Thursday, January 26, 2017

Running "Hard" vs. Hard Running

Being the chronic procrastinator and lifelong learner that I am, I went ahead and did some "research" before my run this afternoon.

I Googled things like: "how slow is too slow for a marathon" (nobody agrees on a number, but a lot of people have very strong opinions about it) and "Pittsburgh Marathon cut-off time"

I'm afraid of being too slow to finish a marathon. I know my former 5k race times were pretty good - not great, but I managed a few sub-24-minute races in high school. That translates to under 8 minutes per mile, which put me right in the middle of any pack of runners in my neck of the woods. 10+ years older and out of shape, I ran my last 5k race two years ago at an 11 minute pace and was proud. I'm aiming for 12:30 per mile for the marathon - manageable, I hope, but not easy.

So it was reassuring that among the raft of articles I skimmed this afternoon there were a lot of people who sounded a lot like me: "average" runners. Most of them had finished within the time limits of major marathons. It's especially good to hear because day to day it feels like I'm not making much progress toward running long(er) and fast(er).

But then I found two articles which said: You're running too hard. Train Slower, Race Faster. In a nutshell: the best training you can do is at low or high intensity. The most effective runners, the ones who had the best race times compared to their training times, were the ones who took the "Slow" in Long Slow Distance runs very literally, ie; conversational shuffles and not a "race pace" distance run.

One article recommended for "easy" runs: "If you can hear yourself breathing, you’re going too fast."

And I thought: "Oh. Shit."

Because I can totally hear my breathing and I can not carry on a conversation during my long runs.

So today when I went out, I went out with the intention of running at a "conversational" pace - 15 minutes per mile... and it was tough!

I ran the entire 3 short miles from my running plan and running that slow was a drag. It was cold, it was flurrying a little bit, my muscles felt stiff and then achy, and it took forever to get anywhere. In short it felt like way more work (albeit way less sweaty work) than the 4 mile "comfortable race pace" run I did earlier this week. But science says that's the kind of training I should be doing more, so here's to training better, and not just training harder.

I'm registering for the marathon today before the cost goes up again. This is it, folks. I'm officially a marathon trainee.

Friday, January 20, 2017


8.12 miles today. It didn't feel nearly as torturous as I expected and I'm proud of myself. Not much compares to the endorphin rush one gets while running.

I was aiming for 9 miles, but close enough. I can now say I've run one third of a marathon! Or walked and jogged it, anyway. The important thing at this point is to keep putting miles on my legs and I feel confident at this point that I can in fact run 10 miles, which means in a few weeks I'll be doing 13 miles - which is half a marathon!

That's exciting.

It's been incredibly mild here this winter. Other than that one deep-freeze, most of our days are in the 40s and 50s and our nights barely hit freezing. I'm worried this means that February and March will be completely, miserably windy and icy. Cross your fingers.

The chickens got a half hour of outside playtime today while I pruned the apple tree and picked at the garden beds. There is so much outside work to do before Spring... prune the rose, cut the mulberry waaaaaay back (again), weed and fill the rest of the front beds, re-seed the lawn, re-fence, plan, and plant the back bed, rake the last of the leaves and compost/shred them, clean out last year's failed containers and prep them with fresh soil for this year's attempt... and don't get me started on the house projects. This year, I swear the deck is coming down. Whether we replace it or not is up for discussion, but it has to go. We pressure washed it in the fall and it's not as slippery when not covered in algae, but the boards are warped and cracking, the ends are rotting, screws are loose all over and the dogs keep wedging their lead between the loose boards and the frame.

Which reminds me I need to figure out a fence for the yard and/or a more permanent chicken tractor so that I can let the girls out in the summer and not worry that they'll fly out of their playpen or decide to cross the road.

So much to do, so little time.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Retail Never Changes

Questions I have been asked this year:

"Where's that [stuff you use to do the thing]?" (It's a good thing I speak Customerese!)

"Can you check to see if you have more of this in The Back?"

"Can you tell me how much a piece of carpet this big will cost?" (The one with the price per square foot right on it? Yeah, gee, let me break out the abacus...)

"Where's your [item sold at competitor]? I get it here all the time."
(On the phone) "Yeah, hi, do you have any clearance pallets of tile or laminate or something?" (No we don't, because I'm not your personal shopper and I'm not going hunting for the dozen clearance SKUs I know are 16' up in the racking and scattered across the width of several football fields so I can describe every single one, do all your math for you, and hear you say "Ok, great, I'll come in some time this week to take a look at them".)

And from today:

"What is email?"

When I'm 70, I'm going to be in a store some day and some bright young salesperson/bot is going to suggest that I [newfangled tech] my 3D HoloPictures to their warranty specialist and I'm going to ask them "How do I do that?" and I'll feel bad for being so taken aback by that email question. Or probably I won't remember at all.

Marathon training progresses at a crawl. I ran on the first and the second, then had a very busy couple of days at the end of the week, and then it got cold. I hate running when it's so cold your nose runs and then freezes into a miserable snot-lip-sicle, so I'm going to wait until my breath doesn't crystallize instantly before I go back out there.

...How is your 2017 going?