Sunday, December 27, 2015

Running Streak - Day 56

Summer weather is officially over.  I woke this morning to ice pellets after freezing rain overnight.  By the time I started, the temperature had just dropped below zero.  I knew full well that morning was going to be my only opportunity to get a run in; hence, I had to go for it.  From 16C two days ago to this today...

Ice covered road
No good footing anywhere

Since it was near 0C with very light wind, I didn't need to bundle up, but I did have to protect myself against the ice pellets from above and the slush and water from below.  On top, I wore a jacket, nylon pants, Gore Tex cap and gloves.  I only needed a long sleeve tech shirt and shorts as a base layer. Since the tread on the Adizero Mana's is pretty much completely bald, I chose the K-Swiss Blade Lights for traction, but they have drainage holes through the mid-sole.  The holes, coupled with cotton socks (bad choice), meant my feet were wet after 5 minutes.

The run went as well as can be expected.  The footing was terrible.  I had a choice between crusty slush, slushy water or partially frozen mud.  I just slowed down and kept the pace steady.  After 20 minutes the ice pellets stopped and turned to lights snow.  At least my face wasn't stinging anymore.  On the better cared-for roads over the second half of the route, the roads were more wet than slushy or icy and I could pick up the pace a little bit.  I finished and recovered well and hit a well-deserved warm shower.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Running Streak - Days 53, 54 and 55

Day 55

After a day of Boxing Day shopping, I managed to grab the last bit of daylight today for a run.  I wore reflectors, even though I was running on a cinder path where motorized vehicles are prohibited, and brought the headlamp.  I'm glad I did because I was starting to notice that the lamp was making a difference, even at twilight.  The reflectors are useful when the paths cross well-traveled roads with high speed limits.

I proved today that one can run after a heavy meal.  I went to a Chinese buffet for lunch and I probably won't eat until tomorrow morning.  My body will need some time to fight off what I just did to it.  The run definitely helped.

The temperature dropped from near tropical highs over the past three days to 3C with a light, albeit cold, breeze from the east.  I wore long sleeve tech shirt, vest and nylon pants, just enough to block the wind.  No need for an insulating layer... yet.  I think Winter is coming tomorrow, but the funny thing is that the days just started getting longer.

Day 54

Merry Christmas.  I had a great Christmas morning and then on to the turkey dinner.  The turkey was cooked the night before, so the fuss was minimal.  I went for a great 30 minute run on the paths before heading to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which was awesome).  While running I decided to switch from the marathon on April 30 to the half marathon.  This streak is going so well without investing gobs of time that I think it's best to start back with something a little more realistic and I really love the half marathon distance.

It was still uncharacteristically nice weather: 8C with a decent wind from the east.  I was in a short sleeve tech shirt, vest and shorts.  I pulled out the K'Swiss Blade Lights and decided that I am going to switch to them once the Adizero Mana's have had it.  The K-Swiss only have just over 200km on them.  The just might take me through to the end of half marathon training at the end of April.

Day 53

Today was out of this world.  It hit 16C and was sunny...  on Christmas Eve.  All kinds of weather records were smashed today.  There was a period where the winds gusted up to 60km/h and a large number of households on east, south and western edges of the city lost power, including mine.  The power was off here from 11:00AM until 8:00PM.

I didn't let the weather go to waste and got in a 30 minute run in the early afternoon.  I also got in a bunch of yard cleanup once I returned.  It was short sleeves and shorts, naturally, and sunglasses because the wind was blowing all kinds of stuff around.  The trees along the path couldn't provide enough of a wind break.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Running Streak - Day 52

It was super busy at work this week, hence the string of late night runs.  I worked a 3-day week that felt like 5.  I am really looking forward to some holidays.  Tomorrow is supposed to have a high of 16C under mostly sunny skies.  I thought the weather in November and early December was crazy, but 16C and sunny on Christmas Eve is beyond description.

Tonight I felt like a bit of a distraction on the treadmill.  I loaded up an episode of the X-Files (season 2, episode 10 - Red Museum - for those of you keeping score at home) on Netflix and set the machine for 9:30min/mile and an incline of 2%.  The lowest setting is 1.5%, but it can be a bit noisy.  Setting it at 2% eliminates about 80% of the belt and deck noise.

Since I started close to 10:30PM, I was only looking to check the box and put in just less than 25 minutes.  I felt great and I will have no problem going off the sleep.  That being said, my average HR was in the neighbourhood of 120bpm (solid HR reading tonight, BTW).  I definitely need to start pushing myself a bit harder.  I looked at the graphs on Strava and can't figure out how my pace drops over the course of the session despite me never changing the speed of the treadmill.  Hmmm.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Running Streak - Day 51

It was really tough getting in a run today, but I kind of knew that from the get go this morning.  The timing would be too tight at lunch and there were no other windows of opportunity that opened.  Again, I hit the treadmill after 11:00PM for a 20 minute pre-set hill workout.  I wasn't going to let the streak end prematurely, especially with the scheduled end just around the corner.  All-in-all, it was a good run.  I focused on form and cadence - as best I could on a motorized hamster wheel.  No complaints.

BTW, (hopefully this is not TMI) the chafing I experienced yesterday was most likely the worst I have ever experienced.  I've never seen blood droplets on the floor when it has happened before.  It didn't feel a whole lot better today.  Body Glide to the rescue.  I can't say enough good things about this stuff.  It worked and my shirt(s) say 'Thank You.'

Monday, December 21, 2015

Running Streak - Days 49 and 50

Day 50

I had a 40 minute tempo run in the Garmin schedule, but I forgot my HR strap.  Given the conditions and the fact that the delay expired for the next mission in Zombies, Run!, I decided to do the 37 minute mission and take the run easy.  It was the right decision.  I can do the tempo run tomorrow.

Today was nasty with freezing rain.  The footing was bad - thin film of slush where there wasn't a deep frigid puddle or a thin film of ice - and my clothes were soaked through within 5 minutes of the start.  My shirt chafed me so bad that I had blood dripping from the abrasions.  (Note to self: Remember the BodyGlide tomorrow.)  I dropped the pace and focused on posture and a proper foot strike.  Despite the condition of my rapidly deteriorating shoes, I didn't slip once.  Mentally, running in horrible conditions is a great morale booster.  You feel so hardcore when you finish.

Day 49

The streak continues, but I need to become more diligent about the daily reporting.

I managed to squeak in a 6.5km run with the last remaining minutes of daylight.  It seemed colder than it has been over the last few weeks, but all I needed to do was shield myself from the wind.  I wore the MEC Dart pants and Peak Performance jacket over a long sleeve tech shirt.  I could have even taken off the hat and gloves about 2/3 of the way through, but I left them on.  Getting outside sure beats the treadmill.

I did the loop through Sarsfield, and sought to keep an even pace throughout.  Mission accomplished and I didn't use any gadgetery.  The TomTom threw a couple of HR spikes again despite using electrode gel and changing clothing.  I noticed that it is fine when running on the treadmill or in warm weather.  Maybe the cold temperatures or reduced humidity has something to do with it.  Not being able to get to the bottom of this is really frustrating me.  Reading the forums tells me that I'm not alone in this, but to me, it is still a small consolation.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Running Streak - Days 47 and 48

Day 48

This morning I woke to sunshine and a dusting of snow on the ground, but slept in later than expected and couldn't get a run in.  Although I really wanted to get out, it just wasn't working for me.  I had a long run of 80 minutes in the schedule.  Hopefully I can get it in tomorrow.

I needed to get the last of my Christmas shopping done and over the course of the day Misfit recorded over 10,000 steps of just walking, most of it in stores and malls.  At 11:30PM, I finally had time to run and selected a 30 minute pre-set workout on the treadmill:  8% grade and a maximum pace of 7:24 min/mile.  In stark contrast to last night, the run felt terrific. I was able to read my Kobo, except for the three sections at top speed in the middle of the session.  Wiping out would have wrecked a great day.

Day 47

All day I felt very tired and not so great.  There was a holiday lunch at work and the food was great, but I think it was loaded with sodium.  Despite drinking over a liter of water when I got home, I was feeling bloated and stagnant by the end of the day.  As I was running, I noticed that my feet were swelling.

The run itself was meh.   I did the easier 20 minute pre-set just to get the workout in and not be totally revved up while trying to get to sleep.  It worked and I fell asleep rather quickly after reading for 15 minutes.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Running Streak - Day 46

I knew from the get-go that I would be on the treadmill in the evening, but I didn't think it would be after 10:00PM.  I had a lunch planned with some former colleagues at a Chinese buffet that we always have eaten at.  The company today was terrific, but the food was lousy and I felt horrible all afternoon.  I still haven't eaten.  I'm not sure if it was the quantity, the volume or both.  I have been eating better since the streak began and as of this morning, I was down to 175 lbs.  I don't think my body can't handle eating crappy food like that anymore.

The run tonight was good. I selected another 20min pre-set workout where the elevation rose to 10% and the top speed was 6:30 min/mi (yes, no metric on the treadmill.)  It was more challenging than the other one I have been using.  Normally, I can still read my Kobo while running, but I couldn't do so once the pace went above 7:30 min/mi.  Trying to continue to read would have resulted in a wipe-out of spectacular proportions and everyone was already in bed.  It would be awful for everyone.

