November 30, 2009

Aborted my run after a mile

My wakeup heart rate was 56, higher than it has been the past few days. I started my run in the mid-afternoon. The temperature was in the low 40s (F). As soon as I started running, I could tell I was tired, so when I reached the 1/2 mile marker, I turned back. I only had 5 hours sleep Saturday night. I picked up about 45 minutes with short naps during the afternoon, and I picked up another half an hour last night when I got a good 7 1/2 hours of sleep. By aborting the run today, I'm giving my body extra rest, and hopefully I'll do better on Wednesday.

November 28, 2009

I had a great 4 mile run today

My wakeup heart rate was 53. I was busy with my visiting grandkids until about 2 pm, and then I did my 4-mile run. I ran and walked about the same amounts that I did earlier this week, but I felt better after my run, indicating that I'm starting to adjust to the distance. I will keep the distance at 4 miles during the coming week. The temperature was in the low 40s (F) when I began and in the high 30s when I finished. There was a 5-10 mph wind blowing, and the air was cold. I felt fine, though, with my two layers. Utah has very dry air, and that helps keep our body-heat inside our clothes.

On the way back, I saw a man and a woman feeding bread to some ducks, and I stopped and said, "You're the ducks best friends". I chatted with the couple for about 15 minutes. The man is a graduate from Stanford and attended the University of Utah medical school. He has been involved with computers since the late 1970s, and he was interesting to talk with. We talked about the history of computers and how technology has changed in recent years.

November 25, 2009

Ran 4 miles again on a beautiful day

I started my run this morning about 11 am. The temperature was in the high 30s (F), no wind, and lots of sunshine. My wakeup heart rate was 56 this morning, and I felt great. I could tell that with each mile I was getting more tired, but that is to be expected. During the last mile, I was walking and running about the same amounts. This was the same as in past runs.

During my 3rd mile, I measured my stride rate as 89x2 or 178. That is the same as it was before I was attacked by blood clots, and that is a good sign. It indicates that with my body being weak from blood clots, my natural running rhythm hasn't been affected. I just naturally have a fast stride rate. Having a fast stride rate is good, because it forces one to take smaller steps, thus avoiding over striding. A runner's foot should strike the ground under his body instead of in front of the body. Having your feet touch the ground in front of your body means you're over striding, and that a higher stress on your legs and actually slows you down. Your foot sticking out in front of your body acts as a break until your body passes over your foot.

World class runners all run with a stride rate of about 180. This means they are faster because they take larger steps, not because they take steps more often. So, my question is, how do they take larger steps without over striding? I don't know. There are moments in their stride-cycle when both feet are off the ground, that is, they are coasting through the air. Maybe they coast further than we do.

Right now, a wakeup heart rate of 56 is a low value. Before my bout with blood clots, my normal WHR was 50, and 56 would have been high. Hopefully, if a few more months I'll be back to 50 as my normal value.

November 24, 2009

How I keep motivated to run

Since today is a rest day and I'm not running, I thought I'd discuss how I keep my motivation to run. One of the runners in the running.about.com forum asked how I keep myself motivated, and I gave the following answer.

Having goals helps one to be motivated, whether in running or in other activities. I don't do a lot of racing, so my goals are mostly in other aspects of running. Racing goals wouldn't be achieved for several months, and I need goals for each run. So, I focus on short-term goals, things I can accomplish this week or next week. For example, a year ago South Jordan, Utah started construction on a new leg of the Jordan River Parkway where I run. It is a 0.75 mile leg that goes north to the border of West Jordan City. I've mentioned that leg quite a few times in this blog. I enjoyed watching the construction of the path and talking with the guys doing the work. That gave me goals for about four months. I looked forward to watching them carve a new path, compact the dirt, lay down plastic on the dirt, and finally lay about 6 inches of asphalt on the plastic. I was interested to learn from one of the workers that they sprayed weed killer on the dirt before they laid the plastic. He said weeds will come up through the plastic and the asphalt if they don't spray the ground. After they finished with the asphalt, I enjoyed watching them put in a wire fence along portions of the path that had horses.

