Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The miles keep coming

I haven't had enough running yet. I got up early today (thanks kids!) and got to the gym with plenty of time for a run before my class started. This is one of the nice things about being in a class all week, I can get up early and run in the morning. The part where I drive a little over an hour each way to get there isn't so great though. I followed a plan similar to yesterday's run and left the gym to run out to the Bridle Trails for a few miles of dirt running. Instead of running around the perimeter of the park I just ran in through the middle, up the center powerline trail and then back out of the North entrance of the park. (this all must be terribly exciting for the casual reader who's never run in Redmond, WA).

I had time today to head down to Grass Lawn park and take off the Transistors for 10 laps (2 miles) of barefoot running. My hamstrings and calves were a little sore but the barefoot running still felt pretty good. I felt efficient and smooth with very little upper body movement. I noticed that holding a 7:30/mi pace felt easy except for my calves. I felt like I was barely breathing hard at all. I timed my two miles around the track at 7:31 and 7:14. The shoes went back on and I headed back to the gym to finish up and get showered.

The last few times I've run barefoot I've noticed that after I put my shoes back on and start running again I feel really awkward, especially my ankles and surrounding joints where the Tibia / Fibula meets my Talus bone. It takes about a minute or two of running for my feet to feel normal again when this happens. It's not surprising that it takes some time getting used to the barefoot thing and that the transition isn't seamless.  Sure is fun to run barefoot though.

I read an interesting theory/rant from Josh over at Barefoot Josh about how "wedge" running shoes (ie: ones with big built-up heel cushioning) might have evolved. It's unresearched but an interesting read no less.

So today's numbers:
Dist: 10.0
Time: 1:21:00
Avg: 8:06/mi

My average was over 9:00/mi for the first half of the run but the last few miles really brought it back down. Day off tomorrow or continue the streak?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Almost a double

I'm in a training class all week so I don't have access to a gym at lunch and thus can't run in the middle of the day. I wasn't going to run yesterday at all until my wife suggested that I go after the kids were in bed. It was about 8:15 when she said something like:

"Why don't you go for a run now... if you can be back by 9."

Ummm. sure! I hurried to get changed and grab a bottle of Ultima electrolyte drink (disappointing stuff but I can't stand to throw it out after paying $16 for a small tub of it) and headed out the door. I had about 35 minutes to run so I just did the One Store Loop. Nothing spectacular other than how it felt to be running. I kept a faster than usual pace but didn't bring my watch to time it. I should find a cheap digital watch that I can use as a stopwatch when I don't want to hassle with the Garmin.  I made it back at about 2 minutes after 9pm, happy and winded.

Dist: 4.35
Time: ?? 32 min?
Avg: probably around 7:30min/mi

This morning I was up early with plans to get to the gym before the class started. I was out of the house well before 6am for the hour drive in little traffic up to the gym. Luckily the training center is only about 10 min from the gym / my office. I changed quickly and was out on the road to do half of the work loop with a foray into the Bridle Trails for some soft trail running. The mud has dried a little in all but the worst sections of the trails. I was tapping out a pretty good cadence though my legs were feeling a little tired from running just 9 hours earlier.  After a few miles of trail I came out the North entrance of the park and saw that I was almost an hour into the run. I hoped to be a little faster so that I could head over to Grass Lawn Park for a few miles barefoot to cap off a good run. I didn't have time to take the barefoot detour and still get to the class on time so I just headed back down the corridor trail and back to the gym.

It feels great to get a longer run in before work (class). It's better than coffee to keep me awake during the day. With such a short time between the two runs it almost felt like a 2-a-day, especially considering the soreness in my hamstrings and calves this morning. I'm excited to start putting bigger monthly mileage numbers up again.

Time: 1:06:52
Dist: 8.4
Avg: 7:58/mi

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I had a great Father's Day today, good stuff to include:

Sleeping in
Breakfast in Bed comfy chair
Great card and a pound of Macadamia nuts from my daughter
Some of my favorite cousins and their kids visiting
Getting out for a short run with one of said cousins
Good food (incl. homemade Guacamole and brownies... eaten separately)
Taking the brood to the beach

No complaints about the day really, I could mention the boy waking me up at 4am but I'd rather not.

