Buying A Running Shoe

BrooksShoesIn a previous post from March 1st, I wrote about my need for a new pair of running shoes and my proposed selection process, such as it is. After a combination of research and happy coincidence, I ended up selecting the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11, and could not be more thrilled with my selection.

The research part was a combination of online resources and the vast staff knowledge at Dick Pond Athletics in Lisle Illinois, where I purchased the shoes. The happy coincidence was that a Groupon popped into my inbox the week I was doing my research. The offer was to purchase a $50 certificate for $25, good at any Dick Pond store and since I was already going to make a purchase there, I jumped on the offer right away.

I visited Dick Pond and discussed my needs, past experience and future plans with the staff. They had me try on a few different pairs for sizing, comfort and I’m not ashamed to say, looks. They have an in shop treadmill so I was able to do a few miles before making a final decision. The Brooks ran a little smaller than the Kayanos, so I ended up with a size 11.5 instead of the size 11 that I had in the Asics. The brooks were also $40 less expensive, not cheaper, that the Asics so with the coupon, tax and tip I was out the doo for less than $75 dollars US.

I have already used them to run the Home Team Charity Run 10K in Chicago and they performed very well, with no rubbing, plenty of stability and an abundance of comfort. I realize this was a short run but was none the less a good test for a new pair of kicks.

Next step is to keep an eye out for clearance deals so I can stock at least one more pair for the next Disney Marathon. See you there.

Mile Marker

Mileage 6 Miles
Time 7:00PM
Location Indoors – Treadmill
Weather Hot and Sticky

I am continuing with my steady mileage increase towards my half marathon goal and it seems to be working. I was able to crank out 6 miles tonight with not much difficulty and I actually ran it faster than my pace during my last 5.5 mile run. My previous attempts at training did not follow the 10% rule ( increase your mileage by only 10% over your last run) and thus caused a failure to achieve my goal. I still finished the races but no where near as comfortable as I wanted to. Yes I know, if you are comfortable during a race then you are not really leaving it all out on the course. That is true, but my goal for the race in January is to finish strong and still be able to walk around the Disney parks with my son over the next few days following the race, without looking like I am 80 years old.

I am talking the night off on Saturday which is my next scheduled run, to go have dinner with a few old friends from high school (they are not old yet, just the friendship) so I will do my 6.5 miler tomorrow. I could probably do 7 miles, but I don’t what to blow my progress and get discouraged at this point. My serious program starts in October. I can’t wait.

Mile Marker

Mileage 5.5 Miles
Time 7:00PM
Location Indoors – Treadmill
Weather Hot and Sticky

The weather continues to be brutal here in the Chicago area but at least the village finally sprayed for mosquitos this past week. It was to the point where even stepping out on the deck in the early evening was like ringing the dinner bell for the little blood suckers. Running outside was a double whammy as it is too hot during the day to put in any meaningful mileage and there are too many flying pests to run at night. This continues to perpetuate my habit of running inside, which I KNOW is not good for me, but at least I get the (junky) mile in.

A Quick Five Miler

I had a long day today with a few deadlines to meet. One customer was going live with a new system we installed and I was on call remotely (they are in Calgary, AB), while another customer needed some changes to an existing system for a new group that is coming online for them. The go live went very smooth with just one frantic phone call which turned out to be an admin error (she was pointing to a test server instead of the new live production box). I assured her all was well, pointed her in the right direction and let her know that mistakes like that are normal. We sometimes get overly excited and nervous about a brand new system, even though we have done lots of testing and UAT.

The customer was on Mountain time so I was on call till about 6:00 my time and still had to package up some changes for the second customer so I could do some testing that night and Saturday. That meant I would not get my run in until almost 8, which is close to my do not run after rule. If this was Saturday night, I could break that rule as I could sleep in on Sunday, but I have class tomorrow morning so  no such luck.

I was able to get in a quick 5 miles on the treadmill and it felt very good. All the pain I had in my ankle is completely gone and I no longer feel or hear the creaking that I had following the marathon. It has taken 3 weeks to rid myself of the pain and swelling so the doctors estimate was pretty close (he estimated 4-6 weeks).

My run took place during the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics so I had that turned on with the volume off (I recorded it for later viewing as well) and was listening to my This Week in Google podcast. I did get a bit of a speed boost as I watched the US athletes enter the stadium. The look of pride and excitement on their faces made my exertion feel very minimal. I am amazed by the dedication and sacrifice many of them have to make in order to achieve that level of athletic ability. I wish them all the best of luck and I will be cheering for them during my workouts over the next 10 days.

How to Make a Cheap Treadmill Bookshelf

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It has been a typical winter here in the Chicagoland area with lots of wet snow and cold to go along with it. As much as i would like to run outside I don’t want to deal with the drivers around here or the possibility of a slip/fall scenario. Being forced to run inside has allowed me to get very familiar with the sounds, smells and feel of our treadmill. As I mentioned in my post on January 13th, we have done some work on our latest treadmill and I am more in touch now with the feel of the machine. We have the unit setup facing the big screen so we can be entertained during the runs, but sometimes I wish I could read a book or blow through some emails while on a fast walk (running causes too much bouncing for me too focus on a book that close to my face, without glasses).

