Cold Weather Motivation or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Treadmill (part1)

weather 1.29.15I know it always turns into a pissing contest when folks talk/post/tweet about their local weather.  I am fully aware that it is colder/hotter/snowier/wetter/whatever where you live, yet I will continue.  This is my first winter as a runner and although I have been out in some truly shitty weather, I would say the majority of my mid-week runs have been on a treadmill.  I’ve been trying to get outside for my long runs, but during the week, on the 3-6 mile runs, I’ve been heading to our gym.  Today is looking to be a bit warmer, which is nice.  I’m always excited when the needle gets above freezing, but the temperature isn’t my only concern when it comes to the winter and my motivation to do anything besides drink beer and play video games.

I’ve always had a hell of a time keeping a healthy mind during the winter.  The shorter days and cabin fever tend to put me in a pissy mood and now, I’m realizing, sucks the motivation to run, right-the-cuss out of me.  I’m keeping with my training, staying on my miles, but before I would wake up with excitement to hit the road.  I would fall asleep thinking about what route I would take.  Now, I’m oversleeping and putting off my workout until I absolutely have to go.  I love running first thing in the morning.  My running schedule during the non-winter months was great.  Up at 5, eat a banana, drink some OJ, run at 6.  I loved it.  Now, with it not being light until 7, and the roads in my area not being well lit, and lack of proper cold weather gear, and the temperatures at that time of day usually at or below 0°F…  I know, you can always find an excuse not to run.  I have been running though, just more times than not, at the gym.  I’m not sure if having more gear would make it easier to get out there, but unfortunately, I don’t have unlimited funds dedicated to running gear.  I would love to have road shoes and trail shoes and backups, but I can’t afford it.  Living shoe to shoe here.  I own 1 pair of heavier tights that my wife gave me. 2 long sleeve tech shirts, no running jackets 1 tech hat and some mid temperature running gloves.  I don’t own cold weather socks, I just double up.  I don’t have cold weather pants, I throw sweatpants over the tights.  I’m not trying to bitch here, just wanted to give some insight into my winter kit.

I do try to get outside for my long runs.  It will take a pretty horrible day to get me on a treadmill for 11+ miles.  Last Sunday I ran some local hills and did a bit of hiking through some more slippery climbs near and around a local dam.  There is a fire road that runs along the reservoir that during the dryer months is one of my absolute favorite places to run.  It was a bit slick and mushy with snow, but still a nice place to be mid run.

otterBrookDam

After running through the state park at the end of the fire road, there is a nice little trail that leads to a steep climb through the woods which on Sunday, I had to hike.  The trail is an old road that has since been closed off to vehicles so under the 3-4 inches of snow, there was pristine ice.  It was a pretty shitty climb, but it had it’s views.  The following photo was on a little bridge right before the climb.

otterBrookDam2

Even with these outside runs sprinkled in, I’m feeling like more and more of this winter is being spent on a treadmill and I’m learning to be ok with that.  It’s tough not being able to do my “normal” morning running routine that I fell in love with this summer, but it’s better than sitting on my ass feeling sorry for myself that it’s too cold to run.  Today after I drop the kiddo off at school, I’ll be rocking a short 3 miler and strength training.  We’ll see if I can keep my mind right as we enter the balls of the winter.  I hate February with an unreasonable passion.  Here in New England, it’s always the month that teases you with the idea of spring, all the while dumping snow on you and freezing your nuts off.  So, fuck you February, I’ll see you at the gym.  You better wear your cup, because I fight dirty.

White Out!

Gorgeous, snowy morning here in New Hampshire.  As I’m sitting in our local coffee joint, typing this into my phone, I’m reminded how interesting this whole running thing is.  I’ll be honest, after my knee was bugging me and I was sick, I had lost a lot of the steam I had built up over the spring and summer.  I wasn’t looking forward to my runs and if it wasn’t for a few well timed conversations with other runners, I could have fallen off the horse entirely.  I also think part of it was that I took so much time off, I didn’t have that “if I don’t run today, I’ll lose my fitness level” fear.  I understand that fear can lead to over-training, but I also think it’s a big part of this whole running obsession.

Running in the snow this morning was great.  I just did 5 miles to pick up the car keys from my wife who unfortunately had to work today.  It was mostly on streets and a little on a bike path and through the local college’s closed sports fields.  I only hit a couple of icy patches and was able to make it another completed run without a tumble.  As worried as I was about the Altra Instincts not gripping enough in the snow, I’m pretty impressed with not hitting the deck yet.

