Retiring. Or, one last thing: the trials and joys of running in Florida

Hi there!

I disappeared off the reader for a few months, and I’m sorry about that. I just didn’t have a lot to write since the marathon in April, and even if I could have updated about my running, I sort of lost the motivation for this kind of blogging, what with virtual running teams and online running logs/social media sites abounding. There are so many other running blogs out there, far superior to mine, and I’ve decided it’s probably for the best that I retire the blog.

If there’s one of you who will actually miss my rather sweaty navel-gazing, I may post occasionally about running on my main channel.  Also, most likely in a few years when I start another running journey  (like training for an ultramarathon?), I’ll bring the blog out of retirement. Who knows?

At any rate, to take the bitter out of the sweet, I’ve collected a list of observations/tips about running in south Florida that you may appreciate. Some of these may be true for anywhere, but only all of them are true for Florida.

  1. Running outside in the summer (i.e. April to October) is hard. It’s either too humid before the sun comes up or too hot and sunny when the sun comes out. Pick your poison.
  2. Running outside in winter is awesome. However, on the two days it goes sub-40, one still shouldn’t forget the long pants, long sleeves and the gloves. It may not happen a lot, but the body still doesn’t like it.
  3. One can never make a mistake putting on sunscreen during any hour in the day. Even if it’s overcast, it could be sunny a few miles down the road.
  4. If it’s raining, it’s not always pouring. But if it’s pouring, it’s much harder to have a fun run.
  5. In the summer, one can almost set the clock by the afternoon thunder storm.
  6. The break in the humidity after said storms is over far too quickly.
  7. One needs to lower one’s expectations for speed sessions and races in the summer. At the same time, even if it’s not so bad on a particular day, the possible humidity is always a great excuse.
  8. Matching up race seasons to races in the rest of the nation is a curse for the cross country runner. It does make the out-of-state races that much more fun, though.
    I just realized 1-8 are all about the weather. Woops.
  9. There are very few natural hills here. On the other hand, there are an abundance of golf course mounds, overpasses and bridges. No excuses for that hill training!
  10. Run against traffic. Florida has one of the highest fatality rates for pedestrians in any state, with Miami-Dade and Broward having some of the highest in any county. One of the best ways to avoid being road-kill is to run against the traffic to move out of the way of oncoming traffic and stop in-time, if need be.
  11. and as a final note that’s both weather and non-weather related: It’s imperative to have a good water belt or hydration pack and/or know where the public water fountains are. The humidity means one loses a lot of water, and on the main streets, it’s pretty difficult to find water fountains. And parks often don’t open before dawn. I’ve been tempted to knock on random people’s doors before because of this.
  12. There is always the slight possibility that that log floating in the canal is not a log at all.
    alligator-1286215_960_720

And that’s it! Did I miss anything? Am I wrong about this all only being true for Florida? The list ended up being much less entertaining than I intended, but I guess there’s a reason I’m putting this one out to pasture!

Still, may the roads rise up to meet you and the wind be ever at your back.
Run strong and stay healthy,
Dorothea

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Running Log: August 16-27

August 16-27

Ha ha. I thought I’d get around to collecting my thoughts about the summer in Germany and blog about it, but look, it’s already time for another recap on running.

I’m consistently getting closer to regular 6 miles. I haven’t done more than an eight mile run in over five months, but I’m getting closer to the point where I’ll try an 8-10 miler (maybe even next weekend?!). These past three weeks I’ve averaged around 20 miles as well and run more days in a row.

I obviously didn’t run on the day I flew back to the US, but I ran the four days after that and kept the runs shorter and comfortable (I was woefully reminded of what running in sub-tropic climates in the summer feels like). I managed to get a cold (probably from sitting around too long in air-conditioning in sweaty clothes). Still, I felt ready for an interval session on Friday, so after rearing myself in after a fast warm-up mile, went for 3 x 800s with .2 mile recoveries. The humidity of South Florida is not to be underestimated, though. I found the 3 were enough and couldn’t get under 3:16. But it’s a good baseline for September running in Florida and training in these conditions will prepare me for the cooler, drier fall in Berlin when I head back.