I have looked at some of the other how to links on creating a table type surface for the treadmill but they were all too low for me. I need the material up at eye level so resting a board or other surface on the side rails, which the other solutions suggest, would not work for me.

I made a quick trip to Home Depot to visit their shelving department and found the perfect item to use as a compact, breathable, self supporting shelving unit. I selected a 4 legged metal shelf covering in a white plastic coating with small rubber tips. It was the perfect size for my brand of treadmill (Sole F63) and fit nicely in between the speakers I had added previously. My steps to create the shelf were as follows.

Parts List

Rubbermaid shelf unit – $6.00
(3) Medium sized Binder Clips – about 35 cents

Steps to create

  1. Place the shelf on the treadmill to estimate where to bend two of the legs so it grips the unit better.

    012 

  2. Mark the two back legs (facing away from the running surface) with a black marker so I know where and at what angle to bend the legs. 

    010

  3. Place one of the legs in my vice with the black mark aligned with the top of the vice.

    c

  4. Bend the leg to about a 20 degree angle (the angle will very depending on how snug you want the leg against the treadmill housing)

    005

  5. Repeat step 4 for the other leg.
  6. Place the shelf on the treadmill and make sure the bent back legs are snug enough against the housing to minimize movement (if not, repeat steps 4 and 5).

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  7. Take the three binder clips and attach them to the bottom edge of the shelf so that your book, computer, Kindle, iPad or other device does not slip off the angled surface while the treadmill is in use.

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You are now ready to walk and read, type, surf, Skype or whatever. Instead of just sitting around while I read, I can burn a few calories while I learn. There are many articles out there on how many calories you can burn while walking/running based on you height/weight/stride etc, so I won’t estimate here. Just do a Google or Bing search for calories burned while walking/running and you will have lots of data to refer to.

Walk to read. Read to learn. Learn to live.

Shielded Metal Arc Welding

800px-SMAW.welding.navy.ncsToday we were introduced to Shielded Metal Arc Welding. The first two and a half hours of class were concepts and video demos while the second hour and a half was actual hands on practice time. The flow of this new process took a little getting used to compared to last weeks Oxy process. SMAW requires a consumable metal rod instead of just a flame from a torch. With Oxy you just need to worry about keeping the flame the correct distance as you move across the work. With SMAW, the rod is used up (deposited) onto the work surface, so your hand(s) are getting closer and closer to the work as you use up your rod. It took a little getting used to but after about 30 minutes I was comfortable moving left to right (I am right handed) while constantly getting closer to the work surface while keeping the arc (electric spark or heat source) 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the work.

I mentioned yesterday that I listen to podcasts while I run but a process like welding would not be conducive to a distraction like that. I have to tell myself (in my head so people don’t think I am talking to myself) to go slow and keep moving the rod in…. go slow and keep moving the rod in. Trying to concentrate on spoken word would make it impossible for me to keep the correct distance and speed to produce anything other than a worthless blob line on the metal. The only acceptable background music might be classical which is calming and does not require focus to enjoy. But even that kind of music would only be audible between welds. The unavoidable distraction produced by the welding process is the bright glow of the arc and the sizzling bacon sound that it makes which drowns out all other sounds. Its a good thing that it does not SMELL like bacon or we would need to keep taking snack breaks. The glow of the arc actually helps me relax and I think, lets me slow down a bit more than I normally would. Time will tell if I need to adjust my perception of the glow as a help or hindrance.

Happy Birthday to my lovely wife who turns just one year older today. She surely does not look her age (you look much younger dear) since she is a runner as well, and her daily mileage keeps her young and really puts my mileage to shame. We are on our third treadmill (because of usage not age) and are still searching for a good durable home model (read not commercial type expensive). If anyone has a suggestion for an inexpensive durable model (if such a thing exists)I would appreciate a comment with usage experience over at least a year or two. Thanks in advance.

Tomorrow my mileage increases by the 10% rule.

Two In A Row

Had another great run today on my road to recovery. It was just a short 4 miler but I felt really good and I did not break the two rules I broke on Wednesday night (tonight I started the run at 6:30 pm and waited till after the workout to eat). Not being so rushed makes a big difference in my attitude towards the run and allows me to concentrate on what I need to accomplish.

Wednesday I talked about using my iPod and Nike+ to help track my progress and crank through some of the podcasts I listen to. The Nike Running site, which is where you upload your workout data from the ipod, has added some really nice motivational features in the last year. In particular, I like the goals section where you can set a goal for yourself and track your progress on line. You can challenge yourself to run faster, run farther, run more often, burn calories or set a coaching program for yourself. The coaching section is helpful if you are training for a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon or some other custom distance.

