Monday, June 18, 2012


Natalie and I ran the 2-mile fun run at Berry Dairy Days this past Saturday. There was also a 10k and a half marathon. It rained the entire time, so it was quite a soaker. Natalie has only run two or three times since track season ended, and not at all since June 5th, so she didn't expect to throw down a crazy fast time. Still, she managed a 38 second PR, running a 15:42 (she ran a 16:20 at a 2-mile race last fall). Her splits were 7:55/7:47. She was hurting toward the end, but that was to be expected. Our next race will be the Run of the Mill 5k on July 7th. I'll probably let her run on her own there, while I see what I have in my pretty minimal tank.

My Maffetone-esque training is progressing into its 6th week. If you're not following along at home, several weeks ago, I decided to do all of my training runs at a pace slow enough to keep my heart rate in zone 2 (roughly 120 bpm, or under, for me), with only the occasional race serving as speed work. I've lost weight — 7.5 lbs. in 4 weeks — and I feel fitter, but I still am unable to run at a faster pace while staying in zone 2 than when I first started this system. I've been running at a 10:15-10:30 pace pretty consistently the past 5 weeks. I was able, however, to run a decent 5k a couple of weeks ago on this type of training alone. I'm going to stay the course, with only one modification. During the weeks in which I'm not racing, I'm going to give myself one "fast day." It'll either be a short tempo run, or some 1/2 mile surges during a run. Other than that, it'll be slow zone 2.

I also wanted to follow up on my orthotics/no orthotics experiment. I ran one week (two weeks ago) while wearing my orthotics in my running shoes for every run. I followed that up by running for one week without the orthotics in my shoes. I did this to see which approach was less stressful on my perpetually injured heel.

The results?

I have absolutely no clue. This heel has been finicky at best for over two years now. The only thing I know for sure is that running more than just a few miles per week does still bother it, to some degree, as does running hills. The frustrating thing is that I've never really been able to establish a pattern based on whether or not the orthotics have an effect. Maybe I need to go with each approach for longer than just a week. During each of the last two weeks, there were periods when the heel felt fine, and times when it was really aggravated. And there were times when it felt fine during my runs, but ached like crazy at other times during the day (especially at night, and often really ached when I woke up in the morning). I've taken ibuprofen regularly for a week at a time, but I'd really like to stay away from it if at all possible. I still ice it after nearly every run and stretch nearly as frequently. Ah, the trials and tribulations of a middle-aged runner.

That's about it from the Western Front. I'm trying to very gradually increase my weekly running mileage. I cracked the 14-mile mark last week. For a guy whose DOWN week was 30 miles a couple of years ago, a 14-mile week is paltry. But given how many weeks (months) I've been unable to run during certain periods for the last two years, I'll gladly take a 14-mile week right now. Onward!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Boeing Flight for Sight 5k

This morning, I ran the Flight for Sight 5k, which is a race to benefit Guide Dogs of America. I finished in 22:54 (7:23 pace). I actually won my age group (45-49)! I can't remember ever winning my age group (got a few 2nds & 3rds, but never 1st place). There were only eight finishers in my age group, but I'll take it. Finished 7th overall (not sure how many overall finishers yet, but it was a small race. I'm guessing under 100 for the 5k).

I'm a bit embarrassed to win my age group with that time, but I am happy about a couple of things. First, I've done nothing but Zone 2 runs (10:20-ish pace) the last three weeks, with absolutely NO fast running. I guess this shows that slow base-building can increase fitness enough to still run a reasonable pace. Second, this course was hillier than the 5k I ran in Arlington three weeks ago, yet I ran almost 30 seconds faster (note: I have lost 6 lbs. since that race, so that helped, too). Third, I managed to run negative splits yet again (7:44, 7:27, 7:13, 6:10 pace for last .1). I was still hurting more than I wanted to, but for an old guy held together with duct tape and paperclips that can barely train, I'm not at all disappointed. Next up, Berry Dairy Days in Burlington (with Natalie; next Saturday), then Run of the Mill 5k (July 7th).

[EDIT: the official results are in. Turns out, there were actually 8 finishers in my age group (makes me feel better, anyway)]. Official results:
Overall: 7 of 93
Age group: 1 of 8
Men: 7 of 47

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Running Threesome, plus...Orthotics Conumdrum

Since Natalie's track season is behind her, she's ready (sometimes, anyway) to start running at home with me. I love watching her compete in track and cross-country, but I always look forward to the off-seasons when we can run together again. Her goal (actually, my goal for her...and myself...) is to build a nice aerobic base this summer. She's got some good speed, and a pretty impressive kick, but—even though she had a great track season—she doesn't yet have the aerobic fitness she needs in order to really make some gains.

As fate would have it, I'm currently in the middle of a cycle of slow, easy zone 2 heart rate runs. Today, she and our lovable lab Apollo joined me on a 4-miler. For her, that's a long run (for me, too, actually). By the end of the summer...if all goes won't be. She'll probably run in a few local All-Comer's track meets this summer, along with a few road races, but that will probably be the extent of any real "speed" work for her. No need to try staying sharp all summer. With a nice aerobic base, she'll be ready to step up for cross-country season and, hopefully, be ahead of most of her teammates.

Here's a pic of us before our run this morning:
Well, it's the angle, and the shirt...but, yes, I have a few LB's to drop...

Orthotics Conundrum
I've been wearing my custom orthotics in my shoes—running and otherwise—for over a year now (not every run, but 90% of them). As recent as yesterday, both of my heels & achilles tendons were achy. Today, on a whim, I went with the factory inserts in my Brooks Ghost shoes instead of the orthotics. After our 4-mile run, my heels feel fine. Why?

Here's my theory. I'm not sure if this is valid, based on 1 run (and knowing how quirky and on-and-off my heel pain can be), but I'm wondering if the orthotics are raising my feet high enough in the shoes that the pain zone in my heels is rubbing the top of the backs of my shoes. Maybe the thin factory inserts let my heels sit low enough that the rubbing is less. I dunno. I developed the problem without any orthotics in the first place, so my theory may not hold much water.

As an experiment, I'm going to do all my runs next week sans orthotics. I'll report the results next weekend.