The run was pretty pedestrian, just my local "One Store" loop with my cousin. I do probably 96% of my running alone so it's nice when I can get out for a run with someone else. It was great talking the whole time and showing him the roads / trails I run so often. The run goes by so quickly when you have so much to talk about the whole time. I didn't bother with the Garmin so I'll just have to guess that we were around a 9 min pace. It didn't feel slow, just very comfortable. I'm loving the mid/forefoot running style that I'm developing as is my knee.

The only downside was that I only managed time for 4.3 miles. I'll have trouble getting runs in next week as I'm in vendor training and won't have much spare time to run. I'll just have to bring my gear and hope for the best I guess.

Time: ??
Dist: 4.35
Avg: 9:00/mi ??

One thing of note is that this run put me over 500 miles for the year to date. Nothing spectacular, but on track to break 1000, something I haven't done since 2004. I'd like to hit 1500 miles for the year now that I can do back-to-back days again. With my limited time to train I'm happy with 500 so far. Not to mention that I only managed 29 miles in May with my knee recovering from the 50K and the trip to Hawaii:

Jan:    89.9
Feb:   78.2
Mar:   140.1
Apr:    92.9
May:   29.2
Jun:    70.9

Friday, June 18, 2010

back to back to back

For the first time in several years I've been able to run 3 days in a row. Since getting knee surgery in 2008, I've had problems running two days in a row. My knee has been feeling better and better since I've started transitioning to the mid/forefoot running and after running on the treadmill on Wednesday, I ran yesterday at lunch. I felt good enough on my way over to the gym today that I decided to test things out again. It went really well, but I'll start with yesterday's run.

Thursday I ran from the gym to the corridor trail and then all the way to the Bridle Trails. Instead of entering the trails I turned North and headed to Old Redmond rd and then East to end up at Grass Lawn park again for some barefoot running on the track. I stripped the shoes and socks off and headed out for 10 laps (2 miles) around the track. My pinky toe with the blister was a little sensitive to the sponge track so I moved over to the turf next to the track and ran there instead. I wanted to run at a more reasonable pace than I did on Monday so I didn't look at my lap splits. I ended up running the first mile in 7:50 and then turned around and ran the second mile clockwise around the field  in 7:39. Perfect. The shoes went back on and I headed back to the gym to finish things off. It was a good smooth, easy run.

Time: 49:07
Dist: 6.0 mi
Avg:  8:11/mi

Today I jogged a few steps on my walk over to the gym and had zero pain in my knee so I laced up and got out for an easy run. I ran out the corridor trail again and this time continued into the Bridle Trails. The trails were still really muddy and required a good bit of hopping around to avoid the puddles and the crap. Always with the horse crap on those trails. I put Lose Yourself on the iPod and matched my cadence to the beat. Pure joy to run those trails even when it is muddy. After another song or two I turned the iPod off and just tried to relax and enjoy the scenery and find my way around the interior of the park. When I have more time I stick to the perimeter trails as they offer the longest route, but today I just had time to run to the center of the park and then take a different path back to where I started.

The weather today is sunny and warm with a light breeze. Rain is forecast this weekend so I ran a good portion of the run shirtless to enjoy what little summer we're having this year. The one thing that I didn't do is time or measure the run. If I had to guess based on feel and history, I'd say:

Time: 43:45 ?
Dist: 5.0 mi
Avg: 8:45/mi ?

Not really a training run, just junk/recovery miles but I'm treading lightly on this increase in running frequency. So far so good.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Treadmill miles

Since I have a bit more of my commute to sit through (as a passenger) I might as well write about my run at lunch today. It rained lightly all morning so I stuck with the treadmill at lunch instead of going out for a wet run. I decided to either do 5 one mile repeats or just run 5 miles at a 7:00 pace. The later won out because the new fancy treadmills aren't as programmable as the old ones were. The pre-programmed runs that I had to select from didn't work out for me as I couldn't set the exact pace for the mile repeats.

I set the manual mode to a 6:58 pace (closest setting to 7:00/mi) and with a 2% incline and went for it. The pace was taxing but not exhausting. I ended up lowering the incline a bit every mile until it was down to 1% at the end of 5 miles.

I ran a half mile at 9:00 pace to cool down and then cleaned the machine and called it a run. I felt good today and my Brooks Cascadias handled the rugged treadmill surface easily. :-) no problems with the blister thankfully. Maybe I'll be able to get out for some barefoot running on Friday.

