Weeks 3 and 4

3:27, 3:37, 3:32. As I closed out an abbreviated week 3 these were the times for the Yasso 800 workout.

Temperature about 30°C or about 86°F with 78% humidity, it was muggy.  I needed to get outside and wanted to finish the week with a good strong workout. I also wanted to ride my bicycle and then get in a run. The track was beckoning for the run, and a quick loop on the bicycle, the long way around and I was warmed up and ready.

I arrived at the track, deserted as usual, probably because it is not real smart to run when it is 30°C with high humidity. I had plenty of water and there was a nice breeze blowing, so I started off immediately with a quick 400 to see what my time would be and was surprised to see it was taking me less than 1m50s to run at probably 70% race pace. I proceeded to alternate walking and running for three more laps. At this point I still had not decided if I was going to try another Tempo run or if I would attempt three 800’s. I got my extra water bottle and placed it beyond the finish line, decision made, I would go for the Yasso 800 workout.

The times! I was surprised and yet not surprised, knowing that the first few weeks into any kind of conditioning program, from my experience, is when gains and improvements are made in bunches.

For the second run of the week I decided that I would go for another long run of 8K.

Zoot Running shorts with compression liner.

Running Shorts

The weather conditions were more of the same from the weekend, hot with a chance of rain. I set off into partly cloudy conditions with a slight breeze, 32°C and about 60% humidity. FUN! I was feeling fine, but my legs were still sore from the Yasso 800’s. Then it hit. The farm nearby was burning weeds and trash and the local firefighting school was holding an outdoor class with lots of flames, smoke and fumes. I decided to continue to the 2.5K turnaround and then walk back until clear of the smoke and fumes. Once clear of the visible smoke I ran some fartleks using light posts as markers. Total distance 5K.

For the third run of the week, I figured that I would ride my bicycle instead.

Picture of my custom Bike Friday AirTriday model

Green Gear Bike Friday AirTriday

I wanted to put in a long sustained effort, something that I just was not having any luck with on the runs. It was still hot upper 20’s and the humidity was high 50~60% and rain was forecast, but never materialized, I knew on the bicycle I should be able to ride for an hour or longer. There is a loop that I ride that is about 17K, so my goal was to ride three circuits before the sun went down. Each loop was taking about 30 minutes so I put in a little over 1.5 hours in the saddle.

During the last week, the fourth week since starting this plan, I did not get in any runs since I was actually on vacation and visiting with family. And it was great. Enjoyed lots of really good food, and time just doing, well, nothing. Looking back I can see where I could have taken a couple of runs, and I did contemplate it, but opted not to. It will be interesting this week to see how I am doing. I am planning to start the week with another long bicycle ride and will be adjusting my running courses as I move towards more evening runs, so I will be looking for more lighted courses.

Mid-August I will be in downtown Tokyo, and I always enjoy running there. It is seriously a concrete jungle and even running at 7 or 8PM you can feel the heat radiating off the street.

Until next time: Still Running!


Catching up…

It’s been one of those weeks. Staying motivated and getting out and running, but not taking the time to sit down and write about it. The second weeks runs were completed and in the books, and I was getting ready to start week three but due to the wonderful rainy season I needed to postpone the planned runs. During rainy season we often get days of rain without any let up.  24 hours of continuous downpour, the kind of rain where unless you absolutely need to go out, you don’t. This necessitates adjusting schedules, and identifying alternatives to keep active, otherwise breakfast, lunch and dinner go directly to fat. A couple trips up and down the stairs (8 flights), push-ups, sit-ups and dumbbells are my usual choices. I also make use of the 7 minute workout app on the Kindle.

The rain disrupted the plan for week 3 of the 18 week plan that will help me meet my goal of successfully running a 10 miler in mid-November. Not a great way to start considering that I really needed these first three weeks to build a base, since I have already identified that week’s 4, 5, 8 and 9 are going to test my dedication and time management efforts.

