Archive for ‘Easy Run’

May 1, 2015

Seven Years Running

April 22nd was my 7-year runniversary—i.e. the date I first started training “for real” and signed up for my first half marathon.  It’s been an amazing journey of 8,500+ miles, much sweat, and non-negligible amounts of blood and tears thrown in.  Seven years ago I was fresh out of grad school and just starting my professional life as a starry-eyed model-builder in Frank Gehry’s office in Los Angeles.  I’m now a licensed architect and a partner in a small firm in New York specializing in exterior wall design.   In many ways, running has shaped my adulthood—it has been the constant through the stresses and growing pains of my career, personal life, and multiple cross-country moves.  It’s been the backbone of more than a few friendships.  And every year on April 22nd I have celebrated all of that by going for a run that’s just for me.  There’s no workout structure allowed, no treadmill, and I try to go somewhere scenic as my schedule allows.  This year I had to postpone a few days, as I was resting the mysterious toe-squeak injury, but on Friday I ran home from work the long way—around lower Manhattan, through Battery Park (in full bloom), and over my beloved Brooklyn Bridge.  It was glorious.  (And I mean glorious in running terms, which is to say, beautiful, but with severe chafing of my collar bones by my backpack straps. And I almost got hit by a bike, and then a car that was running a red light. But let’s focus on the positive.)

Since then, this week has been really up and down. I feel like I’m really walking the knife edge of overtraining, and a slight breeze may push me over the edge.  Last night I was so tired I was on the verge of tears, and then this morning I banged out a six mile tempo run at 7:40 pace like it was nothing.  The root of the problem is that I can’t find a triathlon training plan designed for someone with a good level of fitness, lots of running experience, and zero swimming and biking skills.  Because I’ll be rolling straight from NYC Tri training in July to NYC Marathon training, I want to maintain my running base as much as possible, while putting in a lot of hard work to bring my swim and bike up to snuff.  That has so far resulted in me doing almost every workout hard, and doing two-a-days four or five days a week.  I realize that this plan is unsustainable.  This week I backed off one each of my swim and bike workouts to an easy pace, and definitely felt better.  Still, I need to find a good training balance that doesn’t leave me a quivering, irritable mess by the weekend.

In what may be a fortuitous turn of events, the Runners’ World training log I’ve been using for 7 years is going to cease to exist next week, so I’ve had to migrate all my data over to Training Peaks.  I have the premium free trial tools right now, so I’m taking advantage of all the fitness and training assessment data to sort things out.  I have the Harriman Sprint Tri in two weeks (agh!), and then I’ll be focusing on the Olympic distance in July.  Goal #1 is to make it to the starting line (and the finish line) healthy and fit.  In the coming weeks I’m going to be paying extra attention to nutrition and sleep, and am resolving to try (harder) not to let life interfere too much with either.

April 9, 2015

Passover Running and a Squeaky Toe

The past few weeks have been a blur of deadlines, lots of training, and totally inadequate sleep.  By last Wednesday the cracks were starting to appear and I was starting to feel the warning signs of overtraining.  We were headed to Balitmore on Thursday to spend Passover with the Caveboy’s family, so I was looking forward to catching up on some sleep and having a good excuse to back off the 2-a-days.  We had a lovely holiday, but between the cooking and Seders I’m pretty sure I ended up more sleep-deprived that before.  I did manage to get some good runs, though possibly a little too good.

I’ve nearly eliminated easy runs from my schedule to make room for the biking and swimming, and the result has been that I’m now finding pacing much more difficult when I do have an easy day.  I went out for a 6-miler on Friday and a 7 on Saturday with the intention of keeping my heart rate down and running 9:30-10 minute pace.  The neighborhood around the Caveboy’s home is relentlessly rolling, though, and I found myself continually charging up hills, realizing it, and then trying to bring the pace down on the downhills, which never works.  On Sunday I had semi-tired legs and 12 miles at 8:13 pace on the schedule.  It was one of those days where I really wanted to have done my run, but not to actually do it.  For starters, nutrition was a challenge since most of my usual pre-run foods were not kosher for Passover.  While avoiding leavened bread and corn syrup has never been a major issue for me, we also further distinguish Passover meals from the rest of the year by preparing food with separate dishes and utensils.  That means no blender for smoothies, no GU’s, and no Accelerade.  I was hoping to scrounge up some honey packets, but had no success, so I ended up slicing up an orange, putting it in a zip-loc, and smooshing it into my running belt.  To quote Eric Cartman, “Now that’s what I call a sticky situation.”   I didn’t want to stray too far from the Caveboy’s, so I mapped out an annoying multi-loop neighborhood route which would at least avoid any major traffic.  It was overcast and windy and the loop turned out to be even hillier than I’d imagined.  According to the Garmin data, I had two climbs at 5%, and 1,100 feet of gain.  I had to do one section of it three times, which was demoralizing since I knew after the first one exactly how much it sucked.  Since the route was continuously up and down I tried not to look at the Garmin pace too much and just go by feel.  I spent most of the last loop telling myself to pull up my big girl tights and just get it done, which I eventually did.  The verdict was an average 8:14 split, with which I was pretty damn pleased.

