Archive for January, 2012

I am now three days into my marathon training.  To transition back into running since my sprain, I have exclusively used the treadmill.  About two years ago, I bought a Livestrong 9.9T  treadmill.  As with all machines, it has various programs ranging in levels of difficulty.  My plan is incorporate it into my training beyond just an introduction in order to force me to push my ability further than what I could accomplish on my own.   This first week I mixed up the programs just to get a feel for them and for where they may end up in my schedule.

Day 1: 3.27 Miles (Weight Loss – Level 5)

Day 2: 4.45 Miles (Interval Training – Level 7)

Day 3: 3.19 Miles (Rolling Hills – Level 5)

It’s time to break down each of the sessions.

Weight Loss Program – The Weight Loss program was easy.  It reminded me of simple jog around the neighborhood, just a mild workout.  The speed steadily increased to two miles per hour, than it slowed back down.  While speeding up, the incline decreased by one percent.  I need it to push me harder.  Time to level up! 

Interval Training Program – I really enjoyed the Interval Training program.  For 90 seconds, the pace was a mild jog.  If I had tried, I could have speed walked rather than jogged.  After 90 seconds, BOOM!  The pace doubled.  It was just near the top of my ability.  Next time I will run at level 8.  If I can get myself to level 10, my long runs can only get faster.  The only question is, can my legs go that fast?

Rolling Hills Program – I don’t get why it is called “Rolling Hills.”  The incline never changed.  It was merely the Weight Loss Program with the incline always staying at 0%.  If the Weight Loss Program was easy, this was a joke. 

I think I am now ready to get back out on the road.  My plan is to use the Interval Training once a week.  Slowly it will build my speed up, or at least it should.  One thing stood out to me this week, running feels great.  After each of the sessions I was pumped.  Why does running do that?  I don’t get the same feeling from the elliptical, P90X, or any other exercise.  When speaking with other runners, the debate of treadmill or outdoor running always comes up.  My question today is, which do you prefer?



Sweet Misery…

Posted: January 24, 2012 by Roberts in Running Log
Tags: , ,

Heading home from work on Friday night, I debated my return to running. The debate centered not around if I would, but if I could. Stiffness had made itself at home in my ankle all week. If there was a tear in the ligament, rushing back into running could bench me for even longer, or end it completely. This was an addiction I could not afford to sacrifice to impatience. How could I give up this drug, this vice, that is running? How enjoyable could my run really be if each step would bring worry and doubt? Each step pounding into the pavement was a potential roll of the dice to ruin. Yet each step was also a step closer to satisfaction.

While I mulled over this conundrum, the music shuffle switched songs to Sweet Misery by Lisa Misckovsky. A simple song, and yet it spoke volumes to me of what it means to want something that could hurt you; to want something that brings you pain, suffering and joy.

You are my sweet little,
Sweet little misery
You are my sweet little
Sweet little misery
Now the words on the street
They say we’re history
You are my sweet little,
Cheap little misery

Running is my sweet misery. I ask myself why I go back to it, and all I know is that I have to. I was dreading and looking forward to the next morning’s run at the same time.

On Saturday I woke with a plan for my triumphant return to running. The ankle, though stiff, was ready. The route, planned. The soul, wanting. I opened the blinds, and was greeted by the first snowfall of the season. Figures.

My snowy return to running

Fates, why do you toy with me so? Now, I am not one to shy away from a nice winter run, but in this case, danger was afoot. Scanning the neighborhood, I could tell my neighbors had not shoveled their driveways and sidewalks. I doubted they intended to have them cleared any time soon. A recovering ankle and icy streets sounded like a recipe for disaster. The wear and tear of a normal run is one thing to risk, black ice is another.

So if I couldn’t run outside, that meant…..the DREADMILL! Not since my first summer of running had I used it. I was passed that chapter of my running career. It had allowed me to control my pace, and get used to the idea of running. It had also allowed me to run at a very slow pace and not embarrass myself on the street. Running outdoors was so much more liberating. The outdoors and fresh air motived me. The basement walls and concrete floor of the basement represented everything that was not running to me. Running is freedom. Running is adventure. Running is the peaceful solitude of nature and my thoughts. The basement is a cave, a dungeon. I want my freedom! But today, it was not to be. If I wanted to run, it was the treadmill or nothing. I swallowed my pride and accepted that today was to be an indoor running day. Oh treadmill, shall we dance?

I did not want to stress the ankle too much, and as I said earlier, it was still stiff. I took the run slowly. I put in a solid 3.5 miles. It felt good – the run that is, not the ankle. It was not quite as satisfying as an outdoor run would have been, but it felt great just to move. During the run, my body reminded me that I am not 100%. I had gotten soft in these past six weeks, and my ankle would not let me forget it. My heart pounded in my chest a little too hard, and a mild cramp appeared and then disappeared.

Goal One: Get back to my pre-holiday fitness level
Goal Two: Surpass it

The lesson I learned from this was that the treadmill is a useful tool, not just a starting point. Over the next couple runs (until the ice melts) it will allow me to get back in step. I plan to incorporate it into my next 28 weeks of training for interval and incline work.

From that single run I feel mentally better. I can only relate it to the time I tried to give up coffee for a month. After a long hiatus and that first cup of java, I felt serenity wash over me. It, as did this run, gave me back something I had been missing. It is good to be back or, at least heading back.

Next Run: 3 Miles (Tuesday)
Next Race: Kelly St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5K

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Many people today have a variety of different tools to use that help them to be more efficient. Running is no different. Many runners run with iPods, smartphones, heart rate monitors and such. Anyone that has a smartphone such as an iPhone, Android or Blackberry and has been to their particular market knows that there thousands of apps that are free or have a small charge.   Anyone would be overwhelmed by all the choices. I have tested many different apps for my Droid, and I will review four of them here. Most of them were free; a few of them I paid something like $0.99 for. Some say free is always better; I have found that is not quite true. 

