Not feeling it this morning

Or, rather, feeling my age and the mileage on my body.  75 degrees and 10,000% humidity, phone/mp3/satelite tracking all borked, knees/hips/feet hurt.  I pushed through 6 miles or so just to see if I could run through it with little luck.

I put in a bug report with Sports TrackLive.  I’m guessing it’s better in the long run to listen to my body and not push myself to the point of injury.  There is still plenty of time for long runs before the marathon.  That all doesn’t mean I have to like it.

On a more positive note, I picked up a used road bike yesterday.  It’s a Trek 2300 with a composite frame.  It needs a tune up and new shifter cables before I get out and ride it.  Did a short ride around the block last night with the few gears I could get to.  Wow, huge difference from my old mountain bike.  Should make not only a good cross training bike but also competitive bike to try out a century or a triathlon with.

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Endomondo vs. Sports Track Live

 
There are lots of apps out there for logging your runs using your GPS enabled smart phone or similar devices.  I have found this to be a fantastic use for these devices.  For most of my life I had to either run on streets, where I could drive and get the odometer reading, run on a track, or just guess how far I had run.  Running on streets is fine, no problem with that unless you want to hit a trail or run through a park.  A high school track is great, until you start running 3+ miles on it, then the monotony is mind numbing and motivation shattering.  So then I was left with seat of the pants guessing.  You run a track and from time and exertion you guess how long it is.  Then you ask your buddies to run it and give their input, average it out and come up with your SWAG(Scientific Wild Assed Guess).  No longer!  Now we can see how far we ran, our pace, splits, altitude, and even have our music mute and a voice tell us while we are running how fast and how far we have gone.  Good days for those of us who like to get off the beaten track.

There are literally dozens of applications out there to track your runs.  Depending on your device operating system (Android, iOS, WP7, Symbian).  I happen to be in the Android camp, so I’ll be looking at application for my phone, the Motorola Atrix running Android 2.2.  Specifically today I’m comparing Endomondo and Sports Tracker by Sports Track Live.  To be fair and upfront, I’ve been using Sports Track Live for over a year (log here) and have only used Endomondo twice so far.  That being said, lets get into the details.

Both apps are easy to find and install through the Android Marketplace.  Setup is similar for both, set up account, input height/weight/age, select activity (running/cycling/snow boarding…), hit the start button and go.  When you are finished, hit stop, and your info uploads to their website.  You can then look at how far you ran at what pace, and see your track on a Google map.  Beyond these basics is where the differences show up.

Voice announce.  Both apps have this available.  This feature mutes your music while a voice tells you information about your run up to this point.  Endomondo gave me the choice to have this on or off, and if I wanted to download another app I could chose male or female voices.  It decided that it would tell me my pace, distance, and mile split every mile.  Sports Track Live gives you the option to set how often you get announcements.  You can set them by distance (1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1 mile/kilometer) or by time (1 minute, 5 minutes).  You can also select what information you hear (pace, current speed, average pace, altitude, and many more).  I like the level of customization the Sports Track Live gives to this feature.

To be fair, there are dozens of features on both of these apps that I will probably never use.  Coaching features, heart rate monitors, cadence monitors, and more.

Post run data.  Here I have to give the nod to Sports Track Live as well.  The level of detail in the report/log is much finer that in Endomondo.  Sports Track gives me my performance for .25 mile, .5 mile, 1 mile, 1,5,10 minutes, maximum ascents and descents.  It also compares these stats to prior runs and shows you, by use of a star system, how close you were to your personal best for that stat.  To me, this is important.  More important than the social aspect of these apps.

If the social aspect of tracking and logging runs is more important to you, then Endomondo has it hands down.  With an installed user base that is 10 times larger than Sports Track Live there is a better chance you will find people near your that are using this app.   It also has Challenges you can take part in like; most miles in a month, most calories burned, first to 100 miles.  You can also run against someone on a track they have made at some time in the past, pretty cool, it just isn’t all that important to me.

All that being said, they are both good apps that do the job they are intended to do.  In my opinion, Endomondo is more about the social networking side of working out.  Sports Track Live is more concerned with giving lots of details and options for customizing things for someone serious about logging miles and analyzing performance.  For my running app, I’m sticking with Sports Track Live.

I’d like to hear what your thoughts are.


Hydration 101

You hear and read a lot about hydration these days. Having had several IV’s given over the years for dehydration I’ve learned a few things:
1.  We all walk around on the edge of dehydration all the time.
2.  If you are feeling thirsty you are already dehydrated.
3.  If you wait to hydrate until you are already working out, you are to late. You will not be able to drink enough to catch up.
4.  There is no substitute for water.
5.  Hydration begins at least one to two days prior to an endurance event. If you train regularly it is an everyday thing, summer and winter.  2 liters a day is a good maintenance goal for water consumption.
6.  Leave the sports drinks alone in general, unless you need the sugar and salt.

Have fun out there, but stay safe.


