I know that my posts may seem off-the-reservation from time to time, ranging from a review of a new type of bicycle to the hellish Spartan Sprint or a giant game of "zombie" tag. I like to write about some of the more ridiculous exercise-related activities I partake in, and I hope you enjoy reading about them.
Today, it's something a bit more accessible.
I want to start with the story of my cousin Dennis, aged 36, father of three:
On January 4, 2010, I logged my first run on my new Nike+ Sportband. It was a half-mile. I didn't feel great about it being so short, but it was a start.
27 months later, on March 17, 2012, I ran my first marathon. I added 25.7 more miles to that initial run in just over two years.
I'll be the first to tell you, I don't particularly enjoy running. However, I do enjoy the races. I also love how I feel after running. The act of running though is not all that appealing to me. But the Nike+ and the iPod are a huge (dare I say "only") reason why I keep doing it. It's great to see and record the progress you make over the years.
To date, in those 27 months, I have logged 658 miles and 95,022 calories. It is said that one pound is equivalent to about 3,500 calories, which would equate to about 27 pounds. Unfortunately I haven't quite lost that much, but I am certainly down about 12 to 14 pounds from my peak when I started this.
Dennis' story got me thinking. As a "runner" myself - though I certainly do not run marathon distances as he has - how did I get to this point?
My story started a little before Dennis', back in the summer of 2005 when I was unemployed and home from college with little to do. I started going to the gym, but I thought it was more important to burn some fat before trying to "bulk up," so to speak, though I wasn't completely dedicated to running yet. I would do the elliptical, the bikes, play some basketball, etc. But then I went back to college and did not bring my gym-going tendencies with me. Repeat the next summer into the next fall, and so on. Join a gym after college, have dedication Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, sometimes Thursday, then give it up for the weekend in an attempt to undo any progress that had been made. I was forced to abandon that gym with a job change in November 2009. It was time for a real lifestyle change.
It was time to start running - there was no getting to the gym or spending money on a membership, both perks in my eyes; there were no more barriers on the weekends. At this point, I would probably be able to post a 15 minute jog once or twice a week, and I would likely be sore afterwards. Last week I logged 29 miles over five runs. This isn't about tooting my own horn - it's about how did I get to this point?
May 24, 2010 was the first run logged on my Nike+ Sportband, actually at the recommendation of Dennis. It's a little rubber watch and a "chip" that you put in your shoe. Activate the watch when you start the run, press a button when you're finished. After a week or so, plug the detachable "link" from the watch into your computer, and you will see a graph tracking your runs, total miles, total calories, average speed, average pace, favorite day to run, favorite time of day, etc. It's both remarkable and incredibly simple. Bigger, more powerful versions exist - some have GPS tracking, others sync with an iPod and pump encouragement through your headphones - but at a mere $60, this is probably worth the investment. It is simple, easy and inexpensive.
I love it. I log every run I do, treadmill or outside. And it keeps me motivated - as Dennis indicated in his story. And this is the heart of why I run - I can see it.
There is a tangible, real total that you just logged. This isn't attempting to gauge how you look in the mirror after a week, two weeks or a month; this isn't about reading a scale every day or week, trying to judge which pounds were fat lost vs. muscle gained. This is simple - at the end of last week, I had run 29 miles at X pace. I can look back and see that I averaged runs of around three miles each in the early days of the Sportband, and now I am up around five miles a day most days. That is a real, tangible easily-accessible result. Feeling better and looking better are subjective, to a degree; this simple tracking software tells me - really - what I just accomplished. In a sense, it is the ultimate immediate gratification.
I know running isn't for everyone. It wasn't for me. It still isn't for Dennis. But we do it. I, like Dennis, have seemingly turned myself into a "runner." Neither of us have the image of the incredibly lean cross-country runner; I still have my paunch and Dennis - admittedly - may have undermined his own weight loss with "a few too many Sam Adams."
Getting motivated is the toughest part. This is the same reasons why New Years' Resolutions inevitably fail - lack of motivation and incorporating a new exercise regime into a lifestyle change. Not seeing immediate results can be very dissuading; however, with running, I can tell you on Day 1 what I ran and in what time, and I can tell you what I ran on Day 30 and in what time, and this in of itself is the motivating factor. It is real numbers and real motivation.
Can you beat your best time when you run next week? Can you run farther than you previously had? Can you run five times this week instead of three?
As Dennis said, the best parts about running are the races. With real results, every time you embark is a race against your previous records. And that is why I run.
To date, here are my totals:
(Since May 24, 2010)
227 hours and 49 minutes
Published On: March 26, 2012