When I got to the clinic where my wife works, I entered the break room and scared the shit out of her coworkers.  This lumbering yeti moving around their workplace…  I understand.  One of them snapped this pic and sent it to me.  Pretty funny I think, and this is after I already cleaned the top of my face off.

Picking up the car keys from the wife's work after my morning run.

The kiddo is sleeping over at a friends house tonight which will give the wife and I a rare evening alone.  I’m not sure if we’re going to go out or put on the pjs, stay put and rest.  Either way, I’m looking forward to the evening.  This week I plan on writing a post about the podcasts I listen to and the blogs I read.  I’m still trying to find more, so if you have some that you love, please tell me about them in the comments.

Choosing My First Marathon

After talking with my friend who is an extremely experienced runner/trainer who has paced at Leadville , run multiple races, and works as a professional trainer in Colorado, I’ve chosen my first marathon.  I was just going to train for a marathon without actually running in a race.  I thought I would just do a 26.2 long run and move on, but she thought I should really buck up and toe the line somewhere.  She also gifted me with a strength training plan that I started this week and am really stoked to do and grateful to receive.

Ok, so I was looking for a race that was on April 19, but couldn’t find anything close enough, hence the non race/long run idea.  The next day being the Boston Marathon, I completely understand that here in New England, there aren’t many races.  I expanded to the weeks before and after and found a trail marathon in Weston, MA.  It’s the TARC Spring Classic hosted by TARC (Trail Animals Running Club).  I’m really excited to have found this race.  I’m not quite sure when and how I will shift my training to end 6 days later, but that seems like a very small, insignificant detail that I can scrub out over the next few months.

As for body feel, I’m still dealing with a small amount of behind-the-knee pain and a big ass blister under the big toe on my right foot, but I think that’s because I’ve been putting in a ton of treadmill miles during this cold streak we’re having here in New Hampshire and my complete lack of cold weather gear.  I’ll be looking to pick up some Altra One² soon to replace the Instincts that I’m really not all that happy with, but besides that, I’m still running the same gear and using the same nutrition.

I didn’t have much time to think about running the half-marathon back in September, I just considered it and signed up 2 days before the race.  Pulling the trigger on the marathon is pretty intimidating.  I’m super freaking excited, but for the first time, I’m having a little self doubt.  Hopefully I will melt that away as I get deeper into my training and extending my long runs.

5K Punch

The Run

This morning, I was trying like hell to wake up after another late night, this time sober and watching my Buckeyes beat Alabama, I thought hell, I can just take today off.  It’s only 3 miles and in the big scheme of things taking time off will help me stay healthy…  AHA!  but I realized that this was just my brain trying to trick me.  Stupid brain again, gotcha this time brain.  The temp is back up over 30° and was a nice morning, so I laced them up and went.  I was trying to keep a pretty brisk pace, but really didn’t think I would be able to keep it under 8s for the entire run.  There are a few bigger hills, two of which are smack dab in the last .75 mile of the run, so I wasn’t thinking personal best, just quicker than I’ve been.  I was able to keep a 7:53 pace overall, finishing the run in 24:37.  My last mile did fall off a bit at 8:07, but overall I felt good and wasn’t sucking too much air.

This run came exactly when I needed it.  I was thinking the other day about the training I did for my first 5K and all the speed work and intervals that were part of that plan and how very “unspeedy” I’ve felt during the time I’ve been growing my distances.  Today was nice in reminding me that I can still put the foot down on my gas.

The Shoes

I’ve logged about 260 miles so far in my pair of Altra Instinct 2 and am starting to see some wear.  I never really liked the bulk of the shoe and the toe and heal are the biggest of that bulk.  The toes has this giant rubber front that I don’t understand and where that piece attached to the side of the shoe is where the shoes are starting to fail.  Besides that, there is only a little wear on the outsole, which I would expect.

I’m going to start bargain shopping for some Altra One², the shoe I originally wanted to buy.  I do like these shoes, I’m not really complaining, but I would like to go back to a shoe that doesn’t have as much…  everything.

Tomorrow I’m planning a 5 mile pace run with 6 slower miles to follow on Sunday.  I haven’t been wearing the brace this week and so far haven’t encountered any problems with the knee.  Unless I wake up tomorrow with some pain or oddness, I’ll likely wait until next week’s 11 miler to strap it on again.

