Sunday, January 31, 2010

There Will Be Days Like This

To say that today's run went poorly would be an understatement. The plan was to go for my longest run yet of 16 miles. I headed out to run the loop a couple times. I only made it a little over 6.6 miles before my IT band forced me to quit.

The temperatures were in the mid 20s in the afternoon, with a windchill bringing it just under 20. I went out with a jacket and early on, I could tell that was going to be too much. The wind wasn't bad and I was very hot. I opened the jacket and took down the hood. I switched my headband and gloves off and on several times.

The biggest problem was really my fuel belt. I haven't worn it since the fall. It weighs too much and makes running much more difficult. That said, I didn't have any real issues through the first four miles or so.

My IT band typically acts up when I start on Kelly Drive and come back on West River Drive. This time, I decided to run in the opposite way. That didn't obviously didn't help a lot though.

Running slower is actually much more difficult on the IT band. I can only run so fast with the fuel belt on. I made it through 6 miles okay, but sore. I tried to start a run/walk strategy, but that failed when I first started walking. When I tried to run again, the leg just started to hurt.

I was still about 3 miles from home when I stopped running. Good thing it wasn't too cold out, since it was a long walk. I felt fine through most of it. Once I got near my house though, my leg really started hurting. I struggled just to get home.

I wanted to get to church, but it was just too hard to walk. I stretched it out and used my foam roller to massage my leg. Hopefully that and some leg strengthening with my ankle weights will cure this problem.

I wouldn't be as discouraged with this, if I ran close to the set amount. I fell 10 miles short. Part of me wants to try to make some of it up, but I'm also thinking rest might be a better option. I might do an easy 4 miler rather that rest tomorrow. I'm not totally upset. I've battled through this IT band issue and will do it again. It would be nice to get rid of the problem once and for all. Hopefully my body will adjust better now that I'm running 40 miles every week.

6.63 miles - 57:11 (8:37 pace)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Another Night Run

I ran at night for the second day in a row. I worked an early shift again. This time, I ran back at my parents house. I was supposed to run an 8 mile progression run, but I only made it 6.62 miles.

I didn't get out to running until 9:30 PM. By that time, it was freezing cold. The weather was in the upper teens with the wind chill near zero. This is one time where I was pretty cold in my tights. My jacket made my upper body comfortable. There wasn't a lot of wind, but a constant cold breeze. I went back and forth with where my jacket hood up.

I ran on a gravel trail from Bath to Northampton. It goes mostly through farm fields, with some residential areas too. With a full moon out, it was easy to see the trail. The trail was well maintained and I didn't trip or have any other problems with footing.

I went out at a decent pace on this flat route. It was a little eerie running through the darkness. I got worried that an animal could be hiding in the bushes and attack me. That caused me to run faster. Even though I was supposed to run fast at the end, I ran hard throughout.

I went out until 3.3 miles. I didn't want to get too far out, just in case something did happen. I really should've carried a cell phone. It was a nice route, with only a couple road crossing. I'll definitely consider running there when it gets warmer.

After turning around, my IT band really started bothering me. It got worse and worse, but I continued to run hard. Eventually, I got used to it. When I got back to where I started and slowed a bit, my knee just quit. I wanted to actually complete the full eight mile run, but my knee was just too tight.

Tomorrow is an off day. I might run the final 1.38 miles of today's run, just as a statement. Maybe resting makes more sense. I don't know. I got a foam roller and ankle weights. Hopefully that'll help with my IT band problems. I've been able to manage it, but it would be nice to get rid of it once and for all.

6.62 miles - 49:13 (7:26 pace)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Windy Evening

This evening's run tested my limits. I worked all day and rested for a bit when I got home. By that time, it was dark, freezing and windy. It was definitely close to the worst weather that I've run in.

There was still no question as to whether I'd get out and run though. I did have some concerns though when I went to start my watch. There was only 11% battery life left. I just hoped to make it to mile three and the turnaround.

I started off at the Art Museum. I took it easy in the early going. It was so tough though. The wind was very brutal. Having my jacket on was a big help, but it still was far from comfortable. I took my hood down because it never fits right. It ends up acting like a sail.

I was impressed with how many people were actually out running. A lot of dedicated runners. There were some very fast runners out. One passed me while we were going directly into a headwind. Not sure how he maintained that pace, but good luck to him. I passed quite a few people myself.

After I got to the grandstands, things weren't as bad. The wind died down a bit. The way back was relatively calm as well. My IT band was the real problem. It really bothered me throughout a lot of the run, even at the easy pace.

I've been doing some leg lifts. Hopefully that'll help with the IT band. I did 4 hill sprints as well. My body just has to recover better from the Wednesday run. Hopefully I'll adapt better in a few weeks.

I was amazed as mile after mile went by and my watch didn't die. Sure enough, it finally gave up as I was about to finish. I got to 5.98 miles before that happened.

I work early tomorrow morning. Since I have an 8 mile progression run, I'll likely wait until after work. I do like evening runs as long as the weather cooperates.

6 miles, 5.98 recorded - 47:49 (7:59 pace)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pennypack Park

I am always looking for new areas to run in, especially as my runs get longer. Today was my longest midweek run thus far and I believe for the rest of the training cycle. I ran 12 miles in Pennypack Park in Northeast Philadelphia.

The park is fairly easy to get to because it is right off of 95. At first, I was going to start at the Delaware River. Although there is a lot of parking in this area, the path doesn't connect very well. You actually have to cross a road to get there. I then drove up further to Torresdale Avenue, but had no luck there either. There was so much mud on the path that it was not passable. The area seemed pretty shady too, with a lot of graffiti.

Eventually, I parked on Welsh Road and found a spot there. I started off going past the concert stage. I then actually took a shortcut part of the path that I didn't know about. I ended up crossing a road and was frustrated. I was worried this would be the norm. Luckily, it wasn't. The path was uninterrupted from there on out. There was also an actually parking area nearby.

I started at a nice and comfortable pace, unlike last week's crazy progression run. I got into a fine good. It was a wonderful rout along the creek. The path is paved, although muddy in some portions. It looks like the park officials do a good job of cleaning mud from this portion of the creek though.