Time: 39:30
Dist: 5.50
Avg: 7:14

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Recent runrecap

I was on call for work last weekend so I had to stay close to home or bring a laptop with me where ever I go. I went for a run with kid #2 in our brand new BOB jog stroller (in a nutshell: buy from REI, their return policy is amazing) on Sunday. Rather than run with the laptop I stayed close to the house, opting to run a few out-and-back loops.

First I ran a 2 mile loop going to the West to Forest Beach and back. I continued past the house to the East and headed to the tunnel trail and turned around when I hit the muddy section of the trail for another 3 miles.As I was passing my street for the 2nd time, I stopped to feed the (now-awake) kid. Following his lunch I headed back toward Forest Beach for another couple of miles. After finishing that loop I again headed toward the Tunnel trail. I made it as far as Horsehead Bay rd before he started squawking and telling me that he'd had enough with the running.

I turned around and picked up the pace to make it back home with fewer than the 10 miles that I wanted but close enough that I was happy with the effort. My pace was a bit slower overall but I'll blame that on the hills and jogging with the Stroller. I was just looking to get out and run rather than get out and train.

Time: 1:21:54
Dist: 8.83mi
Avg: 9:17/mi

On Monday I wanted to see how my knee would handle back-to-back runs now that I'm slowly making progress toward being a mid-foot striker and noticing less pain in my bad knee. It's nice thinking less about my knee while running and in daily life. It isn't quite back to the point it was before the torn Meniscus and honestly I don't expect that it ever will be. I'll be very happy if in the future I can run 100 miles on it at some point and so far I'm optimistic.

In any case I went for another lunch time run on Monday. Starting from the gym I ran down the corridor trail and out to 134th ave, turned right and then ran down Old Redmond rd to Grass Lawn Park again for some barefoot running on their sponge track. I used the jog to the park as a warm up at easy/moderate pace and then ran two miles barefoot on the dry track. I tested out my legs on the track, running the first mile in 6:41.

I didn't feel like I was taxing myself that much so I gambled on the second mile and pushed hard to see if I could break 6:00. Looking back, this may have been a little stupid in bare feet. I'm not used to the mid/forefoot running yet and while my upper body feels more efficient and less bouncy than running shod, my legs / stride don't yet feel natural. I was experimenting with lengthening my stride slightly and increasing turnover to pick up my pace on the track. I ended up just missing my goal, finishing the mile in 6:06. Very respectable for me considering how little time I've been experimenting with barefoot running so far. The track is only a 320 meter (1/5th mi) circuit so calculating my splits to run a 6:00 mile made for some odd math in my head as I ran (72 second laps).

The price of the effort wasn't soreness or injury but a nice blood-blister on my left pinkie toe. Maybe I'm using my toes to push off with the side of my foot as I go around the track counter-clockwise. The blister hurt enough to make the cool down mile and a half back to the gym (and walking around the last two days) painful. I decided against draining it and as of this morning I can barely feel it. I'll wait a few days before my next barefoot run.

Great weather and a good couple of miles on the track minus shoes.

Time: 41:00
Dist: 5.56
Avg: 7:22/mi

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Early to rise...

I got up at 5am today and out of the house by 5:30. I drove up to work and hit the gym first to get a run in. I was on the road by ~7:15. I ran around the gym loop but ventured into the Bridle Trails when I was heading down the back straight instead of staying on the road. I almost slipped in the mud within the first 10 steps on the trail. That was a good indicator of what I was in for.

It was pretty bad, even when there wasn't standing water or churned up mud. There was still a slippery layer of mud coating the dirt/gravel on the trails. I had to be extra cautious and found myself constantly looking for ways to step around the mud and water puddles that spanned the width of the trail. I did pretty well bouncing back and forth across the trail looking for a spot where my shoes could find some traction. I should have brought the Cascadias for their extra tread instead of my road-friendly Defyance shoes but that didn't happen. I slipped and slid around for the next few miles on the trail and was relieved to get out of the trails and head back to the gym for a shower.

I'm not sure why but I was really tired and had some stomach cramp issues. I'm usually not worn out until I've been running a few hours but today I started to feel sluggish and worn out about 3 miles into the run. Lack of sleep and compensating with coffee perhaps?