Runners 40 Commandments

The 40 Runner’s Commandments
by Joe Kelly
1. Don’t be a whiner. Nobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.
2. Walking out the door is often the toughest part of a run.
3. Don’t make running your life. Make it part of your life.
4. Keep promises, especially ones made to yourself.
5. The faster you are the less you should talk about your times.
6. Keep a quarter in your pocket. One day you’ll need to call for a ride.
7. Don’t compare yourself to other runners.
8. All runners are equal, some are just faster than others.
9. Keep in mind that the later in the day it gets, the more likely it is that you won’t run.
10. For a change of pace, get driven out and then run back.
11. If it was easy, everybody would be a runner.
12. When standing in starting lines, remind yourself how fortunate you are to be there.
13. Getting out of shape is much easier than getting into shape.
14. A bad day of running still beats a good day at work.
15. Don’t talk about your running injuries. People don’t want to hear about your sore knee or black toe.
16. Don’t always run alone.
17. Don’t always run with people.
18. Approach running as if the quality of your life depended on it.
19. No matter how slow, your run is still faster than someone sitting on a couch.
20. Keep in mind that the harder you run during training, the luckier you’ll get during racing.
21. Races aren’t just for those who can run fast.
22. There are no shortcuts to running excellence.
23. The best runs sometimes come on days when you didn’t feel like running.
24. There is nothing boring about running. There are, however, boring people who run.
25. Distance running is like cod liver oil. At first it makes you feel awful, then it makes you feel better.
26. Never throw away the instructions to your running watch.
27. Don’t try to outrun dogs.
28. Don’t wait for perfect weather. If you do, you won’t run very often.
29. When tempted to stop being a runner, make a list of the reasons you started.
30. Without goals, training has no purpose.
31. Go for broke, but be prepared to be broken.
32. Spend more time running on the roads than sitting on the couch.
33. Make progress in your training, but progress at your own rate.
34. “Winning” means different things to different people.
35. Unless you make your living as a runner, don’t take running too seriously.
36. Never tell a runner that he or she doesn’t look good in tights.
37. Never confuse the Ben-Gay tube with the toothpaste tube.
38. Preventing running injuries is easier than curing them.
39. Running is simple. Don’t make it complicated.
40. Running is always enjoyable. Sometimes, though, the joy doesn’t come until the end of the run.

Thought I would share this.


Long run this morning

With the heat and humidity this time of year I was up and out early this morning to get my long run in for the week.  Managed to hit the street around 0530, just as the sky was starting to get light, BMNT (Beginning Morning Nautical Twilight).  It was as cool as it was going to get out, around 73 degrees and just a little damp out.  One of many nice reasons to be out this early is that there is next to no one out on the running trails.  The smell of the dew on the trees and brush along the trail was nice, not as fragrant as California, but still nice.  I was also treated to a beautiful sunrise over Swan Lake at Furman University.

So, I’ve been doing some reading on marathon training and general pre-race training for endurance races and figured I’d put some of that to the test.  Eating and drinking while running was my focus today.  While it is possible to complete a marathon without eating anything during the race, the likelihood of completing the race is much higher if you fuel during the race.  In the past on some of my long runs I’ve waited until about 6-8 miles before I would eat my first gel.  According to the experts this is a mistake.  By that time you are already running low on fuel for your body and it takes time to digest even sports gels.  The idea is to plan your refueling so that your body has a constant supply of carbs to burn.  Today I tried eating my first gel about 30 minutes in and the other two 45 minutes apart.  This seemed to work well, i never felt my legs getting heavy or my energy lacking.

The only negative was after the third and last gel around mile 9.  It made me a bit nauseous.  I slowed my pace for about 100 yards and that cleared up.  As my long runs get longer I’ll continue to work out the best timing and see what my tolerance is for big mouthfuls of sugar.

Water consumption was also on my mind.  Normally on summer runs I sweat a lot, particularly for the first hour or so of a run.  Then is seems to taper off.  I think this is in part just my body regulating itself, but it may also be due to not drinking enough while running.  Today I tried to make it a point to drink more water more often.  There is a resupply issue as there is a 6 mile gap where no water is available, but, 20 ounces of water seems to be plenty to cover that distance.  I didn’t notice any appreciable improvement with drinking more water.  On the other hand, I had no negative effects either.  This leads me to believe that I probably need to continue drinking at this higher level.

That’s is for today.  Enjoy your 4th of July, stay safe.


Misc. Running stuff

It’s been an interesting week or two.  I got married last Sunday to a lady I have been seeing for several years. I replaced my cell phone, and I signed up for my first marathon.  This has led to a slightly confused couple of weeks running.

Moving her stuff into my place was a lot of work, her apartment was on the second floor as is mine.  So I think I got my stair master badge this week.  I love having her with me all the time and our schedules work well together.  She does not do mornings, so, I can get up early and put in an hour or more of running before she is up and moving.

