Tag Archives: running

Programming is on a spectrum, or how programming is like running

Programming is on a spectrum.  I have felt for some time. That said, I liked this article by Paul Ford, one of the best writers on IT that I know: ‘Real’ Programming Is an Elitist Myth | WIRED.  His and my thoughts overlap. First, yes you can do real programming/coding with simple tools. Anyone who writes their own HTML, Javascript, simple bash scripts or basic Python scripts is really programming. Heck, I argue that what people do in Microsoft Excel is a form of programming.

If you wanted to step up from small pieces of code, you could get a book like this and write all sorts of useful code. 

 

(That’s a great book, by the way.)

However there is a very wide spectrum for programming, and some people are very advanced in the form of programming they do. That should also be acknowledged. The work I do automating tasks by writing Python scripts is very different than the work done by people writing operating systems or other difficult tasks.

I like to think of it like running. If you run, you are a runner. End of story. If you work at running, you can enter a big race like the New York City Marathon and you will be with a range of runners from the very best in the world to people who will finish many hours later. The first and the last are all marathon runners, and the last are as real a runner as the first.

Same with programming. If you program, you are a programmer. You are as real a programmer as the person writing new code for the Linux operating system. Just like you can always get better as a runner, you can always get better as a programmer. It just depends on what you want to put into it and what you want to get out of it.

Quote

Great advice on how to get better at drawing that can be applied to anything

I have been trying to get better at drawing lately, but I have been floundering. Much of what I have been drawing is poor by my standards. Poor and not getting better. To try and get better, I was trying different media and different tools (coloured pencils, watercolour, etc.). All these different things didn’t help. I was stuck.

Then I came across this video and had an a-ha moment. It’s really good. I recommend you take a few minutes and watch it.

In a nutshell, the idea is to focus. Focus on drawing one thing. Don’t do what I was doing, which was a little bit of everything. A little bit of everything didn’t add up to anything.

What I found was that by focusing, I didn’t have to think of what to do, I just did it. In his case he drew emus. In my case I drew robots. Just dozens of robots. I would start by drawing a shape and then adding to the shape. Or I’d start with a theme (a book robot) and use that to draw. The drawing didn’t have to be good, though I tried to make it good. Regardless of good or bad, what I discovered was that I was learning more about drawing from each picture. Before, I would think: what shall I do to practice drawing and get better? Now I don’t think, I just draw, and I am naturally getting better.

I think this can be true of any skill. Take running for example. You might fear starting because you don’t know anything about how to run well. Fine, just pick a short distance and run it. Do that over and over. Each time you do, you will learn something. Maybe you are running too fast. Or too slow. Or too long. Or too much. Take notes each time and look to improve. If you get stuck, do some research and try to apply it. The next thing you know you will be much better at it then you were only a short time ago.

Anyway, watch the video and then think about how you can apply it to your own life. You will improve. Keep with it.

Here’s a link to the video: The drawing advice that changed my life – YouTube

Speaking of keeping to it, he has another great video about “not getting off the bus”. I highly recommend that too. You can find it here.

Quote

Why running may help your brain

Based on this older study (For Your Brain’s Sake, Keep Moving – The New York Times), it seems like running helps the brain grow better. It’s a good read. It may also explain, at least in part, why people’s brains are not doing so great lately with the lockdown due to the pandemic.

We rightly attribute running to helping our muscles and our cardiovascular system. It seems to help our nervous system as well. Try to get out and move if you can.

Quote

You are tired of being inside. And baking bread. Here’s how to start running outdoors even if you never have

Chances are your exercise routine has declined or even stopped with being inside for the pandemic. If you are thinking about running, but have never run before, then I highly recognize this: How to Start Running Outside If You’ve Never Run Before | Chatelaine

The audience for that article is women, but it can apply to men too (well, other than the sports bra part). I like that piece because it really makes running something low key that anyone can do. Which is good, because almost anyone can! (There are exceptions, but I am willing to guess you aren’t exceptional here.)

The weather is getting more conducive to running outdoors. Read the article, strap on your shoes, and go. Good luck!

Quote

The World’s Fastest Senior


This is a remarkable story of literally The World’s Fastest (Old) Man, via The New York Times.

It’s almost inconceivable someone in their 70s can be that fast, let alone setting records. Well worth reading for inspiration.

