Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Winter is here. It was 27° F (-3° C) this morning with snow in the air and a coating on the ground when I set out to run the route I scoped out yesterday. This is all on streets, with no sidewalks. It goes past a nearby tech park, so I got to deal with some commuter traffic as I started out at 7:43 am.
The wind was reported from the WNW at 15-20 mph, or from the W at 17 mph with gusts to 31 mph, depending on whether I believe the report from before I left or after I got back. I have no way of measuring actual wind speed, but it was definitely a stronger wind than I had run in before, and the major vector was definitely out of the west.
I made my best guess of how to adapt clothing for the wind: Added a tee shirt under the midlayer, and ran without my glasses so I could pull my neck warmer/face cover over my nose. I might not have needed that when northbound, but I really appreciated it when I turned west into that wind. Wore my lighter running tights, which would be fine for this temperature in light wind, and added shell pants for the wind over them. If I had to do it over, I might wear a shell jacket over the midlayer instead of the added tee; but what I did worked out okay.
Road shoulders were generally coated with snow, with partial melting nearer the traffic lanes. Traffic lanes were wet but not slick. It didn't take long to determine what kind of slick was represented by which appearance. The best footing was from running in the traffic lane; of course, I couldn't do that most of the time, either because of oncoming traffic or because of upcoming hills blocking my view of whether there was traffic.
There were inclines and declines on my westbound route, but I didn't really notice them. What I noticed was the wind I was running into, and the light snow that it carried. Early on, I was squinting a lot to keep the snow out of my eyes; by halfway through the westward stretch, either the snow was less or I'd adapted.
Southbound, I found mostly wet and non-slick shoulders, yay! This is the stretch with the hills, which are steep but not terribly long. Got through them all right, though I felt I wasn't running very fast. Under the conditions, safe trumps fast.
Turned back east, and for the first time I noticed that I had a tailwind. That's okay going uphill, and not so good going downhill on a slick shoulder. But not to worry; after I crested the first big hill, the tailwind was a lot less noticeable. The eastbound stretch had small rolling hills, no big deal for running but annoying in that they blocked my view of oncoming traffic. Hence, less running in the better footing of the traffic lanes.
By the time I turned back north toward home, I was feeling the effort. I had been told that it was different to run in snow, and that turns out to be the case. The snow wasn't deep enough to judge fairly whether it was like running in sand, which is the comparison I was given; but running safe on slightly slick shoulders is definitely a different motion than just running on good footing. Discretion being the better part of valor, I slowed to a walk at the first mappable point after I'd been running 30 minutes and treated the remainder of the route as a walking cooldown.
It mapped out to 4.05 miles in 30:18, for a 7:29 pace per mile. I think that's pretty good for the conditions I was running in, and I'm happy with it. I'm especially happy that I'm feeling pretty good the afternoon after the run.
The weather forecast calls for an accumulation of 1 inch today, less than an inch overnight, and another inch tomorrow. Given the weather service's propensity to over-forecast, that could mean anything from no additional accumulation to a bit less than an inch on the ground when I run tomorrow. The forecasters do better with temperature, which is supposed to be colder tomorrow. So any snow we get is likely to stick around, and there's some in my driveway right now.
Since there's a chance I'll be running on real snow covered surfaces instead of just the coating I had today, I doctored my old pair of running shoes with sheet metal screws. The current experiment is #8 x 1/2" screws, with bonded neoprene washers to limit the depth the screws go and provide tension to hold the screws steady. (Thanks to the Lowe's employee who suggested the washers when I asked if there were 3/8" sheet metal screws. I might get by with 1/2" anyway, but I like the tension and the possiblity that the neoprene will seal in any gel filling if the screws went deep enough to hit that.)
I was blessed with really good running weather in November, and better than seasonal running weather in December. Now it looks like true winter weather is upon me. I think I have what I need to keep running through the winter; if not, the missing pieces have to be fairly minor.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Today was a planned non-running day. But the weather was perfect for running this morning, and it was forecast to rain later (which it did) and snow tomorrow.
It was hard not to run, but the fact that I had planned today as a non-running day made it easier to listen to my body asking for a day off. It was kind of worrisome that the legs want a day off after only running one day, and less than 10K on that day. Better give them that day off.
I had some errands to run in the middle of the day, and some sedentary stuff that I wanted to get done, so I started off with a walk around the big section to the west. Normally, I walk or run around the big section to the east, where there are sidewalks and residential streets for route variety; but I wanted to check out the hills I remembered driving over. It looks like a good route to run the opposite direction of what I walked, lack of sidewalks notwithstanding. Best of all, it mapped out to around 4.65 miles, as compared to the 3.5 for the section to the east. 4.65 miles should be 30 to 35 minutes running, which is right where I want to limit the run tomorrow and Thursday.