The You Can Go the Distance (YCGTD) workout plan only has three running days built in, and for the second week I needed to complete the long and the tempo runs. I was able to get these in before the rains hit. I chose to run the same distance for the long run of 8K, which I had in the first week.

For the Long Run the day was hot and significantly it was quite humid, approaching 75%. It usually takes me a few hundred meters to get comfortable with running, but from the beginning I was not comfortable breathing in spite of a good stride and posture. I decided to keep at it, and just concentrate on posture and deep breathing hoping that everything would fall into place. I arrived at the turnaround for the 5K route and checked the trusty Accusplit 620 only to discover that I must have inadvertently stopped it. Nothing to do, but note the time, hit start and continue running. I finished with a Mystery Time for the 8K.

The final time will be a mystery.

Mystery Time

I estimated that my time was about 46 minutes based on the time and my previous times for the 8K and the 2.5K splits. During the last half of the run, my breathing became more comfortable, but I never really felt good. I believe that a combination of the heat and humidity were the cause, since I was not able to find anything internally to be the cause.

On Sunday (7/10) I decided to brave the track for the 12 agonizing laps of the Tempo Run. I rode my bicycle over to the track, and then jogged a mile to warm up and to see if I was still going to have breathing issues. I did not. The temperature was close to the same, but the humidity was only around 60%. I told myself to be careful with the Start/Stop button on the trusty Accusplit 620, as I hit the start button and started the run.There was a fairly strong head wind on the finishing straight that was all but imperceptible on the back straight when I was hoping for a tailwind (it was there, I just couldn’t feel it).

Picture of stopwatch on the running track surface showing the time of the run

Accusplit 620 on the track!

As suspected, I wasn’t really enjoying running in circles, but I wanted to check my time on an accurately measured course. I did not really pay attention to any splits, just checking each lap to make sure that I had not accidentally stopped the timer! I finished the 3 miles on pace with my expectations at 26m14.59s.

Then the rain came and threw a wrench in my running plans. To get caught up and in the spirit of the Tour de France I wanted to put in some miles on my bicycle beyond just a short ride to the track and back, so I started with two laps around the area which is about 40K, and then a quick change and out for a run. When I was in Sasebo, this was a favorite weekend and summer workout, ride for an hour, and then run. I tried a new route for the run and while it was a bit short of my 5K goal, I think I can make a couple adjustments to get it there.

Until next time: Still Running!

Week 2 and some more Yasso 800’s

After enjoying a few days off with the long Independence Day weekend, I had to get back into it. The weather on Tuesday was cool and there was a constant drizzle. I decided to put my run off for another day. Wednesday dawned with clear skies and yet the temperature was still remaining cool at about 25° C., so I knew I would be running later in the afternoon. Even though it is summer and I could head out at just about any point in the day, I want to set up a routine that will work when school is back in session, so I took care of some home chores and decided to head out just after 5PM.

As I was getting ready to go, I decided that I would once again ride my bike to the track and tackle the Yasso 800’s. Using the YCGTD plan for week 2 I needed to run two 800’s. Once at the track, with such a short ride, I felt that I should try to run at least one mile as a warm up, so I changed into my running shoes and set off. I was running at a steady pace, but not pushing it, I just wanted to get warm, work up a little sweat and be loose for the 800’s. I was pleasantly surprised when I finished the fourth lap and the Accusplit 620 showed a time of just over 9 minutes.

I grabbed a drink of water and walked about 200 yards and prepared for the first of the 800’s. Since I am changing the target time for my goal of a 10 miler in November, I decided that I would not set a target pace for today. I still wanted to be at least close to the times I ran last time, but I wasn’t going to be deliberately slow or fast, I was just going to let my body dictate pace. So after positioning my water bottle about 15 yards past the start finish, I walked back to the line, counted down, and took off. The first 400 was completed in just over two minutes, and I was settling into a steady rhythm, consistent pace and good posture with regular breathing, and crossed the line in 4m03s. Not too bad, but could I recover in a few minutes and do the same? I picked up my water bottle, took a drink and walked a lap.

