Running Again

I started the long road back to running this week – 3.5 miles of run walk combination completed in 38:40 for an average of a 12:54 mile. It was slow, it was boring, but it was running, pain free running and it has been a long, long time since I have run without pain.
At the beginning of 2012 I though I had recovered from my last set of injuries (groin, ankle). I started to build up the miles again little by little. I thought I was doing it slowly, but clearly it wasn’t slow enough. On March 17th I wrote this in my running journal after a ten miler:

Felt strong through the first six or so then the left PF/achilles started acting weird. Always something.

After that I spent a couple of weeks barely able to walk. Hobbling around New York, wincing in pain every time I had to walk anywhere. I tried running again three weeks later. It was too early. Then more time off, with little improvement. Finally I made a doctor’s appointment, started physical therapy, and a commitment to stretching, icing, and the strengthening exercises the PT prescribed. Three months after the injury, I think I am on the mend for real. Pain is almost entirely gone and Wednesday run was entirely pain free.

I plan on heading out there again today for a very slow run/walk of 4.5 miles. I’m going to keep it at that for a while. Two days a week, 9 sad little miles. I’ll supplement with all the other activities I’ve been doing to not get fat, biking, rowing, rock climbing, lifting, bodyweight stuff. Then, maybe a month from now, if all goes well, I’ll add a little more. 2012 is clearly a bust running-wise. I won’t be racing anything, but if I do this right, if I take it really slow, and keep up the exercises and strengthening work, I might after two years of shit running, actually be back in the game by the fall 2013.

Looking Back / Looking Forward

Looking Back:

2010 was a year of unfulfilled potential. I started the year off with an injury, bounced back for a strong spring and summer, and finished the year with two serious injuries and a very disappointing fall racing season. I ran 1582 miles this year, roughly one hundred miles fewer than I ran in 2010. I set a PR at the 5k, but failed to PR or meet any of the time goals I set for the year. I did not even run a marathon.

Statistically, this year was a profound disappointment, but there were a number of intangible successes. I joined a local running club and raced more often than I ever have before. I ran too much and too fast, but I learned a lot about the science of running and what it takes to stay healthy. I made a whole bunch of mistakes. I got smarter, and, for a while there, faster. Now it is time to take the hard lessons of 2011 and put them to work.

 

Looking Forward:

As I’ve written about here before, I need to acknowledge that I am old and injury prone. I have consistently upped my mileage, or my speed work, too quickly, and I have consistently paid the price. No more. From here on, I am going to be smart. I am going to follow the ten percent rule; I’m going to take cut back weeks. I’m going to be patient, consistent, and disciplined and I am going to work very, very hard to stay injury free.

That right there is my major goal for 2012 – stay healthy. But me being me, I have to set a couple of concrete goals as well. I am trying to keep these modest, but challenging and focused on the events and aspects of the sport I enjoy.

First, I hope to finally hit 2,000 miles for the year. I enjoy the long run, I enjoy racking up the miles, and I hope by building my miles slowly and safely, and not taking on any speed work for some time, I can stay healthy enough to make this a reality.

 

Second, I’d like the break twenty minutes at the 5k. My current PR is 21:49. A minute forty nine in a year is a challenge, but doable. The 5k is a great distance. You can race them almost every weekend through the spring, summer and fall. I plan to race this distance a lot and finally understand this distance.

Third, run a 1:35 half marathon. This is also a stretch, but not unattainable if I stay healthy.

No marathon goal for now. I’m not sure I’ll race the distance this year. We’ll see. A lot depends on how my fitness is come the summer. For now, I’m excited to just be running again pain free. I hope to keep this up, adding the miles little by little and eventually, someday, years from now, towing the line at Boston.

Training Totals Week Ending 11.20.2011

RECAP: This week was the Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon. Initially, I had signed up for the full marathon, but injuries upon injuries this fall made me back down to the half. It was a gorgeous day for a run, but I just wasn’t in shape. I finished the half in a disappointing 1:54 and change.

