Training to Ruin a Marathon

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This week’s Onion includes a running related opinion column that’s too funny to pass up.  It’s a piece that describes the trials and hardships involved in training for “the ultimate physical challenge: ruining a marathon.”

“Now, I know what you’re thinking. Sure, everyone would like to ruin a marathon, but who among us has the discipline and energy to get up at the crack of dawn morning after morning, through rain, sleet, and snow, and practice handing out cups of vinegar to the frontrunners? Me, that’s who. Yes, there are some mornings when it’s darn near impossible to keep going—when you feel like you just can’t chip one more pothole in the course with a pickax. But endurance ruining is all about pushing through the pain. And when the big day comes, and you make it over that final hurdle, dodge the cops, and shove an old guy into the bushes, you’ll know all that training was worth it.”

Head over to The Onion to read the full article.

Mini Me

News, Nike+, Websites 6 Comments »

MINI Me - Cory

Man, it’s been so long since I’ve had time to sit down and write I almost forgot my login. Nonetheless, I was able to navigate the archives in my head to bring you what I humbly believe is one of the greatest features of the Nike+ site. No, it’s not the new online training program (the one that will set a custom training program up for you), nor is it any of the various widgets that are available for download (desktop and screensaver flavors). It’s the “My Nike+ Mini“, truly the greatest thing since sliced bread.

To begin the creation of your little sidekick, click on the “My Nike+ Mini: Create Your Own” image, in the lower right-hand corner of the Nike+ website, beneath the “Last Run” dashboard (If you can’t find the link, try looking under the “Runs” menu). From there, the creation wizard makes it easy to customize the look of your Nike+ Mini. You’re able to customize from a stock selection of hair, eyes, mouth, nose, shoes, clothing and even facial hair.

After you’ve created your “Mini Me”, you have the option to download it as a screensaver or to add it as a widget to your Facebook account. All the more reason to pick up an iPod nano and a Nike+ Sport Kit. Who needs challenges when you can create a flash version of yourself? Note: likeness will vary.

I hope this is just a sample of many new features to come from the Nike+ website.

Taking Advantage of the Nike+ API

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Using the Nike+ website to track your runs is fast, easy, and rewarding. Go on a run, upload your data, and you’ve got immediate access to graphs, analysis, run comparisons, and more - everything a gadget runner could want. Well, maybe not everything.

There are those who take issue with the manner in which Nike displays the uploaded run information. The run graphs are pretty, but they’re not terribly accurate. The site is 100% Flash, as are the widgets that they provide for your blog (see the 400mToGo challenges page, for example). It frequently takes hours before your run data is reflected in your challenges. I could go on.

If you’re unhappy with what Nike+ provides, and you’re geeky enough (or determined enough) to strike out on your own, there are a couple of options. While Nike+ doesn’t advertise their API (correct me if I’m wrong on this one), a public API does exist. Every bit of the run data that you upload to the Nike+ site is available for retrieval, for you to do with as you will.

Runner+

An excellent example of the Nike+ API in action is Runner+, a third party website for Nike+ data analysis. While they use the same data that the Nike folks do, they present it a little differently, the biggest difference being in the way they chart your runs. Runner+ also features personal profiles, lively forums, challenges, and running groups. The team and the community over at Runner+ are a great bunch of folks. I highly recommend visiting.

If you’d rather strike out on your own, below are three options to consider.

Nike+ iPod Stats Wordpress Plugin

Mark Rickert over at ear-fung.us has whipped up the Nike+ iPod Stats WordPress plugin that will display your stats on your WordPress blog. Mark has provided excellent instructions for getting the plugin up and running, including a copy-and-paste code snippet to insert in your template for those who aren’t comfortable typing in the code themselves.

Rasmus Lerdorf’s NikePlus API

For those of you who are confident in your coding skills and want more control over the display and analysis of your data, PHP’s very own Rasmus Lerdorf put together a PHP5 implementation of the Nike+ API. Grab the code here, read his comments about Nike+, including brief comments on the API, here, and check out another write up, with an example of the SimpleXML object the code returns, here.

Eric Wroolie’s C#Nike+ API

For those who are more comfortable on the .NET side of the house, Eric Wroolie has put together an implementation of the Nike+ API in C#. Included is a discussion of the difficulties he faced in getting the code to work along and some code snippets. While the full implementation isn’t linked in the article, Eric has kindly offered to email it to anyone who requests a copy.

Map Your Runs With An Online Pedometer

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Back in the day, if you wanted to map a running route by distance, you had a couple of options: drive a route and track mileage with your odometer, grab a map, a ruler, and a calculator, or pick a route that was measured by someone else and hope their calculation was correct. Thankfully, with the advent of online mapping, that’s no longer the case. Route planning, mapping, and distance calculation is now a simple matter of a few clicks of the mouse.

So, what’s a pedometer anyhow? According to this Wikipedia article, a pedometer is “a device . . . that counts each step a person takes by detecting the motion of their hips” in order to calculate distance traveled. I guess that means an online mapping tool that calculates distance traveled isn’t really a pedometer, but now I’m just being pedantic.

