Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Smartphone is Running Apps!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I ended up with a smartphone at the end of last month.  This phone is much smarter than me... and does more than my first computer ever dreamed possible.  It actually runs faster than the family computer that we just replaced in August. 
I decided to see what was out there in the way of free running apps.  I don't have a thing against paying for some, but I was curious to see what you can get for free.  I found three in the top free apps that I decided to try.  First up was Runkeeper.  It was the first app I tried and I was pretty happy with the basic functions it offers.  It lets you log time, distance, and pace.  You can also log into their website to view your data.  There is a upgrade version that you can pay for, but I was thrilled to be able to track exactly how far I was going and not relying on the NikePlus iPod feature that seemed to lie more often than not!

Second I tried out iMapMyRun.  This is the only service I had heard of prior to my smartphone purchase.  A few local races here use MapMyRun as the mapping service for their race website.  My complaint with it is that for some reason, my computer hates to load their maps and always comes up with a "navigation cancelled" page.  I end up going to races not having a clue as to what the course is.  It also let you log the time, distance, and pace and had the bonus feature of looking at a map of where you have been.  I ran into the same problem looking at my map... "navigation cancelled".  If anyone knows what is causing this, I would be more than happy to listen!

Last up was an app called Runtastic.  It appears to be from Europe as I had to tell it I wanted everything in miles and not kilometers.  You also get the basic times, distance, and pace, but additionally are able to view your course map and make notes about how you felt on your run, what the weather was like, what surface you were running on, and what the temperature was.  There is also a countdown of 15 seconds before you start your run.  This is great for me as I can get my phone put in my pocket easily before my run starts.  You are then able to view all of this on their website, which, again threw me off because it is all in kilometers.  I like the fact that when you view your stats after running, it tells you what your pace for each mile was as well.  I can tell that I usually start off slow and get faster.  Maybe it's my normal 4:30am start time?  I guess I have to wake myself up! 

As you might have guessed, I decided to keep the Runtastic app on my phone.  It seems to give the most bang for my buck (or lack thereof since I didn't pay for it!). I was pretty happy with all the features it offers for free.  That and the map function works!

The one thing I have learned from all of these running apps is the need to manually turn on and off my GPS when I am not running, otherwise, the battery on my phone is sucked dry by 10am and I am scrambling to find my cord and an empty plug at work.  Runtastic reminds me that I need to enable the GPS before the run starts.  The other apps wanted to tell me this as my run was starting. 

I'm pretty happy with how this is working for my runs as really my ultimate goal for now is just to keep track of my mileage and pace.  All of the apps also mention calories burned, but I am trying to ignore that because I tend to use only to calculate how more many M&Ms brussel sprouts I can eat.  I noticed that all of these have paid upgrades and even "pro" versions which look like they make use of heart race monitors and such.  I probably should care about heart rate, but for me it's just one more thing that I don't want to mess with right now.  Or maybe I just don't understand why I should care.  I suppose that's why my name isn't Kara Goucher.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Run to Eat or Eat to Run?

It's no secret that I like to eat.  But, I think it's also no secret that I like to fit into my jeans.  And Daughter has also instilled in me the fear of large underwear.  She has told me that she never wants to be big because she didn't want to fold large underwear.  I had never thought of it that way, but, yeah, I don't want to have to fold large underwear either!  This is where meal planning and running come together.

Sorry for the sideways photo... Blogger is a bear sometimes!
I don't know if nutrition can be considered a hobby, but in a weird sort of way, I think it has become mine.  I get a basket of fruits and veggies every two weeks from Bountiful Baskets.  You can end up with lots of common foods in your basket, like apples and lettuce, or lots of odd things, like salad savoy or persimmons.  I consider it a challenge to figure out how to eat all of it. I'm paying for it, and think the nutritional variety is great, so I might as well get the full benefit out of it!  I bring home all the fruits and veggies and really can't wait to start cooking and preparing.  I'm not sure if my family is grateful for it... there have been a few failures... well, maybe more than a few, but I'm grateful that they are game to try some more.  Either that or they just don't want to make their own dinner!

I also feel that by trying to make good nutritional choices, my running performance will be enhanced.  Maybe I won't be as tired.  Or have enough energy to sprint that last half mile.  At the very least I won't feel like a bag of rocks is in my stomach while running.

On the flip side, because I eat all these fruits and veggies AND run, I feel justified in eating waaaaaay too many sweets.  My sweet tooth is a little out of control sometimes. Well, a lot of the time.  Like if there is anything mint chocolate around.  Or if I find a stray M&M on the floor.  Pathetic I know.  It's best just not to buy it in the first place and then I won't be tempted.  And run lots.  Because I think - wow - I just ran four miles... that's equal to around 400 calories... so, like four cookies?  Or a very large ice cream.  Self control is so very hard.

