Category Archives: Running

Today On The Run #8 – Get your streak on!

Still rocking the Runner’s World 40 Days of Awesome Streak.  Today is day 18.  I’m at 185 miles total.

I don’t really need the streak for motivation, but every little bit helps when the weather makes me want to stay in bed more than freeze my face and fingers off running in the dark.

The Runner’s World community is pretty amazing.  Everybody gets a needed slap on the back.  The folks just starting running and struggling to finish 1 mile per day or the folks running marathons (or ultras) already are more or less equal.

I’m totally inspired by stories of other adult onset runners finding the magic of the run. The folks who do all sorts of crazy stuff to keep their streak going.  I’m also humbled by the folks running through real winter, when I all I do is complain constantly about moderate cold in my area.

The stories of finishing their first mile without walking, finishing first real race, or getting a new PR by minutes are uplifting.  The stories of people breaking their streak due to life events or injury weigh heavy on everyone.  The group is there for everyone.

Streak on!

Today On The Run #7 – Radioactive Man

The Mrs asked me what I wanted to for xmas.  Hmm, replace my dead mp3 player?  Another pair of shoes?  Better running gloves?  Decisions, decisions.

I’m really bad about safety gear.   I used to wear a safety light, but the last one I had ate batteries so much, I stopped wearing it because it was always dead.  The few pieces of running gear that were reflective have long since stopped after about a zillion runs through the washing machine.

So I told the Mrs, “I’d like to have a Noxgear Tracer 360 safety light”.  I’d seen them go flying through my Facebook feed a few times, but thought at $69, it was a little overpriced.  But, during cyberweek deals, it was $25 off and free shipping with Amazon prime.  Ok, sign me up.

I hate extra gear when I’m running, so finding something comfortable is a challenge.  Despite what it may seem, the Tracer is super comfortable.  It’s super light and after you get the straps adjusted, it stays put well enough that you can forget you’re wearing it.  It is also not self-distracting, even when you put it one flashing or color changing modes.  I’ve had it out 4 times now and I’m pretty pleased with it so far.

Light output is hasn’t changed after 6 or so hours of run time, so hopefully it won’t require battery changes too often.  Battery changes should be less of a hassle; there’s an easy access battery door that holds 3 standard AAA batteries.

I don’t yet have a feel for if it helps with my general visibility yet; mainly because I don’t see a whole lot of cars in my early morning runs anyway.  But I think it helps at intersections; folks tend to disregard stop signs when they think nobody is looking.  With the Tracer on, I have folks seem to stop and wait for me clear the intersection.

If you’re a dark times runner, check out a Tracer 360 for yourself.

Today On The Run #6 – Therapy

If you don’t follow Runner’s World on Facebook, stop reading now and go follow them.  Tons of good content.  You’re welcome.


 

The Best Therapy Is Right At Your Feet

A great article that describes connections between running and mental health.   It might sound kinda like mumbo jumbo to non-runners, but to me, it is very accurate.

Getting out the door almost every morning at 4:15 to run is tough, I won’t lie.  But, I never, full stop, regret going out on a run.  Even the days where the run doesn’t go well, or end up as planned, I always feel better than when I went out.  Calmer, more relaxed, relieved.

A recent realization for me is that running is both physically and mentally addictive.  If I don’t run, I’m all twitchy on the physical side and feel like I’m not centered mentally. Neither of those problems are super terrible, but easily avoidable simply by running. I’ve had real “runner’s high” a few times and I can tell you that it’s great, but finishing a 10 mile run when it’s 40° out and rain is coming at you sideways, is even better.

Even though I normally run with an mp3 player and some podcasts for distraction.  I usually have something in the back of my brain to ponder.  Sometimes it’s something work related or some challenge to work for/with the family.  More times than not (at least as often as working something out during a shower), I can make measurable progress on the thoughts during the run, and better able to tackle the problem.

I’m pretty committed to running (though my wife thinks I should more likely be committed to a mental facility) since I run every day.   Crossing off days on your calendar is super motivating;  my current streak is 243 days.  To help get me through the holidays, I also signed up the Runner’s World 40 Days of Awesome group, where the challenge is to run at least 1 mile per day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s day.  The streak period hasn’t started yet, and I’m already jazzed reading about other people using the challenge to extend their streaks already in progress.

