Thursday, June 29, 2006

Speeding Up

After a recovery run yesterday where the heart rate was a little higher than usual but still within range the 70% range, I went into this morning's workout with a bit of trepidation. I wanted to get in some speedwork at the track because I plan to run a 2 mile road race on July 4 in support of the local high school's track team. I could run the 5 mile race instead, which would probably be more beneficial in the long run, but I just don't feel like putting in the extra effort when the temps will most likely be hot. I'm a wimp.

I was kind of waffling over what workout I should do during my 2+ mile warmup to the high school. I couldn't decide between 400s, 600s or even on and off 400s. The track was the most crowded I've seen at 6:30 am with a few walkers, individual joggers, some unleashed dogs plus a group of 5 women doing laps and straightaways. I guess with school out, early sunrises and pleasant weather that happens.

Usually I have the track all to myself at this time so I was hoping I wouldn't have to do a lot of weaving in and out of human traffic, other than moving out to lane 3 at the 200m mark for 20-30 meters due to work being done on the infield that was fenced off and jutting out into lane 2.

After some abbreviated drills and strides, I settled on 6x600m with a 200 jog as the workout and I
wanted to run around 80 second 400 pace for the repeats.

In contrast to my
200 workout last Friday, where I felt like I pressing too much and overstriding, the 600s this morning felt more under control. I was able to maintain at a steady pace, and while in the beginning I had to hold back a bit from going out too fast, at the end it was definitely getting hard.

Overall I averaged a bit over 2 minutes for the 6 x 600s so I'm pretty please with the overall effort.
It's interesting how last week's 200s made today's 600s feel a lot easier.

I know if I hit the track on a regular basis I could quickly regain fitness and speed for the shorter track distances and road races. Of course there would be a greater chance for injury so I think I'll just stick to putting in the miles, building strength and possibly attempting a marathon in December...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In Search of Flatlands...

I live in a hilly area so I'm usually going either up or down at any point during a run. Most times this doesn't bother me, and although I'm not the biggest fan of running uphill, at least I know the hills are good for my training.

All of this does bother me when I'm running a tempo or marathon pace (MP) effort. It's hard for me to maintain a steady pace/effort when I'm climbing or going downhill.

For example, this morning I wanted to run a MP run and decided to try a new route in hopes of finding as much flat sections as possible. After a 2.5 mile warmup, I slowly ramped up to what I thought was my goal MP effort (sub 3 hours or 6:51 a mile). However, I was still feeling tired from my 17 miler on Sunday, and it was a struggle for the first few miles.

The route I chose started off relatively flat before hitting a 1+ mile straight section that gently inclines. I then turned off into a residential area and ran a section I had never run before so I was counting on the Garmin Forerunner 305 to measure it accurately. What I wasn't counting on were the hills. A couple of parts were rolling and then the road climbed steadily, but not too severely for about a half mile. It was not fun.

When I reached the top I turned around and retraced my route. so that the inclines became downhills and vice versa. I ended up going around 6.1 miles @ 6:48 pace, but due to the ups and downs the pace was up and down as well. Splits were: 6:56, 6:49, 7:10, 6:49, 6:39, 6:38.

Only after I examined the training data in SportTracks and MotionBased, did I realize the elevation change was much more than I thought. The out portion climbed roughly 240 feet, and the return dropped about the same amount. No wonder the first few miles felt slow and tiring.

I'm wondering what type of route is best for future tempo and MP runs. I can use a flatter 1.85 mile loop or opt for more variety and tolerate all the uphills and downhills. Then again there's always the track, but that gets to be quite mind numbing in its own right after more than 12 laps....

Monday, June 26, 2006

Summer Shuttle

OK, my kids have only been out of school for a little more than 2 weeks and it's already killing me. Since I work at home, I get to play chauffeur and shuttle them around to camps and activities. Last week was OK because my 10 year-old son and 8 year old daughter went to the same camp. Drop them off and pick them up at the same time. 2 car trips altogether.

However, in my own stupidity, I decided be a good dad and sign them up for different camps this week to better reflect their personal interests. Ummm, bad idea, because now I'm driving somewhere almost every other hour. My daughter's soccer camp goes from 9am - 2 pm, while my son's computer (AKA nerd) camp runs from 12 noon to 4 pm. Getting to the soccer camp is 10 minutes there and back while the computer camp is 20 minutes roundtrip.