(Photo link: CreditKristian Thacker for The New York Times)

Quote

A marathon for food lovers: Marathon du Médoc

Not your average marathon, this. For example:

Marathons and footraces are a world of granola bars, blister care, and sugary packages of energy-giving goo. This classic French race through wine country has all that, as well as a party atmosphere and 23 stations that offer wine, cheese, oysters, and foie gras, often set out like a tasting at a picturesque winery. The tone is set the night before, when participants tend to complement the traditional carb-loading pasta dinner with healthy helpings of local wines. Each year’s race has a theme (think “Amusement Park” or “Tales and Legends”), so don’t be surprised to see a runner dressed as Robin Hood vomiting at mile five.

If this sounds like you kind of marathon, get more information here:  Marathon du Médoc – Gastro Obscura

Quote

Joan Benoit Samuelson at age 60 and what that means

This piece is a must read for anyone trying to maintain their fitness later in life. It’s not easy, even for legends like JBS. Take solace in seeing how even the greats adjust as they get older, and read this:  How a great marathoner — Joan Benoit Samuelson — keeps going at age 60 – The Washington Post

 

How to get in shape, in two steps

There are only two steps to get in shape: 1) lose weight 2) exercise. Of course, those can be big steps. You need help to take both. These 15 links can provide you with some of the help you need.

1. Lose Weight

  1. Intermittent Fasting 101 – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
  2. The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting
  3. Michael Pollan’s Simple Rules for Eating
  4. Scarsdale Diet – Moms Who Think
  5. Becoming Strong & Healthy as a Vegan : zen habits
  6. How Chef Nate Appleman Lost 85 Pounds with Really Good Food | Healthyish | Bon Appetit
  7. How I Lost 75 Pounds in 120 Days – Medium
  8. My Personal Fat-Loss Plan : zen habits

2. Exercise

  1. What Keeps Me Running | Runner’s World
  2. How Running and Meditation Help the Depressed — Science of Us
  3. The Beginners Guide to Orangetheory Fitness | MyFitnessPal
  4. How to Build Your Own Workout Routine | Nerd Fitness
  5. Total Body Training With Only A Pair Of Dumbbells.
  6. The 14 best beginner’s exercises to do at home – Men’s Health
  7. Beginner Body Weight Workout – Build Muscle, Burn Fat | Nerd Fitness

A great piece on a great athlete/runner: Emil Zátopek

Emil Zatopek

Highly recommended: Emil Zátopek: The greatest Olympian vanished from public life after he defied Russian tanks in 1968 | The Independent.

As a kid I saw a documentary on Zatopek and was in awe of how dominant a runner he was. Anyone looking for inspiration in athletics can find that in many places: I found mine watching Zatopek and Abibi Bikila (running barefoot in Rome) excel at the Olympics.

The legendary runner Ed Whitlock Dies at 86 

Ed Whitlock running
The legendary Canadian runner Ed Whitlock has died. (Source: Masters Marathon Legend Ed Whitlock Dies at 86 | Runner’s World). There are so many things to say about Ed, but the article in Runner’s World gives you a sense of just how amazing he was. From his simple running routine to the records he broke, he was a great and unique individual. R.I.P., Ed.

(Photo: linked to in article, by K.C. Armstrong)

Looking to run a marathon or half-marathon? Then you need my race schedule spreadsheets to plan out your training runs

If you are planning to run a marathon or half-marathon this year, then one of the first questions you will ask yourself is: do I have enough time to train for it? Two things that can help you answer this question are here: blm849/Bernie-s-Race-Scheduling-Spreadsheets: My Race Schedule Spreadsheets to plan out my training runs.

With my spreadsheets, you enter a date, and it will give you a 16-20 week schedule you need to follow to get ready for a marathon or a half-marathon (or a 21K, as I like to call it).

Since they are spreadsheets, you can adjust them in any way you see fit. Add weeks, change the mileage, etc. If you have any other changes you would like to see, let me know.

Is it possible to run a sub two hour marathon?

Nike seems to think so, based on this: Nike Wants Athletes to Run a Marathon in Under Two Hours, So It’s Rebuilding the Race. And the Runners | WIRED

While it’s a bad idea to say it can’t happen, Runner’s World has a long list of reasons why it will be a difficult thing to accomplish: What Will It Take to Run A 2-Hour Marathon

Perhaps the two hour marathon will be like the four minute mile: once insurmountable, then broken, then broken often.  If and when that happens, I think it will not be a near term event.

