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Running Inspiration on YouTube

February 10, 2010 2 comments

I obviously haven’t had much time to post lately, or to run, unfortunately, but I’m trying to get back in the running groove and I thought it might be nice to post a bunch of videos from YouTube that I think are nice and inspirational toward that goal.  Most are courtesy of Nike, but there is also a long Mizuno Running Ad in here, too.  If you have some favs that I’ve missed, post a link in the comments!

Categories: Running Tags: , ,

Starting to Run Again: Challenging the Problematic Nike+ Challenges

July 6, 2009 3 comments

Now that I’ve started running again on a semi-regular basis, I know it’ll be at least 6 months before I could possibly be in marathon shape.  I need to lose a good amount of weight that has snuck back on over the last two years, and I’m basically starting from scratch with my running.  If I could run 1 or 2 miles every day this month, it would be a huge accomplishment and put me back on track to be where I want to be in the fall.  (I logged a couple of 20 mile runs in the fall of 2007 and want to do it again this year.)

So all of this said, I decided to give the “challenges” section of the Nike+ website a try.  It’s a great concept.  Basically, you can enter into competition or “virtual races” against other runners all over the world via the website and your Nike+ stats.  You don’t need to be in the same place or even run at the same time of day.  There is a start date and an end date for the competition and joining is free.

Here are some common competitions:

“Run 40 Miles in July!” = try to run a total of at least 40 miles

“4th of July 5K” = go out and run your own 5K on 7/4/09

“Run Every Day and Lose Weight” = a group of people trying to get in better shape

I believe, if you win, you get a virtual trophy for your Nike+ account.  You can even create your own competition if you don’t see one you like.  For example, if you wanted, you could create a “Run 40 Miles in 40 Days (Must Have Been Born Before 1940)”.  So your group should only have people over the age of 69.

Here’s the problem:

I joined several challenges for low milage runners (those who are overweight, starting out, older, etc) since it’s going to be a while until I can log more than 1 or 2 miles a day at the most.  I figured some kind of challenge — actually running “against” and “with” other people — would be a great motivator.

Sounds simple, right?

Except that every challenge I joined was “over” before it started.  Every single challenge had at least one person who was logging 10 or more miles a day.  No matter what the requirements to join were (old, slow, fat, no more than 10 miles per week currently, etc), there are people joining just for the “easy win”, which is pretty crappy if you ask me.

One challenge has a GREAT leader who is kicking those “cheaters” out left and right, but none of the other groups do, so it kind of defeats the purpose.  If there’s no chance of winning, doesn’t that yank away the virtual carrot we were chasing?

This is something the creators of the challenges should definitely take more seriously, especially in the beginner and low milage groups where people need every motivation they can get.

Getting back into the running grove

November 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Yesterday was a perfect day for running.  Cool (40 degrees F), clear, no wind.

So I went out for a four mile run — part of my prep work for my official marathon training program that I’ll commence in December — and ended up running seven miles instead.  I started by running through the old neighborhood as planned, but when I reached the intersection near the house where I grew up, I felt great and I knew I had more miles in me if I wanted to push myself further.

I changed my plan and headed over to the high school and elementary school, around their large parking lots, and then through another neighborhood and up to the old cemetery, which is always a nice run, especially this time of year.

I have a hundred different routes stored away inside my head — which is funny considering how shoddy my memory usually is — and I can tell you the best way to add half a mile or subtract 2/10ths of a mile between where you are in the neighborhood and where you want to go.

For example, if I’m at the old 7/11 on the far side of the neighborhood I grew-up running in, it’s exactly 2 miles back to my current house — but I can add another quarter mile to that by turning left and going around the new grocery store, and I can subtract 3/10ths of a mile by taking a short cut to the local pub near the high school.

I always like to finish right around a mile marker, so this knowledge comes in handy.  With my Nike+ set-up there’s really no reason to try to end right on a mile, but when I was in high school and college I was just using the mix tape in my Walkman (I knew the length of every song, so when I got to “Hey Jealousy” by Gin Blossoms, I was 30 minutes into my run, for example) and my stop watch.  Ending right on a mile made it much easier to figure out what I was averaging per mile.  Old habits die hard.

