Racers On Your Mark, Get Ready, Get Set, Go

Running 1 Comment »

The big day is finally here.  Well it will be tomorrow, the 2008 St. Jude Memphis Marathon.  It’s bitter sweet.  Although I’m very excited about finishing tomorrow, I’m somewhat sad. I’ve spent the past 5 months training, 11 if you include the Germantown Marathon (when I got sick two weeks before the race). After tomorrow, there won’t be anything to train for until March.

Well, I’m sure that I’ll find something to train for, or take that time to find a new power song.

For those of you who are braving the cold weather, enjoying the sunshine, the cold beer afterwards, and having your spirit lifted by the patients, parents, and loved ones at St. Jude . . . GOOD LUCK!!!!

Only 21.097 km (13.1 miles) to go.

Going for Gold (Update)

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Last month we interviewed Jordan Desilets, a US 3,000m Steeplechase athlete who was participating in the US Olympic Trials. Jordan took part in the 3km Steeplechase final at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon yesterday afternoon and finished in 8th place with a time of 8:38.84, missing out on a spot in the US Olympic team by just 17 seconds.

Watch the Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase Final, US Olympic Trials

The top three finishers, Anthony Famiglietti (8:20.24), William Nelson (8:21.47), and Joshua McAdams (8:21.99) will all represent the United States at the Beijing Olympics which begin on August 8. We wish Jordan and the three Olympic qualifiers the best of luck for the future.

Run to the Beat

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Run to the Beat

Listening to music via your iPod when you run is more than just multitasking or an opportunity to listen to music you simply enjoy. There’s actually a science behind how music can motivate and inspire a runner to greater achievement.

Recent research has shown that although music does not reduce the perception of effort during high intensity runs, it does improve the experience of the run. So while listening to music will not necessarily make a run any easier, it’s likely that the overall experience will be pleasurable, and may even trick the mind into believing that your body is not as fatigued as it really is.

Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at Brunel University and head of the Music in Sport Research Group, has been investigating the influence of music on exercise performance for almost 20 years. He is so convinced of the positive effects of music while running that he has helped mastermind Run to the Beat. This unique, half marathon race will take place in London on October 5 which aims to be the first race of its kind that will play carefully selected music at 16 points along the event’s 13-mile route in order to motivate and inspire runners.

“Our research has shown that lively, upbeat music stimulates the part of the brain associated with locomotion - the motor cortex,” says Costas Karageorghis. “It also needs to have a strong rhythm and, ideally, should have some association with physical activity, either through the lyrics or by association.”

Simply listening to fast music on its own however won’t magically make you become a fast runner. To really benefit, runners should listen to music with a tempo similar to the pace at which they intend to run, so that a runner’s stride can be synchronized with the rhythm of the music. A perfect example of this was when two-time 10km Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie, from Ethiopia, reputedly listened to the song Scatman by Scatman John when Gerbselassie broke the world indoor 2km record 1998. This song has around 135 beats per minute.

So next time you’re preparing your playlist in iTunes before you go out on a run, make sure your music is carefully selected. Good tunes with the right bpm might not only make your run more enjoyable, but may even shave a few extra seconds off your personal best.

More information:
Run to the Beat race site
Tune in, work out (The Guardian newspaper)

The Human Race

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The Human Race

What if all Nike+ runners could run in the same race, on the same day, no matter where they are in the world? The flexibility of Nike+ gives runners of all abilities the opportunity to do this. The race, to be known as The Human Race, will be taking place on August 31, 2008.

The 10km (6.21 miles) event will unite over a million Nike+ runners from all around the world in not just a battle of fitness, speed and stamina, but also a battle to raise money for three well known charities - The UN Refugee Charity, The Lance Armstrong Foundation, and the World Wildlife Fund. Each participating Nike+ runner can choose a charity to represent while they run, and every step in the race will earn money towards their selected charity. Starting in July, the Nike+ Web site will also allow runners to accept and manage personal donations from friends, family and colleagues.

400mToGo.com will be participating in this historic event, will you? More info and sign-up here.

5 Ways to Cheat at Nike+ Challenges

Challenges, Nike+, Running, Technology 11 Comments »

Gasp! You mean you can cheat technology?! You can, yes, but it’s not only morally wrong, it also won’t help you to become a better runner. We weren’t sure whether to publish this article or not because we certainly don’t condone any of these tactics, but just to prove that it is possible for an insidious runner to cheat the system and to highlight potential cheating with the Nike+ system, we’re going to share these ideas with you.

    Can’t be bothered to run, but you want to win a challenge? Simply use the Nike Plus Edit Web site to quickly create an XML file based on your imaginary 50-mile run before work today. Add the XML file to your iPod, and then before you know it, iTunes has uploaded your mileage to your open challenge(s). Pure evil personified! ;)
    Did your run not go so well today? Wanted to run 10 miles but only ran two? No problem! Edit your most recent run before you upload it to Nike+, and trick iTunes into publishing your pretend workout!
    Calibrate your Nike+ incorrectly, on purpose. Tell your iPod that you are going to calibrate over one mile, but only run half a mile. Oh how impressed your friends will be when you slash your personal bests by 40% over the space of a few days!
    Why use one iPod when you can have two, or even three?! Attach a sensor to each running shoe and BOOM! A 10-mile run suddenly becomes a 20-mile upload. Slightly expensive, admittedly, but people with a lot of money are probably more likely to cheat than those who do not, don’t you think?
    This is the least serious way to cheat as technically, it does involve exercise that you are responsible for. Simply wear your Nike+ device wherever you go! Walking around the house, strolling around the mall or the grocery store, all those footsteps soon add up! But why stop the evilness there? If a friend or a relative is going out somewhere, attach your chip to their shoes and ask them to record their mileage on your behalf!

