Snow Fun

snow_fun_001Today was a day of firsts for a number of reasons. Up until this morning my training program has enabled me to take all my runs on the treadmill at my gym. I don’t mind running on the treadmill, but had set myself a limit of 6 miles. Anything over that and I figured I would be better off outside – provided conditions cooperated. With a 7 mile run on the cards for this morning, I felt like that was too much treadmill and I would get more out of running in the park. Add in the wintery mix of snow and sub-zero temperatures that descended on the city this weekend, and this was lining up to be a real thrill ride! Luckily, the conditions in the park were not too bad, thanks in part to the previous days New York Road Runner’s Manhattan half-marathon that went ahead, if only as a fun run.

I got up around 7:30 AM and decked myself out in my cold weather gear – long sleeve Under Armor shirt and Snoogi tights, in addition to a knitted hat and gloves. The park itself is just over 6 miles around the full loop, so I backtracked a half mile in a slow jog as a warm up – allowing myself to finish reasonably close to my exit. The route itself was familiar, having recently completed a similar loop during the Joe Kleinerman 10K. The Harlem Hill was a bit of a slog, as was the long drag in the East side. In both cases I managed to keep going, without the aid of pacemakers that a race situation provides – all the while motivating myself with the knowledge that completing the run would be a large step in my training and preparation for the half-marathon.

In the end, I completed the 7 mile run in 61 minutes – a couple of minutes better than my typical pace of 9 minutes per mile. I felt good at the end, the cold conditions definitely made it a little easier than a run in hot or humid weather. My recovery times continue to get better, with my heart rate and breathing having returned to something close to normal by the time I doubled back and exited the park. I even managed to jog back to my building from the park, rather than walk as would normally be the case.

Mentally, I had overcome a big obstacle in managing a long run by myself. With many more to come between now and November, today’s run gave me the confidence to push on to the next level.


obstacles_001According to my training schedule, tomorrow should be a 7 mile run. Interestingly, we got hit with a few inches of snow last night which promises to make conditions a little treacherous in the morning. Today’s Manhattan half-marathon was essentially wiped out by the snow, with race management removing the clocks and turning it into a non-scored, non-timed event. The morning also promises to be pretty cold – altogether just the kind of conditions I was hoping to avoid as I progress through my training. Running is hard, especially when it entails pushing myself to run farther and longer than I have ever done before. Throwing snow and frigid temperatures into the mix does not help with the motivation, but at this point I am committed to following through on the plan and determined not to let these little obstacles get in the way.

Half-Marathon Training: Week Four

nyc_half_w4Following a relatively easy week three, week four’s training schedule steps things up a bit. Tuesday’s short run increases to 4.5 miles, while Wednesday’s tempo run is a full 35 minutes. Throw in a lengthy 7 mile run on Sunday and we have the toughest week on the plan so far. Luckily for me, this week looks like being pretty light in terms of work commitments, so I can split my time between training and spend plenty of time with Jess to celebrate our first year together. To round out the week, I’ll also step up the workload during the strength sessions, in terms of adding more reps to each set rather than increasing the weight.

Half-Marathon Training: Week Three

nyc_half_w3Let’s not forget the upcoming half-marathon, scheduled for March 18. To say I’m looking forward to that event would be an understatement, but there is still a long way to go to get myself ready. Although I am reasonably fit and at a good weight, I don’t know if I have the strength or stamina to push myself for thirteen miles and complete the run in a reasonable target time.

This week’s training incorporates three 4 miles runs on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday; some speed work on Wednesday; and two strength session on Monday and Thursday. Sunday’s run, typically the longest of the week, is actually shorter than the previous two weeks to give my legs and body a chance to recover. As the training plan prescribes, every third week the long run is two miles shorter than the previous week. I don’t know if that’s the typical approach, but it’s something I picked up while reviewing some training experts websites and compiling my personal half-marathon training plan.

Joe Kleinerman 10K

kleinerman_10k_001This race was always going to be a challenge when you consider that it was the longest run I have ever embarked on, in terms of both time and distance. As a relative newcomer to the ranks, I have built my stamina and endurance over the last year from almost nothing to where I can now run four or five miles at a comfortable pace and recover within a few minutes. Hardly surprising then that I was looking forward to seeing how I would manage with pushing myself an extra mile. This was also the first time for me to complete a full loop of the Central Park circuit, including the dreaded Harlem Hills. In the past I had taken in the reservoir and lower loops, but never had the courage to extend myself to complete the entire thing.

My preparations were not ideal. My sister was visiting from out of town that week, and we had been out with Jess and some friends the night before in Brooklyn. I only got home around 12:30AM and had to work with six hours sleep. Thankfully, I had no hangover when I woke up and was able to get to the start at East 102 St. with plenty of time to spare. In the week leading up to the race, I mapped the course so I knew what to expect in terms of hills. I picked a bad spot to start and got caught up in the crowd, which meant my first mile took around ten minutes. By the time we got to the top of the Harlem Hill the field had thinned out somewhat and I was able to step up the pace to just under nine minutes a mile. All the way down the west side of the park I maintained a healthy pace and as we swung across Central Park South I was feeling very strong.

