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Running Safety- What you need to know

Running safety is something many runners do not think about, but learn as they go.  Don’t let a bad experience catch you off guard, instead think about some of my tips here and apply a few of them to your training. I thought about writing about safety as I was heading out for a run on a wintery day, so much of my advice applies to other seasons, but is particularly useful in the winter.

HAVE A PLAN AND DON’T KEEP IT A SECRET.  Always plan your runs.  What course to you plan to take?  What distance or time?  Does anyone else know where you are going?  Tell a family member, send a text to your running buddy, or leave a note behind regarding your plans.

LOST WITH NO WAY HOME.  Whether you are running on your own turf, or in an area you are unfamiliar, you should always know where your home is.  If you are staying with friends write down their address and phone and have it on your body.  You should always have some cash as well.  I also recommend carrying a house key.  My favorite way to deal with these little details is a shoe wallet.  It attaches to the top of your shoe and is large enough for some cash, a house key, and a piece of paper identifying where home is.

TAG, YOU’RE IT.  You should always carry ID on your body, regardless of what you are doing, but particularly when you are out exercising.  If you have an expired drivers license you can carry that on your workouts.  My advice is to purchase an ID bracelet.  Go to roadid

They have multiple options, but the basic name, address, phone numbers, allergies info etc is $20.  I never run, bike, or swim without mine and it has come in handy (unfortunately for me).  Because mine is worn on my wrist any emergency responder will know who I am and who to call in an emergency.

YOU LOOK GREAT, BUT CAN ANYONE SEE YOU?  Whether it’s day or night you want to dress to be seen.  Some things to consider are light colored clothing.  This one isn’t real reasonable; just think about how much of your workout attire is white.  So other really good options are a safety vest or a brightly colored accessory.  The safety vests are made of a very lightweight mesh with reflective materials that can be worn over any shirt or jacket so is multi seasonal.  If you don’t like that idea, choose to wear one accessory that is very loud.  I have a pair of thin gloves that I wear much of the year.  They are crossing guard yellow color and extremely noticeable when I run.  I had a traffic cop stop me once and comment that he could see me coming up the street a half-mile away.  Reflective headbands and ankle bands are some other ideas.  Many manufacturers are adding reflective bands to clothing and shoes, which is great, but sometimes not enough, and may not be worth the additional cost.

ROAD RUNNING RULES- Why would you run in the road if a sidewalk exists?  Sometimes sidewalks are more dangerous than roads, over crowded with pedestrians, poor footing, construction, or slippery surface.  Under good conditions always choose to run on a sidewalk; after all even though you may feel like a machine, you are still a pedestrian.

The other day I chose to run in the street on the way to the track.  It was in the morning after a snow and the sidewalks were slippery but roads were clear.  I chose a road that had a bike path and ran against traffic.  Here are some things to consider when running in the road.

  • How well do you know the traffic patterns?  Is a seemingly rural road going to suddenly become busy and there is no shoulder for you to move to?  Be very cautious when choosing to run in the road in an area you are unfamiliar.
  • Is it day or night?  Sunny or cloudy?  Raining or snowing? Is oncoming traffic perhaps looking into the sun?  Don’t run in the street if driving conditions are not optimal.
  • If you are going to run in the street always run against traffic.  It’s wise to choose an extra wide street, maybe one marked with a bike lane.  One-way streets are sometimes a better option then two-way, drivers have less to think about, and usually have more space to maneuver.
  • If you are fortunate enough to get to the country for some training beware that drivers are not expecting runners in the street.  Stick with running against traffic, stay close to the shoulder.  If a car approaches and doesn’t appear to be giving you some breathing room, stop, step off the road, and let them pass before proceeding.  If you are listening to music and running along a winding, hilly road, with blind spots, stop the music, and listen for traffic.  You don’t want a car going 40mph to get to the top of a hill and be surprised by your presence. The best way to stay safe in a road is to be friendly.  Wave at everything approaching.  They will be more likely to notice you and maybe you will even get a smile or wave back.

AID STATIONS- wherever you choose to run, if it is more than an hour you may very well need water or a bathroom of sorts.  Know what your options are for your route.

