Out and Back? Loop?

I was reading Miss Zippy's post about which paths runners prefer to tread, and the article she referenced.  (Over-generalization...) I thought it left out a couple of things.  And yes, I agree.  Variety.

To refresh:
Loop runs are a circular path.  Loops lend themselves nicely to the lakes.  I run a lot of circles around the lakes in winter because the paths are reliably plowed.  Some of my favorite training runs have been loops.  This one for example. 

Out and back runs involve going along a path to a certain point, and then running back.  I've done a lot of this kind of run on the trails and longer bike paths we have here.  The benefit of the out-and-back is that you can 'race yourself' on the way back, see if you can make the second half happen faster than the first half of the run.  Plus, on a six mile run, I'm all "oh, I made it 3 miles, let's go home" which makes the back half easier.

Point to Point runs are where you start at point A and finish the workout at point B.   Twin Cities Marathon is a point to point course.  They're not so popular for training runs because they require planning.   How are you going to get back to your car or back home when you're done?  These work best with a group of friends, where one person's car is at the start and another vehicle is at the finish, or if you live in a city with transit and can take the bus/rail home.

Track runs: Clearly the author has never met a Minnesotan forced onto the indoor track during the winter.  We're not sociable.  We're grumpy as hell.  It's cold and I can't run outside.  Why are you here?  Move.  Maybe not that bad, but certainly not running in circles as a first choice.

Missing from the list :
Lollipop runs are a combination of the out and back and loop.  See the map on this post..  Basically you run "out" to the lake, "the loop" around the lake, and then "back" home.   I do this so much because I usually have to run a mile or two to get to the lake/river/park that is serving as the main focus of the run.  The frequency with which I do lollipop runs explains my patience for both loop and out-and-back runs, and why I don't have a strong preference for one or the other.

Treadmill runsHow the eff did they leave off the treadmill?  You think "out and back" runners are control freaks.  Clearly you've never met a treadmill runner.  My hatred of the treadmill is pretty well documented.  I tolerate it only in small doses when it's too cold outside and the indoor track is over-run with small children.  But it is a great tool for learning about pacing and patience.  (That must be why I hate it.)

Trail runs: The article does mention trail runs but fails to acknowledge that most trail races are one or more loops.  Having just done a race with two loops of the same trail, there was no escape.  I assure you.  Imagine doing a 50K that involved four loops...


Trail Mix 25K - My First Trail Race

I'm going to lay it down: I've run marathons faster than I ran this race.  Actually all of my marathons were faster than this race.  Including the one when I ended up in the med tent.

The biggest lessons were:
I should've praciticed in mud, or on more trails at least. I'd hoped that my 'snow' runs would help me out with the footing.  Uneven snow is like uneven dirt right?  It was super muddy for the race day, as can be seen in the photos.  I had a hard time with the footing.  Is it better to run through or around the puddles?  I had a hard time getting a grip, and that alone wore me out.

I should've practices more hills:  I was glad I had at least one long run on a non-road surface.  That was a fun run but wished I'd had more runs with the quick roller coaster style elevation changes of this trail.  Over the winter, I think I should've run up and down the stairs on the track every lap.  Sadly, I am not joking. 

I shouldn't have worn my heart rate monitor. I was glad I had it for like the first 10 minutes when it helped me warm up, and then not go nuts in the first mile.  After that, it was just freaking me out.  I stopped looking at it until late in the second lap but I wished I hadn't had it with me at all.  I think there will be a time in training and running when it's useful, but I'm not good enough yet for it to do anything other than take me out of my game.

Trail runners are just the best.  I did not DFL this course, but I was definitely in the final five.  And every freaking runner who passed me while they were doing the 50K was all "way to keep after it" and "you're doing great" and "nice job".  Some that were running the relay were super sweet too. I didn't totally need it, since I knew I could finish the course, but I appreciated it nonetheless.

Cheering teams are just the best too.  It's a good thing I had someone waiting for me at the finish because that second lap was hell.  BTW, I haven't been this sore after a race since my first half marathon.