New Year, New Post

It’s pretty obvious that I haven’t been keeping up with the blogging.  One thing that I wanted to do this year was stay on top of this here website and I figure that there’s no time like January 1st to get up on it.  The past month has been almost an entire wash.  After running 180 miles in October and 124 in November, I fell way off in December by only getting out for 67 miles.  It’s not for lack of motivation or desire, but an odd mix of a nagging knee pain turning into an injury and catching a ridiculous flu/cold that kept me off my feet for nearly 2 weeks.  Once the illness faded and the knee had it’s rest, I decided to keep to a marathon schedule and NOT over do it.  I was feeling so good before that I was really over doing it.  My body just wasn’t ready for it and I didn’t listen to EVERYONE and stay off the knee.  I’m sticking with the Intermediate 1 marathon plan from Hal Higdon, but this time I’m actually sticking to the mileage.  I’m hoping that this will help keep my knee healthy and allow me to get back into the deeper miles.

That being that, I did come out this morning, after a night of… poor hydration, and run a quick 5 miles.  I felt really good and didn’t really throttle myself.  I have another 5 mile pace run scheduled for Saturday and hope that I can keep it closer to 8 than 8.5.  It’s a lower mileage week with only a 6 miler on Sunday.  Next week we bump up the miles and start getting into the distances where I can test out the knee.

Not So Bulletproof

I found out this week that I’m not invincible.  Who knew?  I’ve been battling a sore knee and upper calf over that last few weeks and decided that it wasn’t a big deal and it would work itself out like all of my other pings did.  It got to the point that last Sunday, after a real shaky Saturday 7 miles, I decided to not go on my scheduled long run.  I had 15 miles planned, but after I hobbled through the last 4 miles the day before, I bit the bullet and thought that if I took the day off, I could start fresh on Monday and have a productive week and complete the Strava Bring Back the Boom Challenge.  I really liked the idea of running a different 10K each day for a week.  If it wasn’t for this challenge, I’d probably have taken Monday off too, but pride being what it is, I decided to hit the gym for a quick 4 miles after work.  The weather was pretty nasty here and it was dark by the time I was able to run, so I drove to gym and ran a good, hard 4 and felt pretty great afterwards.  I was able to up the speed over the course of the run and would have probably went for the full 6.2 if I had the time.  Fast forward to Tuesday morning.  After a successful stress test Monday, I was convinced that my knee was feeling better and that if I took it easy, I would be able to do 7, no problem.  Well, problem.  3.2 miles in, it all fell apart.  My left knee was weak.  It felt like every time I pushed off, it could give.  It hurt every time I landed and I noticed a full-on limp as I was running and thought, shit, I need to call this.  Again, as an idiot, I thought it might let up as I hit a long flat patch and decided to test it.  About a hundred feet into my “test” I knew something was very wrong and I called it.  First time pulling up short on ANY run.  Seriously, I’ve been able to set a goal for every run and meet it and more times than not, surpass it.  Not today.  I called my wife for an evac and tried not to get too scared as I limped towards the pick up.

Part of me is pissed that I didn’t take a break 3 weeks ago when the symptoms sparked for the first time and part of me is proud that I stopped the run and made plans to take a longer break than I’ve had since May, when I started running.  I’m also kind of surprised that I’m not more down today.  I decided to not just take the week off, but take the week to go to the gym and get comfortable in there again.  I did 40 minutes on the bike and some upper body stuff.  My legs, bad knee included, felt fine after the workout and barring any discomfort in the morning, I plan on doing a full hour on the bike and some more weight work.  I’m able to move around normally without pain, so I’m not going to call the doc yet.

As for the Strava challenge, well, being pissed about missing out on that enlightened me to another injury I haven’t even noticed, my pride.  It mattered so much that I completed an internet challenge, that I didn’t listen to my body that was pleading with me to take ‘er easy.  I’ve been logging all of my workouts for months now, and love collecting little badges here and there.  I think it stems from years of playing MMOs where little and large achievements follow around the player for years, like little trophies, showing others your accomplishments.  Thinking about all of this yesterday, as I mentally stabilized myself for a week break from running, really set my head straight.  I’m feeling good about my break and looking forward to getting back out there next week, stronger and hungrier.

Long Run Recap and Some Other Hogwash

I know that I’m really hitting that spot in blogging when I’m not feeling that there’s anything to really pipe up about.  I would love to have fresh ideas every morning, but sometimes there just ain’t much to jabber on about.  Yesterday however, I had a fantastic run with my buddy John,  We did a long out and back on a local rail trail.  7 miles up, 7 miles back.  The whole run was enjoyable, including the sights and weather.  We did a 12 miler back a month or so along the same trail, just not as far up.  It’s crazy, but in just the extra mile we extended up the trail, we saw parts of our “back yard” neither one of us had been to before.  I wanted to take some pictures, but it just didn’t feel right.  I’m definitely going back up there with the DSLR to crack some shots, but I’d like to do it on a hike, when I don’t mind taking the time to relax for a minute or ten.  Overall, great conversations, great miles, great weather and a new feeling that I haven’t explored all there is around here.  (note, I’ve stopped linking my daily runs since I added the Strava widget to the right.)

