Running Training

Fighting With Myself

There are times where I really struggle with motivation. Yesterday was no exception. I was asleep far longer than I usually sleep for and that set the tone for most of the day. In addition, the mercury was also causing issues as well. The temperature was below 40 degrees for most of the day and that was not doing my motivation any favors either. It does drive me a little crazy though because I really do not mind running when it is cold. When the temperature is about 35°-45°F must be my favorite weather to run in. Perhaps the biggest issue was the fact that my training plan called for 16 miles yesterday and I was not entirely looking forward to it. A combination of temperature, required distance, and a lack of motivation caused me to sit around my house until 2:30 PM before I finally got the motivation to get moving and get outside.

Self-doubt is a real pain to deal with while running and I am no stranger to it. I knew that because I had a long run ahead of me that I should bring some gels. Unfortunately, I did not have any so a trip to the store was in order. I decided instead of driving to the store to get them, that I would run 4 miles to Michael’s Cycles to pick them up. My gel of choice is Hammer Espresso flavored with 50mg of caffeine. Almost every other gel flavor gives me heart burn while running. Especially flavors with cinnamon or a large amount of citric acid. Sports drinks have the same effect, so I need to avoid flavors and brands that have a lot of citric acid. Heartburn and acid reflux while running is one of the worst sensations ever. Sixteen miles takes me about 2 hours so I figured that 3 gels would be sufficient. As I was on my way to Michael’s Cycles, my thoughts started to wander, and I started doubting myself as I often do when I am not feeling 100%. I started thinking about the miles I had ahead of me and how my legs were still sore from the hill workout that I did the day before. My calf muscles started burning at about 3 miles and I was almost certain that I was not going to be able to finish the distance my training plan called for. Additionally, I started thinking about how I was probably never going to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Running a marathon distance at a 7:10 average pace seems like a bridge too far at this point.

I picked up my gels, ate one as I left the shop, and reluctantly continued my run. In hindsight, I probably should have picked a better route. The route that I had planned out took me from the bike shop over to the west side of town. Unfortunately, this route included far more street crossings that I would have liked. There were many places that I had to stop and wait for a walk signal before crossing the street. I am not a fan of running across intersections when I do not have a walk signal. Getting struck by a vehicle is not on my agenda. By the time I arrived at the west side of town, the sun was starting to set, and I still had 6 miles, about 45 minutes to go. At this point, I knew that I was going to be finishing my run in the dark. My procrastination and poor planning have once again caused me to run in the dark without a headlamp.

I passed by Blackhawk Community Credit Union and was informed by their sign that the temperature was 37°F. I usually wear my arm sleeves and tights in this weather. However, I am bald, so my head tends to get a little cold. It is a real struggle to keep my head warm without sweating profusely and I have not yet found a viable solution to this problem. Stocking caps are way to warm and just get soaked with sweat. Depending on the temperature, this can be worse than not wearing anything at all.

By the time I got to Rockport Park, the sun had all but set and I still had about 4 miles to go. Blessing in disguise because my thoughts had shifted from doubting myself and questioning why I do this to myself to how much of an idiot I was for putting myself in this situation in the first place. I had all day to get outside and get my run in, but I decided to wait until the last possible minute.

As I passed by the pool at Rockport Park, I was reminded how much I miss swimming. It would be nice if things could open back up so I could get some laps in. It has been a long time since I was last in a pool.

I do not recommend running the dark without a headlamp or any type of nighttime running gear. There are way too many things that can go wrong. Maybe next time I will not procrastinate to this point, but I am not optimistic.

I have come a long way from when I started running, but it feels like I have so far to go. My half marathon best is not as fast as I would need to run a full marathon and bridging the gap seems like a herculean feat. However, I will persevere, because running makes me realize that my body is capable of far more than my mind thinks that it is. I just need to remind myself that when I am wallowing in my own self doubt.

Running Training

I’m A Stats Nerd

I like working with data, so I like any device that gives me insight into various running metrics. I recently purchased a Garmin Forerunner 945 Bundle with the HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim heart rate chest straps. Due to the pandemic, I have not been able to test out the HRM-Swim yet, but I have been able to use the HRM-Tri on almost every run. The HRM-Tri gives the same running analysis as the Garmin Dynamics Running pod with the added benefit of being a heart rate monitor as well.

Training Effect

The first metric that the Forerunner 945 gives is Training Effect. This category ranks the aerobic and anaerobic impact of your workout on a 5-point scale. This metric has helped me realize that I should incorporate more low intensity workouts into my training because most of my runs are categorized as either threshold or tempo. I only see anaerobic increase when I am doing a very hard effort such as interval training or a race.

Running Dynamics

The next set of data, and probably the one that I check the most, is the Running Dynamics. Running Dynamics provides information on your run cadence, stride length, vertical oscillation and ground contact. I have noticed that or the most part my cadence is consistent at about 175 strides per minute (spm). There is some debate as to what the optimal cadence is, but I am inclined to think that what ever cadence you feel comfortable running is the cadence that you should go with. I do not pay a whole lot of attention to stride length, vertical ratio, or vertical oscillation. It does make sense that as my pace increases, my stride length goes up. When I set my 10k personal best on September 28th, my average cadence was 178 spm with an average stride length of 1.22 meters. I do not know what specific impacts that vertical oscillation and vertical ratio have on running performance but I do know that a lower vertical oscillation rate and a lower vertical oscillation ratio are better than higher rates for these metrics. Average ground contact time balance is another metric that I pay attention to. I have noticed that when I am training harder or running more often, my ground contact time balance gets skewed slightly to the right. In a perfect world, ground contact balance would be 50-50 but as I become more fatigued, my right leg takes over. When I run after taking a few days off to rest, my ground contact balance will go back to being close to 50-50. I love my new watch and the insight it gives me into my running performance. There are a lot more features that this watch has and I will cover them in a later post.

Not every run is easy. In the words of Greg LeMond, “It never gets easier; you just go faster.” Today was another run that was not really all that pretty. Training is going well so far but I have been a little sore the past few days. Life is all about perspective. It was not that long ago that running every day was not possible. Running 10 miles would have made walking difficult the next day. In 2019, I ran 1,079 miles. To date, I have run 1,342 miles with a full month to go. I was also quite surprised in October when I ran 116 miles at an average pace of 7:57 per mile. This was the first time ever that my average pace for a month was below 8 minutes per mile. I started this year thinking that I would try to hit 1,500 miles. It does not look like I will hit that goal unless I run over 150 miles in December. It is not impossible, but my training plan does not have me running that many miles next month. We will see how it I am feeling. Winter is coming and I am not entirely a fan of running in cold weather. My ideal temperature is between 40 and 50 degrees.

All things considered this run went well. I like running this route. It is a nice change of scenery from running on the bike path and the streets around Janesville. Only once have I had an issue with oncoming traffic not giving me a wide enough berth while passing. The biggest difference that I notice while running this route is that there are fewer instances of being stopped by traffic. There are many places on the bike path that cross busy intersections where I must wait for a walk signal before crossing the street. I am thinking I will be incorporating more rural running into my training regimen in the future.