Goals for the rest of the 2014 race season:
Lose weight: After looking at the pictures, let's be honest: It's time to start counting calories again.  I'm cool with it.  I knew I gained weight at the start of the new year during my period of avoiding the gym people.  I'd been putting calorie counting off for a bit to adjust to my new job and new eating habits associated with the new job.  But I think it's time.
Heart rate training:  Being aerobically efficient has long been the weak link in my training program.  I'm ready. Bring it on.
No long races for a while: that means no marathons.  Really the 25K was a bit too long.  For now, I need to keep the races a bit shorter and convince my aerobic system to play along.  I have some half marathons and 10-mile races that I've paid for, so that will be the longest I race for a while.
Run faster.  I mean, duh.  We'll see how it goes.
Run at least one trail run per week - I'm starting this after my next race which is in two weeks.
One workout of hills or plyos or stairs per week.  Really.  The hills owned me on the course.  No one was particularly big, but they were relentless in how many there were. 


Weekend Workouts: Spring is here!

It's legit.  I'm calling it.  Spring is here.  We are still waiting on an official ice out for most of our lakes, but the snow is gone.  I hope it stays that way.  I had some heavy workouts at the beginning of this week, then a bunch of slow days in the middle to let myself rest for the 25K on Saturday.  (It was a hard race.)  No weight lifting and no Zumba this week.  Sigh.

Sunday        6 Miles
Monday       6 Miles     3 Miles walk
Tuesday       1.18 Miles
Wednesday  1.26 Miles
Thursday      3 Miles
Friday          1.26 Miles
Saturday      15.82 Miles, 1 mile cool down, 15 minutes foam rolling

I did all of my running outside this week.  Sunday and Monday were an out and back, and Thursday I was on the Greenway.  I am starting heart rate monitor training.  It did not go well in the 25K so I stopped looking at the heart rate monitor, but on the shorter runs in the neighborhood it's been really useful, and makes me feel way less guilty about power walking up some of those hills.


Running Streak: Chose your goals!

My own personal running streak has been going since October of 2012.  I've written about it a few times, most recently on my 500th day running.  Excuses get harder and harder to find as that number gets higher.

Today I was reading this post by South African Runner Johann.  The post made me consider the advice I'd give another runner who was actually going to do a running streak.  (I mean, even among runners, there's so few who'd actually think this is a good idea.  I've never met another one in real life.

To runners considering a Running Streak I say chose your main goal, all other goals have a lower priority.  If a running streak is your first goal, other goals including race times and recovery plans have to come second to running at least a mile every day.  It's possible to imagine running a mile the day before running a marathon or 50K.  Now imagine running the day after the big race. On purpose.  Because your main goal is a running streak.

The second, slightly less important, piece of advice is that there are still recovery days in a running streak.  There are hopefully be at least 1 or 2 days of the week when streakers are only running the minimum distance required to keep the streak alive.   This explains why I have these posts that say "I ran a mile today" and I'm all happy about it.

The most important thing of all: Good Luck to all the runners who are committing to streaking in April of this year.  Enjoy!


Heart Rate Training: Day 1 (or so)

Today marks my first day (sort of) training with a heart rate monitor and using it like I'm supposed to.  I think.

I've been reading The Big Book of Endurance Training which takes an interesting approach to heart rate training.  And I've read the blogs of some runners who've tried it and liked it.  The one that sticks out most in my mind is Miss Zippy and some really rock solid results.

I just purchased a heart rate monitor.  Finally.  I'd been checking out different models for a long time. I got this one because I wanted a strapless HRM with a screen that I can read, and that will work with the apps on my phone.  Done.  (It works with my version of Endomondo.  Though they do require Premium or Pro for the pretty graphs. 

I had a "run while ignoring the heart rate monitor" on Sunday, so I could get a base line of just how dangerous I am.  I never let my heart rate get too wildly out of control.  But I did spend about half the time in the anaerobic zone.  We have some work to do.

Today I hit the road at the crack of dawn and was reminded how awesome it is to be out for a run and see the sun rise.  The goal for today's run was to keep my heart rate in the range of 143-153, and to have at least a mile 'warm up'.  For the warm up, I started out walking a couple blocks, then throwing in light jogging for half a block at a time, then for a block at a time, so I could make my heart rate rise slowly instead of spiking it up at the beginning of the run as I always had.