 

By mile eight, everything hurt. My groin injury came back, my ankle was killing me and I all around felt like shit. At this point, the less said about the whole thing the better. I’m already plotting for next year.

 

I also need to note that, tragically, two runners died this year at the marathon. That is very sad news. MY heart goes out to their families, I just hope that in the coverage of these unfortunate deaths running is not portrayed as an overly risky endeavor.

Anyway, here’s the week in numbers:

Summary:

Run Streak: 26 days

Average Weight –186

Running Miles: 31.6 in 4:42:56

Bike Miles: 0

Strength and Flexibility: 2:40:00

Erg: 8500 meters in 41:30

Total exercise time: ~7.75 hours

Daily Breakdown:

Monday – 4.5 in 41:46; 20:00 S&F; row 6k in 28:56

Tuesday – 3 in 26:59

Wednesday – 3 in 25:38; S&F 45:00

Thursday – 4 in 36:03; S&F 20:00; Row 2500 in 12:36

Friday – 3 in 29:00; S&F 1:00:00

Saturday – 1 in 9:30

Sunday – 13.1 in 1:54:00; S&F 15:00

 

Goals for Last Week:

  1. Ice ankle everyday – DONE!
  2. Run everyday – DONE!

 

Looking Ahead:

I am signed up to do the concept2 holiday challenge, that’s 200,000 meters of erg rowing in a month. I’m hoping it’ll function as a nice break from running all the time. I still plan to get out there every day and get in a couple of miles, but for now, rowing, stretching and pampering the ankle are the priorities. That and planning for next year.

 

Goals for Next Week:

  1. Start Holiday challenge by rowing at least 15K
  2. Ice ankle everyday
  3. Run Everyday
  4. Make a plan for being a better runner.

 

 

 

Training Totals Week Ending 10.23.2011

RECAP: Well holy shit, a week of running! Seems like it has been a long time since I could say that. 34 miles in five hours isn’t high level training, sure, but it is better than what I have been doing for the past month. I’ll take it, and build on it.

Alright, the numbers:

Summary:

Run Streak: 10 days

Average Weight –185

Running Miles: 32.2 in 5:12:44

Bike Miles: 0

Body Weight Work: 0

Total exercise time: ~5 hours

Daily Breakdown:

Monday – 4.5 in 43:46

Tuesday – 4.5 in 41:25

Wednesday – 8 in 1:10:00

Thursday – 3 in 24:57

Friday – 1 in 8:15

Saturday – 3.25 in 30:00

Sunday – 10 in 1:34:10

Goals for Last Week:

Run every day – DONE!

Looking Ahead: I hit bottom in my training two weeks ago, but I feel like I am on the way up now. This week will be about building up a few more miles and toying around with the paleo experiment. I am going to keep the goals modest, I’ve got time.

Goals for Next Week:

  1. Experiment with the Paleo thing and see if it works
  2. Run at least forty miles
  3. Do all physical therapy exercises everyday

Training Totals Week Ending 10.16.2011

RECAP: This week was the turn around, I can feel it. I hit rock bottom in my running, thought about giving it up for a while, and then rebounded and ran through the streets of Columbus, Ohio of all places loving the feel of covering ground. It was not a great week numbers wise, or even “feel” wise, I was sore, my ankle hurt, I felt fat and slow (even though I wasn’t nearly as slow as I thought I would be). But I ran. And I felt much, much better.

There is not much point in recapping the week day by day. I went twenty miles in five runs. That isn’t much but it is the start of something. It was not a strong week and I didn’t make any of my goals but all of that seems secondary. What is important is I am running and soon enough it will feel good again.

For this week, there is only one goal – get out there and run. Everyday. Enjoy fall in New York and rediscover why I do this stupid sport.

Training for the week ending 10.2.2011

RECAP: Ugh, I was really hoping to put together a good week, but incessant rain, family obligations, and just an all-around down attitude about running made this week more “eh” then “yeah!”. Still better than last week.

