One of the Better Workouts in a While

This morning it was one of those you wake up to an inch or so of pain-in-the-arse white shite, which meant just enough snow moving for three driveways and then getting to walk Bennie a ways in wet slushy crap.

After Bennie’s first walk, I decided to throw together this breakfast and it didn’t last too long, although Bennie did do more than his usual begging for a piece of the sausage pattie. 🙂

Can you tell that I love snow about this time of year. Sometimes I think that I would almost rather deal with a 6-12 inch storm than a PIA 1-2 inches. At least what I didn’t have to move melted for the most part later in the day.

Which meant that while I was scheduled for a Something of Substance (SOS) workout according to the Hansons Half Plan, it didn’t mean that I was chomping at the bit to do it after having over 10,000 steps on the old body by 9:30a. Yeah, I was already tired and really thought about moving the planned tempo workout to Friday.

However with freezing rain in the forecast for tonight, I figured that I might as well just do it today and get it over with. I figured that I would do the minimum: 1.0 mile warm-up, 3 miles at 1/2 marathon race pace and a mile cool-down.

Err that was the plan.

1.0 warm-up @ 6.3 mph – no issues and the legs started to feel pretty good

4.0 tempo @ 7.8 mph – I felt really strong the entire time and focused on keeping my form compact.

.50 cool-down @ 6.1 mph – Everything felt good, so I decided that I would do some strides.

7 x .10 strides @ 9.1 mph and .10 recovery @ 6.1 mph – the fast stuff felt really good and when I got to the 6.5 mile point, I decided to keep doing them to 7.0 miles

Dramatic pause and music cued please.

1 x .10 strides @ 10.1 mph – my old quarter repeat speed something that I haven’t felt comfortable enough to try lately and even though it was only for .10, it felt good to run that fast and be able to do it without pain or feeling like the old body was going to go into shock or something.

Walked .40 to cool-down at constantly slower paces.

I am very happy with how well the workout went this morning, while I have been getting closer to being able to hold some of these paces better than I have in the past – that consistent training thing is helping a lot. I didn’t expect to be successfully doing this kind of volume workout at this point in my training, actually, I didn’t expect to hit these kind of paces at all.

While I usually do better on the treadmill, I am also finding that this year most of my treadmill progress is also translating to running better outside. So I am hoping that keeping pretty close to the Hansons Half Marathon training plan will provide me enough structure to keep making good progress, but at the same time letting me continue to see progress, but allow me to stretch out the legs every once in a while, just not all that often.

Believe me, I know that I need to keep to the guard rails that the Hansons plan is providing me, so that I do not go into full “Harold Mode” and screw everything up by doing too much or thinking that I too can run “that” fast again.

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy and this year I want to work hard to avoid that guy for as long as I can.

The other thing was that I had a nice conversation with an old co-worker from my UMA days, who ran on the treadmill beside me and congratulated me on my workout. I was so focused in on my workout that I didn’t notice her getting on the treadmill or watching me change speeds. I laughed a little when we talked about how it wasn’t bad for an old fart.

We did get caught up on some other stuff and it was nice to talk with her again.

A pretty decent workout.

New Brydge Keyboard and Half-Mile Repeats

I got in my new keyboard for the iPad Pro and there seems to a bit a of a learning curve on how to keep the Bluetooth connected. Other than that the Brydge keyboard is working great and once I get used to the key travel I have a feeling that I am going to really like it.

All I know is that it is nice to have a real keyboard to use with my iPad Pro, after not having one for a week. It did show me that if I didn’t have a keyboard to go with my iPad it is not a device that I would like nearly as much.

Hopefully, thing are back to normal – whatever to hell that is.

Today’s Run Continue reading

New Balance Beacon – 50 Mile Review

At some point after all the hype and hoopla dies down about a new pair of running shoes, I finally get around to getting a pair to see what all the hootin and hollering was about.

Last summer I heard a lot about how great the New Balance Beacons were from a variety of sources, but unfortunately New Balance running shoes have historically not been a match made in heaven for me and I was skeptical that the Beacons would be any different.

