Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Monday, January 27, 2014

Invariably Human - Run Commute Update

I had trouble putting this post together, as my first few versions were pretty boring. Boring as in, I didn't even want to read what I just wrote.
Pretty photo running to work
Initially I wanted to get a week's worth of run commutes in to give my early review. I initially tried doing a review of my runs, but snoooozesville. If you want to follow my runs, jump on over to Daily Mile.

I decided to cut it down to the most valuable lessons you should learn if you ever consider a run commute.
  • Be organized and have an inventory of your food and cloths you keep at work. On Wednesdays at work, I check what I have left for clothes, how many of each, and write it down. I then write out all the clothes I'll need for the next four business days. I then bring the list home and go shopping in my closet or do a lot of laundry to bring it all in on Thursday, my mandatory rest day from running. Thursday I also check what food I have left and make another list of all the breakfast, lunch, and snack food I'll need for the next four business days. I use my lunch break to go to the grocery store up the street from work and get only what I need (hello limited desk space).
  • Trust your planning. I spent a good amount of time planning routes, alternate routes, timing out appropriate bus schedules, time needed to get ready, buffer time for delays and so forth. I just have to pick my distance and follow my spreadsheet instructions. I have had a few moments where I have mini panics if I set my alarm for the right time, if I wrote down the wrong bus schedules, but I have to stop myself and trust my previous work.
  • Be aware of the variables out of your control that could disrupt your run start time or pace (especially if you are running to work and trying to start work at a specific time).  The biggest variable so far has been the weather. I have had to adjust my run routes  and times a few times due to ice and intense weather in the pre-dawn hours.  I always consider how safe the run will be, not as much to run through, but are the risks of crossing out of control cars too high as I get off the running path. 
  • Have different run routes ready to switch to in case of weather, reroutes, or over sleeping. Even though I originally set 5 run routes, I have yet to use any of them due to partial path closures in the winter. No biggie, just made a few new ones and found areas to lap around. Also, in the comments of my last post Jennifer commented on wanting to be able to do a run commute, but the lack of showers preventing that from happening.  I started thinking what I would do? I started to think about doing run commutes home. Sounded easy enough. Just whip up some paths that end at home, get into work at 6am, leave at 2:45pm and still get home at a reasonable hour. I quickly liked the idea to throw in my rotation for days that I need to bring emergency cloths to work, weather doesn't permit a run at all in the morning, or I don't feel good in the morning.
  • And remember, you are human:  As I'm sure many of you can relate, you can become obsessive and stubborn about your runs. During this winter season, my hardest to deal with human frailty is my new gift of asthma. Upon initial diagnosis, I thought I would just have to deal with exercise induced asthma on my long runs. Reality, I'm not at that point yet. Last Wednesday (22 January) on my run to work, it was moderately cold out. I had on my balaclava, but I started feeling nauseous. I pulled the cover off my mouth to let the cold air help me feel better.  But side result? My asthma flared up hard for days (just feeling more baseline today). I had to call my doctor and was told to run inside and take my medication more often for a few days. Here is where my stubborn comes in, my immediate reaction,  I made this commitment to a run commute, I'm a failure if I run inside! Then the little common sense voice in my head breaks through and says, so emergency room or run inside and listen to your body when you need to. Lesson learned. As a result, I'll be using the treadmill during this polar vortex for a couple days.
I'm hoping once the winter turns into a more... normal Chicago winter, I can get in a good run commute rhythm. For now, just staying as positive as I can and remembering I am a squishy human.
Okay, back to what I was doing:

Cheers mates!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Adjusting for a Run Commute

For the last few weeks I had been mentally fiddling with how manage a partial run commute.

Wait Declan! You already are able to run in your lunch hour (also known as runch) at work, why wake up earlier to run?

I'm glad you asked!

  1. Limited time: I get an hour for lunch, and if I get into work earlier (as early as 6am), I can use my extra time to work out, rather than leave early. I can fit in 7-11 miles in this time frame if I run outside, but I have no time left over to stretch good after.
  2. I could do so much more: As mentioned in my end of year post, I looked back and thought how I could do so much more. I want to run my miles before work, then use my lunch hour to do core and hip work, and do use the weight room to build up my upper body strength.
  3. I hate treadmills: For a runch, I have two options, A) Run on the treadmill and maximize miles...but I always feel jankie for the next 24 hours, get bored, and just don't get my normal high. B) Run outside, but 60-80% of my miles are made up of getting to and from the lakefront path....and that means a lot of intersections and waiting for a pause in traffic to hopefully j-run. I end up losing about 10 minutes or so from my run time waiting for the lights.
So now, I will be doing part of my commute on foot. I live about 14ish miles from work via the lakefront trail to the S. Loop to  what I like to consider the Borderlands of Chicago.

Obviously I don't have the fitness to do this every day, so I mapped out multiple 5 different runs to do, 6.3,8, 10.75, 12.3, and 13.1 miles. Each run finishing at work, and the last 3 miles will have to suffer intersections, but I'm hoping to avoid traffic by being on the street before the normal commuting hours.

Mapping was the easy part, as this is largely papercraft (I still don't know what the emergency bathroom options will be) and it looks nice on an excel sheet.

The hard part, the logistics of making it work. I don't want to bring a full backpack of cloths and food every day. So here is what I did today.