In the meantime, read the articles, especially the one from Runner’s World: it’s a fascinating study into biomechanics and running, as well as some fine infographics.

In praise of the 5K and other (non-marathon) races

The marathon is great race, and if you are aiming to run your first in the new year, it is a great thing to accomplish.

That said, you can also get a great sense of accomplishment out of running races less than 42.2 kilometers. To see what I mean, I highly recommend these two articles that praise the 5K:

  1. The 5K, Not The Marathon, Is The Ideal Race | FiveThirtyEight
  2. 10 Reasons the 5K is Freaking Awesome | Runner’s World

After reading them, I had a much greater appreciation of that race. (I think the same argument could be made for the 10K.)

As for me, I am a fan of the half-marathon. The only thing I don’t like about it is the name: it implies you haven’t done something great, when you have. Perhaps it needs to get rebranded as a 20K: not half a marathon, but twice a 10K!

Regardless of the distance you run, and how often you run it, enjoy your athleticism and take pride in it.

(Chart is a link to the image from the FiveThirtyEight article)

The Globe and Mail on the plan to defeat Usain Bolt is sports writing at its best

Usain Bolt and Andre De Grasse running in the Olympics

Here’s the story behind the photo, above.  Andre De Grasse, the up and coming runner from Canada, was going against the legend from Jamaica, Usain Bolt, in the 200 meter race at the Olympics. Rather than just concede to Bolt, De Grasse and team came up with a plan to beat him. It’s was a smart plan, and the story of it is equally good. Read it here: De Grasse’s plan was to beat Bolt by making him run faster. It almost worked. Here’s why – The Globe and Mail

While it didn’t work, it was likely the best way to beat Bolt (assuming he was beatable).  And the confidence to think he could beat the Jamaican legend is one of the reasons we’ll be reading about the success of Andre De Grasse for some time to come.

What is Rule 40  and how did athlete Emma Coburn get around it

This piece, During Rule 40 Blackout, Emma Coburn Showcases New Balance on Olympic Stage, FloTrack, has a good run down of Rule 40 and how Emma Coburn cleverly circumvented it. In short, Rule 40 prevents all but official brands and whom they sponsor from promoting them during an blackout period of time surrounding the time of the Olympics. For example, US athletes using Nike can promote the Nike brand, but US athletes using other brands like New Balance cannot.

How did Coburn circumvent this? According to that article,

After crossing the finish line in third behind Ruth Jebet and Hyvin Jepkemoi, respectively, Coburn immediately removed her New Balance spikes and draped them over her shoulder before carrying the American flag. As a result of the bold move, thousands of photos snapped during her victory lap included her sponsor, New Balance, which otherwise would not have been featured. It’s more than likely that Coburn, who is vocal about sponsorship rights, did this intentionally to spotlight New Balance in the middle of the Rule 40 “blackout period” and circumvent Nike’s exclusive sponsorship rights with USATF.

One thing to note is that there are different rules for different athletic federations, it seems. The US swim team has more latitude than the track and field athletes.

As always, this is about money. Whatever else the Olympics are about — and obviously they are about many good things — money is one of the big aspects of these games.

Are you in terrible shape? Not so terrible but bad enough shape? Do you need help? Here you go

Like most people — for instance, me — , you may need to get in better shape. In doing some research on it, I came across the following links that I found interesting, inspiring, and useful. I hope you do too:

Trying to get started running? Here’s four links that can help

If you want to get started running, first see your doctor and make sure you can without any risk to your health. Assuming you are cleared, then check out these worthwhile links and get ready to hit the road:

  1. How to Go From Sedentary to Running in Five Steps : zen habits
  2. Start Running Now: Our Get-Going Guide – Beginners – Runner’s World
  3. Overweight? That’s ok, you too can start running! | RunAddicts
  4. How I Got Over the Jogging Beginner’s Hump

Forget Barefoot; New Trendsetter in Running Shoes Is Cushioning – NYTimes.com

Oy. First we had the minimalist running shoe. Now comes this: Forget Barefoot; New Trendsetter in Running Shoes Is Cushioning in the NYTimes.com. Yep, we are swinging from minimalist shoes to maximalist shoes. Should you get them? I agree with Lauren here:

Lauren Fleshman, a national champion in the 5,000 meters, likened the maximalist upswing to past footwear phenomena, now rejected as passé.

