Saturday, April 26, 2008

Backing Off--just a bit

It seems that these past few weeks things aren't going as I had hoped. I was planning on running 3k daily, Monday through Friday and a long run on Saturday--but that was not to be. I've got a pain in my left ankle, last time it was my right ankle and it took several weeks to heal. However, this time I'm pretty sure that the problem was caused not by running, but when I accidentally hit my foot on the bed frame on Monday evening. Trying to be a hero and running too hard on Tuesday only made it worse.

Three kilometers per day, total distance this week: 12k. About average for this month.
               HR           Pace                Cadence
Monday    -   157    6:50 min/km  11:00 min/mi    84
Tuesday   -   160    6:37 min/km  10:39 min/mi    88
Wednesday -   156    7:29 min/km  12:03 min/mi    85
Thursday  -   151    8:05 min/km  13:01 min/mi    80

I took it easy on Wednesday. The pain subsided after about a kilometer warm up and I almost talked myself into training through it instead of taking any rest days. Perhaps stress has something to do with this injury because after a relaxing good phone conversation with my wife on Thursday morning I really felt pretty good, though I took it extra easy to prevent making things worse.

Since Friday was a day off work I decided to wait until later in the day to do the run, but after walking to the market I realized that I'd better take the day off and forget about doing a long run on Saturday.

So this shouldn't be as bad as when my right ankle hurt last month and I don't think it is a running injury this time, but I'm going to back off on my workouts--just a bit because I don't want to just stop and rest. One strategy that might work is to run every other day and see if things get better or worse.

An interesting observation is that the Polar RS800sd measured all of the runs this week 2.9k instead of 3k. Not a big deal, but I'm running the same course so to keep things consistent I'm calculating my times for 3k.

I guess that in the big picture it doesn't really matter too much if my training distance is off my 0.1k as long as I'm getting in a good workout. I'm currently not preparing for a race, unless you consider getting my cholesterol count down a sort of a race. What is starting to bother me though is that I'm running around in circles every morning in order to stay healthy enough to sit in front of a computer in a dark room the rest of the day.

Five weeks to go on this job and I'll be home.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Human Electric Hybrid

The most practical alternate form of transportation that will get me to and from work seems to be an electric assisted bicycle. Nothing fancy or very progressive--I've already got a bicycle that can be easily modified. There's lots of information and videos about electric hybrid bicycles, this news report pretty much covers the basics.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pondering Bicycle Choices

Before I came to Israel to work, I was about to buy a tandem recumbent bicycle so that my wife and I could exercise together. My first choice was this Easy Racer tandem.

The problem with this was how to transport it. We weren't ready to sell the car and use this as our main source of transportation so we wanted something we could haul to the beach on a standard bicycle rack with a minimum of hassle.

Then I found this Columbia Tandem from Barcroft.

And it fits on a rack without folding or disassembly.

I was all set to order one of these tandems when I got called away to work in a far away land. So, now that I'll be returning home should I pick up where I left off?

Since I've been gone the price of gasoline has skyrocketed so bicycle commuting to work is an option that I've got to consider. No need to car pool with a bicycle so the tandem will have to wait for now.

So, what are my commuting options? I've got a cheap hybrid bicycle that I was thinking about adding an electrical assist in order to get over the hill between my house and where I work. However, there is this site called and I was able to map a route that avoided the hill and the heaviest traffic. Here's a route that looks promising.

This got me thinking, could I combine my exercise and commute? When I'm at home I have to get up and hour early to exercise then drive about 45 minutes to work. I should be able to do this 14 mile commute via bicycle in about an hour. Returning from work by car usually takes about an hour because of traffic, sometimes more, much more. However with a bicycle it should take an hour or maybe less because it is mostly downhill and I won't be concerned about building up a sweat and having to stew in my juices the whole work day. The downside is that it is usually dark when I get off work and of course there is the possibility of rain. No big deal, I've exercised in the rain and in the dark, I can deal with it.

So how about a little fun and instead of spending on an electric assist I get a new bicycle? I'm fond of recumbents so a nice fast one would make the commute more enjoyable, like this sleek Bacchetta.

I've been very interested in the front wheel drive Cruzbike and adding an electric assist on this bike is an intriguing option.

Of course if I'm really serious about exercise fixed gear is the way to go. Sure it may be the latest fad, but it is also great exercise (no coasting)--and I don't have to pay gym membership to enroll in a spinning class. I'd probably be a bit of a prude to add a front break, but better safe than road kill. The coolest thing about this choice is that I could get an old frame, convert it to fixed gear myself and have a very hip rig without spending a fortune.

Of course if money is no object, there are lots of carbon fiber tri, trials, road, track, beauties like this Superbike from Bike Technologies Australia.

Post Crunch Time Setback

Last week I was congratulating myself for exercising all through crunch time at work. This week--well, not so much.

Sunday was a scheduled day off, Monday I put in a 3K run, Tuesday I didn't make up my mind if I would alternate between 2K and 3K each day so on the second lap I thought I'd check my time and oops--forgot to start my watch, so 2K it was.

Tuesday started bad but ended worse. The DVD we made for the screening didn't work at the Jerusalem Cinematheque and we ended up working late into the night trying to make one that would work. As it turned out the DVD was fine but there was some sort of a technical problem at the Cinematheque that caused the right speaker to kick out about 20 minutes into the movie.

Anyway, Wednesday morning I was toast and even though nobody seemed to mind the right speaker going out for about 5 minutes during the screening, I of course stressed out. Thursday I had a back ache, sore ankles, wobbly knees, and other physical signs of stress so I took that day off from running. On Friday, which is a non-work day like Saturday is in the U.S., I spent most of the day laying on the couch hoping that would get my back back in shape--ugh!

