Still Running: April 2008

Yes, I am still running. I’ve gone through a whole month of running three or four times a week, had some ups and downs, but didn’t quit. Yay, go me. ;) Here’s my April 2008 diary—I want to write it down, because I think that picking up running is one of my bigger achievements in recent years, mostly because it takes so much fricking energy to do it. :p

It still isn’t fun. At all. Yet I know it’s good for me and my health and will pay out in the long run (pun intended). Thus, I keep going.

Gear

Nike+ packageI fell for the Nike+ system. It rocks. (See below.) Plus I got better shoes—Nike Air Zoom Structure Triax+. Comfy, light, I really like them.

Also, I bought some simple and light pants for running an a similarly simple “soft-shell” jacket. Makes a bit of a difference, as they keep me cooler than a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt.

Nike+

What can I say: I am loving it.

In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a little sensor sitting on or in your shoe, tracking the distance you’ve run or walked and your speed. The counterpart is a little dongle for your iPod nano, storing the data and displaying your progress. It offers several training modes (basic, distance, speed…) and comes with little built-in people who tell you how well you are doing. For example, I tend to run 5km in the morning, and the friendly lass in my iPod will now periodically tell me about my progress. In return, I try to make her like me and keep going.

Also, if you sign up on NikePlus.com, your iPod will sync your progress on the site next time you connect it to your computer. And this is the real kicker—you get stats on your runs and overall progress reports, you can check out graphs on your distances and speeds, you can make the site set up training plans, set goals for a month or year, and so on. Hell, if you’re inclined to do so, you can even create or accept challenges for and from other runners all over the world. Plus you get badges for your website or blog if you feel like sharing. Pretty crazy.

Anyways, what I really like about the Nike+ is: It makes running a game. Before, I was just running. But since I am a geek, I crave for numbers. I want to know my progress, right here, right now. How far into the run am I? Will these 2km I’ve said I’ll run in one go never end? What’s my pace? Now I have all this information strapped to my upper arm, on the display of my iPod. It’s great.

And since I know now what I can do, since I have numbers I can work with, since I can see real progress, since I am aware of what I’ve achieved, I now feel much more comfortable with setting goals for myself. My April goal was running 40km alltogether, and I’ve done that. In fact, I’ve done so well that I’ve decided to go for 60km in May. It might not sound like much, but for someone who didn’t do anything just 2 months ago it’s okay, I guess.

My overall goal for 2008 is 250km, by the way.

I think without the Nike+, I would’ve quit some time ago. And to give credit where it’s due, it’s all Russ Pitts’ fault, really.

Finding Your Pace

This is a big one. Thanks to Podrunner I found out that my perfect running pace seems to be 142 steps per minute. I managed to run 2km in a go more than once. Unfortunately, there aren’t many constant 142 bpm music mixes available, so now I’m playing around with a recording of a metronome, the beat sans the music. We’ll see how that’ll work out. The upside is that I might finally end up hearing the birds chirping. ;)

And for the record, my 5km routine is usual split up in 1.5km running, 0.5km walking, 1.5km running, 0.5km walking, 1km running.

NikePlus.com Oddities

Oh yes, NikePlus.com. I have a love/hate relationship with that site. It’s pretty, but atrocious in some parts. Let me explain.

  • It’s a full-Flash site. Even the login form is in Flash. Well done, guys. I am so glad my password manager doesn’t work there, really.
  • The run graphs look different on EU and US site. Specifically, the “US graphs” are more detailed than the “EU graphs”. See this example, which are the two graphs for the exact same run (EU first, US second): NikePlus.com run graph, EU versionNikePlus.com run graph, US version Eh.
  • They offer OSX widgets for progress, goals etc.! Great in theory, but these are all broken on Leopard for months by now, with no fix in sight. The users complain, noone really cares. I mean, really, who uses Leopard?!
  • Oh, and did I mention there are different OSX widgets, depending on whether you’re on an US or EU NikePlus.com site?
  • Also, there are website badges, little Flash doodads for your website or blog. Nice, and they mostly work. The “Last 5 Runs” HTML badge is only available from the US site, tho. WTF?
  • The site has a “Coach” section which can be used to set up training plans for you. Again, good in theory, but it seems to have problems w/ custom trainings – my Mon+Wed+Fri routine became Tue+Thu+Sat on reload. Not just once, no – every time.

Here’s to running!

Shit, I actually seem to like it. How could that happen? Well, at least I have the feeling I am doing something for myself.

I guess there are worse things.