Sunday, February 27, 2011

NJ Trail Series - Snow shoe 2011

So the organizers of the snowshoeing event put together a video of the run. I appear (in my stylish hotfingers hunting hat and a blue jacket) at 0:56-1:12 and 3:22-3:53. You can definitely tell the difference between the pros and those of us who were on snowshoes for the first time. We all had a great time, though!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I want pizza. Or BBQ. Now.

If there were a pizzeria within half an hour of my home that were actually open right now, I'm pretty sure that I would have to go and order a slice or two. Toppings would be roasted red peppers and pepperoni.

You know, I'd even settle for a frozen DiGiorno at this point. I just want pizza. Or BBQ. I almost stopped for lunch at a barbecue place this afternoon when I was on my way home from a friend's house, but I didn't know the name or exact location of it. If I had known at that time that when I got home, there would be nothing to eat but salad, I would have made a point of finding the place. But I didn't. And oh how I wish I did.

It was a beautiful day, and when I got home, I went for a 3-mile run. I wasn't feeling particularly peppy, probably due to the fact that in a 24-hr period, my food consumption consisted of half a chicken-salad sandwich, chips and salsa, heavily-iced sugar cookies, fudge, chocolate, Cap'n Crunch cereal, and salad. I don't think there's much on that list that can be considered a good fuel for running. But I didn't feel that tired, so I did a Wii personal trainer workout after dinner. Dinner, by the way, consisted only of lentil soup. It was yummy and healthy, but oh how I wish it were a rack of barbecued ribs or a pizza. Not only am I starving right now, but I probably could have put a lot more intensity into my workout and felt better about my run. I noticed that my foot turnover was really fast on the downhills - better than I've ever noticed before - but I felt pretty slow for the rest of the run.

So, I guess that the lesson for today is to properly fuel for exercise. It will be nice to check on a good day to see if my running has improved in any other ways besides the foot turnover speed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

In honor of President's Day...

So, it's winter again here in the Northeast. I would have loved to go for a long run today, but after last night's snow, the roads will be gravel-ly and narrow, so I'll probably stay inside and do another personal trainer workout with the Wii and run on the treadmill. In honor of President's Day, though, let's take a look at some of our country's leaders keeping healthy by running:

President Carter was the first U.S. president to get into jogging when it broke onto the exercise scene in the 60s and 70s. He may have been onto the current trend in minimalist footwear, but I don't think those socks will be catching on anytime soon.

Apparently Ronald Reagan was more into horseback riding than running, but his successor, President George H.W. Bush, often laced up and hit the pavement. Kinda wish he had gone for a regular t-shirt, though.

The kid in the front of the stroller doesn't care that Mom and Dad are keeping pace with President Bill Clinton. He just wants to go faster!

Like his dad, President George W. Bush also liked to hit the pavement. Made for some better photo ops.

If it's true that President Obama quit smoking, maybe we'll see him doing a little more running than this in the future.

Happy running!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Short and sweet

Yesterday and today I ran a two-mile loop with a speedy running buddy. Yesterday I trailed behind the whole way and was so out of breath that I was sure we must have been running at 5K pace - only to find that the pace came out to be over 9 minutes per mile. It was a good time, though, and we scheduled another run for today. I thought for sure that this one would be much slower, since I felt that I needed some recovery time. Out on the road I felt that it was slower, too, but it turned out to be a pace of about 8:30 minutes per mile. Not too bad. Maybe we'll keep this up and bring the pace down even more.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spring is in the air

I went for a short run after work yesterday, and my Under Armour long-sleeve was too warm. I've planned another run today, and it's supposed to be in the 50s by that time. Can't wait for spring!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


This morning I attended an introduction to snowshoe running. First and foremost, it was exhausting, but it was also really awesome. Up until recently, I had no idea that people used snowshoes for running, and there I was lined up with almost 40 others for a race. It was a good time, and I'd like to do it again next year.

I rented snowshoes from a company that was on site, and (with only minor difficulties thanks to frozen fingers) I strapped myself in for the first time. Here's how they looked:

I walked around a little to get a feel for them. There were several inches of snow on the ground covered by a crunchy coating of ice. It was treacherous walking with just sneakers, but the snowshoes made it fairly easy -- once I stopped stepping on my own feet. They distributed the weight so I didn't sink down, and they had deep cleats on the toes and balls of the foot that gripped so I didn't slip. After walking around, I jogged a little and felt pretty awkward. I had to lift my knees up more than usual so as not to trip over my own feet. It looked like snowshoes are generally one-size-fits all, and I wonder if a larger person with bigger feet would have an easier time of it.

Once some more people arrived and started warming up, I took another jog around the snow/ice covered field by the starting line and got the hang of it. I didn't run around too much, though, because even that little warm up tired me out.

I was surprised to see that a lot of people had brought their own snowshoes. It turns out that some of them were experienced snowshoe runners who had participated in national races. I made sure to start out on the back of the pack for the race.

