March 31, 2007

The first run of my taper was an hour

I had a comfortable run this morning. Today is the first day of my three-week taper for the half-marathon on April 21. I took it easy and covered about 3 1/2 miles. The temperature was a nice 60+ (F) with beautiful clouds in the sky and lots of sun.

March 29, 2007

Maybe I should start running?

You know it is time to resume running when...
  • You try to do a few pushups and discover that certain body parts refuse to leave the floor.
  • Your children look through your wedding album and want to know who mom's first husband was.
  • You get winded just saying the words "10 kilometer run".
  • You come to the conclusion that, if God really wanted you to touch your toes each morning, He would have put them somewhere around your knees.
  • You analyze your body honestly and decide what you should develop first is your sense of humor.
  • You step on a talking scale and it says, "Come back when you are alone".

A nice two-hour run

I ran for two hours on the Jordan River Parkway and probably ran about 9 1/2 miles. I had planned to limit the run to 8 miles but decided to make this my last "long run" before the half-marathon on April 21. I had high body energy throughout the run.

It was a cold, windy day with a temperature about 40 (F).

My taper for the half-marathon begins on Saturday

In order to give my feet more time for rest, I'm taking a three-week taper instead of a two-week. My taper will be as follows.

Saturday March 31 - An hour rest run

All runs next week will be reduced approximately 25%.

All runs the following week will be reduced approximately 50%

All runs the week after, except Wednesday and Saturday, will be reduced approximately 50%. Wednesday will be a 10-minute rest run. Saturday is the race.

My foot felt better during my run

My left foot felt better today than it did last Wednesday. I still had the weak feeling, but it wasn't very painful. I've been taking Ruta. Other than that, my training this week was the same as the last two weeks, and the reduction in soreness indicates my muscles are being strengthened.

March 27, 2007

Another nice hour rest run

I ran another hour on the Jordan River Parkway and enjoyed it. The run was uneventful, and except for mentioning that I picked up trash, there isn't much to say about the run other that I and my feet felt fine.

March 26, 2007

A great hour rest run

I ran for an hour on the Jordan River Parkway and enjoyed it. My feet were fine, the day was beautiful, and the Wasatch mountains are still snow covered and beautiful. I picked up some trash along the way. Since this was a rest run, I ran comfortably and enjoyed myself.

Two ducks got a free ride

I stopped to check out the water level (slightly higher than last week), and I saw two ducks floating down the river. The river usually flows slowly in that area, but due to the high water level, the water is moving pretty fast, and the ducks were going about 3-5 mph.

March 25, 2007

Homeopathy and my feet

In a previous post I described how I use homeopathy when I have a cold. I thought I'd describe how I use homeopathy for problems with my feet. This will also explain how I became introduced to homeopathy. If you're not interested in homeopathy, feel free to skip this post.

I lived in Massachusetts for 17 years, and I did a lot of hiking in Massachusetts and New Hampshire during the 12 years that I was a Scoutmaster. New England has 48 peaks that are above 4000 feet elevation, and it is a tradition, known as peak bagging, among many hikers to climb those peaks. In my 17 years, I climbed two of them, the highest (Mt. Washington, 6288 feet) and the lowest (Mt. Tecumseh, 4003 feet). My two climbs of Washington were with my scout troop, and my climb of Tecumseh was with my family. On our way down Tecumseh, my kids ran down the trail, and my youngest daughter sprained her ankle. I did the traditional first-aid on her foot (RICE), but it took her about a month to recover from that sprain.

Not too long after my daughter's sprain, one of my scouts (Jeff) sprained his ankle, and a week later he was running around as if nothing had happened. I asked his mother why Jeff had such a quick recovery, and she introduced me to homeopathic remedies. She explained that she gave three remedies to Jeff. First was Arnica Montana, which should be given for any injury to help the body overcome shock. Next was Ruta Graveolens which helps the tendons heal. Third was Rhus Tox which helps the muscles heal. I was impressed with the difference in healing between my daughter and Jeff, especially since they were about the same age.