HEY, YOU LOOK LIKE SANTA- Not something I ever want to here.  Protect you skin in freezing temperatures.  If it’s below freezing you definitely want to cover as much skin as possible.  Dress in layers.  Eventually you will be able to look at a weather forecast and know exactly what to wear.  Until that day comes (took me at least a year) too warm, is better than too cold.  You don’t want to finish a long, blistery cold run and look in the mirror and see really red skin.  That’s very damaging to your skin.  If I run in the morning I do not wash my face, instead I leave the natural oils on my skin.  I apply a fairly heavy moisturizer to my skin and expose as little of my face as I can bear.  Recently I purchased a great product that protects much better than regular skin lotion.  It’s called Dermatone Skin Protector Pommade and since using it my runs are more comfortable in windy conditions and my skin isn’t ruby red when I get home.

RUNNING SNOW SHOES? -  I have been fortunate to never fall during a winter run but I see so many people slipping and sliding around that I think this product is worth mentioning for everyone who wants to get around more safely in the winter.  And if your are the type who makes excuses about exercising in the winter because the conditions aren’t ideal, I’ve got a solution for you.

Yaktrax are a product designed to fit over any type of shoe and they provide stability on slippery, snowy surfaces.  When I go for runs in the snow I hardly see anyone out running with me.  Everyone is afraid of injury, and for good reason.  This product really works.  I used them for the first time this December in the morning following 12 inches of snow. I was doing a long run in Prospect Park and no way was a foot of snow going to screw up my training schedule.  The first 2 miles were all up hill, almost all the sidewalks were completely snow covered and my footing was very secure.  In the park the drive had been plowed, but not salted, or at least most portions were not salted.  Again, whether the surface was flat or hilly the yaktrax really gripped.  As with any unsure footing, you want to be careful, but I’m really happy with this investment and will use them anytime following snowfall.

Yaktrax come in two models, one for outdoor adventurers/runners and are the “pro” model, and a less hefty version is made for people who simply want to walk more safely in snow.  They are also a great gift idea for any of your family who needs a little assistance.  My mother in law is recovering from a hip replacement surgery and I let her use them over the holidays.  She walked with much more confidence and felt a big difference from walking with just her winter boots.

Please let me know if you have any additional tips I may have missed.

Pre Half-Iron Race training

My first Half-Iron, the NJ Bassman, is Sunday of this weekend.  so this is my training plan leading up to that race.  My week will consist of 6-7 hours of training.   Since my peak week did not turn out as I had hoped and i now have a cold i have to take each day as it comes but this is my plan.  Bike 4 hours, Run 2 hours, Swim 1 hour and an hour of light weight training and shoulder therapy which i am not counting.  I don't know that i will be able to get in the swim.  If the congestions doesn't go away by Friday i'm going to have to give that idea up. Monday I rode my bike in the Poconos while we were visiting my parents.  David and i set out for an easy exploratory ride.  We rarely ride together because my training pace is always faster than his, but my goal is just to get some exercise since I took off Saturday and Sunday.  Where the roads were good they were hilly and I kept a pretty slow pace and high cadence.  The areas that were flat were highly trafficked and the pavement was not as smooth, also lots of stop and go.  Frankly was fine with an easy ride exploring a new area.  If this were a real training ride i would have been annoyed.  The ride did help with my energy level and broke up some of the mucus, so for today's purposes, a good ride.  Rode 1 hr 20 min at 16mph and hr average was and easy 136bpm.

Tuesday was a nice easy run.  The temperature was perfect for a run but there was a lot of wind.  This will be a totally flat run with not stopping.  I ran from John street, down to battery park and up the west side bike path.  On the way out I ran about 9:20 pace and on the way back 9:10.  My goal was to keep my HR below 160bpm and average of around 150 which worked well.  Still very congested and some coughing.  Later that day i went to the bike shop for my new wheels.  Will discuss that in a separate post when i have something to report.  But... i'm really excited about these wheels.  Basically did a lot of research and found that the budget i  had in mind was not going to be much of an upgrade from my current set if i bought new.   I found someone who was happy to unload a new pair of Rolf Prima Vigor SL's with only 50 miles on them, plus a new 10 speed cassette and new continental 4000 race tires for a song.

Wednesday was my first ride on my new wheels.  My congestion is a bit better today and energy is a bit better too after doing a partial cleanse day yesterday.  I went out about 10:30 after having an IsaLean shake for breakfast.  It was very windy and i'm not sure these conditions gave me the test of speed that I wanted for my first trial with the new wheels.    I rode and  easy 12  min to park then did 5 laps.  First was easy, 2,3,4 were pretty hard but not time trial hard.  Best of those was 17.3mph, lap of 11:38 and HR betw 150-159 av, cadence about 75.  Compared to last set of moderate difficult laps which was on sept 18 (friday following DC race) where my best lap was 17.6mph and 11:21 per lap, hr 151 and cadence 75.    A little disappointed, but it was really windy today.  I did feel a much smoother ride which i think is in part the race tires.   The ride was not bumpy at all and didn't feel the cross wind as much as i did with the other wheels.   The gearing tune up was noticable.  I didn't take the big hill very hard, but felt it was a fairly good effort and was surprised that i was a bit slower than that last ride.  Will plan to do the same ride on Friday.  Also need to keep in mind that I have a cold, but that didn't seem like a deterrent today except that my heart rate was more elevated than without congestion.  Taking lots of vitamin C, about 3000mg a day, and drinking 3-4 cups of tea per day.