For the rest of the summer, I'll have to remenber to schedule their camps at the same place and time so I won't go crazy.

On the running front, today's recovery run was uneventful. 8 miles dreadfully slow over the wet golf course grass. I was beat from yesterday's 17 miler so I'll play it by ear tomorrow whether I decide to run a MP effort....

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Basket Case

I'm really starting to remember why I didn't want to train for another marathon after my first attempt in 2002 went up in flames at around mile 18 due to a piriformis injury.

Those were the good old days and I've been trying very hard to forget them, especially the long runs, which almost always left me a mess for the rest of the day. Until today that is.

Although I won't start training for the California International Marathon on December 3 until August with Pfitzinger's 18 week/up to 70 miles a week plan, I do want to get use to running longer and have a solid base in place. Hence longer weekend long runs.

So this morning, after having a small slice of homemade bread with peanut butter and honey, I got out the door a little before 7 am. I ran my usual Sunday route of 2.5 miles to the local park and then out and back on a paved, measured trail.

I ran the 5.5 mostly gentle downhill miles all the way to the end and then turned around for the uphill return portion. Averaged roughly 7:30 miles for the out and back and felt OK for most of it. The final few miles home were a bit of a struggle as I tacked on an extra mile to put me at 17.15 miles for the run and a tenth short of 70 miles for the week. It was my longest run in years.

Once I got home, I drank a slimfast to speed recovery with its 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein, and then tried to re-hydrate as best I could. I was pretty much a basket case the rest of the day just going through the motions. My stomach wasn't feeling great, and this gave me flashbacks of previous long runs that wiped me out. Fun.

At this point, it's hard to fathom running an additional 9 miles at a faster pace and the coming months of training will be even more painful. So why am I even considering running a marathon again? Why not is all I can think of for now?

Friday, June 23, 2006

No Zip

I use to run the 400 and 800 in college and always focused more on the trackwork and less on the mileage. I think I rarely went above 30 miles a week back in those days. Those were the pre-world wide web days so if I only knew then what I know now. Doh!

One of the results of getting old and putting in more mileage has been a loss of speed, which is a bit disheartening because in my delusional state, I still think I can run fast on the track even with my 41 year old body.

My goal since turning 40 last year was to race some 800s and see if I could get anywhere close to 2:00. Due to an achilles injury last Spring/Summer, I never got to try. After fully recovering, I decided to take a more patient approach and build a base and my strength throughout the fall, winter and spring, which I was mostly succesful at doing.

However, for the past couple of months I was hampered by a mysterious energy zapping ailment that left me unable to get in the proper speedwork for the short summer track season.

So with the local Pacific Association USA Track & Field masters track championships fast approaching next Saturday, I decided to use this morning's workout to assess whether I should try and compete in a 800m race next weekend.

I warmed up with a couple of miles to the local high school and then did some drills and strides. The plan was to run 2 sets of 4x200m at 800/mile pace with a slow 200 jog between repeats and 400m jog between sets.

I tried to keep the 200s fast and relaxed where I would float the turn and then focus on form down the straight. For the most part they felt forced and I seemed to be overstriding. There was no zip in the legs, which makes perfect sense as I haven't attempted any speedwork in almost a month.

I averaged 33.7 for the first set of 4 and then 32.2 for the second. Although I wasn't going all out, it was a hard effort and I'm just not ready to keep up that pace over two laps. If the temps are not in the high 90s by late afternoon/early evening, I might go out again for a short shakeout run to get the lactic acid out of my legs.

based on the workout, I've decided to bag the meet next Saturday and just continue with my normal training. One thing I need to do is re-introduce strides once a week to keep the legs turning over.

I might try and jump in to a all-comers meet later in the summer if I can find one near by, but it won't be a focus. So it looks like my 800 plans are on hold for another year and I'm obviously not getting any younger (or faster). Oh well, I guess I just have to punish myself and try the marathon....

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mixing it Up

Since I follow a huge number of blogs and news feeds for work, I've tended to stay away from running related blogs and stuck to some of the running forums out there. However, I'm slowly being sucked into reading other folks' accounts of their running and training, and frankly it's been fascinating.

And through the intial blogs, I've come across more and more runners, both slow and fast, via links and comments, such as Jason and Leah, Chris, Mike and Greg. And I seem to be adding more feeds to Bloglines on a daily basis. Very cool, because you can learn a lot from other people's training and their drive and determination to improve is pretty contagious.

