Monday, June 11, 2012

A Long Run, a Black & White Observer, and Garmin Foot Pod

Welcome everyone !

This week (June 3 - 9, 2012) started off the summer with my first run of 20 miles in quite some time. In fact, the last time I've run that far at once (or further) was the marathon at the end of February. It's actually quite a balancing act for me...balancing a longer effort against my desire to continue to remain free from injury, and not have to take a lot of days off to recuperate. In that regard, I feel like this latest effort was a true success. I was able to do an easy bike ride the following day, and resume running the day after that. I was actually quite surprised that I was able to bounce back so quickly. I still had to take it kind of easy, but the joints, etc. didn't cry out too much.

That being said, I can't say it was "easy". From the very beginning (when I first woke up), I really didn't "want" to do it, and I'm not sure that changed during the run either. There were a few times when just stopping and walking back home seemed like a great idea, but I just kept zoning out and putting one foot in front of the other. I started REALLY early (I love to run when it is peaceful outside) at 3:05 a.m. It was 77 degrees even then, with a south wind at 4, and 70% humidity. One of my flashing lights fell off my belt in the back at about the 3 mile mark and broke, but I had a couple of others so it was no big deal.

My route took me from home, to the west past my office to a park just on the other side of the toll road, around that park, and back. I rally prefer out-and-back routes more so than loops. If I'm really not "in the mood" during the run, a loop course is just that much more of an excuse to cut it short and convince myself that I've done enough for the day. It is always sort of a pick-me-up to know that at a certain point, every step is one step closer to home.

Right at the 15 mile mark, I picked up the glowing eyes of a small creature in the road ahead of me about 75 - 100 yards away which just stopped and stared at me till I was about 20 yards away, then proceeded on across the road. It was only then (when it turned it's back to me) that I noticed that it was a skunk. I kept my eye on him to ensure I hadn't "upset" him till I was well past him. Now THAT would have been an experience. He probably just couldn't believe his eyes...some old guy with a headlight and two flashing lights in the back, huffing and puffing down the middle of the road in the dark just a bit after 5 a.m. Probably thought I was nuts.

Things started to feel a bit easier at the 17 mile mark, and my pace actually improved slightly from there to the finish. By the time I finished, it had actually cooled a bit to 73 degrees, a slight south wind, and 80% humidity. In the end, I was just glad it was over....just felt tired. But it WAS another one in the bag, 20.08 miles in 3:02:43, which is an overall 9:06 pace.

One of the new toys I got during this week was the foot pod that goes with my Garmin. It is about the size of a quarter, and weighs about 10 ounces (a little less than an Oreo cookie). It snaps over the shoelaces of one shoe, and although one "can" use it instead of the GPS for distance measurement, I was mainly interested in its ability to provide feedback on my running cadence. I've read in numerous places that a cadence of 180 spm (steps per minute) or better can assist in preventing heel striking, and is more in line with an overall efficient running style. That type of leg turnover helps to keep one light on one's feet, and reduce pounding and jarring (to an extent anyway). My first run with this was the long run above, where I averaged 194 spm, and during the run it stayed in the range of 192 spm to 198 spm. Throughout the rest of the week, I've found that I average about 196 spm, so I suppose my cadence is appropriate. I know, I'm a numbers junky :-)

Given that my post-long run recovery went as well as it did, I was able to run on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday as well. Since these were "normal" distance days for me (or what has become normal), that led to my being able to set a new high-water mark for weekly mileage, taking it from 41.72 miles, to 46.10 miles !!! :-)

Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles) Avg. Heart Rate Max Heart Rate
Sunday Running 20.08 150 162
Monday Cycling 20.52 --- ---
Tuesday Running 6.30 144 184
Wednesday Running 6.56 143 156
Thursday Running 6.63 144 172
Friday Cycling 20.14 107 137
Walking 0.10 --- ---
Saturday Running 6.53 153 172

 These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 6:47:24 46.10
Walking 0:02:00 0.10
Cycling 2:54:05 40.66
-------------- -------------- --------------
Overall Total 9:43:29 86.86

Day   Activity   Sets Reps Recovery Interval
Sunday Situps 1 50 ---
Monday Situps 1 50 ---
Tuesday Situps 1 25 ---
Pullups 10 7 3:00
Wednesday Situps 1 50 ---
Hip Raises 1 50 ----
Thursday Situps 1 25 ---
Dips 5 15 5:00
Friday Situps 1 25 ----
Saturday Situps 1 50 ----

This week didn't have nearly as much upper body work as weeks in the past, although I did do quite a bit better on consistently putting in some abdominal work. It isn't a great deal, but even in just this one week, I can feel a difference. Also, I've had shoulder and elbow issues in the past from over-working those areas, so I need to take care that I don't injure myself. As such, I probably tend to err on the side of being overly conservative. What a drag it is getting old.

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

New High Mileage Month, and Steady Training

Welcome everyone ! This week (May 27 - June 2, 2012) contained the Patriot Half Marathon that I reviewed on my last post, as well as just some "normal" training runs. The temperatures have remained largely in the low to mid 70's during this week, and Saturday was relatively light since I planned a long run for early Sunday morning.

The soreness / stiffness in my knees has continued, most especially when I either have a hard effort, or have 2-3 days in a row. I've been either taking a rest day from anything involving my legs, or doing a gentle bike ride the following day when that occurs, and that has worked thus far. The balancing act continues.

While this last week's mileage wasn't anything spectacular (although I have managed to keep my running mileage in the 30+ mpw range and have for the last 5 weeks in a row, and 7 out of the last 9), I did manage to blow my previous high-water mark for monthly mileage completely out of the water, taking it from 129.6 miles (April 2012), to 157.35 miles for May !!!

Of course, setting another high-water mark like that probably won't occur for a bit, but it was fun to pass the 150 mile mark without feeling like I was going out of my way or risking injury to do so. :-)

Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles) Avg. Heart Rate Max Heart Rate
Sunday Cycling 21.01 --- ---
Monday Running 13.14 --- ---
Tuesday Rest Day ---- --- ---
Wednesday Running 6.08 150 168
Thursday Running 6.39 143 155
Friday Running 8.42 143 154
Saturday Cycling 21.20 102 133
Running 1.21 134 150

 These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 5:08:19 35.24
Cycling 2:55:39 42.21
-------------- -------------- --------------
Overall Total 8:03:58 77.45

Day   Activity   Sets Reps Recovery Interval
Sunday Rest Day --- --- ---
Monday Rest Day --- --- ---
Tuesday Rest Day --- --- ---
Wednesday Pullups 5 8 5:00
Thursday Dips 8 10 3:00
Friday Situps 1 25 ----
Saturday Pullups 1 13 ----
Situps 1 50 ----

Even though it didn't really feel like it, I had a pretty light week of cross training this last week. At least I've managed to start slowly working back in some ab-specific work, even though it is situps. Of all the ab-specific exercises, these are (in my opinion) the least focused on the abdominals, but it is a part of this month's challenge so I'll stick with these and see where I end up this month.

Happy Running Everyone !!!