Passed the line and replaced the water bottle, prepared to go for Yasso 800 number two. No difference in pace, maintaining posture, head up, regular breathing,

Stopwatch with time for an 800m run


just watching my feet hit the track, running on the line, calling cadence in my head, I finished the first lap and it took all my will not to check the time. Coming around the final corner and I was holding back the urge to pick up the pace, to sprint, and go for a strong finish. I maintained my pace, crossed the line, hit the stop button and took a look, 3m58s!

I walked a lap and held an internal debate on whether or not to try to run another one or to pack it up and go home.

I packed it up and went home. I have a plan, a road map, and a goal. I am going to revise my target time and also work on modifying the actual YCGTD plan to work more with a 10 mile distance. A Super-Typhoon is causing chaos with the weather in the area, but the good news is that the current forecast is for hot days with no precipitation. I am looking forward to a long run on Friday and then finish the week with a tempo run on the weekend.

Until next time, Still Running!

Tempo Running

Thursday promised rain. All day the forecast indicated that there would be a 50% or greater chance of rain. I was banking on it. I was going to be able to delay my first tempo run, because I am not interested in running in the rain (yet) nor was I really interested in a tempo run. Work was completed, and it hadn’t rained, I walked home and it wasn’t raining, consulted the weather app, and now it was showing that for the next two hours it would be clear. I really didn’t have any choice now. My legs had also been aching in that way where the only “cure” is to go for a run. I wasn’t motivated to do it, but I knew that I needed to get out and get this first week of the training plan in the books because it will either just get easier (or more difficult) in the coming weeks. So I pulled on my trusty running hat and headed out the door.

Pearl Izumi Hat

Trusty Hat

The YCGTD (You Can Go the Distance) plan is designed for a marathon and it shows that the week 1 tempo run should be 3 miles. I am not going to run a marathon (those days are gone), I am looking at a 10 miler. Plus I am building a base and was looking for something attainable and meeting the spirit of the plan. I was contemplating running at the track, but the number of laps (12!) was more than I could (mentally) take, in the end I opted for another 5K. I thought that this distance and the time would give me a good picture of where I need to go with adjusting my goal time, and also give me an idea of how much work I need to do to get comfortable with Yasso’s and tempo runs. Distance, I can do distance (Long Slow Distance all day). I am going to have to take a look this weekend at the plan and modify it for a 10 mile goal. I am also going to have to look seriously at modifying my goal time.

As I hit the road the sky was very overcast and looked like rain was closing in from the North, South, East and West, in spite of the look there was not a strong breeze. Since this was a tempo run the suggested pace per mile was at Race Pace minus 30 (RP-30).  I jumped out to a strong steady cadence. My trusty Accusplit 620 measuring the time, and my internal tach advising me of the pace, I was feeling good and looking forward to the split at the 2.5K mark.

As I approached the turnaround I was moving good and looked at the split and was surprised to see it at 12m:48s. Doing some quick mental math I roughly estimated a 5K time of about 26m. I honestly didn’t think I could maintain the pace and was already feeling it in my legs and lungs, and I’m at sea-level! I just needed to keep working hard to maintain and finish without walking. I was on a data-collection mission, finish. As the course wound its way back to my house I felt like I was just hanging on, and I was not looking at the stopwatch, I just wanted to get close to the 26m, which would still be well within the RP-30 pace. As I crossed the line I clicked stop and was shocked to find the time was 25m22s. This time meant that even though I was not feeling good, I still negative split the return leg. Not too shabby.

So the first week of the plan is down and only 17 to go. I am confident that as long as I continue I can build the endurance needed to complete the 10 miler. It is going to be easier for the next two or three weeks to get the runs in, it will be more difficult as time goes on and the summer draws to a close. At that point and in the Fall it will come down to dedication to the goal.

Next time – Yasso 800’s, and some cross training. Until then, Still Running!