Learning to Love Moving (again)

First Saturday of fall, and New England has her moxie back – cold and damp, despite having been hot and humid 10 days ago. Nike+ run club had “speed” work on the calendar in the form of 5 x 400m repeats. So, wanting to get really back in the spin of things, I decided that N and I should ride to the track, run, and then get coffee. So, not really a pure run, not a pure ride, but something in the middle.

So, with fall being upon us, many local riders have hung up the wheels and won’t be seen again until Memorial Day. Making sure to emphasize the change of seasons, Mother Nature made sure it was grey and cold; I don’t think that we passed another rider all day.


The sky threatened more rain, but that was mostly just bluster.


I’ve been riding a lot this summer with #2 son. He’d asked for a real bike for his birthday, and we hooked him up. That, plus me being down a notch this year with Lyme has given us a great chance to ride. At the end of track season last year, he got diagnosed with exercise induced asthma, got an inhaler (we’ve filed the TUE), and has been kicking butt and taking names. To the point where his word cloud project at school was focused on cycling.


So, I kind of strong-armed him into doing a bike-run-bike with me Saturday morning, despite the fact that most of his friends were sitting in their basements playing Density, or some such other game. Bike of choice was the Nashbar Cross bike, since it’s got a rack on the back where I could strap my runners. The ride up to the high school is one of my favorites; hill up to Flanders right out of the gate from the house; long, downhill-ish straight, and one little kicker before rolling into the school. Not a lot of traffic, and a good warmup.

At the track, we stopped, changed into the sneakers, and watched the JV crew gear up for a game. For the 400 repeats, I got a little confused by the Nike+ app until I figured it out. There’s no warmup period; rather, the app starts with the first 400. Press go, and it starts timing the interval. Press stop after the first interval, and the recovery timer starts, then press go for the next interval. Didn’t figure that out for a while, possibly due to my heart trying to escape my throat.


So, I’m not much of a speed guy. I’m not much of an endurance guy either any more, but I’ve never really claimed to be a speed guy. I’ve dutifully avoided the track for most of my life, with the exception of twice a year during my Navy days running the Physical Readiness Test – 12 laps a year, like it or not. Today, I got to relive why.

The first 400 kind of didn’t count, since it wasn’t until about 150 in that I realized the Nike+ app had started the rep as soon as I started the workout. N started at the same time as me, and had opened up about 50 meters by the time I realized I was supposed to be going hard, but I caught him by the end of the first 400.

After the first 400, I’d kind of jogged it while fiddling with my phone, and was surprised when the distance started counting up again, indicating that I’d started it. So, I ran that one slightly faster, mostly out of surprise.

After that one, my lungs were trying to climb up out of my throat, probably because that’s the easier way to get oxygen into them, so I decided to extend my recovery period to a whole easy lap in between 400 efforts. N caught up to me again, looked like he was having fun, and said “How many more?” “Only three”, I said, and we crossed the start, and he was off.

For the first half a lap, I thought I could catch him on the back stretch, but the lungs were gasping, I started to taste half-chewed dates (pre-outing breakfast) in my throat, and I decided just to hold on until I was done. Which I did, and after that lap, decided that, not only would i extend the rest interval to a whole lap, but that it was OK if I walked that lap.

The last two 400’s were tough, and I was thrilled to be walking at the end of them. So, N talked XC strategy with a couple of the high school runners who were doing an 800s workout, and I pretended to take my time getting my bike shoes back on. Then, back to the bike!

Our high school backs up to an awesome bit of state park land with some of the finest two track in the Northeast. Plus, the high school is on the top of a hill overlooking the sound, so, with the cross bikes, we were looking at about 2 miles of downhill, which we bombed.


The kid cleaned it, no problem. I had to stop to pick up my running shoes; they were insufficiently strapped to the bike rack, and managed to either bounce off or get stripped off by some of the verdant but dying vegetation covering the trails. Another 4 miles of spinning, and we were downtown, and at the toughest part of the outing: which place to get coffee.

Bartleby’s, our usual, must be on the Fred schedule. It’s the start/finish of several local rides, and there are bikes stacked up outside most weekend (and weekday) mornings. But, in a clear sign that cycling season should be over, the chairs were not outside, and no bikes were leaning against the building. Kind of shocking. So, we stopped at the Green Marble – tougher to people watch, but still had tables and chairs out, and, if I’ve got to be pressed, probably has the best latte in town.


