Saturday, August 30, 2014

Run Journal - #15

I'll embed the details here again and we'll see how it works. Perhaps the slowness issues with the previous post were due to my grouping so many together:
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5
This was supposed to be a 7 mile run today but my GPS only showed 6.85 so we'll go with that. Another good run, though. The second half of the run was a nice bit faster than the first half which is what I aim for. I'm going to have to attribute the late run energy and overall post run freshness (my feeling, not my appearance; after a run my appearance is that of a wet rat) to the energy gel as that's about the only thing that stayed the same between this week and the last. I'm not sure why my pace improved so much this week. I'll need to look at the split details to see what's up with that.... ok, so I wrote that and then went ahead and compared the two runs. It looks like my pace wasn't as different as I thought; only about 12 seconds a mile faster for the entire run. In my mind I was thinking last week was about 10:30/mile and this week was about 10:00/mile, but in reality the numbers were 10:21 and 10:08, so not a big deal.

As a side note, I'm back to using my Forerunner 610 watch instead of the 310xt. The latter has been showing up with an empty battery lately and that's after coming straight from the charger. I'm not sure what the deal is, but I need to be able to count on the device and so far the 610 has never failed me. The only thing it can't do that the 310xt can is "courses", i.e. provide directions for a preset route, and I can live with that I suppose. There's a new watch coming out from Suunto that I'm going to keep an eye on. If it has vibration alerts (their previous models did not, I think) I may be waving goodbye to Garmin. Other than the 610, I've run into constant problems with their devices and I'm not really all that demanding of them.

Finally, and I know I've mentioned this before, but it's really nasty how much I sweat. I normally like a good sweat when I exercise, but this is on a whole different level. My clothes are plastered to me and my shoes weigh a good bit more than they did at the start. They're genuinely squishy and quite gross. Obviously, there's really not much I can do about any of this, but I wanted to share the disgusting biological facts with everyone else. Cheers! :)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Run Journal - #10 - 14

Edit: I'm removing the embedded run details and replacing them with links to the Garmin Connect pages. The embedded details were causing the blog page to load very slowly. Kind of sucks though as they added a nice visual for each run. Oh well...

Whoops. Fell behind again.


Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5
This was a good run. For whatever reason, I felt terrific during and after this run. Unfortunately, that didn't translate into any kind of speed improvement, but that's Ok, I guess.

So why the good vibes on this one? Thinking back here are some potential reasons:
  1. I ate a pretty huge and carby meal the night before, but this seems just as likely to contribute to an awful run as a good one given past experience.
  2. For once, I got a decent amount of sleep Friday.
  3. For the first time, I brought along an energy gel and downed it at about the 40 minute mark.
  4. Just the randomness of the universe.
If I had to guess, I'd probably say it's a combination of numbers 3 and 4, but who knows. What I am sure of is that my big tex-mex meal the night before gave me massive gas for during the run. Maybe I should add that as number 5: "Inconsistent but powerful bursts of gaseous propellant meant less work for my legs." The people running behind me didn't seem to appreciate this particular method of locomotion. I'm pretty sure I heard startled cries and weeping once or twice from back there...


Shoes: Altra One 2
Still not sure about these shoes. It was a 30/easy run today (30 minutes at easy pace). I'm trying to slowly improve my short run paces without moving my marathon training (long run) pace goals. I'm hoping that as the weekly big runs get longer and longer, the fact that I'm improving my effort on the short mid-week runs will allow me to simply maintain pace on the long ones. We'll see.


Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5
Hills today and no wimpy 30 minutes like last week. We're back to 45 for now. I pushed a little harder today than I have the last two weeks (at least it felt like it, although there was no pace improvement to  reflect that effort).  That combined with the extra time left me drained afterwards. And soaked... just so, so, sweaty. Uggg.


Shoes: Merrell Bare Access 3
This was a recovery day so 20/easy (20 minutes at an easy pace). I didn't really mean to go at a 9:20 pace, but it's these shoes (don't know why) and the very short time made it difficult to keep the pace down.