The good news is that I got accurate HR readings - no spikes.  I need to get to the bottom of this.  I'm sure it's not the running clothes or a defective chest strap.  There would be more sources of interference inside the house than outside.  I'm wondering if it is the degree of contact between my skin and the strap when the temperature drops.  I have been going light with layers to get myself to acclimatize to the cold temperatures, when they eventually come.  Maybe I should try over-dressing to see if being warmer helps maintain better contact.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Running Streak - Day 45

It was another terrific run today, and looking back, I don't see too many days where I had a bad one.  I recall really struggling physically and mentally at the beginning of the streak.  I was disappointed at how much I had let myself go and how I was having to re-start after a prolonged yet again.  I don't think like that anymore.  I realize that it has been only six weeks, but now running does not feel like a chore.  I actually feel like I am training again, not just trying to find my feet.  The really curious thing (for me) is that I'm not focused on a particular event.  I am simply running to, yes, keep the streak going, but mainly because it is making me feel good.

Wednesday is intervals day and this week the plan called for adding another rep to the workout I have going through for the past few weeks.  Today was a 10 minute warm up and cool down with 6 x 2:00 on/1:00 off in between.  Again my pace for all of the work segments was very consistent.  The one thing I noticed is that I start each interval hard and then steadily slow down.  (See the graph below.)  My HR is steady, but my pace drops off .  I need to work on ramping up and then maintaining the pace more evenly.   

December 15, 2105 Interval Session

It was definitely colder today (1C with a "feels like" of -2C), but the wind was much calmer.  I covered up with my Dart pants, Sugoi vest and gloves, but no hat.  I really need to find my toque; it would have come in handy.  I have two of them, but they must be mixed in with other clothing at home somewhere.  If there was any precipitation today, it definitely would have been snowing and I need to start being prepared for the eventuality of snowfall.  Ottawa is being spoiled.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Running Streak - Day 44

When I checked the temperature in the morning, it was 9C with moderate winds and a "feels like" of 6C, which would have been great.  As it turns out, my 1:00PM, when I started my run, it was 5C with strong winds (gusts of up to 35km/h) and a "feels like" of 0C.  Sadly, I didn't check before I left and dressed for the morning conditions.  It wasn't horrible, but man, in shorts, long sleeve shirt and vest, it felt cold. 

Since there was nothing on the plan for me today and the 6 day delay had passed for the next Zombies, Run! mission had passed, I decided to let the mission parameters dictate the duration of the run: 41 minutes, no problem.  I ran an out-and-back on the Ottawa River again, getting to just past Parkdale before turning around.  The curious thing is that I ran almost the same distance as yesterday - I even turned around at the same set of benches - and yesterday it felt much more difficult.  When I checked the data at the end of the run, I ran only 5 seconds slower per kilometer than my average pace yesterday.  5:42min/km shouldn't feel much different than 5:36, but it did.  I can't explain it. 

Another weird thing is that I had no HR data from the run.  I guess the transmitter on the strap never connected to the receiver in the watch.  It would have been great to have HR data to compare the effort between the two runs.  After the run was over today, I stopped the workout and put it into Treadmill mode as I walked around the building*.  The connectivity was fine.  Again, I can't explain the problem.

* I discovered that if I have it in Treadmill mode and don't start a workout, I can see my HR in BPM, which is really useful in recovery as I walk around to cool down.  My HR isn't visible in Run mode before starting a workout.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Running Streak - Day 43

Today I used my Tomtom Runner for a tempo run targeting a particular HR zone for the first time.  I have figured out how to set up interval sessions, but I realized today that I hadn't yet used the device for HR training.  The first step was to make sure that the zones were set up correctly.  I logged in to Garmin Connect and wrote down my HR zone info that was configured in my settings.  I have used these zones for many workouts and trust them to be correct (enough).  I then transferred the information to my profile on the Tomtom website.  Setting up the zones on the Tomtom site is very easy - enter the max HR and then just slide the limits into place.  High marks for usability.  After re-syncing the device, I selected Zone-HR from the training menu and then selected "Endure".  (The plan today was for 40 minutes in Zone 3, which in Tomtom-speak is named Endure.)

The run itself was OK.  It was cloudy, dark, cold and windy (3C with a wind chill of -1C) and I was feeling a bit sluggish.  The zone training on the Tomtom was interesting.  The device is very good at telling you when to speed up and when you are on target.  It completely forgets to tell you to slow down.  I found that I was blowing out the top of the zone and only realizing it later when I saw what my actual HR was.  Once I slowed down a bit, I was told that I was on target again.  For effective zone training, staying in the zone is critical and Tomtom needs to fix that.  I did my best to stay in the zone and my average pace indeed decreased in the second half of the run, but after turning around at exactly 20 minutes, I still nearly finished where I started - two city blocks behind.  In my books, that's not too shabby.

Running Streak - Days 41 and 42

I'm going to combine the blog entry for days 41 and 42 because the runs were identical in every respect: 20 minutes on the treadmill using the same pre-set hill workout starting at 11:30PM.  The weather outside was beautiful.  It was mostly cloudy and 14C on Saturday; 5C on Sunday.  I took advantage of the good weather to get some work done in the yard and on the outside of the house that didn't get done in the Summer.  That work, coupled with other prior commitments, meant that I would be on the treadmill late at night again, which is no big deal, except that I'm starting to feel tired.

I discovered that my Forerunner 310XT is simply not suited to running indoors.  It is taking a long time to "boot" up and there is no Indoor Mode that other models have.  Saturday's run was captured as having happened on April 1, 2007.  In its defense, a hard reset is probably long overdue.  Periodic hard/soft resets are, in my opinion, a critical part of maintaining these devices (from all manufacturers).  I can't explain it; I have just come to accept it.  An interesting finding... There was no HR spike when using the Garmin.  I forgot the chest strap for the other run where I used the Tomtom.

I calculated how many days that this streak is supposed to run.  I cannot believe, given my nature, that I had not done this earlier.  November 2 to January 1 is 61 days, inclusive, which means that, as of today, I am now 2/3 of the way.  My Sunday School class thinks I should extend the streak to 100 days, with a new end date of February 9.  I'm not making the call right now, but with 41 runs behind me and no ill effects, 100 days is looking awfully tempting.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Running Streak - Day 40

Round numbers have a such a nice ring to them, and 40 sounds like a bona fide milestone.  To me, my biggest milestone so far was 4.  Once I strung 4 consecutive days of running together, I felt like I was actually going somewhere, especially having been on the couch of doom for so long.  Two weeks (14 days) really surprised me, too.  Now that I'm at 40 days, I'm looking ahead more than behind.  After tomorrow I will be 2/3 complete.

Today was the best day weather-wise of the whole week.  It was sunny, 14C and absolutely un-December-like.  Every runner I saw on the Ottawa River pathway was grinning from ear-to-ear.  We are all out there running looking like cats who swallowed the canary.  I know that anyone reading this blog is wondering why I am going on so much about the weather.  To give you an idea, it was a balmy -3C with a bit of snow on this date last year, and in 2013 it was a frigid -22C.   A "normal" temperature for mid-December in Ottawa is -10C and today I was out in a short sleeve tech shirt and shorts.  This is an absolute blessing, and I am so grateful to be able to take full advantage of it.

I started out a little hard today, perhaps frolicking in the warm temperature.  I got to the 1km point and said to myself, "What are you doing?"  I should cut the pace and enjoy my time in the sun a little more, rather than blast through the run to get it done.  I also was feeling the effects of the intervals on Wednesday and the up-tempo run yesterday.  I slowed down noticeably and as it turns out, I had the opposite experience of Tuesday evening.  I thought I had slowed my pace quite a bit, but it was faster than planned.  I can't explain it. 

The Tomtom produced spikes in the HR readings at the beginning of the run again.  I was thinking about it and am starting to wonder if it is "premium" chest straps that don't get along with me.  My rigid Garmin strap does not do that, but I have had the same thing with all three (Polar, Tomtom and Garmin) straps.  I'm going to explore this a little more.  It's too bad that I can't wear two straps at one to compare the readings.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Running Streak - Day 39

Another absolutely stunning day, weather-wise.  A lunch with some former colleagues was cancelled, but fortunately I had my running stuff with me at work and was able to get out shortly before 1:00PM, when it was 10C.  Being so warm, I was out in my long sleeve Army Run tech shirt and shorts, which was ideal.  I was contemplating going with short sleeves, but as it turned out, there was a pretty stiff westerly wind and I was glad to have something covering my arms.

Apart from knowing that I wanted to run The Bridges, I had no objectives for time or intensity.  My plan was to enjoy the weather and the undulating route.  I've been saying that pretty soon I will be confined to the flat pathway beside the Rideau Canal at lunch, but the forecast is now saying that it will not be that soon; there is only one day in the long range forecast where it below 0C.  I wonder is we are looking at a green Christmas.

I have been trying to sort out my Tomtom HRM and I'm not winning.  I shorted out the battery in the transmitter pod and the watch picked it up right away.  I'm still showing spikes in the readings at the beginning of my run (see graph below of today's run).  If you look back on all of my other runs with the Tomtom, you will see the same behaviour.  My Garmin Forerunners do not tend do this, at least not as consistently.

Graph depicting spike in heart rate readings in first 10 minutes of activity
Heart Rate Spike
I have now followed all of my own advice, but nothing has solved it yet.  Since the readings are normal after the spike, there is an indication that normal operation is possible.  I have apparently eliminated the strap as a cause because the readings are the same with the Tomtom strap and the Polar strap (perhaps I should try the Garmin strap?); therefore, in my small mind, it must be the transmitter pod.  It's really frustrating because I rather like the unit.  I will start interrogating Mr. Google to see what he can offer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Running Streak - Days 37 and 38

Day 38

Todays scheduled run consisted of intervals where it was 2:00 on/1:00 off with a 10:00 warm-up and cool-down - the same workout as last week.  This workout is very do-able over a lunch hour, and it felt awesome today.  I don't have much snap in my legs yet, but I can increase my pace on demand and hold it for 2:00.  I haven't looked ahead in the Garmin training plan to see if the work portion of the intervals will increase.  I suspect that it does.  Even if it doesn't, I know that I will benefit.  Like the folks at Endurance Nation preach, first you get fast, then you go long.

