Sunday Long Run: Watching the Loppet

Winter running: Weather today was 40* and 20mph winds.  The wind was no joke.  I ran in light pants and a wind breaker.  Wind breaker and sunglasses turned out to be the most crucial pieces of equipment I had.  We've hit the part of the year were 20mph winds are no problem becuase it's 40* which is so freaking warm.

Goals for the run: Keep my heart rate under 153.  Keep my heart rate managed for a while, then just run even and have fun.  Jumping over snow banks utterly effed my heart rate.  Plus I was a bit of a piss pot for the beginning of the run and that didn't do me any favors either.

Route: I went down the 40th Street Greenway Road was mostly plowed.  Sidewalks: not so much.  I was grumpy.  Then around parts of Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun, then took the Greenway east and headed south around Park Ave.  I've done this run before, mostly in the summer when sidewalk shoveling is irrelevant.

Execution: As mentioned, the sidewalk situation totally blew up my heart rate.  Jumping over snow banks and massive puddles is a bigger deal than you'd think.  I tried to keep calm and was telling myself "this will get better the minute you get out of the wind".  The 20+ mph winds were straight out of the west and in my face for the first 4 miles.  The minute I turned north on Lake Calhoun, the wind stopped howling around me and mood improved immensely.  My heart rate got a bit higher than I would've liked.  Once I saw it in the 160s, I decided to just run by feel and enjoy myself.  Ignoring the heart rate.

Post workout: I did a foam roller video after the run.  I do not do the crazy foam rolling of the lats and arms that he does at the end.  But the "turn your toes in" and "turn your toes out" business for the calves and quads is legit.  And slightly painful in a good way.

Bonus: I caught the tail end of the 2016 Loppet.  There were skiers all over Lake Calhoun.  I was happy for the skiers but could've done without all the spectators and other people because the path was packed.


Before and After - 2

I liked my first Before and After so I'm doing it again.  One picture is from today and the other is from the fall.


Sunday Long Run

Winter Running: It was 32* and sunny today  Excellent weather for running outside.  Everyone else thought so too. 

Goals for the run: Warm up properly.  Keep my heart rate below 153.  I'm back on the heart rate training bandwagon. 

Route: I headed to the downtown gym.  It has better trail access than my house.  Trails are preferable to relying on people to actually shovel their sidewalks at this time of year.  I ran past the Sculpture Garden, onto Cedar Lake Trail, around Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake, and then back the way I started.  The beginning of the run was a bit hairy.  There was ice in some places that had probably been puddles yesterday, and would be again later today.

Execution: I started with a five minute walk to warm up, then kept my heart rate in the low 140s for the first couple of miles.  After that, I went by feel.  This entire run was great. I was not discouraged when the first couple of miles were very slow.  I picked it up in the middle and towards the end, but nothing too crazy.  My heart rate was dialed in right where I wanted it, and it felt good to move. 

Bonus: Totally took all the pictures.


Running and heart rate training

After my brief and failed flirtation with online training plans I felt off and very slow for a long time.  Too long.  Whenever I would run outside, I'd ignore my heart rate monitor (because I couldn't see it under my 85 layers of clothes).  On the treadmill, I'd just get frustrated because I was soooo slow.

I've moved my Zone 2 workouts to the elliptical.  This has ended the frustration and made me feel less like I want to punch people.  For outdoor running I've moved my focus away from Z2 and back into Z3 where it belongs.  It's gotten slightly (and pleasantly) warmer outside, enough to leave my wrist bare and look at my watch during runs. 

Last week on the coldest day ever I did an hour on the treadmill next to my walking buddy.  I was doing a running pace and had my heart rate dialed in.  Best workout ever.  On Monday I had a painfully slow (but in the correct HR zone) outdoor run.  Today I had another outdoor run that was both in the correct zone and at a pace I recognized from this summer.  Things are moving along slowly, but I'm seeing some positive signs.

Bonus: still bringing the phone on some outdoor runs for pictures.