From Mike's blog, I found this Running Times about Brad Hudson, a former prep star and now coach to some of the U.S.'s top distance runners. Hudson makes some interesting points regarding his training philosphy. While the jury is still out on his coaching ability (I hope Dathan Ritzenhein can run some fast 5000s this Summer before making a successful debut at the New York City Marathon), I like his idea about mixing it up. However in my case I need a plan otherwise I'll just do the same thing over and over again.

With that in mind, I going to make sure my recovery days are easier, and try to incorporate a longer mid-week run as I get ready to start formally training in August for a December marathon.

I tried out Leah's pre-run fuelling suggestion and had a slice of homemade wheat bread with peanut butter and honey after waking up this morning. On a side note, I think I go through a jar of peanut butter every week and a half. It's definitely a post-run breakfast staple with bananas on toast.

The pre-run fuelling didn't seem to bother me as I ran about 11.35 miles. It was a pretty relaxed effort and I kept it at around 70% of max HR. Tomorrow I'm thinking of going to the track and trying to run some 200s at 800/1500m pace.

I'm still considering running an 800 metter race at next week's Pacific Association USATF Masters meet. But having done no speedwork in the past couple of months, I want to see where I stand so hence the 200s tomorrow. Common sense would be just to skip the meet, but I've never been known to have much of that....

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Summer Slowdown

Today's the first day of summer and time to slow things down as the temps are picking up in my area, and it is expected to hit close to 100 today. At least it's a dry heat. Yeah, right.

My consulting work has also slowed a bit too, but that has been compensated by doing more family stuff. Both my kids are out of school, which means trying to keep them busy and shuttling them around to camps and activites. Lots O' fun.

Regarding my running, I made sure this morning's run was truly a recovery effort. I used the Mizuno Revolvers without orthotics, and ran about 7.75 miles at a very slow 8:58 minutes per mile pace. I closely monitored my heartrate throughout the run and averaged 126 beats per minute for the hour+ effort.

This was about 59% of my max HR based on the heart rate reserve method. A little less than one third of the run was in the 60-70% zone and the rest was below 60%, which is right where I wanted it. This is the main reason why I upgraded to the Garmin Forerunner 305 to make sure I don't run the easy days too hard.

Although pace and heart rate wise, the run was easy, it really didn't feel like it. I know it sounds funny, but I'm just not use to running at that pace, and consciously had to force myself to slow it down, which is why I never felt really comfortable. I have to get use to this because I plan to run my recovery efforts this way from now on, although I might attach some strides at the end of some of them.

Lastly, I've never been much of a long-term planner when it came to my training. I sort of made things up as I went along on a daily or weekly basis, but basically I just put in the miles. This is why I purchased Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning book for its structured schedules in case I attempt a marathon in December.

I aslo decided to print out some blank Outlook calendars for the next few months so I can write down a proper training schedule. We'll see if this structure helps at all....

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fuelling Up

No, this isn't about the astronomical cost of gasoline, which in my town costs $3.25 a gallon for regular while a couple of towns away it's only around $3. Since my sleepy little bedroom community is sort of out of the way, there is only one word for the large price differential - gouging.

On to the real topic at hand. I've never really thought of my diet during my 27+ years of running. It wasn't a consideration while running competitively in high school, college and post-college. I wasn't too picky and pretty much ate whatever was available. I guess from a health standpoint, it's a good thing that I didn't frequent fast food places much and was never a big fan of sodas.

Now that I'm older and supposedly wiser too, I'm starting to think more about what I eat. I guess some of this can be attributed to my long-suffering wife finally wearing me down after all these years. However, I think the blame and/or credit lies with my 10 year-old son.

A little over three months ago, he decided to become a vegetarian. We were having a delicious meal at a Chinese restaurant, and while he was gorging himself on the tasty Peking duck, he suddenly came to the realization that killing animals for food was wrong. And that's when he decided to stop eating meat.

It has been a challenge for the entire family (mostly my wife) to cater to his new dietary needs, and it's like we've gone back to the days when the kids were much younger and there was one meal for the grown-ups and one for the kids. I thought those days were long gone. Sigh. I believe we have reached a happy middle ground now, and while we are eating more rabbit food and tofu, the carnivores in the family still get to enjoy some meat at time (we're beef free due to my wife's mad cow paranoia).

On a side note, one thing I have noticed, since I do most of the food shopping, is the plethora of meatless food products out there. It's seems to be a growing cottage industry and the product's ain't cheap.