It was another day with amazing weather: 6C, slight wind and sunny.  Again , I was in shorts, long sleeve tech shirt and vest, but I probably could have dropped the vest after 10 minutes or so.  The only thing I should have brought was sunglasses.  I can't believe that this is December, and the forecast for the rest of the week has highs in double digits.

Still having problem with spikes in HR readings at the beginning of my run.  I experimented with something new.  I connected the transmitter pod to my Polar premium strap, but nothing changed.  It worked perfectly with my Garmin transmitter when I was getting silly readings with the Garmin premium strap and it was chafing me nearly in half when I ran with it.  Having seemingly eliminated the strap as the cause of the spikes, I am thinking of shorting out the pod by inverting the battery for 30 seconds and then re-pairing it with the watch.

Day 37

My day was full of meetings and I couldn't get out for a run a lunch.  When the lunch our is book-ended like it was today, I don't like the stress that rushing through the run causes.  I normally can confine my running sessions to an hour or less, but I something holds me up - I run into someone I know or I have to wait for a shower to become available - I'm late for the second meeting, guaranteed, and no one (especially me) likes that.

I had some forced waiting time in the evening and decided to get the run in then.  I dressed for the run in the building where I work so that I could run from then spot where I would need to wait later, and I just ran a loop with a nice hill a few times.  I didn't want to stray too far in case I needed to cut the run short.  I re-listened to Mission 2 of Zombies, Run!  When I did it the first time, I shortened the duration to only 18-20 minutes; today I did the entire mission at the recommended length of 31 minutes and picked up more supplies.  I will do this again with another couple of missions until the delay for downloading a new episode has expired.

The run itself was interesting.  According to my phone, it was cloudy, negligible wind and 2C.  The phone was correct on everything, except for the temperature, which felt definitely colder.  Luckily, I brought a thermal base layer shirt to add to the long sleeve tech shirt and vest I was wearing.  I had my MEC Dart nylon pants to cover my legs.  I thought I was clipping along at a good pace, but when I checked my watch or received alerts from Zombies, Run!, it turns out that I was running slower.  I gradually picked up the pace and negative split every kilometer.  My dumb move of the day was wearing my Tomtom HR transmitter on the Polar strap with my Garmin Forerunner 310XT on my wrist.  I wanted to see if I could find the source of the spikes in the HR readings, but the mismatch in devices meant no HR readings at all.  I will try the experiment tomorrow.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Running Streak - Day 36

Work was busy today and I had spontaneous 90 minute meeting that went straight through lunch.  I had put my stuff in one of the day lockers early in the morning.  As noon was approaching, I had a check in my spirit that I should abandon an e-mail I was writing and drop into my colleagues office instead to see him in person.  It was definitely the right call.  As such, I knew that without a run at lunch, I would be on the treadmill tonight.  The positive side is that it was not as late as runs have been in the past couple of weeks, and I will get a decent night's sleep.

Because it was a little earlier, I selected a 30 minute pre-set workout that was a little faster and a little hillier than the other one I had been using.  I completed Mission 6 of Zombies, Run! and figured out a little trick for doing these missions on the treadmill: select the duration for the workout in my head or on the treadmill and then adjust the length of the mission to one minute less than the workout.  This gives me enough time to start the treadmill, start the watch and then start the mission and have it all come out of the oven at the same time.

In the topic of the watch, my Tomtom HR chest strap is giving me fits.  I did everything I recommended in my other post, with one exception: I did not moisten (i.e. lick) the contacts or use electrode gel.  I had hand-washed it thoroughly early this morning and let it hang to dry, and it is still is producing high readings at the beginning of the run.  I will wash it again right after I publish this and try it with electrode gel tomorrow.

Running Streak - Day 35

I did things the way I wanted (yesterday*) and was out the door around 7:00AM.  I fully intended  to just run out-and-back for 25 minutes to check the box for the day.  As I was getting to my turnaround point, I was feeling great and did a time check to see if I could run a few extra minutes and still make it to church on time.  Once I figured out that I could, I decided to run the entire loop (nearly 6.5km, or 4 miles).  I really like this loop and haven't run it in a long time.

The weather has been nearly the same weather three days in a row (this morning was cloudy with a slight westerly wind and 4C).  Again I went for the same long sleeve tech shirt, nylon vest and shorts, what was ideal.  I started out a little slower that yesterday and felt progressively better as the run went on.  I actually ended up negative splitting every kilometer.  Now that I have added an interval session each week, I need to add a long run.  I will look ahead to the marathon training plan I selected for the Spring to see where I need at the start and then work back from there.  I'm willing to bet that I could already handle 60 minutes of long, slow distance.

* I wrote down some point form notes after the run and immediately forgot to come back to turn them into complete sentences.  Running is definitely feeling more like part of the daily routine than an event.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Running Streak - Day 34

I did things the way I wanted to and got out for the run before 8:00AM.  I hit the path close to the house and did a simple out-and-back for 25 minutes.  The weather was much like yesterday - 5C and cloudy - except that the wind was much milder.  I also wore the same get up as yesterday and didn't end up with chattering teeth until I was warmed up.

I noticed that I am running much more smoothly than I was when I started and I am able to set a decent pace and hold it for much longer.  If I look at similar runs from a month ago, I am now averaging a pace that is 30 seconds faster per kilometer.  The distance I am covering in similarly timed runs is also measurable longer.  The key thing is that, even though I am covering more ground at a faster pace, my average hear rate is the same or less.  Good indicators, all of them.

I brought my iPod to listen to some music for a change.  Normally, I listen to podcasts, which are great to help pass the time on long runs, but I was on a traffic-free path and the run was just steady state kilometers - no concentration required.  After listening to The Black Crowe's "She Talks to Angels", I queued up The Tragically Hip's Up To Here.  What a great album.  I normally don't listen to a full album from beginning to end, but when the next song started I couldn't bring myself to switch away. I got through tracks 1 to 6 by the time the run was over:

  1. Blow at High Dough
  2. I'll Believe In You (Or I'll Be Leaving You tonight)
  3. New Orleans Is Sinking
  4. 38 Years Old
  5. She Didn't Know
  6. Boots Or Hearts
After running, I did 60 minutes of Moksha yoga.  After having not been in a class for a couple of weeks, it was exactly what I needed.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Running Streak - Day 33

I did my first interval session of the streak today, and the experimental angle on today's run is that I programmed the Garmin training plan workout (10min warm-up; 5x2:00 Work, 1:00 Rest; cool down),  into my Tomtom Runner.  The process of setting up the workout was very intuitive.  It would have been nice to have the ability to assign target HR zones to the "Work" portions (Tomtom vocabulary), but then again, it felt really good to run hard by feel and how have the watch chirping at me.  I'm not sure if I can set up a bunch of interval workouts or if I will need to set  up one at workouts a time on or before the day I'm scheduled for it.

Dressing for running these days has been difficult.  I checked the forecast when I woke up and it said high of 5C by noon with a "feels like" of 0C.  I end up packing a bag full of clothes in the morning because I can't know exactly what I need until I head to the change room.  Today I wore a long sleeve tech shirt, nylon vest and shorts.  My legs were fine, but my torso was really cold for the first 10 to 12 minutes (teeth chattering cold).  Once I warmed up and turned around so that the wind was at my back, I was fine.  That's the difficult thing: I was underdressed when heading into the wind and just right for the second half.

It felt really good to get outside again.  This treadmill stuff has to be saved for only the worst days.  I was really surprised that I could get the pace below 5:00/km and run all five intervals at a very consistent pace.  When I was doing speed work in the Spring, my pace would decline with each interval.  I think the consistency in my running over the past month is starting to show.  I feel that I'm forming a good base.  I just need to dial in the sleep and nutrition.

Running "Streak" - Day 32

It was not a great day, running-wise.  I'm claiming that the streak is still alive, but just barely and mostly on principle.  I didn't get in 20 minutes, which disqualifies me according to the rules I set.  Since I am the judge in this, however, and since this experience has brought about change, I am declaring that the spirit of the streak is alive because the streak is clearly accomplishing what I intended: to create intentional consistency in my training.

The day completely ran away with me and I found myself finally returning home after having  left the house well before 8:00AM, and finally being settled around 10:30PM.  The late arrival, coupled with too many late nights trying to keep the streak going, took its toll and I fell asleep on the couch while getting ready to run.  I somehow woke up just before midnight and hopped on the treadmill, barefoot and wearing an undershirt and track pants.  Not a pretty picture.

This was a cathartic moment.  I'm done with the 11:00PM runs.  You can see by my training log that I did more late treadmill runs in the last week than I did in the first three weeks.  The increased activity, loss of sleep and busyness of life has got me running on fumes.  I also noticed that the loss of sleep is actually causing me to gain weight.  I realize that I have been reacting to my schedule, and I now need to be proactive; therefore, I need to start forcing myself to get to bed early and to rise early so that I can run in the morning.  I will run at lunch tomorrow and then start morning runs on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Running Streak - Day 31

I've been trying to figure out the best definition of one month.  It could be 28 days because it is four 7-day weeks.  Even though November is 30 days long, it cannot be not 30 days because I started on November 2, i.e. no running on November 1.  Today is December 2, Day 31, and I have settled on it as the best marker for one month.  I am more than a little surprised that I made it this far, and I am going to enjoy looking back on January 1 to see that I ran every day of a 31-day month.

