I Like to Run

Some conditions are better than others, but I can find a reason that I like to run in most any condition.

I Like to run in the cold

While I’m not a big fan of being cold, there are some things I really like about running in the cold.

There are a lot fewer people around

With the COVID-19 lockdown there are a few rules we have to follow.

If you are within six feet of another person both of you are supposed to wear a mask. Even if you are outside.

During the summer our parks were very busy when they weren’t closed.

And neighborhood sidewalks were busy with dog walkers and people out with their kids.

Everyone was tired of being cooped up and wanted to get outside.

Wicked Half 2020, running 2020For most of the Summer and into Fall I had to wear a mask almost the entire time I was out for a run.

People seemed to be everywhere!

As the temperatures cooled I saw fewer people in the parks and on the sidewalks.

With fewer people out and about I didn’t have to wear my mask for the entire run.

Now that it is winter I like to run in the cold because I have the streets to myself for the most part.

I like to run in a mask

Most runners who run year-round have used a mask at one time or another.

It’s how we persevere in tough conditions.

Here in New England it’s hard to avoid running at least a few sub-zero days.

Before COVID, most of us only wore a mask when it was really cold. And most of us never really figured it out. Especially those of us who wear glasses.

I Like to Run, mask, J23Now that I have been running in a mask for almost a year, I know how to make them work. For the most part.

And once you figure out how to deal with your glasses fogging up it’s not so bad.

In fact, wearing a mask all the time helps eliminate the “It’s too cold to run” excuse.

My nose and face don’t freeze and the air going into my lungs doesn’t seem as cold either.

So running in a mask actually makes winter running more comfortable.

I like to run with pockets

Most runners need to carry a few things with them.

This usually includes a house or car key and usually a phone.

Many runners use their phone to track their run and for music or podcasts.

For longer runs, most runners will carry a gel and something to drink.

I always run with a key and usually my phone and some cash. You never know when you might need a bottle of water or even a bite to eat.

Just the basicsIn the summer time I often use a running belt since most running shorts have only one tiny pocket.

But when it’s cold out I often wear a running vest or a jacket.

In addition to keeping me warm all those pockets are a great place to stash a phone, keys and anything else I want!

I like to run in the dark

It’s cool to run in the dark

In the summer when you run after dark you avoid the intense summer sun and the heat.

Even when it’s cloudy, UV rays can still damage your skin. Runners spend a lot of time outside, so it’s important that we pay attention to our exposure.

If it’s really hot or you are on a long run you could also experience heat stroke. Heat stroke is nothing to fool with and it can kill you.

In July and August I often wait until after dinner to go for a run. In the middle of the summer sometimes even the setting sun cannot break the heat.

Of course, people need to be aware of their surroundings and possibly not run in the same areas they might during the day.

I like to run in the dark to avoid the summer heat and experience the peace and quiet of the evening.

There is something about the warm summer air in the evening.

I like to avoid the crowds

Philadelphia Marathon 2019Avoiding crowds seems to be the best way to avoid contracting COVID. Mask or not.

All businesses are required to keep the number of people in the office or dining room to 25% of capacity.

All mass gathering events such as concerts and ball games have been cancelled or played without anyone in the stands.

I like to run after dark to avoid close encounters.

Only in a park in the summer time would I see a crowd. But I have close encounters on the sidewalk all the time.

Some people are good with their mask but some people don’t even have one.

So to avoid the all to frequent encounters, I like to run at night and avoid the crowds.

I like to run in the morning

MRC Relay, let the sun shine, I like to run in the morningRunning at night is great, especially in the summer.

But running in the morning has it’s own advantages.

Just like evening running, morning running let’s you avoid the mid-day summer heat.

And the crisp air lets you know you’re alive.

Run towards the light

One advantage of morning versus evening running is light.

It seems that it’s easier for cars to see you in the light than it is in the dark with flashing lights and reflectors.

I’ve had more close encounters at night even when I’m lit up like a Christmas tree.

Maybe drivers don’t expect to see people out at night?

Down for the count

I’ve seen plenty of people fall during a run. I’ve done it a few times my self.

Most of these falls have been in the evening or at night.