Hope everyone is running/recovering well and that Harvey doesn’t leave too large a trail of destruction. Stay safe!

 

Update on Feb 15-April 2nd: That time I tried a streak and failed

Hello readers!

It’s been a long time… and while I thought it was necessary to take this break from blogging, it didn’t actually make me more productive and interesting in “real life.” Frankly, I can’t think of a single moment where I did something where I said “wow, this would be cool to blog about.”Maybe that just goes to show that our lives are worth living whether we blog about them or not- or something. Still, I did find it a relief for the first few weeks after the marathon to not be accountable for blogging about my running life. Now though, I miss it again (and the interaction with you!) and feel it is time to return.

What do I have to report? Besides a few notes about my stupidity, not much.

 

run update feb through april

The marathon, as we saw, was a good one/run. I’m still tickled pink by the great improvement on my previous PR and being able to see what level I’m at. I know I want to be faster, eventually, but for now I haven’t felt the urge to better that run. I don’t feel like I have to prove something or avenge a bad run. It was an awesome race.

I still had the post-race blues though, through which I got with some heart-to-hearts with my family, an Epsom salt bath, foam rolling, and some new things to read. Then, once the post-race soreness was gone, I decided to go for a few easy runs. Those felt good, and for some reason, I thought I was ready to attempt a new run streak. My previous one in fall of 2014 (which left me with plantar fasciitis) was 61 (or 62, can’t remember, though I could probably look it up, but that seems like more effort than typing these few words) days. I felt that the last months of the semester before going abroad for vacation and more school was a good time to try it again. It started off well, and I felt good. A lot of doubles (two-a-days), and I was feeling motivated about strapping my shoes on and just lurching out the door. I ran watchless and musicless for four weeks, and it all felt so natural and free.

Then, I got over confident about my abilities, forgot to think about long-term fatigue and lack of rest days, and went out for back-to-back mid-distance runs, or went too hard two days in a row.

My mind was telling me that I couldn’t hold it up the way that I was going, that I should take a rest day and prevent an overuse injury, but my heart was saying “I’m strong, just as strong as many of those out there who do extreme ultra running (think Appalachian Trail runs). If they can do that, why can’t I handle running every day 1-10 miles?”

It came to the point that I was listening more to my ambition about the number on my “streak” log than the pain on the outside of my knee or heels of my feet. My runs got slower and slower, and I woke up with pain every morning that I manically tried to roll out with the foam roller and ease out with stretches 30-40 minutes a day. But what finally made me realize I was being stupid is when the runs stopped being enjoyable. I was running to keep the streak alive, not myself. That was foolish and so one Thursday, I just ignored my inner-voice telling me to go out, and the streak was broken.

Since then, I’ve eased off running for a bit again. I took a longer break than I did post-marathon and am slowly making it back into the 25+ mpweek range. My runs have felt better again, and I’m enjoying it again. I do run occasionally with my watch to see where my fitness is at, but I’m not afraid to run without it if I know the route I’m taking.

I have decided that I maybe didn’t take enough time off after the marathon, feeling pressured by some of my awesome running friends who run within 24 hours of their marathons. I thought taking three days off was already being a wimp, when really, I could easily have taken a week off, at least.

I have also decided that I don’t work well without a plan. The streak was fun because I didn’t have to think about whether or not I would run. I just ran what I felt like and pulled off some pretty great mileage because of it. But going from marathon week to 12 to 35 to 47 miles was stupid, for me. Also, I like planning out my hard and easy efforts during the week, and allowing myself the time to rest so that my hard efforts can be kick-ass. With my streak and without a plan, I was too easily drawn into the myth that I could handle two hard efforts in a row, take day easy, and then do it again. There’s a reason most running plans cycle easy, hard, and long runs, and I should have tried my streak with that in mind, or not at all.

