Monthly Archives: January 2016

Slipping and A-sliding

Be careful out there as it is treacherous in the North East USA at the moment. 

I went out for a run and fell over because I was continually transitioning from sidewalks (pavements) to the roadway. The remaining ice from the storm seems to mainly be in those areas and if you try to change direction on it… You’ll go over. 

I think it is better to stick with being on the roads at this point. Be sure to choose roads that have been cleaned and that offer enough space for cars to easily pass you. 

Wear bright (non-White) clothing and flashing lights. 

Another problem I had with the sidewalks was that I would run down a  stretch that had been cleared only to find it dead-ends at a snow bank where the person’s neighbour hadn’t cleared their path. This left me to dive through several three foot deep drifts of snow to get back to the road. Grr. 

Other advice: look for cleared trails and try to run then when the temp is above freezing to avoid ice patches. Most townships do these last so you may have to miss a run if you don’t want to be on the road. 

Take care, my friends. 

A Quick Run Around my Home Town

No updates this week because I’ve been travelling in the UK. 

And, in a manner similar to last year, as soon as I got here they announced massive snow storms in the US. This will be the third year in a row that I’ve been out of the country for large snow storms. Lucky me, but so fortunate for my wife. 

Any how, the combination of meetings and long nights drinks with family left me with little chance to actually run. 

Finally I got out on my last morning here for a run from my parents house and out around the area I grew up in. I stuck to the countryside rather than heading into the town as I thought it would be fresher. 

The air quality seems to be deteriorating in that area and I could taste the car fumes even at six AM on a rainy Sunday morning. Be careful, England. 

Again there has been some new building development since I ran here last year and they are building out extra pathways to support people. 

Another very noticeable change is the number of other runners. While I was put I only saw one as it was very early, but the previous day and later on this morning, I saw lots of runners scooting up and down the road. 

This is a really good thing to see. I’m happy that people in the UK seem to finally be embracing the running culture. 

I ran four and a bit miles and enjoyed myself. Nothing too fast. Nothing too long. Just enjoyable. 

Burning Up The Mountains of Fire

Not many updates this weekend as I am away with my wife and kids in Arizona visiting one of our friends.  

She ran the Rock’n’roll Half yesterday and crossed yet another State off her list. 

And today, I finally got a run in and took to the mountains near our friends house.  

 It was just over two miles from her house up to the local mountains. I was out just before sunrise and snapped a few very pretty shots. 

There’s a reason why the State flag has a burning sun on it. The sky looks lovely in the early morning and at sunset. 

The trail I ended up on was actually quite a technically difficult trail on the side of a hill that required my full attention to avoid tripping on the uneven surface. 

The views from partway up were stunning as the fire in the sky started to catch on the roofs of Scottsdale, AZ.  I captured some of it in this magnificent panoramic shot.  

 
At the four mile mark I turned and headed back to the family. The last day of our trip out here and we wanted to get out for a last breakfast. 
The temperatures have been a comfortable 65F during the day. 

It made me smile this morning as I was coming back down the mountain and seeing other local runners out. It was about 45F but they all had leggings, long sleeves and jackets; there was me enjoying the ‘warmth’ in my shorts and tee. Haha – lightweights!
 

First Footing Fresh Snow

Finally the snow has arrived in south-eastern Pennsylvania. It took until mid-January, but it has arrived. 

This meant that on Wednesday morning I got to go out early and ‘first foot’ many areas around my house. 

I chose a long hilly route that mixed roads and woodland. 

The roads were fine as it was only a light snow fall but you have to be extra careful when traffic approaches as they may not be able to easily move out around you. 

Wearing lots of bright clothing and make sure that it is NOT white. Green and orange are best. Also, blinky lights will let traffic see you from further and give them more time to adjust their road position and speed. 

Running through the woods can be a little tricky. You have to keep your eyes open for covered roots and look out for ice on the hills… In both directions! Running uphill and downhill gives traction issues. 

With temperatures in the single digits (9F) it was a very cold morning. This meant I needed an extra layer to cope with the wind, a neck gator and a hat. Mummification. 