To the non-believers out there, all I can say is that you have to try and stick with it for a while to get the real results, both physically and mentally. But, for anything that’s really worth it, you always have to work at it.

Today On The Run #5 – Daddy needs a new pair of shoes

Running is almost an affordable sport/exercise/pastime.  Well, except for the shoes.

Every runner and running shoe combination is different, but most experts set a baseline of about 300 miles for a shoe.   At that rate, I’d be replacing my shoes pretty much once a month.  That’s not so terrible, right?  Well, retail price for any middle of the road shoe these days is $120.  Going for discounts and closeouts, its hard to find good stuff for under $80. Going for the high end, and retail starts at $160 and still finds ways to climb.

I’m frugal (and/or cheap) so I really push my kicks to their absolute limit.  I tend to get at least 500 miles out each pair.  Even with that many miles, the shoes on the outside still look pretty new due all road miles and my climate.  They also tend to feel ok;  at least until you try on the follow up new pair and realize how thrashed the old ones were.

How I keep track of miles?  Oh, that’s super painless with Garmin Connect.  Set up a profile for your shoe and then it’s just 2 clicks to tag the shoes to a workout.  I’ve tried to track miles for shoes in the past, but was never successful.  Doing it with the Garmin makes it pretty much a no brainer.

Above are 2 recent pairs.  The Saucony’s where a great pair of shoes; rode them all the way to 671 miles.  They wore great and still even felt good.  The ASICS (with the distinction of being the most expensive shoes I’ve ever purchased, lawd have mercy) still have some more miles to go, as they’re only at 420 miles.   They are a little heavy, but super cushy.  They’ve been demoted to the back up pair.

I’m curious about the wear pattern around the big toe on both those shoes.  I checked some other kicks I have lying around and don’t see a similar pattern.  If it was only one pair or two pairs from the same maker, I’d be tempted to just wave it off.  But 2 different shoes, back to back, seems like there might be a problem there.

My current daily drivers are Saucony Guide 10s.  They’re feeling pretty good.   They’re super tight when they go on, but stretch out to be comfortable during the run.  I do kinda wonder if they run a little different size-wize than the Ride shoes that have been my recent go-tos.

Geez, I guess it’s time to put some more shoes on my wishlist, the holidays are coming fast.

Today On The Run #4 – Wildlife

I normally run really early in the morning.  I’m out the door by 4:15, when I can talk my body into it.  Most of the time time, it’s pretty much just me and the road.

But sometimes, I stumble on other creatures in the dark.  Most of the time, they’re just cats.  There seems to be a fair number of feral cats on the outer edges of town.  They’re bold and stand their ground, but are pretty harmless.

Then, there’s some big flying creature that does a close fly over.  Guessing it doesn’t see me as food, but competition.  Can’t make out much of it in the dark, but I’m guessing it’s probably an owl, given that it’s still dark at the time.  I don’t think the other big birds that are in the area during the day are cruising around yet.  I also hear a lot of hoots, but it’s surprisingly difficult to triangulate where they are.

Then, there’s the coyotes.  I hear them a lot, during the summer; but always in the distance.  I also think I heard some coyote pups.  They sound kinda like a bunch of hyper toddlers, but they’re probably not out in the middle of dark fields.  A month ago I saw one  run by.  The roving security patrol for the neighborhood stopped me the other morning to let me know that folks report seeing a pack of coyotes in the park I just ran through.

Then, there’s skunks.  I’ve run up on skunks dozens of times in the past.  Most of the time, I make them out before getting into the trouble zone and can safely alter my course.  But, a few weeks ago, I didn’t see the skunk it was too late.  I don’t think got a direct hit, but I had at least collateral damage.  Wasn’t terrible, but it did take a few days to fade.

Recently, on my nextdoor.com neighborhood, folks have been reporting seeing a mountain lion.  Wow, that’s pretty wild.  Hey, wait a second…  I know exactly where they’re talking about, and that’s in the first few miles of my daily run.  I run they’re literally everyday at 5am.  Gulp.