However, all the reviews of the Beacons indicated that these were not your usual New Balance running shoes and so when I figured out that I needed a shoe with a little more forefoot cushioning and Running Warehouse had a closeout sale on exactly the Beacon colorway that I wanted – I bought them. Which definitely means that all the comments made in this post are my own and not influenced by any commercial interests.

Short Version

I love the Beacons.

They have performed well and were comfortable on all the runs that I have done in them.

As can be seen I have primarily used them for the exact reason I got them – the treadmill. I have done quarter mile repeats at sub 7:00 paces, shorter tempo/race pace runs, fast strides – sub 6:30, an outside 10K and a 10.5 mile long run outside.

I cannot ask any more of a pair of shoes and know that I will be using them for more than just treadmill miles going forward, especially after feeling great for that 10+ miler.

Which does mean that I will be buying another pair of Beacons for my rotation when these do wear out – I cannot give a pair of shoe any higher recommendation than that.

Long Version.

Okay, you know that I like the Beacons – a lot.

So what did New Balance do this time that was so impressive to me.

Instead of attempting to add unnecessary bells, whistles, technologies and features – New Balance focused on keeping the Beacons simple and from where I sit focused on being shoes that are no fuss, no muss and are fun to run in.

It does help that the Beacons came in at 6.9 ounces for my men’s size 8.0, have 26/20 stack heights for plenty of cushioning, used a Fresh Foam derivative innovatively and designed a simple “looking”, but comfortable upper that doesn’t get in the way when you are running.

From my first run to my most recent one, the Beacons have been a put them on, tie them up, go run and focus on the run, not how the shoes are doing, except that after the run is over, you think about how great they felt during the run.

The Bad

When I am running at a sub 6:30 (yeah I can still do it for a short ways) pace, they don’t feel quite firm enough and I would prefer the Adios 3s, if I could maintain that pace for a race. Since I don’t run that fast for any kind of distance at this point, I prefer the protection that the Beacons provide for most everything else. Not really a bad thing for me, but for some faster runners it might be a consideration.

When the temps are below 20*F I noticed that the midsole is definitely firmer than when it is warmer. Not quite rock hard, but the cold does affect the midsole’s cushioning properties.

The Good

The Beacons are comfortable. I have had zero issues with blisters, hot spots, them bothering my balky Tailor’s Bunionette or finicky Plantar Fascia (which has historically been a problem with New Balance running shoes and my left foot).

Almost Ninja quiet (they compare to the GoRun Ride 2s in this respect). I can usually tell when a shoe is working with how I run by the amount of slap or heel drag that occurs. No issues with the Beacon here.

Outsole wear has been next to none after more than 50 miles, which surprised me, since there is very little material besides the midsole there. Most of my miles have been on the treadmill, which usually tears up shoes for me, but the Beacons have done well. Although I will be interested in seeing how the wear is on the dirt road down-back after mud season is over and things dry up.

The upper on the Beacons is understated (which I like), with just the New Balance “N”s as overlays. All the extras and other nonsense that New Balance and other brands tend put on too many of their shoes just isn’t there on the Beacons and is in my opinion addition by subtraction.

The cushioning on this edition of Fresh Foam is just right – firm enough to want to run fast in them, but soft enough that running long is not an issue either. I wanted a shoe for the treadmill that had low weight and higher forefoot stack height. In this regard they do as others have said remind me a little of the original Hoka Clifton, but with a more refined feel to them and definitely a more comfortable fit for me, especially in the forefoot.

The reality is that

I may have found my Cinderella shoes.

As usual I am behind the popularity curve and most everyone has moved on to the next great thing in running shoes. The Beacons had their moment in the sun and there was a good reason for it – they are a great running shoe.

What is the Beacon best at? It depends on what kind of runner you are and the kinds of paces you typically run. For a younger and/or faster runner they are a great long tempo, easy run shoe. For the slower and older (like me), they could be a 5K or longer race day shoe, that does well on faster training runs or even just using them for daily easy runs.

I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t want to do too many trail runs in them or head outside in crappy weather, there just isn’t enough outsole there to provide good grip, although they pleasantly surprised me in wet, slushy conditions at about 20*F with how well they did.