Almost faking it

Procrastination is on the verge of getting me right now. I waited until Wednesday to do the first of 4 workouts for the week that Nike+ Coach has scheduled for me, which means I’m running every day through Saturday. I’m still on the recovery program, so I’ve got that going for me.

The downside is that I have no choice BUT to run today, tomorrow, and Saturday (or Sunday – guess there’s a little choice)

The upside is that the mileage is light, so I ought to pull it off.

Today was Tempo. Not really sure what pace I can sustain any more – I’m at the top end of weight, haven’t had a great year keeping up with the run, and … yeah. Plus, I’ve never really been one for structured workouts, though I’m trying this time (Saturday is 400’s!)

10 minutes of trying not to puke while the sun set into Fisher’s Island Sound isn’t a bad way to end a day.

Posted in Run

5 for 5

SaltyWar shared today that he’d finally been back on a streak running for the first time in a couple of years. Turns out, I am, too. 5 whole runs in the last 8 days, 10 minute pace, a total of like 9 miles, and I’m more estatic about running than I have been in years.

Earlier this summer, before the Lyme kicked in, I’d been starting to get back into a great running groove for the first time since the 2015 Mystic half and Burlington Marathon Relay. Work had settled out, and I was starting to feel good about the whole thing. But when the joints started flaring up, I kind of dropped into a little bit of a funk.

This month has been the end of the beginning, again – most of the joint damage appears to be healed, and I’ve been feeling energy again, too. I’m using the Nike+ beginner program on my phone, and really enjoy it. They’ve finally added a coach fixture to the app, which talks you through runs, including an interval meant to set speed expectations. The interface is great, too, because you can reschedule workouts.

Tonight, I had to pick up #1 son from a pre-XC meet pasta party, so I dropped into Haley Farm for today’s 15 minutes. Dusk, just after sunset. Nasty, late summer day – heat hanging on, humidity coming up from the tropics, grey sky, drizzle. And perfect.

There was one other car in the parking lot when I showed up; didn’t see a soul on the trails. I ran the main trail down to the bike path/Amtrak overpass, then followed the access road to the trail through the fields along the river. The sections through the trees were dark, but I know the road well, and don’t go terribly fast right now. They’ll be light at twilight soon enough, though the heat and the rain we’ve been getting are going to keep the leaves on for a few more weeks.

Nike+ told me that I was done with about a tenth of a mile to go back to the car; so I walked it back in. Low tide; lots of rot left over from the summer. No cars in the parking lot when I got back.

Love the run.

Posted in Run

Galloway – Meeting a legend; or “How I learned to stop dreading and learn to love the miles”

So, nigh unto 18 years ago, Melissa brought home a book. Specifically, this book – “Galloway’s Book on Running“. 

“I want to run the Disney marathon in January 2000,” she said.

“Uh, OK,” I said.

I’d been a runner by then (1999) for about 5 years – I did Navy Officer Candidate School in Pensacola Florida, and the Marine Corps Drill instructors we had really (REALLY!) liked to run. Partially, I think, because the United States Marine Corps is the toughest large group of people you’ll find on the planet, and mostly, I think, because they liked seeing cocky college kids puke at 5:15 in the morning.

So, way back when i graduated college, I, in the space of about 3 weeks, went from someone who’d run a mile or so each month since it was good to run, to someone who’d go run 3 or 4 miles a couple of times a week because running was good. There were a couple of hiccoughs, but I could at least go out and put in some miles a couple of days a week. But, I wasn’t really a runner. 

Galloway’s book, though, was an eye-opener. In easy language, he put out a plan by which folks like me – joggers, folks who hadn’t run as kids, folks who wanted to get active again – could. And he didn’t talk down to us, he didn’t focus on the harm we would be doing sitting on the couch, he didn’t say “Push through the pain”. Instead, Jeff put down a positive, low pain, high gain approach to becoming a runner.