After the construction workers left, I learned that the wire fence would be replaced, because it wasn't strong enough to keep the horses from getting on the path. So, I enjoyed watching a different guy put in a better fence. I was particularly interested in how he could put the fence posts in cement in the middle of the winter. It was interesting to learn that he had a machine that held a roll of chain link fencing and placed the fencing along the path. Many years ago, I had a part-time job one summer moving rolls of chain link fencing from box cars to storage in a building, and I know how heavy those rolls of fencing can be (200 - 300 pounds). I thought it interesting that the second guy put his fencing in places where the other fencing wasn't put. Then I began to wonder about the taxpayers of South Jordan City. Did they end up paying twice for the fencing, or did the first company lose money because their fencing wasn't good enough. Did their contract with the city specify exactly the type of fence to be installed, or was it left to the judgment of the contractor. Did the city talk with the land owners before the city purchased the land for the path to find out what kind of fence was needed?

For the past couple of years, someone has been moving dirt in one of the fields bordering the new leg of the Jordan River Parkway. I could hear the heavy equipment being used to move the dirt, but I couldn't see that any progress was being made. Finally, this fall I could see that progress was being made. I had the chance to talk with the land owner a couple of weeks ago, and he said he is preparing the land for the construction of a subdivision of new houses. Lately he has been moving big rocks to make a rock wall along the border of the Jordan River Parkway. At first I thought he was building a rock wall for landscaping, but I noticed yesterday that he is filling in dirt up to the top of the wall. Since his land is in the flood plain of the river, I realized he is raising the level of his land about three feet and is using the rock wall to prevent the dirt from being washed away during a flood. People who live in his houses won't see the rock wall, but I see the wall as I run past it, and it looks nice.

This fall I saw a big Heron in the Jordan River. It just stood there and didn't move much. I saw it on quite a few different days. That was interesting because I had never seen a Heron before. I haven't seen it lately, and I wonder if it went south for the winter. I also wonder how it could stand for long periods of time in the cold water. Ducks have soft feathers (down) that helps insulate them when they swim, but the Heron just has bare legs. Most of the birds in the river are ducks, but this fall I've seen quite a few American Coots. The most popular posts in this blog are about black ducks that I've seen. Some of them are Coots, but some are different. Quite a few people have found my posts via Google and have commented that they, too, have seen mysterious black ducks.

A year ago, I saw a black and white rabbit near the river. Someone had apparently turned the rabbit lose. I enjoyed seeing the rabbit a few times, but I haven't seen it this year. So, I wonder what happened to it. Maybe a fox got it; I have seen a red fox on the path a few times. If you click on the wildlife label in this blog, you can read about the birds and animals that I've seen during the six years I've kept the blog. In fact, the blog itself has helped me get out running, since I've gone public with my running and have to "keep up my public image" so to speak.

I have a lot of short-term goals related to my running. I began 2009 running about 20-22 miles per week, including a long run of 10 miles and a medium run of 7 miles and a rest run of 5 miles. Then in mid January I was attacked by blood clots. I went from a 7 mile run on a Saturday to only being able to walk 100 feet on Monday. My progress in getting back to my former distance has taken a lot more time than I expected. It has been almost 10 months, and my weekly distance is only up to about 10 miles, including my longest run, so far, of 4 miles. So, I'm busy with my weekly goals in inching forward in distance. There is a local 5K race in June that I've run twice (a 2nd and then a 1st in my age group). I missed it in 2009 because of the blood clots. I wonder if I'll be able to run it in 2010. I should be able to do the distance OK, but I may not be very fast. But that's OK. When you get to be my age, you're less concerned about speed and are happy to "just do it".

One of the things I'm looking forward to in the next month is putting sheet metal screws in my running shoes to keep me from slipping on ice. My shoes have 300 miles on them and have limited life left, so they are good candidates to become "ice shoes". Last winter and the winter before I used a commercial product with steel spikes, but they kept coming off when I got into snow several inches deep. People who have used sheet metal screws say they work fine, and I thought I'd give them a try.

The final reason that I get out and run is because I enjoy it. This enjoyment has carried me through 38 years of running. There are times when I get busy with other things and don't get out and run, but that's OK. I'm like everyone else and have my ups and downs. I don't beat myself up with guilt for not going out. I just finish my project at home that kept me from running for a day or two and then put my running shoes back on and head down to the Jordan River.