Honestly, I when I got the Beacons I was not expecting them to “Wow” me as much as they have. I was extremely happy with my adidas Tempo 9s and didn’t think any shoe was going to supplant them anytime soon as my favorite rotation shoes. However, I when I look at my running log since I got the Beacons I don’t see too many other shoes being worn and I look forward to running in them.

Like I said, when these wear out I will be buying another pair, I like them that much and I can’t give any pair of running shoes any higher rating.

New Balance, you done good and finally provided me a pair of running shoes that I love.

January 2019 – Good Month

No, I have not dropped off the face of the blogging world, it is just that my Zagg Keyboard to my iPad Pro died and I am waiting for a replacement that is supposed to be here next Monday. I broke down and bought a Brydge Keyboard and while it is another Bluetooth one, from everything I have read, it meets what I want from a keyboard better than anything else on the market.

So while I have been waiting for it to come in, I have taken a bit of a holiday from blogging about my boring running and feeble attempts to keep that half step ahead of the Grim Reaper and just work on making the old bastard chuckle a little more loudly.

My favorite photo in January:

Running

Today is the last day of January and you know something it was a really good month when it came to my running.

Run Total: 167.78

Total Time: 25:19:32

Average Pace: 9:03

Number of Runs: 27 – although 23 of them were on the treadmill.

Walking Miles: 94.30

Total Steps: 654,996

Weight: 157 Start – 154 End, with a low of 152 pounds

Average Waking Heartrate: 52.5 Continue reading

A Step Back and Being Realistic for a Change

This week has been an eye opener.

I have been using the Hansons Marathon Method to train for a Spring Half Marathon or more, if I did really great and surprised myself. I picked the 3:40:00 pace to use as a basis, which I figured would help me finish between 1:40 and 1:45 for a half, but not completely beat the snot out of the old body.

Yeah, it is also the goal time that I have set for myself for the marathon if I run one.

At least that was my plan, until this week when I finally realized most of my training this winter will be done on the treadmill, due to the cold, my fragility and/or crappy footing outside. When you add in: attempting to be a good neighbor, when it storms snow blowing 2-3 households, roof raking multiple buildings, trying to keep Bennie sane (lots of walks – at least 20-30 miles extra per week), sanding ice covered driveways, maintaining a life and attempting to keep up with a tough training plan.

Something had to give.

I know many other people are facing the same conditions or worse and yes, I knew going in that the Hansons Marathon Training method is tough. While the paces don’t really change, the mileage and planned accumulated fatigue only becomes more daunting the further into the program that I would go.

Struggling

The first two weeks were at just below 40 mpw and this week is trending towards a bit over that. Unfortunately, I am also starting to pick-up not so subtle clues that the body is not completely happy. A least I am hearing what the body is telling me and attempting to be proactive for a change.

Let’s be real Harold, you are starting to struggle to keep up with the mileage, workload in the Hanson’s Marathon plan now and getting a bad case of training foreknowledge intimidation, especially since I know that I will be having to run most of those miles on the treadmill is not helping.

Not quite what I expected when I came up with this grand idea.

Questions

My big questions are:

1. Is eventually running a BQ marathon and/or having to put up big mileage numbers that have to be run in order to do it, worth all the time on the treadmill the rest of January, February and March?

Honestly, no.

2. Could I be happy with just finishing a marathon and not worry so much about the time?

No.

3. Do I even need or really want to run another marathon?

This is the actual question that I need to answer more than any other one and I really do not know the answer to it.

4. Finally, is the Hansons Marathon training method something that I want to continue to use?

I like the Hansons Training Method a LOT.

It fits my personality and how I prefer to train. I have a pretty good idea of what is coming next, and provides me with solid guidelines on the paces that I should be doing versus the stoopid stuff that I tend to think I still can do.

The biggest thing that I need to change in order to cut down on the total fatigue (physical and mental) is lower the mileage on the active recovery days and keep the long runs in the 8-12 mile range.

In other words pretty much what the Hansons Half Marathon Method calls for.