I have to give the boy credit that he's still sticking to his guns after three months. He came up with the decision on his own, and hasn't been bothered by his friends and classmates kidding him about it. However, I almost wrung his neck when he was wondering out loud if he should become a vegan (we do live 15 minutes away from Berkeley :-)). It was one of those days when my tolerance level for my children was very low, and so I flew off the handle and told him he couldn't become a vegan until he was 18 and preparing his own meals. The thought of trying to feed him without dairy and egg products was just too much.

So when it comes to running, am I eating healthily and fuelling my body properly? I work out of my home as a PR and marketing consultant and I'm an inveterate snacker so I always seem to be eating. Mostly nuts and my new favorite, dried apricots. I also love cakes and cookies so it's gets dangerous when I'm on one of my baking binges. Thankfully I run because otherwise I'd be 20+ pounds heavier.

I run in the early morning, and I don't eat anything before hitting the roads. I only drink a glass of water. For a long time, I use to have a pack of GU too, but stopped that when I realized I didn't need it. So far I've made it upto 16 milers using this approach, and taking some sips of water at water fountains along the way.

However, now that I'm considering training for a December marathon, I need to rethink my fuelling strategy, especially for the long runs, because 20+ milers and 2:30+ hour runs are a totally different ballgame.

Should I resume having a GU before the long runs? I don't want to carry any liquids with me so I'll probably have to leave a bottle somewhere and hydrate on the run. Do I carry GU with me or try something else? Through Jason and Leah I've learned about Jelly Belly Sport Beans. They sound like an easier and less messy solution for energy on the run. Now I just have to find a pack to try them out. The factory and headquarters is less than 40 minutes away so I could always just drive there.

Any other fuelling ideas?

As for today's run, I decided to opt out of a speed workout at the track, and ran fartlek instead. Warmed up for about 1..7 miles and then did my usual 5.1 mile tempo route with 15 x 1:00 on and off. Overall, the time for the loop was the same as last week's MP effort at 33:29, but this morning felt a lot harder.

It was probably a combination of still not being fully recovered from Sunday's long run combined with running the 1:00 off sections a bit too hard. Note to self: run easy the next two days and get a proper recovery.

If all goes well then I might hit the track on Friday to see what kind of speed is left in my old legs....

Monday, June 19, 2006

Auto Pausing?

Definitely felt the after effects of yesterday's 2 hour run this morning as I puttered around the dew-laden/recently watered local golf course. I felt slow and tired during my recovery run, and I'm questioning whether he golf course is the best place for an easy day since there are some painfully steep uphill sections. I guess I'll stick it out because it's nice to run on the grass and the course is closed on Mondays. Plus the hills should be good for me, right?

I've been noticing some heart rate spikes on my new Garmin Forerunner 305 at the beginning of runs. I'm guessing it's due to the fact I'm not getting good chest contact with the transmitter strap. I currently use water and/or a heart rate monitor electrode cream back from my Polar HRM days. I read somewhere that a light amount of soapy water does the trick so I might try it tomorrow.

Last Friday, I read a post at the Garmin Blog about the virtues of using the Auto Pause feature on the Garmin Forerunner 205/305. I commented on the post that:

I personally don't use the auto-pause function because I'm a data-driven geek too keen on tracking every mile and second. The auto-pause is a great feature, but I find you gain a couple of seconds over the course of a run when you use it. I prefer to use the start/stop button instead, because at my age I can't afford to get any slower :-)
My non-technical guess for these gains in time is due to GPS lag. I don't know how often the Forerunners ping the various satellites , but it is never instantaneous that the device pauses at exactly the same time you stop at a light or something. I know you can set it so that it pauses when you slow down to a certain speed (i.e. 20 minutes per mile), but I wouldn't want the device to stop in the middle of a run because of a weak GPS signal.

This is why I just use the start/stop button to pause during a run. I'm use to it from my track days. It might make sense for a cyclist to use auto pause, but I'd rather have the seconds back.

Any other runners out there who use/don't use the Auto Pause feature?

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Long Run

Now I remember why the long run is such a pain (literally and figuratively). This morning as my Father's Day present to myself, I let the wife and kids sleep in as usual and hit the roads around 7:15 am. My usual Sunday run is 2.5 miles to the local park and then out and back on a paved, measured trail before concluding with 2.5 miles to my home.