So, lesson well learned. If I ever do attempt a streak again, I will do it with a plan in mind of following what has become my natural push and rest cycle. The light-tempo, interval or tempo, easy, rest or easy, easy, long run, rest cycle of runs works for me, so I should just stick to it.

Because of how the last two weeks went, I decided not to sign-up for the 10K that was supposed to happen today in my area, but I did do a pretty sweet 10-mile run at 7:35 overall pace yesterday, which felt darn good. I know I could have gone faster, so I’m motivated to keep working on my running in a smart way to be prepared for some summer races.

I like having my running, because sometimes it’s the only thing I feel like I’m marginally good at, and it helps distract me from failures I experience in academia or life. I turn 25 on Tuesday (quarter-life crises, I hear, are a thing). I’m figuring out what I’m going to do next year, how I’ll finance it and support myself, and whether I can rise up to the expectations I have for myself, and it’s good to have running to get my mind and body in the space to think these things through and remain positive. A running life really is a good life, so I’m glad I stopped the streak when I did to avoid a long-term injury (even if plantar fasciitis symptoms can be pesky).

Hope things are good on your end! I’ve been following blogs as well as I can this semester, so I know there are a few awesome races coming up that I can’t wait to read about!

Taking a Break- Trying something else

After yesterday’s race, I put my head into gear for thinking about what to do during the rest of this month. A lot of my considerations come from the fact that I don’t know what races I’ll be doing anytime soon (unless it’s a half-marathon in December). Since I am going away to Hamburg and entering a different university system in a different country, I don’t know what to be prepared for in regards to being involved with sports. Do they have a running club that helps fund my races in the city? Will I find some races to do there? Will I find the time to run consistently there? Ah! Kidding about the last one. Unless I’m injured, I’m always a consistent runner. What I can’t be sure about is whether I would rather play soccer every evening and whether I’ll try to weather the unusual (for me) cold and winter rain or just hop on a treadmill. 

These considerations aside, I know that I need to back off a lot on my blogging about running. I’ve been using this as an outlet to feel productive, when in reality I’m procrastinating on preparing for my MA oral comprehensive exam (and packing!). I also lost more time than necessary in preparing for yesterday’s race. While I want to continue running, I don’t need to run to the extent that I was… not that it was terribly much. And I can do less writing about it and move it to the back of the line as far as priorities go. I should be blogging more on my reading blog. So this post is a way to plan what I’ll be doing for the next month so that I don’t have to think about it (or blog about it) anymore. 

Consider this chart of the past weeks:

My home page on my runner's world training calculator. (I know it's not the best online logger... but it's my oldest running log....)

My home page on my runner’s world training calculator. (I know it’s not the best online logger… but it’s my oldest running log….)

I haven’t really been doing high mileage weeks since my last injury (ITBS) a year ago. Then, I was doing 55-60 mpw that, compounded by some foolish timing of certain workouts, led to injury. 

However, now that my 5K ambition has been appeased for now, my ambitious self wants to consider training for a marathon again, and to do that I need to build a super-solid base. Now is a good time for it, because it means I have to do less fancy training and just worry about getting mileage in. The past two marathons I wanted to run were waylaid by injuries brought on by increasing distances too soon and intensity too fast. This time, I want to be patient and smart and just start building up my mileage each week with a drop (15-20% less of mileage) every fourth week. The best way to do this, I think, is to just go out and run 5.something miles each day, have a long run on the weekend and let that run make up the distance I need to be able to complete the mileage for the week. Sunday will be rest day. I’ll do weight-lifting every other day to get my core and arm muscles back into shape for longer distances–and everything that MYABR! 

The schedule will look like this:

September 8-13: 38 miles

September 15-20: 41 miles

September 22-27: 45 miles

September 29-Oct. 4: whatever I accomplish in my crazy week of exams and first days abroad! 