As always, a less-than-stellar run sure beats the regret of not going for one. In other news, the forefoot striking is feeling more and more normal as time goes on. My knee has been feeling pretty good lately as well. (knock on wood) I hope it continues to improve.

Time: 1:11:26
Dist: 8.45
Avg: 8:28
Alt: maybe 1000'

Thursday, June 10, 2010

barefoot progress.

I got out at lunch yesterday for another run in the rain. We're having quite the wet summer so far. I don't remember it being sunny for more than 2 days in a row yet this year. I figured that the bridle trails would be a mess with all of the rain so I ran the first half of the corridor trail and then straight over to Grass Lawn park to use their track.

I took off the shoes and ran a little over 2 miles on the track. Going around the corners was a little sketchy with all of the standing water but I managed to stay upright. I ran the first mile on the track easy and picked up the pace for the second. I was surprised how easy it was to hold a sub-7 min. pace barefoot. I ended up running a 6:28 mile sans shoes. Not blazing fast but pretty good for my current fitness level and the conditions.

I felt really good running on the track. It felt like less effort than running on the trails or sidewalks. When I put my shoes on and headed back to the gym I suddenly felt sluggish and tired. It could have been the slight hill leaving the park or the trackwork catching up with me. I took it somewhat easy for the mile and a half back to the gym and called it a good run.

No plans to ditch the shoes and go barefoot full time. It sure is fun once in a while though.

Dist: 5.6mi.
Time: 43:11
Avg: 7:43/mi

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Back to the Bridle Trails

Over the weekend I was at REI and saw that they had a surplus of Vasque Transistor FS shoes on sale for $70. On a lark I checked the sale rack and found that they actually had them in my size. I tried them on and walked around the store and over their fake rock structure several times. I even went as far as to pull up a recently posted review on my iPhone from a blog that I follow. They felt pretty good on my feet, especially for a lighter less cushioned shoe. Everything pointed to positive so I bought them.

I took the new shoes straight out on Monday for a run before work. I didn't go anywhere special, just out the corridor trail and down to the Bridle Trails for a few miles in the sloppy mud. It's funny, in January at the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival, the mud was very minimal. Now it's the start of Summer and the trails are a sloppy mess from all of the rain recently. The shoes felt great and I did my best hop around the big mud puddles where I could. Naturally my feet still found a few good steps in gooey deep mud unavoidable.

I was trying to concentrate on my running form (straight back, stand tall, land mid/forefoot, lift the knees, good leg follow through) instead of focusing on speed or time. I had the iPod on and Eminem's Lose Yourself came up on the playlist during the run, so I sync'd up my cadence to the 182 BPM of the song and enjoyed my run just a little bit more. I skipped the section of trail that parallels 132nd st as that's usually the muddiest area with the tightest shoulders around the trail.

I was a little tired on the way out of the trails and back to the gym but I tried to keep a decent pace while working on my form. I was surprised that I kept the pace < 8:00/mi. I expected to be much slower while relearning my running form. No complaints though.  Overall I really liked the Vasque shoes. I hope to try them out again tomorrow at lunch and get in a few barefoot miles at a park near work, the same one I ran last week.

Overall, a great way to start the day.  I wish I could do a run like this before work more often.

Time: 1:01:39
Dist: 7.6
Avg: 8:08/mi
Alt: Much less than the Garmin-claimed 3374'

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Shoeless Saturday

Well, not completely shoeless, but for 2 miles it was. Kid 1 had a birthday party to go to with my wife so I took kid 2 in the BOB jog stroller for the first time. I loaded him up with toys and off we went. He barely made a peep the whole run. Every time I looked at him he was either looking back up at me through the sunroof or looking around at the surroundings. I'll call that success.

I didn't think I'd be running this weekend. I had planned to run at lunch at work on Friday and get in a barefoot mile or two in mid-run. On the way to work traffic slowed down to a stop on the freeway (me included) but the car behind me didn't and pounded me into the car in front of me. My neck has been sore since it happened and the car might be totaled (it's 11 years old). The airbags didn't go off and luckily everyone involved has insurance. The car was mostly driveable so I turned around and came home to deal with insurance companies, repair shops, get a rental car, and see my doctor. My doc said that there was definitely trauma but that it should be fine within a few days and surprisingly that it was okay to run.