I ran a pretty solid pace in the early going. After a couple miles, I was surprised to encounter some hills. I expected this run through the city to be flat. The hills were typically short, but steep. It was a beautiful setting, except for the graffiti. There were a lot of people out running as well.

At one point, I turned off the main path. I came across a man on horseback coming the other way. I was worried about passing the horse on the way back. The path is a decent size, but I don't know if coming from behind a horse would spook it. Luckily, I never encountered him again.

This run called for the final 6 miles at a moderate pace. I wondered how I'd be able to get through the final 6 miles at all. Before that point, my IT band was starting to get sore from the hills, I was hot and my legs were a little tired too.

As usual, I just took it little by little. After the six mile mark, I said to myself, "just run hard for two more miles." I laid down a nice 7:15 pace on one of those. After that, I battled some more for the next two miles. I just keep looking at my watch and it is encouraging to see the distance tick away.

The final two miles were very tough. The one good thing though is that it was mostly flat towards the end of the run. I remember telling myself at mile 10.5, that I only had half a 5K left to go. I got to the final mile and went past where I originally came from. I wanted to make sure I had ample time to cool down by walking after the run.

I really struggled in the last half mile, but willed myself to finish. It felt great to do so. It's amazing that I can push this hard for such a long distance right now. I should be in very good shape once the half marathon comes around in two months.

The weather wasn't too bad. It was much colder than it has been lately, but was still only in the 30s. The trees blocked a lot of the wind. A couple stretches I could feel it though. It was very windy along the Delaware, so I'm glad I didn't run there. My wardrobe selection was pretty good though.

I didn't realize it, but I almost ran to the end of the trail. It was probably only about a half mile from where I turned around. I'll definitely run there again. It'll be better to do runs there on my easy days though. With all the hills, I don't need to run hard. The whole loop looks to be about 18 miles or so. I should be able to get some of my longer runs done there.

Tomorrow is another easy six mile recovery run. I work an odd 10-4 shift, so I'll likely run after work. Following that, I'm heading back to my parents house for a couple days. That'll give me a chance to run something different on Friday.

12 miles - 1:31:40 (7:38 pace)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Easy Night Run

I didn't get out early in the day for my run. I wanted to make sure that I got to church first. My work shift was flopped around, so I ended up there until 9 PM. I finally got my easy 6 mile run in after that.

I wanted to just do an out and back on Kelly Drive, but there are so few people out there at that time of night. Instead, I opted for the Schuykill Banks loop, plus a mile out and back along Kelly Drive. I actually started the run at my apartment. I ended it at Lloyd Hall though. Following the run, I did four hill sprints.

I went out with my reflective vest on. It was over top of a yellow Asics short sleeve shirt that I recently bought. I used my compression sleeves too. The temperature was quite warm (in the mid 40s), but there was still a bit of a breeze when running against the wind.

I went out very easy and even had to stop at a traffic light. I still couldn't believe how slow of a first mile it was (9:09). Of course I sped up, but I still kept it very easy. I was glad I ran later in the day and allowed myself more recovery time from my long run. All of the first four miles were run over 8 minutes. That's the pace I need for recovery days.

I did pick it up a little as I was passed on the uphill towards the end of the Schuykill Banks loop. The runner was going no faster than my normal day and actually quit running at boathouse row. I stayed composed and just ran my own run. I haven't always done that in the past.

The runner did startle me a little. It actually might be more dangerous on the Schuykill Banks loop because it is isolated. There is a fence on one side, so it would be tough to get away if I was attacked. I got worried when someone coming the other direction looked behind them as I was coming. I thought maybe they were going to attack me and were checking to see if anyone else was coming. Nothing happened though. Hopefully when I run on summer nights, more people will be out.

I finished up nice and easy. My legs were a little beat up, but they still felt good. I definitely recovered from last week's hard workout. I was worried that I might not.

Tomorrow, will either be a rest day or some cycling. I don't work until 4, so I might be able to get a ride in. Wednesday is another progression run and I have the day off. I may head up to Pennypack Park and give that a try.

6 miles - 49:25 (8:14 pace)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Body Holding Up

Today was a long 14 mile run. I couldn't get out of bed early, so I ran after the women's basketball game. Overall, it turned out to be a pretty good run. I did a river loop, then added the Schuykill Banks loop, and finally a couple miles out and back on Kelly Drive.

The temperatures were in the mid 40s, so I wore shorts. I ended up rolling my long sleeves up too in order to stay warm. It was cloudy though.

I went out nice and easy. The first mile was 7:37. I ran pretty consistently from 7:15 to 7:37 throughout the whole run. My legs felt very strong early on, and I was pleased to encounter no IT band problems.

My IT band did eventually start acting up. After about 4 miles, it became a minor problem. For whatever reason, the portion of West River Drive near Falls Bridge always bothers me. There are a lot of tree roots that push up the pavement and that makes for an uneven surface. I guess the path is sloped as well. It was tough, but I made it through this portion.

Once I got to the Art Museum and finished the loop, I got a second wind. My IT problem went away completely. I got pretty competitive and passed a bunch of runners as I went through the Schuykill Banks leg. I felt good up until about the 12 mile point.

The last few miles were very tough. Even though I've run farther, it's been a few months. My legs were definitely starting to feel the affects. I battled through it though and finished. The IT band was tight and I needed some stretches. My legs are less sore than my first 14 miler before the Philly Marathon, but they still are sore.

I continued to be impressed with my progress. I didn't even run this hard at all, yet I went at a faster pace than my fall half marathon. Hills have made a huge difference and I feel much stronger. I can't wait to keep making progress. My IT band was bothering me, but not enough to cause me to stop. I should be able to continue on. My overall mileage doesn't increase much from now until the end of training, so my body should be able to adjust.

Tomorrow will be a fine recovery 6 miler. I'm not sure yet where I'll run. Maybe I'll just do a simple out and back. I want to get to Pennypack Park at some point this week. Since I work tomorrow, it likely won't be then.

14 miles - 1:44:01 (7:25 pace)

Friday, January 22, 2010

IT band Acting Up Again

I ran an 8 mile progression run today. From a time standpoint and effort, it was a perfect run. I'm just hoping I didn't damage my knee too much. My IT band really began to bother me again. It was so stiff at the end that I couldn't really bend my knee. I did a lot of stretching and hope that helps.