And again today I was out with temps around 14F. I run the risk of using all my clothes up before the next wash cycle as I’m wearing so many layers each time I go out… Especially as I’ve riden to work a couple of times this week too! 

Stay warm, everyone. 

Utility Running

It’s not often I get for run for a real reason and by that I mean to get somewhere specific rather than just for exercise. Running for utility. 

However, last night we drove to a town about ten miles away for a grown-ups night out, drank heartily and the ubered home at the end of the night. 

This left our car needing to be retrieved today, me with a slight hangover, and in need of my regular weekend long run. The perfect combination. 

The temps were perfect at 55F but it was raining quite thoroughly. It’s just rain though. I loaded up with my new knuckle lights (slightly different logos for the latest model but works the same) as I wanted to make sure that traffic would see me in the rain. 

Most of the route was to be trails after the first 2.5 on roads. The trail by the river was completely flooded out so I was treading water quite a bit. I had expected this though so I wasn’t put off. 

The canal was getting quite full from the extra water but not enough to encroach on the trails, thankfully. 

Anyhow, mission accomplished and I retrieved the car and shook off the hangover. 

My wounds from Friday’s fall are healing well. Scabs are forming nicely on my knee and elbow. And I have to say that the band aids I’ve been using (Star Wars and Peanuts) have worked incredibly well, remaining adhered despite being on areas that have a lot of movement. 

I find myself thinking about my friend running the last part of his Dopey Challenge down in Florida today. I hope he’s doing well…

Ouch: Watch Out for Sleeping Policemen. 

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I tripped on a sleeping policeman (speed bump) while running through a local school. 

Well, it happened again and this time I didn’t manage to catch myself. 😦

I was running the route in the reverse direction, uphill, in the rain and dark, and I got past the one I tripped on previously. 

Because of that I let my mind wander and take in the scene. Bang. 

Suddenly I’m on the deck. Damned if there wasn’t another one lurking in the shadows, waiting to trip me. 

When I went down I cut my knee, my elbow and my hand. I also scratched my glasses which I was carrying in my hand because of the rain; lucky they didn’t get totalled! I also broken the clasp on my knuckle light, rendering it useless.  

By the end of my run my leg was a blooded mess. Turn away if you are squeamish. 

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It looks impressive but it was only a small cut that bled down my leg as I continued to run. 

For the remainder of the run I was very carefully not to trip on anything else and used my knuckle light far more. I was determined not to stop the run because of it though. 

The cuts have bruises around them and are a little sore but guess we’ll find out how bad they really are after a day or so. Hopefully no real damage. 

So I ordered some new knuckle lights as I don’t want to be without those. 

Life carries on but I’ll think twice before running that stretch of path again… Me and my stupid wandering brain. 😉

New Year. New Intervals.

My friend and I decided that it was once again time to increase the length of our running intervals.

It has been a long road to get to this point in the running plan. We’ve taken it very slowly to eliminate the risk of any injuries along the way. This very slow and steady increase in both the interval durations and the distance covered has meant that he has been able consistently build his running performance and avoid all the usual pitfalls along the training pathway.

We are now doing this set:

  1. Walk for 2 mins to warm up (although it isn’t really warming up in the current temperatures of 10-14F!)
  2. Speed Interval: Run for six minutes
  3. Walk Interval: Walk for two minutes
  4. Repeat until 6 miles covered.
  5. Walk for one minute at the end.

One thing that we do try to do is achieve a ‘reverse split’. This means that you make the return trip faster than the outward trip.

We achieve this by reducing the walking intervals on the second half. After we turn around at the 3 mile point, we wait until the first walk interval and delay it by running for an additional 30 seconds. We then start walking for 1 minute 30 seconds.

If we feel fine at the next walk interval, then we run for an extra 45 seconds. After this we start walking for 1 minute 15 seconds.

At the next walk interval, we decide whether we will try to run straight-through to the end, or just push it up to one minute of extra running.

This flexibility in the return intervals allows us to push a little harder and further each time, but keeps us in tune with the various muscles and stops us doing anything stupid. It also means that we can gradually build towards the next interval goal and let’s achieve ‘course’ records regularly as a form of motivation.