The beat up legs got me thinking. Let's take all these runs I've entered into SP's fitness tracker, and put them in a spreadsheet where I can play with the numbers. Uh huh. When I was just running, I built up a base of around 17miles a week. Add the 5th day, and the base expanded to 20 miles. Start making the long run longer, and I ran 22 miles a couple of weeks. Then 26 miles the week ending with my 8.75 mile run.
Um. The commonly cited training material says not to expand your mileage by more than 10% a week. I ran into a familiar problem, letting my competitive nature drive me too far, too fast. Older and perhaps a tiny bit wiser, I figured it out fairly quickly this time. So what to do about it?
First, I'll only run 4 days this week. That was already in the plans. Second, since this is a week off work, I need to deliberately limit my Wednesday and Thursday runs. I think I can afford more than the 3.5 miles or so I would get on a weekday lunch run; but I can't afford to stretch them to 10K runs and then try for another long run on Saturday. So the 4.6 to 4.7 miles around the section to the west is looking good, particularly since it has a different pattern of hills to run.
Third, this confirms my previous inclination to limit Saturday's long run to 65 minutes or the same route that I ran last Saturday. I've got ahead of myself, and I need to let the body catch up to where this is normal before I stretch for any more.
Gotta keep that competitive nature under control. If I don't, the end result will be about the same as deciding not to run because other people are better than me.
Monday, December 26, 2011
This morning I woke one minute before the alarm. I was still tired, and tried going back to sleep; after about 10 minutes, I gave up on that and settled for being leisurely about the morning routine. Since I live alone, I can get away with calling it "leisurely"; if I were accountable to someone else, it would look suspiciously like "dawdling".
With one thing and another, and no particular hurry, I didn't hit the road for my run until 8:45. I get to run in the daylight, what luxury! It's 35° F (2° C) and cloudy. There's a west wind that's noticeable but not terribly strong. The streets are damp but not slick, and there's no precipitation in the air. I've run in similar weather, so there's no guessing about the wardrobe.
I did notice the mud stains on my left shoe. Oh, yeah. That was from where the step went "crunch" on Sunday. Apparently there was muddy water under the ice, I broke at about mile 2, and I didn't notice for the remainder of that run. The experienced runner at work has told me I'd be glad of the $13 wool running socks when (not if) I step into a puddle of slush. He was almost right; I was glad of the wool socks after the run, when I realized what had happened. My feet stayed warm for over 6 miles of running after that incident.
Today, there are no problems with slick spots and ice. I set out to run a similar route to what I ran 8 days ago, to work the hills. Early on, I concentrate on keeping the pace up a bit. I get a 7:08 split at one mile, which is before I get to the hills. I figure I should finish somewhere in the 7:15 to 7:20 average pace for the run.
Run the big hill, then all the little ones and the cross-hill road. Take a minor variation on the order of the hills, adding a small amount of distance. When I turn back onto my own road, I kick it up and sprint (kind of) the last 100 meters or so. The run times out at 41:03, and maps to 5.80 miles. That's a 7:05 pace.
Hmm. I didn't expect my average to beat the first mile, and it was faster than it felt like I was running. I would have guessed about a 7:20 pace, because I felt slow on the back end of the run. Then again, I kept consciously picking it up because it felt slow.
7:05 was my pace for a competitive 10K on Thanksgiving day. 5.8 miles isn't that much shorter than a 10K, and I was in much better shape at the end of the run today than I was at mile 6 of the 10K. I am probably more fit, but the bigger difference is that I had a more even pace today than on Thanksgiving.
The competitive spirit makes me think. I'm committed to a half marathon on April 29, with a long uphill. That's why I'm concentrating on working hills now. Sunday I had all the hills in the route, and managed a 7:27 pace even with snow on the ground. I managed a much better pace today with better footing and the expectation of taking tomorrow off from running.
If I can maintain a 7:30 or better pace for 13.1 miles, I should be very competitive in my age group for the HM.
Reminder to self: First goal is to avoid injury. Make sure you can actually run for 100 minutes before you start counting how competitive you can be with how fast you run.
Still, it looks like I've found another stupid motivational trick. Plop down the money to enter a half marathon, and I look at my running differently. I've got four months to figure out whether that's a good thing.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Christmas Eve services started at 9 PM, and I didn't end up going to be until quarter till 11. That didn't miss my goal of 10:30 by very much, but it was quite a bit later than my recent practice of being in bed by 9:30.
The alarm went off at 6 AM as usual on Christmas morning. I hit snooze, and found that I wasn't going back to sleep. So I got up and went through the morning routine. I was a bit slower at it than usual, and my legs felt heavy. This was expected, and confirmed that the decision not to run on Christmas was a good one. I did take a 5K walk before church, to ensure that I could get my 10K steps in. That walk came in at a pace of 14:59 per minute, which was slower than it felt like.