I started with the Schuykill Banks loop. I went out at a nice pace, but really the first mile was too fast. When I was running 8 minute first miles, it was a perfect way to warm up. I need to get back to that, even on hard days. I can't worry about the overall pace of the progression runs, just the fast miles.

I didn't run too hard, but I wasn't in a comfortable zone either. My IT band was really stiff, but I planned on just continuing to battle. I did put down consistent mile after mile and I didn't feel that strong either. This is the most miles that I've ever run in a week. That became clear when I struggled after around 4 miles. I kept pushing and passed a runner.

It seemed like forever until I finally hit the turnaround after 5.5 miles. The wind has been much worse, but it was still annoying on this day. Once I turned around, with no wind, I ran much smoother and faster. My legs didn't have a lot left, but I gave it what I had.

I wore a long sleeve shirt and tights, but I probably could've gone with shorts. I was sweating quite a bit. Working hard will do that to you though.

Once I got to the final mile and a half, it was time to turn it up. I ran the final two miles in under 7 minute pace (last one 6:44). It was tough, but I worked hard. Looking at my watch really helps. I can just click off quarter mile after quarter mile. It's easier than focusing on objects along the route.

My IT band felt very good during the hard running, but was really stiff right after I stopped. My knee wouldn't bend well. I stretched a lot and felt quite a bit better. I definitely need to back off a little next week though. I need to at least start off slower and let my legs warm up. I've overcome the IT band issues before and I'll do it again. I just have to be smart.

Tomorrow is a much needed rest day. I might bike to the Drexel game. Sunday is an easy 14 mile run. I need to take it easy. I was considering running on a trail in the NJ pine barrens. It appears to be flat and could help out my IT band. It could be muddy though and that was one of the problems with the hard run on Wednesday.

58:15 - 8 miles (7:17 pace)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Needing to Recover

The plan was to get out and run an easy 6 miler. Lately, I'm finding it hard to get out for the easy days though. I'm hungry and want to work hard, so the important days are no problem. It's recovery days that are tough. I wanted to lay in bed, but I went out anyways.

To try to combat the lack of desire for easy days, I ran a different route. I ran up Lemon Hill and all through the eastern section of Fairmount Park. This takes me by some interesting places. I pass a disc golf course, a driving range, a few historic buildings and a large outdoor concert stage. That stage, Robin Hood Dell East, is a place I've never seen and was curious to view today. It looks pretty nice.

The area I ran in is nice, but it's interesting. It is where the park meets the ghetto. You have some shady people around there. There were a few guys flying remote control planes. I'm pretty sure they were smoking weed though too.

Anyways, on to the run. From the outset, my IT band was bothering me. Yesterday's hard run really took its toll. I needed a nice and easy recovery day. I cruised at a very slow pace for the first mile (just under 9 minutes). I didn't go much faster throughout the run as I took it nice and relaxed. It was refreshing running at that pace.

After awhile, my IT band settled down, although it was still sore. The route was a little hilly so that was tough. It was also difficult because the surfaces varied from sidewalk, to crumbling sidewalk, to paved paths, to roads, to grass.

The temperature was very nice again. I wore a long sleeve shirt and tights. I probably would've went with shorts, if it was a harder run. I wasn't too hot though. There was no wind, so that was a big help. I found that my Target boxers are actually cotton, so they don't dry well. I'll have to scrap them from my attire.

I finished up near Lemon Hill, so I did three hill sprints on there. They don't seem hard and I'll have to add at least one more to next week's run. If I am going to push myself as hard as I did yesterday, my body will have to recover (or I'll have to back off). This IT band thing is just so nagging.

Tomorrow, it'll be another progression run. It is 8 miles, with the final 10 minutes moderate. That'll cap a 42 mile week to start the marathon program. Either Sunday or later next week, I want to get up to Pennypack Park in the Northeast and run. It's a very long trail that runs from the Delaware River to beyond city limits.

6 miles - 50:10 (8:21 pace)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bogged Down

Today was a difficult progression run. I went out to Forbidden Drive for a 10 miler with the final 5 being hard. I was hoping for a 7 minute per mile pace. Things didn't turn out so well.

I struggled with attire. At first, I was going to go with a short sleeve shirt, compression sleeves and shorts. I switched to ColdGear though, because it was still fairly cold. That was a pretty good choice.

I wanted to go out at a faster pace than normal. I actually went out too fast of a first mile (7:11). I then slowed a little bit. I ran north all the way to Northwestern Avenue. It rained on Sunday, so I didn't expect the trail to be wet. The gravel was still soaked an very soft. Some parts were solid, but there was no consistency. That caused me to struggle through a lot of the run.

I never got any consistent footing and that was frustrating. It didn't allow me to run with any consistent pace either. At times, I really struggled with the footing and hilly combination. That was the case before the final mile prior to picking up the pace.

After those five miles, I was really struggling. I ran an 8:13 fifth mile. I wasn't sure how I'd be able to finish, but I kept battling. It helped to look at my Garmin all the time. I just took it a mile at a time. My sixth mile was a very speedy 6:18. That was so fast.

I just stayed mentally tough. I was planning on turning around at the 7.25 mile point. The goal was to just run hard to there. The terrain seemed better at that point, so I kept going. I actually ran into the worst footing of the day though.

It was extremely tough to finish. There were still a lot of hard hills and I thought eventually one would break me. I held a pretty good pace though. I wasn't slowed until the final hill. That broke me, but I sped up on the downhill when I encountered another runner.

The results weren't what I hoped for, but I was happy to battle through it. It was an important mental run, if nothing else. I'd like to think that I could've run much faster if the ground was more solid. I probably would've also done better if I didn't go out so hard. Sometimes you have to push too much to find out your limit.

Tomorrow will be an easy 6 miler with some hill sprints too. I'll probably just head out on Kelly Drive. I have off from work again tomorrow. It should be a nice recovery run.

10 miles - 1:13:00 (7:18 pace)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Night Rider

I worked pretty early this morning so cross training wasn't an option. Instead, I went for a ride late this evening. I haven't been on the bike in weeks, so it was good to get out and ride.

