The free treadmill run

It’s Family Day and with Jeff away, I decided to hit the treadmill at the Canada Games Pool. I need to work on my sexy summer figure, you see.

I was going to walk, so I consulted Google Maps for the most efficient route, which turned out to be an estimated 23 minutes.

I created a different route that would take me past a spooky cemetery and require fewer twists and turns along the way. Google Maps told me it would take me 30 minutes.

I got there in 23 minutes.

To my surprise and delight, there was free admission, probably because of the holiday. It did indeed appear that numerous families were in attendance. They even had the big slide open. I did not ride the big slide.

Instead, I followed my previous treadmill run, hitting certain milestones (distance or time), at which I would check my heart rate, and if it was peaking, I’d fall back to a brisk walk until it had settled to just a little above my normal brisk walk pace, then I’d resume running. This means that in the time I normally do a 5K I noyl cover about 4K, but it’s easier on the body (and heart). Given how out of shape I am, this feels like the prudent thing to do until I start to see improvements in stamina and BPM.

I never felt bad and experienced no discomfort during the run, save for a slight bit of soreness in my left foot. I wore my cross trainers, which have little support, and used the regular insoles, rather than the orthotics. It was a nice reminder of how much the orthotics actually help to reduce pain and discomfort.

Here are the stats:

Distance: 4.10 km
Time: 39:05
Average pace: 7:06/km
BPM: 159
Calories: 330

The average pace was virtually identical to the last treadmill run, but the BPM was up a little to 159 vs. 153. This is a bummer, as I was hoping it would at least not be higher. It was peaking around 169 during the running parts, which is at least below the 170 mark.

I’m going to try to get out again within the next three days so I can see how the next run compares. If it’s even worse, I will be a sad, slow panda.

The first February treadmill extravaganza

Today, as a few winsome flakes of snow fell for the first time this winter, we headed out to the Canada Games Pool for some exercise and relaxation. My original plan was to run in the snow, which can be strangely delightful if it’s not waist-deep or turning to torrential rain, but given how light the snow was and how high my BPM was on last weekend’s river run, I chose to hit the treadmill once again.

I ended up falling into an interval pattern based on my heart rate after seeing how high it was getting even on the treadmill. I would run until it reached 164 or 165, then switch to a fast walk until it got down below 140, then start running again.

It worked out decently enough and I feel a bit better not pushing quite so hard as I normally would. I’ll see if the BPM starts trending downward as the runs get more frequent (it should), because if it doesn’t I may need to See a Doctor before continuing on with more rigorous or rigorous-like exercise.

When compared to my last treadmill run, the distance is shorter (because I walked more), but the calorie burn was higher and my BPM was exactly the same at 153, which means it was actually higher than last time, as I walked more, so my overall heart rate should have been lower. This is not great, though I feel fine now and felt fine immediately after the run, too, apart from that usual moment of vertigo when you step off a treadmill onto a floor that doesn’t move at all

The stats:

Distance: 4.27 km
Time: 30:14
Average pace: 7:05/km
BPM: 153
Calories: 342

Run 602: Down by the riverside

Run 602
Average pace: 5:59/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Start: 11:34 am
Distance: 5:04 km
Time: 30:14
Weather: Cloudy
Temp: 7ºC
Humidity: 79%
Wind: nil
BPM: 185
Weight: 167.9 pounds
Total distance to date: 4590 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8

It took 11 days, but I finally ran again outdoors. Woo.

This time I accepted that I am out of shape and scaled things back a bit. Instead of a walk and full loop around Burnaby Lake (over 18 km in total) I walked to the river trail–about 1.5 km–ran the 5K and walked back, taking roughly an hour total.

Good news: Nothing broke, there were no cramps or other issues, though a stitch in my left side threatened, but never materialized. Pace was unsurprisingly improved over the previous run, as the river trail is a lot broader and flatter than the lake’s. I came in at 5:59/km. Or if you check the time on the phone app, it’s rounded it up to an even 6:00/km, being a complete party pooper. Despite numerous dogs off leash, none came over to sniff/jump/accost me. Finally, the lack of serious sweating by running in the cold continues to please me. I mean, you still sweat, but it’s not exactly the same as running in 30º C temperatures in the middle of August. Now that I’ve said that, I am pining again for the return of warm weather, despite the copious sweating.

Less than good news: If accurate, my BPM was up again. This is in itself not surprising, as the easier trail here encourages me to push a little more, but it topped out at an average of 185. That’s kind of really high. Yikes. I may need to focus on less strenuous treadmill runs until I am in better condition.

Weather-wise, it was virtually identical to the last run, with cloudy skies and close to zero wind. Perfect weather for a winter run, really.