So I enjoyed the Christmas morning church service, and spent Christmas afternoon quietly at home. My daughter came over to do her laundry, as planned. She is on a different schedule than I am, so I fed her lunch with my afternoon snack. Had a nice chat, and she was thrilled with her Christmas present. This worked out very well for a day that needed to be light on physical activity anyway.
After daughter left, I took a walk around the block to fill out my 10K steps. Got my dinner and evening snack to finish the day in calorie and macronutrient ranges. I didn't seem to get much done today, but it was a nice day of rest and recovery. I'll get to bed earlier tonight, and tomorrow should be a better day to get a few things done.
Life is good.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
This morning the weather report was 23° F (-5° C) and cloudy, with wind 13-15 mph from the NNE. Okay, I know how to run in that temperature; let's dress a bit on the warm side because I haven't run in that much wind at that temperature.
Got outside, and the first surprise was a dusting of snow on my driveway. There was also light snow falling. Okay, I've run in light snow before. This can be dealt with. Set out on the same route as a week ago. The plan is to run for 60 minutes, up from last week's 55 minutes.
The wind is not as strong as advertised. I've acquired and applied some lip balm (generic Chap Stick competitor), and my lips are fine. I don't need to pull my neck cover up over my nose at any point in today's run.
There are no slick spots on the trail where I first found them last week, but there's a light snow cover there. It's been cold enough that the earliest flakes remained snow rather than melting and re-freezing. That was good. Turn east and run toward the strip mall. Part way there, a step goes crunch! The snow cover had obscured the places where there are frequently puddles of water, and I'd missed seeing the first one. I thought, good thing it was only crunch, and not crunch-splash. I evaded the next probably puddle, but hit a patch of ice later on. Slipped, but didn't fall. Started keeping a closer watch.
In the parking lot where I found black ice last week, I slowed almost to stop to get onto the sidewalk. Turned out it wasn't slick there. Then there was almost a half mile of covered sidewalk, good footing. After that, snow all the way from the 3 mile mark to the end of the run. I found some slick spots, some visually and some the hard way, but dealt with them. About mile 4 it occured to me that I might be falling down if I were a heel strike runner instead of a forefoot strike runner. Hmm.
Up and over the big hill, I see more traffic than I expect on a Saturday morning. Must be the late Christmas shoppers. Get past there, and into the residential section where I had great footing last week. Found a patch of ice the hard way there, but my momentum carried me forward to land on my other foot and I went on. I probably would have landed on my butt if I'd been a heel strike runner there, but it taught me what to look for. I avoided several similar patches.
Ran the little hills on the back end, and thought I was adding a short distance to make 60 minutes instead of 65. At this point, I feel like I'm running rather slow, but that's okay. Under the conditions, it's more important to run safe than to run fast. Get to 60 minutes, and it's still a ways to my driveway. I decide to run it anyway, because I was running slow.
Get to my driveway, and it's almost 65 minutes. Okay, add a short distance to make 65 and that 13th Spark Point. Do my walking cooldown, go in and stretch, then map the route. 8.75 miles, compared to 7.46 a week ago. Say what?
It turns out I was confusing where I ran last Saturday with where I ran last Sunday. Instead of adding just a little distance to the back end of last Saturday's route, I was adding a little distance to the back end of Sunday's route, which was already longer than that stretch from last Saturday.
Hmm. 8.75 miles in 1:05:12. Average pace of 7:27 per mile, a second slower than a week ago. A good distance run, as I work up toward a half marthon, but stretching more than the training guidelines call for. What to do?
Back up, and remember my goals. Number one is, avoid injury. I'm okay now, but Monday I was compelled to take a day off running after running 12+ miles Saturday and Sunday. Today I ran longer than planned, and my legs were maybe just a little beat up starting out.
Time to back off just a little. I'll take Christmas Day off from running, with the idea of running Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the coming week. Those should be 30-35 minute runs, no big deal, and I should be better prepared for a long run next Saturday. The current plan is to run the same route next week that I ran today, or 65 minutes, whichever is longer. Let's consolidate the ability to run that long before I stretch for something more.
I'll still want a long walk tomorrow to get my 10K steps in, but that's no big deal. The bigger concern is a late night tonight for Christmas Eve services, followed by a normally early morning tomorrow. Yeah, taking Sunday off from running sounds like the prudent thing to do this week.
Note to self: You're committed to a half marathon on April 29, 2012. Your goals, in order of importance, are:
1. Avoid injury
2. Have fun
3. Run the complete course
Goals 2 and 3 are subsidiary to Goal 1. Act accordingly.
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