I was also interested in Rhus Tox, because I was leaving in a week for a week-long backpacking trip in the White Mountains of New Hampshire that would cover 50 miles of hiking and our first hike of Mt. Washington. This was during the time when, even though I was running, I was still having a lot of pain in my feet after several hours of Saturday yard work on my feet. That pain was peculiar, because it was reduced by movement. When I would first get up on Sunday morning, my feet would be very stiff and painful, but after walking around for a few minutes, the stiffness would go away and the pain was reduced. Jeff's mother suggested that I take Rhus Tox with me, because it is helpful when movement reduced stiffness and pain. I thought, "It's worth a try", and I put Rhus Tox in my backpack and took it during the week.

I had no problems at all with my feet during that week. I hiked 50 miles, climbed Mt. Washington 1 1/2 times (the half-climb was the evening before our full climb so I could check out the trail. The peak is 3500 feet [elevation change] above the trail head). No problems at all...until...until Saturday, the eighth and last day of our week. We were hiking 7 miles back to our cars and my feet began to hurt. I had run out of Rhus Tox on Thursday, and after two days of hiking without the remedy, my pain returned. After that trip, I was a confirmed believer in homeopathy. I've used Rhus Tox many times when I have stiff feet after several hours of being on my feet, and I believe it is helpful.

Ok, now back to my current problem of sore feet after 8 or so miles of running. I've explained that I believe the problem is due to my running fewer miles after stopping my marathon training while in Massachusetts, and my running even fewer miles per week after moving to Utah 14 years ago. For the past 2 1/2 years, after I recovered from my auto accident in August 2004, I've had an intense running program in which I started my post-accident running with 1/8 mile and two years later ran the Great Salt Lake Half Marathon. That running put a lot of stress on my 70+ year old body. That stress was increased by a double hernia operation, 10 big skin cancer surgeries (including several skin grafts, one with pig skin), and surgery to remove my gall bladder. Since that half marathon, I've been running 30-33 miles/per week, including fartleks and intervals and hill workouts. It has been a stressful 2 1/2 years, and apparently my foot muscles deteriorated during my years of reduced running and can't fully handle the intensity of my current training. My body needs more time to rebuild the muscles.

I still hope to run the Salt Lake City Half Marathon on April 21, but I won't be able to finish it very well if I continue to have the problem with my left foot. To give my feet time to begin healing, I'm planning on reducing the distances I run during the last two weeks of my training, and I will go through my normal two-week taper to the race. In addition, I'll be taking Arnica and Rhus Tox if I experience soreness again, and I'm taking daily dosages of Ruta between now and the race. I'm confident that my body will respond and strengthen the muscles in my feet, but I won't know for sure until race-day. As I've explained in the past, homeopathic remedies act as a catalyst to get my body to heal itself, and it all depends if I give my body enough rest and if my body does heal itself during the next four weeks.

This problem seems like a biggie right now, but in a few weeks when I look back on it, it will just be a small burp in my life.

March 24, 2007

Another session of running hills

I ran repeats up and down the big hill that I ran last week. It seemed like I had more strength this week, but I can't really tell. I did four repeats. I also ran that hill, and one other big hill on my 2-hour run on Wednesday. As I did last week, I ran a comfortable mile before and after to warm up and cool down.

My body feels strong

The Salt Lake City Half Marathon is four weeks from today on April 21. My body feels stronger now that it did four weeks before the Great Salt Lake Half Marathon last August. I've had good training during the past seven months since the GSL. My fastest tempo run before the GSL was 2:34. I did a 2:22 tempo run last fall (I haven't tried any tempo runs since then). I'm anxious to see if I can set a PB on April 21, and if so by how much. However, as I just explained in the post just before this one, I am concerned about my feet.

Why my feet are weak and sore

When I lived in Phoenix, I had a lot of trouble with my feet. I would do several hours of Saturday yard work, and my feet would be so stiff and painful that I literally would have to crawl into the bathroom on Sunday morning. It would be Tuesday before my feet felt normal. I knew that I had a very stiff skeleton, so I went to a bone specialist. He said that the problem was weak muscles, and that I should do whatever exercise I wanted to strengthen the muscles. I started running.