We are all different. What motivates one person to run may not help another person. One of the key things is to recognize that you're not "perfect" and to not feel guilty when you don't get out and run. Don't feel guilty because you're slow or because you don't go very far or because you don't go as fast as you did when you were younger. Just accept who you are and enjoy your life. If you would like to leave a comment explaining how you keep motivated to run, I (and others) would enjoy listening to you.

November 23, 2009

Did a nice 3-miler to finish my rest week

My wakeup heart was 55, and I felt fine and was anxious to get out running. However, we had 3 inches of snow last night, so I delayed my run until noon to give the sun time to melt the snow on the Parkway path. The shade temperature was in the high 30s (F) during my run, but the direct-sun temperature was in the high 50s. Most of the path is in the direct sun. There were a few shady spots that had some snow and ice. The air felt cold, though. I only wore two layers, and I was cold when I began but felt fine after a quarter mile. I'm wearing cotton compression socks that go up to my thigh (I'll be wearing them for another 13 months), and they kept my legs warm.

During the first half of the northbound out-back segment of the path, I only took one relatively short walking break during the 0.75 miles out and three short walking breaks on the way back. That was a good improvement from the summer when I was taking 4 breaks out and 4 or 5 breaks back. During the last 1.5 miles, I took about the same number of breaks that I did earlier this fall when I was running 3 miles. My body is taking a lot longer in recovery from the blood clots than I had expected. I guess blood clots really do a "job" on ones body.

I plan on doing 4 miles per run for the next two or three weeks to give my body more time to adjust to the increased distance. Then, I'll advance my three runs up to 5 miles and do that for a couple of weeks.

November 21, 2009

I had a great 2 mile rest run

My wakeup pulse rate was down to 57, and I felt fine. I ran 2 miles and felt good during and after the run. If I feel fine on Monday, I'll do a 3-mile rest run, followed by (hopefully) a regular 4-mile run on Wednesday. I'm capping my runs at 4 miles for a couple of weeks to give my body more time to adjust  to that distance.

On Friday a week ago, when I went from 3.3 miles to 3.88 miles, I had a 13.5% increase in distance. Then, on Monday, I added a bit more to give a 4 mile run. All of this put a heavy stress on my body, and that stress was reflected in my increase in wakeup heart rate as well as an overall feeling of being tired. My rest this week, that began on Tuesday, has brought my wakeup heart rate down to 57, and I feel fine. Today was a great run, and I'll hopefully end my rest week with a 3 mile rest-run on Monday. A common problem with many runners is that they don't give their bodies enough rest, and then they wonder why they have gotten injured. Running heavy/light and taking rest weeks once a month help our bodies to recover.

The temperature during my run this morning was in the mid 40s (F), the sky was cloudy, and snow showers are forecast for this evening and tomorrow.

November 20, 2009

Wakeup pulse rate down a bit

I had a solid 8 hours of sleep last night, and my wakeup heart rate this morning was 61. I'm taking another rest day today. Hopefully, my pulse rate tomorrow will be 61 or lower, and I hope to run 2 miles tomorrow as a rest run.

November 19, 2009

Took a rest day today

I've made good progress the past few weeks, and I decided it was time for a rest week to give my body some extra rest. I had planned to run 1 mile today, 2 miles on Saturday, and 3 miles on Monday. Then back to 4 miles for a couple of weeks. However, my wakeup pulse rate was 63 this morning and I felt tired. I thus took a rest day. I'll see how I feel tomorrow or Saturday.

November 17, 2009

Added a bit to give 4 miles in another great run

In the late afternoon I ran 4 miles on the Jordan River Parkway. I usually run the new 1.5 mile out-back northern segment and then go south out-back to finish my run. However, tonight I did the full run going south and back. I made the change because I knew it would be dark and I wouldn't be able to see my GPS. By going south and running 4 miles, my turn-around point would be a small bridge that I could recognize in the dark.

I didn't have quite the energy that I had last Friday, but I still had a good run during most of the run. During the last mile, I was getting tired, and I walked more than I had been walking during the first three miles, although the amount of walking during the last mile was about the same as it was during the summer.