Back to today: I ran out to the tunnel trail to find that I'd missed some plants here and there on my recent pruning adventure and that the trail was still pretty muddy. At the top of the trail I headed up to the local Middle school to run on their field. When I got there, it was deserted (good!) but there weren't any gates wide enough to bring the jog stroller in. There was just one of those really narrow openings in the fence meant for skinny people to walk through sideways. I ended up taking the kid in and setting him down on the field, then lifting the stroller over the fence and shimmying through the gate. From there, it was off with the shoes and back into the stroller with the kid. I had the Garmin on so I ran just over 2 miles barefoot on the track. I would have liked to run a few more but I didn't want to overdo it on my legs and I knew that the kid would need to be fed in ~30 min.

I reversed the procedure to get the stroller and kid through/over the fence after putting my shoes on and headed home. I took the longer way (Ray Nash Dr.) back rather than dealing with the mud on the trail. I actually saw two other runners ahead of me on Ray Nash (very rare around here) so I picked up the pace, caught and passed them. Yeah, that's right, I passed you with a jog stroller! :)

I took it easy the last mile to cool down somewhat and got home just in time as the boy was getting hungry and not afraid to tell me about it. I ended up with a pretty good run in perfect 60F sunny weather. The barefoot running is coming really easy to me so far (knock on wood) and I feel like I'm doing okay adjusting my stride/gait to a mid-to-forefoot landing. I  looked at my Brooks Cascadias (love em! ) and the wear pattern is definitely starting to show under the ball of my feet and not yet under the heel. I've noticed a slight decline in knee pain after recent runs which is the chief reason for all of this midfoot/barefoot business in the first place. I hope that I keep seeing improvement there in my quest to return to running pain-free.

Time: 1:11:16
Dist: 7.6
Avg: 9:22/mi
Alt: 2500 (Garmin) or 1000 (reality)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Where does the time go?

I've been really busy since going back to work (6000+ emails waiting for me) and busy at home with the kids who have decided that they'll be on some strange bedtime schedule that doesn't correspond to either Hawaii time or local time.  I have gotten out for a few runs since returning from vacation. If I had time I'd write more about them, but in a nutshell:

Saturday 5/29: Ran out to the Tunnel trail and noticed that it was getting pretty overgrown (and muddy). Continued on to Kopachuck middle school because they have a big grass soccer field. I took off my shoes and ran 8 lengths of the field. Using, I estimated that to be about a mile. The shoes went back on my wet feet and I went back home the way I came. The barefoot running felt really good. I felt steady and efficient. I noticed that my upper body didn't bob and bounce as much.

~50 min.

Monday, I got out for a short run in the BOB jog stroller with my daughter. A local mom-n-pop convenience store just re-opened after 6 months of renovation so my daughter wanted to go with me for a treat. I grabbed a pair of garden clippers and ran back to the tunnel trail. I clipped everything that was growing over the trail while she directed me where to go next and what to cut. After the trail maintenance, we headed around the roads to the store and stopped for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and chocolate milk. They're more her taste, but I was happy to help her eat them.

~45 min. with all of the stopping to cut down branches / bushes / vines.

Today (Wednesday) I ran at lunchtime from the gym. It was raining the whole time but that didn't really bother me. The temps were in the mid 50s which felt nice with a long sleeve shirt on. I ran out the corridor trail which was also wet and very overgrown. There were so many plants covering the trail that the rain collecting on the tall grass soaked my shorts, socks, and shoes. Instead of going into the Bridle Trails I turned right and headed down 132nd until I hit Old Redmond Road. From there I made another right and then ran to Grass Lawn Park. I planned to do a barefoot mile on the soccer field but when I got there I found that in addition to the Astroturf field, they had a nice spongey rubber track around it. The track was 0.20 miles in diameter. I ran 6 laps, alternating each lap between the track and the edge of the Astroturf. It felt good to run barefoot but I could feel my calves and achilles start to get sore by the last two laps. I was happy with 1.2 miles of barefoot. I wrung my socks out and ran back to the gym.


On all of my recent runs (over the last month or so) I've been trying to focus on landing mid-foot instead of on my heels. I feel like it's coming along nicely and I'm starting to get the hang of it. I hope it makes a difference in the knee pain I get from running, that's about 90% of why I'm doing all of this.

The knee has been doing well recently so I hope I can pick the mileage up a bit this month after a very low volume May.