And many of these falls have been on familiar roads or sidewalks.

As the shadows get longer, dips and heaves in the pavement become harder to see.

Also, the light from approaching cars can turn a sidewalk into a black abyss. In these situations you have to be very careful.

It’s very easy to step into a hole and wrench your back or twist your knee. And the sidewalk just has a way of reaching up out of the dark and taking you down.

When you go out for a morning run the light continues to improve. And this improving light makes it less likely that you will go down for the count.

We get more done before 9AM

Years ago The Marines used to run an add. The tag line was “We get more done before 9AM than most people get done all day”. I may not have the quote exact and it may have been The Army.

But when you go for a run in the morning all day you have the feeling that you got something really big done. It’s just this nice feeling of accomplishment that lingers and sometimes I forget why I feel so accomplished.

It’s easy to forget that you ran when you do it all the time. But that nice feeling can last all day.

When I don’t like to run

I guess I can find a good reason to run just about any time of day and in any conditions.

The only conditions I don’t like are in the cold and wet.

Boston Marathon 2018, marathon runningI can run in the snow and manage to stay comfortable. I can run in the heat and avoid dehydration.

When it’s cold and raining eventually you become miserable.

The 2018 Boston Marathon comes to mind!

Over time, the rain always seeps through whatever you are wearing. And when that cold gets to your skin it always sucks the heat out of your body and makes you miserable.

If you are in these conditions long enough you will suffer hypothermia. I’ve seen it happen.

I don’t know anyone who likes to be cold and wet.

I can deal with one or the other, but not both.

What is your favorite and least favorite condition to run in? Are you a morning or evening runner?

Run well my Friends,

Andy

Garmin Connect Mobile App and Achieving Goals with small data

Garmin Connect mobile app and small data can make a big difference in achieving goals. Focusing on a few pieces of data enables you to focus on goals.

I’m not a huge fan of installing apps on my phone. It seems that every event I go to has their own “cool app” to help me make the most of the event and connect with other attendees. Often it’s just app litter.

One app I’ve downloaded since the New Year and actually find useful is the Garmin Connect Mobile App. Often I find my self adding treadmill runs or gym workouts as manual activities in Garmin Connect when I get home.

Sometimes I forget to do this and I’m sure that a few workouts have gone missing. With the app I can add an activity at any time from anywhere.

Since I often run on a treadmill at work, this app has been handy.

Garmin Connect Mobile App and Small Data

Since The New Year my goal has been to run 3 miles per day on average. As such, I’ve been paying more attention to Garmin Connect at home and my Garmin Mobile App.

Garmin Connect Mobile AppThe opening screen gives you details of the past seven days. How many miles run, how many runs, how many calories burned and the last weight measure you added.

This screen shot shows how someone could use all of the features. But like most people I focus on what’s most important to me: running.

When you go to the Activities tab, you can look at your activities by the week, month or past twelve months. If you do different activities you can look how each activity is going for you.

My activity is running of course so that’s what I track.

This past week I’ve run four times for a total of 30.6 miles and achieved a daily average of 4.4 miles.

Over the part four weeks I’ve run 108.8 miles over 13 runs for a daily average of 3.9 miles.

I’m happy to be running ahead of my 3 miles per day goal.

For anyone who’s ever looked at their GPA as a Junior or Senior on high school or college, you understand how challenging it is to move the needle on a number tracked over a long period of time.

Last year my goal was recovery, running a few choice races and having some fun.

Since my daily miles were not a focus I didn’t really pay any attention to this number, My casual goal was to hit 1,000 miles but I only got to about 875 or so.

Small Data makes a big Difference

The Garmin Connect Mobile App gives you a 12 month view of your data also. Since it is a mobile app with limited screen real estate it drops the oldest month as a new one is added. So all numbers are a moving average.

My daily average has been stuck at two miles per day since January. I figured it would take months to get it to move.

After my 6.8 mile treadmill run Thursday night my number moved to 2.1 miles!Can you use small data to achieve your goals? Click To Tweet

While 0.1 miles isn’t that much it is a movement in the right direction. It’s exciting that I’ve been able to move that number at all. I didn’t expect to see it change until later in the year.