By the time I got home yesterday, I was dogging it, but I felt great — like old times.  And I knew I was officially getting back into the groove when, an hour later, I was wishing I could go back out for another run.  I had set my Nike+ system to count down to 4 miles, so every mile after that, it told me I had gone another mile past my goal — a nice motivator.

Probably the only problem with Nike+, in my experience, is that I had to reset my iPod Nano to the factory settings a few months ago because Paula Radcliffe was congratulating me on running “another 500 km” after every single run.  This is a well documented problem with the Nike+, but Nike claims it is a hardware problem and not a software issue, which is pretty disappointing.  Here’s a clip of Paula promoting Nike:

And here’s “Hey Jealousy” by Gin Blossoms:

If YouTube says the Gin Blossoms video has been removed, try the direct link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxQhx4t1FmE

Until next time, thanks for reading.

A Tip For Anyone Whose iPod Is Possessed and Playing Music All On Its Own

October 10, 2008 3 comments

Here is a tip for anyone who can’t figure out why your iPod is possessed and playing music all by itself when you’re not around and when the headphones aren’t plugged in, etc.  This had been happening to mine for a couple of months, draining the battery overnight, and generally proving to be a real pain.  I finally got around to Googling the problem last week and I wanted to post the answer I found in case anyone else has the same issue.

Somehow the alarm function got turned on, so every night the iPod just started playing music at midnight.

This is easy to fix:

1) Go To EXTRAS
2) Go To CLOCK
3) Select Your Time Zone, which should be highlighted by default
4) Go to ALARM CLOCK
5) Turn the alarm OFF if you’re not using it

That should do the trick for you if you’re having the same problem I was.  Good luck!

Running in the Snow

October 6, 2008 2 comments

No, I wasn’t running in the snow this weekend, but I did get out there on Friday and Sunday, which felt very good. I’m planning to go out again tomorrow, hopefully, depending on how crazy my already crazy schedule is.  I’ve found some of the Scars on Broadway album is perfect for running; other tracks just don’t work for me for this purpose, although I like them in general.

Yesterday’s run — through a part of town with a lot of downed branches from a recent thunderstorm — got me thinking about running in the snow.

The first time I ran in the snow was in college, seven or eight years ago.  This was after the storm had already passed, and the snow was 6 inches deep and very slushy.  I don’t think I made it half a mile across campus before my legs gave out.  But I loved the feeling.  It was different and fun.

Since then, whenever I see snow starting to fall, I want to be out there running through it.  Yes, the roads and sidewalks start to get slick, but it’s hard to describe the sense of childhood freedom that rushes through you as the brisk winter air blows past your face and the snow lands on your skin and melts there and your legs burn and burn.  (Usually, by the end of my run, I’ll be soaked to the bone and my eyebrows will be heavy and thick with ice, which looks pretty freaky, I must admit.)

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been out running in the snow since college, but it’s one the reasons I’m trying to get back on track this fall.  If we have a couple of good snow storms this winter, I want to be out there in them.

One other great snow running memory: three years ago, the winter after my wife and I moved into our new house, there was a terrible snow storm that dropped a lot of ice and freezing rain along with the 2+ feet of snow.  It took us six hours to chip our way from our front porch to our car (10 feet total) and another day to finish the sidewalk and actually dig out our car.  It was like chiseling through brick.

Most of neighborhood gave up and decided to just let mother nature do the job, so for the next two weeks, many of the sidewalks were covered in snow and ice.  It was like running through an arctic tundra, and I’m not sure if I ever had more fun than I did with those first few runs before folks gave up and got out there to clear the sidewalks on their own.

