Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Using Social Media during a Run

I've used the old Nike iPod with foot sensor years ago and found attaching that much technology to myself before a run not only time consuming-where the heck did I leave that darn foot pod thingy?! to outright impossible-where does one attach the foot pod to a Vibram five finger shoe? So I ditched that whole thing, although I did like the online community, the cute avatar and seeing my progress build so a few months ago picked up the free Nike+ app for my cellphone. I used it for tracking distance but never really explored the social media features that come with it until a few weeks ago when I saw my brother tracking his runs on Facebook. As someone who works closely with emerging technologies it can be kind of hard to get excited about new technologies that simply capitalize on existing functionality to leverage a new app for my phone. That said...the Nike+ app feature that allows your friends (or anyone if you wish) to cheer you on during a run is one pretty darn cool feature. The customization options of this app is also very attractive to people (like me) who don't necessarily want everyone to know where I ran, how far or how fast but appreciate being cheered on nonetheless. From a sociological perspective I would think a study on the effects on a runner's pace or run duration as a result of their friends/family cheers might be an interesting study as more runners use this app. I say that because I've noticed I tend to stick with a tougher pace longer (or even pick my pace up a notch) than I might have without the little cheer that interrupts my music at random intervals as I run.That alone is pretty awesome and has helped me really nail a few tough speed and hill workouts these past couple of weeks. Nice job Nike!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Deciding on Matt or Karl's advice

I think alot of runners get to a point where simply finishing a race is just not enough for them anymore. Maybe they've been at this for a few months or maybe even (like in my case) years, but one day it just hits you. Gee it would be nice not to be last all the time! Personally I would rather spend 6 hours out on the trails than 8 during a 50 km. So, how does one get faster at running long distance? Run more? Run less but with more focused intensity? Both? Running legend Karl Meltzer has said in a few different interviews that he would recommend just running more, for long periods of time. Matt Fitzgerald seems to advocate a minimalist-with high intensity-approach. Is there a middle of the road?
In search for that happy medium I've been researching triathlon training plans with a focus on the run portion. No, I don't actually plan to run a full Ironman, but the high intensity approach seems to work for those who are biking 100+ kms then jumping off to run a full marathon, so would this approach work for 50 km trail running? I like the idea of all the cross training (biking and swimming) that would be built right into these plans, I think it would help reduce injury and keep the mind fresh over the long haul. Currently I just try and carve out a few hours each week to get some random strength training in and a scheduled 45 minute spin class every Monday. Oh the decisions!
I have to say, it's not like I'm looking for a shortcut to my training. Currently I'm training, either running or cross training for a total of 9 hours each week (give or take an hour or so). The triathlon plans I've looked at (the minimalist ones anyhow) have their athletes training for about 10 hours a week, so there's not much difference, only I'd be spending more time in the pool or on the bike when currently I'd be running.
I think my endurance is also something to consider, I know I can spend a day (8 hours) outside running-not at top speed mind you-but running/walking nonetheless. If I couldn't do that then I would stick with my ultra runner plan.
So I guess it comes down to my fear of missing some crucial training element by switching to a tri plan rather than sticking with my ultra runner plan. Can I get faster by running more focused, high intensity runs? Can I get myself to the middle of the pack instead of the rear in these trail races? I'll let you know :-)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Day of Interesting Studies

My mother would probably say that the universe is trying to tell me something when I have days like this. She's probably right (as she usually is). This past weekend I found out my FIL's diabetes has developed to the point where he now needs to take daily insulin. His passive attitude over the whole thing is what really frustrates my husband and I. In the past 5 years I've watched various men in my professional and personal life go through living hell when their diabetes takes this turn. One continued to do nothing to change his lifestyle when he was put on insulin for his diabetes and is now adjusting to life as an amputee, having one of his feet cut off due to poor circulation. A second slipped into a coma-while driving in morning rush hour traffic-and crashed his car. Luckily he survived (no one else was hurt thank goodness) and has taken drastic nutritional adjustments to deal with his insulin-dependent diabetes status. And then, of course, there is my own inactive, but workaholic father who just last month underwent his second eye laser treatment to try and save his eyesight in both eyes. All three of these men are examples of what can happen when you don't pay attention to your health.
So last night I got an email from the Heart and Stroke Foundation giving me a preview of the new commercial they are to air on tv. They state that in Canada, over half of elderly adults will send their last 10 years in a state of illness or injury. The video (link below) shows us we have a choice. We can be victims to our own poor health and frailty, resulting in a very sad last 10 years, or we can take control of our health, and by simply getting out and eating healthy you can enjoy your last 10. The choice truly is up to us. The most poignant image on the video for me was the side by side of the pill case and the fishing tackle box. I recalled a few weeks ago my FIL proudly showing me how organized his pills were in a huge pill container, and he was someone, who during his fight with cancer a few years ago (he is now in remission) desired nothing more than to go fishing with his grand kids  I was close to tears. Very powerful stuff Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Today I've had a few minutes to do some online reading and have encountered a bunch of interesting studies on ultra-runners (Yup-the gig is up, we're "different" from non-runners and can withstand pain better), how middle-aged fitness results in lower instances of dementia later in life (so now I can say running not only keeps my muscles healthy but my brain too) and finally an "in your face!" article that dispels the myth that running over time results in higher instances of hip replacements. Now if they could just do a study on the long term effects of running on the knee bones/instances of knee replacements in runners vs. non-runners, I would probably take out an ad in the newspaper to advertise to everyone who constantly makes that judgement on runners ruining their knees. So what do all of these studies have in common? Get up, and move, move often and not only will you live longer, you'll do it with all your marbles in tact and with stronger hip bones. Make YOUR Health Last.