The route I follow starts north for about 0.3 miles, then west for about 1.4 miles. I like starting out in this direction because it puts me going into the prevailing westerly winds early in the run, so I don't have a surprise about how cold it is when I'm a long way from home. Once I turned south at about 1.7 miles and wasn't running into the major force of the wind, it wasn't cold any more. It also helped that the snow shower had stopped about then.
I felt so good running eastbound, with the wind at my back, that I decided to run the big hill the easy direction. I like having done the hill, but I miscalculated the distance in my head and ended up running a bit further than I had planned. The original idea was run 6 miles, or maybe 10K today, working on establishing a base for running four days a week. The final effort, per RunKeeper, was 6.87 miles in 55:15, for an average pace of 8:03 per mile. Mile splits were 8:38, 8:23, 7:55, 7:57, 7:49, 7:39, and a 7:58 pace for the last 0.87 mile. That puts my mileage from Sunday through Saturday at 20.31, which is reasonable. The bogey to maintain this distance for the Monday through Sunday week, which is probably how I should look at it, would be to duplicate last Sunday's 4.86 miles tomorrow.
So far, so good with the plan of running four days a week. The feet aren't telling me not to run, but they are kind of muttering that now is not a good time to be ramping up the mileage. That's fine, the original plan was not to push for more mileage this week or next, anyway.
I'm feeling so good about being able to run that yesterday I signed up for a 5K Reindeer Run on December 21. This one shouldn't produce a PR, as I expect it to be crowded for most of the course length. But it should be a fun event. The first 1750 regstrants get reindeer antlers; if I was early enough, I'll wear them for the race.
Thursday, December 05, 2013
It's Thursday, a work at home day and a day to run on my lunch hour. And today, it's a day of reflection on my running goals.
Today was the peak of a period of unseasonably warm weather. Noon arrived with 60° F temperature, cloudy skies, and SSW winds at 15 mph. I took the opportunity to run in shorts and a tee shirt, and to test a pair of summer weight anklet socks I bought at closeout prices on Black Friday. The socks should work fine for running in warm weather, though I might not get to wear them again till March.
In honor of the warmth, I ran the neighborhood route with three small hills that will be closed to me when there is snow on the ground. The streets and sidewalks were mostly damp pavement with some dry patches and a few puddles of snow melt. I only stepped in one puddle, so that's good. The total effort per RunKeeper was 4.30 miles in 30:02 for an average pace of 7:00 per mile. Mile splits were 7:11, 7:00, 6:55, 6:53, and a 6:59 pace for the last 0.30 mile. That's a bit faster than I had planned on Sunday, but it felt good. I did keep the mileage right where planned for a week that I'm converting from three to four running days.
At the suggestion of PAULOBRY, I've been looking at the McMillan running calculator for an estimate of training paces. You put in a recent race time, and it calculates what your training paces should be. Today I looked at it to try to fit what I've been doing into the McMillan framework. Today's pace would be a tempo run based on my October 5K time, or right at the border between a tempo run and a steady state run based on my Thanksgiving 10K time. Yes, the suggested paces got faster with the more recent race time. In October, the suggested long run pace was 7:48 to 9:05; now, it's 7:37 to 8:52. That makes me feel a bit better about having a hard time holding a run slower than an 8 minute mile, but there's more going on here than that.
I watched McMillan's videos describing the long run, tempo run, steady state run, and tempo intervals. I think I have a divergence of goals from what McMillan is coaching. McMillan seems to be coaching to produce the fasted possible race time. There's nothing wrong with that, and many runners have that as a goal.
I don't. While I don't have anything against having a fast race time, I really want to finish with a smile, have an easy recovery, and be able to get back to regular running soon after the race. The idea of resting one day for each mile raced would make me avoid a marathon because I don't want to take a month off.
Looking back, I ran a 5K in October trying to run as fast as I could maintain a steady pace. I deliberately tried to get a 5K PR. I got that PR, and I was surprised that I needed recovery time. In contrast, I ran a 10K on Thanksgiving with the goal of keeping good form, not re-injuring my foot, and having fun. It happened to produce a PR for 10K, but that wasn't the goal. And I was rewarded with the ability to just keep running regularly, which is more important to me than the PR in the 10K.
I think I didn't run that 10K as hard as McMillan would have me run it in the context of the training program. If this is indeed the case, my paces for McMillan-style training would be faster than the suggested paces. But I'm not sure how relevant that is if I want to train for sustainable regular running rather than training for the fastest possible race.
I still want to do the Flower City Challenge half marathon on April 27. I'm 90% sure I'll pay the training arm of the local running store for a program aiming at that one. But I'll be sure to discuss goals with the trainers when this happens. Sustainable, injury-free, and smooth recovery are all more important that fast race time.
This is not an insurmountable divergence of goals. I learned to read about weight lifting and adjust for the fact that primary implied goal of most writers (muscle hypertrophy) is irrelevant to me. I can learn to read about training for road races and adjust for the fact that the fastest possible race time is not my primary goal.