Do you run to eat or eat to run?  A little of both?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Running Errands


I hate running out of the way errands.  Even if it is close to home.  My city is a victim of urban sprawl, and to go most places, you need a set of wheels.  Car wheels preferably because though they advertise that this city is bicycle friendly, I see lots of debris filled bike lanes, impatient drivers, and have known too many people hit by cars on a bike.

This means I kind of jump at the chance to run errands by foot every so often.  Today was the "overdue library book" errand.  It was my third day of a three day grace period.  I hadn't even cracked the book open to know what it was about, so I really didn't want to pay fines on something I had ignored for three weeks.  But, I had no plans to drive in the area towards our local library - about a mile from home.  I did have plans to go on a run that direction though!  Running with a book for a mile really isn't as bad as it seems.  I think if I had to go any farther, a running backpack would have been in order, but one book for one mile wasn't any worse than a water bottle!  Of course, once I got rid of the book, it made the run all the more enjoyable.  I did wonder what the drivers around me were thinking because someone running with anything in their hands is pretty strange around here.

I don't "run" errands that often, but I have been known on occasion to return movies or buy a very small grocery item (spinach comes to mind).  It makes me feel like I'm doing my small part to use less gas and it gives me a "real" reason to run (do I really need any other reason other than general health and happiness though?!). 

Have you ever "run" errands?  What was your best errand ever run?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Finds!

While I've been coughing my self silly this week (and not running a bit), I've had plenty of time to surf the internet...

(Please don't let this be me when I someday get to run a marathon!!!)

Hotlegs Runner is giving away an iFitness belt this week... I think it looks like something I would use... and it's cute too!

(Just) Trying is for Little Girls is giving away a Alpine Weight Loss Secrets book.  In the review she gives, it makes it sound like a book I would like to read... and probably should!

Running with Boys is giving away a $40 gift certificate to CSN stores.  They have a bunch of cool fitness gear you could use this towards.  Or you could do something really responsible and "mom-like" and buy a faucet or something.  I'm not sure which I would do. 

With any luck, sometime soon the cold medicine will wear off and I will feel like normal again.  I'm hoping for this weekend.  It's been so nice outside - around 70ºF and I am in sitting on the couch!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just when I thought it was safe...

I work with kids.  I live with kids.  I work with kids at church.  I see kids at the grocery store.  They are all around me!  I was just thinking the other day that I was so lucky to have not gotten sick this year considering all the kids I am around... especially the 120 kindergartners at work! 

And then I woke up with a prickly throat.  Which developed into a cough.  A big, ugly, mean cough.


I hate coughing.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine has been emailing me about participating in a half marathon at the end of March.  She tells me it's lots of hills.  I told her the most I'd run in a while was eight miles.  She assured me that if I could do eight now, I'd have no problem doing this race.  I told her I'd think about it and gave myself a January 31st deadline (the price increases after this!). 

I've found out after thinking about it the past couple days, that one cannot make a decision like this when all one wants to do is sit on the couch and read a book.

Hopefully I'm better soon so I can think rationally about what I could be getting myself into!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Over the (dry) river and through the (mesquite) woods...

I wasn't trying to get to grandmother's house as my post title suggests, this was the story of my run today!  Instead of taking my normal route, when I saw this sign, I turned the other way, and, yes, ran into more construction in the opposite direction taking me through detours of parking lots and major intersections.  I did run through a mesquite forest and over some dry riverbeds as well.  While it wasn't a bad run - it was actually very good - I didn't have any idea how far I'd really gone until I pulled out my phone with a running app going and discovered I'd already gone almost 4 miles.  Since I'd only been planning on 6 or so, it was time to turn around.

My question... It's finally nice outside here.  I don't melt into the pavement when I step outside.  In fact, my run this morning was at (gasp) 10am and it was still coolish out.  Why oh why did the county decide that this would be a great time to do trail maintenance?  I looked at their website and parts of this trail are going to be under construction/maintenance through the end of February!!  Really people, July afternoons would have been a much better time!  It would have saved lots of money through not renting barricades because no sane person ventures out of air conditioning then. 

Running the other direction, I noticed an office building and employees outside taking a break.  It got me wishing that I worked there - I could run on my lunch hour!  How cool would that be?  In my current job, there isn't time or an area to run, after all, the school playground is already crowded with adrenaline filled children, from which I need a break, so probably not my best option.  Too bad those employees were outside were smoking.  On the running path.  Really?  Is this necessary?