It's Thursday morning and I'm finished with morning clients and i'm disappointed that its too cold out for the short sleeve shirt i have on.  It feels like the mornings of NYC marathon which is a month away.  Dont like that it's october 1st and feel like i need to be wearing tights, not shorts.  Physically i'm feeling about the same as yesterday with lots of nasal congestions.  Prior to my run i put in a short 35 minute training session of supsesets.  2 back exercises, followed by two shoulder and 2 more back.  All in the rep range of 15-20 and light to moderate effort and everythig feels good, even my left shoulder.  Want to keep this run under 45 minutes as i still have one more bike before race day and maybe a swim.  Body feels tired, not sore, just tired.  Took the run easy, HR mostly 150 bpm or so until i approched the hill going up chambers street.   On my way home from the gym I stopped by a health food store and bought eucalyptus essential oil to rub under my nose and inhale to clean up sinuses and an herbal tea to help with congestion.  Going to take a nap later also.  Have a client this evening at the track and will not be running with her today.

It's Friday afternoon and time for my last pre race training session.  i'm really congested and didn't realize it until i got on the bike.  Just going to do 4 laps of the park today.  Stopped during the 2nd lap of PPark to get some tissue and then it was better.  Took the first 2 laps easy and 3rd lap was a trial.  On that lap did 11:06/ 18.1 mph at 73 cadence and HR av 161.  That's what i was looking for!  This was my best lap ever, compared to 17.6mph/11:21min.  So i got what i wanted before my race.  Big problem is that i am really sick and sniffeling through a 3hr bike ride followig a swim where i'm going to feel like im drowning in my own fluids wont' be fun.  But at least i know what i'm capable of on the bike and can just focus on relaxing on the swim.

Killer Hill Session on Indoor Trainer

It's a great day for a short one hour trainer session and i've put together a workout that really required attention to cadence and heart rate. It's also a peak training week so i wanted to add in a hill session because next week is prep for race week.  I chose a program that would require me to monitor my Garmin closely partially to see if i have the screens set up in a way thats easy to view a interval workout.  In the end i did change the set up on my intercal screen to incluse av cadence, av hr, av speed, and time per interval.  Teh more i use the Garmin 310xt the more i like it.  The download file showed the av/max hr, speed and cadence for each interval. Started with a 10 minute warm up and then the plan is to follow a progression of intervals set at increasingly difficult cadences while maintaining a relatively high HR.  My heart rate goal for the intervals was 153-157bpm or 8-12 beats below lactate threshold.  This is a three part workout.

For the first part i started with a 5 min interval at 60-65cadence followed by a 10 min interval at 50-55reps, followed by an easy 5 minute recovery at about 80rpm and hr av of 139bpm.

The next set is 6x 2-3  minutes at 40-50rpm with a minute rest in-between.  For the rest period my HR dropped only to 145 or so as i retained a fairly low cadence and did not want to take too much time to regain the resistance and pace needed to bring my HR back up to sub lactate level.

The last set i threw in at the last minute.  There was no rest after the last 2 min interval and i reduced the resistance throughout the following progression while keeping my HR at sub lactate level.  2 min at 57rpm, 2 min at 66rpm, 2 min at 79 rpm followed by a 5 min cool down.

This workout kept me interested the whole time.  The next time i will take the second set and add a minute to each interval but keep the rest period at 1 minute.  Great 1 hour session for improving strength and climbing position.  I remained in the aero position thought the workout.

Can you say 17 laps?