After the race started, I soon found out that it was very tricky running on icy snow that had already been crunched. The snowshoes were very hard to run in on uneven ground, and stepping into deep footprints almost made me fall several times and was very rough on my ankles. As difficult as it is to run in snow with just sneakers, if that snow is rutted or uneven, especially when they're hardened from ice, the snowshoes don't make it much easier. I wasn't concerned about my time, so after pushing harder than I should have for the first half mile, I started walking through the uneven areas. It really gave my legs, ankles, and lungs a break, but overall, it was such a workout that those breaks didn't really refresh me. At one point, the trail went past the road, and the snow was soft and wet from being mixed with road salt. I found this to be one of the easiest parts to run through, although I kind of freaked out when bits of snow were flung up from the lip of my snowshoes right into my mouth. Eewwww. But I kept going and haven't died yet.

The last quarter mile was flat and even. There were not many places were the ice was broken through, and I took the opportunity to speed up and start passing people. I really started to feel good at this point, because I could get a rhythmic stride going. There were two distance options for this race: 2.5K, which was one loop of the course, and 5K, which was two loops. I had signed up for the shorter option, since it was my first time, and I was so happy I did. I was exhausted! I broke off from the rest of the group and made my way to the finish. It will never happen again, but I turned out to be the second person to cross the finish line! Out of 7 people to run the 2.5K option, I was the second, and thankfully no one from the 5K lapped me. :-) My time for the 2.5K ended up being 26:31 - about what my usual 5K time is!

So that was my first experience running in snowshoes. It has really helped me to narrow down my options for winter gear. One of the more experienced runners said that the conditions were the most difficult he's ever encountered for snowshoeing, but those conditions are similar to those on the rail trail I usually run on. That would be one of the main reasons for me to get snowshoes, and I think that traction devices like YakTrax or MICROspikes (they're like snow-chains on steroids) would be a better option for me.

On another note, the race was held in a park that used to be the grounds of an old psychiatric hospital.

It kind of looked a little like a college campus, but in a creepy, almost Gothic kind of way, especially when you got a closer look.

It was an interesting day all around!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Training update and snowshoe running

Energized isn't really the word. Lately, when I finish my workouts on the EA Sports Active Personal Trainer, I'm bouncing off the walls with energy - skipping, jumping, rocking out to the music they play in the background. Yesterday I finished my workout, went outside and ran 3 miles, then came back in and worked out my back, arms, and abs again. I'm definitely going to keep going with this workout routine. Hopefully the exercises are evening out any muscle imbalances I had and are improving my general fitness enough to have a positive effect on my running. And even if they're not, they're getting me to exercise, have a good time doing so, and feel great about it.

I got so into the Wii program because snow, ice, and cold temperatures were making it difficult to run outside. The weather has finally given us a break here in my corner of the Northeast, though, and tomorrow I'm going to take advantage and try out snowshoe running. I've signed up for a 1-mile xc snowshoe race, where a company will be on-site to rent snowshoes to those who don't own any for themselves. I thought this would be a great thing to try out, since snowshoes would make it possible for me to run on my favorite rail-trail all winter, but I didn't know if I would like them enough to justify the price (and they are quite pricey). I can't wait to try them out and see what they're like. I took a look at the specs on one brand, and it said that they weighed 2 lbs 13 oz, which seems like an awful lot to have strapped to your feet, but who knows what it will feel like when actually running. I'm really looking forward to trying something so new. I'll be sure to write up a report about it after the race!

Friday, February 4, 2011

January recap and February plan

So I wish that I could emerge from my long blogging absence to report intense training and amazing progress with my running. Unfortunately, the running stats don't say much. In the month of January, when I thought that I would be reaching some higher mileage totals, I cut out a lot of long runs and worked more on total body fitness with the Wii Active Personal Trainer. So in January, I only ran 35 miles when I expected to run almost twice that much.

The good news is that I did exercise. About twice a week, in between and along with short runs, I did the Wii Active Personal Trainer workouts. And you know what? It has been getting me into better shape than years of running has. Look at this picture of how my pants are now fitting:

These are pants that I bought for work in August. The style was a good fit, so I bought a lot of different colors in that style - about $200 worth - and now, after a couple of weeks of these personal trainer workouts, they're all a few inches too big. If I get more serious and complete 3 or 4 workouts in a week (4 is recommended) and start watching what I eat, 2011 could finally be the year that I could be able to wear a bikini without fear of flab.

But what about running? I know for a fact that my body will not respond well to exercise without a lot of rest, and I can't increase my mileage and do the workouts with enough rest in between.

So... I'm not going to increase my mileage right now. That means that I might not be on track to run a marathon this year, but it could be good for me. I think that I'm benefiting a lot from exercising so many muscle groups. Maybe I'm building hip strength and when I do go back to focusing more on running, that nagging hip/IT band pain I developed just before the half-marathon last year won't be an issue. It also can't hurt to get rid of all of that pudge. Stronger muscles having less fat to lug around has to equal increased speed, right? And I really want to finally have a flat belly.

So the plan is to do the Wii workouts 3 times a week and run between 1 and 2 miles before or after each workout. Then a long run every Sunday, if possible. If a run is not possible on Sunday (and lately it's not, thanks to the weather making roads and sidewalks icy and very narrow), then do another Wii workout.

So that's it. And I'll try not to disappear from here again.