Saturday, July 8, 2017

Slowly Getting Faster?

That's my best 3.1 mile time of the spring and summer by over 20 seconds. Managed to go a little faster each mile, but didn't have a strong kick for the last tenth.

I didn't feel great today at the start. Tired, some pain in my left shin and ankle in the first half mile, but I just wanted to get this one over with.  When the cooler weather comes, I'll be ready.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Listen to Your Stupid Body

I ran 5K in 36 minutes (ok, 35:59) this morning, bringing to an end a week of really good runs. But, normally, I'd say "It's ok.  At least I got out there.  That's what this summer is all about."

But no.  I shouldn't have gotten out there, I should have stayed in bed with a heat pack on my back.

You see, I got trounced at badminton on Monday for about an hour and 15 minutes, my first time playing any racquet sport in several years.  I knew my back and shoulder would be sore.  And they were.  I was a little sore yesterday, but I felt ok yesterday and went on my run without incident, finishing 3.1 miles 34:29.  Pretty good!

Today...MUCH worse. It started to feel worse last night, when I was having trouble getting into a comfortable position to sleep, but it was even worse this morning: every motion was agony and if I did find a comfortable position, the muscle would painfully spasm after a few seconds.  "Maybe a run will loosen it up", I stupidly said to myself.

I got over to the school, back still spasm-ing, and my legs felt weak as I walked up a slighly inclined part of the parking lot.  "I'll feel better once I warm up", I stupidly thought.

I was wrong on both stupid counts.  I felt terrible, legs week, stride uneven, suffering through my 3.1, with my back feeling even worse when I finished.  At one point, around 9:30, I got up from my office chair, couldn't straighten up, and fell back in the chair with a "thud".  After a miserable day of back spasms, I'm only starting to feel a little better 13 hours later with a heating pad on my back.

I have been trying to tell myself that I won't always feel strong and have motivation, so I have to take advantage of the days that I do and get out there, rather than depending on that motivation to still be there that evening (when it's 85F) of the next day (when bed is so comfy).  But on the other hand, all the motivation in the world isn't going to help if you're legitimately injured.  Think before you run, and rest if you need it.  Don't be stupid like me.

To add insult to injury, my new Nike singlet looks very unflattering on me.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I've Been to Hill and Back Again

I woke up a little before 6am, and my Vivoactive said it was 72 degrees.  I figuree that was the "coolest" weather I'm likely to have the rest of the weekend, and well, I don't always have motivation, so when I do, I need to make sure I get my butt there.

The sun was already bright by the time I got over to Northeastern.  I got out of my car.  It felt warm already, and I was dreading it.  I decided to make things worse.  I've been running the same 3.1 miles route since April, focusing more on consistency than speed or distance, and running the same route over and over really lets me have a good comparison from run to run.  Was I faster than usual?  How did I feel compared to other days?  It makes it nice when there's a day like Thursday, where I can say "Ok, I felt worse than usual, but it was because I was about 30 seconds/mile faster than usual".

Well, today I decided to mix it up.  I have a hilly 3-mile loop that starts at Northeastern High School in Manchester, goes down Maple Street & Walnut Street into Mt. Wolf, climbs up to Six Street, cuts over to Chestnut, which provides a steep downhill followed by a en even steeper uphill that takes me back to board road and my start.  It's brutal, and I'm disappointed by how non-hilly it looks on this GarminConnect elevation map.  (It looks much more impressive on my phone, but I left my phone downstairs and then I'd have to transfer things over to my computer and it's a pain).

Here's my normal route (my run from yesterday) for comparison:

Anyway, it hurt, but I'm really happy with how it went.  I had a faster pace than yesterday, even on a more difficult route.  It was a few degrees cooler and less humid, but with the sun beating down on me, I still felt like I was boiling.

While my wife and I were training for the Shamrock Half in 2016, we'd run our long run either Friday night or Saturday morning, and then I'd run this on Sunday, and I found it to be a good test of strength.  I think I'll start mixing it in again.  As Frank Shorter says, "Hills are speedwork in disguise."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Comeback is Real

On Monday, I ran my fastest four-miler of the year.  Today, I ran a 33:54 5K.  That doesn't stack up against my 5K times from 2007-2012, but it's my fastest 5K distance since the beginning of February.  In the 3 good months of running that I've had, this is the first time I've been under 34 minutes and kept a better than 11-minute mile pace.

And they have been good months:

I was a little bit faster in January in February, but far less consistent in getting out there.  Since August, when I got the Garmin Vivoactive, which made tracking all this stuff automatic and totally Brian-proof, my previous highest monthly mileage was 21 miles in January, followed a 13-mile February and a 14.7-mile March.   In April, I ran 38 miles.  May was 43.2, and June, unless I run tomorrow instead of Saturday, will wind up at 42.1 miles.

I used to run 30+ miles every week, and sometimes I can't help but remember that and be frustrated, but the picture above tells the story of the longest stretch of consistent running since January, February, and March of 2016, and I'm sticking with it even as the weather warms up.  This is huge for me.  If I can keep this up during the dog days of July and August, it will be the first consistent summer of running that I've had since 2011.