I had a plan.  It was to replace my old barely usable Moto Backflip with a brand new, dual core, Atrix.  Then, to strip every app off of the Backflip and use it to track my runs and play my music.  This has not worked out.  The GPS on that phone is practically worthless without the aGPS provided by cell towers.  Also, I can’t do “live” uploads of my runs.  The “live” feature is something I really like just from a safety standpoint.  So, with that plan not working out I’ve run this week with just my MP3 player on courses I pretty well know the distance of.  Friday I get my new armband, because of course my new phone won’t fit the old one, and I’ll be back in business tracking and logging my runs.

This is all the more important due to my other change this week, signing up to run the Spinx Runfest Marathon.  I decided to skip doing a half-marathon, just doesn’t seem right to do half of something.  Also, I know I can run 13 miles.  Maybe not very fast, but I have run 19 miles before, so I would rather push myself to do 26.2.  Thinking of trying to use my run to help support a friends non-profit, Preventing Teen Tragedy.  Not sure if that will work out, but I’ll keep you posted.


My first Marathon

I just signed up to do my first marathon.  I’ll be running the Spinx Runfest full marathon on October 29, 2011.  Guess it’s time to get serious and start working on a plan.  More to come later 🙂


Why do I run?

@Canadian_RUNner tweeted this the last couple of days, Y do u #run? I thought about it and was going to respond.  But, as I tried to compose my 140 character response I realised that my response, in the abstract, and in the terse language needed to fit, would not really explain anything.  In all fairness, as another distance running, I’m sure he would get why I run, but I’m not sure many others would.  More than that, the question really made me think about it.

I started running because I had spent many years after I got out of the Army doing as little physical activity as I could.  I used my knee pain (PFPS, runners knee) as an excuse.  As I slipped further and further into the effects of PTSD and self medication(drinking 1/2 a litre of Jack Daniels a night) I cared less and less about myself(depression).  When I stopped drinking and took a look at myself I was not happy with what I saw.  I was also very angry, not at any person or thing in particular, just angry at the world.

My first run since 2000 was around my block.  Every joint in my body screamed, my lungs burned, and I was frustrated with myself.  All I wanted to do was get myself in a little better shape than I thought I was in.  Turned out I was in worse shape than I thought and I had a long way to go.  I ran to relieve stress, to work out anger, to feel better about myself.

As I kept running my distances got longer and longer.  The anger was gone.  I hit the point, around 10-12 miles, where I needed to eat something while running and had to carry water with me.  This was a new challenge, something else to overcome.  When I started hitting serious distances last year (13-19 miles) I seriously started to wonder how far I could go.

So, the anger was gone, stress relief is still there, but not near as much since my general health had improved.  As for feeling better about myself, well, that comes and goes.  I injured myself pretty good last November, bruised the heck out of my foot and pulled some muscles.  This, along with a very cold winter, kept me from running much.  Starting back seriously this spring I have struggled with why I keep doing this, what’s the point?

On a run in California I gave up.  I just didn’t feel like running.  A day or so later I made myself get back out there again, and again.  But I was still struggling with why.  Why keep it up?  I’m not fast, not up to marathon + distances, by any descent runners standards I suck.  So why do I bother?

Two reasons.  First, time alone in my head.  There is something Zen-like about when you hit that point of conditioning that you can just run for a long time and not need to think about running.  Your body just goes.  This frees up your mind to think things over in a way that nothing else compares to.  I find that it really allows me to focus on things, gives me time to talk to God about what’s on my mind, and this is really helpful.  Second, is the challenge.  I’m not going to break any records except my on PB’s, and that’s fine.  I really enjoy finding new trails, seeing things from new angles, pushing myself to do more.

In the end it’s a journey that changes destination as you go.  For now, that’s why I run.


Running in SoCal

Recovering from a serious sinus infection has taken the better part of a week.  Tried running Saturday, only made it a mile and a half.  Felt like I had a 30lb pound weight on my chest.  Gave myself a few more days to recover after that and got back at it this morning.

Now, and hour and a half to run just under 6 miles sounds more like a walk than a run.  To be honest, there was a fair bit of walking involved today.  But, when you figure in a 1,500 foot elevation change each way it makes a whole lot more sense.  I knew I’d be pushing myself pretty hard on this little outing but I also new that the payoff would be worth it.

View of SFV from Verdugo Mountains


Great run today!

Once again we have gorgeous weather here in SC, the wind was a bit stiff today at around 20mph.  Other than having to fight the wind a few times I had a great run.  My body cooperated through the whole 4.5 miles, no pains no aches.  I’m glad I didn’t run yesterday, I’m sure that would have been just enough too much to start to hurt myself again.  About 10 miles last week and just over 13 this week with one fewer day of running.

Going to have to play this by ear… I really want to run the Chattooga River 50k, on June 26th.  I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make enough progress to be ready in time.  We’ll see as I get closer.  In the mean time, rest day tomorrow.


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