I’m going to return to my old habits of running in the morning and getting the run over with. That way I can use the rest of the day to study, something I desperately need to do. 

So, if you don’t see me for a while, don’t worry. I’ll be back- especially to post about how running around Hamburg will be! 

Have a good month. 

Intervals, doubles, and rest days

I haven’t been very good at keeping up my blog, but I’ve been having good running weeks–enough to think that going to the race next Saturday is a good idea after all! My mileage is staying consistently at or below 35 miles per week, which doesn’t sound like a lot (and it’s not, if we’re talking marathon training), but it’s good for 5K race-prep, and the workouts I’ve been doing are definitely more intense than I would be doing during marathon training. 

I stupidly ran around 1300 last Sunday, which as anyone can tell you is the hottest part of the day. Combine Florida heat with Florida humidity and an 11 mile run, and you can start imagining the state I was in at the end. I basically had to peel my running shirt off over my head. 

funny-wet-cats-1

Now, imagine something even less attractive and more sun-dazzled, and that was me.

As if that experience wasn’t enough to convince me, this week I did my two heavy tempo/intervals runs around noon as well, and ended up hanging my clothes outside before I got into the house. I had to brace for the cold air-conditioning each time too, and it doesn’t sound as pleasant as it sounds. 

Daily Weather History & Observations- What I’ve had to run through (looking at the range between the avg and the high, since I usually ran around noon or 1300): 

2014

Temp. (°F)

Humidity (%)

Aug

high

avg

low

high

avg

low

24

93

86

80

85

67

52

25

93

87

81

88

74

59

26

91

88

84

67

62

52

27

91

85

79

74

62

53

28

90

86

82

76

69

63

29

93

86

82

79

67

55

30

93

86

81

77

66

55

So, on Sunday, I rounded out the week with an 11.3 mile run. Monday was a rest day on which I really just walked a bit around my home-university’s campus. Tuesday was tempo interval day, but I skipped it and did a light run instead (sometimes this happens before TOM). I just wasn’t feeling up to it by the time I got around to it at 1700. I also didn’t want to do a hard workout so late in the afternoon and have trouble sleeping. But Wednesday, I had all day and after a carb-heavy breakfast decided to do that tempo workout. According to the plan I pilfered from my college running coach, I was set for 3 x 10 minutes at tempo pace with 2 min. jog recovery that I turned into 4 min.s. Woops. No wonder I was able to keep the pace at or above 7.8 mph consistently. Part of that also had to do with the fact that I was on the treadmill at the gym and had air-conditioning, albeit a struggling, weak fanning system. I reverted to some old habits that I picked up last year during training, and that was to make my run to the gym my warm-up and the run home the cool-down. This meant that I could use the interval setting on the treadmill to complete the actual workout with water and sweat-absorbing towels nearby. I picked up this habit because I didn’t have a GPS watch then, but now that I have my TomTomRunner, I can do intervals anywhere. Problem is, in the early afternoon in south Florida one wants to be nowhere outside… Being inside for part of the run, even though I ended up soaked through by the end anyway, at least enabled me to get in 4 miles for warm-up and cool-down and complete 5.4 miles for the tempo intervals. 

The tempo workout Wednesday was good, followed by a solid easy run on Thursday. Friday was interval day and because I was lazy and it really was TOM, I ended up not motivating myself to go out until half past noon again. But I did the same thing I did Wednesday, where I ran to the gym and did my drills and intervals there. The workout this time called for 20 x 45 secs FAST with 1:15 minute jog recovery. I initially set my run pace for 9.0 mph and my jog pace for 6.1 mph, but found myself upping the pace each intervals because it felt too easy. After a quick water break halfway through, I set the pace for 9.5 mph. It was definitely harder, but bumping it up every so often to 10 mph made me feel like a bad-ass. 

picture wtfcontent BADASS

Any run where I have witnesses to how hard I push myself makes me feel like a badass. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy running on a treadmill at the gym.