Missy and I followed the plan religiously, sort of, until about September, when we found out she was expecting our first child, and then I was on my own (Again, we’d gone from couch potatoes to runners, so the thought of running through pregnancy was somewhat foreign to her). I lasted until November – had a glorious 16 miler one late fall weekend, and then, faced with 18 miles of sleet, it seemed that the wiser thing to do was not fly with a 7 month pregnant wife, and we withdrew.

Fast forward 18 years, and Missy and I are still running. 

A couple of weeks ago, one of my social networks said that Jeff Galloway was going to be at Kelley’s Pace right here in Mystic. So, I convinced Melissa (Hey, y’wanna go? …Sure…), and we put it on our schedule.

It wasn’t without concern that I went – I’ve met authors before and been terribly disappointed – people are often on to different projects and are different people from what your impression is from reading their books.

Jeff wasn’t that – he was a man who seemed genuine, happy with his mission, and just as excited about the next people he was going to get running as the first folks he started with back in 1972. 

We got our book signed, talked about our guys running cross country, stood around chatting with a couple of other Mystic runners we knew, and then Galloway talked. A couple of takeaways:

  • Running is a social activity –  Jeff’s running career started as an overweight 8th grader new at a school that required all kids to do some sort of sport. He picked XC, since he’d only have to get to the woods, and then could hide till practice was over. But the second day of practice, a couple of kids he thought he’d like from practice told him to tag along. Each day, he went farther and farther, because he wanted to gossip with the other guys.
  • Human Brain vs. Monkey Brain – I’m going to have to spend some time on his website to get this exactly right, but it boils down to mindfulness – when something is difficult, the way to get it done is to spend some time thinking about it. That’s why he thinks the run/walk/run thing works, that’s why he’s big on pacing. Kind of blew me away in a GTD/43 Folders kind of way (I know that 43folders hasn’t been updated in a while, but it’s still a great resource, and Back2Work is a breath of fresh air each week).
  • The Magic Mile – Wanna know how to pace? Go run your fastest mile. All out, leave everything on the track. Then add at least 30% to that. That’s your long run pace. Add time for heat, add time if you’re feeling out of it, whatever. Mostly, don’t worry about it.
  • Run/Walk/Run – While I think Jeff’s secret sauce is his personableness, and his ability to make running seem like something that IS doable by anyone, THIS is what sets the Galloway method apart from everyone else. After listening to him last night, I may start incorporating this into my own running again. The essence is to fool around with CONSISTIENTLY, not just when you’re tired, but from the beginning, taking walking breaks in your runs. It allows for some recovery during the run, and lets you go longer. 

Honestly, I could probably keep pushing this post out to about 10,000 words – really, without “Galloway’s Book on Running“, I wouldn’t be a runner, I wouldn’t have been writing this blog for a decade, and I’d be missing out on wonderful Saturdays and Sundays with the wife and kids and a whole host of wonderful people I’ve met on the roads and trails. 

Posted in Run

A thousand steps

So, this is what the next step of recovery looks like:

N and I at Bluff Point

The weekend was AWESOME. Two good bike rides, a kayak trip, sunshine without turning bright red as an antibiotic side effect – quality.

Saturday morning, #2 son and I went and crushed 18 miles of cross – down through Bluff Point, and even a little bit of singletrack along the railroad through Haley Farm. We did have to stop for coffee and conversation at Green Marble.

Monday morning, Melissa and I got out for our first ride together since June – boy, have i missed this. Not an epic ride, but a bit of our life together that’s been missing.

And today – 90 degrees (but dry!) and 1.5 miles running, and another 1.2 alternating run/walk so as to not blow out the knee. On Jamestown, and a dip in the Atlantic to cool down. Possibly too long floating on my back, feeling the sun beat down.

Life is OK, and I think I’ll be better soon.

Back at it / Marathon Framework

So, this is what recovery looks like:

Not much, but it’s a mile, it’s almost running (Not quite 9 min/mile), and I didn’t die.

I’m about a week out from finishing the course of Lyme antibiotics, and the swelling in my knee is getting back to being manageable. I think the body is almost willing; now to get the mind there.

On a completely other note, a friend is looking to run a marathon sometime next year. My advice was to do it. He’s in decent shape, and I think he’ll crush it. But, his question made me think: When I do go back into shape, how am I going to train?

Base Period
My first suggestion was emphasizing the importance of the base period – one of the things I’ve failed to do, and hope to do better, is to keep a good base. My ideal base, I think, would look like:

Mon Tues Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
3-5 miles Cross 3-5 miles Cross 3-5 miles 8-12 miles Rest
Tempo Cross Speed Work Cross Race Pace Long, Slow Distance Rest

The base appeals to me – it’s about 15-25 miles a week, 30-45 minutes on work days, and less than 2 miles on weekends. Very manageable, very doable, but a solid base.

From my experience and from most of what I’ve read, there are three fundamental principles for a build period:

  1. Periodization This is where you build for 3 weeks, and then cutback on the 4th week.
  2. 10-15% build on the long run only Only adding about 10-15% more mileage every week.
  3. Three 20 milers 20 miles is a funny distance. It’s a long, long way to run. But, it’s not so long that it destroys you like the marathon will.

Most marathon plans add mileage to the workweek runs. I’ve always had a hard spot with this, since, even as my training requirements grow, my work, sleep, and family requirements don’t shrink, especially on week days. I’ll fudge on this a little bit; move from 5K at lunch to 4-5 miles, but that’s adding 15-20 minutes/day instead of another half hour or more for the plans that go to 6-8 miles on weekdays.

So, rather than focus on whole weeks, I focus on the weekend mileage. My plan looks roughly like this:

Weeks to Go Distance Theme Weeks to go Distance Theme
0 26.2 MARATHON! 14 15 Build
1 8 Taper 15 14 Build
2 13 Half/Race 16 8 Recovery
3 20 LONG 17 14 Build
4 13 Recovery 18 13 Build
5 20 LONG 19 12 Build
6 13 Recovery 20 8 Recovery
7 20 LONG 21 12 Build
8 13 Recovery 22 11 Build
9 18 Build 23 10 Build
10 17 Build 24 6 Recovery
11 16 Build 25 10 Build/Base
12 10 Recovery 26 9 Build/Base
13 16 Build 27 8 Build/Base

So, that’s about it. Need to set about getting back in shape, which means I need to set about getting disciplined again.

Everyone running in the fall – best wishes; can’t wait to be toeing the line again.

Posted in Run

Thoughts on being injured

Something happened at the end of January. Still not quite sure what happened, but something did. I think it was the shoes – they were some awesome pseudo chukkar boots. I’ve had them for a couple of years, and haven’t had a whole lot of trouble with them. When I had some issues recovering from a torn tendon two years ago, I put some Dr. Scholl’s inserts in them. Which elevate my heels a bunch, I think, even on top of the boot heels.

About a month ago, I went out for some testing, wearing the boots since 1) they look cool, and 2) it was snowy, and boots in snow are the BEST. I spent a whole lot of the day on my feet during the testing. No biggie, but I was noticeably sore when I got to the hotel that night.

The next day, I went for one of my typical out-and-backs from the office. Out felt great – I’ve been better than average after the new year about getting out to run, so was pretty excited that we had a sunny, non-windy, non-freezing day in January. I got to the typical turn-around time, and started heading back to the office. With about a half-mile left to go, something siezed up in my calf – kind of like a little knot. That day, I gutted through it, chugged up the hill, and back to the office.

The rest of the day, it was tough to walk – kind of like a charlie horse right at the base of my calf muscle. Stretched it several times. I went to run the next day, got a mile out, and it siezed up again.

Fastforward a month. I’ve taken two whole weeks between runs (ie, run, waited a week, run, waited a week, run) … I think I’m almost out of the woods.

Travel again this week (San Diego is tough when you’re logging 10 hour days). Got in, woke up early on Tuesday, and chugged out 30 minutes, no problem. About 20 minutes in, I got a little worried, thinking that it was going to sieze, but finished without issue. (For a San Diego run, it was strictly unspectacular – along an access road, in the fog, in the dawn twilight)

Today was the real test. Before I headed to the airport, I laced up the sneakers again, set the iPod, and headed off to actually get some San Diego style run in – Point Loma, through the national cemetary out to Cabrillo Point. Ocean views on both sides, a little bit of roller, no humidity, light breeze … left me wondering why people would live there, avoiding winter and getting soft?

Five minutes in – F#ck. The familiar crimp in the base of the muscle on my right calf. F#ck, F#ck, F#ck, F#ck.

