Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year in Running and Looking Ahead

It's time for the end of year blog post. The running year was mostly successful. I began it with a very simple goal: run a solid marathon after two regrettable ones in Delaware and Indy. Training in the winter months went well enough, and I ran what I think was a great Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. Over a tough course, I did a 3:11 and stayed solid through most of the race. That gave me confidence to turn my thoughts back to 2:59. I don't know why running under three hours is so important to me. It's an arbitrary number. I've run 3:01 -- what the difference. But then goals are like that. We set out to do something because we can. The many weeks of the Pfitizinger program were the hardest running I've ever done. I never thought I'd do 70-mile weeks. Running truly became second nature to me. As much as I'd grumble sometimes getting up early to run 14 or 15 miles before work, I'd love it. The solitude, the weariness, everything. It left me in great shape, even allowing me to run my best half marathon in 1:24. Of course, I didn't run my sub 3 marathon because of the Achilles injury. This was the disappointment of the year. It's not something I've dwelt on too much. I don't regret anything. The months of hard training were their own reward. Races are just races. The last month or so has been all about recovery.

So what about 2009? Right now, I just want to get my Achilles healthy. My original thought was to run a marathon in Florida this winter. That's not going to happen. I might also skip Boston this spring. I want to diversify my exercise a bit. Still, I'm a runner. I have many running goals that remain unaccomplished. In 2009, I will run a sub 3 marathon. I was in shape to run a 2:55 easily this fall. I learned a lot from my injury. It will be easier to know when to back off in the training. So that's it. I toyed with the idea of running every day before realizing that's a bad move. Ultras still intrigue me, but they can wait.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Recovery is hard. Don't get me wrong, it's much better than not running at all. The hardest part is knowing how much to do and how hard to go. My instinct has always been to run harder uphill. That doesn't work sometimes. I decided against seeking a medical opinion of my Achilles. It seems clear to me I have a classic overuse injury that needs time to heal. Total rest wasn't doing it for me, though. I spent most of six weeks not running much at all. Last week, I took a page from Dr. Pribut and started running regularly again. At this point, I'm up to 4.5 miles at a pace around 8 minutes per mile. I ran the last five days, although once was only a mile after I had too many beers and got excited by the Eagles game. Am I going to long or too hard? I don't know. I go by feel, yet hold myself back from going as hard as I'd like. It feels strange to finish runs not very tired. Whereas I missed running before, I now miss feeling spent. As a diversion -- and under, ahem, encouragement -- I'm diversifying into strength training. First up is the very popular 100 pushup challenge. I haven't technically begun the program just yet. I can do 30 pushups in a row, sometimes 35. Yeah, that sucks, but I'm a runner not a lifter. It seems like I can get to 100 pushups in 3-4 weeks. This is a prelude to my big step: joining a gym. I've never belonged to one of those god-forsaken chambers. The frontrunners are Crunch and New York Health and Racquet, both of which offer a corporate discount. Let me know any input. I like NYHRC because it has a pool at the Upper West Side location.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Starting Over

All runners go through the same stuff, from the very fastest to the most plodding. There's a certain kinship because of that. I'm getting in touch with the casual runner set. For the past few weeks, I've started over, running about 3.5 miles a couple times a week. I run slowly, about 8:15-8:30 per mile, often around the Reservoir. My Achilles is better, but it's not fully healed. My fitness has mostly evaporated too. It's hard to believe that a couple months ago I'd run 15 miles before work and did a 1:24 half marathon. That's how it goes, though, and I've grown to appreciate every run. There are times you grow complacent and don't appreciate how incredible it is to have something. I miss running the way I want to run.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nike Blows Recall

As some might recall, I had major problems with the Nike+ Sportband. It wasn't accurate, then simply stopped working when I wore it in the rain. Turns out I wasn't the only one having problems. Nike last month recalled the Sportband, or as Businessweek's headline calls a "faulty running tool." The problem: moisture gets into the display and busts it. Looks like I can get my $59 back, unlike those who suffered through The Human Race. Here's my problem: let's say I hear about this recall. What would I do? I plugged Nike+ Sportband into Google. I got a link to the Nike site. I expected to find the recall notice and explanation there. Nope. Instead, I'm just directed to a page for another (apparenlty functioning) Nike product, the Inspector Gadget-sounding Nike+iPod WatchRemote. That's kinda crap. I'm searching for one product that's been recalled, and Nike swaps in another product it wants to sell. Nike made a big point of telling BusinessWeek this is a "voluntary recall," yet it's not making it very easy for poeple that got this shitty product to find out Nike knows it's shitty. (It's paying for a Google ad, but it directs to its main e-comerce page, not recall details.) Yet again, we have the image versus reality problem rearing its head.


I went two weeks without running. It sucked. I've written before how running has to become like brushing your teeth. The trouble is, can you imagine not brushing your teeth? Hopefully not. Going from 70 miles a week to 0 is not something I'd suggest. The last few weeks were hard. On Friday, I'd had enough. I laced up my shoes, pulled on my cold-weather clothes and set out for Central Park. My first steps were tentative. It was all so familiar, yet at the same time I was tentative. My idea run for a half hour at an easy pace, probably about 8:15 per mile. My route was to Central Park and around the Reservoir. The soft, flat surface of the Reservoir seemed like just what I needed. About 30 minutes later, I was finished. My initial feeling: relief. I missed running. Even going just a few miles at a pace I'd consider excruciating just a month ago was great. The next day, I didn't have much soreness. I went back out for another 3.5 miles today. Now the Achilles is a bit sore. This is probably going to be a bit by bit thing. The key will be running enough to get some blood flowing, but not too much that I just perpetuate the problem. It's crazy when I think back to how hard I was training not that long ago. That's how things go sometimes. Setbacks are inevitable but temporary.

3.5 miles, 30:28