The out portion is mostly downhill, which means the return trip is uphill and doubly tiring. I decided to try and run 15 miles and so ran the out portion at a relaxed clip. There's nothing worse then getting carried away on a long run and running too fast on the out/downhill portion only to realize you're out of gas with still too many uphill miles to go.

The return trip was a bit tiring both physically and mentally because I knew I had a ways to go. For some reason I always run the return part faster, even with the hills, which ends up making the run harder.

The less few miles were a struggle, mostly because I wasn't used to being on my feet that long. I ended up running 15.2 miles in 1:56:41, which was my longest run since early January. I guess I'll need to get used to going longer if I want to run a marathon in December. I'm definitlely not looking forward to the this.

At least I got the run out of the way before 9:30. However, there was no time to relax and recover. My kids wanted French Toast for breakfast and my wife wanted no part of it. Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Maxing Out?

Now that I plan to do some heart rate training with my new Garmin Forerunner 305, I tried to determine my maximum heart rate (max HR) this morning. The easiest and least accurate method is just subtracting your age from 220 to come up with the max HR. In my case, this yields 179.

I decided to hit the track and to do 8 laps or 3200 meters in which I progressively increased the pace in hopes of getting a clearer picture of how high my max HR was. I figured that at the end of the run, the highest beats per minute (BPM) reading would be reasonably close to my max HR. I would then unscientifically add about 5 BPM to that number since I probably wouldn't be going flat out at the end.

After a long, slow warmup of about 4 miles, I made my way to the local high school and started the 3200 meter run. As I mentioned, I wanted to gradually increase the pace each lap. I actually felt OK throughout the run, and while the last couple of laps were hard they weren't all out. Here are the 400m splits:
  • 96.4
  • 94.7 (3.11.1)
  • 89.4
  • 87.7 (2:57.1/6:08.2)
  • 86.3
  • 84.2 (2:50.2)
  • 84.2
  • 78.0 (2:42.2/5:32.7/11:40.9)
In itself, this run really doesn't show anything other than I can run close to 5:35 for a mile in a workout. Nothing more, nothing less. At the end of the run, my BPM hit 177 so I'm going to estimate my max HR is 182 for now. Above is a chart of my % of max HR (based on 179 BPM) versus the pace during the run as pulled from SportTracks.

I might try and revisit this test or try Pete Pfitzinger's hill workout method (3 times of 2 to 3 minutes up a moderate hill with the last 2 close to all out) at a later date...

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

New York Times and Running Skirts

I'm not a cross dresser, but I do like to purchase running gear and check out the latest running fashions. And by and large, the running clothes designs for women are much nicer and offer more variety than the ones for men.

In my opinion, today's technical clothing has been one of the great advances in running. I no longer have to be weighed down by a sweat-drenched, heavy cotton t-shirt. This is huge since I usually sweat up a storm, even in colder temps.

Unfortunately, the new technical clothing comes at a cost. It can be expensive, which makes it harder to satisfy my need to acquire more and more running gear. This is why I end up spending more time looking at the RRS catalog than actually purchasing stuff.

Today's The New York Times (click Next in upper right corner to see more skirts) Thursday Styles section has a nice pictorial gear test on the back page of women's running skirts. It features Ceci St. Geme (nee Hopp) and her daughter Annie.

Ceci was a standout high school runner back in the early 80s, an All-American at Stanford, and the U.S. Champ at 5000 meters in 1994. Now the mother of six, she is a one very fast momma and masters runner down in Southern California.

It seems her daughter Annie inherited some of the running talent as well. She was one of the top high school distance runners in the U.S. this year, and will run for the Stanford Cardinal starting in the fall.

On a side note, I actually got Ceci Hopp's autograph when I was in high school. I was running a relay indoors at the New Jersey Meadowlands in '82, and Ceci was competing for Stanford in one of the distance events. Being a dork with a competitor's pass, I went around asking for autographs from as many of the top runners as I could, and she was a big hit, especially with the high school boys.

Back to the NY Times gear test, I'm not sure I get the whole running skirt thing. Are they for fashion and/or to provide more coverage? You see, guys just wear shorts. Some are short, some are long and some are half-tights. Not much thought goes into the process.

Women have more options with the shorts and tights, plus the bunhuggers and now skirts. I'm not complaining, just wondering what's up with the skirts???

Photo via The New York Times

More accurate and louder?