The top layer was crunchy so it wasn’t too slick, but it WAS hard on the legs — like running through a rough terrain in the woods, off the trail, only with a lot more “give” under each step.   Every now and then I’d hit a section that had been cleared and that was actually tougher than the snowy sections because each afternoon some of the snow would melt into those gullies and then freeze overnight, creating sheets of ice.

I’m sure a lot of people around town thought I was a freak, but I loved every moment of it.

Anyone else like to run in the snow?

On a totally unrelated note, if you’ve ever wondered how Nike films the runners in their ads, check this out:

iTunes 8 Genius feature and The Ninja Cat

September 17, 2008 5 comments

On the cool technology front, I’m not a super geek, but I’m really liking the new “Genius” feature in iTunes 8.0, which does two things:

1) You can click on any song in your library and it’ll build a new “mix” based on that song.  Pretty cool.  The mixes I made this morning weren’t bad at all and used some stuff I normally wouldn’t (but liked).  For example, I have around 4,500 tracks in iTunes, and if I clicked on “Good” by Better Than Ezra and then clicked on the “Genius” button, it gives me this new mix:

“Good” by Better Than Ezra
“Inside Out” by Eve 6
“All Over You” by Live
“All For You (Acoustic Version)” by Sister Hazel
“Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum
“Barely Breathing” by Duncan Sheik
“My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit
“Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” by Spin Doctors
“A Lifetime” by Better Than Ezra
“You Wanted More” by Tonic
“What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” by R.E.M.
“Everything Falls Apart” by Dog’s Eye View
“Never Let You Go” by Third Eye Blind
“1979” by Smashing Pumpkins
“A Long December” by Counting Crows
“Here’s To The Night” by Eve 6
“Life Is A Highway” by Tom Cochrane
“Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” by Crash Test Dummies
“Hey Girl (live in concert)” by O.A.R.
“I Alone” by Live
“Laid” by James
“Hey Jealousy” by Gin Blossoms
“Counting Blue Cars” by Dishwalla
“How’s It Going To Be” by Third Eye Blind
“Wonderful” by Everclear

That’s certainly a mix I would listen to in the car or maybe even while running.
2) The other thing you can do with the “Genius” feature is click on any song in your music library and iTunes will load a list of songs/albums in the iTunes store that you don’t own that you might like… and it seems to be pretty accurate.  This list shows up in a new bar on the right side of the screen in real time.
When I tried it this morning, there were a bunch of songs I hadn’t heard in a long time but thought, “Hey, that would be nice to have” and some new stuff that I didn’t recognize but (when I listened to the 30 second sample) thought, “That sounds pretty cool!”

I think this free feature could end up being VERY expensive for folks.  🙂

Another example… here are the result I get using “Good” by Better Than Ezra:
TOP SONGS YOU’RE MISSING:
* “Laid” by Better Than Ezra
*  “Tremble” by Better Than Ezra
* “Wallflower” by Better Than Ezra
RECOMMENDATIONS:
* “Santa Monica” by Everclear
* “In the Meantime” by Space Hog
* “Til I Hear It From You” by Gin Blossoms (which I own but this is a different version)
*  “Far Behind” by Candlebox
* “Possum Kingdom” by The Toadies
* “Cumbersome” by Seven Mary Three
* “Low” by Cracker
* “All I Want” by Toad the Wet Sprocket
* “The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe (which I already have in a different version)
* “The Impression That I Get” by  The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

And about a dozen more… I previewed all of them and there are a lot of tracks here I’ll pick up the next time someone sends me an iTunes gift card for the holidays or my birthday.  😉

Before I go, here are a few things I’ve been reading online this week when I should have been working:

9 Weird Christmas Ornaments

How and When to Close a Credit Card

The Couch to 5k in 9 weeks running program

How Can I Change My Body Clock

And for those interested in Ninja Cats, I recommend the following video:

Great Running Week

September 7, 2008 Leave a comment

Well, I met my running goals for the week.

Tomorrow starts a new week, so hopefully I’ll keep it rolling.
For those who were asking me about Nike+, here’s a Nike commercial to show how it works:
Categories: Running Tags: , , ,
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