Moving a 365 day average over two months and a few weeks is very encouraging. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that as lower mileage months from 2018 fall off and the higher mileage months of 2019 take their place, this number will increase velocity toward my goal of 3 miles per day.

But at this time last year I was also training for Boston and my monthly mileage was about as high as it is now. So the movement that I have been able to make is mostly attributable to my actual running and not a change in the data set.

Later in the year as low mileage months from 2018 drop off, my daily average should really pop up.

It will be fun to see the 2019 average to date and my annual moving average improve.

Everyone is talking about Big Data these days and everyone has their own definition. I consider big data to be the process of combining data from different sources to find insightful relationships among the data points. Collecting petabytes of data that you can do nothing with is useless.

Sometimes focusing on a few key pieces of data is more insightful. In my case focusing on daily averages over both short and long periods of time gives me the insight into my progress that I need to achieve my goals.

Run well my Friends,

Andy

Last Long Run at 52

This week’s run was my last long run at 52. On Monday I turn 53 and will continue to remind my self that I’m still in my early 50’s.

This week we ran the same Sunday Long Run route that we ran week six, the Winchester Highland route. Three weeks ago it was around 90°, sunny and humid. Nothing that a runner likes.

This week it was in the high 50’s, overcast with a light drizzle. Eventually it rained and everything was soaked through. Near the end I just ran through the puddles because it didn’t matter anymore.

Last Long Run

Most runners have considered their last run, long or short. Usually this thought pops into a runner’s head when they are layed up with an injury and have way too much time to think.

With a nagging, persistent injury it can feel like your running days are over. When the pain just wont go away, it’s easy to wonder if you have had your last long run.

It’s not like facing down a life threatening illness, but it can feel like your life will never be the same again. Runners have lots of running friends. While running can be a solitary sport, often a big part of a runner’s social life is built around running. The people and socializing are one of the wonderful things about running.

The thought of loosing so much of your social life can be depressing.

Then there is the fitness and health running gives to you. If you can’t run how will you maintain your weight and youthful vigor? When Boston had the record winter two years ago I was in peak condition from training for three marathons. I shoveled for the entire season and never really ran out of steam.

If I had not been a runner and spent so much time focused on being in shape, that winter would have been much more difficult.

Running and aging

Getting older is just part of life. As my Dad says, it sure beats the alternative.

In my mind, life is a series of taking fall-back positions. Your life is under a constant assault by time and eventually you have to yield your position in order to continue the fight.

This is a military concept so I may not have a full understanding of how a battle is conducted. But I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.

When you are young, your body will take a lot of abuse and bounce back quickly. When we are young we probably do a lot of damage to our bodies because it’s easy to bounce back and compensate.

I used to carry anything that my hands and arms could hold onto. I could load and carry around 50lb bags of cement. It would have been smarter to use a cart and my back wouldn’t hurt so much today.

Now I am much more careful about carrying heavy items and use back support when I do.

As a runner I have also learned a lot about preventing and managing injuries. I’ve hurt my self while running several ways, now I manage those situations and generally avoid injuries from them.

Pain is a powerful teaching tool! You can read about what to do and not to do. But often the lesson does not resonate until you go out and do something stupid.

A few years ago I dreamed of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. After trying a few times and going through various injuries I question that quest. My fall back position is to run fewer marathons and not worry about Boston.

Long distance running can be brutal on the body. I have even considered giving up the marathon and only running halfs, 10K and 5K races. I’m just not there yet but I feel that my position could be over-run at any time.

Older and Wiser?

53 isn’t really that old. My parents are 88 and 89. I should have at least another 35 years on this earth.

Many of us felt like we knew everything when we were 17 or 20 and definitely at 30. We were just fooling our selves. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize there is so much to learn. What you thought at 40 is laughable at 50.

I can only imagine looking back at today when I am 63. What opportunities did I miss? Oh the mistakes I made! What can’t I do at 63 that I could do at 53? What silly ideas did I hold to be true?

I may be wiser in that I know I can hurt my self. I know injuries can take a long time to heal and some never truly go away. The same can be said about relationships.