Overall, I’m pleased to complete another outdoor run on my slow climb back into being in shape, though the high BPM is a concern.

Run 601: On the run again

Run 601
Average pace: 6:08/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 1:16 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 30:52
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 7ºC
Humidity: 76%
Wind: nil
BPM: 177
Weight: 169.2 pounds
Total distance to date: 4585 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Nearly three months after my last outdoor run, I finally returned to Burnaby Lake, eager (?) to see how the long layoff would affect my effort.

And it did affect my effort. But there was good news and bad news.

Good news: I finished the full 5K without any difficulty. I never felt like I was pushing too hard, never had any cramps (one on the abdomen threatened at one point, but never materialized) and my first km was a reasonably zippy 5:41/km. It was also cool, but sunny and with no wind at all. Once I got underway, it actually was quite comfortable. Best of all, my knees behaved. The left knee did start to twinge a little about two-thirds of the way through, but this was more of a “not used to running like this” thing and not related to the sore knee tragedy of 2018. I also picked up steam, with the last two km being faster than the first three.

Bad news: My BPM was up to 177. Yikes. That is a lot higher than I’d like to see. By comparison, my run on October 20, 2018 had a BPM of 167. I am also nearly four pounds heavier than that run, too (working on it). My overall pace was a sloth-like 6:08/km, a full 14 seconds off the October run, but about what I expected.

As noted, conditions were good, though I was heading into the sun at the start and the Avalon Trail was covered with a glistening mud that was shining so brightly I actually had to shield my eyes. Once I got onto the main part of the loop, it was fine, and the trail overall was in good shape,. with only a bit of a muddy stretch leading up to the athletic fields.

After, the knees still seem to be holding together. though I’ll see how everything feels tomorrow. It could be a thousand agonies, or one agony or maybe no agony at all. I really can’t say. But I am pooped. It’s a lot (when you also add the 14 km or so of walking) after only a handful of treadmill runs leading up to it.

Still, I am pleased that I managed the full 5 km without any difficulties. I kept a more deliberate pace and it seemed to work. As I get in more runs, I expect my BPM to drop, but it’s definitely the thing I’ll be watching closest over the new few runs.

Treadmill run 2019

Well, the first one of 2019, anyway. I’ll run outside one of these days (but maybe not tomorrow, as they are forecasting winds gusting up to 70-90 km/h).

I spent about five minutes out of the 30 doing a fast walk, with the pace set to 4.0 on the machine, which is…I’m not sure. I don’t really know what the numbers represent, exactly. The rest was jogging at a pace set to 6.5, which is a bit slower than an outdoor jog, based on heartrate and just generally how it feels. I’m more comfortable pushing myself outside because I don’t have to worry about flying off a fast-moving mat below my feet.

My best km, which did not include any walking intervals, was 5:58, which is actually pretty decent. The knees were again not an issue and my stamina is perhaps a very tiny bit improved.

The overall stats:

Distance: 4.62 km
Time: 30:03
Average pace: 6:30/km
BPM: 153
Calories: 336

This is slower than the previous run, but I spent a bit more time walking, especially during the 5-minute cooldown period when the machine automatically drops the speed to 3.9 (I raised it back to 6.5 for a few minutes of the cooldown, as I’m a rebel).

Here is the previous treadmill run for comparison:

Distance: 4.31 km
Time: 27.03
Average pace: 6:16/km
BPM: 157
Calories: 354

Treadmillin’ again

This afternoon I spent three minutes on the elliptical.

(That’s how long it took for a treadmill at the Canada Games Pool to open up. Not surprising on a Sunday afternoon. My watch detected a workout just as I stepped off. Is it ironic that my watch has poor timing? I say yes.)

Today’s effort went better than last Friday’s. I only switched to a walk a few times and only breifly, so it was less of an interval-style run and more of a run-style run. The knees held up fine, my pace was about on par for being indoors and out of shape (6:16/km–this includes the walking. I was closer to 6:00 if you only count the running bits). My BPM was also decent, at 157 (I tend to run harder and faster outdoors, so it’s unsurprising to see the BPM here be lower. But it’s still nice).

Overall, I found it encouraging and sweaty. I’m thinking of perhaps jogging outdoors in the next few days to see how that goes. Mind you, tomorrow is Christmas Eve and Tuesday is Christmas, so I’m not sure if I’ll run or just stay home, drink eggnog and get fatter.

But I’ll definitely get out sometime this week. Almost guaranteed.

