Monday, April 28, 2008

Easy is hard. I never run the recovery pace recommended. I sneak up to the fast end of aerobic pace on most runs. It might be OK for base miles, but now that I'm running at least 20% of my miles at MP or faster, I need to go real slow.......on the recovery days. Yesterday I was in moderate pain for most of my 10.7 miles and thought today would be a URD. But I hit the treadmill and refused to go over 8:40 pace for ANY part of my 5 miles. Guess what? No pain, and a nice run.
It takes discipline to run slowly, particularly when you are around other runners and want to show your chops. But the body tells me that easy is important. Last year I wound up learning the hard way. Not today.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ernie and I------->
I just finished a 10.7 mile run. It was cold(34), windy, and worse yet, my left knee was hurting most of the way. It's days like this where I question whether I'm doing myself any good by running competitively. My pace was faster than planned, at around 7:50 most of the way, but the pain is unrelated to pace. It's easier on the TM, so it's most likely inpact related. I'm ready and willing to run higher miileage than the 55mpw I've been at, but I question whether my legs are able.

Anyway, I burned off the wonderful dinner our friends Ernie and Laura made for us. They had spent the month of April in Florida with their parents and the day they returned to Timmins had H and I over; they simply had to be around people their own age. I know that feeling. As a teacher I grew impatient with high school students; and now my senior relatives, sweet as some of them are, drive me into a catatonic stupor. My dear Mom and her computer questions take the cake!

Friday, April 25, 2008


One reason I post my daily workouts is to demonstrate the value of the hard/easy principle. Now it might appear that the easy days aren't all that easy, but the pacing is different. In particular, I begin the easy runs at a snail's pace and continue at approximately 8:30 pace until after 3 miles or so, at which point I start hitting 7:50-8:00. But only if it feels good.

Yesterday, I did an indoor tempo run at 6:20-6:40 pace. It took a lot out of me. I'd already run around 10 miles a day at a fair pace, and the fan in our room broke, so I was overheating. But after 21 minutes (3.2 miles) I went outside and ran an easy mile to cool off.

But today, after some soreness the first mile, I ran a nice easy 7.8 miles at 8:10/mile pace(excluding the first mile, which I never count for pace, unless I'm really fresh and warmed-up) and felt strong and smooth. Hard/easy is the key to recovery.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


When I began to train for my first marathon in 2002, I strapped on my radio walkman and listened to whatever stations I had programed into the thing. One Sunday, during a long run, I pushed the PBS button. No music. "Dang!" I thought. They often feature live concert rebroadcasts by the Minnesota Orchestra (I lived in the Twin Cities) which are perfect for running the lakes.

Rather, there was an interview with TV Guide columnist Joe Queenan. He discussed one of his books. In "Red Lobster, White Trash and the Blue Lagoon," he devotes an entire summer to finding the worst entertainment possible. Why did he feel the need? Because he couldn't believe how bad "Cats" was, and was impelled to seek out something worse. I won't tell you the outcome(though the title gives you food for thought), but I will tell you that the composer--and I use that term liberally--of Cats is Andrew Loyd Weber--the source of American Idol's songlist this week.

Now folks, I don't mean to offend any fans of ALW(I know you paid good money for those theater tickets last time in the NYC) but his music is at best, drab and plagiaristic. It's perfect fodder for the likes American Idol, looking to fill the gap between Dolly Parton week and Neil Diamond week next time. Seriously.

This show starts with 30,000 contestants, and eliminates one each week. This week it was the gal--Carly?--with the world's largest tattoo on her arm, who was at the voters' hindmost. Oh writers! Why must you strike? "Reality TV" has insinuated itself into our culture and I keep living in households where someone--not me-- has been snatched in its ruthless talons and I'm coerced into watching the bloodshed.

They're down to .....6? I don't really know. On line, I see discussions contemplating who will be the NEXT American Idol...I don't know who was the last. Often, it's a semantic banter over the meaning of "idol." Whatever. I just want to buy a big enough house so I can vanish when Michael Bolton week comes up.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Now that I'm running outside, I've got to keep my easy days easier. It's so natural for me to start at 8 minute pace and two miles later be going 7:20 or so. But my legs will never recover from the longer or faster runs at that pace. There are IT-band aches, periformis pains, knee problems, etc. at the beginning of each run. And they don't all go away once warmed up. So recovery runs are crucial.