I got safety lights for riding at night for Christmas. I hadn't used them yet, so tonight was the perfect time. They seem to work pretty well. I had them on flashing mode the whole time. I don't really know if they are needed while I'm riding on the Kelly Drive path. They seem like they would be distracting, but I don't remember ever being distracted when others have them.

I also rode with my Garmin. I didn't ride hard at all. I took it nice and easy. Still, I was surprised at how slow my pace was. I rode around a 5 minute mile pace. That's not even world class marathoner pace. Obviously, I could ride a lot faster than that, but I thought I was riding faster than that. Maybe one day I'll run close to that pace.

I wasn't sure how to dress. It was in the 40s, with very little wind. I went with tights under some workout pants. I also put my jacket on over the marathon long sleeve shirt. Early on, that felt very cold, but it turned out to be perfect by the end of the ride. I wore light gloves under my biking gloves. That worked well too, after being cold early.

Overall, it was a great recovery day. Tomorrow will be a real test. I'm running 10 miles, with the last 5 moderate. I'll probably run on Forbidden Drive to get a good hill workout. I'm off from work tomorrow, so I have plenty of time. I can't wait to test myself. I'd love to be able to run a 7 minute pace for the run.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Temperature Rising

It is amazing the drastic change in temperatures lately. When I went out for my run, it was nearly 50 degrees. I went for an easy 6 mile recovery run from Lloyd Hall to West River Drive and back. I turned around just past the Columbia Bridge.

I wasn't sure how to dress. I definitely knew I was going to wear shorts. I elected for a short sleeve shirt with my new compression sleeves. That worked out great. On the way out, there was quite a bit of wind and I had the sleeves up. On the way back, it was very warm and I put the sleeves down.

I went out very easy. The first two miles were very comfortable, other than the breeze. I had to use the bathroom and Lloyd Hall was closed because of the holiday. I eventually went behind a tree across West River Drive. That slowed my third mile down greatly.

After turning around, I began cruising. The heat started getting to me and I felt very sluggish. It was actually perfect temperature, but just too much of a difference from a week ago. I couldn't adjust. That said, running very easy, I still put down a 7:30 mile. I should be very strong once spring comes around.

I finished pretty well too. I'm always amazed at how windy it is running the bridge over the river. That bothered me a bit, both on the way out and back. When I saw that my overall pace was close to 8 minutes, I decided to push. I ran hard through the final .3 miles or so. I finished under 8 minutes.

I followed up the run with 3 hill sprints. I also did strides and other drills before the run. I worked my abs and hips when I got back to my apartment. My IT band bothered me a little during the run. I'm surprised at how weak my left hip actually is. The right hip is the one that's typically sore.

I googled my old HS coach. I was curious to see his running results. He still posts amazing times and he's now in his 40s. I knew he was good when I was in HS, but he never ran with us, so I didn't know how good. Pretty impressive stuff. Hopefully, I can get close to his level one. Maybe I can train with him too when I improve.

I work this evening and tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is a rest or cross train day. I'll likely rest. I'll pick it up with a good run again on Wednesday. It looks like the weather will be nice for awhile.

6 miles - 47:44 (7:57 pace)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Feeling Like the Fall

Today's run reminded me very much of my wonderful, rainy runs this fall during marathon training. Being 40 degrees, it was actually colder, but after temperatures were in the 20s, it didn't feel much different. I set out for a 12 mile out and back to Manayunk.

I got up early, hoping to be the rain. When I saw the forecast and knew that wouldn't happen, I got a few extra hours of sleep. Because my legs froze on another cold and rainy run, I went with tights. I also went with a short sleeve shirt under my jacket. It was too warm, but really the only option I had for this weather.

I set off and had a comfortable pace going early. I messed around with my hood, but never could get it fixed so that I could see properly. I actually should've put on a hat. I just went with my bare head and headband around the ears. That worked well since it wasn't too cold.

I cruised along for awhile at a comfortable pace. As I got to Hunting Park Avenue, I saw a runner up ahead. I nearly caught him when we got to Route 1. Another runner coming the other direction turned around right in front of me and we both passed the him. The other guy was pretty fast.

With one runner down, I decided to pick up the pace and go by the other guy. Even though it was early in the run, I figured it was my only chance to push the pace. I also figured he'd take a different route than me. He didn't and he followed me all the way through Manayunk. I had to push a little to stay in front. Eventually, he crossed the street and pulled ahead of me just before he finished up. He looked over at me like he couldn't believe that I could keep going at that pace.

I did slow after that though. That took quite a bit out of me. Around that time, my watch stopped working too. Not sure if it lost the signal or took on too much water. It was frustrating though, so I dried it off and put it in my pocket.

With the watch not working, I ran most of the second half of the run on feel. Not sure if the harder pace earlier took a lot out of me or if running on the sidewalks were a problem, but Manayunk took a toll on me. My legs were dead.

I kept going, but my jacket was starting to get very soaked and my legs were causing me to feel slow. Even though I've run this route over and over, the last few miles along Kelly Drive seemed to take forever.

As I got near a half mile from Lloyd Hall, my watch finally started working again. I was a little more than a mile short at that point, so I knew I'd have to run towards the Art Museum. Having the watch work again was very inspiring. I really picked up the pace at that point. I thought I lost my keys, so I turned around before finding them in my pocket. Somehow they went through a very small hole in my pocket. I didn't think they could fit through there.

It was a big relief to finish. My legs were toasted, although I didn't work that hard. The pace was probably more of what I should be running on long runs. I typically go too hard. I should save the hard efforts for the progression workouts and such.

Tomorrow will be an easy recover run. This is now the start of my marathon training. I will be starting at 42 miles this week. My maximum week during my first marathon was 40 miles. This will definitely be a big step up. I feel good and strong now. There's not much soreness. I signed up for the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon and can't wait for that. I need to PR there. It's a little over two months away.

12 miles - 1:32:31 (7:42 pace)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Perfect Easy Day

Well today couldn't have gone much better. It was beautiful out, compared to where it has been anyways. I ran a nice and easy recovery pace and now feel very refreshed. The run was an easy 5 miler. I figured a slow and straight out and back would be boring, so I ran the Schuykill Banks plus the Kelly Drive one mile out and back.

