Monday, August 11, 2014

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.