Today, after nearly a week of running faster than planned on successive days, I forced myself to start at 9 minute pace, and take a walk break every 10 minutes for 30 seconds. Still, if you take away the walking time and first mile, the pace was 8 minutes for most of the run--less than a minute slower than MP. So I'm still working at getting the recovery pace down.

Tomorrow, I'll do a tempo run at HM pace. I wish I had more outdoor time to prepare for the 5/4 half marathon.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lots of my marathoning colleagues are taking on the time-honored course of Boston. It's something I aspired to my first year but still have yet to get around to doing. I wish them all good luck. The weather should be good--a big plus. This is the 5th straight year I've been qualified, but the travel expense and questionable weather has kept me away.

I might do it next year; I don't see myself running marathons much longer. So if I am able to qualify for next year and stay healthy I'd like to get out there.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

For the first time in 2008, I ran long today. Not too long, just 14 miles, but nonetheless, I had the "good sore" feeling after the run. As I've said in previous posts, I've been treadmill running all winter, weaning myself off over the last two weeks.
The result? Faster miles but some sore muscles and joints unused to the impact. Today's run was a good example. My overall pace was around 7:30/ mile for 11.6 miles, with the last 5 at around 7:05 pace, but I felt a twinge here, a pain there. All in all, however, it was not a hard effort and it give me confidence that I can build into some fast races soon. But I've got to stay off that treadmill and build up my tolerance to the pounding of street running.

The lawns here are sand colored and little is green, but at least it's warm out--57F--and the sun shines for us today. I'm planning on a half marathon in two weeks and again in 4 weeks. I'll be ready in four for two, we'll see. It's a 3.5 hour drive away. I'm itching to race, but it might just be smarter to wait for the ING Ottawa in mid-May. I'll see how the training goes.

Tomorrow, I'll trace many friend's Boston efforts. Good running to all!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Six miles in 44 minutes on the streets after 2 miles on the treadmill in 17 minutes. Except for the last two miles of the run I felt I was going at a nice easy aerobic pace. For me that would be 7:50/mile or so. But my measured "easy runs" are clocking between 6:50-7:40 pace. Yesterday I ran the last 10K of an "easy" run on hilly, gravelly streets at 7:20 pace. My legs feel it a bit, but I'm happy with the effortlessness of these near MP-pace runs.

Why am I running faster without trying? The treadmill I ran on all winter has a definite uphill pitch to it. So some of those 50 miles a week I sustained all winter were higher quality than I first thought. That also accounts for the difficulty adapting to the impact of asphalt. But after a summer of clocking sluggish training times on the Timmins streets last year, it's nice to see all of these faster times.

On Saturday I'll be running with a group of slower runners, but we'll go 10-12 miles. So I'll do my 20-minute tempo run first on the treadmill, then the long, easy run. It should help my threshold for the MH in 20 days.

Lesson: the treadmill has error margins that must be acknowledged...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Good News--My Treadmill Stinks!

Now that I'm running outdoors, I'm finding that my natural pace is nearly a minute/mile faster than what it felt to be on the infernal running machine.
Today, for example, I ran for 30 minutes at 8:20 pace on the tread, then went outside and ran with the same perceived effort. I went 6.35 miles in 44:45--more like 7:10 pace. And I had to slow several times due to poor footing. I'd be more skeptical of the outdoor routes, but I did them last year and they were accurate.
In Panama, the Gym's TMs seemed easier to keep a good pace on...bottom line--my treadmill is miscalibrated, and I spent the winter running faster and possibly longer than thought. Sweet! Last season, my back injury kept such a pall on running that going faster is a great relief. Sudberry HM here we come!

Monday, April 14, 2008

JIM RYUN: my childhood hero...

Jim redefined what it was to be a distance runner in the 1960s. He had crazy speed (47 on the 400) and an unsurpassed work ethic, even as a 16-year old HS student in Kansas. By the time he was 20 he held 3 world records (3:51.1; 1:44.9-880; the indoor 880) and had run HS times( 3:55-mile) that would take over 30 years to surpass.