I'd like to be able to run further, and longer. I want to complete a half marathon. I expect to complete that half marathon in a time that will look impressive to many casual runners, but not be in contention for winning the event. Whatever time I achieve, the time won't be as important as finishing, running all the way. And running all the way won't be as important as goal number one, Don't Get Injured.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
I ran a 10K on Thanksgiving Day. It was a lot of fun, I met or exceeded my pre-race goals, and I spent the remainder of Thursday plus all day Friday on a high from having done so well.
Come Saturday and Sunday, and I have a void to fill. I had been focused on that 10K as an intermediate goal, and that goal is now in the past. The ultimate long term goal is to keep running regularly for as long as I can, and the next major goal along the way is a half marathon at the end of April 2014. April is still a bit far off, and the 10K is done. What do I do next to support the running goals?
When I talked to the coach/avid runner/2nd place finisher in my age group after Thursday's 10K, he asked me how many miles I ran. I told him 15 to 20 miles per week. [Pause to check records . . . the recent peak week I ran 16.06 miles. Then I backed off to 8.51 miles the week before the 10K, counting weeks as Monday through Sunday.]
This fellow was blown away at how little I ran for my 10K performance. He claimed that the number one way to run faster was to run more total miles. That may or may not be true for someone training for a race with the idea of competing on speed. From a personal perspective, I did not set out to compete on speed. I set out to simply be able to run the distance, and the speed just kind of happened. Yes, Mr. Testosterone always tells me to run faster; but I've got better at ignoring him, and he's quieter in non-race settings than he used to be.
Still, the more miles idea is attractive to me. It's not attractive for speed; I run fast enough to satisfy myself. It's attractive in terms of training up to that half marathon, which will require I run more miles. And it's attractive in terms of running more days per week. Historical review: I've been running three days a week. Why three? Because I kept getting injured, and restricting myself to three was an attempt to avoide injury.
It was an unsuccessful attempt. I got injured the last time running three days a week, and that motivated me to get into physical therapy.
Out the other end of physical therapy, I'm better at listening to my body. I listened, and took time off from running the week before the 10K. My body rewarded me with a PR time in the 10K even when I was just trying to run sustainably, and with feet that feel as good as they have since getting out of PT.
A side effect of the pre-race injury-recovery taper is that my running schedule was disrupted. I had been running Tuesday - Thursday - Saturday. After the disruption, I ran Saturday, then had a 6 day break, then ran Sunday - Tuesday - Thursday race. And I felt great after that 10K.
The end result of this was that I talked myself into not having a long run this weekend, but instead trying to transition to a four day a week running schedule. So I just ran around the section to the west on Saturday, faster than a slow run pace but slower than a tempo run. The idea was to have enough of a run to support mileage for three days a week, but not so much as to totally eliminate the possibility of a Sunday run and conversion to a Tuesday -Thursday - Saturday - Sunday running schedule.
Today is Sunday. Sunday is typically a tough day to get my 10K steps in, particularly for a non-running day. Today started out with a bit more challenge than a typical Sunday; I got home from church with barely 2000 steps on the pedometer. So, check the weather. 40° F, 3 mph wind, sprinkling rain. Better running weather than walking weather.
So I set out to just run for 30 to 40 minutes, thinking more like 40 to get those steps in. I went around a new running route that would not be advisable on a weekday due to traffic, then tacked on some familiar pieces of the neighborhood at the end. My comfortable but not pushing things pace was a little faster than yesterday, but I avoided hills. Late in the run, 40 minutes felt too aggressive, so I ended up near my driveway at 35 minutes. Total per RunKeeper, 4.86 miles in 35:05 for an average pace of 7:14 per mile. The mile splits were 7:20, 7:15, 7:15, 7:08, and a 7:09 pace for the major fraction of mile 5.
That took care of the problem of fitting my 10K steps in, as I got to the post-run stretching with over 9K steps. Had some minor aches in the feet, but iced them down and they're feeling really good this evening. From what my body is telling me so far, this is a good plan.
By the numbers, that pushes the weekly mileage from Monday through Sunday to 20.02. This is a bit of a big step up from the previous high of 16.06, in violation of the common wisdom to increase mileage no more than 10%. But I would have that problem whenever I went from 3 days to 4 days.
My inner hypochondriac looks at those numbers and worries about injury. Mr. Testosterone looks at those numbers and says to keep doing this, only start stretching one of the weekend runs into a long run. Prudence says that if my feet don't tell me to slow down, I should run a week or two of the 4 day schedule without trying to stretch for more miles, then think about stretching the long run.
So I sit and write this blog, mainly to remind myself of the thought process and to encourage myself to adhere to the prudent path. Four days this week, four days next week, and don't stretch the miles much until mid December.
This will scare my inner hypochondriac, and frustrate Mr. Testosterone; but that's the way I need to play it. Push just a little, and be ready to back off if I'm pushing too much. But don't presume it's too much without testing the limits.
And watch the weight trend. It might be necessary to adjust the nutrition level if I'm running an extra day per week.
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