That brings me up to today. I decided to run, though I started a little later than usual and the weather is starting to warm up a little earlier than it used to. My back, ankles, knees and head felt better so I decided to get back on track and put in 5K on the hilly neighborhood course. On the 2nd lap I was weighing my options, should I bail out at 3K and save the 5K for tomorrow? Without thinking about it I started to speed up but at the end of the 3rd lap I convinced myself that a 5K would be better than a 3K for today.

No crunch time next week, 3K workouts Monday through Friday and time to think about doing something longer than 5K for the Saturday LSD run.
                HR           Pace                Cadence
Sunday       -   Rest Day
Monday  3K   -   161    6:50 min/km  10:59 min/mi    87
Tuesday  2K  -   Forgot to start running watch
Wednesday    -   Zip
Thursday     -   Nada
Friday       -   Even less than yesterday
Saturday 5K  -   164    7:18 min/km  11:45 min/mi    83

Total for the week, 10K. That's a setback to my goal of slowly increasing weekly distance, last week I did 15K so it isn't really all that bad.

Finally, on today's chart I put the cursor on the 2K mark just to see how fast I was moving at that point--5:45 min/km 9:16 min/mi. Somehow everything must have fallen in place at that point because I didn't feel like I was going that fast and I had to force myself to slow down knowing that I wouldn't make it through 5K at that speed. Well, at least not on the hills in the heat, not yet--but maybe some day?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Crunch Time 5K

Looking over my previous posts, what has become a pattern is work getting in the way of my scheduled workouts. Somehow I managed to get in all my runs for the week while making it though crunch time at work. We've got a screening scheduled for next Wednesday and even though I did work long hours and through the weekend I'm quite proud of myself for putting in my runs.

Today was my long day and even though calling 5 kilometers a long run might seem laughable, I did increase my weekly distance for the past three weeks--10k, 13k and this week, 15k. It is a long way off from the 50k weeks I used to do last year racewalking, but I'm huffing and puffing over the hills of Jerusalem.

The foot pod once again measured slightly different than usual, but if this course really is a 1k loop then things look like this:
                  HR               Pace            Cadence
Saturday 5k   -  165    6:50 min/km  10:59 min/mi    88
Not bad for an easy run, it was even better than most of my daily runs!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Building up the Distance

Somehow I've managed to keep building up my distance despite being on a crunch time at work this week. My daily runs were only 2 k per day, but I was able to get all of them in.
Sunday    - Rest Day, yesterday was a 10K race
               HR           Pace               Cadence
Monday    -   163    7:03 min/km  11:20 min/mi    86
Tuesday   -   158    7:13 min/km  11:36 min/mi    85
Wednesday -   157    7:30 min/km  12:04 min/mi    85
Thursday  -   157    7:19 min/km  11:46 min/mi    85
Friday    -   157    6:53 min/km  11:04 min/mi    85

It looks like I wasn't quite recovered from the race on Monday. Tuesday I forgot to take my water bottle and my ankle was bothering me just a bit so I took it easy. Wednesday I took it even easier--the stress at work was getting to me, but by Friday I was starting to build up speed.

Tomorrow is my LSD day and since I promised myself to build up slowly I'll probably just do a 5 K around the neighborhood like I did a couple of weeks ago. Before I leave Jerusalem, just 7 weeks to go, I hope to be able to do 5 K daily runs on my hilly neighborhood course.

Of course I missed the Jerusalem half-marathon a few weeks ago, but that was partially due to work. Things were getting busy and the race was on a Thursday during regular working hours. It was also partially because my ankle was hurting. Yeah, I over did it and built up my distance too quickly but it seems that job stress is also causing some of my lower leg pain. I work sitting down all day on a computer. Some guys work standing up, but it seems that would be tiring too. Maybe I should just stop working if that's what causing my pains?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Another 10k Race

I was hoping to build up my distance for this week by alternating a 2k with a 1k daily run. However, work got in my way again as it so often seems to happen and I was only able to do a 2k on Monday, with a decent 6:30 min/km pace (10:27 min/mi) and a 1k on Tuesday, taking it much easier with my "normal" 7 min/km pace (11:15 min/mi).

However Sharon Peleg, my assistant at work, found a 10k race near his home in a suburb of Tel Aviv. He has only recently started running, he says that I inspired him, and his longest run so far has been 4 kilometers. I encouraged him to sign up for the race and we'd both do it. He hessitated and said that he'd try to do 5 kilometers next time he runs and then decide. The next morning we signed up for the race.

It was an out and back course that started and ended in a small neighborhood athletic park. The course was a bit hilly but I tried holding him at a steady 7 min/km pace through the first half, which turned out to be mostly downhill. Our 5k time was a little faster than our target at about 33 minutes. Going back up the hill was a bit tough, but since we took it easy at the beginning we made it to the top without taking any walking breaks. Once we saw the 8k marker at the top of the hill we knew we could finish it, in fact we had a pretty good sprint once we got on the track for the final 200 meters and hit a top speed of 4:28 min/km (7:11 min/mi).

I'll update this with the official finishing time but to this photo, we clocked in at 1:08:33. That would be my best 10k running time yet and the first time Sharon ran that distance. Of course we didn't win, but our goal was to do it at 1:10 and not be the last ones to finish!

The only glitch was that the Polar software recorded the distance as only 9.287 kilometers, way short of 10k so the average pace results are off. I'm now seriously thinking about getting a GPS unit. It would also help once I get home and start getting into bicycling.

In any case I increased my mileage (kilometerage?) from a total of 10 kilometers last week to 13 kilometers this week. Nothing to brag about, but I am trying increase the distance a little bit each week. Oh, and my ankle feels pretty good so hopefully I'm over that injury.