Seeing as how each of the three online pedometers below is a Google Maps mashup, the “best” tool becomes a matter of personal preference.

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Insights on Training from ‘Get Fit Slowly’

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J.D. of Get Fit Slowly has decided that he wants to run a marathon, and he posted this past weekend about his first day of marathon training. J.D. is a great writer and the post was a lot of fun to read, but what struck me about the post were the important lessons about training I learned by reading between the lines.

Seek Guidance from Those in the Know

Have you set a training goal for yourself? Awesome! Do you know what it’s going to take to accomplish your goal? If not, don’t be afraid to do a little research and to ask for guidance when and where you need it.

“To meet this goal, I need help. I need a coach. Fortunately, Mac’s wife, Dr. Pam, is able and willing to offer her help. She’s Coach Pam to me now.”

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The Diabetic Runner 2008 Challenge

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Diabetic Runner 2008 Challenge

Jamie, the Diabetic Runner, has put together two running challenges for the Diabetic Runner 2008 Challenge: the DR1K and the DR5H.

“I started this challenge for the vast community of blogging runners and diabetics. I’m hoping to inspire many to do great things, to push themselves to extraordinary heights, and to raise awareness of diabetes, and the United Nations’ designated “World Diabetes Day” held every year on November 14th.

…And no, you don’t have to be diabetic to join the challenge.”

The challenges are both year long challenges. The DR1K challenge is 1,000 miles in 2008, or about 20 miles per week. The DR5H is 500 miles, or about 10 miles per week.

I’m not diabetic myself, but Courtney’s story really got to me, and when I saw that she was involved in the DR Challenge I decided that I’d give it a go myself. I wanted to challenge myself to run more, to run harder, and I wanted to help spread the word. I chose the 500 mile challenge, and as I’ve only got about 60 miles under my belt this year, I’d better get moving!

Visit the DR Challenge page to sign up for either challenge. If you’re a Nike+ runner, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and find links to join the DR1K or the DR5H Nike+ challenges.

Good luck to all the Diabetic Challenge runners!

From Skydiving to the IronMan: Courtney’s Story

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One of the things that I love the most about Nike+ is the wide variety of people the product appeals to. Everyone has their own unique reasons for picking up a Nike+ sport kit, and sometimes those reasons are truly compelling. Such is the story of Courtney Benefiel of RidetoRemedy.com. Courtney was an athletic 11-year-old when she was diagnosed with diabetes.

“I had just finished the 4th grade when I got diabetes. In the 5th grade it was a struggle to participate in P.E. class once a week. When middle school and high school rolled around and other kids my age where complaining because they had to take P.E. I was crying because I couldn’t.”

While Courtney’s diabetes kept her from sports for many years, her dream of skydiving prompted her to take charge of her disease and take the necessary steps to be athletic once again.

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Clean your Running Gear with Lemon Juice

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Clean your Running Gear with Lemon Juice
Do you have a pair of trusty running shoes that used to be white? Perhaps a pair that looked great in the store and beautiful out of the box, but after a couple of hard miles aren’t quite as pretty as they used to be? Try restoring that “new shoe” look with lemon juice and sunshine.

You might also try freshening up those old sweats, t-shirts, and specialty running shirts with this handy tip:

Remove unsightly underarm stains from shirts and blouses simply by scrubbing them with a mixture of equal parts lemon juice (or white vinegar) and water.

There are 25 more lemony tips at 27 Household Uses For Citrus Fruit (via Lifehacker).

Running and Weight Loss

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There’s a book review in this week’s New York Times entitled “The Worst Foods in America” that reminds me of how hard it is to lose weight with exercise alone. While there’s a lot to be said for integrating exercise into a well-balanced weight management plan, if your only weapon against the flab is exercise, you’ll likely be in for some serious disappointment.

Bear with me now, I’m going to throw a couple of numbers at you. If you want to lose one pound of fat, you need to get rid of about 3,500 calories. If a new runner burns 1,000-ish calories over the course of a week (three runs of thirty minutes each, burning about 350 calories per run) they’re about a third of the way to losing their first pound. Not bad, right? Well, that depends.

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My Experience with the ‘Couch to 5k’ Plan

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My running life began a short time ago, in the last week of October 2007. I made the decision to begin running in much the same way I’ve made other important, life changing decisions: by buckling to peer pressure. I had just started a new job and made a couple of friends in the office. About that time it seemed that “everyone” in the office was talking about participating in the annual St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend. Not wanting to be left out, I decided that I too would participate in the event and began considering registering for the St. Jude Memphis Grizzlies House 5k. Considering that for the past 10 years of my life I had been, among other things, an avowed couch potato, a heavy drinker, and a heavy smoker, it didn’t exactly follow that I would be a candidate to participate in a foot race of any distance, much less a 5k jaunt in the company of accomplished runners in the dead of winter. Enter my solution, the Couch to 5k running plan.

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