I had noticed a weird sensation in the tendon in my big toe the day before, and after the long run I tried to figure out what was going on.  It didn’t hurt, but it felt like the tendon was sliding against something.  When I moved it I could feel friction and it was actually making a squeaking sound.  A visit to Dr. Google determined that this is actually a thing—it’s likely a form of tendonitis in which the sheath rather than the tendon itself is inflamed.  Dr. Google further recommended RICE, which was fine since I wasn’t planning to run on Monday anyway.  By Tuesday morning it was no longer squeaky, so I went ahead with my 5x1K intervals as planned.  Sure enough, post-run the squeak was back.  My initial instinct was to push through the rest of the week’s runs as scheduled since next week will be a taper before the More Women’s Half, but I may actually be getting smarter, because I reconsidered.  The half next week is not an A race, or really even a B race.  It’s too close to the NYC half to be much of a data point, and I’m doing it solely to get my 9 NYRR races in this year.  Risking injury to get a few more training runs in for a race that doesn’t matter is stupid.  I scrapped my Thursday tempo run in favor of a bike tempo, and may skip the 8-mile “long” run this weekend too.  I have a 4-mile race (again for my NYRR 9) on Sunday, but I will probably avoid additional running unless all systems are go.

 

On the Passover fueling front, when we got back from Baltimore this weekend I made a batch of my Passover-approved Caffeinated Quinoa, which has been my pre-workout breakfast all week.

 

Caffeinated Quinoa

1 cup water

1 cup strong black coffee

1 cup quinoa

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cocoa

½ tsp salt

 

  1. Combine water, coffee, salt, and quinoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed. (The quinoa is ready when the curlicues are visible.)
  3. Stir in cinnamon and cocoa.

 

Serve, or refrigerate for later.  Stir in milk, almond butter, nuts, dried fruit, etc if desired.

 

January 30, 2015

Ups and Downs

It was that kind of week.

It was that kind of week.

You know those Time Warner Cable PSA’s that try to get kids interested in STEM subjects by relating them to sports?  I have a great idea for one:

“Running requires speed, strength, and endurance.  But did you know that it also requires basic arithmetic skills so that you don’t end up doing your tempo run 50 seconds per mile faster than you’re supposed to?  Well, it does.”

I’m still working on the ending.  I actually appreciate a good math error now and then, though.  (Not the Tacoma Narrows sort, but the more benign running-faster-than-I-thought-I-could kind.)  It was a good boost in what’s been an up and down couple of weeks.

Last Tuesday I did my first speed work since before the Brooklyn Marathon, and was thrilled to discover that I was able to keep up with my pre-injury interval paces without much trouble.  I banged out a solid 5-mile tempo run on Thursday and was still feeling some twinges in my foot, but by the weekend it was feeling almost back to normal.  On Friday I had my monthly strength session with my trainer, Kali, Destroyer of Worlds and Abs.  With all of the extra time spent not running for the past few months I had been putting in 2-3 strength sessions a week, and I was curious to see how I would fare this time.  My trainer is not easily impressed, though, and my hopes were not high.  After an hour of brutality, I finally earned a fist bump from her.  Go me.

Saturday I did an hour on the trainer bricked with a 4-mile run.  I had intended to go easy on the run, but I felt good and ended up running an 8:50ish pace.  I’ve been a little concerned that all the strength work might cost me some speed, but my core feels rock solid and I feel like I have much more power in my legs than before, so that’s all to the good.  Sunday was a 6-mile tempo on the treadmill bricked with a 30-minute swim, both of which felt great.  Monday I was back to strength training, as I’m determined to keep up the gains I’ve made.

Tuesday was supposed to be an interval run, which I would usually do on the treadmill.  Thanks to the Storm of the Century that Wasn’t, the gym was closed.  Brooklyn actually got about 7”, and I adore running in the snow, so happily set out with my Yak Trax.  I debated running to Prospect Park, which is really beautiful in the snow, but the 7-mile round trip seemed like a bit much.  In the end, I was happy I opted for a shorter run because my arch/big toe started hurting almost immediately.  There must have been something about the slight slippage that was intensifying whatever change there has been to my gait, and I ended up only doing 3 miles.  To make up for the missed speedwork, I did a 40-minute HIIT session on the trainer to round out the day.