Starting out, I thought this would be the longest, most discouraging workout ever.  I was please to see I could run at least one 12:00 mile aerobically, and had fun with the rest of the run.  I'm supposed to do a true MAF test to keep track of my paces, but this isn't it because the course isn't flat enough and I stopped to take way too many pictures in the back half of the run.

The secondary awesome part of this run was just being outside again enjoying myself.  I honestly cannot remember the last time I had an outside run before breakfast.  I suspect it was sometime before Christmas.  (It's been a long winter.) It was nice to get out and see the sun rise again. 


Weekend Workouts: All Kinds of Weather

Workout: 1 mile and change run, notice that stuff is starting to melt.  Then at 3.8 mile walk with Nathan.
Weather: Almost 60*.  Lovely.
Anything special: Did I mention walking with Nathan?  And 60*

Workout: 1 mile run.  God bless step back weeks.
Weather: Getting colder, not quite miserable yet.
Anything special: It was my day off?

Workout: 3 mile run on the track, couple laps cool down. 10 minutes stretching.
Weather: Predicted to be miserable.  Actually slightly less than miserable with very strong winds.
Anything special: No

Workout: 3 mile run on the track followed by an hour of yoga.  I was a pancake after yoga and I mean that in the best way possible.
Weather: Sunny but too cold to try running outside before work.
Anything special: Yoga was intense.  

Workout: 1+ mile run on the track followed by almost 1 mile walk on the track.  I got a new heart rate monitor and wanted to try it out.  I also learned why we can't use GPS apps indoors.
Weather: It rained all day and then started to snow.
Anything special: Learning to use a heart rate monitor.  If only it would work with an app that works indoors....

Workout: 1+ miles running outside, in circles on the one city block that did get cleared after the snow storm.
Weather: 10" of wet, very heavy snow.  It snowed, and by afternoon it was in heavy melting phase.  I worked from home that day.
Anything special: Did you see all that snow?  Exactly no one can believe the water board got the sidewalks cleared before the Park Board had its sidewalks cleared. 

Workout: 7.5 miles running outside with the heart rate monitor.  This is going to be an interesting toy.  I was trying to keep my heart rate in check, and then during mile 3 trying not to poop my pants which explains the one rather slow mile.
Weather: It was around 40*, super sunny and quite windy.  Winds are from the south today, must be pushing all that warm air up here.  We'll take it.
Anything special: Almost pooped my pants.  Also, entertainment with the heart rate monitor. 

Totals for the week: Running: 18.4 miles It's okay; it's a step back week.
Walking: 5.4 miles
Elliptical: 0 (it's cool; I still made my workout goals)
Stretching: 70 mins including Yoga
Weight Lifting: 60 mins


Comcast VS T-Mobile

I spend a fair amount of my life on the phone with various businesses.  Most of the time it's work related (and not blog appropriate) but from time to time I interact with these stupid phone-computer systems in my real life.  There's some that are actually pretty good and some that kind of blow.

This week I had two jobs to do.  First, I needed to instal a new cable modem so I could stop paying for the rental. Because I'm cheap.  Second, I got a text from T-Mo that I was about to go over my minutes (which will keep happening with the new job), so I needed to call them and get my plan changed.

Comcast: I had to call three separate times (which is another post entirely), and each time, I was forced to listen to advertisements and outgoing messages forever.  Do I want to watch WWE?  No.  Would I love to check out your website for online support?  Sure, if my internet worked.  In all three cases, it was over three minutes, closer to four minutes, before I could even key in the "press 1 for this" options to get put in a queue to talk to someone.  I had to key in the last 4 of my social while on hold, then verify all the details of my account to the live person too.  Even though I'm calling from the phone number associated with the account. All the reps were basically nice.  The fourth rep was my favorite and seemed super nice.

T-Mobile: I called once, and the tele-prompt says "you can say anything, what are you calling about?" and I was all "I want to talk to a representative" and she was all "Okay, let me get you to a representative".   I can't remember if I had to verify my account five times for her or not.  The rep was perhaps the sweetest person on the planet.

Prize goes to: T-Mobile for making it easy for me to get to an actual representative and not bombarding me with advertisements before putting me in the hold queue.