The full stats for the treadmill run:

Distance: 4.31 km
Time: 27.03
Average pace: 6:16/km
BPM: 157
Calories: 354

Return to the treadmill

And it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Back around the start of November I had the flu and ended up being the poster boy for Why You Should Get a Flu Shot. This not only put a crimp in my NaNoWriMo novel, it meant running was right out. I barely had enough energy to sit in a chair, let alone do actual exercise. Then I became wrapped up in writing for a bit, then the weather turned cold and wet and by this point I was making excuses not to run because I had become soft, flabby and lazy.

The longer I held off, the more I dreaded the return, not only because I was getting increasingly out of shape, but also due to this year’s special bonus of sore knees.

On Friday after work we went to the Canada Games Pool and instead of going on the elliptical, I strangely climbed on a treadmill, opting for an interval-style run for half an hour where I’d jog at a good pace, then ramp down to a fast walk for a few minutes, then back to jogging and so on. Intervals are supposed to be a great way to train/exercise and it was easier, which particularly appealed after more than a month off.

And it really wasn’t that bad. I pushed a little at times, but I kept up and burned some 300 or so calories. The knees were a bit sore the next day, but the soreness didn’t persist much longer than that, and I actually kind of want to go back. I’m supposed to hate the treadmill and in a way I still do, but it’s warm inside the pool building and I had my water bottle and music and it was all right.

I may even try running outside again this weekend. The forecast for Saturday is rain showers with a high of only 4°C. This is not especially inviting weather. In fact, it’s yucky. But I will change into my running clothes and convince myself to go instead of sitting on the couch eating shortbread cookies.

I’m pretty sure, anyway.

The important thing is I miss my incredibly sexy legs, which are looking positively ordinary right now. This will not do.

Run 600: 600th run, 600 people

Run 600
Average pace: 5:54/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 12:37 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 29:43
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 11-12ºC
Humidity: 70%
Wind: light
BPM: 167
Weight: 165.3 pounds
Total distance to date: 4580 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Today’s run was a milestone, being the 600th run I’ve officially tracked, so hooray for me on sticking with this. This works out to an average of 66.6 runs per year, which is positively devilish. If I break it down further, it’s 5.5 runs per month, which is both less Satanic and also a lot less impressive-sounding. This is because some years I’ve run a lot less due to injuries and/or laziness. If I stick to my usual three-times a week my monthly average would be 12, more than double.

So I’m pretty lazy and prone to injury.

All that said, I was of course concerned how today’s run would go with two weeks off, but the results were pleasant in that they were nearly identical to the last run. My total time was 29:43, only three seconds slower than the run on October 6th. It’s actually a bit eerie how similar they are. In other good news, my BPM was down to 167, back below the 170 threshold. While some abdominal cramps threatened around the midway point, they never fully materialized.

In terms of stamina, then, the run actually went decently. I never felt like I was plodding (or blazing along, of course), and keeping pace with my previous effort is a victory of sorts. Conditions were fine, too, hovering around 12ºC and with a light breeze. I wore a t-shirt so this was the first run in awhile where I didn’t feel overdressed.

But it was crowded as all heck. I keep meaning to start earlier because at mid-morning the trail is relatively deserted, but just a few hours later it’s booming with foot traffic. I compounded matters by running clockwise again. I did this because the proliferation of fallen leaves made the north side of the lake, with its many exposed tree roots, a greater hazard for running. Running clockwise puts me in the same direction as most walkers, meaning they can’t see me coming.

And they couldn’t hear me, either. There were so many people–usually walking in twos, threes, or larger groups–that I settled into a refrain of “On your left!” or occasionally “On your right!” when that seemed easier. And in nearly every instance, the people did not show any sign of hearing me. They would seem startled as I nipped by them. This happened over and over. It was baffling. I even started saying it louder, to no avail. I never screamed it, because I didn’t want to seem rude or suggest people are blithering idiots that need to be screamed at.

There was a kid about 3 or 4 on the second boardwalk, slowly and somewhat randomly walking down the middle, oblivious to everything around him (as an aside, this is probably not the best spot to let a small kid get ahead, because if he goes exploring over the edge, he’s in the swamp). I figured “On your left!” would make no sense to him and tried to think of a phrase that would work as I got nearer. At the last moment I settled on gently but firmly calling, “Look out, kid!” then slowed down further, put out a hand and made sure we would not collide, as his parents fruitlessly called to him from behind.

There were also several cyclists, but my vow to not complain prevents me from saying more. For the best, anyway.

Post-run went well once again and in some ways this is now becoming my favorite part of the outing, because I don’t worry about pace, I just run for as long as I want, then walk for a bit, then run again. It’s unstructured, less demanding and makes the running part feel more fun, somehow.

Here’s to the next 600 runs.