Again I had to get the run in on the treadmill, but this time it was before 11:00PM.  I had all of my stuff packed and stowed in a locker, ready for a run at lunch (intervals, no less), but I needed to finish something that came up at work without warning.  It was the right thing to do.  I planned on running longer this evening, but thought better of it because I need to start getting more sleep.  I did a weight check this morning and I was up a little bit from last time.  I am pretty certain that it is from not getting enough sleep.

The 20 minute pre-set workout was good enough.  I focused on cadence and posture.  I tend to slouch when I run and I need to keep my head up.  For this reason, I went with listening to a podcast rather than reading.  It worked well.  Ironically, I listened to part of The Problem with Treadmilling from Phedippidations.  I agree with what Steve presented; there is a certain emptiness when running and there is nothing moving around you - air, light, scenery.  That being said, it sounds like his treadmill is loaded with much more gadgetery than mine, which means there are more distractions.  The one I run on is older and much less sophisticated: 4 LCD numeric displays, 6 pre-set workouts, no interfaces to any other equipment.  Also, being a bit of a data hound, I don't tend to pay attention to the display because I do not trust the accuracy of any of the numbers.  I wear a GPS watch set to indoor/treadmill mode and a footpod.  It's moderately better, but still far from perfect.  As long as the motor is good and it can change the elevation, I see no need for something zippier.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Running Streak - Days 29 and 30

Day 30

The forecast today was for periods of freezing rain and I didn't want to be running in that mess.  That motivated me to get out as soon as I possibly could, which was around 11:40AM.  The temperature was -1C (-7C with the wind), and I wore thermal base layer long sleeve shirt, Peak Performance jacket, lycra exercise shorts under MEC Dart nylon pants, Salomon Gore Tex ball cap and Mizuno Breath Thermal gloves.  Again, I was right on with my clothing selection.  It has been a good Fall for that; normally, I mess it up a few times before figuring out my thermostat for the Winter.  Because of the cloudy skies, I wanted to use the Tomtom because it locks on the satellites much quicker than the Garmin, but the Garmin was all I had.  In its defence, it locked on uncharacteristically fast today.

My run around the Bridges was terrific.  I ran just over 5km at 5:36 min/km pace, and I had no problem holding the pace.  I also felt great on the hill that runs along the locks beside the Chateau Laurier.  I'm definitely getting stronger, but oddly, I have been feeling heavier for the past couple of days. I'm not in the mood to get on the scale.  I will drink more water to see if I am slightly dehydrated and get some more sleep.  That ought to do it.

Day 29

This has got to stop.  It was the third day in a row that I squeaked in a 20 minute run on the treadmill after 11:00PM.  This time it was totally a thing of my own design.  I procrastinated by working through lunch and didn't feel like going for a run in the middle of the afternoon.  Even though I had worked up until that point, I didn't want to have to explain myself to others who didn't know what was going on.  Then I stalled throughout the evening at home - even falling asleep on the couch at one point - before I said, "That's it. Get your butt down to the basement and get the run in."

I did the same pre-set workout that I did last night and the night before: 20 minutes, up to an 8% grade, pace between 12 min/mi and 9 min/mi.  Again aided by a novel on my Kobo, the time raced by and I had the run in by 11:45PM.  I felt stronger and smoother than the previous two nights, but I'm also feeling the effects of lack of sleep.  It's really hard to fall asleep afterwards, and I ended up (again) watching TV until after 1:00PM.  Tomorrow, I'm running on lunch.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Running Streak - Day 28

I made it to Day 28 - four consecutive weeks.  I knew that I would be running late at night tonight because I had planned to watch the entire Grey Cup and then run after.  I thought it would be over at around 9:30PM, but I ended up running at 11:15PM.  I'm not getting used to running late, but it is not as foreign of a concept anymore, compared to at time before the streak.

I ran the same pre-set workout as I did last night and, no pun intended, it was like night and day.  My run tonight was definitely smoother.  I was still tired because of the time I started, but I didn't want to continually stop and get off.  There is not much else to say.  I had hoped to get in a 60 minute long run this weekend, like the Garmin plan called for, but the schedule didn't allow for it (or I didn't make it a priority).  That is something to analyze another day.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Running Streak - Days 26 and 27

Day 27

A super busy day where I spent the majority out of the house led to 20 minutes on the treadmill late at night - 11:25PM, to be precise.  I felt great when the day started and throughout the afternoon, but by the time I hit the treadmill rolled around, I felt gross and tired and just wanted to go to bed.  I read a bit of a novel on my e-reader when running, which really helped the time go by, but I still felt like hitting the stop button every five minutes.  It's in the bag for today, at least, and the streak is still alive.

Day 26

I went to Starbucks this morning and ordered a Chestnut Praline Latte.  Normally, I order a dark brewed coffee.  What I ordered today is a little too froofy for my tastes., but I had a coupon code for 25% off and thought, "Why not?"  Once I had finished the "drink" (it was more like a dessert.), I thought, "Why?"  I checked out its nutritional information: 330 total calories, 120 fat calories and 39g of sugar.  All I can say is that it's a good thing I am running around 30 minutes today because it will take just over 20 of those minutes to offset what I has just put into my body.

Today's forecast looked warm, windy and wet, and the weather actually delivered: 13C, 30km/h winds (gusting to over 40km/h) and light rain.  The coffee sat like a rock in my stomach.  I will not be ordering another one, ever, nor any other coffee beverage with whipped cream.  I did fine with shorts, long sleeve shirt and a vest.  I wore the vest so that I had a place to stow my phone. I felt a little overdressed at the beginning, but when the rain and wind kicked up, what I wore turned out to be perfect.  It also kept the phone dry.  I ran The Bridges because I didn't feel like an out-and-back along the river with the wind in my face on the "out" leg.  I still got pummeled from the west as I crossed each bridge.

I needed my phone for Mission 5 of Zombies, Run!  I will need to decide what to do in the near future because there is a five-day delay before downloading each new mission.  If I want to do a mission every day or every other day, I will need a paid subscription.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Running Streak - Day 25

The weather was unseasonably warm today.  I think it was 10C at noon with only a slight wind.  There was some light rain, but I'm not complaining.  November has been fantastic.  I was out in a long sleeve tech shirt and shorts.  I was going to try my new Bluetooth ear buds, but the battery died just after I hit the start button on the Tomtom.  No Zombies, Run! for me today.  Mission #5 will have to wait for another day.

The run itself felt really smooth.  I didn't feel like I was running especially fast, but when I checked my run data on Strava, it looks like I ran much faster today than what I have been averaging over the past couple of weeks.  Today my average pace was 5:31/km; yesterday was 6:17/km.  That being said, my GPS was way off at the beginning and readings from my HRM were erratic throughout the entire run.  (I think my chest strap is due for a wash.)  In my mind the data is very suspect, but I still think I was faster.

I need to catch myself here. I have seen improvements in my gait, pace and weight, but I can't let myself get caught up in this and start pushing harder.  I have been prone to do this in the past.  If my primary objective is consistency and completing this streak, I need to run in such a way that I complete the streak, i.e. not get burned out or injured.  This is a prime opportunity to set a good base.  Speed and endurance can come later.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Running Streak - Day 24

I started feeling a twinge in my right knee last night and I woke up with some soreness this morning.  It's not a good sign, but I'm hoping that I will be able to run through this.  It very well could be some adaptation.  I will be mindful of it over the next few days, and I'm musing if it is time to change the shoes.  There are only just over 300km on them, but they were designed as a racing flat and they are around 5 years old.  Perhaps the materials are breaking down.

In spite of the knee pain, today's run went very well.  It was a Garmin plan day (W02D4-Easy Run) so I was set to run 40 minutes in Zone 2.  I have been really enjoying running without my HRM chirping at me; therefore, today's run took a bit of getting used to.  It was colder than forecasted (actually -8C with the wind, rather than 1C) and I was a bit underdressed (Peak Performance jacket, long sleeve tech shirt, pants, Adizero Manas).  There was no risk of frostbite; it just took longer to get warmed up, which meant that I had no HR readings for the first 10 minutes or so.  I enjoyed the blissful silence from my 301XT, and the uninterrupted playing of Mission 3 of Zombies Run!  When the HRM finally kicked in I had just put in a burst of speed, as instructed, to escape a pursuing hoard of the undead.  Needless to say, I wasn't in Zone 2.  I settled down after a minute or so and made sure that I stuck to Zone 2 for the remainder of the run.  It felt painfully slow, but I know that it was good for me.

I was talking about the streak with a couple of work colleagues yesterday and when I said I was at 23 days, the number sounded pretty impressive to them (and to me).  Before this, my longest string of consecutive days was 11 (to the best of my recollection).  Also, I did a weigh-in this morning - the first since Day 2 - and I am down 4 pounds.  To be honest, I was surprised that the number had changed at all.  Not too shabby...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Running Streak - Day 23

The game is changing.  This is what greeted everyone this morning. 

Snow on the ground

The forecast tells me it will not last beyond the next day, but it is a warning of what lies ahead.  Even with this stuff on the ground, I got outside for a run...

The footing was terrific.  For 95% of the run, the route was clear.  The paths and sidewalks were salted.  The only trouble spots were some isolated patches of snow/slush/ice along the river on the Quebec side and on the grass next to the locks beside the Chateau Laurier.  The forecast says 5C for tomorrow and 12C on Friday.  This snow is toast.