If it wasn't an easy day, I would've likely dressed with even less than I did. I just had on tights, a light long sleeve shirt and gloves. A harder day and I probably would've just went with shorts on the bottom layer and no gloves. It was such a relief after all the cold.

I warmed up with some strides, high knees and kick butts. I really need to do these drills more. I also need to concentrate on form more during my runs. Lately, with these winds and stuff, I've just been trying to survive the runs. I concluded the workout with 3 hill sprints.

I was cut from work last night and thought about going out for a second run. Wisely, I stayed in. I also considered running this run later in the day after work, but decided to stick with the morning routine.

After two pretty hard days in a row, I need to take it easy. I did just that. When I plugged my 5K time into the McMillan running calculator, it said to do my easy runs no faster than an 8 minute pace. I've been doing them around 7:30 and needed to slow down.

Going slow is really one of the hardest things. I've trained myself to start out slow and around an 8 minute pace, but it hard for me not to pick up the pace as my legs get stronger. That was the case in the 2nd mile today. I ran a fairly fast 7:27. That happened because I passed two female runners though. I hate running behind people, so I needed to blow by them.

Once I got past them, I ran pretty consistent 7:50 miles for the remainder of the run. That makes for a much better recovery than the faster paces I've been doing on my easy days. It's easy to run consistently fast right now, but running consistently slow is more of a struggle. I got the job done though. I didn't even finish hard, as I often do.

After the run, I did some ab workouts as I often do. I added some leg raises to strengthen my hips. My right hip is always the sore one, so I was shocked that working it was much easier than my left hip. It seems like the right one was is much stronger. Maybe it is overcompensating and doing too much work. Either way, I need to strengthen both of them and I'll keep up this workout.

Tomorrow is a rest day before Sunday's long run. Sunday is actually the start of marathon training plan. It's 20 weeks long and will get me to where I need to be to qualify for Boston. I can't wait to tackle it. I feel like I've built a nice bridge to this point. This week was 37 miles of running. My longest week during my first marathon was 40 miles. I will hit that mark in the first week of this plan.

5 miles - 39:08 (7:49 pace)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Trail Adventure

I headed up to Forbidden Drive today. This time though, I wanted to run on the trails, rather than the main path. It was quite warm, in the 30s, and I wasn't sure how to dress. I went with the usually base layer. I didn't wear a headband though. I was unsure about wearing gloves, but threw them on at the last minute.

This run sure was an adventure. I was worried initially because they were cutting down trees on the trail that I was hoping to run. Luckily, that was on the lower trail and the upper trail was still open. I ran that route, which was an immediate steep uphill. That's a real test early on for the legs. The trail quickly headed downhill then and across a small stream.

The next stream was the problem. There was simply no way to get over it without going in the water. I would've done that in the spring, but in January, I'm not getting my feet wet. I attempted to walk across and nearly fell in. I turned around and tried a different branch of the trail. It led to a bridge that is close though. That was disappointing too.

As I headed back to Valley Green Road, I ran up it for a little bit before finding the trail going north this time. I ran all over the place there. At one point, it goes near some beautiful houses. I'm definitely jealous of the people that live there.

I encountered ice around this time and took my first fall. I was glad I had the gloves on to break my fall. The ice was hidden between the rocks. Later on, I came across a section with a lot more ice. I decided to turn around. I don't mind battling ice, but there was a steep dropout from the trail if I lose my footing.

The trails were fun, but also quite challenging. There wasn't much width to them and a steep drop off next to that. To complicate things, they are very rocky. That makes watching where you step very important. I'm still learning how to run on rocks. Every now and then, I hit one too solid on my foot. I also need to go slower downhill.

For awhile, I wasn't quite sure what trail I was on. It was very high. I could look way down at the river that I usually run by. It was a beautiful view and part of the reason why I'm enjoying trail running so much.

I definitely need to learn technique. In addition to avoiding rocks (or running on them properly), I need to shorten my stride down hills. Too often, I take them very fast if my body allows me to. Eventually, I'll trip over a rock and take a nasty spill if I keep it up. At one point, the only path I could find back down was so steep that I struggled just to walk down it. That was interesting.

After I got back to Valley Green, I still had a couple miles left. I took a look at a map a few minutes earlier and saw that there was a trail right next to the Inn. I ran up the very steep path. My legs were getting worn out by then and the IT band was becoming a bit of a problem. I can see how fatigue could be dangerous on the trails too. You don't pick up your feet as much when you are tired and could easily trip.

I went a few more miles and encountered some more ice and impressive scenery. I would've liked to explore even more, but my legs had enough for the day. This section was relatively flat once I made the initial climb. That made it a lot of fun. I finished up with a short half mile or so on Forbidden Drive.

I'm really enjoying trail running and it is definitely something I'll do a lot more of. It's very hilly and challenging and quite the workout. I need the watch for distance, but I'm quickly learning how useless it is for time. I can't wait until next week's run there. Now, I won't have to go to Valley Forge as often as I thought I would.

Tomorrow will be an easy 5 mile recovery run. It'll probably be on West River Drive. Hopefully, I'll hold up through work today and tomorrow. My hip is getting a bit sore. It might be time to add more hip strengthening exercises.

7 miles - 1:14:12 (10:36 pace)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

LN Neighborhood Progression

Originally, I was hoping to run my progression run on a trail. I was still at my parents house on Wednesday morning. I thought that they Appalachian Trail might be too difficult. I elected to run through the nearby state park, Jacobsburg. That didn't work either though, as the trail was just too icy.

I headed back to the parents and ran through the neighborhoods nearby. To run 9 miles, I had to run through a lot of connecting neighborhoods. Luckily, there are some new connecting ones too that weren't there when I was younger.

I started off at a nice and comfortable pace. The weather was nice again and I only needed to run with one layer. The wind was a problem though. It wasn't a lot of wind, but it still was pretty cold on the way out. The course is quite hilly too and that didn't help.

One hill after a couple miles was quite the challenge. I battled through it and I'm definitely feeling much stronger on the hills than I was just a few months ago. After going over two more big hills, I turned it up a little. This was around mile 4. I still had 2 miles to go before really turning it up though.

Once I hit mile 6, it was time to push harder for the final three miles. My IT band was a little sore before that, but not too bad. I pushed as my watch said "low battery." Thankfully, it lasted the final three miles. Shortly after uping the pace, I came across a dog. Rather than mess with him, I turned around.

