Friday, December 09, 2011
Yesterday I noticed I was walking in weather that was really better for running, because I'd run two days in a row and yesterday was a day off running. I got some comments, including a description of a 5 day a week running pattern of 3 days run, day off, 2 days run, day off. If I think about that, it would be natural for my three day stretch to be Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, because I'm doing shorter runs on my lunch hour during the week.
Of course, I missed that opportunity this week by not running yesterday. So now I'm looking at the three day stretch being my long weekend, Friday-Saturday-Sunday. Well, let's just see how it goes.
I slept in this morning, till about 7:15. That's an hour and a quarter after the alarm, but I got to bed an hour later than I intended last night. My body soaked up nine hours of sleep, but today I don't feel any of the lingering effects of the cold I started to catch a week ago. That's really quick for me to get over a cold, and I'm happy with that. Being fit and getting excess sleep seems to be the way to go!
Being up an hour later than normal, I saw snow flakes in the air and a coating of snow on the grass out my window. In the past, this would have kept me indoors. Today, I went through my normal breakfast routine a bit more leisurely than normal, then set out for a run. Let's see . . . 32° F (0° C) and snowing. There's a bit of snow sticking to the driveway. Doesn't look like much wind.
I know how to dress for this, but had to make compromises. My running wardrobe is built on the assumption of running 4 days a week and doing laundry weekly. I'll need to buy more compression shorts before I run tomorrow, and I used ordinary white crew socks instead of the good wool running socks today. Other than that, variable weather bailed me out and I have enough of everything.
With one thing and another, I didn't actually start running till 9:15. By then, the snow had melted off the paved surfaces. There were still a few flakes in the air, but that quit before I'd run a mile. I saw the sun dimly through the southern clouds as I was eastbound, and after I crested the big hill the clouds thinned enough that I cast a shadow. It's turned out to be a much nicer day than forecast.
Bearing in mind that I want to run three days in a row, and I want a long run tomorrow, I omitted the little hills and tried to arrange my route to run 30 minutes. With a variable pace and inaccurate calculations, it turned out to be 31 minutes mapping out to 4.32 miles for a 7:11 pace per mile. Good enough. We'll see how that affects my pace tomorrow morning, when I'd normally expect to be in the 7:15 to 7:30 range on a route of 10K or a bit more.
The only minor disappointment is that if I'd got to bed at 9 instead of 10, I could have seen what running was like with snow falling. Oh, well. I'm sure I got lighter traffic to deal with out of the deal, and that I'll have plenty of future opportunities to run in the falling snow.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
I ran on my lunch hour Tuesday and Wednesday, which made today a non-running day. As I was walking part of the route I might otherwise run, I noticed a cold wind from the west and south. It wasn't that cold, maybe 36°, but that wind made it feel colder. I cheated and ran up the incline to a bridge across the river, just to generate some body heat.
It really was a nicer day for running than for walking. Did I really think that? The guy who could walk 6 or 8 miles but couldn't run 2? Yes, I really thought that as I was walking my lousy 2.5 miles at lunch.
The past few weeks I've been mostly taking Thursdays and Fridays off from running, then running Saturday and Sunday. But I have tomorrow off work, spending a "use it or lose it" paid day off. Days off require some attention to activitiy to get my 10K steps in, and the weather forecast for tomorrow is like today was . . . only plus snow showers. Better weather for running than for walking.
Hmm. My sister says flexibility is important in scheduling exercise. That has the ring of truth. Maybe I can try running three days in a row, if I don't make them all long runs. Certainly I've developed to the point where running 3.5 miles two days in a row doesn't make me feel like I can't run the third day; I've just been cautious about getting those rest days. Worst case, maybe I turn Sunday into a walking day. At least it's supposed to be sunny Sunday afternoon.
Of course, this weather that looks better for running than for walking is *normal* December weather here. If the rest of the month turns out close to normal, I could end up running 5 days a week instead of 4. That sounds like an obsession, maybe almost an addiction.
Are there any 12 step programs for running addicts? I'd guess that they're aren't; you'd have a hard time getting a running addict to stop after only 12 steps.
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Last night I was tired enough to go to bed just before 8 PM, without blogging on SP. Ten hours later, I was up with the alarm clock. Today I felt pretty good. The cold that I started to catch on Friday is almost gone.
