Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cheap, simple neck warmer

ORN: 4 miles, 39:37, R4/W1, 9:49/mile

I'm always on the lookout for ways to stay warm in the winter...preferably without spending much money in the process. And with winter refusing to release it's icy grip on the midwest, I'll share my latest trick.

One of the keys to staying warm is to cover your neck and head. But doing this effectively in a cold wind while running is tough. Often the air just leaks into your jacket, even if you are wearing a tutleneck shirt already.

Several companies sell really neat neck warmers for $8-20. I wondered if I could do better. And an idea hit me.

I stopped by a local discount store and found a generic knit cap on sale for $1.00. Yep, just a buck. I brought it home and proceeded to simply rip out the stitches in the top of the cap. I didn't even try to be too neat with it. I just hacked away. And out they came.

When I was done, I had a knit tube, not a knit cap. I now use it to pull over my head and adjust it up and down around my neck and face depending on how cold it is. I put the ragged edge down, so the finished edge is up around my face. And it works great.

I've found that the simple knit polyester tends to stay put, whether I pull it up over my face or just pull it below my chin or roll it down to a super turtleneck. This is handy, as I can adjust it up when going into the wind and down with the wind at my back. I can also pull it off easily during a run and stick it in my pocket if I'm overheated. This morning was a good example, as I ran into the wind for a couple miles, but then had it to my back on the way home.

If you are in a warm climate, just have a good laugh at us Northerners. But if you are still cold, like I am, try a one dollar solution to stay warmer on those chilly winter runs.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Race Report, YMCA 10K

ORN: 10km, 59:02, R3/W1, 9:30/mile

It felt good. It really, really felt good.

This morning, I finished my first race since the Portland Marathon on October 1. It’s been a long haul with the ITB injury. So many of your regular readers have been so helpful. And, in a simple way, it all came together this morning in a race in which its significance for me far outweighed the nature of the event itself.

Friday was a long, difficult day at work. Yet, there was this buoyancy that I usually have on a Friday before a race weekend. A level of excitement, a bit of extra bounce, an anticipation that is a little hard to explain. I was totally bushed by the time I got to bed around 10 and fell asleep immediately. Amazingly, though, the night was like the night before a marathon. Wake up at 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, then just get up. Since it was a local race, I rolled out of the garage at 7:30, with plenty of time for an 8:30 start.

The race was a wonderfully simple, no-frills event, which itself was refreshing. Two laps of a 5km course in the neighborhoods surrounding the local YMCA. $5 and a signature on the disclaimer form and I was in. The entire race field of maybe 50 people fit comfortably in the YMCA lobby for the starter’s instructions. We walked out into the sharp, cold east wind and started. With a gun, no less…perhaps less PC than a whistle or horn, but a nice throwback to tradition.

The race was fine and uneventful. Even though I’ve lived here for 30 years, I got on some streets I’ve never seen. Saw a couple of really dilapidated homes and one huge mansion that were new to me.

I decided to do a run/walk ratio of 3/1 and determined to switch to a 3/2 if I felt any twangs in my ITB. I never did…amazingly. So I stayed strictly with a 3/1 until the end of my last walk stage around 5.5 miles, at which point I ran it on in.

My splits were interesting:
2:17 (at 7:57 pace)

I suppose the actual placement of the walk breaks drove some of this variation. Overall, though, I’m astonished I could average 9:30 miles overall while using a 3/1 ratio. My Garmin told me most of the running segments were around 9:10 or so. And I didn’t feel like I was pushing. I pushed a bit over the last half mile, but comfortably. And that last segment rolled in under 8. And I was even wearing tights. Go figure.

I ran through the chute, walked about .75 miles (also a new strategy to cool down better) and grabbed some fluids. For a no-frills race, there was sure some good eating inside the Y. Besides the expected bananas were homemade brownies and cookies. What a way to carbo load!

To most observers, this was a tiny race of crazy people running in the cold. It will probably be forgotten fairly quickly by most. But for me, it represented far more. In early January, I wondered if I’d ever be able to run 10K, let alone do so pain-free. But the run/walk strategy, new motion control shoes, patience and gradual buildup of mileage seems to be working. I have not yet come close to my first goal of 2007; consecutive weekends running the half-marathon distance pain free. But now there is hope. And hope does not disappoint. Thanks for the encouragement of all of you, it means more than you can imagine.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Big Shoes, a Little Race and a Pair of Shorts

ORN:Sunday; 5.2 miles, R3/W2, 10:53 pace
Sunday: 2 miles, 2/2
Tuesday: 3 miles, 3/1, 10:22 pace

It is fun to be encouraged about running again!