At -8C with the wind chill, I elected for pants, a thermal base layer shirt, long sleeve tech shirt and a light jacket.  I also wore my Mizuno Breath Thermal gloves and a Gore Tex ball cap.  It was a perfect get-up for the conditions.  I was a little hesitant to wear the Adizero Mana's because they have almost no tread, but it turns out I didn't need much traction.  I clipped along at a pretty good pace throughout. I didn't feel fatigued or sluggish.  I think the consistency is really helping bring me back into running form, and restricting runs to 20-35 minutes is keeping me in a good place physically and free from injury.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Running Streak - Day 22

I was on the treadmill this evening, and no, it was not 11:30PM.  For this run, I had a whole bunch of things going on.  I found my Garmin transmitter/Polar HR strap combo* over the weekend and I paired it with my 310XT to use tonight.  I clipped the Garmin footpod on my NB Minimus WT20GG2's.  I picked up a pair of Bluetooth earbuds and used them with my phone to complete Mission 3 in Zombie Run!  Finally, I used a 30 minute hilly preset workout on the treadmill that  I actually rather liked.  It really pushed me more than grinding out steady minutes.  I wasn't very distracted by all of the technology, except the earbuds because they kept nearly falling out.  Gotta find a solution for that.

The WT20GG2's are starting to feel good on my feet.  I think it is a case where I am adjusting to the shoes more than the shoes are adjusting to me.  My best guess at a reason is that there is hardly anything to them.  I think I should be OK to start using a flatter shoe from now on.  Yet another experiment...

* I learned this trick from DC Rainmaker and numerous accounts on the Garmin forums. The transmitter from the Garmin premium strap, which caused me (and many others) no end of discomfort, fits perfectly on the Polar strap, which is very comfortable.  Very highly recommended.

Running Streak - Day 21

The closest call to date.  I was busy with other work today and couldn't run until well past 11:00PM, managing to squeak in 20 minutes on the treadmill that finished at 11:59PM - not exaggerating.  I must have missed the start button on my TomTom, and the treadmill's opinion on how far or fast anyone runs leaves much to be desired, but I managed to record the run for posterity in (What else?) Zombies, Run!  I finished Mission 2 today - no zombie chases, but I picked up quite a few items.  Abel Township is growing quite nicely.

The run was just a checkmark run.  20 minutes at an easy pace to get the run in for the day.  I'm feeling stronger and a light day every once in a while must be good for recovery.  I have been doing many, many hours of work on the computer over the past couple of days and tonight my neck went on strike.  It was nearly totally seized by the time I tore myself from my desk to run, and just after I started on the treadmill, it loosened it up straight away.  I love the side benefits that running offers.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Running Streak - Days 19 and 20

Day 20

I fully intended to get out for my run early, but I was a slow moving vehicle this morning.  I should have followed my own advice.  I did, in fact, make it in time for 60 minutes of Power Yoga and got in the run mid-afternoon.  The temperature had warmed up from the morning and the conditions were cloudy with a slight wind.  I ended up a little overdressed because I overestimated how cold and strong the wind was, but it wasn't really a big deal.  I think the white stuff is coming tomorrow, but I bet it won't last.

Over the past couple of days, I started wondering if things may get a bit too routine at some point.  In an effort to keep things interesting, I ran with my phone so that I could check out a new app, Zombies, Run! (IOS, Android).  It is an is "an ultra-immersive running game and audio adventure" where you run through missions to collect things to strengthen your home base.  I left the "Zombie Chase" enabled, which turns the run into a Fartlek because you need to run away from pursuing zombies that will take the stuff you've collected.  It made the run hard at times, but a lot of fun.

Day 19

The weather was terrific today: a bright blue cloudless sky, a cool wind and around 5C (1C with the wind chill).  I ran in a long sleeve tech shirt, vest and shorts.  Because the wind was chilly, I went with a pair of compression calf sleeves from adidas.  I know that the science around the performance and recovery benefits of compression is sketchy at best, but I have found through completely unscientific methods (i.e. experience, and trial and error) that using compression on my lower legs seems to help with recovery.  I haven't really tried compression socks in races or training for the very scientific reason that running in long socks look dumb (to me, anyway).*  I sucked up my dignity today and it actually felt great.  I can't say that there was a measurable performance gain, but I definitely felt warmer.

The running itself went well.  I fully intended to circle through The Bridges again, but I went into auto-pilot and found myself on the pathways along the Ottawa River Parkway.  It's not a bad thing.  Once the white stuff arrives in earnest, the paths will be closed (i.e. roped off and not ploughed) until Spring.  I started tired, but finished energized.  I suppose that is an ideal outcome.

On a completely unrelated note, I sold my Garmin 405 today.  I need to reduce the electronics inventory and start using that was made in the last couple of years.  At some point in the near future, buttons will start to break and batteries will stop holding a charge.  I want to be proactive when my current devices still have some value.

* Cycling in long socks not only looks dumb, but is against The Rules, #27 to be precise.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Running Streak - Day 18

It was a bit rainy today, but is was really warm (15C), so I didn't care.  I was back to shorts and short sleeve T-shirt, a la Week 1 where the temperatures were also in double digits.  I think this is the end, though.  The forecast is calling for snow on the weekend.  Keeping the streak going when it takes seconds to get dressed is one thing.  Running when getting into and out of multiple layers of clothing takes almost as long as the run itself is quite another.

I ran the same route as yesterday, but marginally slower.  When I woke up this morning, I was stiff from yesterday's run-yoga double and had a sore throat.  Not good signs.  I was concerned that the run would not go well, but there was no quit in me today, which is a little weird because I can talk myself out of pretty much anything.  I think this streak is helping with both the physical and mental sides of my game.  The latter has always given me trouble.

As I approach Day 21, I'm thinking back to Day 5 where I quoted whoever it was that said it that it takes 21 days to create a habit.  Running is starting to feel, well, habitual, and that's a good thing.  I think I'm almost at the point where I think I would feel like my day is missing something if I didn't get out.  I can't say that I've seen very many physical changes, but I know that I'm feeling better and the running itself is feeling smoother. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Running Streak - Day 17

It was really tough to squeeze a run in today, but I managed to do it in the middle of the afternoon.  I needed to work through lunch and it was the only window of opportunity that I had.  The run was great.  My pace was faster than it felt and definitely faster than I expected it would be.  It was my first "true" run of the Getting Started plan from Garmin Connect.  Yesterday I figured out what went wrong when trying to download workouts to the Forerunner 310XT (the device was full and I needed to delete all previous workouts), and unlike Monday, I was able to use today's scheduled workout (30min Steady Run in HR zone 3).  I really like using these set-it-and-forget-it workouts; it helps me focus on the running, the environment, life in general, not the watch and definitely not the numbers.  I forgot to bring the electrode gel and ended up with wonky HR readings at the beginning of the run.  I didn't get an accurate reading until I was warmed up, which was around 8:00 in.

The weather was terrific.  It was definitely warmer than yesterday (8C, "felt like" 4C), but no sun.  I was back to shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt, which was ideal, because the wind, while light, felt pretty chilly.  I used the Adizero Mana's again.  I will wear a different pair tomorrow.

In the evening I did a 75 minute Moksha Flow class.  After experimenting with the order quite a few times, I can definitely say that the experience of a run followed by hot yoga (or any yoga) is much better than going for a run after yoga.  Tonight, when I saw who the instructor was going to be, I knew that were going to be in for a hard class. She really worked us.  That being said, the hot yoga was just what I needed because my legs were starting to feel a bit stiff in the mornings.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Runing Streak - Day 16

It was another great day weather-wise, but it was definitely cooler than yesterday, probably around 1C with the wind chill.  Like yesterday, there was lots of sun.  I actually covered my legs today and wore a thermal long sleeve shirt under a tech t-shirt.  When I started, I was thinking that some gloves and maybe a hat would have been a good idea, but I would have ended up taking them off about 10 minutes in.  For shoes, I was back to the Adizero Mana's.  I wanted to use them until Spring, but I'm starting to think that they may not last that long.

I ran The Bridges (Portage and Alexandra) again.  It's my favourite lunch-time run; I can do the entire thing with changing and showering in under an hour, something I definitely had to do today.  It's also one of the few routes out of downtown that has some elevation - I know it's not much, but it's the best we've got.  I had to finish along the Canal because the path along the water behind the Parliament Buildings is close for construction.  I started wondering when in the next few weeks will I be confined to running along it for the rest of the Winter.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Running Streak - Day 15

It was an absolutely terrific run at lunch.  I had planned to start Day 1 of an out-season training plan I selected from Garmin Connect, but my FR310XT was full of workouts from other plans.  In the absence of a plan, freestyle is the way to go.  The weather was glorious.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky, but the wind was chilly.  In a long sleeve tech shirt, vest and shorts, I was fine in the sun, but the shade was cold; therefore, I chose the sunniest route out of downtown.  For shoes,  I pulled out my Newton Distances for a change.  I don't know why I don't run in them more; I really like them. They are going into the rotation on a regular basis.

I felt really light on my feet.  The sluggishness I was experiencing at the beginning of the streak has disappeared, and I am now starting to feel like I have more than one speed.  I kept my pace higher, but my HR didn't go through the roof - a good sign.  I was more than a little surprised when I looked at the summary after the run.  I had gone further and faster than I thought. 

The First 14 Days

Two Week Summary

I now have two weeks of continuous days of running in the bag.  Here are the vital statistics:

Activities: 14
Total duration: 6:45
Average Duration: 0:30
Total distance: 64km
Average distance: 4.6km
Energy: 5540kcal

I need to fight nostalgia because there have been weeks in the past when I have been preparing for a full or half marathon where my weekly totals would definitely eclipse these figures, and I would take a rest day or two.  That being said, I am really pleased to have got to 14 days straight.

The Plan

I have decided to follow a training plan I found on Garmin Connect - Getting Started (Level 2) - and it starts today.  It is only three runs per week plus cross-training.  I will do some of the cross-training, but plan to fill the other four days during the week with recovery-pace runs.  To do this I want to start using my Garmin Forerunner 301XT on "plan days" and the TomTom on the other days.