I remember colds that would stay get better on weekends, then linger all work week long until the next weekend. What's different this time is, I'm more fit; and I'm much more disciplined about bedtime. Now I know that when I'm healthy I need 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep per night. My body soaking up 10 hours of sleep tells me that it has work to do taking care of that cold.
And it did work. I'm using less cold medicine, and functioning better than with past colds. I ran on Saturday and Sunday, the first two full days of the cold. Took Monday off from running as scheduled, and had lousy energy like I might expect on a work day with a cold; but today was much better. Back to running at lunch and functioning normally.
I could give a description of the lunch run, but it wasn't anything unusual for these days. Forecast temperature was 38° F, and I neglected to look at the actual temperature; but the forecast was probably close. It was overcast with a noticeable but not oppressive wind from the north and west. I dressed for the run, and felt good running 3.52 miles in 25 minutes.
The interesting thing was a comment in the locker room as I was gearing down for my shower. Another guy was gearing up for his run. His buddy asked him what his winter goal was, and he said, "I want to never touch a treadmill this winter."
Here's a runner. There is no question that he's going to run; the only question is, will he run outside or will he be forced onto the treadmill? His goal is to keep running outside.
That's where I want to be. My winter goal is to keep running through the winter, outside. I think I can do it, if I get enough sleep to make recovery from illness quick and easy.
Speaking of which, I should wind down and get the sleep I need tonight.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
I began to come down with a cold Friday evening. So far, this cold isn't a raging terror. I don't know how much of that is just that this is a mild cold, and how much is that my body can deal with it better because I'm pretty fit. I've never had a cold while I've been this fit. (Okay, I've never been this fit before in my life, unless it was in my early 20s when I was working a job that involved manual labor and I wasn't paying attention to fitness.) I also had the luxury of being able to go to bed before 8 last night, and get over 10 hours of sleep; that had to help some.
I think today is the peak day of the cold. I felt relatively lousy when I got up. Took some cold meds, did a few tentative kettlebell swings for a routine warmup, and decided I wasn't up to my morning TGUs. Got breakfast, and stared at the Spark Points. Went back and did my TGU/Windmill combos with a 35 lb. kettlebell instead of the now-usual 45 lb. KB. 35 lbs. makes them pretty easy now! I felt good enough about that to do the KB snatches with the 45 lb. KB; they were harder than normal, but I could do them.
Today was a day of early to church for handbell practice before playing in the service. I noticed that I was tired standing as long as normal; that has to be the cold. After handbell practice comes the pre-service choir practice; I sat for as much of that as I could. I didn't feel as robust as usual, but a church service is not physically taxing.
By the time I was headed home, I thought I was ready for a nap. I ate at Taco Bell rather than face the prospect of fixing my own lunch. With those calories inside me, I felt a whole lot better.
Light bulb moment: I've been reading advice for years about eating 4 to 6 small meals per day instead of one large meal. This advice is generally aimed at weight lifters or people training for sports. I'm running 3 or 4 days a week. I've noticed a need for morning and afternoon snacks at work. It's a long time from breakfast to the end of the church service.
Heh. I'm already taking a small bag of almonds (28 grams) to eat after church. I suspect the cold just magnified the effect of not having a morning snack.
I'm feeling so good when I get home, I look at the weather. 56° F and sunny. Perfect running weather. I've read many times that if your cold stays above the neck, you should exercise as normal. That describes my cold, so let's use this gift of weather. If totally healthy, I'd wear shorts and a tee shirt; my concessions to the cold were wearing a long sleeved light weight compression shirt, taking another dose of cold meds, and using my allergy med to control the dripping nose. That worked out.
Yesterday CAROLJEAN64 asked what I think about as I run. I never really paid attention to that, until she asked. Today my thoughts were mostly on the state of my health, how much I could run, whether I was pushing too hard, whether I could handle the little hills (the big hill being out of the question today), how long I could run, and whether adding a little more time was unwise. I guess I'm not to the point where I can just run and meditate, or run and compose my next novel. The answers that popped out of these thoughts were, the cold wasn't particularly noticeable once I was running, I could push it to run 30 minutes but it probably wouldn't have been smart to push for 35 minutes, I could handle all three segments of little hills (but didn't know for sure until after I'd done two), and I declined to add distance at the end to make it a 35 minute run. Maybe I could have added the distance, but this wasn't a day to take a chance with pushing it.
