20 July 2014

A Slice of Runner-Cyclist Harmony on the W&OD Today

I'm fortunate to live right by the W&OD trail, but I avoid it in the summer, at least after 6 am or so.  Too much traffic.  As an early morning runner-cyclist, I find there to be less traffic on the roads, and I feel more visible, and -- oddly enough -- safer.  Yes, I'm lit up like a Christmas tree.

But this morning I started my run about 5:15, and I put in the first couple of miles heading out west on the trail, through Falls Church and to the hill by Shrevewood Elementary.  Usually there aren't cyclists at that hour, but today there were a few.

I'm used to the silent "whoosh" coming up from behind.  And then I will usually say "Good morning!" to their rear-ends.  I like to think I've shamed them, but I doubt I have.  And then I try to stifle my bad thoughts about them, because I too am a cyclist, and I always warn runners/walkers (and cyclists) that I overtake.  Okay, I don't always warn people wearing ear buds because I figure they're deliberately drowning noisemakers such as me.  But I don't wear ear buds, so I expect a warning upon being overtaken.

Anyway, today in that two-mile stretch, I was passed from behind four times by individual cyclists.  Each time I got a polite "ding" or an "on your left."

I always say "Thank you.  Good morning!" to cyclists that pass me.  Good behavior should be reinforced.  And it costs me nothing.  Makes me feel good.

Today, the last one passing me wished me a good run.  No joke.

At that point I knew it was too good to be true, so I picked up the pace and finished up that portion of my run on the trail before some Tour de France wannabe spoiled it all.

It is remarkable, though, the difference that courteous behavior makes on rail-trails.  Sometimes I'll have a great ride or run and have to finish the last mile or so on the W&OD, and I can have my mood spoiled by someone with poor etiquette right near the end.  I shouldn't let that get to me, I know, but that's how I'm wired.

Included for your enjoyment below is the obligatory stock photo of runner-cyclist conflict.

The man is actually saying, "How did WE become the poster children for bad behavior?"
(Credit:  runwashington.com) 
It's a beautiful day.  Hope you're able to exercise outside.

20 April 2014

Making Progress on ITB Recovery

As all of my non-readers know, I've been dogged by iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome in recent weeks.  February and March were particularly dark for me, because I was increasingly concerned that I might not ever be a "runner" again.

So while I've been hunting for recovery techniques, I've noticed that by keeping my runs at 5k max, things have gotten better.

(We interrupt things right here to answer the question that all the teeming millions of none of you are certainly asking:  Todd, why don't you just see a doctor about this?  The answer is simple.  There's an ethical issue involved.  The pain only occurs when I run, and so the doctor could well say to me:  Don't run.  And in truth, that would eliminate my pain entirely.  But because I have insurance, I could press for a series of expensive tests, which may or may not help me, but for which undoubtedly someone would have to pick up the tab.  It wouldn't be me.  So, I see this as something I can fix on my own.)

Back to the show.  What I've noticed is that when the ITB problems really came on strong several weeks ago, my fitness routine was totally unlike last summer, when I was running fine and working my way up into the 5 mile range.  Back then, I would alternate biking and running, and I'd walk about 2-3 miles each day.  In the early winter, however, the weather prevented much biking or walking, but I was determined to run.  Thus, I suspect, that led quickly to over-use.

So I'm doing a lot more cross-training, pigeon poses, hip/butt strengthening with the Theraband, and a moderate amount of foam rolling.  It all seems to help.

Yesterday I was able to run 4 miles with only minor twinges.  It was the longest, fastest run in months.  I was incredibly happy.  Wow.  This is how my week looked:

15 April 2014

Morning Ride in the Rain

The best rides in the rain start out in a light mist.  That was this morning.  The radar showed heavy rain on the way, so I figured I'd just get in a quick half hour before it all hit.  Better than regretting not going and feeling frustrated all day.

After half an hour, I was already soaked and loving it.  Generally, I won't start a ride in the rain, but on days like today it's always fun to be soaked and to just enjoy it.

I was also thinking that 65 degrees and wet would be great any day over cold and icy, which is what we had for a good chunk of the winter.

On a related note, saw this random post on Instagram from a spot near me last Sunday and had to shake my head.  I don't understand people who shell out that kind of money to ride a handful of times a year.  I like to think I'm not the judging type, but in some cases, apparently I am.

12 April 2014

Adjusting to Spring

This is such a goofy time of year.  Now that my morning bike rides start out at 50 or 55 degrees, it's like I've forgotten how to dress for it.  It was just last week, after all, that temps were in the 30s.  It's hard to let go of the light winter gloves, long cycling tights, and windbreaker, but I'm sure in another week I'll adjust.  :-)

What to do?