Thursday, March 31, 2011

Random thoughts on running

I've been running for over three months now. I've never pushed myself - no intervals, no 5k or 1mi baseline tests. I fear damage could result, damage I wouldn't want to impact cycling.  There's not much to show for three month's effort. I've logged only about 12 hours total, or less than an hour per week.

I am noticing subtle changes though. The first time I ran, my hip sockets would immediately hurt. That subsided after the first few weeks. My ankles and feet would hurt too. I'd get shooting pains, like my ankles were rolling even though I was on flat pavement. Not any more. Running is feeling less laborious now. I haven't changed my pace in two months, but the pace I'm running at is feeling easier and easier. I've run five miles several times now around a 7:30 pace. This is slightly above conversation pace for me. The most pronounced thing I am noticing is how much more solid I'm starting to feel on my feet. Whether it is going down stairs or jumping off of something, my lower legs no longer feel like a 15A circuit breaker with a toaster oven, microwave and fridge all plugged in at the same time.

Manchester, Burque, Daniel Webster loop.

I've had to deal with an issue already though. My old, poorly adapting body didn't adapt quickly enough to running in Nike Free shoes. Being minimally padded, they force a forefoot landing, which puts a big impulse through your calf muscle. As my pace picked up to sub-8 minutes and distance went over three miles, my right calf would get all knotted up on me. It would take a day or two to go away. I picked up a pair of Soucony traditional style running shoes, and the problem mostly went away. I still get some tenderness on five mile runs. Perhaps I need to run more than once or twice a week to toughen up my calves.

I've picked up a few lessons learned and have made a few observations along the way:
  • Don't let your toe nails grow out too long. They will cut into adjacent toes and make them bleed.
  • Don't trim your toe nails too short. They will become ingrown and cause great pain.
  • Layering for cold weather running is not the same as layering for cold weather riding. About 1/3 as much will do.
  • Recovery days used to be 45 minutes L1 on the bike. Now I run 30+ minutes on my "rest" days. I don't get rest days anymore.
  • A moderate 30 minute run spikes metabolism more than a hard 1 hour ride. I tend to be hungrier in afternoons after running five miles than riding 25 miles.
  • Running is just as effective in achieving a Zen state of mind as cycling is.
  • When running against traffic, drivers rarely look right when pulling out right.
  • Never trust a fart when you are running.
I would like to benchmark myself soon. The trick is, when? I only run when I'm beat from riding or skiing, on days that would typically be a rest or active recovery day. Running in this state would hardly be a fair benchmark test. On the flip side, I don't want to waste valuable training time by actually recovering for a run, as my cycling fitness is subpar right now due to lack of saddle hours this winter. Perhaps I shouldn't sweat it. I'm running to regain bone density, and I feel reasonably confident I'm on a solid path.

Joe Friel recently posted a series on bone density in cyclists, with a summary of recent studies. The consensus is plyometrics is best for building bone density, sprint effort running next best, followed by distance running. I just don't see myself getting into plyo. Not unless some part of my body bulks at running. I'd much rather be outside. Who knows, if I keep this up for a year, maybe there's a duathlon or winter triathlon in my future.


PatrickCT said...

Doug - ah, I started running a few years back for bone density too, but now really like the VO2 max experiences 5/10Ks provide...can see you in the trail running mode; I've found it's far more forgiving on the 48 year old frame too. It was good to catchup with you for a couple of mins at the LP Loppet -- Patrick

solobreak said...

Be patient and give your body time to adapt. It's better to ramp up slowly over time. Duathlon running is another deal. The second run is brutal. You have to plan for it as the bike leg ends. But the Pinnacle Challenge has your name all over it. And you have 6 months to get ready.

If you really want to test yourself, there will be mid-week racing starting up as soon as it gets warm, so you would not have to compromise your weekend.

Alex said...

Another option for testing, although less traditional, would be a level 2 test - run a set loop at the fastest pace you can manage while maintaining a heart rate in level 2. If it goes higher, you have to slow down. Over time, as you get more efficient, you should be able to run faster, at that same HR.

Maybe not what you had in mind, but, a way to measure running efficiency without having to put in a hard effort. Caution is the name of the game with running...

plum said...

You should duck into Runner's Alley sometime and have someone assess your stride. A big part of this is being in the right shoes from the start. Until I did this, I toiled in footwear that did not support me properly and went through a lot of unnecessary pain.

After years in a motion control shoe, I'm moving back to Nike Free. I find them quicker, they make my feet stronger, and I've bought into the barefoot running logic. For now, this is close enough for me.

Jacked Up Old Man said...

HIll Junkie

Note Plyo's are the missing link without proper production and application of muscle strength ........

It is similar to building a formula one car but using a regular transmission to get the power to the road.

I've consistently neglected them and results have been suffering.

You do not need much and you need to consistently follow a program for 3-6 months in order to be effective. Start slow .

Also what gearing do you recomend for MT Washington? THinking a MTN casstte for a39-36 should suffice???



Hill Junkie said...

Duncan - A 39 x 36 would work for you, but you can't just put a 36t cassette on a road bike and expect everything to work. You will also need a MTB derailleur. A MTB derailleur only works if the actuation ratio is same as road derailleur. With SRAM, you can mix and match "Exact Actuation" components. Shimano is more complicated. A 10spd shifter means you must use a 10spd cassette too. You may need to lengthen the chain, unless you are disciplined to stay only in the 39t ring when engaging the bigger cogs in back.

I still use an older 9spd setup. 24t front, 23t cassette in back. Chance I may do Newton's this year too. Should be in good form after I get back from 8 days in Italy.

Send me email if you have more questions.