I've never ventured out for a really long ride in prospect park.  My little 3.35 mile loop that i'm so familiar with is going to have to keep me occupied for 3 plus hours.  I ate really well this morning.  Shake with bananna, clients, a weight training session of back and shoulders for 45 minutes.  Did a warm up set for each then 3 exercises each 4x8 reps.  Felt strong as i should since i have not lifted a thing in 5 days. Drank another isalean shake right before my ride with some frozen fruit. Although the thought of a 4 hour ride in my neighboorhood is not pleasant it is a beautiful day and i have an active evening ahead of me so i'm ready for this new venture.  I'm well suited with my new never reach water appartus, have some gels and bars on me and the luxury of a toilet just about any time i want. Since i'm training for a 1/2 iron decided to wear my less padded  hind shorts to see how they felt on a long ride.  Not sure how to dress for the event so experimenting with a few nutrition and clothing things today.  Althouth a bit raw at the end, fairly comfortable on the ride.

I decided to break the ride into two parts.  First was to work the loop at varing cadences keeping my heart rate below 150 except on the big hill.  Park is pretty quiet and was easy to get through the first 10 laps.  Stopped about 15 miles in for the bathroom and a gel.  Wondering how i'm going to deal with needing the bathroom during a 6 hour race....  Each lap was between 12 and 12:30 minutes.

Still feeling fresh so pushed the last 6 laps.  A lower cadence and higher Hr averaging about 150bpm.  Wanted to do 17 laps total but ran out of time.  The last 6 laps were between 11:40 and 12 min.  Nutrition wise i had the gel about 1 hour in, half a pure bare 30 later, another gel about 45 min later and within last 20 min had last of the bar.  Should have had the gel earlier and kept eating every 30 min or so.  Second to last lap was my fastest so felt good at the end.  Loved having access to water without reaching although did also consume the one extra bottle of water with WME and was almost out of water when i got home.

Finals including warm up and cool down,- 58 miles, 3 hr 40 min, 15.9mph, 144 av hr and 166 max.  last 3 laps were mentally draining, otherwise fantastic.  In some ways better than the country rides on 9W.

My longest training day ever- 56 mile bike and 8 mile run

This will be my most difficult training day yet this year.  As i'm prepping for the half ironman i want to get in a 56 plus mile bike ride and follow that with a run of at least an hour and today is the day.  the weather is not looking so good, but the temperature isn't that bad. I'm using my Rever Reach water container for the first time and LOVED it.  It attaches to the back of my saddle and a tube runs along the cross bar and right between my aero bars so i can just lean forward and suck in a small amount of water any time i want.  I added a bottle of water with want more energy to one of my cages for purpose of electrolyte replacement.   I also brought gels and two different kinds of bars.

I set my goal to ride the first half at a slower pace and easier heart rate.  I'm going north on 9W for an hour or so and then turning back and maybe repeating.  Just watching the weather closely and don't want to end up 30 miles away and stuck in a downpour.  The first two hours my hr was 134bpm which is apporpriate for a long ride.  For the second half i set out for new territory.  Went south past the GWB and into palisades park which i heard is really hilly.  The road had very little traffic, but this old road could use some work.  I had to be very cautious on the down hills between the broken pavement, small tree branches and the shaded environment all lead to difficulty seeing the terrain well.  Really beautiful though and definately steeper hills than i have climbed in a long time.  Spent a bit of time out of the saddle.  I stopped for a gel at one point and asked two other cyclests where the road led.  They said about 3 miles further it would dump out onto 9w (i'm going north again now).  It was time to turn back, but i may start my next ride here next time. This second half i did not work as hard as i wanted to.  My HR was only 3bpm higher than the first half, but i was really getting tired of being on the bike and didn't feel like pushing any harder on these big hills

I completed my ride in 3 hours 45 minutes with very little stopping.  I covered 57 miles with an average speed of 15.2mph.

Back at the car i changed into running shorts and shoes.  Grabbed my handy water bottle and stopped into the bike shop to use the bathroom and inquire whether my bike rack replacement parts had come in.  Also locked up my bike outside the shop.  This system worked out well, although there were probaby 10 minutes between the bike and run.  Certainly not ideal.

The sun is out now and it's pretty humid so i had to decide between a fairly flat run in the sun or a hilly shaded run.  I chose shade and headed downhill to the palisades park again.   I always feel good getting off the bike so probably took it a little too fast in the beginning.  I had a gel right before the run and was feeling good.  My goal was to keep my HR between 156 and 162bpm, but that was not going to be possible with all these hills.  I was so glad to be off the bike and my mind was in a much better place now so i just went for it.  Ended up running  the 8 miles in 1hr 12min at a 9mm pace and HR ave of 165.

