Catching Up: Long Run, Achiva, and a Head Cold

Since I’m a whole week behind in my running log, I’m going to hold off reviewing the Altra Instincts. Besides, I’ve only put a little over 7 miles on them, which isn’t quite enough to have an informed opinion yet. My initial reaction is to swoon over them, but I should take them out a few more times before sounding off.

After last Wednesday’s deluge, Thursday was much more mundane, as I merely ran my normal loop through Harlem via the 145th Street Bridge. I took Friday off. Since we were going to spend the weekend up in the Hudson Valley for M’s 10th year reunion at Bard, I was hoping we’d each get a chance to take a run at some point during our visit, as its always a nice change of pace to do some running that isn’t on the sidewalks of New York City. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as we got there very late Friday and ended up heading back Sunday morning, and Saturday was filled with visiting friends and chasing Nat around. I did run home after dropping off the rental car, but 1.5 miles doesn’t exactly count as “running.”

Not running for three days made me antsy, of course, so I decided to run into work Monday morning. I checked the weather the night before, and the forecast of rain made me pause, but only for a moment. My “crazy-runner” side kicked in almost immediately, and decided that there was no better way to start a work week than a 12 mile run through the rain at 5:30 AM. So Sunday night I lay out my running clothes, rain gear and bag-cover, and made up my standard breakfast smoothie, only with two scoops of Activa’s Chia Chai powder thrown in for a pre-long run boost. I also got out a few packets of the Achiva Pomegranate Energy Drops, as I’d promised the company I’d try out a long run using just their product for in-run fuel and see how it went.


Since I leave the house so early each morning, I am treated to a dramatic display of the changing seasons, since it is in the transitional periods of dawn and dusk that the universe shows its fluctuations; noon and midnight are pretty much fixed events, but as winter gives way to spring gives way to summer, dawn is redefined again and again. Five weeks ago, when I ran to work for the first time, I left my house is the middle of the night; this Monday, the sky was already a pale overcast and morning was well underway.
There was no rain, only a damp, humid chill, as I followed the same route as I had last time: Bed-Stuy to Green Point, over the Polaski Bridge into Queens, over the Queensborough Bridge to Manhattan, up 1st Avenue to 125th, over to 3rd and over the bridge to the Bronx, then up Lewis Avenue to 161st Street. I felt sluggish for the first number of miles, but I credit that less to my lack of sleep or the hour than the fact that I didn’t drink any coffee before leaving! Since I start every morning with a cup of coffee (Or two. Or three. Angelica has wrecked havoc with my resolution to cut down on caffeine), I knew it might not be a great move, but one of the less glamorous logistics of running 12 miles is hot wanting to have to stop and pee. I’d normally be good for a two hour run, but coffee on top of a smoothie and whatever liquid I drank seemed to be a bit much. (One side-effect of running is a complete loss of any sense of shame: rubbing Vaseline on your thighs while surrounded by a crowd of people will eventually do that to you.)

A few miles of cool morning air, however, and I was awake and had a great run. Two packets of Pomegranate Drops were enough to keep me energized the entire run, which was pretty impressive. Not that a 12 mile run needs that much fuel, but 2-3 gels would be typical. I loved them the last time I took them on a run, and they were great for a long run. Since each pouch contains a dozen or so drops, it was easy to eat a couple every few minutes and spread the 100 calories over a half-hour, and a slow, steady source of calories is ideal. Their understated flavor make them palatable for long periods of time. They really are a great new product – the samples Achiva sent me have definitely added them to my (pretty short) list of running fuel I like. Hammer Gel, Gu Packs, Power Bars, and Heed are about the only things I can stand for a long workout, so Achiva’s in some pretty elite company, and of course they are all natural, organic, and vegan as well.


My run was great. There is no better way to start a week than a long run to work – I started the week off successfully doing something I love, and that sort of triumphant glow carried me not just through the day but is still lingering four days later. That night I had to run with Nat to pick Star up from the kennel where he’d spent the weekend, so I actually kicked off the week by logging over 16 miles on a Monday! Not bad. The downside, however was that I’ve come down with a killer head-cold. Monday night I started feeling a bit congested, and by the time I went to bed I was wincing every-time I swallowed from my sore-throat. Unfortunately, I blame my long run. Not the run per-se, but the weather. I think rain would have better, but the chilly, humid weather was exactly the same as when I came down with a cold after a 15 mile run back in April. When its that humid I sweat like crazy, so my body is soaked in sweat, but its still chilly out, and I’m convinced the combination is what made me sick both times.

So I’ve spent the rest of the week coughing, sniffling, and with a killer sinus head-ache. I haven’t had the energy to work out in the evenings, but I’ve kept up some moderate running. I’ve done a lot of looking around online, and all the research shows that moderate exercise, including running, has no effect on one’s recovery from a cold. You shouldn’t exercise if you have a fever, the flu, pneumonia, or anything really bad, but the common cold is okay. Yesterday I did 3 miles at lunch in my Instincts and felt fine. Today I foolishly attempted to repeat last week’s speed-work; it might not have hurt my recovery, but for the record having a cold makes speed-work seriously unpleasant.
There. I’m caught up. Sorry its rambling and not very philosophical this week, but at least I don’t feel my blog is yet another thing on my t0-do list. Happy Friday everyone!


About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
This entry was posted in Bridges of NYC, Long Runs, Lunchtime Runs, Morning Runs, Product Review, Routine, Runs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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