“To me, maximalist shoes fall right in the line of every other shoe trend,” she said. “There’s some good reasoning, but we don’t know enough about how it affects the body longer term, and we won’t know until everyone has been using it a while and all the other research comes out about how it destroys your body or whatever, and then there’s a lawsuit, and then there’s a campaign about how to use the technology properly, and then in the midst of all this confusion the next trend takes off. There is no shoe savior coming for us.”

If you are running outside, you need to warm up in more ways than one

If you are going to be running in cold weather, having a warm up to get you started will help. Here’s a good one to try: Winter Prep Workout from Runner’s World.

It typically takes 5-10 minutes to warm up when you go running. (Some people can take much longer). During those few minutes, I found I am cold and sometimes miserable. This warm up can help reduce the misery of winter running and also help you from getting injured.

Anything that makes winter running easier is worthwhile.

If you want a very simple method to track and improve your running speed over your training period…

…then try the One Magic Mile approach, featured in this Runner’s World article. As Jeff Galloway shows:

Running a timed mile provides a reality check on your current goals, helps you determine a safe long-run pace, and gives you a tangible way to track your progress during the season.

Some runners enjoy complex training approaches. Me, I prefer simple ones. If you do too, then I recommend the One Magic Mile approach.

Nike ups their game with a new fuelband

According to Fast Company, Nike has a new Fuelband coming out called the Fuelband SE. It sounds like it is going to be smarter and more flexible than the current Fuelband:

Like the FuelBand, the FuelBand SE measures its wearer’s activity levels via a gamified system in which you can earn points for moving. The SE comes with even more built-in game mechanics to encourage users to want to move more throughout the day. It also offers a feature called “sessions” that allows you to categorize your movements according to the activity you’re doing, such as playing basketball, cycling, and now, sleeping. The FuelBand SE can also detect how hard you’re working during seemingly low-impact activities like yoga, and mete out points accordingly.

This should give the Fitbits and other wearable tech a good run for the money, and it may be the thing that makes me want to buy it.

Speaking of that, how much is it going to be?

Nike is currently accepting limited pre-orders for the FuelBand SE, which costs $149

Good price.

Wearable tech promises to be big. Looks like Nike plans to be in the front of the pack with the Fuelband.

Usain Bolt has style

The Guardian has an interview with the great Usain Bolt.

Unlike alot of sports interviews, in this one Bolt talks openly and casually about himself, his competition, and his goals. Barring injury, Bolt will be one of the greatest runners of all time. He has great style, too, as can be seen from the way he races AND from the way he dresses here.

Check out the article: it’s worthwhile.

If you are going to run a morning marathon, train in the morning

I was really surprised by this article in the NYTimes.com because it is saying that even with the same workout done the same way, your heartrate could be higher in the evening than the morning. The article goes on to discuss why this could be. It’s fascinating in itself, but as someone who trains mostly later in the day but runs early morning marathons and other long distance races, it’s also concerning. I train with a heart rate monitor, and my tempo runs are based on my heart rate later in the day. When I run the race, I am assuming my heart rate is going to be the same for the same effort. But in fact, to get the same heart rate in a morning race, I might have to be running alot faster. This sounds like it could be a good thing, but you could also end up over-exerting yourself and not having enough strength in your legs to get to the finish line.

The net of it is, if you are going to run a morning marathon, do some long distance and tempo runs in the morning as well to have a better understanding of what pace you should be running at come race day.

How to train and improve your speed for (half) marathons and races generally – the Rule of 3s

I have run in five marathons and around twice as many half-marathons. My preferred race now is the half-marathon. To train for it, I go with the rule of 3s. (Actually it is more of a guideline than a rule.) I got the idea from this Runner’s World article, The Less-Is-More Marathon Plan. That plan talks about training for a marathon on only 3 runs a week. I haven’t tried that, but I have trained and run half marathons on only three runs a week, and have found it to be very successful. Indeed, running more than 3 times a week is challenging for me because I don’t have the time and because I tend to run hard and I need the next day to recover.

The other thing I like about this Less-Is-More plan is that you train hard for 3 weeks, and then you have an easy (or easier) week. I think this is a great idea, and it helps keep you on the bandwagon. (And avoid injury.) Also, they have a three week taper at the end, which I also think is smart. Finally, each run in a week has a specific purpose.

