Tag Archives: Valhalla

Detraining in endurance runners

2014-01-04 11.43.04If you’ve been following my blog long enough, you probably know that I usually run 50 to 60 miles per week. Unfortunately, the recent snowstorm that hit much of the eastern U.S has made it difficult to maintain this routine. My usual routes are covered in several inches of snow or ice, and it is going to take a while for most of it to melt. And more snow is expected next week.

It’s no big secret that I’m not a big fan of treadmills or indoor exercise in general. And treadmills don’t like me much either, so the feeling is mutual. I’ll use it when I absolutely must, but going beyond an hour is difficult for me since it feels tedious and dull.

I can still run outside, but it takes longer and it is more tiring to cover my usual routes. If you’ve been following my crazy blog long enough, you know I can run long distances in snowstorms, but mostly in the early stages when there is little snow on the ground. Unfortunately, due to all the snow outside yesterday, instead of running to Valhalla like I usually do, I ended up running to Mount Olympus, which is closer. For those new to the blog, Valhalla is a town 12 miles north from me, and Mount Olympus is a diner in Yonkers. What did you think I was talking about? I have traction enhancers on my sneakers, but they merely prevent slipping, they don’t necessarily make running in snow less tiring.

With my routine temporarily reduced, this leaves me wondering how much of my endurance capacity will be lost due to “detraining”. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like much. Overall, it is much easier to maintain fitness than to become fit.

According to Sports Medicine, in “Impact of reduced training on performance in endurance athletes“:


Many endurance athletes and coaches fear a decrement in physical conditioning and performance if training is reduced for several days or longer. This is largely unfounded. Maximal exercise measures (VO2max, maximal heart rate, maximal speed or workload) are maintained for 10 to 28 days with reductions in weekly training volume of up to 70 to 80%. Blood measures (creatine kinase, haemoglobin, haematocrit, blood volume) change positively or are maintained with 5 to 21 days of reduced training, as are glycogen storage and muscle oxidative capacities. Submaximal or improved with a 70 to 90% reduction in weekly volume over 6 to 21 days, provided that or improved with a 70 to 90% reduction in weekly volume over 6 to 21 days, provided that exercise frequency is reduced by no more than 20%. Athletic performance is improved or maintained with a 60 to 90% reduction in weekly training volume during a 6 to 21 day reduced training period, primarily due to an enhanced ability to exert muscular power. These findings suggest that endurance athletes should not refrain from reduced training prior to competition in an effort to improve performance, or for recovery from periods of intense training, injury, or staleness.

There doesn’t appear to be much to worry about, even though I usually feel cranky if I don’t run on a day I was scheduled to run on. Based on my readings, it appears that endurance capacity can be maintained for up to 2 weeks, even if exercise is greatly reduced. It’s after 2 weeks that reductions in fitness start becoming apparent.

So if Old Man Winter is interfering with your outdoor fitness routine, don’t worry too much about it. Adapt if you can to the outside conditions, but if the situation is too extreme, try exercising indoors whenever possible.

Spectacular new running shoes

2013-11-10 20.49.50

My new ASICS sneakers in the front, my older New Balance sneakers behind it, and Sauconies in the back.

It’s always exciting getting a new pair of running shoes, especially after joggling 13.4 miles(21.5 km) to Valhalla. Almost miraculously, even with the cold heavy winds blowing leaves in my face, and mild nausea and stomach pain during the first half of the run, I didn’t drop the balls even once. It took me 2 hours and 7 minutes to complete this. The stomach issues were likely due to eating too many lentils for breakfast. I may need to join Lentil Addicts Anonymous some day.

Anyway, enough bragging. Due to all the running I do(40 – 60 miles a week), I need to get a new pair of sneakers every few months. For a long time I only wore New Balance, then tried out Saucony, and for the first time yesterday bought some ASICS.

I kept getting New Balance sneakers for a long time because my feet are kind of wide and their sneakers are usually wider than Nike or most other brands. Saucony is similar enough, and around here are usually cheaper than New Balance so I tried them for a change early this year.