I added a couple of more observations about my new Garmin Forerunner 305 versus my Forerunner 205, which is now up for sale on eBay. I hope I can recoup most of what I paid for the 205, but I'm resigned to the fact that I'll probably lose $70-100 on it when all is said and done. I was lucky enough to get a 205 when they first came out at the end of February. I paid full price and had it shipped next day air since I'm an impatient geek. Oh well, that's the price you pay for being an early adopter.

After two runs with the 305, it seems to be slightly more accurate than my 205. While a good GPS Accuracy signal on the 205 was in the 18-30 foot range with 15 feet being the lowest I've ever seen it go, the 305 so far has regulary been in the 15-25 foot range and it has gone all the way down to 12 feet. Also the 305's audible beeps are louder than on the 205. Lastly, the HRM performance has been pretty steady. I haven't experienced any heart rate spikes, which use to occur with regularity on my Polar s610.

This morning I ran a little over 9 miles at a general aerobic clip. Didn't feel that great, but it wasn't reflected too much on the HRM. Averaged in the 70-75% range of max HR using the Karvonen heart rate reserve method. I think I'll try to ascertain my max heart rate tomorrow by either doing something on the track or some hill repeats....

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Garmin Forerunner 305

My new Garmin Forerunner 305 arrived yesterday and I did what any gadget geek would do. I quickly started charging it via the USB cradle and customized it to my liking. I also played around with the hear rate monitoring (HRM) function to see if I had a pulse. Here are some intitial observations after running with it this morning:

  • now that I'm also tracking my heart rate, I have less display real estate to track all the other data fields on my three customizable screens. I currently have 4 fields per screen and by adding a HR field to each I decided to drop the average pace, current pace and elevation fields.
  • Currently the 305 only allows you to display beats per minute (BPM) OR % of maximum heart rate. My old Polar s610 HRM had both. I sent an email to Garmin and I hope they add the ability to have both in the data fileds when they update the firmware
  • the 305 for some weird reason fits a little better on my wrist then my Garmin Forerunner 205
  • the heart rate strap is not the most comfortable thing. There are some edges and seams that rub the wrong way
  • the 305 seems to be more accurate than my 205. While a good GPS Accuracy signal on the 205 was in the 18-30 foot range with 15 feet being the lowest I've ever seen it go, the 305 so far has regulary been in the 15-25 foot range and it has gone down to 12 feet.
  • the 305's audible beeps are louder than on the 205.
to keep my heart rate down. It was kind of tiring trying to do this, but I believe I was successful. I averaged about 136 BPM which is either 75% or 67% of my max HR depending on which formula you use.

One of the challenges with heart rate training is figuring out your maximum heart rate since so much is based on all important number. The Garmin uses the standard 220 minus your age calculation, which is for obvious reasons not exact. There are ways to determine max HR, so I'll see if I try one of them.

The other thing is some folks train using the heart rate reserve approach which is based on your max HR and your resting HR. I might try this one if I can ever figure out all the calculations and stuff.

In the end, it's just more numbers to throw around. When did running get so complicated? There's lactate pace, marathon pace, max HR, etc. Can't I just go out and just run? Nahh. Then there would be no need for all these cool running gadgets....

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Looking Left, Turning Right

Most of my training is on the roads and I usually run against traffic on the left side so I can see if someone is about to hit me with their car. One of my pet peeves is drivers turning right from a side street, who don't even look to the right before turning.

It happens all the time. I'm approaching a side street and a car does a rolling stop past a stop sign. The driver then only looks to his/her left before making the right turn. Luckily for me, I'm usually paying attention and I will make a slight detour and go BEHIND the car.

I won't cross in front of a car unless I establish eye contact with the driver, and even then you never know if the driver sees you. I guess it's one of the risks we take running the roads.

This morning I decided to put in a "marathon pace " (MP) effort over 5.1 miles. My MP is kind of an arbitrary number, because I haven't completed a marathon yet. I aimed for something in the 6:40-6:50 minutes per mile range as I would like to run under 3 hours for a marathon some day.

I ended up running the 5.1 mile section a bit faster in 33:30. The run felt pretty steady, but my legs were a bit heavy. The course is rolling and you can make up a lot of time on the 4th mile so it's hard to say if I was crossing over to half marathon or lactate pace range. It's all very confusing trying to figure these paces out.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Got in an OK recovery run over the local golf course this morning. I wish it was flatter as there is an almost 1.5 mile section that climbs almost 250 feet in elevation. The last part is steep and not fun when you're trying to take it easy.