I ran for eight years before I ran my first marathon. By that time I was in Massachusetts. During that time, my feet muscles were strengthened, and I didn't have much trouble with my feet while running. I ran four marathons in two years, and then I stopped the marathons due to time constraints. I still continued to run during the next 10 years but not long distance. Around 20 miles/week with 5-7 mile runs.

Then I ran even less when I moved to Utah 14 years ago. Probably 10 miles/week and short 1-2 mile runs. It was about four years ago that I decided to get serious with my running. By the time I started this blog in January 2004, I was up to 3-4 mile runs.

I've had no problems with my feet during the past four years as I worked my distance up to 15 and then back to 13 mile long runs and 30-33 mile weeks. My feet felt fine when I ran the Great Salt Lake Half Marathon in August 2006, but I started feeling a slight weakness in my left foot during the fall of 2006. It was the same type of weakness that I'd felt in my feet back when I first started running. No pain, just a weak feeling as if my feet couldn't support my weight. During last fall and this winter, the weak feeling slowly became a bit more pronounced, but I ignored it. It finally reached the point last week and this week such that after eight miles, I could feel some pain in the foot. It was exactly the same feeling that I'd felt 30-40 years ago before I started running and during the first few years of my running.

As I thought about it this week, after my 10-mile run on Thursday, I realized that after I stopped running marathons and reduced my mileage, especially after moving to Utah, my muscles in my feet had become weaker, and my old problem was returning. I realized that I had moved up in mileage too fast and that I needed to give my body more time to adjust to the stress of running. The reason I didn't run my first marathon until after eight years of running is that I ran about 20-24 miles per week for five or six years, and that allowed my muscles to become strong. This time, however, I went up to 33 miles/week and ran a half marathon after only two years of running after my auto accident in August 2004 in which I started running with 1/8 mile for my first run after the accident. So, I'm pretty sure that my problem is just that I've rushed too fast into distance running.

The big question is what do I do in the future? I still hope to run the Salt Lake City Half Marathon on April 21 if my feet can handle that distance. I have two weeks of training plus my scheduled two-week taper, and during those four weeks, I will keep my mileage to 8 miles or less. I hopefully won't have a problem with that lower distance, and I will start the half marathon. Whether I finish the race, time will tell :) Whether I run the World Senior Games in October will depend on how my feet do during the summer. At least now I understand my problem and the need for more time to build up my feet. I'm hoping that my feet will make a pretty fast recovery since they should be stronger than they were when I first started running. I look back on all of this and realize that I've been blessed; it could have turned out to be much worse.

March 22, 2007

My left foot is feeling "weaker" and is becoming painful

In past posts, I've mentioned that my left foot felt "weak" after long runs. That condition is getting worse. The "weak" feeling starts at about 8 miles, and by 10 miles, my foot is starting to feel sore. As soon as I stop running, the pain stops. Right now, it has been about three hours since I finished my two-hour run, and my foot feels fine.

I don't think my foot is injured, because the "weak" feeling is like the feeling I used to have in my feet after several hours of yard work. In fact, that "weak" feeling and soreness was the reason I started running. I think the problem is due to the fact that it has only been a year and a quarter since I went past 10 miles and on to 15 and then back to 13 miles. During that time, I've done a lot of fast runs and speed training. I think my body just needs more time to build strength.

I am concerned about the half-marathon on April 21, because if my two-hour runs last week and today are indicators, I would have a hard time finishing the race. I'm going to wear an Ace bandage on my foot for the long runs between now and the race (including the race). After the race, I will need a month for recovery, and during that time I will just run comfortable runs with no speed work. Then I'll just have to run the summer and fall by "ear" so to speak.

I measured my running cadence under three conditions

I measured my running cadence while doing a comfortable pace, an uphill run, and a downhill run. The cadences were 180, 176, and 192, respectively. I have a faster cadence that some runners I've talked with. My cadence and stride-length are natural to my body. I don't force them in any way.

South Jordan City tree farm is flourishing

Trees have been planted in the new tree farm next to the Jordan River Parkway. I expected the trees to be 6-12 inches in height, but they are about 6 feet high. They are planted in plastic buckets that are in the ground. There is a large plastic pipe that runs along side the buckets with a small pipe taking water (and food?) to each tree.