Now, this plan is pretty detailed. Frankly, I am not that good at following that much detail. Maybe I should be, but I’m not. I am ok with keeping the long run distances and even the tempo distances, but running all those speed intervals is not for me.

What I do manage to do is split up my speed training into three groups. For the first set of speed training, I do fartleks, which is essentially  where I run fast intervals in the middle 1/3 of my run on Tuesdays. Because it is fartlek, I am not too strict in how long the intervals are. Essentially I try to push my body to do speed work, and when I find the quality of the speed work going badly, I slow down and recover. I make sure I do enough of this to make it worthwhile, but I am casual enough about it that I don’t dread it. (Hey, speed work is hard work! :))

For the second set of speed training, I do hill work. I split the hill work up into longer hills and shorter, steeper hills. Again, I do a few miles of warm up runs, then do about a third of my route as hills, then slow down and cool off. I use a HRM (heart rate monitor), and try to push myself enough on the hill workouts while trying to maintain good running form. To do this, I have to shorten my stride. I also recover by running slowly (and lightly, not thudding) down the hill. I also do some speed runs on shorter hills a few weeks after the longer hill workouts are under my belt and I am feeling stronger. (Doing the shorter hills first tends to be discouraging, at least for me.)

For the third set of speed training, I do actual intervals on a track (or I use Google Maps to help me plan out stretches of road). When I am doing those, I try and mix the distances, just like I in the Plan. Intervals can be boring, so I save them for after my fartleks and hill work. Also, by this point in the training, I should be feeling much stronger. If I do intervals early, I just feel slow and this is also discouraging. Part of the trick of doing any speed work is making sure you manage your mental training as much as your physical training.

By the way, for the tempo runs, I should be getting faster as the weeks progress, so I measure my tempo not so much by how fast I am running as by how fast my heart rate is. It’s also a good way of insuring that my speed work is paying off.

Lastly, your longer runs should be at a slower pace than the tempo run. See the plan (and other places) as to what the pace for that should be. What you are trying to do on the longer runs is get accustomed to running longer without straining yourself. You should still see progress in your pace, though, even though the effort you are exerting is less than what you will ultimately exert in the race.

At race day, the only thing that should prevent you from running faster than ever is bad luck. So, good luck! I hope you run fast and run well!

Runners! The Nike Human Race 10K is October 24th. Are you ready?

Anyone who has been running awhile should consider signing up for Nike’s  Human Race. Nike always puts on a good running event, and this is quite an event indeed, with runners all over the world participating. If you are up for a 10K this weekend, see the site for more info.

On boycotting races that ban the use of iPods

Well, this is a mess. It looks like the winner of a marathon was disqualified for iPod use (according to the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel – JSOnline. It doesn’t help matters that the USATF had a draconian rule in before banning it for all runners. Now they are leaving it to the race directors, but even they have a problem with that.

The question I have is: why ban it at all? If you are banning iPods, why not ban heart monitors and stop watches, etc? Heck, why not ban Gatorade and Powerbars. Afterall, they all help runners too.

As for me, I would boycott any race that prevented me from wearing an iPod. I recommend you do the same.

Personal Technology to Help You Get Fit

The NYTimes.com has a good rundown on Smartphone Training Apps and other personal technology that can help you get fit. One of my favourite is this:

The Nike + iPod Sport Kit is made especially for runners (it can be used in a gym for cardio workouts as well); it tracks time, distance, pace and estimates calories burned. It uses a $29 sensor compatible with a Nike+ shoe and beams information to an iPod or iPhone. It does take some effort to calibrate. You will need to run a known course to set it up for highest accuracy.

I take issue with the part I underlined. It’s pretty easy to calibrate. I took mine to a track once that I knew was a quarter mile and calibrated it easily. As it was, it was pretty accurate to begin with.

If you can’t find a track, consider using maps.google.com to map out a quarter, half or full mile (or kilometer) and then calibrate it there. (try to find a flat stretch).

Another tool I use is my Polar heart monitor. Polar makes many different kinds: I use a basic one to allow me to train at a rate that’s not too easy, not too hard.

Finally, a good ol’ running watch / stopwatch is always handy, even if it isn’t digital.

Time to Train for Your First Marathon?

If you have been running for awhile — and even if you haven’t — you may be considering running your first marathon. If you are, first off, congratulations on making such a decision (when you do make it). Having made that decision, what do you do next? Well, consider reading this post: Time to Train for Your First Marathon on the Well Blog at NYTimes.com. Not only does the blog itself have good information, but it also has links to other great sites, such as Bill Rodgers.