Now on to the other hogwash.  First, I haven’t written much about it here, but I’m super deep into pc gaming and have been for a long while now.  It doesn’t stop there though, I’ve also played World of Warcraft for nearly 9 years and always get excited when they have there near annual convention in Anaheim, California.  It was a blast following the attendees blogs and tweets over the weekend.  This is definitely a “bucket list” event.  The new expansion for the game is released this Thursday, and I’m giddy like a drunk donkey waiting to get my hands on it.

MORE hogwash.  When I found Ethan Newberry’s Ginger Runner and began devouring all of his old live shows, I also came across a couple of other cats that are also making running movies.  One of those runners is Billy Yang.  Besides being a tremendous ultra runner himself, he’s made some fantastic films.  His film “Sky High Flag: the Town | the People | the Race” about the running community in Flagstaff, Arizona and the Flagstaff Skyrace was superb.  Well, we all knew he was working on a film that follows Sally McRae during her Western States 100 race.  The trailer for the film has been on Billy’s YouTube page since July and I’ve been waiting for the final product.  WELL, WELL, WELL…  What did I see this morning in my feedly?  Why it’s a review of the film by iRunFar.com.  I was so stoked thinking that we were getting close to a release date.  Up until this morning, I thought that Billy was only doing local premiers for the film and that being out here in New Hampshire, I’d have to wait even longer to see the final product.  What’s this I read?  Going live on his YouTube channel Tuesday, November 11?  OUTSTANDING!  I’m so excited to watch this movie and hope that you all head over there and check out his other films.

Introducing the East Keene Athletic Company

My good friend John and I are starting the East Keene Athletic Company.  It’s not the running company.  That would leave out too many sports we plan on including at future dates, like badminton or arm wrestling or Mortal Kombat tournaments…  The club is just a local group (so far) of folks interested in helping each other with advice on running, training, nutrition and decent beers.  Anyway, here’s our first logo.  Head over to our Strava page to join!

E.K.A.C.

New Shoes

It’s been a while, actually, it’s been my longest gap between posts and I apologize for that.  I won’t insult you with excuses, just move into the meat of my running right now.  Last Friday, the wife and I took a trip up to the state capital of Concord to visit a running store that actually has Altras in stock.  I had my mind set on buying the One2, but wouldn’t you know, they didn’t carry that model.  I did get to hang with a couple of the cats there that were helpful, pleasant, knowledgeable and fun.  I tried on a pair of Newtons that I actually considered buying save my feet are as wide as skis.  I also tried on the Altra Instinct 2.0 and Lone Peak 2.0.  I came home with the Instincts, but also really liked the Peaks.  I’ll be heading back in a couple of weeks to pick up a pair of Peaks for the trails and late fall/winter running.  The Instinct 1.5 that I ordered from Amazon last month (and promptly returned) were a completely different beast.  They felt too thick and firm as the 2.0 feels bendy and light.  Well, lighter than the 1.5, but not light by any means.  The giant slab of an outsole makes up some pretty severe weight gains over my old ASICS.  I’m not complaining though, the bottoms of my feet, especially my right forefoot and the top of my left foot (large tendon running from my big toe) feel so much more comfortable.  As soon as I tried them on I felt a difference.  After a couple laps up and down the sidewalk outside of the store, I came in to make some decisions.  I really wanted to try on the One2, but also knew that I had to come home with a new pair of shoes, the ASICS have had it.  I was impressed with the flexibility of the Instincts, but wasn’t thrilled with all of the extra… meat that it seems to have.  I decided to nab the Instincts and I felt good about getting them on sale for $85.  The name of the store is Runner’s Alley and they have stores in Concord, Portsmouth and Manchester.  I can speak directly to the knowledge and pleasantness of the Concord crew, but imagine the other 2 stores are staffed alike.