Run 599: A horse, a lot of people, bicycles, poop, fallen branches and a slug (me)

Run 599
Average pace: 5:53/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 1:01 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 29:40
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 13-5ºC
Humidity: 54%
Wind: nil to light
BPM: 174
Weight: 164.2 pounds
Total distance to date: 4575 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

I decided to try something different today and deliberately start slower, to see if I would have more energy for the latter part of the run. This did not work, as my whole run was slow instead. But it did work in one way–the third km, where I normally slow down, was actually my fastest–but it was still slow, just edging the pace of my last run by one second at 5:42/km.

My first km was 5:55/km, which is sort of appalling. and my BPM was still way up, to 174 this time, so I’m essentially achieving the opposite of what any rational person would expect, working harder and achieving less.

The only real plus side is I didn’t experience any actual issues during the run.

The trail was crowded, too. I started by gingerly jogging past a horse on the Avalon Trail. Horses are generally fine, but when you pass by one you realize just how big they are and I’d prefer they remain calm as I go by, given this size. Also on the Avalon Trail was the most horse poop I’ve ever seen. I actually had to navigate it like an obstacle course. It was weird.

And perhaps because it was sunny and I started a bit late, the trail was jammed with people. No real issues encountered, but I had to stay alert to avoid collisions and ensnaring myself in dog leashes (but thanks for leashing your dogs, dog people!)

A parks worker had one of their putt-putt cars on the Cottonwood trail, but I couldn’t quite see what he was doing, as he was behind it. Then I saw a large branch topple horizontally onto the trail. Oh. It may have been broken and become a hazard. He was slicing it up with a chainsaw stick (I’m sure it has an official name, but this is at least accurate regarding its appearance).

Not too far after him I encountered a crusty old man on a bike who was riding more like a 20-something meth addict. I wonder if the parks worker with the chainsaw stick had a word with it. Or cut his tires to ribbons.

The other frustrating part of the run was the GPS in the iPhone. Again, it seemed to be giving inaccurate results. I started well ahead of the 0K marker (which, if you’re running clockwise, is actually the 10.3 km marker, too) and despite taking no shortcuts, still had to run past the 5K marker to actually hit 5K. I had covered nearly 5.4 km at that point, so this is hardly a small discrepancy. It’s bad enough to have a slow run, it’s worse when it gets dragged out unnecessarily. :P

Maybe I really will try with just the watch one of these runs to get a proper comparison. It was so off today I actually had a thought to start looking at a dedicated sport watch again.

Overall, a continuation of a disappointing trend. Hopefully things will improve soon™.

Run 598: A little warmer, a little slower (again)

Run 598
Average pace: 5:43/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 12:11 pm
Distance: 5:02 km
Time: 28:42
Weather: Cloudy
Temp: 18ºC
Humidity: 45%
Wind: nil to light
BPM: 172
Weight: 163.4 pounds
Total distance to date: 4570 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Taking on faith the accuracy of the weather forecast (I know, I know) I headed out today in shorts and t-shirt. It was already 17ºC, which was the forecast high for the day, so I suspected being cold would not be an issue. It ended up climbing a degree for the run.

It was cloudy and a 0% chance of rain was promised in the early afternoon, so I donned my non-water resistant AirPods and headed out.

When I got to the lake it started to sprinkle. Fortunately it never amounted to more than that, so I stayed fairly dry, despite the intermittent raindrops.

I had to whizz when I got there and another person went into the Jiffy John™ just as I arrived. This set the tone for the run, the day, everything. She was in there for a weirdly long time, while her friend/neighbor/relative shuffled around awkwardly nearby. I finally went and started off counter-clockwise. Because I began on the south side of the dam, I actually hit the 5K mark before getting to the marker, which was a nice change.

The trail was busier than I expected, given the cloudy skies and sprinkles. People were variably dressed in anything from shorts and t-shirts to winter jackets. I found the humidity made it feel quite warm, especially with the utter lack of wind.

There was a cyclist near the end and when we made eye contact, he nodded in a friendly way at me, so obviously my face was not doing what I would have expected it to be doing.

And it seemed like everyone was walking in a way to form a wall across the trail. A couple of times I nearly had to go right off the trail to get around, even after making my presence known. I’m not sure why today was like this.

I started out well, so well that I made myself slow down, then I basically collapsed in the second km, eventually recovering to where the fifth km was actually the fastest. I was five seconds slower than the last run, which is just enough to sting a smidge, but worse, my BPM was way up, to 172. So I worked harder to get worse results.

On the plus side, I was concerned about the knees going in, but they were fine, and I didn’t experience any other issues, either. Post-run, I did a lot of the run/walk thing and that all went well. In fact, it seemed like I had more energy after the run.