I picked up the pace, intent on clawing back the time I had lost during that first mile, and even the slight inclines on the way up the east side did not deter my spirit. As I took the bend at 86 St. and reached the plateau that would take me all the way to the finish, I found an extra gear and challenged myself to really push it. Crossing the line in just under fifty five minutes, I was delighted by the result and still felt very strong. I could definitely have done another mile or two.

Half-Marathon Training: Week Two

nyc_half_w2My training plan is consistent for a reason – working to a prescribed plan will help condition my body and limit the risk of injury. If you have looked over the training plan I posted, you will know that Monday and Thursday are non-running days where I focus on strength and conditioning. Typically, this involves some bike work and either one or two circuits of the weight machines at my gym to help build muscle.

This week’s Tuesday run is 4 mile runs, while Wednesday is a 4 mile tempo run at race pace. For me, that means starting out at my usual pace and then pushing myself to about 7 MPH for the majority of the session. This weeks see’s a chance in schedule because of the upcoming 10K in Central Park. Instead of running another 4 miles on Saturday followed by a longer 6 mile run on Saturday, the two are flipped around. This is not ideal, as longer runs are easier following a tempo run rather than before it. However, I want to keep to my plan and I would rather rotate the two days than chop and change my rest days.

My Number’s Up

On the off-chance that I would actually make it, and seeing as how I tend to do better when I have an actual goal, I applied for the New York City Half-Marathon. I was not entirely sure that I would get into the race, given my newbie status and the fact that I had to rely on the luck of the draw rather than qualifying through time or any of the other means that the Roadrunners provide.

Imagine my surprise then, when I checked my email the other day and saw a note confirming my entry number. The distance is somewhat daunting when I consider that the longest I have ever run is five miles. But, I have done some research and devised an appropriate training plan that should provide the right level of conditioning to help me meet my goal of completing the run in less than two hours.

First things first though … I have a 10K race to run this weekend!

An Amateur Mistake

amateur_001One of the joys of traveling is finding interesting new places to run. While I was away, I took the opportunity to substitute a sterile treadmill run in my local gym with a seafront dash back and forth along the beach in Juquehy, a little waterfront community located just outside of Sao Paulo. For some reason that still remains unknown to me, I decided to run barefoot. I guess I have never run along a beach before – and the thought never occurred to me that it might not be such a good idea. In the early mornings and late evenings there were plenty of people running along this idyllic stretch of sand, and a handful were even going forsaking footwear. However, it was only after completing the 4 miles back-and-forth that I fully understood why running shoes should always be worn.

Running on wet sand is in fact the equivalent to running on sandpaper. Throw in the lateral movements required to avoid the water and the variable grade of the beach thanks to tidal erosion, the feet and ankles take a significant amount of pressure throughout the session. About three miles into the run I felt the blister on the underside of my right big toe. By the time I was done, I had worn through multiple layers of skin under my toe and there was a significant stinging sensation.

I learned the hard way, always protect the feet by wearing socks and runners. I just hope this irritation heals in time for the upcoming run in Central Park.

Half-Marathon Training

half_training_001This is my training plan for the NYC Half-Marathon on March 18. I put this together after researching a number of different sources and approaches, primarily based on Hal Higdon’s half-marathon program for intermediate runners. Unlike the original version, I have allocated time for stretching every day and set specific cross training targets on Mondays and Thursdays. Typically, those cross training sessions involve cycling and swimming respectively. I believe that this plan will give me the gradual improvement in strength, stamina, and distance to allow me to comfortably complete the half-marathon in a good target time. As of right now, I am looking at a two hour target but may revise that down over time – depending on how I progress.

As the half-marathon takes place on a Sunday, all my long runs are scheduled for Sunday mornings. I believe consistency is key in preparation, and helps reduce the risk of injury. However, I deviate from that model in weeks two and six because I am taking part in organized races.

Entries highlighted in red are organized races – more information for those can be found on the race information page.

The Next Step

nextstep_001I upped my distance this week, covering five miles for most of my runs. I did a couple of five mile runs back in November, stretch goals while averaging four miles per session.

However, this most recent change was a concerted effort to take my training to the next level. I had been hitting my distance and time targets consistently and wanted to avoid getting too comfortable or reducing the effects of my runs. This was also a conscious effort to get my body used to covering longer distances ahead of the Kleinerman 10K on January 7th. I have never run that far before, so need to get a couple of longer runs in beforehand if I am going to last the distance and not come out the other side with any injuries. The next couple of weeks are also tricky, with Christmas and holiday travels throwing off my regular training schedule. It’s going to take a little more effort and motivation than usual to get some training runs between Christmas and New Years – testing my physical and mental strength abilities at the same time. So far there have been no ill effects, combined with my new stretching routine my body is taking less time to recover between runs.