March 20, 2007

Another nice rest run

I ran for an hour on the Jordan River Parkway and had a nice run. It was a beautiful day with the temperature in the mid 50s (F) and with an overcast sky with the sun coming and going. I ran a comfortable pace and enjoyed myself. After the run, I did stretches for my calves, IT band, quads, and hams. Tonight, I'll do all my stretches like I did last night.

Two examples of stretching to strengthen muscles

Going back many years ago, I began having lower-back pain. Not a lot of pain but enough to cause me concern. It happened that at the same time, Runner's World had an article about a way of doing situps that put less stress on ones back than the traditional army way (my stretching page describes the way taught by the RW article and also the stretches I do for my lower back). I began doing those sit-ups and some stretches for my lower back. It took about a month, but the lower back pain went away and has never come back. I had been running for several years before the lower back pain came. This was a few years before I ran my four marathons.

When I first moved to Utah 14 years ago, I did run but not a lot of miles, and I was careless in not doing my stretches regularly. My back muscles became so weak that I had a hard time getting up off the floor after finishing my sit-ups. I had to turn on my side and rise to my knees and then stand up. I realized what was happening to my back, and I become more regular in doing my sit-ups and back stretches. As before, it took some time, several months, to get a strong back. Now, even with my old body, I have no lower back pain and I can rise up from the floor and stand on my feet.

Good thing I didn't do a long run today

When I got home from my run, I took of my running shoes and realized that I had used my walking shoes for the run :) After I've used a pair of running shoes for 17 weeks, I retire them from running and use them for walking shoes. Thus, my walking shoes are the same brand/model as my running shoes.

March 19, 2007

My Monday hour-long rest run went well

I ran an enjoyable run on the Parkway and mixed trash-pickup with my running. Nothing eventful happened; just a nice run.

Going to try stretching after I run

For all of my running career (34 years), I've done my stretches before I run. When I started running, everyone stretched before they ran. However, since then it has become a controversy whether one should stretch before or after. I've been thinking about switching for quite a while, and after participating in a discussion on stretching in the running.about.com forum, I've decided to try stretching after I run. I will do more walking to warm up better before I run.

Some runners believe that stretching before a run helps the muscles to become loose and warm, ready to propel the runner. Other runners, however, claim that research shows that there is no advantage to stretching before a run. I haven't seen good test results about that, so I don't know if those claims about research are true.

However, my primary reason for stretching is to strengthen my muscles, and I think that that can be done anytime during the day. So, I thought I'd try stretching after and see how it goes. Today was my first day to stretch after.

March 17, 2007

I felt great during hill repeats

In my past posts, I've mentioned a big hill that I run on my longer runs. Today, I used that hill for my hill workout. I ran 5 repeats of the hill, running both up and down the hill, about 1/4 mile each way. I walked for a couple of minutes after each run for recovery. I was able to run up and down the hill each time at my comfortable pace without stopping. However, my last downhill run was at a faster pace since I felt pretty good.

I ran a mile before and after the repeats to warm up and cool down, respectively.

Today is another beautiful day!

Ground water is rising

On my Wednesday and Saturday long runs, I run past a house that has been pumping water into a drain for several weeks. This morning, the owner of the house was in his garage, so I stopped and asked him where the water was coming from.

He said that it was ground water and the pumping was necessary to prevent the water from going in his basement. He said that each spring the water people open the flood gates at Utah Lake and let more water into the Jordan River. That causes the ground water to rise, and the pumping keeps it from going into his basement. He said he has to pump until mid May. His house is in the flood plain for the river.

The flood gates remain open until the spring runoff from melting snow has dissipated, thus keeping the lake and its shore houses from flooding.

March 14, 2007

A great two-hour run with hill training

I enjoyed my two-hour run today. I usually only encounter the first of the two big hills that I encounter on my 2 1/2 hour run. But, since the tunnel under 106th South is flooded, I'm starting my run 1.7 miles further south, and this means that I encountered both big hills. I did pretty good on the hills. I just tried to maintain my comfortable pace, and I think I did do that.