Shoes: Nike Free Flyknit 4
Today was a 30/tempo run. I've been trying to figure out what "tempo" actually means, but for now, I figured I'd just try to run faster than I normally would. My goal today was 9:00/mi. I try not to compare myself against runners I follow on blogs but when I see them running 8:00/mi on their long runs (and long for them is 15 miles) I admit to feeling more than a little inadequate. Nevertheless, 9:00 was my goal today and I hit it. I was genuinely WIPED OUT at the end of this run. It's odd. Yesterday was 20 minutes at 9:20/mi and today was 30 at 9:00/mi and the difference in how I felt was huge. This was the first time in a long time that kept checking my watch near the end just begging for the time to be over. 

On the positive side, my heels felt terrific! They've really been giving me quite a bit of trouble lately but Wednesday night I had a yoga session where we focused a lot on balance and after the balance poses the instructor had us use a small hard ball under our foot massaging it back and forth. I've done then several times before using a lacrosse ball, but I've been a little lazy about it lately (I will get back to it after this for sure). I'm not certain if it was the stretching involved in the balance poses or the recovery work afterward, but my heels felt better than they have in weeks when I went on the run Thursday. I can't let that work on my feet slide like this and I'm thankful to the instructor for reminding me how effective it can be. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Run Journal - #5-9

Whoops, I fell behind on my run logs, so I'll group a few together.

Shoes: Nike Free Flyknit 4

This was my longest run so far. I did the interval thing with 5 minutes running and 1 walking. I don't know about this whole interval thing. It doesn't feel significantly less tiring than running the whole way (albeit at a slower pace than the interval speed). My final pace was a bit slower than my previous 6 mile pace from a few weekends ago. Anyway, I'll give it some more time. I felt pretty good after the run albeit incredibly sweaty. I feel like I'm actually sweating even more lately and I didn't think that was possible.

Shoes: Merrell Bare Access 3

Quick run today. These short 20 minute runs are barely enough to get warmed up but even though they are supposed to be "easy" meaning slow, I do tend go at a fairly good pace (for me, anyway). My calves were a little bit burnt after the last few days. I'm going to start wearing calf sleeves and see if that helps any.

Shoes: Altra One 2

Hills. A short hills run, though. I ended it on a good couple of hill times. There's not much to say about this one except it was early and dark. Fun.

Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5

Another short "easy" run. My pace was, unintentionally, within 2 seconds of my Monday run. I didn't even notice that until writing up this blog post. Interesting...

Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5

This was a "tempo" run according to the Fort Bend Fit marathon training plan I'm on. I haven't quite nailed down what a tempo run should be, but I know it's supposed to be quite a bit faster than the marathon pace (which is about 10:30 for me right now). I managed to get a pretty good overall pace down; a few second faster than my short quick runs on Monday and Wednesday. I guess that will have to do for now.


Overall I feel OK, but not great. My calves are a little tired and sore, but my main worry is my heels. I don't know if it's my achilles tendon or something else, but my heels have slowly been getting worse over the last few weeks. I've had period issues with this area for years, but at this point it's fairly constant. I'm trying a few different things like ice baths for my feet and stretching them more thoroughly before and after a workout, but it hasn't seemed to make much difference. I think I'm going to make an doctor's appointment, but frankly I don't have a lot of faith in doctors right now so my expectations are low. We'll see...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Run Journal - #4

Shoes: Merrell Barefoot Run Bare Access 3

Ha! I hesitated to even put the Garmin Connect link above. My GPS watch had NO idea where I was this morning for the first mile, so the data is way, way off, but oh well. That's never happened before, so I'll give my little orange buddy (Garmin ForeRunner 310xt) a break and not criticize it too much.

The shoes I wore today are quite different from most of the ones I run in. As the name suggests, they have much less cushion and are zero drop. The Altra One 2's I use are also zero drop but shaped very differently and with quite a bit more cushioning. I really like running in these; or at least I do after the first quarter mile or so. For whatever reason, that first bit feels awful. My achilles screams at me (one of the niggling injuries I've been meaning to blog about) and I feel like I'm slamming my feet down on a hard surface, which, I guess, is actually what I'm doing. It just doesn't usually feel like it.