My new Garmin Forerunner 305 is en route and through the wonders of the web I can track it to the local ariport in Oakland. I'm scheduled to receive it tomorrow. Package tracking is great, but the waiting part still sucks. Just knowing it is only 20 minutes away is not enough when you want something now....

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Running Solo

Ran my first longish run effort in almost 2 months. Was planning to go about 12 miles and/or around 90 minutes, but joined up with someone I had met a couple of times at local road races and went a mile past my planned turn around point.

It was kind of nice chatting with someone during a run and not thinking about pace or anything. I only ran with him for a mile and a half and it went by too quickly. I was thinking of continuing on with him but didn't want to turn a planned 12 miler in a painful 15 or 16.

The return 6.6 mile trip home included a 3+ mile uphill portion into a stiff wind. Despite the conditions, I was able to maintain a nice, steady 7:12 pace on that segment, which didn't feel too difficult. I hope my training is getting back to normal.

My doctor couldn't find anything wrong with me on Thursday so I'm just awaiting the results from my blood test in the next day or two...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ditch my orthotics?

Another easy run this morning. Tried to use the ADEO GPS personal fitness companion with my son's iPod Shuffle. The shuffle worked fine, but I think I messed something up with the ADEO so I'll try it again tomorrow on a not-so-GPS friendly trail.

I'll probably lose the shuffle because although the ADEO integrates well, I'm not a big fan of listening to music while running.

I've never gotten use to holding a music player and dealing with the wires to the headphones. Wireless headsets via Bluetooth make a lot of sense here. Also in my case, I think there's a stigma attached to running while listening to music that goes all the way back to when I ran in college.

One of my former track teammates was always critical of athletes listening to music while warming up for their event at meets. He use to say real runners don't do that and would call them joggers in disdain. I guess that must have stuck with me all these years.

On the topic of sticking with something for all these years, I've been wearing orthotics for more than 25 years since I had some foot problems while competing in high school. My current pair (see photo) are 1/2 length and made of hard plastic.

Once the original Spenco insole cover wore out, I decided not to replace them and now I just slip the uncovered orthotics in my shoes on top of the original insole. Helps in fitting shoes too so that for most brands I can just move up 1/2 a size and they'll fit with the orthotic (i.e. size 9 1/2 without orthotic and 10 with).

Since going the minimalist route and training only in racing flats, I've been injury free for almost a year. I'm now thinking of taking the next step and ditching my orthotics as well. I know of a number of folks who have gone this route without experiencing any serious problems so I'm willing to try it out.

I already have a pair of 9 1/2 Mizuno Revolver 2 flats that I use only for racing sans orthotics (my current orthotics do add weight) so I'll probably put them to the rotation once or twice a week for recovery runs on softer surfaces (i.e. grass and trails)...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

New Book and Gadgets

I haven't been able to post the past two days because has been down so often. I hope they fix their problems because it's getting to be a real pain to keep 2 blogs up-to-date.

My running seems to be getting a bit better. Had an easy run yesterday and then did
a fartlek run today of 10 x 1 minute on and of.

More importtantly, I
received some goodies the last couple of days too.

Per the recommendation of
Leah I picked up a copy of "Advanced Marathoning" by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas. It's a pretty good read and I might follow their 18 week, up to 70 miles a week marathon program starting in August, and train for the California International Marathon (CIM) in the beginning of December.

Two of the takeaways so far is to make sure I run my recovery runs easy, and add some more variety to my training to break up the monotony. So instead of running 9 miles every day, I'll try to mix it up more so maybe 7 on one day and 11 the next. That kind of stuff.

And to make sure I don't run my recovery days too hard, I decided to take the plunge and upgrade from my
Garmin Forerunner 205, and get the 305 with heart rate monitor instead. I got a pretty good deal on one online and I hope it arrives early next week. Once I receive it I'll probably sell the 205 on eBay. I don't plan to use the HRM everyday, but it will help me keep the easy days easy...I hope.

Lastly, the new GPS-enabled personal fitness companion product from
MotionLingo called ADEO arrive today. As I mentioned earlier, the ADEO is an audio GPS training device that can connect to a MP3 player to provide audio alerts regarding the activity. I'm currently charging it up and will test it out tomorrow morning with my son's iPod shuffle. Expect a multi-part review of the ADEO soon....

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More and More Devices for Runners has an article about the growing and lucrative market for fitness devices for runners, such as heart rate monitors, GPS distance monitors and converged devices that combine MP3 players or cell phone handsets with some type of distance monitoring.