Using their half marathon plan sounds pretty good right now and with that 20/20 hindsight that we all have, probably where I should have stayed when I decided that I was going to use the Hansons Method.

I think that a good goal to base my training on for the half will be 1:41:00 and be happy with running one somewhere between 1:40:00 and 1:45:00. Which is something that I believe is doable in a few months, I think that if I were to run one today that I would struggle to break 1:45:00.

The reality is that

I will finish up this week and then start back at week 6 of the Hansons Half Marathon Method program and see how I do with the lower mileage, but slightly faster paces.

This is probably what I should have done in the first place, but as usual in my hubris as a runner and believing that I am more and better than I am, I have to set my goals a bit out of reach. Now that I have failed again, it is time to pick myself up off the ground, look to see what smacked the hell out of me, figure out where I really am and what I comes next.

Would I do it again – yep and I have a feeling that I will continue to keep making the mistake of starting out too high and having to back off…because sometimes it isn’t too high. Take a look at my tag line, don’t limit yourself or anyone else.

Unfortunately, my goals was a little too high this time, but not by that much. I think I am physically closer to being able to handle the marathon training plan than I might give myself credit for, but mentally I am not there yet. Just the way it is.

I tend believe that going through a complete Hansons training cycle will give me a better base and understanding of the program’s demands – something that I do need and prepare me for whatever I decide to do next.

The biggest thing right now is to DO what works versus what sounds good or that I “wish” would work – for me.

A Couple of Easy Days

Friday’s run was one of those easy 6 mile runs in the Hansons Marathon plan, which I have been using to prep for a half marathon in April and also to see if I could manage the training and mileage required to run a marathon this Fall.

During the run I had a chance to think, which for me can be dangerous.

No, Friday’s run itself was not a problem and I actually got to enjoy the time outside in the sun, with decent weather for January in Maine. I even got to test the Beacons on a variety of surfaces and was surprised at how grippy they were. Now I wouldn’t wear them on any gnarly trails or anything, but they were decent on sanded ice, wet gritty sand and regular roads. Plus they were comfortable for the entire 10K and when I wanted to pick the pace up during the last mile – I did.

Today’s run was another scheduled easy run and since I did the 6.0 miler yesterday, I planned on 5.0 for today.

I could have probably could have run outside, but once I got to the gym, I decided that the treadmill was going to be easier and got on and set it to an easy pace for 4.0 miles. When I got to 4.0 miles I decided that I wanted to do some .1 strides at a faster pace. I may have gotten a bit carried away and ended up doing 8 of them.

They just felt good and the Beacons didn’t get in the way like some other trainers have when I pick up the paces to the I’m going too fast speeds. Then I did a half mile cool-down and walked for another half mile.

So far I am very happy with the way the New Balance Beacons have performed on easy runs and the faster paced strides that I did today. Just need to keep putting miles on them.

I did get to think some more and am pretty sure that I will be making a few changes to my training plan next week based on what I have been thinking about.

New Balance Beacon – Initial Thoughts

My New Balance Beacons, a pair of reasonably newer shoes, even though a few images of version 2 are out in the wild, they are not available for purchase yet. So the original Beacon is still pretty current.

Let’s get something out there right now.

New Balance running shoes generally fit my feet better than any other brand in a men’s size 8.0, which is my true to size foot. I have not had a pair of New Balance running shoes that did not fit my Hobbit feet well. The problems with the New Balance daily trainers that I have tried is that they tend to be heavy, stiff, have high ankle wells and bother the hell out of my left foot’s Plantar Fascia.

If it were not for those reasons I would have been running in a LOT more of their shoes over the years.

Enter the New Balance Beacon. Continue reading

Being A Neighbor and a Tough But Good Run

Holy raining cats and dawgs!!! Yeah, can you believe it rain in Maine in January and actually it was a pretty good thing, I can’t imagine what kind of snow totals we would have had if it had come down as white shite…errr snow. Clean-up from the rain is definitely a lot easier on the body, but when it freezes up tonight it is going to be a regular skating rink, out in the driveway.