And, no construction diverted run would be complete unless I also had a music problem as well.  Internet based radio sounds like a great idea.  Maybe I should have tried it out sooner than while I was running?  It kept stopping due to mysterious error codes.  Though the 80's alternative station I was listening to was bringing back some fun music memories!  Daughter heard about this when I got home and promptly downloaded Pandora for me.  Hopefully it works much better!

Lessons learned: 1) Running new paths is good.  Time goes quickly and new routes challenge my mind.  2) Try out new technology before leaving the house.  Not while walking around the block to warm up.  No matter how easy it seems like it will be, it will have a couple of bugs to work out.

Looking forward to another long(er) run on Monday since I'm off for Civil Rights Day!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Midweek Motivation!

I have a hard time getting up to run in the middle of the week.  Monday is great because I'm pretty well rested and relaxed from the weekend.  Friday is great because there is spring in my step knowing that I just have to coast through the day, and the weekend is mine.  Wednesday and Thursday mornings I have issues with.  Especially when it's cold and dark. The bed seems to have giant magnets under it pulling me back in.

This week my Midweek Motivation came in the form of going with Husband to a movie.  Hood to Coast was a movie I had gotten a few emails about and it piqued my curiousity.  It seems like I had heard of the race, but couldn't remember if I had paid much attention.  I managed to get kid driving around duty covered for the evening, dinner cooked early, and we were off! 

It was a one night premiere of the movie.  They spent some time going "live" showing the "stars" of the movie arriving and spoke with a few of them.  I really think they could have skipped that because I didn't know any of these people, and only learned who they were by watching the show. 

I was pretty interested in the story of how this relay unfolds.  From the team that was pretty much untrained and joked their way through the race to the elites that showed up and were organized down to the very last shoelace, I thought the filmmakers did a good job of taking us step by step through the race.  In fact, it made me want to run from my chair and sign up for the next Hood to Coast.  But I can't... I just checked the Hood to Coast website and found out that I should have signed up back in October!

For the record, doing a relay like this sounds like a lot of fun.  I know there is a Ragnar in my state, if I had eleven more people that were willing to get it off the ground, I would be there!  I haven't stayed up all night since, well, college?  Or was it the baby with chicken pox?  More likely the second one.

That thought got me up on Wednesday morning to go put in some miles in the dark!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Team Brenton Fun Run Results

I didn't get as many photos as I had hoped... mostly my fault, I should have publicized this much earlier - which I did last year and the "event" was well attended!

Anyway - kudos go out to Paula in Florida.... Who had this really great idea of taking the 2010 photo AND the 2011 photo - why didn't I think of that???

Brett in Arizona participated too.  Treadmills work great - esp at midnight when it is cold outside!

And Ann in Utah did it as well - she was going to send me a picture, but lost her camera at the zoo, and then decided that you guys probably didn't want to see a photo of her six months pregnant running and swimming which were her choice of activities.  I think she looks like she could be doing it here while pulling her kids around!

Thanks to all who participated! I'm happy that 100 Friends benefited and we got some New Year's fitness out of it!  Plan now to participate in the 2011/2012 version!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sometimes you just have to run...

This should not be on the front page of my local newspaper.  These things happen in other cities, other states, far away, where I can be sympathetic and sad and then go on with my life.  These things should not happen four miles from my house.  At a grocery store I have frequented often over the years.  And especially at one that I was planning on going to yesterday morning at about the same time all of these surreal horrors were happening.  I didn't go.  Daughter is learning to drive and I decided that it is too early in her driving career to tackle such a major intersection.  We went home instead, and I went on to a different grocery store, not knowing the castastrophe that I had missed being involved in.

Once I heard about it, like many others, I was shocked and hurt.  I hadn't gone on my planned morning run, but decided, most out of character for me, to go on a late afternoon run.  Because I could. Because my family was safe.  Because I wasn't put through the horrors of living through a shooting incident.  Because I needed time to think and grieve for all the families who had their lives changed forever yesterday. 

Runnning is for health, exercise, and fun.  Sometime it's about mental clarity.  For sorting your thoughts and feelings out. How many other people have a hobby that can be used for so many things?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Finds!

I'm always coming across cool running related gear, giveaways, and other interesting running related items as I surf the 'net each week.  It's hard to make my teenagers appreciate the value of these things... it's a good thing I have this blog so I can share with an interested audience! 

Here are my favorite finds from this week...

Barefoot Angie is giving away a Running Chics outfit...check it out - and while you're there, see how amazing she is to run barefoot - something I admire greatly, but can't fathom doing myself!