Having gone from walking for 2 miles to run-walking 6 miles in around 58 minutes, all with no injuries incurred, I’d say that this has been a successful strategy. We’ve built up to this over the course of 15 months, so it isn’t a fast way to get from ‘couch to 5k’, but that’s not what I encourage anyway. Most of my friends who have tried those plans either got injured or found it to be tiresome and stopped running altogether.

I’m interested in encouraging people to run for the rest of their lives; not for a single event.

If you are looking to learn to run and don’t want to fall by the roadside, side-lined by an injury, try a run-walk-run approach like this.

Additionally, my friend can now run four miles without any walk breaks at all. He’s certainly set to get a new 5k record next time he runs one, that’s for sure.

If you need to know how to setup intervals like this, most popular running apps will support it. We use mapmyrun but it is an advanced feature that you have to pay an additional fee for. Make sure you have the volume turned up so you can hear the announcements. RunKeeper also offers a similar function. I know that Garmin devices generally support this approach too, so there’s plenty to choose from.

As a footnote (pun intended), you should track the mileage on your shoes. Most of these running apps will support this. Depending on your weight and running style the mileage you will get out of a pair of shoes may vary, but typically 300-500 miles is the most you can get.

Also, if you are just starting out and have a janky old pair of shoes that you used to wear for gym class, get rid of them. Go to a specialist running shop and get them to help you choose some appropriate modern shoes. They may ask you to walk or run on a treadmill to see how you move. Be prepared to have to spend an hour or more on this task and probably over $100 for a decent pair of shoes. Your body will be glad of the investment.

Get out there. Try running. And learn to love running by taking a very slow approach to increasing your distance.

New Year Group Run

Well, Happy New Year to you all!

I trust you had a good night and didn’t stay up drinking too much (like I did). Partying at the neighbors house is too easy.

I went through my logs and calculated that I ran a total of 1367.57 miles in 2015. That’s significantly more than last year when I just made it to the 1000 mile mark. I guess marathon training really helps to pile on the mileage.

Today, my friend Ed and I started the New Year by joining the Fasttracks running club annual New Year’s Day run that starts in Valley Forge Park and goes out a couple of miles to the base of a big hill (Diamond Rock Road)… Which it is then an option to climb.

This was a challenging run for Ed as unlike our regular weekly run it was six miles with some significant hills and undulations. We normally run alongside a river and there’s barely a slope at all.

Nonetheless, Ed had agreed to do the run (even though he misunderstood the distance; ho hum) and so we started at 8:30 this morning with a hard run.

Here’s Ed and some of the others climbing Diamond Rock..

  
It doesn’t look too steep in this shot but there are sections that are 24%. It is a long tough hill.

One of the club members lives atop the mountain so we went there for mid-run refreshments and chatting, but, all too soon, it was time to saddle up and run back.

Coming done the hill was fine but they took their toll on Ed’s legs so we slowed the return run down and did more walking intervals. We don’t want to start the new year with injuries, after all.

On the way back into Valley Forge we stopped to get a photo with the State Park sign, using my Apple Watch as a remote for the camera; such a cool feature.

 
When we got back to the finish some people we still milling around for a celebratory toast which we missed. Some others came in after us so we hung out with them for a while to give everyone a chance to recover.

This was the first time my friend joined me at a running club event. Hopefully he didn’t feel like a stranger as they are a very friendly group.

What will 2016 bring? I’m not sure. Now I’ve done an official marathon, I’m not sure how I feel about it and whether I will do another one. I did miss Boston qualifying by a very small (8 second) margin but I’m not too hung up on that. I think I prefer running half-marathons and it takes less of a toll on your body, for sure.

I am going to try to be better about cycling to work more, even during the winter. I did buy some fenders(mudguards) for my bikes the other day so I won’t get quite so filthy when the weather turns. I’m looking forward to testing them out.

Other than that, I don’t really have any goals for this year. Maybe I can find some from around the blogosphere. 

I wish you all a good year. 🙂