Saturday, March 28, 2009

Not Boring

The non-runner people often say running is boring. I don't understand this. Part of me thinks they're not interesting people because being alone with your thoughts for a long period of time is pretty fascinating. But it's also a great way to get out and about and see cool stuff. This is particularly true in urban settings. I went on a long run today that took me from 100th Street on the Upper West Side down to Battery Park. There were so many people out and so many things to see and hear. (Another reason not to wear an iPod.) The best was down in Battery Park, where I ran by a couple out for walk. This is the only snippet I picked up from their conversation.

Guy to well-endowed girlfriend: "They're big if they jiggle. They jiggle."

15 miles, 2:01:09

Thursday, March 26, 2009


These are tough times. People are losing their jobs and dealing with serious personal financial problems. It's not fun. It's also not going away overnight. I don't mean that in a pessimistic way. An important lesson running teaches is realism. You can't wish away the hard stuff. The way to deal with the inevitable pain of training hard and running long distances is to accept it as real, yet at the same time recognize it won't kill you and can be overcome. It is, in short, about persistence. This is a theme Obama keeps returning too, smartly I think. He had this to say today:
I'm under no illusions that a better day will come about quickly or easily. It's going to be hard. But as I said the other night at my press conference, I'm a big believer in the idea of persistence -- the idea that when the American people put their mind to something and keep at it, without giving up, without turning back, no obstacle can stand in our way, and no dream is beyond our reach.
That's it. Lots of people want to know the secret to running well, or accomplishing a certain goal, whether it's a 10k race, a marathon or even a triathlon. I think it's quite simple: persistence. Keep at it, day in and day out, be consistent and realistic but always hopeful.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Running + Simplicity

I got home from work tonight a little before 8pm. It was cold for late March, I'd worked a pretty long day and I'd already worked out the past six days. Still, I went out for a run. Thanks to my injury and the tri training, I haven't run much. In some ways it's been a nice break. Learning new activities is interesting, as is seeing if my fitness translates. My running has suffered. That's OK. I'm still not healed. I expected little from tonight's run. It started bad. The wind was really strong and stung my legs and face. I felt a little tired. But then, when I hit the dirt trails in Riverside for the first time in months, I fell back into it. For whatever reason, I got one of those runs that feels wonderful, clicking off the miles while the mind wanders. It had been a long time since I'd lost myself in a run, but it reminded me what's great about running.

I miss that core simplicity to running. I got home, put on shorts, a shirt and shoes, got my keys and watch and went. I like that. Yes, it's possible to get caught up in the different training regimens, VO2 max levels, lactate threshhold intervals and the rest of it, but at it's core, running is simple. You get out of it, whether that's a PR, losing weight or decreasing stress, what you put in. I firmly believe that.

With the triathlon, I'm facing something a little different. Just getting a bike is a chore. I've learned about carbon forks, shimano, tiagra, brick workouts, etc. The training book I bought looks a lot like a physics textbook. Scheduling workouts to an ironclad schedule seems pretty necessary. I need to plan ahead workouts with what I pack for work. That part of it can be a drag. The tri is many things, simple is not one of them.

Then there's the tri type and the running type. When I see the tri guys work out in Central Park, I see Type A people. Cyclists during a hard workout just look aggressive. They travel in packs and can even yell at people. You don't get that with distance running. It attracts the introspective types that relish the crucible of the lonely long run. I'm looking forward to the rest of training, but I'm pretty certain I don't want to trade being a runner for being a triathlete.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tri Update

Wow. It's been nearly a month since I've updated. No excuses, just lazy. I'm getting used to a different kind of training. So far, I'm finding it mentally and physically easier. On the mental side, there's so much variety that there isn't burn out. I'd get up sometimes this summer, ready for a 14 mile run and just dread it. Getting out of the apartment was hard. Running hard six times a week, week in and week out, that's tough. Now, I'm bouncing from different things. It makes each workout seem somewhat new. It helps I'm learning new sports -- and seeing improvement. On the physical side, there's less wear and tear. This is the main reason I'm giving the triathlon a go. My body needs some time off the pounding of the road. Swimming and cycling are exhausting, but there's no lingering aftereffects.

I'm happy with how training has gone so far. I'm doing six workouts a week on average. I do each discipline twice. Maybe I'll increase that as I get really into the training. For now, it works. I can live a semi-normal life and still get in a bunch of workouts. Today I registered for the tri: The New Jersey State Triathlon on July 26. I'm doing the Olympic Distance. That leaves me about 17 weeks or so. Plenty of time. My progress report:

Running: Only going out twice a week is strange. I've definitely lost some running fitness. My body just isn't in a groove. What I noticed about hard training in running is how I'd get my body almost used to the pounding. I'd have some of my best workouts after five straight days running. With only a couple times out there a week, it's more like starting over each time. This week I did 17 miles, a 6 miler and an 11. Last week, I ran 22 miles. As I cycle more, I'm sure I'll start to curtail the long runs. Running won't be my problem in the race. It's the other stuff I need to figure out.

Swimming: Getting back in the pool has been great. I can feel myself getting stronger. The first couple times, I wondered what the hell was going on. Things ached that only got sore when I'd move apartments. As time has gone by, the workouts are more manageable. My latest thing is to swim ladders, starting with a 25, then 50, 75 and so on up to 200, then going back down again. With a 100 warmup and cool down, that's a 2000-yard workout, about right for me at this point. This week I swam 4,000 yards. Last week, I went 4,900. Even my flip turns have improved, thanks in part to some YouTube research.

Cycling: This is the mystery. Cycling is so key to the tri. It's over half the race when you break it down. At this point, I have no idea how I'll be on the bike. I'm riding an exercise bike at the gym while I prepare myself for dropping money on a road bike. After going to the bike shop today, I'm hopeful I can get a decent bike that won't make me poor. My goal is to start riding outdoors next weekend. This week, I put in 41.3 miles on the bike. Last week I covered 37 miles. I've been told time in the saddle and heart rate are most important. After fits and starts, I'm getting my heart rate to a decent level, mostly around the high 120s and spiking to 140 or so when the bike encounters a "hill" in the random setting. Today's ride was 1:18, a decent amoung of time to sit in a YMCA staring a mirror.