My urine when I got home was a darker color than I would like, so I need to drink more water. Today I drank about 30 ounces. The temperature was in the mid 70s (F).

My running plan for Saturday

On Saturday I want to do hill repeats on the lower portion of the first big hill. That portion is about 1/4 mile long and not awfully steep. I should be able to do 4 or 5 repeats, both up and down with a minute of jogging at the bottom for recovery.

March 13, 2007

Another enjoyable one-hour rest run & litter pickup

My run this morning was nice. I took it easy, picked up a lot of litter (the pathway is looking pretty nice, now)and enjoyed myself. The temperature was in the high 50s (F) (I was out a couple of hours earlier than yesterday), the sky was sunny, the snow covered mountains were beautiful, and it was another great day to be outside.

Tomorrow is South Jordan, Riverton, and beyond...

The Jordan River is going down (but not much, though)

Yesterday, when I looked at the Jordan River as it goes through the tunnel under 106th South, I could tell that the level of the water is going down slightly. Some kids have thrown rocks into the water, and those rocks give me a way to gage the depth of the water. When I looked at the water this morning, I could see that it had gone down about an inch since yesterday. Later, as I ran past the place where I can walk to the edge of the water, I stopped to look at the water, and I could tell that it had gone down about an inch since yesterday. When I do my medium run tomorrow, I'll be able to look at the river as it goes through the tunnel at 126th South.

We've had warm weather for a few days with no rain, so having the water level decrease is to be expected. However, there is an awfully lot of snow in the mountains (Snowbird Ski Resort currently has 7 feet 2 inches), and as that snow melts some of the water will drain into the Jordan River. Thus, the river will probably remain high for another 4-6 weeks or longer.

South Jordan City is putting in a tree farm

During the past couple of weeks, I've seen workman preparing an area right next to the parkway path. I had speculated that they city might be putting in more picnic areas since there was no sign of a hole being dug for a basement or for footings. This area is next to a large picnic area that extends for about a half mile south of 106th South.

When I ran past that area this morning, there were three men watching the work, and I stopped to talk with them. It turned out they are city employees, and they told me the city is putting a tree farm to provide trees at less cost to the taxpayers when the trees are needed to line city streets. The men didn't say how big the trees would be, but I assume the trees will be planted as 6 or so inch seedlings and will be transplanted when they are several feet tall. They will make a nice border for a few hundred feet of the parkway.

South Jordan City to extend the Jordan River Parkway

The three men who were watching the tree farm construction told me that the city had acquired the land to extend the Jordan River Parkway north from 9800 South to the city border at 9400 South. They also said the city is negotiating to obtain the land to extend the parkway south to the city border at about 114th South.

This is good news! Eventually, the parkway will go all the way from the Point of the Mountain (southern edge of the Salt Lake Valley) north to the Salt Lake airport, and eventually into Davis County.

March 12, 2007

A great run to build endurance

My hour run on the Jordan River Parkway was very nice. I ran at a comfortable pace and enjoyed the beautiful day! The temperature was in the mid 70s, and it was too hot for running :) I'll have to take extra water with me on Wednesday for my two-hour run. I normally drink 20 oz of water on that run, mainly because I swallow an e-Gel pack, and that is the amount of water specified by the manufacturer of e-Gel. I think on Wednesday I'll take 32 oz. so I'll have some water to buffer the higher temperature. Yes, Spring is here!

I did one lap of a big hill today

I normally don't run hills on my Monday and Tuesday rest runs. However, because the tunnels under 106 South and 126 South are flooded, I'm running a shorter path back and forth. Since I'll be running hills on Saturday, I decided to run today the big hill that I run on Wednesday. I did pretty good going up. I could have made it to the top, but I stopped about 200 feet short of the top and walked the rest of the way.

After walking around for a couple of minutes to recover form the uphill run, I ran 1/4 mile down the hill. I felt pretty good going down, and I went down at a faster pace than the pace I was using today. This is important training, because the Salt Lake City half-marathon has a steep downhill stretch that is about 0.6 miles long, followed by a 0.8 mile stretch that is also downhill but not as steep. The two stretches, combined, will take the racers from 27th East to 14th East via 21st South. I want to be ready for that downhill run! Downhills are hard on ones legs.

