Hittin' the pavement

It’s unnatural for people to run around the city streets unless they are thieves or victims. It makes people nervous to see someone running. I know that when I see someone running on my street, my instincts tell me to let the dog go after him.” – Mike Royko

Something in me has developed a serious aversion to intentional exercise. My figureing is that no task should be torturous. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing.

As much as Cassie loves being outdoors and being active, my belief has always been that exercise (i.e. running) just for the sake of health is tedious and boring.

My perception of this has not changed.

However, I have started a program called couch to 5k. It’s a beginning runner’s program designed to train someone who spends no time running or exercising to be able to run a 5k in nine weeks.

If this were just a walking/jogging program that would make me a slave to a stopwatch, I wouldn’t spend ten seconds on it. But this is a little different for a couple reasons.

First, I’m listening to a podcast while running. Actually, it’s a little more than that. It’s a podcast designed specifically for this program by Robert Ullrey. It’s already measured out the times that I’m supposed to walk and the times I’m supposed to spend running so that I’m getting an audio cue of when I need to start and stop. As a bonus, Robert is very motivational in encouraging the listener to push through the tougher parts of the routine.

Right now I feel like an mp3 player with this podcast would be more than sufficient to help anyone through this program. The podcast makes it entertaining to do this. But the other tool I’m using makes it fun to look back at what I’ve done: my iPhone. Now, on it’s own, the iPhone can only track where you are through the use of its Maps application. But I’ve downloaded another app (and a free one!) called RunKeeper.

RunKeeper does a couple things for me. First, it keeps track of lots of statistics. Time, distance, time spent on each mile/km, speed, and elevation, RunKeeper tracks them all for me. And beyond that, it maps all of this information out for me on the RunKeeper website.

This is super rad

First, there’s the map that tracks my route. Then, below that, there is a sweet graph that tracks my speed (in blue) and elevation (in green). Below that is an area that displays notes that I want to make about this session, an area to share the URL of this data, and a table of how long each mile took (The last mile in all of these tables is extrapolated from the average speed in that mile so far. As the couch to 5k program takes you through a five minute cooldown walk at the end that last mile’s time is going to seem high unless I stop the program right after I finish the last round of running).

Finally, looking at all of this data after I finish has a very satisfying psycological effect. No, I couldn’t run a marathon (let alone a 5k) right now if I tried. But I’m progressing, and that’s something!

For the curious, I’ve shared out my run from this morning. You can view all of the gritty details here (a note: my speed and elevation and mile times are not accurate as I did not set up the GPS piece properly this morning. The route taken, distance and overall time are all correct).