I really like my TomTom as a tracking and recording device, and I especially like the fact that the software can connect and upload to multiple sites; however, the connection is only one-way.  I prefer my Garmin devices when I am following a training plan because of how well the device is integrated with the web site.  I can select a training plan from GC and send the plan to the device.  If I'm not using a Garmin plan, I can set up my workouts and push them to the device.  With the TomTom, I currently can not program workouts on-line, schedule them and download them.  Hopefully, it is in the works.

Running Streak - Days 13 and 14

Day 14

Today marks 14 days in a row, but it almost came to an end.  I cut it even closer, than yesterday.  I started running on the treadmill at around 11:10PM.  30 minutes was the difference between the streak continuing and me starting over tomorrow.  That being said, the box was checked and the streak goes on.

Instead of just running a steady state 20 minutes to check the box, I selected one of the pre-set workouts on the treadmill.  Generally speaking, I tend to avoid the treadmill, and when I used it in the past, I choose a comfortable pace and keep it steady for the duration of the run.  Using the set-it-and-forget-it workout provided a varied pace and elevation, which made for a better quality session fitness-wise and made the time pass quickly.  If/when I head back to the dreadmill, I will definitely choose one of these workouts.

I wore the Minimus WT20GG2's again, and again I noticed no side effects afterwards - tightness in the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon or calf muscles.  Maybe I can start using more of my minimalist shoes.  Vibram fivefingers, here I come.

Day 13

I really wanted to get the run in before I left for yoga.  I knew today that I would be doing 60 minutes of Power yoga in the Moksha Yoga hot room.  The run would have to come later.  Little did I know how much later it would be.  As I left, this is what greeted me.  To quote Jon Snow, "Winter is coming."

Yoga was awesome.  The instructor really pushed us, and I had that uniquely yoga feeling of being both spent and energized afterwards.  My day was full of varied busyness, and 10:00PM rolled around without me having got in a run.  I hit the treadmill for a 20 minute checkmark run.  Again the treadmill wasn't so bad.  I put my Kobo on the book stand and time raced by.

After a long time of sitting at the bottom of the closet, I tried out my New Balance Minimus WT20GG2's again.  My feet didn't agree with them the last time I used them, and I wanted to give them a second chance.  Today they felt fine.  For you astute readers out there, yes, they are indeed women's shoes.  They were on a clearance rack at Sport Chek and they looked to be my size.  I had no idea that they were women's shoes.  In any case, they fit great and have a 4mm heel drop (probably less).  I noticed no peculiar side effects after running in them so I will work them into my rotation.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Running Streak - Days 11 and 12

Day 12

On day 9, when I said that I caught the last bit of sunshine, I didn't think it was for the week.  Today was a great day running-wise, but an ugly day weather-wise: dropping temperatures, sideways rain.  All of the fair-weather folks stayed inside.  Apart from the few hard-core walkers and runners who were out today, it felt like I had the paths and sidewalks to myself.  I like getting out when the weather is a bit nasty, but it takes away any future weather-related excuses I may dream up for not going out in the future.

The route around the bridges (Portage and Alexandra) is my favourite for a lunchtime run.  There are very few flats and a lot of turns, which makes for a good workout and makes the time pass quickly.  What makes it ideal for me is that I can squeeze in a run around the bridges, including changing into running stuff, showering and getting back into respectable clothes, in just under an hour.

I'm noticing now that the tiredness I was experiencing during the day is disappearing, but I need more sleep at night - no more late night TV.  I am also seeing an increase in appetite.  I will need to monitor that closely.  I'm not burning enough calories to justify eating what I want, but I definitely feel like eating more.  A good thing is that mentally I do not want to start putting bad food into my body because I know that it will negate any benefits from increasing my activity level.  I need the physical cravings for candy and pastry to go away.

Day 11

Dark + rainy + windy = awesome.  I felt great today.  I ran at 1:00PM, but it looked like 5:30PM.  When I checked the forecast before work, I was preparing for 9C and raining.  By the time I was able to get out for the run it was 6C (feeling like 2C) with a cold north wind, and rain.  Fortunately, I keep a jacket and Gore Tex ball cap for such eventualities.  A jacket and long sleeve tech shirt was ideal; the shorts I brought made for a breezy run, but I was fine once I warmed up. 

I could only afford to get for 25 minutes because I had meetings bookending a short lunch hour.  I'm really pleased with how quickly the TomTom connects with the GPS satellites; it was nearly instant, even when surrounded by buildings.  If I was wearing my one of my Garmins, between the slowness of the device itself and the weather conditions) I would have been waiting in front of West Block (the most open area close by) for up to 5 minutes.  The run itself was great.  I really wanted to go longer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Running Streak - Day 10

I'm in double digits and it's a good feeling.  I had the day off work today, but it still felt busy.  I was able to take in a 75 minute Moksha hot yoga class in the morning and then did a bunch of running around.  The class was packed (48 in a room that can optimistically 50 maximizing all space), and it was way hotter than usual.  All of the mirrors fogged up and the instructor turned off the heat half way through,which didn't help at all.  On top of that, the instructor really worked us hard.  It was a truly great workout.

I intended my run to came later in the day when I had a 45 minutes window where I could seize it opportunistically.  I actually ended up running at 9:30PM on the dreadmill.  I suppose that today was a "checkmark run" - just get it in to check off another day.  It was actually a great run.  I put some loud tunes on the playlist and kept increasing the speed of the treadmill.  I did 25 minutes, but definitely could have kept going if I didn't need to get to bed at some point.

I switched shoes to an old pair that I haven't worn in a while, K-Swiss Blade-Light Run.  For quite some time I have been using adidas Adizero Mana 5's for all of my runs, which are actually a racing flat and do not have much cushioning.  The K-Swiss' felt like I was running on pillows.  I'm not sure exactly why I switched away from them (they still have a lot of life left in them), but I suspect it was my desire to move to a more minimalist shoe.  Both the Blade-Light Runs and the Mana's have a 9mm heel drop.  The next shoes (New Balance Minimus, 2 different models) I want to use have a 4mm drop.  5mm may not sound like much, but it requires an adjustment period.  If you are considering making the change, make it gradual.  Your calves and Achilles tendons will thank you.

I should probably be using a variety of shoes, but I have a stockpile of 0mm shoes that I want to start using: Saucony Hatori's, Vibram Fivefingers, etc.  My frugal nature pushes me to use up the higher drop shoes before committing to the lower drop models.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Running Streak - Day 9

A great run today at a slightly higher pace.  I think I caught the very last of the sunshine for the week.  I was feeling a bit run-down and hungry, but didn't want to let that get in the way.  With a forecast of 8C, I only brought shorts and a T-shirt, but it was actually closer to 2C with the wind.  Fortunately, I had a vest at work, which helped a bit, but I didn't dare slow down or stop.  Also, all of the locks at the entrance to the Rideau Canal are open now, save for the uppermost one; therefore, I had an extra long hill towards the end - a good replacement for the now-inaccessible West Block parking lot.

Yesterday, I actually read the blog of another guy who did a 100-day running streak ( and found it really encouraging.  I was impressed with his commitment and the fact that he felt compelled to do many runs when the conditions weren't ideal and he wasn't exactly feeling up to it.  He started his streak in much better overall condition than I did and his run times are much faster than mine.  I believe that I will pick up the pace appreciably over the next few months.  I also believe that his weight training helped him immeasurably.  I should be doing it, too.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Running Streak - Days 7 and 8

Day 8
I almost let time run away today.  I kept working through lunch and then realized that my window of opportunity was closing.  It felt really good mentally to get it in.  It was another glorious day 10-11C and sunny.  The wind was low and not as cold as yesterday.  I ran out and back on the pathways along the Ottawa River.  I'm trying to stick to routes that will not be ploughed once the white stuff begins falling.  My options to vary my routes are very limited once winter arrives.

I was out in shorts and at-shirt, which was perfect for me, but nearly everyone I saw was wearing a jacket, tights, gloves and a toque.  People, come on.  If you are bundled up now, you are going to have a tough time acclimatizing a month from now when it is 20 degrees colder.  This is a great opportunity to wear a little less and be ready for actual cold temperatures when they come.

Day 7
Yesterday was really busy, but I managed to shoehorn a run in among church, errands and going to see Spectre.  To be honest, Sunday is the day where I felt the streak is most in jeopardy.  The "Day of Rest" never really ends up being one.  Ironically, the run went off easier than just about every other one I did during the week.  I grabbed my stuff, changed, ran, showered and changed, and then headed to the movie.  It was all rather smooth. 
The run itself was great - I used the gravel bike paths near the house.  It was around 5C in bright sunshine with a pretty cold wind.  With a long sleeve shirt and shorts, I may have been a bit under-dressed, but I felt fine as long as I was moving.  A vest would have been a good idea.  I'm not stiff or sore.  With my activity level increasing and winter coming (i.e. humidity dropping), I'm finding that I need to drink more water - something I will work on this week.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Solving Erratic Heart Rate Readings

I am a big fan of heart rate training.  Most of the time I use my heart rate monitor (HRM) to keep me out of trouble, especially on runs where I'm supposed to be running easy.  That being said, I have had a love-hate relationship with every one of my HRMs.  As we move into fall and winter, your (and my) frustration with your HRM may grow.  I hope this article will help you avoid that.  In my experience, the strap is almost always at fault.  Here we go...

A heart rate monitor that is reading, transmitting and recording properly looks like this:

Graph depicting a properly functioning HRM
HR recording as expected

A heart rate monitor that does not have any skin-to-strap contact looks like this (no readings from 0 to around 4:30):

Graph depicting an HRM where contact is lost or not established
Heart rate reading when there no contact at the start of an activity.