Runner's World is giving away Salomon trail gear every day in Jaunary.  Just remember to check in the next day to see if your name was drawn.  I wouldn't say no to new gear!

Mom.Wife.Fitness.Life is giving away a Moving Comfort Bra.  While I don't have most of the issues that women who run encounter as far as bras and support go (*cough*chest of a 12yr old boy*cough*), I do appreciate a good bra anyway!

I found this cute picture frame over at Run Momma Run.  I could totally see that in my house.  Time to start saving my pennies!

Last week while I was out doing family activities while on break, I got to stop in the running store on the other side of town... mostly because it was next door to the ice cream shop we were at... but they had these cool shirts... I was tempted, but decided against it because I didn't think I wanted the lime green or the orange that they had in stock.  Of course, I find them on Amazon in black.  As much as I love Amazon, I really should go back and find out if the running store had it in black in the back room.  I want to support local running as much as I can.  Unfortunately it's a half hour drive back.  My wallet will probably thank me in the long run.

Don't forget, if you haven't sent me your New Year's Run pictures yet, please do... teambrenton4 (at) gmail (dot) com.  I understand how hard it is to plug your camera into your computer to get the photos, I have the same problem myself, but I would love to be able to post them next week!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


The history of calculating my running mileage...
When I started running, I went by what the car odometer told me. 

Then I started running places I couldn't drive my car, like running/bike paths.  I found online maps that told me how far I was going.

I ended up with a Nike Plus to plug into my iPod nano.  I didn't trust it just because my same every morning 4 mile run could be listed anywhere from 2.92 miles to 4.1 miles.  I mostly used it as a history of when I had run so I could keep track of mileage someplace else.

Now, I have graduated from a dumb phone to a smart phone and am discovering the many free running apps that the world has to offer.  I am trying a few out to see which I like most, but what they all seem to have in common is that my tried and true 4 mile morning run is not 4 miles.  It is 3.85 miles.  All of this time I thought I was running 4 miles and it was just not true!

Luckily, it's a very fixable problem.  I ran down my street just a tad further this morning and came in at exactly 4 miles without even really trying.  I wish all problems were this easy to remedy! (Getting kids to do homework comes to mind first)

Do you have a running/exercise app that you think I'll use?  I'd love to try it out!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Running into 2011

We are a day in and I already feel like I'm behind!  Since Husband and I are off from work for the holidays, we decided to take the kids and do some fun things yesterday instead of me being the responsible mom type person who should have stayed home and gotten the house and my life ready to go back to work on Monday.  Oh well.  We had fun doing it!  And, I blackmailed got everyone to help me clean up Christmas when we were done.  It looks a lot less crowded around here now!

Husband and I before our New Year's Run.  It was 29ºF, which is frigid for our part of the country!
Did you run Friday into Saturday?  Sadly, I fell asleep and had to be woken up by Husband and practically jumped into my running clothes to make it so I would be running at midnight!  Long gone are the days when I could stay up as long as I wanted!  But, we did make it out to run (yay) and it was neat as always running through our neighborhood with the Christmas lights on and people out wishing "Happy New Year".  There were fireworks involved this year as well since my state just legalized them.  There were quite a few people out showing their appreciation with small explosions for the new year!

If you participated in the Team Brenton run, please email your photos to me at teambrenton4 (at) gmail (dot) com so that I can recognize you and get them posted here. 

Goals for 2011:

*Run 1000 miles.  Yes, it sounds like a lot, but I have broken it down and it calculates out to just under 20 miles per week.  I was only 150 miles away from this goal in 2009, so I know it is possible, I just have to (mostly) get my lazy self out of bed in the mornings and do it!  I am going to sign up for the challenge at Tall Mom's blog to keep me motivated! I believe she is opening the registration on 1/3/11.

* Cross train.  This is an ugly word for me.  I don't mind the activity once I am doing it, I just hate taking time away from running to do it.  My choices for cross training that I am committing to are swimming and spinning.  I am going to alternate weeks of going to swim laps and spin class.  I don't want to commit to both in the same week... yet.  Let's see how this goes.  It will probably be the hardest thing I do this year.

* Continue Pilates.  I've been doing it four months now, and while I am not any good at it, I think it's making me a stronger runner, hence my Turkey Trot 5K PR... which really happened without much other training on my part. 

* Run a 5K in under 24 minutes.  Can I shave 8 seconds off my time this year?

* Plan for a marathon.  I have a long standing goal with myself to run a marathon before I'm 40.  Thirty eight is happening this year.  I think it's time to figure out which one, how to pay for it, and, most importantly, how to do the 16 weeks leading up to the marathon without sending my family into a complete tailspin!

Off and running!  Here's to a fit and fast 2011!