Remember, you can cheat all you want online, but when it comes down to that real race against real people, we will all know who has been telling the truth and who has not. Be warned! :)

To Race or Not to Race?

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For the past three and half months I’ve been working toward my goal of running the Germantown Half marathon. Despite some ups and downs, I was on track with my progress and on my way to another half marathon under my belt. Unfortunately, I got sick, along with what seems to be everyone else I know, and wasn’t able to run consistently for about two weeks. Once I finally was able to run again, I knew that I had to ease back into it or risk 1) getting sick again 2) injuring myself.

With the race only two and half weeks away, I knew I had a tough decision ahead of me. To race or not to race? I talked to Scott about my dilemma and he encouraged to me to push through and finish what I started and worked hard for. Last week, for better or for worse, I had to make the decision to not run it. Though I feel I would have been able to finish, I think that I would have done more harm than good. I kept thinking about what I’ve read and been told concerning pushing yourself too hard. The reason why I had shin splints was because I had increased my mileage too fast. I can’t forget that my big goal, the REAL goal, is to finish the marathon in December. I have a long way to go, definitely more than 400 meters, and I want make sure I cross that finish line.

Since I’ve made that decision to not run the Germantown Half marathon, I’ve fully recovered from my illness, completed my first 100 miles with Nike+, set two personal records for the mile and had better overall runs. I feel I’ve turned a corner in my training and have had a renewed love for running and training. Spring is in the air and with that comes new life. So lace up your shoes, grab your Gatorade, hit that center button, and log some miles.

A Marathon Application

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A Marathon Application

My good friend and fellow Nike+ challenger Derek, who currently averages 80 miles per month, applied to run in this year’s Flora 2008 London Marathon. I was surprised to learn that Derek was turned down and would not be allowed to participate this year. “You keep winning the Nike+ challenges; you’re too good for us,” they said. I’m kidding about that quote of course, but I’m not joking about the decision.

It did not even cross my mind that runners had to apply to enter. I’m so used to running in fairly small local events that I thought runners just paid their money to register, and then show up on the day of the race. Not so for the London Marathon! I was quite shocked by this realization.

I have fond memories of watching the London Marathon each year on TV, as it is always shown live each April by the BBC on a Sunday morning. It’s a national, televised event that raises a lot of money for charity, most notably by a large number of runners who wear wacky and colorful costumes, competing not only to complete 26.2 miles, but also to see who can get on TV. So if “Wacky Steve” from Liverpool, dressed as a giant, yellow banana can be allowed to run the London Marathon in eight hours, surely the race organizers should let Derek from Birmingham, with a likely 4 hour 30 minute finish time, take part. Think again.

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Beauty in the Details

Running 5 Comments »

Now isn't that a coincidence?!

Had Jeremy and I registered in advance for the Bartlett 5k race, we would have been assigned a random race number to wear on race day. By registering in person the night before the race however, we were able to make a request for a specific race number. And, what was one of the numbers we requested? The image of Jeremy above wearing the actual race number is obviously a big clue, but yes, you’ve guessed it, the number was 400, to tie in with “400m To Go!” It was an opportunity too good to miss. :-)

The Whole is Greater than the Sum of the Parts

Nike+, Running Add a Comment »

I ran with Jeremy in the Bartlett Valentine 5k race yesterday and it was a great day for many reasons. In contrast to the deadly tornadoes we experienced earlier this week in Memphis, the weather was perfect - sunny and approximately 50˚F, very warm by Memphis’ standards for February. It was the first time I stood on the start line with a friend. Typically, I’ve always run by myself in the handful of 5k races I’ve previously participated in, but spending the morning with Jeremy prior to the race really helped settle nerves and put me in a positive frame of mind.

I won this race in my age category (Male 30-34) this time last year with a time of 23′30″, so I felt a little pressure to match my performance this year. I felt prepared, endurance-wise, because I had been concentrating almost exclusively on long distance running recently, but, that extra, slower mileage was at the sacrifice of my speed work. So if I had any negative thoughts or doubts in my mind going into this race, it was in relation to how well I could incorporate sprinting into my race tactics despite not training for it.

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My Suburban 5k Shuffle

Nike+, Running 1 Comment »

I ran my second race this morning, the 11th Annual Bartlett Parks & Recreation Valentine’s Day 5k. I’ve run the 5k distance plenty of times since graduating from the Couch to 5k program, but it seems like a completely different animal when I’m running an honest-to-goodness race.

I was nervous and excited the night before the race, and I had a case of pre-race jitters all morning long, but when I got out on the course I calmed down quite a bit. I kept up a nice steady pace and had just enough juice left at the end to really pick up some speed and charge across the finish line.

I haven’t gotten back my official time yet, but the Nike+ iPod says I ran the race in 31′33″, a pace of just over 10′ per mile, beating my time in my last 5k race by more than 3 minutes! It was an exciting run, a good, solid 5k time, and a great experience.

Update: Official results are in!  My official time was 31′30”, very close to my Nike+ recorded time.  I came in 10th in my age group and 126th overall!  Not bad for a former couch potato, eh?