Gonna keep my fingers crossed that I don’t meet up with any more wildlife, or maybe start carrying some pepper spray.

Today On The Run #3 – Good bye, Trusty Friend

2017-11-17 06.17.01

SanDisk Clip Jam 8Gb 2/10/17 – 11/17/17

I was listening to podcasts (my normal persuasion) and the player started to make a crackling noise in the headphones.  Then it skipped a bit, then dead air.  Checked it out, said there was no sd-card inserted (where the podcast I was playing was located.)  That can’t be good.  Maybe the sd-card died?

Switched to music stored on the device itself.  Played fine. Phew.  Then, more crackling, skipping, and the whole right channel departed.  Limped it the rest way home.

Tried to turn it off, none of the buttons were responsive and the screen is frozen.  It was also starting to get warm.  It eventually powered, off.  I think the battery ran out.

Manner of death was probably moisture. The display was kinda hazy. While I don’t take it when there’s rain in the forecast, I’m pretty capable of drowning it with my own sweat.

Play on, trusty friend; you’ll be missed. 😢

Today On The Run #2

I’m pretty thankful to have the time, energy, and fitness to run as much as I do.  It also doesn’t hurt that I live in an area where it’s pretty feasible to run all year round.  So, I rack up a lot of mostly trouble free miles.  A lot, in this case means, more than 3,000 miles in the last 12 months.

I’m not superman by any means.  I have cranky hips, knees, and ankles.  Nothing debilitating. I’m pretty sure that’s kinda normal with most runners, especially those of my vintage.  The cold does present a challenge though.

A few years back, I thought I was having a stroke or something weird, because out of the blue my fingers went pale and started to tingle.  It was the middle of winter, but I was just sitting comfortably in my relatively warm house at the time.  It was worrying enough that I went to urgent care.  After a good going over and an MRI, a slight scare over lyme disease, they said it’s Raynaud’s phenomenon, basically extreme numbness in extremities.

The last year we lived in CNY, was one of the coldest February’s on record.  Something like 18 days where the high was in the single digits or less.  That wasn’t terrible, because it also generally doesn’t snow much when its that cold, so you don’t have much reason to be outside.  When it was teens and up and there was lots of snow, is what I dreaded most.  Turns out that vibration is also a Reynaud’s trigger, like when you’re using a rickety old snowblower.  A couple of times, I eclipsed from numbness into pain and had to take a break.

For me, lately, the cut off temperature is about 50 degrees.  Above that, I’m pretty ok without gloves.  Below that, the timer is ticking;  I get about an hour before my hands turn into dysfunctional claws.  While I’m running, I’m fine outside of my hands just feeling a little tingly.  When the run is over, untying my shoes and unlocking the door, are comically frustrating.  Then, there’s some screaming in the shower as the feeling slowly works its way back into the fingers.

It’s been glove weather here in my neck of the woods for a couple of weeks now.  I think the insulative properties of my current running gloves have just about evaporated at this point.  They feel fine for the first half of the run, and then it’s like I’m not even wearing them after that.  I guess it’s time to start the search for another pair of fancy wicking (and likely expensive) gloves again.

Today On The Run #1

Welcome to a new series on the blog, Today On the Run.   Just short quips from the today’s (or yesterday’s) run.  I’m putting them here so they’re a little easier to read in serial fashion and not limited to just 140 characters.  Here we go, Today On the Run #1.

In the middle of my run, I was in a nice neighborhood, with big houses and fancy cars.  Saw some tail lights ahead on a parked car.  Kinda strange at 5:30am, but not something completely out of the ordinary with folks prepping for long commutes.  Oh, there’s a guy standing behind the car.  Brace myself for potential trouble.

Turns out it wasn’t a car, it was a stretch limo and the guy was the driver waiting for his rider.  First time, I’ve seen this.

Took all my restraint not to jump in and say, “ok, let’s roll!” I don’t know if I’ll be able resist if I see them again.

Log Entry

This Week in Running – v9

Preface

Ooops.  I sort of drop off the planet there for a while. Unfortunately, my weekends have been tied up with other matters and I haven’t had a chance to put together weekly recaps.  But, fear not!  While the writing paused, the running kept chugging right along.

