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Run Control

Between travel and illness, a half marathon I signed up for has snuck up on me. My first run in a few weeks today was an exhausting 2 miles. This is what I’m looking at between now and March 8th:

Feb 16, 2014 – 2.1 miles
Feb 22, 2014 – 7 miles
Mar 1, 2014 – 10 miles
Mar 8, 2014 – 13.1 miles (Half Marathon)

I’ll be filling in runs in between the long runs, but I think I need to hit these long-run goals to make the 13.1 feasible. Any advice on how to safely ramp up here would be appreciated.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Pot Of Gold

I somehow dragged myself out of bed at 6AM on Daylight Savings Day (today) to run the St. Patrick’s Day Dash in Seattle. It’s an odd distance (3.75 mi) but attracts a huge crowd (over 7K people) partially because of the party/beer garden at the finish line.

The weather was chilly – low 40s – with light Seattle rain. As far as long distance racing weather goes it was pretty great. Chilly temps are actually desirable for some races because you can warm up pretty quickly when you’re pushing the pace. I started near the front because I didn’t want to get caught up in the crowd too much, but I committed to going out conservatively. Adrenalin and the crowd make it easy to go out too fast in races like this. I often think “oh man this feels great I’m going to go for it!” and then sorely regret my enthusiasm in about 6 minutes. My conservative start really paid off. After the first mile I felt like I was racing rather than just trying to hang on for dear life. I spent the rest of the course just trying to pick off people one-by-one. My finish wasn’t that strong, but my overall pace seems to have been quicker than the last race I ran, even though this one was 3/4 of a mile longer.

At the finish line I saw a friend from high school who was meeting up with her husband and their running club to do a 6 mile cool down. They invited me to come along. 6 miles! It’s been a decade since I ran a cooldown that was actually longer than my race, let alone hit 11 miles in a single day. I had to try though. We ran around Lake Union, and by the end my whole body was seizing up with the overuse and cold weather. I’m feeling it now, everywhere, but so glad that I went for it. I needed a win this week, and I think I got one.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in No Easy Days

 

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Seeking Advice on Exercise Logs

For about 8 years, I’ve kept track of my running mileage in an Excel workbook.  Before that, I was logging things in a Claris Works Spreadsheet for a couple years, and before that I had a couple years of paper logs.

The Excel workbook has worked well because it’s functionality has evolved as far as I have been willing to push it.  But for a while I’ve felt that its development has stagnated and it has grown unwieldy.

running log winter spring 09

running log graphical summary

Now that I’ve been benched from running for 4 months (more on that later), I’d like to explore other exercise tracking options that are more amenable to cross training.

Features I’d like:

  • Accessible anywhere (i.e. on the web).
  • Can accommodate different sorts of workouts (running, biking, weight lifting, pickup frisbee, etc.).
  • Exportable to spreadsheets or database files.
  • Nice graphical data and meta-data summaries with easily adjustable parameters.
  • Easy to track peripheral data such as gear (e.g. shoe mileage) and routes (possibly with maps).
  • It would be awesome if there were some kind of API or other method that allowed me to import my running logs from the last 8 years into the system, but I think that may be asking too much.
  • Social networking would be nice, but not necessary.

A couple friends (thanks Z and G) suggested Daily Mile.  I’m happy with that but it would be nice if it could track strength training as well.  Does anyone have other suggestions?

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2009 in No Easy Days

 

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1280 x 960

In 2008, I resolved to run 1000 miles.  This was a good resolution because it was quantitative, yet long-term, and challenging, yet achievable.  This year I want to resolve to do something that also meets these criteria, but I don’t want to just repeat my 2008 resolution.

I liked the running resolution in particular because I got something tangible out of it.  I’m in the best running shape of my adult life.  I feel good when I run.  I’ve improved my health and fitness.  Now I want to do something similar for my brain.