March 10, 2007

Not home to run today

I left home at 6:30 am and returned at 9:45 pm, so I didn't run today. My cold is gone, and I feel fine am looking forward to Monday.

March 9, 2007

Homeopathy and colds

If you've read much in my blog, you realize that I like the outdoors, natural things, animals, birds. One of the reasons I enjoy running is because it gets me outside where I become part of nature.

My enjoyment of natural things extends to the healing of colds. I use homeopathic remedies instead of traditional medicine. For example, I haven't had an aspirin in 40 years, maybe longer. Except for the first 24 hours or so after serious surgery, I don't take "pain killers". In a way, my use of homeopathic remedies is part of my running since my health is part of my running. If you're not interested in reading about homeopathy, feel free to skip the rest of this post.

Homeopathic remedies aren't drugs. They don't heal me. They don't dull my nerves so I feel less pain. They don't have side effects. They can be given to small children. They act like a catalyst and get my body to heal itself.

My colds have two phases. First is the "thin mucus" phase. That is followed by the "thick mucus" phase. The remedies I take for a cold depend on the phase I'm in. All of the remedies I use are 30X, where 30X refers to the potency of the remedy. When living in Massachusetts I used 30C, which is more potent, but here in Utah the health food stores don't carry 30C. The stores do carry 6X, but I use the more potent 30X.

Thin-Mucus Phase

During the first 24 hours of a cold, I'll take 1 tablet of Aconitum Napellus every 3 or 4 hours. During the remainder of this phase, I'll take 1 tablet of Euphrasia AND 1 tablet of Allium Cepa every 3 or 4 hours.

Thick-Music Phase

Once my cold progresses to the thick, yellowish phase, I switch to 1 tablet of Pulsatilla AND 1 tablet of Hepar Sulph every 3 or 4 hours.

That's it. These remedies do wonders with my colds.

As a side note, homeopathic remedies are very diluted, and I have to be careful to not pollute them with food residues in my mouth or body grease from my fingers. I never touch the tablets. I pour one tablet into the bottle lid and then drop it into my mouth. I use my tongue to push the tablet under my tongue and then let it dissolve (5-10 seconds). I take them 15 minutes before I eat or brush my teeth, or one hour after I've done those things.

The reason that I use different remedies in each of the two phases is that homeopathic remedies are used to treat symptoms not ailments. The thin or thick mucus is a symptom. The cold is the ailment. The remedies I mentioned can be used for other ailments as well as for colds. For example, when my daughter, Tova, was young, she had an aversion to fat -- she would suffer serious nausea when she ate foods containing fat. When she was in middle school and high school and would go on a school trip, she took Pulsatilla with her, and that allowed her to eat fast foods with no nausea. By the time she entered college, she had grown out of that aversion.

Running through colds

Most runners get an occasional cold, and they wonder if they should run through the cold or take a day or two of rest. Each runner has to answer that question, because we all have different bodies and thus different energy-levels and different immune systems. Here are a few things to consider.

If a person has a strong immune system, the person probably won't get colds, because running, when done properly, should strengthen our immune systems. In fact, we can usually consider a cold as a sign from our body that we're doing something wrong, such as getting insufficient sleep, having too much stress in our lives, getting inadequate nutrition, or pushing ourselves too much in our training. I have a cold right now because I pushed myself too much in my two-hour run on Wednesday.

When we have a cold, we may take meds to help us breath, to suppress the symptoms of the cold so we can go into public activities and not cough and sneeze a lot, but those meds don't cure the cold. Only our body can cure the cold, and to do that our body must have enough energy to overcome the cold. Thus, getting rest, liquids, and proper nutrition when we have a cold will help our body have the energy it needs.

Should you run through a cold? My answer is "yes" if you feel pretty good and have a relatively high energy-level. My answer is "no" if you feel tired, down in the dumps, so to speak. When I was younger, I used to run through colds. Now that I'm older, I usually don't run in the "thin mucus" stage but will run in the "thick mucus" stage if I feel pretty good. I only get one or two colds per year, and they are usually from over training, so I don't have to worry much about running or resting during a cold. I know that over training is likely the culprit, and rest is the proper treatment for recovering from over training as well as from the cold.