The article talks about some of the players in the market such as Polar, Suunto, the recently announced Nike+iPod collaboration between Apple (AAPL) and Nike (NKE), and does a nice job profiling Bones in Motion's BiM Active service at Sprint Nextel (S), which turns certain GPS-enabled handsets into personal activity monitoring devices.

The article doesn't do such a good job when discussing Garmin (GRMN) and only writes:

Garmin, a company best known for marine, hiking and road trackers, offers fitness devices with mobile phone-sized heart monitors, which cyclists mount on their handle bars.
I guess the journalist didn't do enough research on Garmin's leading Forerunner line of GPS devices, such as the Garmin Forerunner 205.

It's definitely a fun time to be a runner if you like gadgets as well. I'm currently in the process of trying to get my hands on a new GPS-enabled product from MotionLingo called ADEO to review. The ADEO is an audio GPS training device that supposedly connects to a MP3 player to provide audio alerts regarding the activity. We'll see how it goes.

As for my actual running, I put in a steady effort this morning with about 5 miles at around 7:00 mile pace. Wasn't too bad nor too hard I hope....

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Easy Day

Got in my usual Monday morning golf course run. Had another bizarro GPS signal episode on my Garmin Forerunner 205 during the run.

I was on the course with a clear view of the sky when all of a sudden the GPS Accuracy spiked to over 100 feet. This was the first time this has ever happened to me. I stopped, stood still for less than 30 seconds and the GPS Accuracy went back down to the 18-25 foot range and then stayed there for the rest of the run. Very odd.

The rest of the run was uneventful. The only other exciting thing today was stopping by the new Road Runner Sports in San Carlos.

I rarely get down to the San Francisco Bay Area peninsula anymore, but had a meeting nearby so made sure to stop in. Shopping at running stores to look at the latest shoes and fashions has always been a favorite activity of mine and this was no exception.

RRS has by far the largest floor space of any running store in the Bay Area and they had lots of good stuff. I forced myself to purchase some technical tops and definitely could have done a lot of damage if I didn't have some self control.

I learned they will open another store closer to where I live in the Fall, which can't be good for my wallet...

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Alive and kicking

I use to follow the widely held industry maxim that running shoes should be replaced every 300-400 miles.

I was a sheep that also liked to buy new shoes any chance I could get so it wasn't a real bother.

However, now that I train exclusively in racing flats, I've started to change my tune on shoe usage. I'm trying to stick with models that work for me and flats are usually harder to come by.

My current favorite is the Mizuno Revolver 2 and I'm down to my last two pairs. I've been trying to wring out as many miles as possible out of these shoes in order to hold off migrating to the very red update of the Mizuno Revolver 3.

I have one pair that just exceeded 500 miles on them (see above photo) and I'll see if I can get another 100 mile or so out of them. Since I usually don't wear out the shoe tread, I need to watch carefully if the mid-sole is compressing. I'll also try to use them on softer surfaces such as trails and the local golf course.

600 miles will be pretty cool since it's like getting two pairs of shoes for the price of one.

Running wise, the weekend was uneventful. Got my mileage in and counting the days until my doctor's appointment on Thursday...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Holding Pattern

It feels like the past month and a half my training has been in a holding pattern. Physically, I haven't been able to shake my mystery ailment that has left me feeling tired and rundown. My annual doctor's appointment is next week so I hope I can resolve my health issues.

I've been still getting in the miles, but haven't been able to maintain a consistent level of training and workouts. I still would like to run a decent 800m race at the PAUSATF Masters Champs on July 1, but the lack of speedwork is starting to concern me, and time is running out. I guess I'll see what happens over the next few week.

More long term, I've been thinking of attempting a marathon again. The only time I tried, I dropped out of the 2002 California International Marathon (CIM)in Sacramento at around 19 miles. I was on pace for sub 3 hours, but a piriformis injury sustained in the month leading up to the race waylaid my efforts. Plus, the lack of marathon pace training also did me in.

The race was completely forgettable except for the fact I ended up jogging in the last 4+ miles. This was because the bus in charge of taking the drop outs like myself to the finish area only moved at 5 miles per hour. I ended up getting off the bus since it took forever to drive a couple of miles.

So with almost 4 years gone by, I think I'm dumb enough again to subject myself to the pain of marathon training. If I can get through the summer healthy, I'll aim for CIM in early December....