On the Road

Week 6

I ratcheted up my daily run to just over 6 miles.  I also finally got the route I intended for a long run of just under 12 miles.

Total miles for the week: 47.95

Note: Garmin does weekly stats for Sunday to Saturday; I’m too lazy to re-total things for Monday to Sunday, so I’m gonna use their totals from now on.

Week 7

Even ending the last week with a 12 long run, I still pretty energized and started the new week with 6.3 miles on the Iron Horse Trail.  Being relatively flat and running out in the mid-morning hours means I can actually see where I’m going and get decent speed going. The reset of week days, it was back the 6 mile daily driver.  I intended to do a long run on Saturday, but overslept.  So, I filled in with another speedy run on the IHT.

Total miles for the week: 42.68.

Week 8

After a couple of solid weeks, my body revolted and told me not to run on Sunday to start the week.  Got normal 6 miler in Monday through Thursday. Friday, bumped the daily up to 6.7 miles.  Trying to stick to that 10% increase rule I read about recently on a Runners World article.  Surprisingly, my body didn’t even seem to notice.  Woke up at normal time on Saturday, heard the driving rain, rolled over and went back to bed.  Never did make it out.

Total miles for the week: 30.74

Week 9

After the day off, I was sprung to get back out.  I went out for my now normal Sunday run on the IHT and found a couple of (unknowing) challengers out the trail.  One guy was just a little faster than I was comfortable with, I kept pace for a long while and then got past him.  That 8:23 average pace was hard earned.

The weekday dailies are still coming in at 6.7 miles.  No major problems and they seem to go by quickly.  For the only the second time since I’ve been running in the early morning, I ran into another runner, in the dark. I said hello, trying carefully not to spook him.  Hey grunt a slightly surprised, hi, in response, and turn off at the next side street.

Friday night, I carefully monitored my food intake to make sure I’d be ready for a long run Saturday morning.  But, I got to sleep later than I wanted to, and had a kid who woke me up twice.  Regardless, I was still able to get out the door.  Even with the careful preparation, my guts were about 50/50 on the idea.

Everything went OK.  I did the same 12-ish miler that I did a few weeks ago. It was somewhat easier because I knew where the all the turns were this time. But, the high miles from the week kinda took their toll and long inclines felt like I was really slogging. In the end, I pulled in a 9:40 average pace.  I’m gonna call that a win for only my second run at that distance.

As I approached the end of the run, I got a special treat.  My long run window now intersects with sunrise. I’m not sure if it was as dramatic as it seemed, but I remember trudging around in the dark and then as if someone flipped on a switch, it was pretty much daybreak.

Total miles for the week: 51.59

Hint of the Week

Go like Runners World on Facebook.  Tons of free and useful content every day. You can thank me later.

Gear Review

So, I’m moved on two my second pair of shoes in this streak.  This time, I’ve gone back to ASICS GT-2000 v3.  Yes, I did get the screaming lime green pictured.  I figured that running in the dark most of the time, I might as well go with the most highly visible option.  The last time I was a for real runner, I had good luck with their GT lines, so I thought I’d give them another shot.

After wearing Saucony shoes streak to date, the new shoes felt good, very different.  They have a very cushiony rebound, but at the same time are very stable.  There’s little to no sliding around in the back of the shoe.  This turns out to be a blessing and a curse; the stability makes running a lot easier, but I’ve developed a blister on the edge of my instep.  I can’t even remember the last time I had a blister. Hopefully, that’s only a temporary thing until I get used to them.

I also like the tread on the new shoes better than the Saucony’s.  The grooves are bit wider so they’re not magnets for continually picking up small pebbles, that scrape continuously as I try to shuffle along.

So, for now, the jury is out, but I think the new ASICS’ will be serious contenders after I get used to them and get a little more broken in.

Wrap Up

All in all, I’m happy with where I’m at this streak.  Other than a blister or two, everything feels fine.  Except for that once a week faster run on the IHT, I’m not really working on speed; but I’m still watching my average pace tick its way down.  I don’t think I can ask for too much more.