Alright, the numbers:

Summary:

Run Streak: 6 days

Average Weight –183.5

Running Miles: 29 in 4:34:00

Bike Miles: 0

Body Weight Work: 0

Total exercise time: ~4.5 hours

Daily Breakdown:

Monday – 4.5 in 43:00

Tuesday – 4.5 in 43:00

Wednesday – 1 in 9

Thursday – 10 in 1:36:00

Friday – 6 in 55:00

Saturday – 3 in 28:00

Sunday – Off

Goals for Last Week:

n/a

Looking Ahead

I’m starting to get worried about the fall marathon. I haven’t gone long in almost a month. This coming weekend will be the test, if I have a good long run I’ll keep at it, if not, I might have to bag it.

Goals for Next Week:

  1. Run at least 50 miles
  2. Run a decent long run of at least 18 miles
  3. Reincorporate stretching
  4. Schedule physical therapy appointment
  5. Lose a pound

 

Training Totals 8.28.2011

RECAP: Another week in suck city. I had to have a routine medical procedure this week which laid me up for two days. Then there was a goddamn hurricane. All in all it sucked, and the less said about it the better.

Alright, the numbers:

Summary:

Run Streak: 4 days

Average Weight –186.7

Running Miles: 34  in 5:26:23

Bike Miles: 0

Body Weight Work: 2 times

Total exercise time: ~6 hours

Daily Breakdown:

Monday – 5 in 49:00; W3D3 (16, 17, 14, 14, 24) for a total of 81

Tuesday – 0

Wednesday – 0

Thursday – 9.5 in 1:26:00; Max rep push up test – 31

Friday – 5 in 1:00:00

Saturday – 10 in 1:33:59

Sunday – 4.5 in 36:24

Goals for Last Week:

  1. Three days of body weight work – FAILED
  2. Run at least 45 miles, ideally 50 – FAILED
  3. Survive to fight another day – DONE?
  4. Lose a pound – DONE

Looking Ahead

This was another tough week in what has been a tough and disappointing month. At this point, I just need to put it behind me and concentrate on salvaging my fall marathon. Its going to be balls out from here on out.

Goals for Next Week:

  1. Run everyday
  2. Run at least fifty miles
  3. Exercise, including bodyweight work and stretching, for a total of ten hours
  4. Lose a pound

The Long Run: A Parkway and Two Bridges

The first in a series recounting my long run adventures.

I have run over 1600 miles in Prospect Park, much of it on the 3.3 mile main loop of the park. It has, as you might imagine, gotten a little boring. In an attempt to branch out, see more of the city by foot, and keep things interesting I’m going to try and stay out of the park more, especially on my long runs. This weekend’s course was developed with three things in mind – avoiding the park, staying in the shade, and running a work related errand.

 

Eastern Parkway

With these goals in mind I started out from my place and ran up to Eastern Parkway, the leafy promenade that runs from Prospect Park to the far edge of Crown Heights. Eastern Parkway was designed by Fredrick Olmstead, the genius who brought us both Central Park and Prospect Park. I love Olmstead and not just because he is a Connecticut Yankee like me. The concept of the parkway was to create a tree lined avenue which would take residents into the park. Originally there were to be four of these leading into Prospect Park from every direction, but only two were completed, Eastern and Ocean. I might run Ocean next weekend.

I love Eastern Parkway, running it from the park to Ralph Avenue takes you through the hipsters of Prospect Heights to the Chabad Hasidic Jews, Caribbean immigrants, and African Americans of Crown Heights. The Parkway continues past Ralph all the way to the Greenwood cemetery, but it isn’t nearly as nice (or as shaded) after Ralph, so I cut things off there today and turned around.

Back down Eastern Parkway I took a right down Bedford Avenue running through Crown Heights into Bedford Stuyvesant. I ran a quick errand in Bed Stuy, checking out a building for work, taking photos in my sweaty running clothes and getting stares. It was fun. Then it was down Bedford through the Satmar Hasidic portion of Williamsburg and over the Williamsburg Bridge.