He was a 1968 silver medalist and had good reason to feel cheated at Munich(1972), where he was tripped in a heat, and though he was the fastest miler in the world, never had the opportunity to run for the gold.

Beyond that, he was a good guy. He took the time to counsel me at length in 1974 at his running clinic, though he could have cold shouldered me in a heartbeat. For an hour we ran together, talking over running and goals outside of the track.
What is strange to me is to realize that even then, he was only 26 years old. He and his wife, Anne, were like parents to all of us HS distance runners. As a runner, I understood what it was to be humble after our chat. It was a valuable lesson; I left running for awhile, which was the right thing.

At 26, I was a grad student who had no clue what to do....At 26, he was a three-time Olympian with a tumultuous career behind him, trying to be certain we didn't repeat his mistakes. He'll always be a big part of my running.

I ran an easy 8.2 miles in under an hour! I don't have my pacing down yet. But it's nice to see some fast running when it's totally unplanned. I was trying to go at an easy pace in the rare Timmins sun. Tomorrow I'll go at Recovery pace....promise! Also I'm down to 157lbs....a good sign for next month's race...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Time keeps slipping by without my training shifting into pre-race mode. So today I did a tempo session after a 2 mile w/up, followed by a 2-mile cool down. Pace was around 6:30/mile, which I ran for 3.5 miles. This is around my LT pace. I felt so good afterwards, I posted the following on RW marathon training forum:What does it for you? We're always told that these magical mood elevators are connected to running. Any workout do it for you? Or is it just running in general?
For me, the tempo run, once completed, gives me a relaxed, hopeful, giddy feeling. I suspect being at threshold pace without battering the legs does the trick
How about you?
workout: 2 miles at 8:45
3.5 miles at 6:30
1 mile at 8:30

Friday, April 11, 2008

How stupid am I?

Today I ran 10.5 miles outside. I'm trying to run on the streets more than on the treadmill, and I'd planned a 10-plus miler this weekend.

But hey, why not today? My computer said 25 degrees out, but often those readings are an hour old. The wind was howling, but we live in a windy gulch where the wind often sounds worse than it is. The sky was gray, but it often brightens up in the mornings. Besides an inspector was supposed to check out something in our place, and I didn't particularly want to be around when readings were taken.

So, on went the thin running pants, the thin fleece over shirt, the thin gloves and my thin hat. Then, out I went on a there-and-back run. It's April right? How cold can it feel once the old engine is warmed-up? In Timmins, 25 degrees and windy is nothing compared with an average January day; on average January days, however, I ran on the treadmill rather than on a rural highway with no windbreaks and snow blowing like the backdrop for Dr. Zhivago.

At the 6-mile mark my fingers were losing feeling and the tears on my face were frozen. My ipod ceased working: something it does out of anger when it's feeling abused. But that's OK, I could no longer hold on to it anyway. I put it and the icy earphones away.

But it's APRIL! Right?...

Anyway, I finish up the 10.3 in around 1:22, which is good considering how slow I felt out there. So I get in the bathtub and start thawing out. KNOCK, KNOCK..."Inspector here!" Since I was indisposed he said he'd come back. 3.5 hours later, no inspector. I guess I fell to the bottom of the queue. The good news is that I'm thinking I'll get to keep my nose. It's warmed up to 27 with a chill around 10f. In three days it'll feel like spring again...Where is that cursed inspector, anyway?
workout 10.3 miles at 9:20 first 1.5 miles, 7:48 next 8.7

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Starting to Train:

Now that the streets of Timmins are clear of snow(I won't go so far as to say "clean") and I'm able to get in some longer runs, things are changing. Now, like any distance runner I'm able to run long outside. This weekend I'll probably go 12 miles or so on Saturday. This makes it possible to get in the proper variety of workouts.