My leg started to feel dead after 7 miles. It was definitely a challenging run, as all these progression runs are. I maintained just about the same pace through all three of the final miles. My pace only dropped off by 2 seconds in the progression segment.

Because the route wasn't long enough, I had to run in my parents neighborhood a bit. Right as I was .01 miles from finishing, I encountered another dog and had to turn around again. After I stopped and walked, I turned around and saw he was still following me up the street. He was never close enough to be threatening and he was a small dog, but obviously very territorial.

I was quite tired after the workout. Today was my first day of work this week. Even after only 5 hours, my hip was quite sore. I really need to start mixing in some hip strengthening exercises. Stretching only goes so far.

This week will be close to my all time peak mileage of 40 (it will be 37). Hopefully, my body won't break down. Tomorrow, I scheduled a hilly 7 mile run. Not sure why I put that on the schedule the day after a hard run. I'm hoping to head up to Valley Forge and do some trail running. I want to get going early in the morning though. If not that, then I'll just go to Forbidden Drive. This time, I'll try to hit the trails though, instead of the path.

9 miles - 1:05:04 (7:13 pace)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Some Relief From the Cold

I am back at my parents for a couple days. I thought about doing a trail run, but opted instead for an easy 5 miler in the neighborhoods nearby. I followed that up with three short hill sprints.

Today, there was finally some relief in the weather. It was almost in the 30s in the afternoon. I ran with just the base layer and no jacket on. That was perfect for these temperatures.

It seems like I always start out against the wind and today was no different. There really wasn't much wind, but any slight breeze of cold air can be felt on these days. I didn't have to battle it nearly as hard as yesterday though.

I ran comfortably, although my legs didn't have a lot of snap. This route is a bit hilly, especially when I added on a short loop with a steep hill. I ran a fairly consistent pace throughout and didn't push it much. As I went with the wind in the 2nd half of the run, my times improved.

Not too many highlights on this run. The main thing of note is how soft kids are these days. I was running after school and a bus stop in the neighborhood had about 15 cars in it. I guess flaky little Connor can't walk two blocks in thirty degrees. I remember in my day, we used to play hoops all of the time in this weather. I didn't see a single kid shooting around. I guess they all hibernate to their videos games these days. Pathetic.

Anyways, back to the run. I was barked at by a couple dogs. I thought they might chase me at one house, but they didn't. Other than that, it was pretty uneventful.

Tomorrow, I'll either completely rest or do some hiking. I'd found where the Appalachian Trail goes through Wind Gap and I might hike through there. I might run there as well on Wednesday morning. It is either that or nearby Jacobsburg Park. That has a lot of trails as well. I'm happy I found some places to trail run at.

5 miles - 36:59 (7:24 pace)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Just Survive

It was just another brutal day in Philly. We are having quite the cold spell. I waited until 11 AM to run and it was still in the 20s with a wind chill in the teens. I ran 11 grueling miles anyways. This time, I started from my apartment and ran first along Kelly Drive.

Kelly Drive is a real pain in the wind. I need to just start on West River Drive for long runs I guess. I was comfortable and cruising until I hit Lloyd Hall. Then the wind picked up and I had to really fight to keep a nice pace. I worked so hard against the wind on the whole way out. From Lloyd Hall to the Columbia Bridge (1.5 miles) is the worst, but it doesn't get much better on much of the rest of the route.

I was very impressed with how many runners were out battling the elements on this day. It was also interesting to note that there were a lot more female runners. Maybe they are just tougher. I passed a couple of them throughout the run. I was surprised to see quite a few of them wearing less layers than I was.

I grinded through the tough miles to Falls Bridge. It really wore me out though. Those four miles felt like ten miles. I kept going though and the route back was a big relief from the wind. It got so warm at one point that I really struggled with the heat.

Because of the hard early miles, my IT band started acting up between miles 5 and 6. With that and the fatigue, I was wondering how I'd be able to finish. I knew I would finish though. My pace was actually pretty solid now that the wind was gone. The IT band was only slightly nagging, it never got too bad. Another problem I encountered was my heel rubbing against my shoe. I had longer socks on, but the rubbing still occurred and was uncomfortable early on. It got better though as I got used to it.

I made it a point to pick up the pace after hitting the 8 mile mark. I was just flying for the next mile. I ran hard until the Art Museum. By then, it got warmer and I was exhausted. As I hit Lloyd Hall again, I was really dieing. Hitting the headwind again for the next 3/4 of a mile was brutal. I battled on though and pushed very hard after the last turnaround. I cruised down the home stretch and blew by a bunch of other runners on Boathouse Row.

I finished strong and was relieved to be done. That was one of the more difficult runs in awhile. It's amazing the ability that the wind has to wear you down. I survived though and feel much better doing it. I'm trying to track my pace and hope for progress, but in these conditions, I just need to learn how to survive and simply finish the run. I probably shouldn't push as hard as I do when going against the wind. It's a great learning experience though and I'll be so strong once spring comes around.

11 miles - 1:21:00 (7:21 pace)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snowy Progression

Snow isn't exactly what you want to see when preparing for a progression run (where you need to speed up). We only had an inch or two thankfully. Because it fell overnight, I figured the paths wouldn't be clear. I was wrong. The Fairmount Park folks do an excellent job of clearing snow.

I wore my trail shoes out for this run because I figured there would be snow. They are so cumbersome. Early on, I was wondering if I'd be able to even finish in such heavy and uncomfortable shoes. Luckily, I adapted to them and had no soreness.

I ran a nice solid pace on the way out. It wasn't the worst wind we've had, but as usual it was windy on the way out. An attractive woman ran by as I was stretching. She probably got close to a quarter mile ahead of me. She wasn't very fast though, so I caught her before the Columbia Bridge (mile 1.5). After the bridge, the wind changes directions and get kind of hot.

I turned around just past the Strawberry Mansion Bridge. I then hit some wind, which I knew would be tough as I started to speed up. My run called for 5 miles total with the final 15 minutes moderate. I figured that would be around 2.1 miles left in the run. I picked up the tempo there and it was still windy.