Overall, then, a mixed bag. Maybe (haha) I’ll try running during the week again. We are now looking at the sun setting before 7 p.m., though, which means that I would be finishing my runs only about 20-25 minutes before.

Run 597: A little cooler, a little slower, but not partly sunny

Run 597
Average pace: 5:38/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 12:56 pm
Distance: 5:02 km
Time: 28:23
Weather: Cloudy (not Partly Sunny)
Temp: 13ºC
Humidity: 80%
Wind: nil to light
BPM: 164
Weight: 163.4 pounds
Total distance to date: 4565 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

The forecast for today was Partly Sunny. In fact, as I left for my run the weather app insisted it was, in fact, Partly Sunny right now. Which it was, if you consider Completely Cloudy to be the same thing as Partly Sunny.

There was no prediction for rain and that proved accurate, luckily. I headed out, expecting to be a bit slower than the last run due to a combination of factors–not as much walking during the week, eight days since the last run, a slower walk to the lake, and a general feeling of sluggishness.

And I was right! But it was only two seconds slower, which is almost but not quite a rounding error (it was about 12 seconds spread over the length of 5 km, which I totally could have topped had I known I was that close.

The interesting part is the breakdown of this and the previous run. Last time I started a little slower but stayed steady through the first two km, flagged in the third and fourth, then picked up for the final. Today I started out even faster but saw a huge drop in the second km, then stayed around that pace, picking up only a bit by the final km. So it was kind of front-loaded.

No real issues to be reported, though I think the strong start left me a bit winded for the remainder. The knees were the knees. I almost felt a cramp here and there, but they never quite materialized.

It stayed 13ºC throughout and I wore a long-sleeved shirt. I would have been fine with a regular t-shirt, as there was little wind. BPM was down to 164, which was nice, and with high humidity, I felt semi-hydrated even without having any water.

There were a few other runners out, including one with a perfectly chiseled body. He was running silly fast and without a shirt, of course. If ya got it….

The number of walkers out was greater than expected, given the sky looked like it might open up for most of the time I was out. And there was one cyclist who startled me from behind post-run mainly because he was riding so fast and blaring music, which seemed odd. His jacket was as loud as the music, too.

Overall, then, a solid effort. I will once again endeavor to run during the week, but who knows how that will go. I have found the motivation to run after work elusive. This week is also the first where the sun begins setting before 7 p.m., so the days of post-work runs are numbered as it is.

Run 596: Fire danger low, slug danger high

Run 596
Average pace: 5:36/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 3:45 pm
Distance: 5:02 km
Time: 28:11
Weather: Overcast, some sun
Temp: 15ºC
Humidity: 80%
Wind: nil to light
BPM: 168
Weight: 163.3 pounds
Total distance to date: 4560 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Last night we had a rare thunderstorm advisory for Metro Vancouver warning people to stay indoors due to the possibility of flash floods. It rained copiously.

It was still raining this morning and I planned on running in the rain for the first time in quite awhile. But I waited to see if the rain would ease up.

I waited and waited.

Close to 3 p.m. the sky had brightened and I figured that was as good as it was going to get, so I put on my long-sleeved shirt, donned my wired Ear Pods (not wanting to risk the non-water resistant Air Pods that cost about seven times as much) and headed out into a light sprinkle.

Weirdly, by the time I got to the river, it stopped raining and it stayed stopped for both the run and the walk back. At times the sun even came out.

Considering I nearly skipped running altogether, it actually went very well. It was about 15ºC, which is, as far as I’m concerned, the Goldilocks temperature for running. I did sweat a little, but only because it was quite humid after the rain. I went clockwise around the lake, thinking the trails on the south side would be in better shape after the rain, but there were only a few puddles in total that I had to deke around. The trail was generally in quite good shape and sparsely populated, though more were coming out after I was winding down from the run.

Speaking of coming out, the slugs were everywhere. For every puddle I dodged I probably dodged ten slugs. It’s to the point where if it rains, I expect to see slugs everywhere I go now.

The run went surprisingly well. I felt good, had no issues, and trucked along, snipping five seconds off the last run and coming in at 5:36/km. My BPM was up a fair bit, to 168, but still (just) below the max I’m comfortable with. I jogged the majority of the walk out of the lake, with one km even coming in comfortably under the 6:00/km mark. I’m probably ready to run farther now, maybe even back to doing a full 10K, but my knees scare me. Stupid knees. Still, they held up well today. Maybe they like the damp.

Here’s where I once again vow to run during the week, but it’s strangely hard to motivate myself. Maybe now that I’ve done a “rain” run it will be easier.