I just finished my fourth consecutive week of consistent running. That hasn’t happened since September. I’ve missed it.

So far, I’m quite pleased with the Brooks Beasts I bought last Friday. Yeeeeesh, they are big shoes. I put them on and feel as if I should add a red nose and a wig and just BE a clown, since I already have the feet for the act. Yet they are very comfortable while running and don’t feel big. Best of all, I’m having no discomfort from the ITB. And, that’s key.

I’m also getting used to (and liking) the run/walk routine. With many thanks to advice from Michelle of
The Back of the Pack, I’m starting with a low ratio and gradually working up. What has surprised me very much is the overall pace I’m doing, even with the walking. The target now will be to get to an 8/1 or 9/1 ratio, but we’ll see how it goes.

With this encouraging news, I’m going to run a race this Saturday! The local YMCA has a training series for the
OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, the huge half marathon in Indy on May 5. The 10km event is this week. $5 entry fee for a small, no-frills, local 10K. Very cool. While it will be fun to be in a race, I’m mostly interested in starting to get used to the psychology of the run/walk in a race. Particularly the ego-bruising of being passed every time I walk. But, man, it is fun to have a race to look forward to.

And, to top it all off, I got up to run this morning and the thermometer said 38F. Well, according to my
temperature chart, that is the threshold for wearing shorts! So, out I went, with 17” of snow still on the ground (though it is melting) and I ran in shorts. It was invigorating. And, at 5:30am, probably made a few drivers wonder if they should get a double shot cappuccino on the way to work.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Customer Service, from the ground up

ORN: Thursday: 3 miles, 3/1, no pain.

Youngest son Matt and I spent a frigid Friday touring
Wheaton College in suburban Chicago. A really neat school, it will be interesting to see how his thinking develops as he makes his college decision.

With my part of the tour over by mid-afternoon Friday and Matt spending the night in a dorm with two guys he knows from home, I had some time on my hands. In a post last week, I asked
WADDLING about running stores near Wheaton. She pointed me to the Naperville Running Company. And, wow, what a cool place.

I called ahead and asked if someone was there who could talk to me intelligently about overpronation and motion-control shoes. He laughed and just told me to come on down; “We’re all runners here!” I changed into running shorts and sweats, made the 20 minute drive and walked in, two old pairs of shoes under my arm. John sat with me and we talked running for quite a while before we ever looked at shoes. He went over my old shoes with a vengeance, picking out detail on tread wear like a CSI agent. The shoes told a tale of overpronation more nuanced than I would ever have thought. From there we went through several pairs of shoes and sizes. Other customers came and went; I only asked John to not rush me and he was happy to let me be mellow.

I got well acquainted with their treadmill as I tried out one pair then another. John suggested I compare shoes at the same time, one on the right, one on the left. It was very instructive. He watched carefully, at floor level, to get a read on my pronation tendencies. As we worked, he observed a tendency for my right foot to overpronate more than my left. Could that explain my right ITB being injured while my left one is fine?

In all, I spent an hour in their store and walked out with a pair of Brooks Beast shoes. They felt terrific, clearly moved my foot roll away from my big toe and out to my middle toe.

Isn’t it amazing to get great customer service?
Michelle reported this week on her similarly positive experience buying new shoes. As a business person, it is fascinating to me to see how such customer service can change a commodity purchase (shoes) into a memorable experience (my shoes will work and promote health). For the stores’ sakes, though, how do they replicate this? How do they promote it? This is the type of stuff I think about while I run.

How will it work on the road? We’ll see. But, wow, what a great way to buy a shoe.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In the teeth of the storm

ORN: Sunday; 2 miles, R2/W2
Monday; 3 miles, R3/W2
Tuesday: Cross training—“upper body, lower back”

The big snow storm moving across the Midwest caught our fair city square today. We’ll have 16” on the ground by the time it is over…I’ve already seen 4’ drifts and the wind is still blowing.

With the snow set to start around 2am Tuesday, I decided Monday evening would be a real good time to get in my scheduled Tuesday morning run. I told my wife it would likely be the last time we’d see pavement for a while. The run went well. The run/walk deal seems to be sitting well for me, both physically and psychologically.