Cardio Trainer Pro – Droid Phone

Cardio Trainer uses the GPS function for its mapping feature.  Since the software is running on the phone, it could play music and podcasts stored there.  Cardio Trainer can be upgraded to Cardio Trainer Pro, MRSP $0.99, offers live coaching when combined with the Polar WearLink+ Bluetooth Coded Heart Rate Transmitter Set, MRSP $80.00.   Cardio Trainer Pro has the ability to post to Facebook to share your results.  It was also a way to compare notes with friends and get their input. Here is a screenshot of what the internet site offers:

Cardio Trainer Screenshot


MapMyRun has similar GPS features to Cardio Trainer and use the music and podcasts from the phone.  There is a hear rate monitor that is limited to use only with an iPhone, and not Droid Phones. Their heart rate monitor, MRSP $49.99, can only work with the iPhone. In addition, a foot pod sensor can be added to the system, MRSP $69.99.  Before any of these accessories can be used, the Wahoo Fisica Ant+ Sensor must be installed, MRSP $79.95.  MapMyRun also had the ability to post on Facebook. Here is a screenshot of what the internet site offers:

My Map Run Screenshot

Google Tracks

Google Tracks is a free application.  Essential it is mapping software that uses the GPS of the phone.  For a basic program you can’t beat the price, free.  It is basic.  It lacks feedback, coaching, or any training programs.  It does not have the ability to link to a heart rate monitor either. The level of information for the route is far greater than the previous applications.  Since the application is only a mapping program, it does that very well.

Adidas miCoach

Like Cardio Trainer and MapMyRun, Adidas miCoach can be used as a stand-alone application or in conjunction with accessories. All the stand-alone versions of the software offer similar data.  The focus of miCoach is not to record your running, rather to train you to run. 

The training is based on zone workouts, and you can customize them based upon your goals and ability.  Unlike the previous systems, it is very customizable.  The program asked how many days a week did you want to run, and what your goal was. Some of the options were 2 miles, a 5K, 10K, a half marathon or a full marathon. It then set up a training run to see where you were physically. It had you run in four different zones. There are four zones: Blue (the slowest), Green, Yellow and Red (the fastest).  The program then establishes your zones and can be altered to suit your needs.  The zones are based upon your pace, and the feedback tells you to pick up the pace or lower it.

The same website tools are used with the pacer unit (includes a heart monitor), MRSP $139.  The disadvantage to pacer unit does not have a GPS unit and does not work in conjunction with the phones GPS.  The Pacer Unit offers live feedback to inform you to increase or decrease your speed based on your heart rate.  As a system, it does not offer a complete picture.  You need to decide which of the two is more important, heart rate training or accurate pacing based on GPS.  There is a work around to utilize both the application and the pacer unit.  It requires using both on the same run, and then combining the runs through their website. 

The collected data is extensive.  Below are screen shots of the various ways to measure your run and pace.  The test the two version of the system, the run was completed with both the applications and the pacer unit. 

Micoach Screenshot - Heartrate

Micoach Screenshot - Pace

Micoach Screenshot - Pace

Micoach Screenshot - Steps

Micoach Screenshot - Route

There are dozens of applications on the market ranging in prices from free to over $10.  You need to decide what you are looking to get out of your system.  Many people are big into data collection and analysis.  Others are looking for a basic snapshot.

– Chris Olsen

The Seven Stages of the Bench

Posted: January 18, 2012 by Roberts in Injuries
Tags: , ,

During the last six weeks, much has happened, and yet very little has happened. To bring you up to date, I have not run since my sprain. Today marks the fifth day in a row that I have been brace free. At the end of each day, the ankle is a just a little sore from walking. Since I have been unable to run, I feel myself slowly going mad. Since I have no reference point, I can only compare it to what I believe withdrawal would feel like. My days are riddled with sweating, runny nose, muscle aches, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, cramping, goosebumps, and shivers. Ok, not so much…just in my own overly dramatic mind.

These past couple weeks I have noticed how addicted I am to running. That’s the first step to recovery, isn’t it? But I don’t want to recover from this addiction. I want to fall off the wagon and get back into it. When I will this ankle work again?

Not I am not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination; merely an enthusiast. The days are getting colder and I find myself thinking with each passing day how great my pace would be with the dropping temperature. It is aggravating, to say the least. After thinking about it, I am going through the seven stages of grief for my ankle.

Stage One – Denial: I actually asked the doctor two days after the spring, “I have a 5k this weekend, think I will be able to run it?”

Stage Two – Guilt: Many times I was caught saying, “I should have known better and paid more attention.”

Stage Three – Anger: Watching other runners over the following weeks got me jealous and irritated. A friend has started running, losing weight, and generally improving his health. I hate him for it, since I can’t!

Stage Four – Depression: I tried to add alternative exercise routines. It wasn’t the same. I felt like I was cheating on running. I became unmotivated and gained weight from overeating and not exercising.

Stage Five – The Upward Trend: I threw myself into work (thus the lack of posts). I put in longer hours and tried to find other ways to spend my energies.

Stage Six – Reconstruction: If I can’t run again, maybe I can take up cycling. It gets me outside, and it won’t stress the ankle if it never gets back to normal.

Stage Seven – Acceptance: NEVER!!!!!

My plan is to put in a run this Saturday if the ankle can handle it. The risk is great, the reward is immeasurable. How I have missed the outdoors and the pavement. My watch keeps asking me when we are going to run again. Very soon, watch…..very soon.

Keep on running.