I went with the ASICS this time because they had the exact size(8 1/2) I needed in wide. Neither Saucony, New Balance or any other brands had what I was looking for. I am not a particularly brand loyal kind of person, so I frequently switch brands when it comes to shoes, clothing, food and many other things. I don’t think there are big differences in quality when it comes to different brands of running shoes, in my experience. Also, a higher price tag doesn’t necessarily mean the sneaker is better.

I used to wear a size 8(the Sauconies in the above photo is an 8), but it kind of felt a little too small for me, so I’ve been wearing 8 1/2 since. There isn’t a whole lot of science when it comes to running shoes, except that you are better off buying sneakers in the evening because your feet tend to be bigger then than in the morning. I went shopping for mine in the afternoon, and so far the ASICS feel okay, but need to be broken in a little more.

I will still use the 8 1/2 New Balance sneakers occasionally(they are my Valhalla sneakers after all), for short runs or walks, but I think it’s about time I got rid of the older Sauconies. I hope I get used to the ASICS within a week.

What kind of running shoes do you wear?

In Valhalla after run. The Kensico Dam is behind me.

In Valhalla after run. The Kensico Dam is behind me.

13.1 mile run to Valhalla again

Screenshot from 2013-10-19 09:27:04I love saying “I ran to Valhalla”. I did it again. And again, no, I am not crazy, I mean the town here in New York, not the grand hall in Asgard in Norse mythology where warriors go after dying in battle.

I managed to run 13.1 miles to Valhalla yesterday, 19 days after running the marathon, and 3 days after donating a pint of blood. This is my first almost long run after donating. Mostly due to the blood donation, it took me 2 hours and 18 minutes to complete this run, much slower than usual. I’m far from anemic, but I could feel an obvious difference, especially when running up hills. I felt weaker than I usually do while running this distance, and also had this weird, hard to describe feeling much of the way. My speed suffered as a result, and I dropped the balls more than usual.

I am currently eating a lot of iron rich foods to replenish my lost red blood cells. Within a week, or 2 weeks the most, I should be back to normal(I think it is safe to say I am fully recovered from the marathon, this isn’t an issue for me anymore). Still, it feels great knowing that my blood was used to help some sick people.

Joggling to Valhalla

Screenshot from 2013-08-17 20:44:01

The red line going north was my 13.1 mile run

Yes, it is true, I joggled to Valhalla. I don’t mean the place Norse heroes go after they die heroically in battle. I’m still alive and juggling, and joggling certainly isn’t heroic. And I’m not of Scandinavian or Germanic ancestry.

At 13.1 miles(21 km), this run wasn’t remarkable by any means, but it is the farthest distance I’ve run that that didn’t involve a return trip since I got a ride in Valhalla(no, not by a Valkyrie). It took me 2 hours and 13 minutes to complete this yesterday, and the temperature was just below 80. I took one water break during the run and juggled 99% of the way up to the Kensico Dam in Valhalla.

A very weird thing happened to me near the end of my run in Valhalla. I was running through this wooded area when all of a sudden I spotted a mysterious wolf-like creature just off the trail looking at me in the distance. I thought to myself “there are no wolves in New York”, but as I got closer it became apparent that this was a coyote.

It did nothing except stare at me and I just ran right by it without incident. Since it was kind of small, I wasn’t scared of it. Then a strange thought occurred to me: I’m in Valhalla, and I saw a wolf-like creature for the first time in my entire life in the wild – It’s FENRIS WOLF!


Fenris Wolf by Dorothy Hardy

Fenris Wolf, the monstrous wolf that lives in Valhalla according to Norse mythology. It is such a coincidence since I use “Fenris” as a username in another forum. Granted, this was almost certainly a coyote, but coyotes are so close to wolves that they can interbreed. Too bad I didn’t take a picture.

This was a very strange encounter. I’m not superstitious or anything, I don’t believe in Norse or Germanic mythology(I do use the names of their gods for the days of the week, but so does almost everyone), but if I had a coyote encounter in any other town of Westchester county, it wouldn’t have been as interesting.

This makes me wonder: If I were to run with a woman named “Athena”, would this increase my odds of seeing owls(owls were frequently used as symbol for Athena) on my runs in wooded areas? I don’t think so, but it is interesting to contemplate.

Great, now I can’t get Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” out of my head.

What is the weirdest thing that happened to you on one of your runs?