What are you waiting for! Get training! 🙂

Want to go faster? You need to train

It’s interesting: I can’t tell if the title of this article is what I read (“Want to Go Faster? You Need a Trainer”) or what the link says (“Proper Training Is a Critical Element to Athletic Success“). In my experience, you don’t need a trainer to get faster as a runner (or likely any other sport). However, you do need to properly train.

Training properly doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does help to get some guidance. It doesn’t have to be a trainer, though. For example, if you want to become a better runner, you can ask friends who run seriously for help. You can do research on the web. You can join a running group. You can even ask me. 🙂

All these things can help you go faster. As the article in the NYTimes.com says:

If your goal is to be faster, you have to train.”

It’s as simple as that. And yes, you can get a trainer as well. Just don’t believe that the only way you can get fast is by getting one.

Need motivation for your new year’s resolutions? Why not register for a marathon in Toronto?

Sure, it is in October, but 10 months may be just what you need. And even if you don’t, check out the web site for
The GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon.

I’ve run the race a few times. It’s well organized and it is a nice route. Bonus: you can use it as a Boston qualifier.

Why not check it out.

How to make the most of running outdoors in winter

It may seem hard for you to believe, but running outdoors in the cold winter can be enjoyable and worthwhile. But you have to be prepared for it.

You can find lots of good tips for running online, such as this article: Winter Running Tips from Active.com (which is where I also got the photo), this one from the Chicago Examiner, and about.com has alot of good articles on winter running, including this one on how to dress for winter running.

As I went through these articles, I jotted down some other things you might want to consider, based on my many years of winter running:

  • If you are not running everyday of the week, check out the long range forecast and try to plan your runs for the days of better weather. There are going to be some days that are downright dangerous and should be avoided. But there will be other days when it will be milder and those are those are good ones to aim for. If Wednesday is -10C and Thursday is -2C, why not shift your Wednesday run over to Thursday?
  • When it comes to black ice, always expect it. Be especially careful on days when the temperature rises a few degrees above freezing and then drops below freezing: the warmer temperatures can cause runoff that then freezes up into black ice. And since it is new black ice, it is more likely that it won’t be salted yet.
  • Also on black ice, be careful of light dustings of snow. The snow can cover up the ice and make it that much more slippery.
  • Finally, try to stay low and keep your feet on the ground. If you do something like jump over a pile of snow, you may land on black ice. That will be a very unpleasant experience, based on what I have seen.
  • Dressing for 15-20 degrees (F) above the current temperature is very good advice. But it can be hard to get motivated for those 5-15 minutes when your body is producing enough heat to feel warm enough. To get around this, one option is to have a sweatshirt or jacket that you can either carry or toss somewhere and retrieve at the end of your run. For example, if you start your run at your house, run up and down the street (or around the block) until you start to feel too warm, then toss a layer indoors and keep running.
  • Try not to stop if you can: you will cool off very quickly.
  • If the weather is bad outside, drivers will have a hard time seeing you. Worse, they could be rushing to get somewhere as a result of the delay of the bad weather. And then people skid and slide in their cars during winter. Given all that, be extremely defensive around cars in the winter. Stop, make sure they can stop, then proceed. Don’t assume they will be able to stop for you.
  • Related to that, avoid running on the road in the winter. It can be very tempting when the roads are clear and the sidewalks are not. You might even think that the roads are safer than the sidewalks in terms of slipping. However, if you have to get off the road in a hurry, you might not be able to due to snowbanks and other obstacles. Or you might slip and fall while you do that. What I tend to do is run on the sidewalks of busy streets. Those sidewalks tend to be the best cleared and salted. I save the sidestreets for when the snow is all gone.
  • While it is important to hydrate on long runs, you should also consider where you will be able to go to the bathroom during these times. Lots of water plus cold weather equals many trips to the loo. Be prepared.
  • Dressing warmly is important. However, if you are new to winter running, you might think: I can’t afford to buy all that winter running gear! If you are a winter runner on a budget, you can run in cotton or lower cost material and acquire the better running gear over time (buy it at the end of the winter running season: you’ll get good deals then and the stuff lasts along time and doesn’t really go out of style).
    If you are new to winter running, try and at least get a good primary layer: you want to wick as much water as you can away from your body. If you have cotton as your primary layer, you will likely get cold quickly. Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to winter running gear, so try to layer as best as you can with what you have, preferably on some shorter runs. Use these shorter runs to help you best determine what works for you in terms of clothes. Ideally, keep a log with weather conditions, clothes you wore, and how you felt and ran. (It doesn’t have to be a fancy log book either: a few sheets of paper is fine).
  • When considering temperature, make sure you factor in the wind chill. Also consider the humidity. Days with lots of humidity and wind will feel alot colder than dry winter days without wind.