Of course, I am aware of the critique of running on treadmills for regular training runs and high-intensity runs, and I also know that it’s not a habit I want to develop again. The constant changes in speed without the natural speed-up, slow-down can be damaging long-term to muscles and bones. I also know that the speeds I run on the treadmill, especially short-term for 45 seconds, are not actual representations of what I can run on the road (as in, I probably would not have run that fast, heat and humidity aside). The treadmill’s belt works in a constant forward-pulling motion on my feet, meaning I use less energy to propel myself forward when I propel myself off the ground. I’m aware of that. Still, I enjoy my treadmill intervals sometimes because it helps break up what is otherwise a very long run. Friday’s run ended up at just under 10 miles, and then I did doubles after a break for lunch. Total for Friday was 12.1 miles… and so as you can see, this is how 5K training differs significantly from longer distance training. Basically, the interval and tempo runs days are longer days, since the training is designed to make you prepared for more intense speed rather than enduring speed. I see it as something that MYABR. 

So after Friday, which I wasn’t horribly beat-up after (a positive development in my training), I had a cross-training day by working in the garden all day (trimming trees and hedges, pulling weeds, raking, and carrying bags to the curb). I don’t know if gardening quite counts as cross-training, but I was using more core and arm muscles than in running, and it was less anaerobic. Plus, it got my heart going a few times and I got to get all sweaty and dirty. :-) 

Today, Sunday, I may go out for a run 6 miles or less. It really depends on how into my work I get. Hope everyone had a good week! 

To race or not to race… Hey!

I can’t decide if I want to race next weekend (not this weekend, but the first of the month). But before I get into whether or not I should do it, let’s back-track a bit to the days where I raced every week and sometimes twice a week: high school cross country.

you know you’re a 90s kid when someone yells at you “run, Forrest, run” and you know what they’re referring to. We don’t have to backtrack that far now…

During high school, all the self-discipline I needed was to change into my running clothes (consisting of a cotton t-shirt and soccer shorts… I didn’t get fancy [or smart/cotton in Florida?] until college) and make it over to the cross country coach’s classroom. There were coolers with water and Gatorade, a group of running buddies, and a coach with a plan waiting for me. Now, I have to organize the times I run, the workouts I run, and I am almost always solo unless my brother deigns to join me. During high school, I also got to run races for free. I didn’t have to worry about the funds to pay registration fees or figure out ways to get to the races and pay for said gas. I had it made, as a runner. Now, on my TA funds (most of which go towards fueling myself for running), I find it hard to regularly sign up for a race.

Imagine how much money I would save if I quit running… all that food, laundry, running shoe material

Also, I have other things to worry about, like priorities. I had priorities in high school too, like getting good grades, hanging out with friends, having a boyfriend, but I also had a set amount of time to train every day and I needed surprisingly little sleep (though, based on my later results, that’s probably not true).

Now, my academic and social responsibilities require more work and more time. My responsibilities to my family are especially increased, and I am less likely to pop-off on a weekend morning to disappear for hours at a time. So, I am less likely to sign-up for a race because I feel that I am less likely to train for one or make it to the race. Take the last race for example, the Berlin City-Nacht 10K; I had to miss it… two months training out the window.

Therefore, in light of all the obstacles, I don’t know whether I should register for the race in question that’s coming up. Some factors that come into the decision are the fact that I’ve had a nagging plantar fasciitis issue and that I am preparing for MA exams that make it more likely for me to blow off a training run (like the one I’m avoiding for today).

I need to go for a run today… eh

I also don’t know if I’m prepared for this run. I have about four weeks of 30+ mileage weeks and the starts of cross country training. But I also haven’t been running very fast, and I won’t be able to train this weekend properly.

