October turned out to be my best month of running since May, before the Achilles injury. I've been walk/running three times a week - twice a week early on roads and once a week off-road. In the last two weeks I've dealt with cool rain and with increasing cold - 33 degrees one day last week. Not bad if you're dressed for it.
My favorite October running moments were stepping outside one frosty morning to a clear sky full of stars, and a Saturday trail run that featured glowing fall colors. I forgot my camera that day but it was good to travel light.
I hadn't been a big fan of running on roads in recent years but oddly enough it seems to be working for me right now. My Achilles is getting stronger with the firmer running surface, and my shins are doing fine as long as I don't overdo the downhills. I try to get out on trails on weekends for some variety and some "soul" running. Apparently I need more of it as I've found myself easily fatigued trying to avoid rocks while running up leaf-strewn slopes. I'm still doing very short distances but increasing a little each week.
I'm also thinking about something I read in a triathlon training book this summer. This writer felt that developing good running technique, particularly in terms of foot strike (forefoot or midfoot strike vs. heel strike), was more important than sheer running endurance and that the former should precede the latter. This runs somewhat counter to a lot of other running advice I've read or followed. I think I've tended to be a bit of a heel striker, which I thought was good for shock absorption, but from what I've read - not so good for speed. Your foot stays on the ground longer with each stride. I wasn't sure what to make of it, but I've been working on my form and I like what I've seen so far. I seem to be landing a little more on the midfoot, staying on the ground less with each stride, and taking more strides per minute. A couple days ago, I ran on a track for the first time in many months and it was a positive experience. The flatness of it made it feel like I was running slightly downhill. I thought my three minute "comfortable" runs might cover only 500-550 meters. Actually, although I may have been a little excited by the setting, I covered 600-650 meters each time, which after crunching numbers is a faster pace than I managed in my three trail races in Spring 2008. Granted, this was a very short distance, but I was not running hard, just turning my legs over faster. I think I can stay with this form as I build endurance and sustain this pace for a 5K - at least I hope so.