It was nice to run in the dark and see the lights of buildings and cars. There were a lot of ducks bedding down for the night in the river, and they were quacking. Flocks of geese flew overhead just as it was getting dark, and they were honking. My wife, though, doesn't like me to run after dark because of her concerns for my safety. So, I need to finish my run before it gets dark. I did see two cyclists and three or four runners/walkers on the path after dark.

November 13, 2009

Today was my best run since January BC (before clots)

I ran 3.88 miles this afternoon. I had planned on running 3.66 miles, a 10% increase, but it was getting dark when I reached my turnaround point, and I couldn't see my GPS very well. I went further than I had planned and did a 13.5% increase. I also went a bit faster than I have in the past. Not intentionally faster; I just let my body dictate the pace. During the last mile, I took more walking breaks, but not as many as I've done in the past. Today's run was much better than the run on Monday and the runs last week.

It is 0.75 miles north to the turnaround, and I've been stopping and walking 2-4 times during that distance. Today I only stopped once on the way out and once on the way back. On the way back, I stopped to talk with the land owner who has been operating heavy equipment for the past two years on his land next to the Parkway path. I've been curious to know what he is planning, and he said it was new homes. Tonight, he had a big shovel moving big rocks next to the chain-link fence to be a rock wall. The part of the wall that he has finished looks nice. Having lived in Massachusetts for 17 years where rock walls are everywhere, I love rock walls.

The temperature was 38 (F) when I left home and 33 (F) when I returned. I only had two layers on (T-shirt and my nylon wind breaker), but once I started running and got warmed up, I was fine. I think I will, though, switch to a long sleeved T-shirt. The nylon arms of my jacket did feel cold on my bare arms.

I saw a red fox on the path and two deer in the river

On my way back on the 0.75 mile north segment of the path, I caught a glimpse of a red fox trotting down the path. When I got to the place where the land owner was building a rock wall, he stopped me with a wave of his hand and asked if I had seen the fox. The fox had trotted past him. I've seen the fox once or twice before. This picture of a fox is from the web. As with all the pictures in this blog, click for a larger view.



After talking with the land owner for a couple of minutes, I continued my run and saw two big mule deer on the path. A minute later I saw them wading to the other side of the river. They were about 100 feet from me, and I had a good view of them. No antlers. They are big and looked as big as a young horse. This picture of a mule deer is also from the web.



This is the fourth time I've seen deer during my runs. In two of the times, the deer were in the river. In one of the times, the deer was on the path, and one time the deer was a couple of hundred feet west of the path, near a house. My mother-in-law lives on the East bench of Salt Lake City, and she sees deer in her backyard every winter. Sometimes 15 or 20 deer at a time. They come off the mountain during the winter looking for food.

November 9, 2009

Ran/walked the 3.3 miles again

I did the 3.3 miles again. It was an OK run, but my energy level wasn't great. I ran in the mid afternoon and didn't eat breakfast due to thinking I would be going out in the morning. For lunch I had two fried eggs and toast and OJ, a couple of hours before I went out. My wakeup heart rate was 55 this morning, a good sign that I'm getting close to my proper amount of sleep. Another nice day with temps in the mid 50s (F).

November 4, 2009

A great 3.3 mile run

My wakeup heart rate was 55, and I repeated the 3.3 miles that I did on Monday. I did better today. During the first 2 miles I did more running and less walking than on Monday. During the last 1.3 miles, I did about the same as I did on Monday.

I was running when people who run or walk during their noon hour came onto the Parkway. Because of this, there were quite a few runners who passed me (going both directions).

The temperature was in the low 70s (F), and the sky was sunny with some beautiful clouds. A wonderful day! I didn't see many birds in the river. Just a few ducks and Coots.

November 2, 2009

Added 10% and did 3.3 miles

My wakeup heart rate this morning was 56, and I felt pretty good. I was surprised about this, because I only had six hours of sleep Saturday night, and I was expecting to feel tired this morning (I had a good seven hours of sleep last night). My legs felt tired, right from the beginning, but my body felt fine for the first mile and then began to feel tired. However, I felt good enough that I added the 0.3 miles that I had planned to add. My run/walk ratio was about the same as as it has been in the past.

The temperature was in the mid 50s (F), and it was a beautiful day. The whole week should be like today, due to a high front that is over the area, and it will be a good week to finish getting things ready for winter.