March 8, 2007

Yesterday's run was a bit too "great"

Yesterday my body wanted to run faster, and I let it go for about 3 miles of pretty fast (for me) running. During the evening my nose started dripping, and I didn't sleep very well because my body was overly tired. My fastest pace for a 1/4 mile split was 10:31, and I probably should have limited it to 11 minutes. Since my rest runs have been around 12 minutes, an 11 minute pace would still have been a respectable pace.

Getting a cold is a common result when I push myself too much. I've always been grateful that my body comes down with a cold instead of an injury when I do too much. Here is a status report on how I feel this morning. My nose isn't dripping. My legs feel fine. My body feels fine but tired. So, it looks like I'll survive. This evening I'll post an addendum to this post to document how my body is reacting to yesterday's run.

But, I really did enjoy yesterday's run!

Later in the evening: my nose started dripping soon after I made this post, and it has been dripping all day. I had a half hour nap in the afternoon, and I'm heading for bed now to get a good 7+ hours.

Next day: my nose hasn't been dripping since I got up this morning, about two hours ago. I feel pretty good, and I may go out for an easy run later today.

March 7, 2007

Wow, I had a really great run today!

The two-hour run I made to day was one of the best I've had in quite a while. It took me about 3 miles to get warmed up, but then my body wanted some speed and I just let it go. I had my Garmin GPS set for 1/4 mile splits, and my fastest split was 10:31. I had quite a few around 11:00 - 11:30 and quite a few rest splits around 12:00 - 12:30. I slowed to a 13 or 14 minute pace for the last 20 minutes so my body could cool down.

The temperature was in the low 60s, the air was clear, and it was a beautiful spring day.

The Jordan River is still rising

Every week when I run through the tunnel at 126th South, I can tell that the river is rising. Today, the river was at the highest level that I've seen during the past year. The path through the tunnel is usually only a few inches above the level of the water in the river, and the path was flooded soon after the river began to rise. The ground on the far side of the path rises up to the footing for the highway bridge with a slope about 20% over a horizontal distance from the river to the footing of about 12-15 feet. Today, when I reached the tunnel, I could see that the water had moved about five feet toward the footing, and at the far end of the tunnel, that is closer to the river, the water was about a foot away from the footing.

The ski resort at Snow Bird currently has over 8 feet of snow, and as that snow melts, a lot of water will go into the river via several creeks that drain the mountains. That plus any spring rains that we get have the potential to cause flooding.

Yesterday, when I ran through the picnic area south of 106th South, at a spot where the path is only about 15 feet from the river, I stopped to see how far the water was below the bank. It was about 18 - 24 inches below. If the river overflows its banks, the path will be covered, and I'll have to go back to the canal road for my running. Worse than that, there are several large office buildings and a restaurant that aren't far from the river, and they might be flooded. I don't know why people build in flood plains. About a mile downstream, there are houses being built in the flood plain.

When I lived in Massachusetts, there was a beautiful spot on Rt. 119 in Pepperell that was on the bank of the Nashua River. Some guy wanted to build a restaurant there. It would have been a beautiful spot for his business. But, the town said "no" because that area would be flooded in a serious flood that could occur every 100 years or so. As fate would have it, that area was flooded about two years later. The guy was probably glad he hadn't built there.

March 6, 2007

A nice pick-up-litter run

Due to snow on the ground during the past couple of weeks, I haven't picked up litter along the Jordan River Parkway. The snow is mostly gone, and during my one-hour rest run today I picked up a lot of litter. We've had several snow storms pass through during the past two or three weeks, and the storm fronts bring a lot of wind. A lot of litter has blown in. The area having most of the litter has several picnic tables, and there are thus 8 or 10 litter containers along that part of the trail.