The View from the WillyB

 

Williamsburg, as you may know, is the epicenter of all that is hip in New York. The Williamsburg Bridge is a fashion show on a Saturday afternoon –  Rayban sunglasses, boat shoes, impractical bikes. I am not sure if the woman on the bike with the retro eighties halter sweatshirt top meant to show us all her breast, and she rode down the bridge, but show us all her breasts she did.

The Williamsburg drops you off in the center of the Lower East Side. Historically the LES was a ghetto for newly arrived immigrants, now it is a play land for dudes with beards in flannel shirts. At this point, I knew I was short on mileage, so instead of just heading down to the Manhattan as I originally planned, I headed up the East Side for a bit, dodging skaters and people who rarely ride their bicycles. Around 14th street I turned around and headed back down to the Manhattan, a much more proletarian bridge than the WillyB, the Manhattan is stocked with runners and Chinese and Mexican dudes on Huffys. No breasts were seen.

 

Looking at Brooklyn from the Manhattan Bridge

Off the Manhattan and onto Flatbush Avenue for the final push home. Once again surprised at how many tourists there are in downtown Brooklyn nowadays. Hot and hurting by the time I got to Flatbush and Atlantic and still needing a another mile, I went the long way home and clocked in at 17 miles in 2:54:57. Another one in the bag.

Track Work-Out

I ran my first track workout last night at the Red Hook track. The track itself is in remarkably good condition considering it is open to the public at all hours and located deep in Red Hook. It is surrounded by warehouses and the BQE overpass and heavily used by serious and casual runners. When we were there at least one other team was practicing,   It is about as urban an environment as you are going to find for a track, just about the exact opposite from my wilderness running inVermontthis past weekend.

 

The Red Hook Track

The workout itself was dead simple – a two mile warm up jog to the track from the park, and then 12 x 400 meters with 90 second rest.  Coach broke us into two groups, the very fast, and the rest of us. I was obviously not in the very fast group. My group did the repeats with the goal of hitting a time somewhere between 90 and 95 seconds for each 400. I have no idea what the goal pace was for the fast group. I took the first one too fast, coming in at 1:24; The next three I hit at just around 1:35 – 1:37. Only three laps in and hurting, I was sure I was not going to be able to keep this up. But I grinded it out, one lap at a time, and did the remaining laps all right around 1:34.

 

The purpose of the work-out was to understand pacing and begin to get a sense of what the effort for a sub 20 5k would feel like. I’ll tell you what it feels like – it feels like pain. Between sets, no one spoke. We just gasped, drank water, and walked back and forth. The experience reminded me of swim practice in high school – the pain in the lungs, the drive to finish the work out, the camaraderie between the runners. I loved it. By the final couple of sets I was hurting, especially in my legs. I did a lot of climbing on my weekend long run, and the quads were sore before I even started this work out. By the time it was over, I could barely walk. But I did more than walk, I ran the 2.5 miles home feeling like I was really, finally, getting somewhere with this running thing.

Running Commute

Trying to balance running a lot with working a lot and still seeing my wife and friends is not an easy task. Efficient use of time is key. So, with that in mind, this week I started running home from work. This being New York, the land of the Type A nut job, it is possible to go into an Eastern Mountain Sports, ask for the most popular running commuter backpack and get an informed answer. Apparently, lots of the hyper fit hippies at EMS run to work and the consensus is the Gregory Miwok 22 is the best bag for the commuting runner. At a price of one hundred dollars I will need to run home for about a month and a half to have the bag pay for itself.

 

I’ve been commuting now as I can for a week. So far, its been good. It’s a relatively flat 5.5-6 mile jaunt from my office on Wall Street to my home in Prospect Height. The routine is I pack my running clothes in the pack and take the train in to work in the morning with E, then at the end of the day I change at work, putting the work clothes in the pack, and head out the door. I get some strange looks, but hey, I’m being efficient.

If there is a downside to this it’s that I might be running a little less. Its hard to get back out the door for another two or three miles once I get home. I’ll have to rectify that this week.