All winter I ran 7.25 miles a day on the treadmill without exception. Some runs were faster than others, but there was little variation. Now, I can go easier on some days and longer on others. My body's nearly adjusted to running outside. It took nearly 10 outdoor runs to get to this point. But yesterday's 8-plus miler at sub 8:00speed outside followed by today's TM 7.5 miler with 4 at sub 7:00 pace gives me the confidence to start up with marathon training for the fall.

Now if it would just warm up a little...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I'm often humored by the preponderence of excuses you will hear runners make before their races. One weekend before a HM in Korea, there were 4 of us from the club at the start line...
Runner 1: "I've already run 55 miles this week."
Runner 2: " I hurt my knee playing soccer."
Runner 3: " I ate like a pig on my vacation last week in the USA and gained big weight."
Runner 4: (that's me) "I'm not in race shape" (because Runner 2--Korean-- did not understand English well enough to sign me for the 10K as asked, and I'd only run over 5 miles once in two months).
Sure enough, Runner 1 was the only one who ran well; non-tapering is NOT an excuse.

Last year, I ran a Half-Marathon after running only around 15 miles a week for 10 weeks due to a back injury that totally disabled me. I ran 10 minutes slower than I'd normally expect, but was happy to be able to run at all.

I hope this year I won't have any excuses except the same ones that effect everyone, like bad weather.

Today, I ran 8.5 miles outside without as much of the soreness I've talked about in earlier posts and kept a sub 8:00 pace after the first mile without any struggle. Just a little soreness. No excuses necessary...

Sunday, April 6, 2008


If any of you have ever spent a winter either cross-training or running on the treadmill exclusively, you might have gone through the muscle and joint pain I'm experiencing right now! Since November I've run around 1,000 miles on our treadmill and maybe 30 on the streets. Now that Spring is hear I'm paying for it.

What do I mean? Well, in the past week I've gone 32 miles on the wet streets of 50-degree Timmins and my legs feel like they belong in a trauma unit. It's slowly getting better, but my runs still remind me of the last 6.2 of my last marathon. I was wincing the whole way. But that's what Ibu was invented for...Rather than fantasising about a cool Gatorade and a Cliff bar, I'm seeing the plastic Advil container and those brown 400mg pills. I wonder if our neighbor's black lab is going through this? It was a long winter.

Friday, April 4, 2008

For the first time in months, I ran outdoors in the Spring air of Timmins. It was 50 degrees and the sound of melting snow cascading into street drains pervaded the air. The bluish sky gave color to the houses, cars and even snowbanks that had all been a sepia mixture of deadened earth tones for so long a time. In truth, I forgot about much of the life that exists up here.

It's a good thing I ran around 20 of my miles in the heat of Panama last week. My quads are going to need some time adjusting to asphalt. I'd say, treadmill running is close to real running, but it's not real running in terms of muscle group demands.

I went around 7 miles, though I don't really know precicely since I was playing "dodge the icy streets" during parts of the run. People are out now...Dogs are walking with their masters who smile at me. The playlists on the ipod sound as if I'm hearing the songs with fresh ears.
Tomorrow, I think I'll go outside again...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Treadmill Withdrawls...

Last week, I had a chance to run on the terra firma of Panama. It was hot out, of course, and the roads felt different than the treadmill I've been training on all winter. Though I really didn't know my exact pace, I felt the runs in a big way after a couple of days. My quads were burning the way they do after a marathon. So I had some DOMS as the mere result of running on streets.

It was the first time as a runner that I ran so many consecutive days on the treadmill, so I anticipated some readjustment to outdoor running. But that was harsh! Now that it's April I'll start running outdoors here in Timmins, though there's still a 30-inch snow cover on the ground as of today. Besides, I don't want to lose my tan! But it'll take some time to transition from the TM to the great outdoors.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

This little guy came onto our boat...

I just got back from Panama....

I'm so tired! It took Mrs. Ronster and I 2 1/2 days to make the trip home. One day for the 6-hour flight from Panama City to Toronto; one day to get from Toronto to the closed roads north of Kirkland Lake, where we get one of the few rooms left in town. And today, on April 2nd, we drove the last 2 1/2 hour stretch on the snowy highway back to Timmins, which is still as snow covered as it was in January.

But the temps are warmer and I'll be on the roads soon.

Here's a preliminary pic from Panama...