Even with less than stellar conditions and the heavy shoes, I was very impressed with my final two miles. I ran both under 7 minute pace, including the final mile at a blistering 6:31. I didn't feel that strong either. I just really pushed myself. I still have to get used to these progression runs.

Not only were the shoes uncomfortable, but the tongue on my one shoe rubbed up against my foot. I went with short socks, so I had no protection there. I went with the shorter socks because my feet were too wet in those trail shoes with thicker socks. It's a tough trade off I guess. Next time, I'll go back to thicker socks.

I was pleased with the rest of my attire. The only clean shirt I really had was the compression fit one. I figured it would look really goofy with my compression tights. I would've been blue man. I threw my lightweight, cheap jacket on. That wasn't great, but it broke up the wind some and I didn't sweat as much as I usually do in the other jacket. Next year, I'll have to buy a lighter jacket like that for winter running. I just want a slightly better quality one.

5 miles - 35:36 (7:07 pace)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Trying the Heart Rate Monitor

I tested out my heart rate monitor for the first time on today's easy run. It was difficult to put on and not very comfortable. I did get used to it as the run went on, but I'm not sure I'll use it much. I know what pace to run at this point. Apparently, I didn't have it setup right anyways as no data was recorded.

The temperature was in the 30s. Since it was an easy day, I decided to throw on the jacket anyways. That was a mistake and I got super hot by the end of the run. On the way out with the wind at my face, it was comfortable. The way back was brutal though.

I ran a different route than usual. I started at Lloyd Hall, but first ran to the Art Museum, then along West River Drive. I went out to about the typical 5K turnaround point. The total route was 4 miles. Just before the turnaround, I passed a runner. I felt kind of bad because he was working pretty hard and I wasn't. I was just cruising along.

It got so hot that I had to take my gloves off. Underneath, my wrist was very sweaty. That must've messed up my Garmin. It stopped showing anything other than the sattelite accuracy. I couldn't change into any other functions. I couldn't even stop the watch.

I actually had to leave it running while I ran my 3 hill sprints. Once it dried out, it worked fine and I stopped the clock. I'm glad I was able to delete the additional time from my workout. The watch has been frustrating to this point, but I'm learning a little more about it each time out.

I wore my new North Face tights. They are interesting because they aren't tight at all. They were still comfortable, but felt weird because they are so loose. I only paid 14 bucks for them though so I can't complain.

Tomorrow will be a progression run of 5 miles. I'll be testing out my new Under Armour tights then. They only cost me 25 bucks. I look forward to another tough run. I paid more attention to my full marathon training program and it is going to be a huge step up from my first one. I still have about 100 scheduled runs before the marathon. It'll definitely be a challenge. If I get through it healthy, I have no doubts that I'll run a Boston qualifying time.

4 miles - 31:30 (7:52 pace)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Progression on the Hills

I headed back to Forbidden Drive today. Instead of just a normal hilly run, I decided to do the scheduled progression run. In consisted of 5 miles at a comfortable pace, followed by 3 miles at moderate pace.

The temperature was in the low 30s, so going without a jacket was the obvious choice. That worked out well and I was actually quite hot with just the ColdGear top on. I put my headband in the car when I looped back around.

Going north from Valley Green is perfect to start a progression run. It's relatively flat when compared to the rest of the trail. I started there and ran just past Bells Mill Road. I turned around at the 2 mile mark. There was some icy patches, but other than that, the first half of the run was fairly easy. My foot was still sore, but not nearly as bad as it usually is on here. The new trail shoes are taking more of the impact from rocks.

I was really impressed with all the fast runners that were out around lunch time. The La Salle Cross Country team had a bunch of runners out there. I saw quite a few other guys who looked very fast as well. They were all going the other way though, so I didn't get to challenge myself. I thought about actually seeing if I could join the La Salle guys.

I ran alone though and going south from Valley Green was quite challenging. It is much more hilly in that portion of the route. I am adapting well though, as the hills themselves aren't bothering me that much anymore. It was combining the hills with harder run that made things difficult.

Some patches were quite icy too. That was the one hazard on the second half of the run. I ran most of the last three miles on these hills at around a 7 minute pace. A few times, I considered quiting or slowing down, but I really knew that wasn't an option. It was only 3 miles at moderate pace. I thought about using the heart rate monitor to keep track of my effort, but I didn't want to test the heart rate monitor out on such a key workout. I'll use it tomorrow.

One thing that I was very happy about was the ability to finally adjust my watch setting. I got rid of the virtual partner feature and now I can see what I want to see. It's not showing some pace that I don't even understand. I didn't have the pace per mile displayed, but seeing time and distance was good enough for now.

The hills are definitely making me faster and stronger. My IT band bothered me a little during the final mile, but other than that I felt strong. The IT band discomfort was only minor.

I'm glad I bought trail shoes, but I am disappointed with their breathability. I used them with my New Balance socks and my feet were soaked. I didn't run through water or anything. I'll try thinner socks next time. Maybe in the spring, I'll have to invest in a good pair of trail shoes.

Tomorrow is an easy 4 mile run. I'll head back to the river. Hopefully, I'll finally use the heart rate monitor. I'm curious to see how it works, even if I don't want to use it much in the future.

8.02 miles - 57:51 (7:12 pace)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Another Battle

This wind is turning out to be quite the foe. Today wasn't nearly as bad as yesterday, but the combination of the two has been tough. I started out with some nice strides and drills to warm up. I need to do more of those.

Following that, I got out and ran. I started off with the Schuykill Banks loop. Early on, I felt fairly good. I cruised and took it easy today. I decided to run with the hood down and just a headband on. That worked well. After a few minutes, I was running with the wind and took the headband off and opened my jacket too.

I made it to the turnaround, lumbering a little bit. It was the second half of the run that gave me problems. My IT band started to bother me more than it has lately. I was able to push on through it, but I was surprised that it acted up this much on such an easy day.

The long hill towards the end of the route didn't help either. I was quite sore going up it and the wind was coming right at my face. It seemed like it to forever to make it to the top. The short, but steep hill right after it didn't help either.

After getting back to Lloyd Hall, I ran a half mile out and then back on Kelly Drive to complete the route. The wind was really tough in this portion and I stumbled along. As usual, I finished pretty strong on the way back though. I actually ran .01 miles short of 4 miles. That was due to my watch settings not being in the right place again. I definitely need to read up on it and fix it.