Recently, I realized that I’ve been learning more at the local trivia night than I have been working on my Ph.D. research topic.  This troubles me.  School is for learning, right?  So what am I doing wrong?  Part of the problem is that graduate research can have little tangible gratification along the way.  There are no grades.  We never feel the sweet release of final exams.  There isn’t always a clear measure of progress.

With that in mind, I wanted to make 2009 a year for learning new skills.  I made a list of goals for things to learn/practice over the course of the year.  It had everything from picking up a new instrument to doing 100 consecutive push-ups. This was a fun list to make, so I’m going to save it in a draft on my blog even though I eventually decided not to make it a part of my 2009 resolution.

Instead, I decided to take the practical route:

In 2009, I will finish my Ph.D. project, write my dissertation, and defend my thesis.

From my current vantage, this seems about as likely as a herd of cats carrying me to school tomorrow on their backs.  From your perspective, on the other hand, it may seem like a cop out to resolve to do something that I am pretty-much on track to do anyways.

But I assure you, this is not going to be easy.  I’ve been working on…  stuff…  for five years now, and I feel I have very little to show for it. Making this thesis happen is going to require discipline, planning, and maybe if I’m lucky, some learning. My running resolution was a success largely because of the logging and reporting I did throughout the course of the year. Completing my thesis will require a similar attention to progress.  I could record pages over time, or just blog more frequently about research, but I’m open to hearing any suggestions for reaching this goal.

What are your resolutions for 2009?

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2009 in Alchemy

 

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I Would Run 1000 Miles

Early in 2008, I made a New Year’s Resolution to run 1000 miles over the course of the year.  I liked this resolution from the start – it was quantitative, attainable, challenging, and spanned the entire year.  There were ups and downs, but with a few days to spare in December I hit 1000 miles (total mileage: 1013 miles).  I’m left with a really happy trend in my mileage over the last 8 years:

Milage_Per_Year_2008

I’m ecstatic I’ve been able to incorporate running into my life more substatially every year since I started grad school.  I’m not expecting another 30% increase in mileage for 2009, but I do think I can make good things happen by continuing consistent running.

An unexpected feature of the seasonal mileage pattern for the year was that I actually ran more in the winter-spring season than in the summer or fall:

Mileage_per_season_2008

In this chart, “WS” is the Winter-Spring season (January-April), “S” is the Summer season (May-August), and “F” is the Fall season (September-December).   Compare the winter of 2008 to any other winter and the difference is striking.  My mileage drop off in the warmer months is due to a number of factors — injury, illness, meeting my current girlfriend, but I’m really glad I put those hard miles in early.  Those up front miles made the 1000 mile goal possible.

I’ll close now with a collection of all my running posts from the year, but I promise another post with my 2009 resolution soon.

Running posts from 2008:

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2009 in Alchemy, No Easy Days

 

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I Run Natural Twenties

I’ve seen less than consistent running in the first two months of the fall-season, and that’s on top of a random self-inflicted groin injury, and my recent ankle re-injury.  As a consequence, my mileage surplus has morphed into a deficit, and my resolution to run 1000 miles is suddenly in danger of failing.  To hit my goal by December 31st, I have to run 150 more miles, or about 2.5 miles per day.  Assuming I don’t get injured again, 2.5 mile runs are well within my reach, but I rarely run 7 days a week anymore, so (conservatively speaking) my actual goal is more like 20 miles per week, spread out over the days however I choose.

I know I can do this, and I have 60 days to prove myself right.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2008 in No Easy Days

 

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Ankle Again

Ten days ago, I drove 320 miles to a race in Connecticut.  I had hoped that traveling with the college running club to complete in a NIRCA regional race would help me recapture some of what I had missed by not running competitively in college.

Sadly, I sprained my ankle during the warm-up, thirty minutes before the race started, and all I was able to capture was 640 wasted miles on my car.

Compared to last year’s sprain, this one was minor, and while I haven’t been running I have managed to enjoy the time off via weight lifting, ankle excercises, and excruciating ice-bucket-ankle-soaking.  I’m hoping to come back sometime this week.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2008 in No Easy Days

 

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