But now comes the fun part. What do you all think? I have 25 dollars that may or may not go towards the peanut butter fund.

Once a Runner

Today, I am going to guest post from my other site, the wanderwolfreading one, and then add a few thoughts about the purely runner aspects of it. As always, I’m afraid to ask too much of my readers who are not interested in running. You can read my mostly non-runner thoughts on John L. Parker, Jr.’s Once a Runner here.

This is the original 1978 cover of the novel. It’s a lot like I looked as a collegiate runner, obviously. The room, shoes, and shorts, at least, look familiar.

I  encourage readers to judge for themselves and to take a look at this book. I bought Once a Runner for less than five dollars on Amazon, and it is a book I don’t mind keeping on my shelf for a very long time.

However, one matter that disturbed me was how Parker, Jr. distinguished his “runners” from a large population that considers themselves runners. Often, Parker, Jr. refers to them as joggers, or “plump, determined-looking women slogging along while fleshy knees quivered.” On the one hand, Quenton Cassidy (the main character) considers himself and other collegiate runners as a league of their own. On the other hand, he does things and thinks in ways that many other people do who are not of the same physical caliber, but of the same heart.

But perhaps that is the distinction Parker, Jr. wants to make. There is a difference between a collegiate runner who runs as a side-project on the way to getting his or her degree, and someone who is hungry for a record, someone who wants to be the very best (cue in Pokemon). Seriously, I think it is powerful the way Parker, Jr. examines the curse of the runner in the world of accomplished people, that is that the runner competes not only against those that are existing at his or her race or during his or her time, but that s/he must fight against black on white that exists throughout the ages and is brutally budging. I see myself falling into the trap of being satisfied with winning races and beating the soccer mothers or skinny-obsessed women at road races, but part of me still yearns for the run that will be my best yet, where my 21:15 5K becomes sub-21, or even sub-20. I fight against anything that takes me away from fully focusing on my training, but at the same time, I am not fully committed to giving everything up for my dream. I admire the way Cassidy drops out of school to train intensely for his dream, but he was also much more talented to begin with.

So, I guess what I am trying to write is that while I admire Cassidy and I think the story is great, the novel good, I also think it is a bit uncomfortable for someone who is almost a runner to read Once a Runner. It makes me doubt myself as a runner. While I am in many ways like Cassidy, I too obey the Calendar God, see training as the butter of my competitive nature, need the friendly competitive camaraderie of a team to feel happy as trained by four years of high school running and one semester of collegiate (long story-short: went to 4-year non-NCAA college, had only one year of competition eligibility left when going to grad-school, couldn’t handle cross country, MA studies, AND being a graduate teaching assistant who actually taught two classes…), I don’t compete at his level. His life is my day-dream and motivation to run sometimes, but I won’t ever be at that level… be it lack of talent, lack of full commitment, whatever. At the same time… I am forced to wonder if I could be at his level if I tried hard enough, ran enough miles, but I may be hopelessly hoping.

My thoughts. Hope you enjoyed them and that if you haven’t read the book yet, you do so!

Workout 8/5 or Return to Florida

I have some other posts I need to finish editing and publish, but in the meantime, consider my run from this morning:

It was humid, warm, and generally ugh. But I did it because otherwise I would find it harder and harder to get back into running here.

I found the low elevation and lack of hills made running easier, but the run was still difficult because it felt like I was gulping in water with every breath. At least I benefited from jet lag that made running at 6 AM feel like min-afternoon.

Workout: 2 X 9 minutes at tempo pace with 2 minute rests. I completed a twenty minute warm-up and an 18 minute cool down. Tempo pace for me lies around 7:30 minutes per mile (mpm), but somehow I thought I wanted to do 7 mpm, so I ended up going between 6:45 and 7:25 mpm. There was some walking in between and rests.

All told, 6.98 miles at 59 minutes of running. 2 pounds of sweat loss.

Oh how I enjoyed my shower after breakfast.