A heart rate monitor that is having a hard day looks like this:

Graph depicting an HRM where contact is intermittant
Heart rate reading when contact is poor or intermittent at the start of an activity

As a non-super hero, I cannot make my heart rate hit 250 beats per minute (bpm).  In reality, since I wasn't scaling the side of a mountain when these readings were taken, my heart rate would have been on the same trajectory from 0:00 to 4:10, but my HRM was confused.  Lack of good contact really throws off the average HR for the activity.  In the grand scheme of things it's not a big deal, but when one has an HRM, one would want it to work correctly.  Here is what I do to solve or at least minimize erratic heart rate readings.

Before I dispense my sage wisdom, I should share some of the "wisdom" I have heard.  I have heard advice like "Don't wear technical fabrics.", or "Don't run near sources of electrical interference."  I'm sure that this is offered by well-meaning individuals, but come on, if I go out for a long run in a cotton shirt, I will have no skin left on my torso by the time I'm done.  IT's simply not an option.  As for sources of electrical interference, unless I'm deliberately running in a elevator shaft or through a field of power lines and transformers, I probably can't detect electrical interference on my own, e.g. through the fillings in my teeth.  There are probably other tidbits you have heard, but as the owner of many HRMs from different manufacturers over the years, here is what I know works:

1) Use electrode gel on the contacts.  This is especially important in cool/cold weather because proper reading of heart rate signals depends on good contact between the contacts on the strap and your skin.  Sweat is perfect for maintaining this contact, but when it takes a while to start sweating, you need a bit of help.  (See the second and third graphs above.)  This is where electrode gel comes in because it replaces sweat when sweat is a long time in coming.

It is available in medical supply stores and is relatively cheap.  A large tube will last a couple of Canadian winters for me.  Just apply a line across the length of each contact on the strap and brace yourself for the shock of cold gel hitting your skin.  Don't despair; it warms up fast.  This solves things in pretty much every situation.

2) Clean the contacts.  Nothing fancy.  Just use warm water and liquid dish soap.  Sneak it in when you are washing dishes and let it air dry.  If you have one of the premium straps, remember to remove the transmitter first.  You need to clean the part of the strap that contacts your skin to read your heart rate.  Washing the entire strap - the transmitter/contact part, and the elastic strap - has the added benefit of not driving family members and pets from the room when you pull it out of your gym bag.

3) Wet the elastic part of the strap.  This will keep it from slipping until you start sweating.  If the strap slips, contact between it and the skin can be broken.  Warning: no matter what time of year it is, this will feel cold on your back.  Brace yourself!  That being said, it is well worth the shock.  Having it slip and trying to fix it when you are wearing a bunch of layers is a royal pain. 

4) Change the battery.  If your unit is sealed, it should be replaced by a qualified technician; contact your device's manufacturer for help.  If the battery is replaceable, you can replace the battery yourself.  It is a cheap and easy way to help with troubleshooting.  I have owned units from Polar, Garmin and TomTom.  All have used the same lithium battery, the  ubiquitous CR2032, which is available in a three pack at the dollar store.  I could spend more on name-brand batteries, but I find they last well and I can buy a dozen or more of the cheap ones for the price of one name-brand.

I hope this helps you.  I know full well that none of this is new; there are numerous sites and forums where you can find the same advice.  I wrote this because I get asked about this a lot.  If you have found anything else that works for you, please share it in the comments below.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Running Streak - Day 6

It was a pretty big day activity-wise.  I ran for around 25 minutes early this morning and then did an hour of hot yoga at Moksha Yoga.  (Moksha is an awesome flavour of yoga and the studio in Orleans is outstanding.)  Amidst a bunch of errands between yoga and supper, I played tennis for around 45 minutes.  To be honest, I have found that getting runs in during the week is much easier than getting them in on weekends.  I know that if I didn't get it in early, the streak would have ended.  I'm quite sure of that.

As for the run this morning, it went pretty well.  I am feeling pretty tired now.  Going for months of nothing to steady exercise takes some acclimatization.  I intended to head out for 20 minutes (10 out and 10 back), but I found that as I got close to 10 minutes, I started negotiating with myself.    "You're really close to that tree, turn around at the tree.  That tree came up faster than expected.  How about the next tree?"  Then it was, "You're so close to 2km, why not turn around then."  Once I got to 2km, I said, "You're nearly at 12:00, why not stretch it out to 25:00 and turn around at 12:30."  I know that we're not talking about huge distances here, but I think the important thing is that I'm moving from forcing myself out there to starting to find running fun again.  I will take that as a good sign.  See you tomorrow...

Friday, November 6, 2015

Running Streak - Day 5

I strapped on the headlamp and headed out pre-dawn again because my work schedule is really packed.  I have heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit (and 3 to break one).  I felt today like a routine was forming.  I'm sure there will be days where I need to be very deliberate about this streak, but today wasn't one of those days.  I hope this sensation carries through the weekend.

It helped that the conditions were nearly ideal.  It was really warm (20C), pretty humid and lightly raining - great running weather, almost what one would expect in early summer.  A nice breeze would have been nice, but I'm not complaining.  I felt a little lighter on my feet and my stride a bit smoother than earlier in the week.  I'm already looking forward to hitting 7 days in a row.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Running Streak - Day 4

"You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

I really have no plan.  Normally, I have a plan for everything, but I don't have one right now.  I downloaded an outseason training plan from Garmin; it's scheduled in my calendar and is not due to start until November 16, but I'm not sure whether I want to use it or not.  If I decide to do a spring marathon, the plan for that would start on February 7, 2016.  (It's also already in my Garmin calendar.  See, I like plans.)  My mindset right now is that the best thing for me to do is just run.  And today, run I did...

Today the legs felt stiff at the start, but this time the feeling didn't pass.  In fact, I started feeling different little aches and pains throughout the run.  Since I have (sadly) so much experience re-starting after long lay-offs, I recognize them as my body's way of putting everything back in its rightful spot.  I'll be fine.  Since I picked up running again in 2006, I have never been injured from a repetitive use injury.  A couple of turned ankles and a strained knee from stepping in a pothole, mind you, but I classify them as accidents.  As for the run itself, I went a little longer and a little faster than yesterday, and it felt great.  I didn't want to stop.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Running Streak - Day 3

There was no chance I would get out for a run at lunch today, so I broke out the reflectors and some warmer clothes (thermal base shirt, tech t-shirt and long pants) and ran to the corner and back.  For me, the corner is around 2km away.  It felt great to run in cooler temperatures (2C) and watch the sun come up.  This was the view when I was done.

I'm not convinced that three days can really be called a streak.  That being said, I'm hard-pressed to figure out at what point it morphs into one.  I believe that it is in the early days when a streak is most vulnerable. After all, it's pretty easy to jettison one streak and start another one if one is not terribly invested with only a few runs in.  I suspect that my motivation to persevere will be higher once I'm in double digits and there is more at stake.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Running Streak - Day 2

Day Two is in the bag and it was a great day - sunny and around 17C, shorts and t-shirt weather.  I will take a whole Winter of this.  I was a little stiff at the start, but it disappeared quickly.  I also did a weight check this morning: 180lbs.  Let's see where I end up on News Years Day.  A lunch run is out of the question tomorrow and I'm not sure when I can fit one in.  It may be an early morning.

By the way, I did a bit of research into the ground rules of running streaks.  There are a few significant organisations that track this stuff.  The one criteria that appears to be common to all is that the run has to be a minimum of one mile in length.  According to the United States Running Streak Association, it must be "at least one mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day. Running may occur on either the roads, a track, over hill and dale, or on a treadmill"  I can live with that.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Running Streak - Day 1

“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” - Thomas Edison

I need to get out of a funk, and I think the only way to do it is to do something a little wacky (for me, at least).  I finally laced up the shoes after 3-month layoff that was due to nothing other than busyness, laziness and fear.  I am going to call my shot, point my bat to center field, [insert your favourite sports metaphor here], etc.  Today is day 1 of a running streak.  My goal is to run at least 20 minutes every day until January 1, 2016.

Today's run went great.  I didn't set any land speed records, but I made it to the end without walking.  The weather was beautiful (10C and mostly sunny), which is very uncharacteristic for early November in Ottawa.  The forecast for the rest of the week looks great, too, and I have no meetings that book-end the lunch hour; therefore, I have no excuses.  One in a row.  Look at me go...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Early Morning Running: How to Get Out of Bed

Let me start off with this: Getting out of bed for early morning runs is tough.

Thanks, Captain Obvious.

I have not perfected the art of springing out of bed, landing in my running clothing and shoes, and sprinting out the door - all with a smile on my face.  The only way I'm getting out of a warm bed in pre-dawn hours to get in my long run is with a plan and hard work, and it's still not easy.  The steps I describe below just make things a bit easier and more efficient.  Here we go...

1. Have a plan.
Speaking personally, I can't do anything without a plan.  Before I go to bed the night before, I need to know exactly what I am going to be doing in the morning.  I figure out when I need to be back for the first activities of the day, calculate when I need to leave and then calculate when I need to wake up. Usually, that is 30 minutes before I need to leave.  If I wake up without something concrete, I am completely adrift.  Before I go to bed the night before, I check the weather forecast, and I make a plan for how long I am going, what route I will take and what I am going to need.  I will program the workout into my Forerunner.  If I'm taking my iPod, I plan the podcasts or music I am going to listen to and made sure that they are loaded. This may sound like over-thinking, but you want to eliminate, or at least minimize the number of, details that need to be sorted out to the morning.