That plateau that you see above, that's not going to get much higher over the summer.  I'm ok with that.  The mileage I'm running now compares to what I was doing in summer of 2008, when I was reliably running 2.8 miles (2 laps) 3-4x/week at Cousler Park. I ran for almost two years before I attempted a distance over 3.1 miles, but building that base helped me when I did move up to the 10K and half marathon, and it'll help me again now.  If I can grind through the summer, I'll be ready when fall and winter come.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Putting it all Together

I despise running in the summer.  I'm committed to consistency until cooler weather returns, by which I mean getting out for 3-4 miles (usually will be 3) 3-4 times a week, but I've decided I'm not going to put a lot of effort into pushing myself on pace or distance until it does cool down.

Still, it's very nice when I get a slightly cooler, less humid morning like today and what's probably my best run of the year.  I was faster back during the few weeks in January and February, but today I ran my fastest four-miler of the year, 44:33 (11:08 pace), beating my previous best from this year by exactly minute and crushing my four-milers from May and June by 2-plus minutes.  Today hurt.  It was a beautiful morning, but it was still warm by my standards.  But today's run makes me very confident that if I stay consistent, that I'll be able to get myself back to a sub-30 5K and a sub-40 four-miler sooner rather than later.  I will probably never be as fast as I was in my early 30s, and I don't care about that, but I'd like to achieve both of those goals by the end of 2017.

How's your summer running going?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 2017

I didn't run as far or as fast as I did in my prime, but I can't deny that I ran. 

This is pretty good.  April and May have been the most consistent running months I've had since early last year, prior to Shamrock.  I loathe running in hot weather, so I don't think I'm going to push myself on increasing distance much until September, but I will be really happy if I can keep motivation to drag myself out 3-4x a week for 3-4 miles.  That's building a habit again.  That's getting my legs ready for the wars to come.  That's feeling like a runner again for the first time in over a year and actually kind of enjoying it for the first time in a lot longer than that.

Monday, May 8, 2017


I almost always try to run on the Atlantic City Boardwalk when I'm here.  If it's the dead of winter, probably not. If I'm staying out at the Marina, probably not.  Otherwise, hell yes.

We're spending a long weekend at Resorts, a perfectly cromulent hotel and casino on the Boardwalk.  I ran two miles southward past the long-vacant Atlantic Club and back.  I always feel weaker on the boardwalk. Maybe it's the springy, wobbly boards, maybe it's 4 beers I had yesterday (in my defense, two of then were free), or the great deal of walking we did yesterday, but I was slower than Saturday. I don't mind. It was a nice run.  I did it, and that's what matters.  That's enough these days.

But still, another negative split is nice.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

4 Miles w/Negative Split

I used to run a 27-minute 5k pretty easily.  My best was under 23 minutes, and I only got there once, but I got close a few other times.  But usually I was in the mid-20s and could bring it in under 30 minutes with a just under 9 minute-mile pace.  In a longer race or my training runs, I was usually still a little under 10-minute miles.  Except the marathon.  Let's never speak of the marathon.

These days, not so much.  I've been closer to 12-minute miles for most of my latest comeback attempt, which really started in earnest at the end of March.  I'd had some good running in January, and really didn't get out at all in February.  

I've been happy my last two times out to break a sub-36 minute 5k, keeping it under 12 minute miles.  I was even happier with this on Saturday.  Check that negative split!

I don't care if I'm never again as fast as I was in my 30s.  I would like to get my 5K back under 30 minutes, and I would like to be able to finish a half in under 2:30, from which I'm in striking distance in terms of pace.

Distance is another thing.  I haven't run more than 4 miles since last May and I have only run 4 miles 3x this year, one of which was yesterday and the other two times in January.

As the weather warms up, I want to focus most on maintaining consistency, getting out there and running 3-4 miles 3-4 times a week, even though I hate every step.  If I can mix in an occasional 5 miler, that'll put me in good shape to add distance in the fall.  

Saturday, May 6, 2017


Let's review.  I ran a couple marathons.  I developed chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS).  I broke my ass in a Spartan Race. I had surgery for chronic exertional compartment syndrome.  I ran a couple half marathons.  I would stop running for months a time and I gained 40 lbs.

Why did I even do this in the first place?  Well, sure, I started running because I felt (back when I weighed 140) like I was gaining weight, so I trained for a 5K.  After that, although I don't necessarily always enjoy the act of running itself, especially in the hot fucking summer months, it gave me a way to win.  Something other than my job that I could challenge myself with and get the feedback of shiny participant medals and even an occasional age-group award. Well, twice.  And one was by default, I think.  But, still I was right in the middle of the pace bell curve in every distance except the marathon.  For awhile, I was running 10 miles 3 or 4 times a week.  I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I was lovin' it.  Then the CECS, the broken ass, and I let myself go.

It's not fun or easy anymore, and it's only going to get worse as the temperatures go up.  But I once used running to fight my stress and depression, and well, everyone I know is going through hard times right now, my favorite little kitty isn't around to purr at me anymore, and look at what the shit our government is trying to get away with. It seems like I need running more than ever, no?