This is by far the longest training i'v done.  Almost 5 hours! and it really wasn't that taxing.  I was dying for a bagel with lox and cream cheese so went on the hunt before driving home which could take 45 minutes.  I didn't have any more food left and will remember to bring more bars and at least a piece of fruit with me next time.  This crappy town of Leonia has nothing open on Sundays.  Over just 1/4 mile there ws a deli, bagel shop and a bakery all closed.  So disapointed.  Drove home and bought one from a place around the corner from me and got all the satisfaction from that bagel and lox I was looking for.  Had a simple dinner of almond crusted roasted chicken over salad greens that night for dinner along with a cup of a mixed salad of beans and vegetables.  Followed by a cupcake.  No dout i can eat a cupcake after all that training today with no regrets!

Two a day the hard way

Yesterday felt like a wash.  I only did 30 min of wt training and some shoulder rehab because my left shoulder injury was telling me i needed to pay attention.  I wanted to put in a good bike ride in the afternoon but i ran over something on the way to the park and got two flats.  After walking to the bike shop the owner was kind enough to sell me two tubes with an IOU for 3 bucks.  Went home, looked at the situation and saw both tires had gashes in them.  I have no idea how small a hole needs to be to be fixed with a patch kit, but i decided to give it a try.  35 minutes later, inflated tires and all the rear tube exploded after filling it with air.  This sucks!  I walk back to the bike shop and am told i need new tires.  Fine.  They hook me up in the last 10 minutes they were open and i'm relieved because i need to bike to the park again tomorrow morning to meet a client for running training. Now it's Wednesday and i'm with my client in the park and i get yet another flat in the rear.  I ride slowly home, really hating my bike, see another client and head out for a run.  It's about 88 degrees out and a 15 mile long run was set for today and i'm more than happy to run instead of ride the bike.  I focused on breathing only through my nose and that helped me keep my heart rate on target and breath deeply..  I ran 7.5 miles counterclockwise in the park, stopped for a gel, and turned around.  Refilled water once also.  Focused on keeping HR in Z3 which meant keeping the three major hills easy.  Felt pretty good expecially considering the temperature and the fact that i have not run 15 miles since probably March.

Had a Isalean shake with lots of good stuff in it right after my shower.  Did some work, made calls and then changed for my bike ride.  Took the bike back to the shop and asked them to help me understand why i got this flat.  Bad tube they said.   Learned how to look at the tube once inflated again to see what may have caused the damage, so at least i learned something form this whole 24hour bike mess.  Rode to the park and did 4 loops.  Goal was to have my HR in Z4-5A for all the flat and up-hill portions .  Couldn't pull that off.  Worked on Average about 6bpm below that for each loop.  The loops were at about 12 minutes which is good, but i didn't want to push because of all the work from the run.  although this is not a brick, putting in 3 hrs and 45 minutes in training in one day was a bit of an effort.  Tomorrow i may have to ride again if there are thunderstorms as predicted, so also kept that in mind throughout this ride.

Overview is that i ran 15 miles in 2.5 hours at 9:30 pace and three hours later biked 18.5 miles in one hour 20 (25 of which was in street traffic) at 14.2mph.  That means i get to eat a small bagel with cream cheese as a post workout snack.  Love that!

What excellent bars can do for a bike

My training ride today was supposed to be an easy ride up Coney Island Ave to Roy's Sheepshead Cycle to replace my bike's current bars with new carbon Easton Attack TT bars.  I found that the tube I replaced on Saturday had a damaged valve as I suspected and I needed to replace the tube.  Except the only tube I had left was the wrong size.  Oops.  So the bike went onto the car and off I went.  After an hour and a half at the shop I had my new bars and decided to replace the back tire as it was quite worn and had a few significant holes from glass.  What the hell, i'm over budget anyway. Oh, by the way, these bars are normally $600 and i got them for $300.  So call my shop or order on line, they seem to have more stock Now for the test.  I've never ridden in true tri bars so I was feeling a bit out of sorts riding through traffic to prospect park.  Noticed that my shoulder placement was much more narrow and therefore a less solid base of support.  Once in the park I had planned a workout that I did the previous week.  Basically, a tempo ride for muscular endurance combined with  long hills for force.  After one loop of prospect park I was getting a better feeling for the new bars, shifting, weight balance, and relaxing my hands.  Really like my shoulder position, head position and generally more relaxed upper body placement.  I completed 6 laps of the park working around 70 rpm on flats and 60 on hills.  Felt really good!

When I compared results from previous workout I had increased my best lap time by 20 seconds over 3 miles, not bad considering it's like riding on a new bike.   Looking forward to riding this weekend on Long Island.  Feel i'll be adapted to it for my race in 11 days.

Didn't do any weights today.  Will have a chunk of time between clients tomorrow, so will save it for then.