After the run, I did 3 hill sprints. I think that all the hill work that I'm doing has been a big help. I was in cruise control today and battling wind, but still ran a nice pace. I can't wait until my training gets even more specific.

I don't work until 4 PM or 5 PM every day this week. That's excellent and will allow me to get a lot done early on in the day. Tomorrow, I'll probably get out on the bike. I haven't done that in awhile. I need to get my heart rate monitor setup too. I keep forgetting it before runs.

3.99 miles - 29:47(7:28 pace)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

21 Feels Like 5

Today was the worst conditions I've ever run in. said it was 21 degrees and feels like 5 degrees. The wind was unbearable. Even with this tough test, I completed my 10 mile long run. Not that there's been any question about my dedication, but this assures me that I'm committed to training.

I decided to start the loop on West River Drive, rather than Kelly Drive. That was still brutal, but appeared to be a better decision. As if things weren't frustrating enough, my GPS watch couldn't find a signal. I just started running anyways. After about 3/4 of a mile, it started to work and I tracked my workout.

The wind blast in my face as I crossed over the river. It's usually at its worst there. It didn't get much better though, at least until I got to the Columbia Bridge. The headwind was pretty strong and the gusts nearly blew me over. It took a big toll on my legs, as they had to work much harder than usual. The first 3 miles already felt like I had run 15.

I continued to battle though. I started off with a hat under my hood and two pairs of gloves. I took the hat off and switched to a headband and only one pair of gloves. That helped prevent me from overheating.

After the Columbia Bridge, things weren't as bad and I took my hood off at one point. The hood always seems to cause problems. When I tightened it, it blocks my left eye. It's really quite frustrating. My eyes watered because of the cold, throughout most of the first half of the run. That made it hard to see. This is an ongoing issue that usually clears up after a few minutes. Today, it didn't though.

I continued on and was relieved when I got to Falls Bridge. It was much better running in the other direction. At that point, I was so worn out though. I kept going and my IT band actually bothered me from working so hard. I got through it though. From the Strawberry Mansion Bridge to the grandstand, the wind was in my face again. That was very frustrating.

After the Columbia Bridge, the wind shifted back to a comfort level. I got an extra boost over the next 1.5 miles as I passed 5 runners (4 different groups). That was encouraging. I was actually surprised that people running the other direction weren't hurting that much.

I finished the loop up pretty strong. I then proceeded to run back about 0.8 miles. That was the worst wind yet. It was nearly impossible to go anywhere. I couldn't have run much further in that direction. It was a relief to turnaround. Right before doing so, I hit a patch of wind that was even worse. It was hard to comprehend that things could be any worse.

I survived though and finished up. It was quite rewarding, taking on all that mother nature could throw at me and still completing my task. I'm glad I made it through the day. I'm sure there will be some worse ones in January and February. I'm ready though.

My watch continues to be an area of frustration. For much of the run, it went into goal mode. I didn't know how to get out of it and I couldn't even see the time. It was very frustrating. It's a great watch, but I have to figure out how to use it.

Tomorrow, is an easy recovery day with some sprints. Hopefully, it will be better conditions to run in. If not, oh well. I'm going to be so strong come March and April, when it warms up. I can't wait. I can see Boston up ahead.

Timed portion of the run:
9.39 miles - 1:12:57 (7:46 pace)

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Eve 5K

Last night was the New Year's Eve 5K. It was a good time and I prefer it over going out and getting drunk. I ran about what I expected.

Perhaps the toughest decision came with what to wear. It was perfect temperature wise. It was warm for this time of year with no wind. The problem was that it was raining and fairly hard. At first, I was going to go with a jacket. I then decided that that would weigh me down too much. I opted instead for just a ColdGear top. I figured I'd only be wet for 20 or so minutes. I was almost tempted to run in shorts.

I run on the course almost daily, so I know it well. The crowd was young, so I figured I'd have a tough time. That said, I did start pretty far upfront. I hung with the front group for a quarter mile or so, but it was just too fast so I backed off.

Past the half mile point, I came to two runners in tuxedos. I was about to pass them. When I did, a dog started chasing me and forced me to slow down. I guess the owner figured no one would be out there at this time of night and let him off the leash. I slowed as he chased me. He backed off and went back to the owner then.

Although that cost me some time, I still ran a good first mile. I didn't watch my Garmin, instead I looked at the clock. Apparently that was a mistake. It said I ran 6:40, but it was actually a 6:20. I didn't push as hard as I could've from that point on.

I still did keep pushing. I was passed by two girls in evening gowns and a guy in a tux. Just past the halfway point, another girl in a gown passed me. I stayed right behind her for awhile, before she took off. Another guy passed me as well.

I ran most of the second half alone. I saw someone coming up behind me with 3/4 a mile left, but he must've fell off. Someone in front of me was fading fast. With just under a 1/4 to go, I started my kick and blew by him. I had to leave him defeated and couldn't take a chance. I knew I had kicked early. Even so, I almost passed the guy and girl that passed me at the turnaround point. Perhaps if I kicked at the right time, I could've passed all three in front of me.

Even with the rain and some snow earlier in the day, the course was pretty good. It was slippery in some of the sandy areas of the path. Other than that, it wasn't bad though.

The awards and food area was nice. They staged it inside of a boathouse. That keep us dry and relatively warm. I didn't know if I won an award or not, but I figured I must've. I think I was 12th overall, with three or four girls ahead of me. Much to my surprise though, I won my age group. There was a 9 year old who ran a 23 something. Pretty impressive little guy.

A couple obstacles kept me slower than my training run the other day. I also felt kind of full, perhaps from eating dinner. I still ran hard and pushed though. I'm just really so uncomfortable with speed. I need to greatly improve in that area. That said, I did cut over 2 minutes off my 5K time from August. I am definitely getting a lot better and I'm near the best shape of my life.

The rest of today and tomorrow will be off. Sunday will be another 10 mile long run. After that, we'll continue mileage building. I work later in the day next week, so I'll definitely be making another trip up to Valley Forge. I think the hills have really helped me as of late.

3.12 miles - 20:31 (6:34 pace)