After that first distance though, things smooth out and I find that I like these shoes maybe more than any others I've run in; at least for shorter distances. I haven't really tried them for anything longer than about 4 miles. Merrell shoes fit my feet better than any other brand I've tried, and I've tried quite a few over the last few months. With just about anything else, I have to size up quite a bit to make up for my stupid right foot which is significantly larger than my left. With most Merrell's I can get away with an 11 or 11.5 whereas everything else starts at 12 and often ends up at 12.5 in order to fit my right foot. (My left foot hates my right foot. They argue constantly with names like fatty and disfigured being thrown around...)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Run Journal - #3

Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5

Today I ran hills, or rather, in my case, overpasses. Not a bad run, but my calves are feeling a bit sore after three days straight. I meant to foam roll last night but whoops, forgot. Not the best excuse, I know. Oh well.

I like the Kinvaras; perhaps not as much as some of the reviews I read, but unlike some other shoes, I basically forget about them once I get going. The uppers do tend to become discolored which is weird, but not all that important.

My times were consistent with the past hill run at the same location. I try to do about 8:15 going up the hills and then recover on the down slope and always try to do the last one or two at 7:15 or so.

There a number of other USA Fit folks out there today. We all have the same schedules and today was "hills" day and seeing that we were gathered at the same location just reinforces the fact that it's frikkin flat around here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Run Journal - #2

Shoes: Altra One 2

Most weekday runs on the USA Fit training plan are time, rather than distance, based. Today's was scheduled as an "easy" run, meaning supposedly at a "conversational" pace. Since it was short, I decided to run straight up (no intervals). I was a little more tired than I felt like I should be after only a 35 minute run. Perhaps it's because I didn't have a day off between my long run and the Monday run like I usually do. Not sure. At 9:51 mi/min it was definitely a little slower than some of my more recent short runs, but I also in no way "pushed it" today; which is another reason why I was a little disappointed at being so tired at the end of it.

I still haven't made up my mind on the Altra One 2's. They are very different than my other shoes. Sometimes I wish I could take a second pair with me on a run and switch mid way just to feel the difference real time. I guess I could actually do that by running a path that brought me by my house mid way through. Hmmm....

This week is unusual. We have runs scheduled every day (including yesterday which was supposed to be a 5K but I did my long run instead). Usually we have 1 long run and then 3 week day runs. I'm not sure why this week is different. They may have mentioned the reasoning at the group run, but as I explained in the last journal entry, I missed it.

Tomorrow is a 40 min "hills run". I'm not a huge fan of these, especially as they require me to drive to them which means getting up even earlier. There are NO hills in this area. Zero. I'm actually using a pair of road overpasses that are close to each other as my hills. 

Run Journal - #1

This blog is mostly for my own use, so in that context, I'm going to start journaling my runs. These will certainly be boring, BORING for most folks, but I'd like to be able to go back to previous runs and look at how I felt to and see if any trends emerge.

Shoes: La Sportiva Helios

I missed my Saturday long run with the USA Fit Fort Bend training group due to a wake up alarm mistake (whoops!). I decided to look at it as an opportunity to do my long run on Sunday and on a trail instead of a road. Fun! I love trail runs. They are soooo much more interesting than road runs. I never get into the zen mode that some people do when running so basically long road runs are kind of boring (although made much more interesting when with the group). Trail runs require paying more attention to your environment and that environment is generally quite interesting, so despite the fact that these runs require more deliberate placement and focus, I find them more relaxing and a lot more fun.

Since I had lots of time, I decided to finally do something I had planned for a long time: head up to the northeast of Houston to one of the national forests and hit the trails there. For those who don't know, Houston is a huge town; over 10,000 square miles. Yes, your read that right. So it's not that hard to believe that the terrain on one side of it is quite different than it is on the other. Where I live to the southwest of town it's flat and marshy. Northeast and all the way to Arakansas there are nice thick pine forests. It's this area that I had long planned to try a trail run.

I also tried a new pacing plan. I've been reading up on run-walk-run strategies for long runs. Being a complete newbie to running, I just assumed that when you ran, even for long periods, you "ran". However, I had noticed that a lot of the folks training on my Saturday long runs were using intervals like run 4 minutes, walk 1, or run 3 walk 1. Until now, I had just run the whole way, but according to the proponents of the run-walk-run strategy, people could maintain a fairly good overall pace but be able to run longer if they adopted this technique. Clearly, this is not a technique for the competitive folks, but for the person just trying to finish their marathons, there seemed to be some value to this idea.