Headed back to the car, though, something new happened – the knot started to unwind, little by little, and after 5 minutes of walking, it felt good enough to take a couple of tenative steps at a jog. And wonders of wonders, the knot worked itself out, and the last 20 minutes were great – not even a hint of hurt.

So, I’m typing this, and mildly hopeful that I’ll be able to run again tomorrow. Part of me says that’s probably not the best idea I’ve ever had – but most of me wants to figure out if I’m actually better, or if this is just temporary.

Posted in Run

Chasing Summer

Busy, busy, busy times. Grad school project due tomorrow, clustering happening at work (much like always), and in the thick of activities between Scouting, Church, and the part-time job.

But this afternoon, for a glorious 61 minutes and 33 seconds, it all slipped away, and I chased the sun as it plummeted from the sky far too early in the day.

We’ve been enjoying an outstanding autumn, almost an indian summer, but not quite warm enough. Last night into this morning, though, the weather changed. The wind picked up and blew, and the temperature dropped from the mid-60’s Friday evening into the 30’s this morning.

I think I’m finally getting my mojo back, getting into a regular habit of hitting the road, hitting the pool, and at least a weekly bike ride. Would be great to have more time to ride, but I’ll take what I’ve got.

Anyway, had a virtual meeting with some classmates about a project we’ve got due tomorrow; divvy’d up the remaining work, and headed out to hit the road. Laced ’em up, fired up the Ambit and the iPod, and hit the road. I was a little interested in how it was going to go – not sure when the last time I’d done back-to-back runs was, and not sure when the last time I’d done more than 10 miles in a week back-to-back was.

But, my race at Tarzan Brown was better than last year (shockingly), and that’s given me a little bit of a boost. Plus, my teenage son smoked me, and I’m not really ready to be an old man. It’s a lie to say it was easy today, but it felt good, and I just kept going.

There’s a hill near the house, Boston Post Road approaching Flanders Road from the east, that’s a classic coastal New England bump. Maybe 100′ of elevation total over almost 2 miles, but enough to notice. A couple of years, I decided that I’d stop avoiding the hill and embrace it, and today may have been the first time I’ve really, really loved it. The shadows and tall trees were stretched out, and the sun was plummeting towards the horizon. 6 weeks till the solstice, allegedly, and then the days will inch back towards something approaching reasonable.

I crested the hill, and decided to turn a 5 miler into an hour, kept running down the other side of Flanders Hill, and into the sun. A glorious, glorious patch of sun, a downhill, and a lee from the cold wind. Good legs, good lungs.

It’s a long four months until the end of March when we might see days like this again, but runs like today make it seem like I might get there again.

Posted in Run

Holmes Run

Fall is awesome. Let me just start with that. Down in DC for meetings, and dealing with slowly getting back into shape. Stuck in a new hotel out in Alexandria in kind of a residential desert; it’s kind of unusual in that it’s one of the few places around DC without a robust bike/trail infrastructure like right out the door.

But, thanks to the good folks at the desk and the google maps, I was able to map out a run that turned out pretty much awesome. About a mile down the hill from the hotel was Holmes Run Trail. Beautiful mix of paved and unpaved options. The light was stunning.

However, every time I would see the “Holmes Run” sign, instead of reading:

Holmes Run

like the creek, I would read:

Holmes, Run

And start hearing either:


Anyway, it was one of those runs which was absolutely awesome. Happy to go.

Posted in Run

Funk is its own reward

After a great start to the summer (Half marathons at Vermont City and Mystic, two weeks backpacking at Philmont), work, life, and beer caught up with me. Weight’s up (but not to pre-summer high, and my Movescount dashboard is that of a slacker:


8 hours. 8 whole hours of logged exercise for an entire month.

Anyway, made it out this morning into the autumn early light. No fog, but low, cold clouds hanging over the trees. Cool, but not enough to have to put on long sleeves.

The run was unspectacular – 9 minute miles on an out-and-back I’ve run more times than I remember – downhill to just before the turn, then a small 20′ kicker at the midpoint, and about 100′ up in the mile and a half or so back to the house.

But it was a run. Which counts. 8 hours, 15 minutes a day … maybe that’s not so bad.

Posted in Run