Interestingly, the Monday run actually marked three consecutive days running. I’m now settling into a Tuesday/Thursday/ Saturday/Sunday running week. I’ll ease the long run up by one mile each week on Saturday, run half that length on Tues/Thurs and do a short run on Sunday. With the snow-inspired night run, I ran three days in a row, which I haven’t done since September. Short runs, mind you, but runs nonetheless. And, while I still feel the ITB, it is not wincing pain.

Shoveling 12” of snow off our driveway this evening provided quite the diversion from running. It somehow felt better to consider it “cross training.” I’ll have another 4-6” to do in the morning…so I guess that will be another “workout,” eh??

Persevere…snow or no snow.

PS. Thanks to Michelle for katching mi tipo in the furst vershun of this postt!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A concatenation of good information on overpronation

ORN: Saturday: 4 miles, 44:25, 11:06 pace, R3/W2

Having come to the conclusion I could in fact run again, I turned my attention this past week to the riddle: “Just why did this ITB thing come up in the first place? And how do I prevent it in the future?”

David played a key role several weeks ago when he urged me to pay attention to how my feet hit the ground. It made sense. While I’ve known about overpronation for years, I never knew how to detect it. I finally read this which stated, succinctly, “Overpronated floppy feet show some shoe wear on the inside of the forefoot and benefit from motion control shoes.”

This was an “ah-ha” moment for me. I have worn six consecutive pairs of Brooks Adrenelines with virtually no wear on the outside of the soles and severe wear on the inside. I’ve always wondered about that, but had no knowledge to apply that observation.

I then ran this observation past my work colleague Jay (who finished the
Badwater Ultramarathon last July in his third try and thus knows something about injury), who immediately asked to look at an old shoe. He then smiled and nodded with empathy. “Yep, that’s severe overpronation. Get yourself a motion control shoe.”

So, I’m mulling which new shoe to get. I have a pair of Adidas Supernovas, which I have maligned in this space before, which are classified as motion control. Jay’s comment was that since I have worn Brooks’ before, I’d probably like the Beast. I may also try on the Asics Gel Foundation VI, just because Asics are so well thought of.

Next Saturday, I have to kill most of the day in suburban Chicago while youngest son Matt does a tour at
Wheaton College. So, I’m hoping regular commenter WADDLING will give me some advice on good running stores in the Chicago ‘burbs. There have to be some good ones.

I’d also welcome any advice on shoe selection and experience!!

Today’s run: another step forward, the first time I’ve done four miles. It was great to be outside in our “balmy” 17F weather with a sharp west wind. I probably could have done five but I didn’t. I still feel the ITB; the severity of pain is easing. Gradually, we build.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Progress, in small steps

ORN: 3 miles, R3/W2

Was Wednesday morning a turning point?

On Monday’s run, I ended up walking the 3rd of my 3 miles. The ITB just hurt too badly. Ever the process geek, I did the “adjust” bit of Demming’s Plan-Do-Check-Adjust cycle and decided to shift my run/walk ratio from 4/1 to 3/2.

On Tuesday evening, I noted the old excitement was back. “I get to run in the morning!” which is what I’m used to feeling after a day off. I bounced out of bed at 5:15, dressed according to my
temperature chart and bounded out the door. The nearly-full moon had not yet set and it cast a wonderful light on the cold ground.

I got the run in with the 3/2 ratio, though the last half mile was tough. Yet, for a while, I actually found my mind NOT sensing the ITB.

On Friday, I did the same thing and felt a little stronger at the end. However, I asked myself if I could do a fourth mile. The answer was clearly no. Perhaps importantly, during the day Friday, my knee did not hurt as badly as it did during the day on Wednesday.

So today, Sunday, out I went again, with a -10 wind chill. Same routine. And I felt stronger at the end. Could I run a fourth mile? The answer today would be a tentative yes.

12 miles this week. And, for the first time since September, I had two consecutive weeks of regular running. My log was striking on this count. And this regularity is huge for me, mentally. I just love getting out the door and running. Even if I’m in a run/walk mode, even if it is for far shorter time and distance than I’d like.

Coach Demming has me continuing on this PDCA plan this week of running every other day. Tuesday and Thursday will continue the 3 miles at 3/2. Saturday, we’ll shoot for 4 miles at 3/2.

Off to a Super Bowl party. We’re halfway between Chicago and Indianapolis, so the town is split. Me?? I’m pulling for Da Bears.