Now after reading all these tips, you might think: why would anyone want to run outside in the winter? Well, there are lots of reasons, including:

  • It’s still a relatively low cost way to keep fit.
  • You can do it whenever you have time.
  • If you race, you will be able to maintain or even improve your running if you run right through the winter months. And lots of race start in as early as March: if you are going to put in a good showing for these, you need to be running in January and February.
  • Running in winter allows you to shake up your running routine. You have to run differently in the winter than at other times of the year. You may have to run slower. You may have to run in the dark. You may have to run through snow. All of these things and more can give you a new perspective on running and make it fresh for you.
  • It can be beautiful running outside in the winter. While everyone else is tucked away inside, you can have the outdoors all to yourself.
  • You can take pride in being able to run outside during these times.
  • Running in the winter helps combat the feeling of being cooped up inside. There are lots of great wintertime activities you can do to make the best of the season: why not add running to the list?

Why I like the Nike Air Zoom Explosion Road Shoe


Normally I don’t buy Nike shoes. My feet are wide and I find New Balance and Saucony fit my feet better than Nike.

That said, I tried on these Nike’s while shopping for new shoes this weekend, and I really liked them. For one thing, there is little to them but good cushioning. For people with pronation problems, this would not be a good shoe, but for runners like me, it is great! For years I’ve looked around for a low cost, lightweight shoe with good cushioning, and I think these Nike’s fit the bill. I took them out for a run tonight and I thought they felt great. The ache in my knee went away, and it felt like I had nothing on my feet.

I am not sure why these don’t feel tight like previous Nike shoes. It could be because the uppers are hardly there: just some mesh and a few straps. No leather or vinyl to bind the foot.

I also had tried the Nike Lunar Trainers before, but I like these for the great price. 

Plus they look great.

You can get more information on them over at the NikeStore.

How to do the New York City Marathon in 3.5 minutes?

Easy! Go to this great section of the nytimes.com where you can see a time-lapsed video of the entire course traversed in just over 3 1/2 minutes. I ran it 10 years ago, but I still recognize the course after all that time and despite that speed. The main difference is that instead of cars, you will be surrounded by lots of runners and a fantastic NYC crowd that covers the entire course.

Despite it being short, you have a sense of just how long 26.2 miles is as you zip along.

There’s also a good interactive map that traces the run through the five boroughs, from all the way down in Staten Island to all the way up to the Bronx, before finally landing in Central Park.

If you want to enter Boston, New York or other big city marathons, you need to plan ahead

Why? Because they are big and getting bigger. As this article shows, Marathons Grow in Popularity, but City Streets Have Limitations (NYTimes.com). So big cities are setting limits and rejecting alot of people.

Should you bother? Most definitely. The NYC Marathon is a fantastic experience. Imagine being in a 26 mile ticker tape parade in New York where you are the hero: that’s what it is like to run that city’s marathon. And anyone who qualifies for Boston has shown they are the top tier of marathon runners.

That said, there are lots of other good marathons out there not in big cities, like Columbus, Ohio, that are not as well known but very well run and very much worth attending. Big Sur on California is another. And Kiawah Island in South Carolina had a marathon in December which is a great time and great place to run. There are lots of great marathons to run. You just need to do some planning and you too can have a great experience.

Do a good deed: cheer at a marathon

If you want to make a lot of people feel better, here’s a very easy way to do it. All you need is a nearby marathon.

Go down to where the race is. Get yourself a coffee or tea. Then as the runners come by, cheer them on.Tell them they’re looking good, they’re doing great, hang in there, tell them about upcoming downhills, cheer, clap, yell woohoo. Whatever works for you. The best runners will appreciate you just being there. The rest will be rejuvenated by your encouagement.

I went down today to the Toronto marathon yesterday and in a short time made a few dozen people smile. Having run a few myself, I know how great it is for people to turn out and do that.