Yesterday was a scheduled day off and it probably have been easier to have run 5.0 miles than roof rake three very large roofs. After 4.5 hours of roof raking, needless to say I was pretty much toast by the time I got done.

Sometimes we just take things for granted. Like our health.

Last week we found out that the next door neighbor had a stroke back in November and while we thought something was going on, out of respect for their privacy we never really tried to find out what was going on.

While we have had our differences over the years, when I know that someone needs the help, you check egos at the door and offer to help. That was two of the roofs I got to rake yesterday that hadn’t been done this winter, in preparation for today’s storm.

What we didn’t know was that the wife also has stage IV cancer and has been traveling to Boston every couple of weeks for treatment. When I found that out, I were floored to say the least.

Sometimes life is strange, but sometimes doing the right things for the right reasons…is the right thing to do.

Even though when I left the house three hours later, I was sore and tired, the handshake, thank you and smile that I got was all I needed and accepted. I smiled back and told them thank you for letting me help and I can do anything else to help to let me know.

No, I am not patting myself on my back or anything else, I mention it because so often we are so busy going about living our daily lives that we don’t really notice the changes in our neighbors that may indicate that they are really struggling. Sometimes all it takes is asking “are you okay” or “what’s been going on”, especially when you notice things out of the ordinary going on around their place. Being a nosy neighbor is not always a bad thing.

Especially, when you can do something that could make their’s a little better.

Getting back to Running

So this morning my SOS workout was one of those ones where you really think about changing it to tomorrow, because my body was pretty much miserable from the heavy duty upper body workout yesterday. Then I got to thinking about my neighbors and their recent struggles – there wasn’t any doubt about doing the workout.

I am lucky and at the same time have worked hard to get my health to where it is today and to duck out on a workout after yesterday’s revelations is not something that I could do.

With the rain storm going on outside, it was another treadmill workout. However, I was going to get to run in my first new shoes since November (a new record) and was wondering how they would do?

New Balance Beacon. I was shocked that they came in under 7.0 ounces.

I was a little concerned about running in new shoes for a 7.0 mile planned tougher workout, but that is the primary reason that I got the Beacons, so I figured why not see what they are going to be like.

My workout was a 1.0 mile warm-up, 5.0 miles at ten seconds below race pace and then a mile cool-down.

The mile warm-up went nicely and the shoes felt fine.

I pushed the speed up to faster than my race pace and settled into a nice stride and just ran comfortably. Although I gotta admit about 3.0 miles into the faster pace stuff, I was definitely feeling the last week’s extra curricula activities of snowblowing and roof raking. When I got to mile 4.0, I decided to kick it up just a little for the last mile. A real sucker for punishment aren’t I?

It was a tough mile, but I got it done.

The cool-down felt good and I got the 7.0 miles done before the 60:00 cut-off on the treadmill – by five seconds. 🙂

One thing I is that I forgot my Garmin at home (I was charging it and when I left the house, it was still attached to the charger). So I had to rely on the treadmill and my Milestone Pod, which I put on the Beacons to see if I they changed any of my normal stride patterns from my adidas.

How did the Beacons do?

No issues, I stopped noticing them once I got to the faster paces and I could tell a difference with the extra cushion in the forefoot. The only difference that I will wonder about is the lower drop and how it will affect my left Achilles, but according to Milestone, there are no differences to my stride patterns, so I don’t see a lot of things that I need to worry about.

A good run and a more than a little reflection during the about life, health and what is a good neighbor.

A Really Good Run and an Experiment That Didn’t Work

Well that was an interesting couple of days and taxing on the old bod, but I got through it and today was the workout that I actually look forward to – Speed work. Yeah, I am one of those guys.

At least now that I have learned that I don’t have to run stoopid speeds to do these workouts. I just have to run controlled paces that are based on reality versus “how I used to be” or wishful thinking.

A pretty big difference to say the least.

Yeah, I ran yesterday 6.0 easy miles on the treadmill, the temps were below zero and the wind chills were nothing I wanted to deal will. Today the temps were still in the single digits and the wind chills were not all that great. So another treadmill day, but since I have committed to do my speed work inside for a while it was not a big deal. Continue reading