The challenges section allows you to participate in pre built challenges like the January challenge to rack up the most miles in one month per team. In this case, team participation was determined by the state you live in. Other challenges let you select the team you wanted to run for, like you alma mater if it is a college based challenge.  I just joined one that challenges you to run 210 miles in 2010. You can also create your own challenge and invite the public to participate.

Once I get rolling with the Nike add on, I like to listen to podcasts via headphones or some small computer speakers that I Velcroed to the treadmill. Tonight it was ‘Buzz Out Loud (BOL)’, one of the many great CNET technology podcasts you can find at www.cnet.com/podcasts. BOL is usually just over an hour long so I can get a nice 10K in per episode including a warm up and cool down. I have a backlog of podcasts left over from my injury time so I have a bit of catching up to do. I plan on squeezing in a few audio books as well that I have form www.audible.com. I will post a review of those in my book section once I finish each book. You can’t beat feeding the mind and the body at the same time.

On The Road (Treadmill) Again

I finally got back in the swing of things after my marathon induced deltoid ligament injury. I was able to squeeze in some time on the hotel treadmill following a client site visit, but I broke two of my basic rule of training.

  1. Don’t eat right before you run
  2. Don’t run after 8pm

Breaking these rules resulted in a very painful return to my road to recovery. I returned from the client at 8:30 and was dying to work up a sweat so I got changed and headed down to the exercise room for a quick 5K. The exercise room was just one treadmill and one bike but it was good enough to stay my craving for a workout.  The treadmill was angled so I could see the TV for some no volume distraction, but I could also see myself in a full wall of floor to ceiling mirrors. That was pretty depressing. I knew I felt heavy from not running full on for almost 3 weeks but the giggle factor was not very attractive, at least not for a guy. I felt like and it looked like I had swallowed a small balloon which was hovering just below my rib cage. The bloat from dinner was very distracting and I felt like I was working harder to cover the usual distance at my usual speed. Sure I have lost much of my capacity (you can loose up to 70% of you training capacity if you stop your workouts for 1 month) but the recent meal was just messing up my focus.

I always travel with my 4GB 3rd gen iPod and a Nike+ add on for my shoes so I can multitask and catch up on the podcasts I subscribe to. I don’t believe you can regularly multitask as you are dividing your attention or time slicing instead doing two or more things at the same time. Running requires very little concentration so it does allow me to focus my attention on something else and podcasts are perfect for that activity. Pacing is the only thing that usually requires my concentration. If any part of my body wants me to pay attention I know pretty quick and I can focus on that ache or pain instantly then get back to the podcast if I determine it is not urgent or a threat. I had just a tiny bit of swelling in the previously bad ankle and no noticeable pain so all in all, a good return to my training.

I am looking forward to the races in 2010 and want to get some of my old friends involved. If any of you in the Chicago area want to get off that couch and join in, there are many great local running clubs that can help you with that goal. I highly recommend Dick Pond Athletics and Runner’s Grove as sources for encouragement and mentoring. See you on the road.

Ouch…What The Heck?

Despite the great Marathon experience, apparently I did not come out unscathed. I noticed today that the top of my foot feels like a creaking door and If I put my hand on my shin and move my foot up and down (point the toes at the ceiling then at the floor) I can feel the creaking in my foot.

Turns out I have inflamed extensor tendons something my wife is very familiar with as she has had that and a host of other running related injuries. I think I developed it because I was not running as much as I normally would during the last Sundays marathon and that altered the way my foot handles the miles. Changing your training drastically can cause this injury according to the research I did on the subject.

Lorie prefers to run inside so she has injuries related to that form of training, while I prefer outside but am often forced to Treadmill Wearrun inside because of my work schedule and the fact that I like to run in the evening. Where we live is not very conducive to night running and actually the roads are not the best during the day either. Being forced inside means that we have put lots of miles on the treadmills (yes plural) and have worn thru three of them. The last one took such a pounding that the deck shattered and started to fray the belt.

When we buy these things we make sure they have a good warranty since we will beat the crap out of it over itsTreadmill Break life time. This breakage was fixed by the manufacturer by sending me a new deck, belt and lube so I could do the repair myself. It was pretty easy once the whole thing was apart. The only tricky adjustment was the belt tension. To remove the belt you must remove the from and back rollers, them refi them once the new belt and deck are in place. Adjusting the tension to so it is not too tight and not too loose can be tricky. It took a few days to finally get it to where we want it and those few days can be dangerous

You don’t want to tighten the  belt too much at first as you want the belt to gradually stretch and the lube to spread out evenly between the belt and rollers. The dangerous part is when the belt is too loose and you take a heavy step, the belt slips (stops) and it is murder on your knees. I would grab on tight to the handle bars at the beginning of each run and take a hard stomp and try to make the belt slip. If it did slip, I would get out the hex key and do a quarter turn on each side to tighten the belt. If it did not slip I would repeat the process the next day until I was getting no slippage. Like I said, about two weeks of adjustment and we were back in business. Only another 2 months before it gets nice outside and I have to lay off training for a few weeks anyway until I heal.