This Week In Running – v5

On the Road

Another week of fairly uneventful base runs.  5 editions of my regular 5.9 mile route.  Its nice to see the time ticking down bit by bit every day.  I’m not really fixated on weight, but I’m pretty sure that’s going down, too; but our scale is a box somewhere that I haven’t been able to locate after the move.

For the long run, I was shooting for something over 10 miles.  I ended up with 10.5 miles, but kinda by chance.  I was running in a new neighborhood and the light up street signs were not lit, so I ended up taking a few wrong turns.  I eventually got kinda back on course, I found that the road I intended to run on was:

  1. Very narrow.  Thankfully no cars at 5:15am.
  2. Very steep, with a peak in the middle.
  3. Very dark.  Trees overhanging the street and zero street lights.

I think I’ll skip that road again, at least outside of daylight hours.

I felt understandably tired after the run.  But the surprise a little later in the day was angry hips.  Was kinda bothersome for a bit, but faded before the evening.  Calves and ankles remained cranky a little longer.

Got to sleep too late last night.  Alarm went off this morning, I turned if off and went back to sleep for another 2 hours.  After messing around with the house and getting the kids rolling, I was able to get out for what I thought was gonna be an easy recovery run, but ended up with a pretty fast run on the Iron Horse Trail.

I’m pretty pleased that folks on the trail are a lot better at sharing the trail than I remember on the Erie Canal Trail back in New York.  People happily scoot over to let me by and there’s minimal silliness like folks trying to run or bike 4 people wide.  Nice!

Mini Review: iPod Shuffle 4th Generation

After 8 years, my 2nd generation iPod shuffle finally hung it up.  Still seems to work, but it no longer charges.  After being stuck in the red status for a week, it finally puttered out. It was the perfect player for running;  simple, small, and light.  My only real complaint with it was that you have to use iTunes to load it, rather than just treating it like a plain ‘ole USB drive.  Oh well, it was a noble run, but all good things must come to an end.

Enter a new 2016 4th generation iPod shuffle. I thought the newer players were the same as the older ones, with new guts (and another button, for Voice Over), but it turns out they’re pretty different.  Almost impossibly, they’re smaller!   Slightly smaller than 1 square inch, noticeably thinner, and lighter than my old one.

Outside of Voice Over (which I don’t really care about), the other major difference in how the player works is support for playlists.  I didn’t really care about playlists because I only listen to podcasts these days, but having a way to keep music separate from podcasts may change that.

The way they handle podcasts is overly clever;  they automatically group them into autocreated playlists (by default.)  I suppose that makes sense if you’re into binge listening.  The rub comes in that you’ve got episodes from 4 different podcasts on the player, you need to switch playlists to hear them (by holding the voice over button, which is hard to do when you’re running and the player is clipped on your back.)  Otherwise, it just repeats the podcast(s) in the current playlist.  I think you can get around this problem by making your own playlist with your podcasts in back in iTunes and then sync it over, but I haven’t had a chance to try it yet.

Accessory-wise, the ear buds (not ear pods) are worthless to me and my big ears.  I think the charging/sync cable is an improvement.  Now its just 2″ long with headphone style connecter on one side and USB on the other, instead of a long cable and dock.  Sync is also noticeably faster (evident since most podcasts filers are 10’s of Mb.)

I think I paid $39 for my old one.  This one was $49 (before 5% off with my Target Red Card, woot.)  Thought that was a bit more than warranted, but then I realized that old one was 1Gb and the new is 2Gb.  For podcasts, 1Gb is plenty, as I swap content out weekly or so.  With 2Gb (and playlists) I can also bring some music along for a change of pace as well.

So far, other than clunky podcast playlist thing, everything is working great.  Hope I can get another 8 years out of this one.

The Wrap Up

Things are going pretty well, so I’m not gonna mess with the program too much.  I’m gonna try to add another half mile to the daily.

I think I should probably start scoping out my next pair of shoes.  These ones have about 250 miles on them. They’re holding up pretty well, but I think they’re about half a size too big;  my feet slide around a bunch after everything gets warmed up and stretch out.  Probably give some Asics a shot.

Pain is only temporary, pride is forever.