Sunday, January 31, 2016

Running Mysteries

I will never cease to be amazed at the surprising ways in which our bodies react to offbeat stressors.  I've discussed "good pops" and "bad pops."  Now it's the mystery of the blizzard.  I've been wrestling with a pulled hamstring since Thanksgiving.  Consistently after a few miles, my right hamstring would cramp and force me to walk. Recently it seemed to be getting worse, not better, kicking in after only a mile.  I was working it out slowly on the treadmill when the snowstorm hit, and I did the foolhardy thing. I ran outside, in the snow, two days in a row, and increased my mileage.  Boom, the hamstring pain vanished.  I don't want to count my chickens, but I have now run 3-4 miles each of the last three days, twice outside and once on the treadmill, with no pain.  I've kept it slow.  I've stretched a lot, but I'm a bit flabbergasted.  What was it about slow snow running that finally got the stubborn muscle to let go.  I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth (stop that metaphor), but it's odd.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Morning After

I thought twice about running at all today.  Yesterday was great, and I felt like I got away with something, because my hamstring never twinged.  Three days in a row seemed like asking for trouble.  Spencer is in town and he invited me to Manhattan to explore Central Park.  I declined, quite frankly, out of fear.  Nothing would be more depressing than coming up lame in the middle of a snowy Central Park.  I decided to stay close to home, and, again, keep it very slow.  Now I feel bad.  I should have pushed Spencer to come join me.  I kept it slow, running 11:30 ish miles.  The surface varied from wet pavement, to packed snow, to unpacked snow, to climbing over snowbanks.  So, the pace was not as slow as it might seem, but it was pretty slow.  I decided to run down to Brooklyn Bridge Park and see if it was runable.  It was. Indeed, it was spectacular.  There were dads dragging kids on sleds.
Dogs off their leash.

Dads demonstrating how to sled, sorta . . .

There was even ambiguous art:


Whatever . . . It was cool.

Anyaway, I probably would have taken even more pictures, but my camera froze.  The end result was a successful, slow, 5 mile run with no pain!!! Hooray!!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Blizzard Run

I was going to take the day off and swim, but the gym was closed due to the blizzard of the century.  Instead I did 3.1 super slow miles, through the snow.  My pace was laughable, but still, no pain in the hamstring.  That is something.  I was worried that running through the snow would aggravate the injury.  Instead, the soft surface and slow pace, interrupted periodically by the need to avoid a snowplow, or climb through a drift, seemed to be okay.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cross-training, and not . . .

The transition to triathlon a few years ago taught me some great things about cross-training.  It allows us to increase training volume with less risk of injury.  It fights off boredom.  It exercises different muscle groups.  It also allows us to shift events when injured. All of these things are good.  One thing is bad.  There is a big difference between running 5-6 times a week and running 3-4 times a week.  The same thing goes for swimming.  I notice less of a difference with cycling, but FWIW, I'm more of a natural cyclist than the other two.  When I increase my focus on running, my running form improves.  Right now, I'm not running, so I've been swimming a lot more.  My swimming is improving.  I wonder if we shouldn't work more periods of training that focus on improving just one of the events, while deemphasizing the others.  Is it possible to improve, and then maintain the gain, or is it better just to keep rotating.  I suspect that there's not one right answer to this question.

Friday, January 15, 2016


Speaking of Comrades, I have generally had very little interest in "ultras."  Max's feats amaze me, but I know how I feel after a marathon, thank you very much, and 100 or so miles on a bike is plenty.  But I do feel an odd attraction to the Comrades Marathon.  Its history, the idea behind it . . . There's more to it than just the miles.  Maybe someday.  Max, is it uphill or downhill this year?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Welcome Back Max

Welcome back Max.  It's good to hear that you are back to enjoying running. I would actually like to hear more about the logic of your hiatus.  The psychology of "on" and "off" is currently very interesting to me, as right now, I'm struggling a bit with motivation, and I'm not sure why.  Okay, I'm not entirely mystified.  At the moment I'm wrestling with the aforementioned hamstring pull that is proving to be more stubborn than I had hoped.  Every marathon has its "lurker," and this has turned out to be a good one. I went straight from a really fun 10x400 with lots of optimism about the future to old mr. gimpy again.  I've managed to hold it together with spinning an swimming, but each time I try to run again, the microtear, sciatica, or whatever it is reasserts itself.  This week, even the motivation to improve my swimming, which had been keeping me going, has fallen off.  I have truly fallen into a winter slough of despond.  I find it mystifying that the same brain that finds joy in running long miles to train for a marathon or a tri can fall into a pattern where even swimming for 40 minutes seems like a chore . . .  Oh well, it's January.  Max, talk me out of this . . .

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ted's Right

Ted's been carrying this blog for the past several months.  Regrets from this end.  My excuse is that my running for the 12 months from November 2014 through November 2015 was almost certainly in the double digits of miles.  Next to none until November, when it picked up a tad. 

So, congrats to the co-bloggers for last fall's good half-marathon (Spencer) and good marathon (Ted), and I'm sure I'm missing something because I've been out of it.  Regrets at missing out on some good group runs that I know took place.

Glad to report that I finally started getting busy in December.  I did some great running in Miami while attending a seminar; got in some miles in Austin over the holiday; and had two cool runs in NYC while attending AALS.  One, along the Hudson, south from 34th to Wall Street and back. 
A little cooler than this last weekend.
And two, along the Highline from 34th to the southern end and back.  I've been running with long-time training partner J__ on weekends on the Glen Echo trail, with a couple of long runs in the 15-16 mile range.

The Highline.  The plants weren't quite so green last weekend.
Too early to predict that I'm back in the saddle.  I am on a ratcheting the mileage upward plan, with a long week of about 40 miles recently and still feeling great.  And I do have a goal, with a bib reserved for Comrades (South Africa) in May -- and the need to get a marathon in before then for a qualifying time.
I'm in.
And I hope to catch one or more co-bloggers for a run in there somewhere.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year -- Hello Out There

Okay, so we've all fallen silent since late October.  It's a new year, though, and time to recommit to the blog.  I have been quiet because I've been in post-marathon tailspin.  I don't know what's up with the rest of you, but I'm curious about our various aches, pains and small triumphs.

I felt great after the Marathon in mid-October, but have fallen victim to a series of pulls and cramps since then.  First my knee got twingy.  Then at Thanksgiving, as that got better, my hamstring seized up.  That has taken a while to resolve, so it has been a frustrating late Fall.  Right now, it seems to be okay for about 2 miles. Then it gets iffy after that, and debilitating somewhere between miles 4 and 6.  It's better if I keep it slow, but as soon as I go above a 9:30 pace complaints start.  Yeesh.  So, I've rededicated to swimming for the moment, and am hoping to start the crawl back in the next few weeks. I don't have any major races scheduled, so will concentrate on returning to form.  How about the rest of you??