I’m only 34+ miles into these shoes, but I already feel a huge difference in cushioning and responsiveness.  There really is a huge “springy” feeling when running in these over the Gel-Lyte33.  The first run I took these guys on, I nailed a flat 24 minutes in the first 3.1 miles, my quickest at that distance by almost half a minute and more impressively, I took nearly 5 minutes off of my best 10K time.  I happened to have a pace run as my first run in these and just let it fly.  I felt great after with no soreness or blisters.  The second run, my Sunday long run, was with my buddy John as we explored an old rail trail that leads south out of town.  We were planning on taking the trail for about 6-7 miles and then turning around, but the upkeep of the trail really crapped out around mile 5.5, so we turned it around and headed back, adding some miles in town at the end.  The total distance was 12 miles and again, the feet felt great.  I did start getting a bit of a hot spot on the bottom, inside of my right foot.  At first I thought it was a blister, but it didn’t quite get to that point, it’s definitely something I’m going to keep and eye on.

I’ve run 3 other times in the Instincts and am getting a good feel for them.  They don’t have a ton of grip, which is ok for roads and dirt, but I’m worried that they might be slick with wet leaves, rocks and roots, the New England trail triumbrant. I took them on a longer (8 mile) run up and down a long hill yesterday afternoon in the windy rain and I didn’t slip once on the steep declines, that impressed me.  There is a small, but very irritating problem with the shoes,er, the laces to be specific.  They are just not long enough for me.  Altras attract folks for different reasons, one of which is runners with wider feet, like me.  I love the toe box, but to tie the shoes to fit my feet means to have about 2 inches or less left over to tie the shoe.  I’ve taken to starting the laces on the second row of eyelets.  I’m going to hit up an outdoor store this weekend for some boot laces, maybe that’ll cut the mustard.

Overall, great shoes, great value (on sale for me $85) and great experience at Concord’s Runner’s Alley.

Saturday Double Up

I’ve been following a new training plan on the chance that we’ll be able to get down to New Orleans on January 25 for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.  I’d love for this to be my first marathon, but it’s always a question of time off, having the kiddo taken care of and being able to afford the trip.  If I’m not able to go, at least I’ll have been training to get the old legs ready for a marathon.  I can always go out for a 26.2-er on my own without the celebration of an official race, but it would be a hell of a good time being back in New Orleans.

SO.  The schedule had me down for a 5 mile pace run yesterday, which I happily completed with an overall pace of 8:06.  I’m thinking about trying to finish my next half in under 1:50 so I’m looking to get my pace around 8:30.  I felt good and didn’t think I was pushing it too hard on the run.  All around good morning.  About 30 minutes after I finished and was enjoying a cup of coffee, my buddy John texted and asked if I wanted to join him on his long run.  He was planning on running a trail to the local recycling center at the top of a gradual 6 mile hill and back.  This is a run I’ve been wanting to do for a while and my legs felt really good, so I said why the cuss not and threw my kit into the dryer for 20 minutes, ate something and filled my water up.

We were taking it real easy, actually training the long run like we should.  When we started, it was chilly and damp, but by the time we hit the turn around, it had become a fantastic, absolutely stunning New England fall day.  My legs felt real good on the climb during the first half of the run, but coming down, around mile 9 or 10 I started to suffer a little.  My bitchy tendon on the top of my left foot was starting to feel the miles of the day and I hadn’t brought the extra half of a banana I debated about bringing so my body wasn’t really happy about not having enough fuel for the last couple of miles.  My buddy John had an extra GU and passed it on to me, and I am so grateful for it.  Not sure I would have finished it as strong, or at all if I hadn’t taken those last calories.  From now on I’m taking plenty of fuel on the long runs.  We cruised the last mile in a little over 8 minutes to finish the 12 in 1:56:09.  My calves were pretty tight by the end of the run, but it was absolutely beautiful and am so glad I went.  I always wondered what it would be like running with someone and worried about the logistics of pace and distance, but it felt good running with John and we chatted the whole time and had a blast.  Really looking forward to our next adventure.

I’m heading to Concord this Friday to try on some Altras.  It’s the closest retailer to me and I’m looking forward to heading up with the wife and trying on some new shoes.  Mine are finally hitting a point where there are some serious problems starting.  The Instinct 1.5s that I ordered from Amazon were too small and I’m not sure I would have kept them anyway.  They were way to rigid for me.  I’ll be trying on the One² and the Lone Peak 1.5 or the Lone Peak 2.0.

The outside of my left shoe.

The outside of my left shoe.

Only physical leftover from my 17 miles yesterday.

Only physical leftover from my 17 miles yesterday.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I started my “marathon beard.”  I’m planning on growing this thing until I finish a marathon.  Here’s the first week’s contribution:

marathonBeard_week1

Week one of marathon beard. Getting into the ugly phase.