Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sunshine on My Shoulders...

ORN:  9 miles total, with 7x1 mile intervals at 8:39 average

It was very refreshing to run at mid-day with blue skies and full sun today.  Lake Michigan is such an overwhelming meteorological influence on northern Indiana that we resign ourselves to all-grey, all the time during the winter.  So today's clear skies were quite the exception, making it all the more enjoyable.

Of course, sunshine in January in Indiana also is translated "It's really cold, dude!"  Thus, I waited to run until noon-ish to allow the temperatures to "soar" to almost 20F.   The schedule called for 7x 1 mile intervals, a workout I have come to enjoy.  They went well and enjoyably.  I did learn, though, running into a cold, 25mph wind is a lot slower and colder than running with the same wind.  

The year's race schedule continues to take shape.  I've added the Illinois Marathon on May 1 to the mix.  My prep for the Bayshore Marathon on May 29 calls for a 23 miler on May 8.  Hmmmm, I say.  Why not do a full marathon a week sooner and get credit for it?  This marathon through the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana was a nice run last year, is only 90 minutes from home, allows me to go and come back same day, so no motel costs and, so shoot, why not?  It also will allow me to try something I've been fascinated by since my Portland Marathon "race" with running guru Jeff Galloway, which I first wrote of here.  I'm going to try a 1/1 run/walk ratio, per that write up.  Can it work??  Now I get to try.  

Registration for the Chicago Marathon (October 10) opens up on Monday.  Nephew John and I are running it, so we'll get signed up next week.  

One more fun, local event will take place two weeks after Chicago.  The inaugural Home of Purdue Half Marathon is on October 24.    Here in my home town, we will have a well-run half marathon.  It is interesting to see how it has grabbed the interest of a lot of folks who want to start running this spring and get ready for the fall race. I'm pretty sure I'll volunteer to help in the race...that will be a good change up and a chance to give back.  

January ended up as the best mileage month for me since August, 114 miles in the cold.  Who'd a thunk that with the winter weather??  


Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Winter Delight

ORN:  4 miles, R4/W1
Every couple of years a rare event pops up.  A full moon on fresh snow during an early morning run.  Today was such a day.  We had about an inch overnight, followed by clearning skies.  As I walked out to run at 5:30am, the bluish light of the moon was somehow even "bluer" as it reflected off the oh-so fresh snow. 
Perhaps it isn't so rare...I just looked and I wrote about pretty much the same thing just last March.  Hey, it is still a cool visual event.
The unusual light did nothing, however, to soften the impact of the cold.  The 14F temp wasn't all that bad but the sharp wind from the northwest was biting.  Glad to have the LA Marathon on March 21 as a motivator.
Persevere.  In any light. 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Good Week Running

ORN: 9 miles total, with 5K time trial at 27:13

With the holidays over, the shoulder inflammation subsiding and single digits giving way to "balmy weather" in the 20s, running hit a nice rhythm this past week, a flow it hasn't had for a month or so.

A week ago Saturday, I managed 16.5 miles on very cold, snow-covered streets. During the week, I got in my usual 3 runs. Today's plan called for 9 miles with a 5K time trial built in. It was leaden-grey overcast but warm enough to run in shorts. The time trial was reasonable, with all 3 miles at 8:43. Starting to feel like I'm actually getting set for the LA Marathon.

None of this beats simple gifts, though. Our almost-six year old grandsons are really starting to grasp this whole business of reading. Drew made this for me last week.

He made a heart to let me know he loved me, he said. And his drawing of me has everything I need; a mustache, a smile, five fingers on both hands and a belly button.

That's something I can persevere with.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What to Wear for Winter Running

It's cold.  

And how do you get yourself out the door to run through the winter months?  

Over the years, I've concocted a system to make a few carefully-selected pieces of running clothing work to keep me comfortable over a very wide range of temperatures.  I had an early version of this way back in the early 1990s.  Always a systems geek at heart, I've kept tweaking it over the years.  Several folks have asked for the full description, so here the full story, which I'll bookmark for reference.  I hope this is especially helpful for newer runners (or West Coast runners who have been banished to the Midwest).  

Simply put, this system uses a simple list of clothes and a simple rule for combining them.  Hang on.

The Clothes

Head and Neck:  This is way more important to comfort than most think.  Much heat escapes through the scalp and around the carotid arteries of the neck.  In the heat, you want it to escape.  In the winter, you don't.  Here's what I use, from hot to cold:
  • Visor. Optional...but my eyes are sensitive and like a sweat band.  Or go hatless.
  • Cap. Optional as well. 
  • Wind/Stocking Cap.  The classic knit cap works.  I like this tighter weave wind cap
  • Balaclava. No, this is not dessert at your favorite Greek restaurant. It is a full-head covering.  A wonderful item.
  • Neck Warmer.   Make your own for a buck.  Or you can buy one.  