Wednesday was a morning swim/ evening strength day, but I noticed when I was walking to a meeting for work that afternoon that I was rocking to the outside of my left foot to avoid putting weight on my big toe.  Not good.  I hoped it would be better for Thursday’s tempo run, but it was still tender that morning.  I vacillated, vacillated some more, and ended up deciding to swap Friday’s bike ride for the run.  I knew it was the smart thing to do—getting a secondary injury while coming back from the stress fracture is exactly what I’m trying to avoid.  I was still grumpy about it, though, and proceeded to try to set up my new Cat Eye Strada Smart before the trainer session so that I could start getting a sense of my power output.  This was all transpiring at 6 AM, mind you, so I was neither at my sharpest or most reasonable. I knew I didn’t realistically have time to get the bike computer set up, but I was still sulking about the run and resenting the whole situation.  I finally had to give up the set-up process at 7:10, which gave me exactly not enough time to get the full 40 minutes in and still get to work on time.  I also totally forgot that the Caveboy had a big thing at work that day until after he left and spent most of the ride feeling like a bad girlfriend.

That brings me to today and the miscalculated tempo run.  My foot was (thankfully) feeling better, and I was eager to get the tempo run in since I had missed running intervals this week.  I was supposed to be doing 4 miles at 8:10’s, but I obviously messed up somewhere because I set the treadmill to 8.2.  If you’re following along at home, that’s a 7:19 mile, which, for some perspective, is my mile repeat pace.  After the first mile I kind of knew something was up, but decided just to ride it out if I could.  I made it–probably with my heart rate higher than it should have been–but it was a huge confidence boost.  I did manage to finish getting the Strada set up on the bike last night (with the exception of calibrating the power output) so I’m looking forward to starting some more focused cycle training next week.  Until then, Go Pats!

August 6, 2014

The Art of the Run Commute

Commute

There is something really empowering about running as transportation.  I love that I can just put on my shoes and get myself to work, sans subway, bike, or car, and I feel more mentally prepared for the day when I get in.  I can make it to the office in about half an hour door to door, which is actually about the same as the subway would take, so it can actually be a great time-saver as well.  Still, commuting on foot does take some logistics, and I’ve found that proper planning is key.

The most important component of my run commute is having a good running backpack.  I like the Gregory Maya, which is a roomy but slim women’s daypack.  I can fit my purse, a change of clothes (and shoes), and even my lunch in there without much trouble.  Fit is really critical for comfort, particularly if you have a longer commute or plan to run both ways.  I had some trouble with the straps chafing my shoulders the first few times out, so I made some fleece pads that slide over the straps and give me a softer cushion.  Also, pack your keys and other pointy items away from any contact points with your body.  (That may sound obvious, but a lot of packs have the smaller, protected pockets on the inside or along the back.  This is not the spot for your keys.)

Backpack

My biggest worry when I started running to work was that I’d forget something critical, get to work, and find that I had no bra or something.  I’m a list-loving kind of person, so I’ve started keeping packing lists for long runs, races, and commutes in my phone.  It’s not fool-proof, but at least I’ve always had underwear.  I always try to keep the clothes I pack as simple, minimally bulky, and wrinkle-proof as possible.   Make sure you have things like office keys and work ID’s, too.

Obviously, the biggest challenge to the run commute is the Superman to Clark Kent change at the office.  If you’re lucky enough to work in a building with showers, good for you.  I have the option of running to a gym location near my office and showering there, but I do occasionally also use the bathroom clean-up technique I developed for lunchtime runs in LA.  The first key item here is to cool down as quickly as possible, and I find downing a glass of ice water upon arrival helps a lot.  For the hygiene element, my weapon of choice is a supply of quality moist towelettes.  I currently keep a stash from Seventh Generation in my desk drawer, though you can also make your own.

IMG_1982

The rest of my desk kit includes a comb, deodorant and some basic makeup supplies.  I have a shimmer stick that does double duty for eye shadow and blush, some face powder, and mascara.  For the guys, post-run hair maintenance is a little easier, but for the ladies I recommend minimal intervention from your run ‘style.’  If you pull it back into a ponytail for the run in, just tidy it up, or go for a bun.  For me at least, trying to up from up to down or vice versa always seems to yield disappointing results.

One final note: If at all possible, after changing clothes, hang up your running clothes to dry.  (Socks too!)  Whether you’re going to run back home or just repack your bag in the evening, you’ll appreciate not having a pile of damp, sweaty clothes sitting in your office.

Happy Commuting!

~ModC