I know some lessons are never truly learned until the bridge has been crossed. You cannot understand what it means to be a parent until you are. You cannot understand true joy until your heart is busting and your eyes are full of tears. You cannot understand loss until there is an emptiness that cannot be filled.

Life’s lessons are learned through joy and loss, pleasure and pain.

Last Long Run at 52

This week’s run was much more enjoyable. While I do not enjoy running in the rain, it is much better than running in the heat. I teamed up with Freddie Pare early in the run when we figured out we had the same goal pace: 9:30.

My running mate from last week, Stephanie was there again this week. I was glad to see her return after that 18 miler from last week. I think she ran the half distance this week as I didn’t see her after the first half mile or so.

last long run, marathon trainingI won’t give you turn by turn details since they are the same as week six. It was nice to run the same course in better weather. Freddie and I agreed that it was a great way to gauge your progress.

This route has the most hills of any course in our series. For week six I ran the course at a 10:46 pace. This week my pace was 9:41! A few weeks of “training” helped but I think the weather made the most difference.

last long run, week nine elevation map

I’ve never run with Freddie so we had a great conversation and pulled each other along.

I left the charging cable for my watch at work and it died Saturday night. This week I used “Run Keeper” as a replacement.

I haven’t used Run Keeper in a few years and used it to replace my watch then also. At the time Run Keeper was new and everyone around me was fascinated by the time pace and distance announcements coming from my phone.

I liked Run Keeper because it has some nice details and uses cell towers instead of satellites, so it links up faster. What I didn’t like about Run Keeper was trying to start a race, start Run Keeper and get my phone stowed away in a moving crowd of runners. And on rainy days I hated taking my phone on a run.

During our run today I stopped to use a porta-pottie at a construction site. It was very dark in there so I had to be careful not to drop anything. So I didn’t take my phone out to stop Run Keeper. As I was looking for hand sanitizer Run Keeper reverberated in the porta-pottie announcing my current distance pace etc. I could hear Freddie outside laughing.

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Senior Circuit Running

This past week I have been away for a business and visiting with my parents.

While I did a lot of walking, I also did a lot of eating, a fair bit of drinking and got no proper exercise.

Senior Circuit

My parents live in a development in Florida. It seems theses developments are everywhere in Florida. There’s is for people 55 and older.

After a day or so to rest and recover from a super busy work week, I decided I should go for a run. The road that loops around their development is a little over a mile long, so I figured I would do a few loops.

Unlike a native Floridian, I didn’t go out for my run before the sun came up. I went out around 10AM and it was already about 80°. I had my running shoes, socks and shorts. I did not have a running shirt, hat or sun glasses!

I started out on my first loop and shortly felt like I was ready to put down a deposit. The last time I ran it was 40° out and very low humidity. It’s winter in Massachusetts!

This felt like July in Massachusetts and I was not acclimated. After a half mile I felt a little better, but was already sweating. My Boston Red Sox hat was roasting my head and my t-shirt was way too much clothing.

I saw a family of five casually rollerblading and a few old folks cycling or walking. I think I was the only person breaking a sweat! The folks were out doing the circuitous route around the park.

Probably the last time they saw someone sweating and breathing like me they called 911! I felt like crap and I’m sure looked like a ponchy middle-aged man.

I completed my first loop at about 1.4 miles and had to do another. I decided to slow down and even walk a bit. The distance was more important than speed.

Surviving the Senior Circuit

As I started my second loop I passed a guy in shorts and Florida shirt holding back two little dogs. The dogs were yapping furiously at me and it looked like the old guy was working to hold them back. “That’s me in a few years” I said to my self. And not too many years!

A little further down the road I took my first walk break. It was so hot and I was sweating like July. My sun screen and sweat had trapped little bugs on my arms and legs. They seemed to be dead.

As I started to run again, I looked for any shade to help me along. There was none. All of the trees were only about 8 to 10 feet tall and the sun was high in the sky. On the far side of the park I found maybe 50 feet of shade to run in but it was still hot and not enough.

As I came around the bend to complete my second lap, I decided that was enough. I’m not in great shape and this was extreme conditions for me.