I brought in three sets of work outfits, 3 sets of work out cloths for my lunch time work outs, bagels, carnation breakfast drink mixes, yogurts, silverware, bread, peanut butter, jelly, bananas, toothbrush, tooth paste, shampoo, (I already have soap here), deodorant, and an extra towel (two work outs, means two showers at work).  I had found an old duffel bag in my closet and stuffed it last night with all my goodies. When I was leaving this morning, I realized it had a nice rip on the side... duck tape it..

I get on the bus, and unzip it to get something out now, rather than at my work parking lot... and the zipper comes unhooked from one side and won't work now. womp womp.

I forgot to bring in my granola and cereal bars, and I brought in the wrong cream cheese.   I got into work early today, so I'll use a little of that extra time to run to the grocery store.. or stop on the way back all sweaty.. yes.. I'll do that.

So every day after work, I can wear my work cloths home..with my running sneakers on and use a plastic grocery bag to bring home sweaty cloths. I'll need to buy an extra belt (I only bought one two sided belt after losing weight) and bring in shoe polish. My rest day from my morning run will be Wednesday or Thursday, and use that day to bring in new food and work cloths.

This schedule should let me get a steady 60-65 miles per week average, with room to grow over time, help me strength my weak hips, keep up the exercises I would do at physical therapy, and not have gumby arms.

I still need to find easy things to keep at work for breakfast and lunch to feed the beast once it kick, and be reasonable about listening to my fatigue, as doing two a day work outs will require breathers from time to time.

And as I have no marathons on my agenda, I'll likely just jump in a training plan soon, do a 20 mile pace run at the end, do an easy week or so, then go again (or as much as baby #2 allows).

I'll follow up on this in a week or two with lessons learned.

Now you've read enough, here are some photos from my recent runch:

 What my desk needs to smell like:

And for those winter blues days:

 And your reaction right now to this post:

Monday, January 6, 2014

Where in the World...did my Blog Content Go?

This update is largely at the request of Mrs. Stop Running Dad, saying my blog misses me.

Post holidays, I have been pretty reserved in streaming my deluge of links, runs, and banter on the internet.  This action is not a result of being addicted to it or needing to go off the grid to enjoy life, but rather just a reset of objectives for the year.

Last year, my blog and connections were based on marathon training and subsequent characters whose life adventured I would join time to time. The year ended with rush of holiday gatherings and emotional highs. As with any extraordinary rush, comes the subsequent reaction the normalize once the stimuli are gone. This time period has had me thinking of what I want to do this year and how can I grow most as a husband, father, and friend. I haven't had any giant ideas or breakthroughs, but I am getting more excited every day for baby #2!

I haven't signed up for any races this year, which removes some pressure, but also some unity with the community I know. I am keeping June through the end of October clear for baby number two (in case he/she comes early, then the period of time where sleep will be short until sleep training begins at four months).  I briefly thought about a spring marathon, but I still need a longer period of time with more easy paces runs (and not on the treadmill) to get the kink out of my left leg. I feel the stress on the period injury flare up, and I know it isn't time to be freaking out about every run and goal time. I'll be restarting the activities I did at physical therapy soon during my lunch, and start doing a partial run commute to give myself more time to run.

The sad part about my run schedule, is that 5 out of my 6 runs a week will almost surely be done exclusively alone, as weekday runs have zero flexibility to them (and odd starting points), and who gets up super early on a Saturday?

But hey, nobody comes to this blog thinking they are reading the text from Live Journal, so here is some life for the post.

Highlights of the last six days:

On New Years day, I was able to squeeze in a short run at night (rare for me) and went out close to 8pm and traversed the snowy sidewalks of Edgewater, where snow drifts easily went from 2-4 plus feet high:
Only my steps went through here

Thorndale park area

The following day I spent a little extra time on the treadmill at work to get a few extra miles. As most of my runs happen during lunch, I am usually constricted to ~7 miles and a quick shower. I have skipped most of my post run stretches for that extra mile, but am paying for it slowly. I did 10 miles doing paces between 6:58 - 7:30. I still hate treadmills and always hurt after them, but enjoyed the satisfaction. But my legs are definitely still not anywhere close to normal yet.

On Saturday, I went for an easy 8.5 mile run at 5:30am. I got to see a bright shooting star on the first half of my run. It was pretty windy, but I enjoyed the run.

Sunday I wanted to do a long run, as the previous weekend's attempt was cut short due to ice and hazardous roads in Michigan. But it was snowing and very windy, plus I didn't have an limitless time frame to run in, so I set a roughly time limit of 1:30. Going south was pleasant..too pleasant. I knew the wind was at my back, but at least the lake front trail was plowed and salted. I ran to Fullerton, and it took me 47 minutes... return trip? 52 minutes. Wind and snow in my face, my balaclava got too wet and it was hard to breath, so I was forced to run with more of my face exposed. I ended up doing something like 11.5 miles. I was happy to have no pressure on missing a workout goal, so I had no feeling of letting myself down.
I have enjoyed watching the new Sherlock episodes...without giving away spoilers:

I'm pretty bummed the next episode of Doctor Who isn't until August...

But at least... the mountain is ready soon (Game of Thrones).

I'm still unsure as to the direction this blog will take, if any, but for now...
Just Dance
That's all I got. Stay warm my winter readers!