Torso.  If you keep your torso warm, you will be warm.  And six items are all you need. (Remember "technical" is a code word for "100% polyester".  Polyester got a bad rap in the 1970s so now we use a new name.  Just don't wear cotton when you run. Or a leisure suit when on a date. )
  • Sleeveless Technical T Shirt.  Get one at a discount store.  Or clip the sleeves off one you get at a race.
  • Technical T Shirt.  Ditto.
  • Long-sleeve Technical T Shirt.  Ditto.  You can spend $40 on any of these three, if that is important to you...but you need not.  
  • Mid-weight Base Layer.  There are big-name versions of these.  But this one has been my favorite for over a decade...and I can get a tall size for just  $14.  
  • Sleeveless Windbreaker.  The most versitile piece of all.  Get a cool one here and be visible and give your spouse an idea for a birthday gift.  Or, for my first one, I bought a windbreaker for $4 at a local garage sale, cut off the sleeves and glued on some reflective strips.  
  • Windbreaker.  There are a gazillion options...find one that works for you.

Hands. Pretend you are a concert pianist...take care of the mitts.
  • Gloves.  Aboslute best, cheapest thing?  Simple, $1/pair brown jersey cotton garden gloves.  Find 'em at any discount store, gas station, street vendor.  If you lose 'em, no big deal.  If it is cold, pull on a second pair. 
Legs.  The simplest decision of all.  Shorts or tights?
  • Shorts.  Find what fits for you.  My favorites are from Race Ready; the fit and fabric is perfect and I love the 7 pockets.  Close runner up:  Standard issue US Army PT shorts. Seriously...they are super comfortable, even for a civilian.  
  • Tights.  Again, there are a lot out there.  I like these, but find something that works. 
Oh, and a humble request when wearing tights...wear some shorts over the top of them.  Men or women...just TMI for most folks to wear only the tights in public.  Yeah, really. 

Feet.  No decisions wear the same thing, year round.  

The Combinations

This is not a lot of stuff and now all you have to do is decide what to wear for the run in front of you. 

The chart below pulls this together.  You can also download the chart... scroll to the "download" tag and you'll get the spreadsheet for your own use.  Feel free to modify it to fit your needs.  

In 2 degree Fahrenheit increments, I've worked out by trial and error what is comfortable for me over the course of an entire run in any weather.  In winter, I may be a little cool at the start but by the end of mile one, I'm comfortable and that's what I want.  

On the torso portion of the chart, the letters in the chart name the components to use.  The letters indicate the layers, with "A" being closest to your skin.  

And that's it...I have the stuff, I see the temperature and there is no more worry or decision. Since I'm up at 5:15am to run, I know if I have to make too many decisions, I might decide to just go back to bed.  This system, therefore, is very motivational for me.  And I've learned to trust it.  

Common Questions
  • How do you know the temperature?  I have a simple digital thermometer in our master bathroom that reads the outdoor temp from a sensor.  I get out of bed.  I look at the temperature.  I look at the chart.  I put that stuff on.  I go out and run.  
  • Do you account for wind chill?  Interestingly, I've learned to NOT bother with wind chill.  Unless the temperature is at a "transition" point between layers when it is windy, I don't worry about wind. The wind just doesn't matter, though I know that's a bit hard to believe.  
  • Where to you keep your stuff?  I have a small group of shelves in a corner of the bathroom.  A one-stop spot to get dressed and out the door in a hurry in the morning.  
  • Why on earth did you make a chart like this?  I like to be comfortable when I run.  I'm basically a cheap guy.  I'm a process geek.  I enjoy kaizen.  
  • Do you have a life?  Yeah, I do.  And while stuff like this is fun to me, it doesn't define me.  
It is important to note that if you use this, feel very free to modify the temperature threshlods to your comfort level.  I love running in shorts in the cold, for example.  This may not be your thing.  So, play with the temperature levels.  I do think the layering orders, though, are a good place to start.  

So, I hope this is helpful.  

Persevere. All winter long. 

Joe's Temperature Chart for Running in Comfort
  Head/Neck Torso Hands Legs  
Temp (F) Cap Wind Cap Bac- lava Neck Gaitor #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6      
>63 X       A             Shorts  
60 X         A           Shorts  
58 X         A           Shorts  
56 X         A A         Shorts  
54 X         A A       Gloves Shorts  
52 X         A A       Gloves Shorts  
50 X         A B       Gloves Shorts  
48 X         A B       Gloves Shorts  
46 X         A B   C   Gloves Shorts  
44   X       A B   C   Gloves Shorts  
42   X       A B   C   Gloves Shorts  
40   X         B A C   Gloves Shorts  
38   X         B A C   Gloves Shorts  
36   X X       B A C   Gloves Tights  
34   X X       B A C   Gloves Tights  
32   X X       B A C   Gloves Tights  
30   X X       B A   C Gloves Tights  
28   X X       B A   C Gloves Tights  
26   X X       B A   C Gloves Tights  
24   X X X     B A   C Gloves-2x Tights  
22   X X X     B A   C Gloves-2x Tights  
20   X X X     B A   C Gloves-2x Tights  
18   X X X     B A   C Gloves-2x Tights  
16   X X X     B 2xA   C Gloves-2x Tights-2x  
14   X X X     B 2xA   C Gloves-2x Tights-2x  
12   X X X     B 2xA   C Gloves-2x Tights-2x  
10   X X X     B 2xA   C Gloves-2x Tights-2x  
<10 Stay Home!!!!                        
Torso Key                          
#1 Sleeveless Technical T shirt                        
#2 Technical SS T shirt                        
#3 Technial LS T shirt                        
#4 Polypropolene Undershirt                        
#5 Sleeveless Shell                        
#6 Nylon Shell