2. Get everything ready the night before, and I mean everything.
From the forecast (see #1), I select and lay out all of the clothing I think I will need. I make sure that any electronics I need are loaded, charged and ready.  I chose what I am going to eat and set it out on the table (with dishes).  I have even soaked oatmeal and left bread in the toaster to save time in the morning.  Depending on how long I am running, I have filled the bottles for my hydration belt and put them in the fridge, and filled my pockets with bars and/or gels.  There is a particular shame I have experienced in having to put away everything that I prepared when I have overslept.  This is something I try to avoid.

3. Brush your teeth immediately after getting up.
This is my secret weapon to staying awake.  For some reason, I feel more awake after doing this more than anything else I do.  If you have any theory or explanation as to why this is so effective, please leave it in the comments.

4. Keep moving.
I cannot explain the physics behind this phenomenon, but time passes at an accelerated rate before 7:00AM.  When I am up at 4:30AM or 5:00AM to get a long run in before the pace of life removes the opportunity, 30 minutes can pass in what seems like 10.  In addition, activities that take 10 minutes in the evening, somehow take 20 minutes or more to do in the pre-dawn hours.  Do not sit on the couch to check out the news on TV, or start reading e-mail or news articles on the web.  Inevitably I will find something distracting, such as the end of a late night movie, and 30 minutes (or more) have disappeared.  Having a plan really helps me focus.

5. Change into as much running clothing as needed to make yourself feel ready to go.
Getting out of the pajamas and into your running clothes is a key step in making me feel like I am ready to go.  If the forecast is warm weather, you will probably end up fully dressed; if the weather is nasty, maybe you only have your base layers on.  In any case, put on as much running gear as you need to tell your brain and body that running is inevitable.  Again, there is a particular shame in having to change from unused running clothes back into street clothes without having run in them.

6. Eat as soon as possible after getting up.
Even if it is difficult, start shoveling in food as soon as you are dressed.  I believe it gets the body working on something.  The other thing is that, regardless of what time of year it is, I feel chilled when I wake up.  A nurse I know explained to me that the reason for this is that one hasn't eaten in many hours.  Eating, I guess, stimulates blood flow to your core for digestion and brings the core temperature up.  Once you have eaten, put on the rest of your running stuff, lace the shoes and head out the door.

Another tip: While you are eating, turn on your Forerunner or whatever you use and set it in a window to lock on to satellites.  You do not want to be standing in your street with your arm in the air for what seems like an eternity (because it always seems to take longer when it is dark.  See step #4.), especially when it is cold or raining or both, waiting for your device to "Garminize" with orbiting satellites.

I can get through steps 3 through 6 in 30 minutes if I have thoroughly done steps 1 and 2 the night before.  Anything I forgot or neglected to do delays my departure and potentially shortens my run or slams the window of opportunity shut.    After 5 minutes of running, you will be happy that you are out there getting in your run long before everyone is up while your window of opportunity is still wide open.

If you have a routine that really works for you, please share it in the comments below.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Week 3, Day 6 - Intervals

Unlike Wednesday, I actually managed to select the correct workout on my Forerunner 310XT today, but it was super cold (-30C with WC) and the HRM wouldn't start.  In reality, it was really nice to run without the Garmin chirping at me and the footing was much better than it has been lately.  I was dressed as well as I could be, but I never warmed up outside and I didn't really start feeling warm until I was back inside. The run itself was good, and I'm glad I got out there, but I'm really feeling unfit and heavy - for good reason. I will keep on plugging away; breakthrough must be just around the corner.  Here is today's run.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Straight Goods on Removing a Stuck Seatpost

I know this is a running blog, but I have a non-running confession to make: I have a bike problem.  I really like all kinds of bicycles, but there are a few that stick in my head.  I also like building bikes, perhaps even more than riding them - and I really like riding them.  I know that I already have too many for one person to ride, but I am a sucker for a good deal, especially when one of the models that have been sticking in my head shows up on Kijiji or Craigslist or on the curb on garbage day.  In the summer of 2013, I found a 1995 17" Kona Lava Dome - one of "those" frames.  I really like steel and have always admired the Lava Dome's geometry and skinny little tubes.  Because I already have too many bikes in various states of (dis)assembly, it was a complete impulse buy, but for $20 I felt I couldn't go wrong.  That is, until I went to pick it up...

I had already committed to the fellow that I was going to buy it, and he was a nice guy who was running a neighbourhood bike repair shop out of his garage.  It had been well used and the paint and decals have had it, but the steel is in good shape.  It's nothing that some paint stripper and a wire brush can't clean up.  When I looked the frame over, however, he told me that a previous owner had inserted a "shim" in the seat tube and that I would need to get a really skinny seatpost to fit.  I immediately identified the "shim" as an old seatpost.  The nasty thing is that the seatpost was inserted deep into the seat tube and the previous owner had cut off the seatpost flush with the top of the tube.

 Upon further inspection (and repeated measurements), I discovered that there wasn't just a small portion of seatpost in there.  The section of seatpost in the frame was 28cm (approximately 11.5"), and there was nothing protruding from the tube to grab onto.  Furthermore, it became clear very quickly that the seatpost was heavily oxidized and fused to the inside of the seat tube.

I checked with Mr. Google (OK, I researched this to death) and found many different methods that many different folks have tried with varying degrees of success.  Many of these methods depended on a portion of seatpost extending beyond the frame to give the extractor something to grab or clamp with a pipe wrench or clamp in a vice, which for me was a non-starter.  Being in Canada, I made the best use of Winter to try to leverage thermal coefficients by putting the frame outside when it was -30C and then bringing it inside where I went at it with a heat gun.  Perhaps I could never get the timing right or I could not focus the heat well enough.  Research informed me that aluminum expands and contracts 2.5 times faster than chro-moly steel. So that didn't work either.

My longest experiment was with chemicals.   I looked into using chemicals to dissolve the aluminum, such as sodium hydroxide (commonly used in drain clog removers).  I saw folks who had great success with caustic soda/lye: here and here.  I read that others had success with pure ammonia, but that was hit and miss.  When I tried drain cleaner, I had trouble sealing the seat tube well enough to contain it, and when I managed to keep it in, it did nothing.  Be warned if you go this route: if it leaks on to anything metal, it will cause rust to form instantly.  I lost a really good pair of cable cutters in the process.

Sheldon Brown has a great article on removing a stuck seatpost.  (Surprise, surprise.  He has great articles on all things two-wheeled.)  The more research I did and the more things I tried, the more options I eliminated for my situation and the more I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to pursue the route of #12 in Mr. Brown's article: hacksawing the post out.  My problem is that there isn't just a couple of inches of seatpost in the tube, which means that I just can't use a portion of a 10" (standard ) or 12" hacksaw blade, like his article suggests.  I need something that will make these cuts down the entire length of the frozen seatpost.

The saw I needed was not available in stores.  I didn't even bother to check; I just knew.  To make my own, I started by cutting a wooden dowel (two, actually, but I will get into that later) lengthwise and epoxied a hacksaw blade in the kerf, ensuring that an even amount of blade was exposed from end to end and that enough blade protruded from the dowel to cut all the way through the thickness of the wall of the seatpost.  I also had to shave down the dowel to fit inside the seatpost.  I did this with a spokeshave plane, rasps and finally sandpaper.  If you look at the photo below, you will see a blue mark I made with a Sharpie on the handle of the saw (Mk II) just above the end of the blade.  This was a depth gauge to let me know that I was sawing deep enough into the seat tube.

Blade direction is important.  I built my first saw (Mk I) with the teeth pointing toward the handle.  In order to start the cuts in such a confined space, I wanted to be able to jam the saw into the seatpost and then cut on the pull stroke.  After the cuts were started and there was a noticeable groove in the inside of the seatpost, I used my other saw (Mk II) with the teeth pointing away from the handle, like any other conventional saw.  Cutting on the down (or push) stroke removes much more material that cutting on the pull stroke.  After many hours, here is the outcome...

Please learn from a mistake I made.  I tried to cut the seatpost into four pieces, making cuts at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock.  The photo above does not show it well, but the big piece on the left is almost completely cut in half.  In retrospect, I should have made three cuts at 2, 6 and 10 o'clock.  I would have accomplished the same thing, but with a lot less effort. You may think that this is not a big deal. Read on. I am not exaggerating when I say that cutting is a long process.  It took me probably two to three hours per cut, maybe more.  The hacksaw blades were new and, therefore, sharp.  The problem is applying enough downward pressure at the very end of the saw to cut the metal.  I pulled out the frame and the saw (with newsprint on the floor to catch the shavings) whenever I watched something on television. Here is the same photo showing the outside of the seatpost.

With the seatpost finally out, you can see how much oxidization there was.  I don't think I would have ever been able to get anything to penetrate the "space" between the inside of the seat tube and the outside of the seatpost.  I also discovered that the previous owner who installed the seatpost (not the guy from whom I bought the frame) had installed a standard (or at least a prevailing standard) 27.2mm diameter seatpost.  I'm sure he had a difficult time and I don't know to what he resorted to insert it.  A very quick bit of research on the frame turned up the fact that the 1995 Kona Lava Dome takes a 27.0mm seatpost.  It is not exactly a square peg in a round hole, but 0.2mm turned out to be a big difference in this project.  Removing the seatpost took much longer than it should have.  I hope that it goes more quickly for you.

So, you ask, where am I going from here?  I have been amassing parts for the build over the past 18 months.  I'm not the kind of guy who builds a bike and hangs it on the wall to admire as art.  I build bikes to ride them.  With all of the trails around our place, I decided a build up the Lave Dome into gravel grinder.  I already have a set of Gary Fisher forks, a headset, Masi stem and drop handlebars, Shimano STX LE crankset, and 26"wheelset.  My next task is to strip the frame and have a cable stop brazed on so that I can use v-brakes on the rear wheel.  If you have any questions or comments or even a similar experience, I would love to hear them in the comments section below.  I hope that this helps someone.