The run came in at 4.32 miles in 31:30. That's a good time, long enough to cover 30 minutes but not long enough to tempt me into keeping going for one more Spark Point. That works out to a 7:18 pace per mile, which is faster than I felt like I was running but still not the faster end of my training pace. I think that's about right for my condition today.
I'm looking forward to this cold being gone, because it has reduced my energy level. Some of the stuff I think I ought to get done on the weekend hasn't been done, because getting more sleep became a priority. But the analytical part of my mind notes that the cold didn't manage to squeeze out either weekend run, though it did tone down the Sunday run. That tells me something about where my priorities are, and fitness is up there where it belongs.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Today there was an organized 5K race about 5 miles from home. It was a beautiful, sunny day at 10 AM when the race was scheduled to start. The course was advertised as flat and easy, and runners were invited to dress in costume for the Christmas season.
I wasn't there. I had thought about this one, 9 days after the 10K I ran on Thanksgiving, and decided that breakfast at 9 AM with my daughter was more important. Looking forward, I have one issue or another with the schedule of all the local races for December. I might make the cheap snow run the evening of Wednesday December 21; or I might decide that this is too much to add to the end of a work day, even if there is no choir rehearsal that day. Then in January it's tax season, and adding organized races to my commitment as a volunteer would be foolhardy. Chances are, race season is over for me until April.
That doesn't mean I won't run. The plan is to try to keep running through the winter; it just won't be organized events.
In lieu of the organized 5K this morning, I hit the road at 7:12 am for a run before meeting my daughter at McDonald's. This is kind of a bad start, so Spark time got squeezed out of the early morning. It was 25° F (-4° C) and clear, with minimal wind. I decided to wear my warmer compression top plus a midlayer, and my warmer compression tights plus running shorts over them for the pocket and a place to hand the cell phone. I dithered a while, and settled on my lighter running gloves.
If I had to do it again, I'd add another light layer on top. I don't know whether I'd take my warmer gloves. My torso was chilly for the first mile, and whenever I was headed into what little wind there was after that. My hands were cold for the first two or three miles. I'm told that if I'm warm when I start running, I'm overdressed; I wasn't overdressed today.
Ran the big hill, the hard direction. As I approached the peak, I saw a glow on the eastern horizon, but no sunrise. I started a minute later than last Sunday, but it's also 6 days closer to the winter solstice. Then as I got past the peak and some obscuring buildings, I saw a beautiful half disk of the sun on the horizon. I think I'll have to get moving sooner if I want a chance to see that again next week.
Traffic was light enough that I could cross the major road in stride, twice. On the way back, I ran all three of my smaller training hill segments, but in the reverse direction of what I usually run them. That was different. The stretches that are usually downhill were uphill, with surprises about where it was harder or easier. The stretches that are usually uphill were downhill, some of it fairly steep. I learned to take a shorter stride with a quicker cadence to keep the speed up and reduce the impact on my joints.
There was frost on the grass, and in the later part of the run I saw frost on the residential streets where there is a lot of daytime shade. I even saw a patch of ice on one of the sidewalks. All of this was easily evaded, as traffic there was nonexistent.
I thought I was running rather slowly later on, and it didn't feel natural to pick up the pace very much. So it wasn't a huge shock when the run mapped out to 6.25 miles in 46:45, for a 7:29 pace per mile. That's toward the slow end of training paces, but it's all good. I don't need to run as fast as I can every day, and it felt good to keep running that long. It also occurs to me that I might simply be less efficient at 25° than at 40°. Or maybe the head cold I started to come down with last night did something, though I didn't notice it during the run. As colds go, this one is pretty mild.
25° F is my coldest run to date, and I have not exhausted my wardrobe for running in cold weather. If there is little wind and the roads are dry, I think I could dress to run down to 15° F (-9° C) with what I already have in my closet. The interesting part will be figuring out what to do when there isn't dry pavement, there's precipitation in the air, and/or there's significant wind at these temperatures.
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