In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall


I’ve started running. Am I crazy? Will I be a runner? We’ll see.

I got the idea last year because so many people I know run. Although it’s a high-impact form of exercise, it appeals to me because it’s efficient. You burn calories at a higher rate than many other exercises. It also gets your heart-rate up and keeps it there.

I needed some guidance because I don’t know how to build up to running any significant distance. Running groups don’t appeal to me because you need to go somewhere at a specific time. The what I did instead was buy an app for my iPod called Couch to 5k. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. It was an eight week program that took you from nothing to a 5 km run. It started with three-minute walk/two-minute run repetitions, and that was too much for me. I tried. I failed after some three days. I then got a heck of an illness and was off work for a week. I never went back to running.

But what about the shoes? Lori took me to The Running Room to get them. Was I going to repurpose good running shoes that cost an hour of time and $175 to mere sneakers?

It turns out that my iPhone helped me answer this question with a “no.”

Nike has a $1.99 app called Nike+ GPS. Not only does it keep track of your distance, but the phone’s GPS also maps your route, calculates your pace, and keeps track of your fastest mile and kilometre. The app uploads the data to the companion web site,, where you can view all the same information in more ways. They also have challenges available if you choose to participate, as well as a number of coaching regimens.

This last feature was of particular interest when I discovered a ‘starting to run’ plan. It’s a twelve week program that takes you from nothing to being able to run for about 20 minutes. It’s not billed that way, however. I believe it’s merely preparation for the other programs, that you can use to prepare for 5 km, 10 km, half-marathon, and marathon runs.

I was intrigued, because the first day’s work out was a 1 km walk. An easy start! Further, the program was 50% longer, and not as ambitious as the Couch to 5k disaster.

20110201_nikeplusgpsSo let’s give it a try, I thought. I didn’t tell anyone when I started, but it went well. I’m now half-way through my third week and I’m increasingly confident that I just may pull it off! As you can see from the app screenshot, I’ve already got 30 km behind me. While that is an achievement for me, it is certainly not all running. Today, for example, my 1¼ km ‘run’ will involve only four minutes of actual running. Yesterday it was only one minute. It’s always changing, and from week to week, running slowly displaces the walking. It’s varied and gradual, which is exactly what I need.

When I told Lori I’d started with the Nike+ GPS app and showed her the numbers, maps, and graphs on the web site, she was amused. “You and your numbers,” she said. But she acknowledged that it’s important to know what motivates us and how to use it to our advantage. I hadn’t really thought it through, but that’s exactly how it happened.

And it continues to happen. Note my average pace. Just a second slower than 10 minutes/kilometre. When I started to take notice of that statistic, it was nearly a minute slower. I also noticed that the days in which my workout contained a run were no faster than the days in which I only walked. I realized that after I ran, I finished the work-out walking much slower than my normal place. So I’ve worked to get that number below 10 minutes, mostly by pushing my walking pace after I run. While it’s true my pace will get faster as I run for longer and longer periods, the time I spend on these workouts is more effective because I’m using the statistics to push myself, even if not in a major way. Every little bit helps.

So far it’s working out very well. The ramping up of the workouts is gentle enough that I can keep up. For example, the three-minute walk/two-minute run repetition that Couch to 5k starts with appears four weeks into the Nike program. I spend perhaps 15 minutes a day on the program, six days a week. It’s no great inconvenience. The ‘six days a week part’ sounds daunting, but it really isn’t. If I can do it, most people can. The biggest stumbling block is wanting to do it.

I’m scheduled to complete the program on April 2. I’ll get back to you then!


My unusual television proclivities


Data dearth


  1. Shawn

    I commend you for starting the program, especially in the winter. Good on you. If my knee would hold out, I just might try this as well. My biggest fear is getting to point B and not having the energy to get home. But then I would have my iPhone with me and could call for a ride.

  2. Brent

    Good for you! I love how you have found a way to keep going despite your set backs. That is an inspiration to us all!! I mean that.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén