Monday, June 27, 2011

Without a schedule

Any second now, I think I'll break down. I'll pull out one of the training books I've relied on over the last five years and plot out my training program. I'm not sure what's stopping me from going real hyper frantic put-ever-run-in-the-calendar mode.

There was a time when I'd commmute home from my job, I remember poring over the week by week, looking at the whole of the schedule and thinking about the daunting tempo and pace runs. I'd run my hands over the columns, adding up the mileage and try to figure out how I'd fit in that 10 to 13 miles on a weekday.

Not lately, I've been so busy that I've had barely enough time to look 16 weeks down the calendar, let alone plot out the schedule. What I can rely on is the feel of a training program: do distance, go long on weekends, try to build endurance.

But something is missing. When you don't have that looming race, purpose tends to slip. I'm not worried in the long-term sense, I feel the need to run, and I don't necessarily need a schedule to keep me from committing to getting the proper miles in (I put in 42 miles last week).

I got an email from a buddy of mine who I did my first marathon with back in 2006. She was telling me about getting her mileage up this weekend. I wondered what kind of long mileage I should be at. I headed out for a 16 miler, not sure if that was quite what the program called for, but it felt like the right distance.

Right. Think I need to add some purpose. I'll schedule it in...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The run-mute and the real meeting of Metropass (hint: pass)

I hate commuting. Detest it. Something about cramming into a subway/sub/streetcar after work, at which point, I will join the masses of other exhausted people on our way home. I've loved being within walking distance of work. Love it. Lets me avoid the commute.

So when I took my new job, $121 went into a Metropass, a cost I am quickly finding very much not worth it. I'll note at this point that the $121 would easily go toward buying a new pair of shoes if I bought it south of the border.

The possibility of being that guy who runs with a backpack after work was closer to being real. I looked the map and that 30-40 minutes to work by streetcar/subway looked really really short. Four miles? Whatever, that's a recovery run.

So I decided to run home from work at least two days a week.

Of course, being the rookie, I've been a bad planner. One day, I forgot my shorts. Then on a day I at least packed my shoes, shorts and T-shirt, I forgot my running socks, so I ran with my black socks (yes, I rolled them down). Now, I'm at the point where I'm planning to run at least three days a week (Fridays I'll bring my stuff back home).

And as it turns out, from door to door, it's taking me 30 to 32 minutes (not including watch pauses), pretty much the same time I'd spend in a crammed vehicle wishing I was running.

So it' s no backpack for me. All I need is my running gear, my headphones, a water bottle and a little pouch to carry that expensive pass. If I'm going to pay $121 for a transit, might as well carry it in style, all while I run-mute.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Keeping track

Sometimes I wonder why I really need to wear a Garmin. That thought hit my mind this morning as I was doing my long run -- 14 miles made up of an out and back to the Beaches. It's a route I really love to run, not really used by distance runners for some odd reason. So here I was, trying out different routes that hugged the water's edge. As I hit the four mile mark, I pictured the route up ahead, thought about when I'd hit mile 5.

"The bridge," I thought. I'd hit 8 kilometres at the bridge.

Quickly lost the thought as I enjoyed the wind, sun and coolish June weather. As I took a few curves, I spotted the bridge ahead, looked down at my watch. Yep, on track. A hundred or so strides later, as I was about to hit the foot of the bridge, I saw the distance creep up: 7.99K. And as my foot hit the bridge, it turned to 8. Smile.

Whenever I give directions to a friend, my mind's eye takes the distance, and applies miles and kilometres. Where's work? 900 metres away. The grocery store from my condo? 1.05K. I'd got half this city mapped out from my front door that it's uncanny.

Distance has an odd symmetry. This past week, I started running from the front door of my workplace to home. It was a half hour run, but I found an odd pleasure that in actual fact, it was exactly 6.4K from door to door, a number that means nothing to anyone but a runner. My mind does the calculations, 14.5K is 9 miles, 8 miles is 13K and 6.4K is 4 miles on the nose.

Not that my obsession with tracking numbers and converting is an odd hobby, my new job gave us pedometers that we can use to track our walks. Of course, since I'm so used to it, I put it on and racked up thousands of steps in a few days. Just what I need, yet another place to synch up.

Running is my way to unplug, absolutely, but I do find it odd that every run goes into Sportstracks, Daily Mile and Garmin Connect. Not that I need it day to day, but looking back gives you perspective. Like the other day when I showed my Garmin to a fellow runner at work. I first used it in September, 2008. It read 8400 kilometres (more than 5000 miles). Eye popping? Yes, but only if you can track it.

Training update: More than 40 miles on the week, I guess you can say I'm back in training, now I have to plot out the schedule.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The road rules of tweeting

Anthony Weiner can tell you there are quite a few things you shouldn't do with your mobile phone.

Running and tweeting is not nearly as scandalous, but it can be a little dangerous. You think walking and texting is a challenge. Yes, I've almost run into many a pedestrian who was texting while I was running on the sidewalk.

Texting/tweeting while running is not for everyone. For example:

2009: Back in the day, when Twitter was in a newish stage, we read about that now-famous 'jogger' (what's that) who was tweeting while running, and hit a tree.

2010: Of course, run tweeting has really advanced (er... I guess), like when I decided to send updates while running Boston in 2010. Which leads to one of my favourite tweets ever.

Drinking, running, tweeting.

2011: Not to be outdone, a man named Joseph Tame decides to deck himself out in mobile gear to 'run' the Tokyo Marathon. Running is charitable, but you get the point:

A few tips about tweeting while running:

  • Sending tweets while running is all well and good, but it's better if you can send pictures. Twitpic works great.
  • Video is even better proof. It's shaky though. Keep your phone at chest level or higher. Position your phone over your head for a great view.

  • Master the one-hand tweet method.. use your thumb and rely on auto correct.
  • Keep your phone at chest height so at least in your field of vision, you can see the road.
  • Best to have a case for your phone.. Never know if you break it.
  • And try to put the phone away some times, running is fun too. You can tweet about the run later.

Yep, that's me tweeting and racing. Okay, I'm stupid.