After Run Thoughts: The trail run was everything I had hoped for. The trails I was on ranged from super thin single tracks to a couple of wide vehicle paths. The only negative was the HUGE number of spider webs along the single track portions. Sheesh! I was literally covered in webs head to toe. My buddy who hates spiders would have turned around after the first five minutes. :) I was in Sam Houston National Forest and it was beautiful. I'm definitely heading back. It was an hour and a half drive there and back, so it's not something I can do on a whim, but man was it fun.

I stupidly forgot my energy gels which I was going to try for the first time. Oh well, next time. I did take water, which I'm extremely thankful for because I sweat more than I have on any other run... ever. I tend to completely soak my shirt and 90% of my shorts, but this time I was damp all the way through to my bones. Even my shoes felt like they were a pound heavier with sweat (and probably a little dew from the bit of grass I would occasionally run through). I'm going to have to come up with a way to carry more water. I didn't run out on this run, but that was partially because I was conserving it. I can refill my bottle on the group runs as they set up water along the route, but that doesn't do many any good on these solo treks.

My final pace using a run 5 min, walk 1 min technique was 10:39. It's a little tough to compare trail runs to road runs so I'll reserve final judgement until I have a few more of these under my belt, but I didn't end up feeling any less tired today than I had been in the past. Still, I am taking into account that 1) this was my longest run yet, and 2) it was a trail run and they are inherently a little more tiring (at least for me). I was kind of hoping that with this technique I would end the run and feel pretty good; as if I could still go a little more, but that wasn't the case. When this was over, I was done in. Whooped. Finished.

I was pleased with my shoes. My longest trail run before now had been about 2 miles, so the fact that the Helios held up with no pain or other issues was great. I wore that same mid-cushion socks (Feetures Elite Light Cushion - yes, i know it says "light" but it's their middle cushion sock; they go ultra-light, light, heavy) that I have been using for road runs, but I may switch it up and try an light cushion (ultra-light according to Feetures branding) next time for a trail run. No blisters or even host spots really. Of course, the constant river of sweat raging though my pores may have provided lubricant. ;)

One slightly negative thing happened. My 310xt (GPS Watch) shut off about a quarter of a mile before the end of the run. It had plenty of battery lft so I'm not sure what happened. This is the first time that has happened, although Of read of similar occurrences on the Garmin forums. I hope it's not a trend. I've been pretty happy with that device. Cutting off as it did there at the end kept it from recording this run as my longest ever, but I guess that's OK. Next week we hit 7 miles for the group run so that will become the new "longest" regardless.

One final thought. I typically don't mind Texas summers. In the past I've spent them inside and if there's one things we Texans know and know well, it's air conditioning. This being outside so much in the heat for crossfit and my runs is a new experience. I can't wait for it to cool down so that I can switch some of my runs to the afternoons (which means more trails; don't have enough time before work to drive to the trails, even the closer ones). Getting up at 5:00 AM is for the birds, not this guy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


The weather, I mean...

I follow a number of running blogs and as we are now deep into the thick of summer, I've started to see quite a few posts lamenting the summer heat. We're talking very uncomfortable runs with temps in 70's or even 80's and humidity reaching 50%! Insanity, I tell you!

If you sense a little sarcasm there, well, good job. :) It's all relative, of course. If you're used to running in the 50's and 60's and single digit humidity than I can completely understand that these warmer conditions can be a little draining. Our bodies adjust to what we encounter on regular basis. Living near Houston (Sugar Land, just to the southwest of the city) we're not going to see 60 degree running temperatures until probably November. As I've learned as a newbie runner this summer, if I want to run in the upper 70s or low 80s I have to have shoes on the road or trail well before the sun comes up. The problem with setting out this early, though, is that the humidity is north of 90% until the sun finally rises and starts to burn though the muck; and that's on the days where the sun actually does manage to shine.

I'm not complaining, though. This has actually been a rather temperate summer. We've haven't broken triple digits yet to my knowledge and I think that this is the first summer I've lived here (nine years now) that that has been the case.

As I said above, we all adjust to the conditions we live in, and when we get out of that range, our bodies notice. It just brings a little smile to my lips when I read about the sweltering conditions up east or on the west coast.