March 5, 2007

Ran another test on my Polar heart-rate monitor

Last Saturday evening I read the users booklet for my Polar heart-rate monitor and discovered that it saves the highest and lowest heart-rate during a workout session. So, this morning I ran a test to compare the reading on the monitor with the maximum value saved. I've been suspicious that the value displayed is an average of some kind, and if so, that value might be less than the maximum heart rate that I achieved during the workout. After running 3/4 mile warm-up at a heart rate of about 90, I ran a half mile split at a pretty fast pace. When I finished the half mile, the monitor gave a value of 112 (my 80% of max is 119). I then checked the maximum value that was saved, and it was also 112. Thus, if any averaging is done, it is probably a moving average over the last few readings, which are taken at a rate of some fraction of a second. The monitor display is uppdated every second or so, and since only a few readings are probably used in the averaging, the averaged result would likely be the same as the displayed value. I thus concluded that the HR monitor can be trusted to give a good value of my HR while running. I did this, because some runners have had problems getting good values from their HR monitors.

I then ran a test on the "10-second measurement" that I described on Saturday. I ran a rest pace and used the HR monitor to see how much my heart slowed down in the first 10 seconds after I stopped (my heart slowed 2 beats). I then ran the rest pace until my HR stabilized, and then I stopped and manually counted the beats for 10 seconds. I added 2 to that value to compensate for my heart slowing down. I compared that value with my HR rate as measured by the monitor divided by 6, and the two values were the same.

I finished my workout with a 2-mile run at a comfortable pace yielding a heart rate of 90. The temperature during my workout was in the mid 50s (F). A really great spring day!

March 3, 2007

Great intervals today

I went to the track at the local high school and ran intervals. My hams and legs felt fine! I think I ran about the same pace as last week.

I ran two splits at 1/2 lap (1/8 mile) each. Then I ran a split at 1/4 mile, and I ended my planned splits with two more at 1/8 mile each. My recovery between splits was 1 1/2 laps or 3/8 mile. I felt fine during the intervals. To reduce the stress on my knees from running a small loop, I reversed my direction after the 3rd split.

I wore my wife's HR monitor. At the end of a 1/8 mile, my HR was only up to 101 68% of max). At the end of the 1/4 mile it was up to 106 (71%). It looks like I'd have to run a much longer lap to get close to 80%. Next week I'll wear my GPA so I'll know the pace I'm using.

The first question that came to me when I saw my HR at the end of the first split was whether the monitor was giving accurate values or not. When I'm sitting quietly, the monitor is within 1 beat of my HR taken manually. Because of this, I assume the monitor was giving good readings. I know I have very good oxygen capacity, and that probably is why my HR didn't go very high at the end of the splits. I was running pretty fast, but I wasn't breathing heavily.

Next week will be my last session for intervals. I want to run hills for three weeks, followed by a 13 mile long run the next week, and then a two-week taper to the race on April 21. The course for the Salt Lake City half-marathon has a 2/3 mile steep descent off the east bench (27th East to 23rd East), as well as a few small hills, and I want to train for them.

10-second heart rate

One of the traditional ways of measuring heart rate while you're running when you don't have a heart-rate monitor is to stop and measure your pulse for 10 seconds and then multiply that value by 6. This method, however, is not very accurate, because there will be a small error in the 10-second value -- as soon as you stop, your heart-rate begins to decrease, and that small error is multiplied by 6. For example, a one-beat error in your measurement would mean that your resulting heart-rate could be anywhere in the range from 6 beats too low up to 6 beats too high.

Usually, when we're running, we aren't interested in a precise value, just in an approximate number. For example, you might want your heart-rate during a comfortable or resting run to be 70% of maximum. Rather than use the inaccurate method described above, let's use a more accurate procedure by reversing the procedure given above.

1. Calculate your maximum heart-rate as 220 - your age. I'm 71, so my max is 149.

2. Multiply your maximum by the %max as a decimal value between 0 and 1. For 70% I would multiply by 0.7 and get 104.

3. Divide that heart-rate value by 6. I would divide 104 by 6 and get 17.

That value is my 10-second HR for 70% of my maximum. Now, I can stop running and measure my 10-second heart-rate. If I'm close to that value I would know I was running close to my 70% goal. This method eliminates the X6 factor and gives an approximation or "ball park" value, which generally is good enough for recreational runners. If you are more serious in your running, you might consider getting a heart-rate monitor.