Everyone in a marathon is struggling to do their best in the face of great difficulty. Even the best of runners. Your encouragment is greatly appreciated. You can make a dozen people feel better in the time it takes you to finish your tea.

If you need to buy new running shoes: here’s some good advice

Check out these sites for good information, such as,

  • When to buy new running shoes? Check out this link
  • For help on how to buy them, go here
  • This site has five mistakes to avoid in getting a new pair of running shoes

As for me, I think the 500 mile rule of thumb is good, but it depends on the runner. People who strike hard — as I do — many need to replace your shoes before 500 miles, while people who are very light on their feet might be ok to go past 500 miles. It also depends on your shoe. Shoes with less cushioning may have to be replaced faster than those with more.

Of course, if you are feeling pain or stiffness on older shoes, that may be all the information you need. That is happening to me now. I also look for creases in the cushioning in the heel of my shoe. Look at the shoe on the right above: you can see creasing on the heel. That’s a good sign that the cushioning is going on me.

(flickr photo from Siebuhr’s photostream)

The Human Race 10K by Nike and me


Like many many other people, I participated in Nike’s Human Race 10K today. While Toronto isn’t one of the official cities on the list — for Canada, that city is Vancouver — there was still a well run event held at the Nike Lounge on 1219 Yonge Street today. I went down and got a free sports T shirt (not cotton), and I also got to borrow an iPod Nano with a chip to record my time. Bonus: they let me try a pair of Luna Trainers that I really liked: very neutral with tons of cushioning. Nice.

The route itself was a bit tough: the first half was a big steep run up Yonge St and then all the way up the beltline. But after that, it was all downhill through a morning filled with sunshine. And at the end, there was lots of food, drinks, and general festivities at the lounge.

It was a great event, even if my time of 53:42 over 10.6 km was not. 🙂 Kudos to Nike.

It goes on until 8 p.m. in Toronto at that location, so if you are interested, check it out. And check out the site here for more details:

The Human Race 10K – 8.31.2008 Join a million runners worldwide for a 10K like no other.

How great is Usain Bolt? In many way, as great as Michael Phelps

Consider this photograph:

Where are the other runners in the final of the 200m event? The final! And no one else is even close. Bolt is one of those rare athletes, like Michael Phelps, who is playing at a different level than his competition.

Watching Bolt this Olmypics, the things that impress me are:

  • he set the 100m world record and the 200m world record in this Olympics.
  • he broke a very difficult world record (the 200m).
  • not only did he out-do the 100m world record, he did it while pulling up at the last part of the race!
  • he is a tall man, unlike most of the other world class sprinters
  • he’s just turning 22.

It will be interesting to see if the height of Bolt affects the nature of sprinting. Perhaps we shall see more and more taller men — and women — dominate the sport in the future. Just like I expect to see more and more champions in swimming will come to resemble Phelps in their physique, so to I expect to see more and more champion sprint resemble Bolt.

We’ll see in London in 4 years whether or not I am right. 🙂

More on the photo and the success of Jamaica here: The New York Times > Sports > Slide Show

Great Photo by Chang W. Lee/The New York Times.

Running Times Pace Charts

If you go from “just finishing” a race distance to “how fast do I have to run” to beat a time of X, then you want to check out the Running Times Magazine’s Running Times Pace Charts. They have charts in both miles and kilometers, and cover the most popular race lengths.

Fall is coming soon, and with that will come long distance races. As I am getting ready to run a half-marathon, I will be definely checking it out. You might want to as well.

Heart rates and heart rate monitors


The nytimes.com has a great article on exercise, heart rates, and heart rate monitors here: The Flutter Over Heart Rate – New York Times

I am glad I read it. I have always been embarrassed about my heart rate when I run, because it gets really high. The formula of 220 – my age gives me too low a rate. In marathons I like to get it around 180, and in 5-10K I can crank it up to 200! But I always thought people would see it and say: whoa, that’s crazy! Or you are out of shape. So I kept it a secret! But when I read the article, I thought: ok, there is a wide range of possible rates, then.

I have a HRM from Polar, it’s basic (like the one above), but that’s enough to help keep me focused. If I feel tired, I will tend to slow down, and sometimes I don’t want to. The HRM helps there. But in a race, it does the opposite: it helps me keep my pace. It’s too easy to go too fast in a marathon or a half. The HRM monitor keeps me in control.