Before and After

Two pictures, taken from roughly the same spot on Medicine Lake.
One if from January 2016.  The other is from March 2015.  See if you can tell which is which.


Trail Thursday - A Surprise Winter Run

Trail: French Park/Medicine Lake Loop.  I have run here before but never done a 'trail review' because normally the thing is properly paved and not an off road trail. Today, however, felt like a true off road adventure, so I'm doing a proper trail report.

Hills: The hills here are hard.  I run this loop counter clockwise because it gets most of the hills out of the way right off the bat.  That last hill absolutely owned me today.  I let myself walk up most of it because I knew my heart rate was already way too high.  Whatever, I was cold.

Ease of Running: This trail was varying degrees of plowed.  Not sure what happened on the west side of the lake but it was not great.
  • Inside French Park - totally plowed down to the black top.
  • Path along Northwest Blvd - well plowed, packed snow, very runnable
  • Path along Medicine Lake Blvd - has seen a plow at least once this year. Opposite of fun.
  • Path near Medicine Lake Park -completely not plowed.  Absolutely off roading.
  • Luce Line, the path around the east side of the lake, and 36th Ave - well plowed, packed snow, very runnable

How cold is cold: My face froze during this run.  Literally.  I wore shorts under my sweat pants, wool socks, and two shirts under my running sweat shirt.  I had a band over my ears and gloves on my hands.  It wasn't that it was soooo cold, it was that I was out in it for a long time.  I wished I'd worn tights under my sweat pants instead. Everything else was fine.

Animals: I saw other runners and walkers and maybe a dog.  Also, lots and lots of ice fishers.

Will I come back: I like this route very much.  It's a challenging distance and the hills are legit.  Bonus is that it has a place for me to park and change my clothes after work, so I've always liked it.  But I may wait until the snow melts off and I can see the pavement again. 


My one track workout for the winter

Today, I accomplished what I hope is one of very few track workouts this winter.  My main gym has a fantastic track.  6 laps is a mile.  It's so fantastic everyone knows it's fantastic.  And everyone comes to play.  It's not a ton of fun for me to be on the track in the winter.  It's so crowded it becomes un-fun.  I view it as more of an "I can't do every single run on the treadmill" kind of thing.  Today, I wanted to run longer than the -20* wind chills would've allowed outside, and I'd been on the treadmill a ton in the past few days.  So I put on my Patient Pants and headed to the track with everyone else.

My mental prep really helped, because I hated being on the track much less than usual at first.  At first I was enjoying being with so many other runners.  After a while the runners mostly dispersed and I was left with walkers which was significantly less fun.  Why must you walk in the running lane?!?  But by then, I was deep into the workout and set on finishing.

The workout itself was one I've talked about before.  It's a descending ladder.  Run 7 laps, walk 1, run 6 laps, walk 1.  Etc. Each set winds up being a slightly faster pace than the one before.  I'm calling this my Race Pace workout for the week.  (Side note, Race Pace workouts may have been the missing ingredient in the 'what should I do besides long runs' question.) This is my heart rate for the workout.  I was nice and aerobic for 1 of the 7 intervals.  Oh well.  Something to shoot for in the future.

There were three ingredients to success in this workout.

First - I told myself that I absolutely had to run the 7 lap interval because that would be mile, and I should give the 6 laps one a try too, and after that if the track was insane or I felt bad I could stop.  Since I never had any pressure to finish, I focused on running in a way that felt good and got to the end nicely.

Second - I'd planned a trip to Seward Co-op afterwards and promised myself a Latte for post run fueling.  It's half milk which is good protein and sugar. 

Third - I had a dinner date at Revival.  I knew I'd feel better about eating all the fried chicken and cheesy grits if I had a good workout under my belt today.  I feel so much less guilt about food on days I've worked out hard.  That's probably a post all it's own.  For the locals, the secret to Revival is have your entire party present and ready to be seated by 5pm.  Otherwise, plan to wait at least an hour.  I am not joking.