I managed to get in 2.75 miles. While I felt lucky to have accomplished that much, I also felt like I was being a wimp. Sometimes you have to eat your pride and do the smart thing.

Run well my Friends,

Andy

Cresting Hills

Sunday we ran our final long run before the Boston Marathon.

12.58 miles of hills and good company. There is great joy in being out on a long run with friends on a great day. The freedom experienced while running is unlike anything else I have experienced.

Feeling the sun on your face and the air fill your lungs. That is living. The burn in your legs as you push up the hills and the feeling of acceleration at the crest as gravity falls away like a heavy load.

Cresting Hills

In life we are constantly pushing up hills that make us question our journey. Why does it have to be so difficult? Why are there always these damn hills? Did we make a wrong turn somewhere along the way?

Cresting the hill, Campobello 2014The joy is in reaching the crest. That point at which we can see the other side. The moment we know the hill, the challenge, has not beaten us. The challenge has been met. We will push forward and we will be stronger for the next challenge.

What ever hills you are facing believe that you will crest the hill. If you believe that you can, then you can. Sometimes you just need to hold on and live to fight another day.

Run well my friends and thank you for your support.

Andy

If you would like to help FamilyAid Boston crest their hill please click here.

Taper Tantrums

Taper Tantrums

Def: Emotional roller-coaster, feeling bloated, fat, slow and lazy. An endless urge to eat everything in sight, and to seek out food not in sight. The constant feeling like you should be doing something else right now, like running or stretching or checking on the weather three weeks away.

We just had our longest run of the season on Saturday. It was 21.5 or twenty-something depending on how many times you stopped your watch or forgot to re-start your watch. Taper time hasn’t even really begun.

I ran 5.91 Tuesday night and cranked out negative splits on the last three miles. It just felt so good. I pushed up the hills and cruised down the hills.

Thursday the taper tantrums really set in. Something set me off in the morning and I was just kind of pissed off all day. I thought I was just pissed. It’s way too early for the taper tantrums.

As the day wore on and on, it dawned on me what was going on. I was in full blown taper mode and I had barely recovered from my long run. What is going on here?

Running with cinder blocks

Now that I’m in the early stages of mid-life, I’ve come to understand mood swings. We all have them; runners have them in spades.When I was younger I surfed the waves of emotion with little control or awareness. If I was running high, whoa! I went with it. If I was in the valley, knife was in hand. Don’t cross me.

Being older and wiser I can feel the engines ignite. I know what to expect and where this rocket ship is going and that no one else really cares. It’s my freakin ride, step off.

I can also feel the cold dark ugliness of the valley. Nothing is good and everything is bad. If you cross me I’m liable to cut you down in a sentence. You won’t deserve it but I can’t help it.

In full blown taper tantrum, a runner’s mood swings can be sudden, extreme and long.

I think I dove right into my taper tantrums this time because I’m running with cinder blocks. I freely chose these weights and the responsibilities are all mine.

I chose to run a marathon under-prepared and take on a fundraising commitment. I chose to start a business and try to figure everything out. I chose a demanding job. I chose all of this and take full responsibility.

I’m feeling under prepared for a marathon that so many people only get to run once. I worry I’m not showing the respect due a renowned race such as this. The Boston Marathon is not a race to be taken lightly. It is more than a race.

But each commitment and exhausting activity weighs on me. I don’t have time to be bored. Barely have time for lunch or a relaxing drink.

Running with cinder blocks amplifies and intensifies my moods and reactions. I don’t have time for bull shit.

Runners tend to be very focused. We need to get in our training and try to eat right and avoid injury. We are like a guided missile locked onto our targets. Don’t get in our way.

While people around us are tossing idle banter we are calculating distance run for the week. How to get in a 7 mile run at lunch between meetings and calls. How to avoid a box of Girl Scout cookies in the kitchen. How can I get my work done and get to what matters, running, when everyone keeps bugging the shit out of me?

I love you all and everything you have done for me. But expect me to be in the valley with my cinder blocks a lot these next few weeks.

Run well and please excuse me.

Andy

© 2016 andrew nagelin