Sunday, May 29, 2011

Adrian's Summer Running 2011: Week 4 (Smart Phones)

Week 4 is through and Lisa and I finally did it: We got smart phones.  I had been thinking about getting a smart phone for awhile simply because they seem so useful, and of course, they're so cool! (which in turn would make us cool, right?)  On new years eve and new years day, Best Buy had some really good deals on phones from HTC which made the phones free.  It was really intriguing and was going to do it, but after talking with Lisa, she talked some sense into me how much this would cost us per month and she was right.  Currently we were spending $59.99 a month for our AT&T family plan which gave us 550 minutes and no texting/no data.  This was plenty for us and we never went over (had rollover too).

The phone I was looking at was the HTC Incredible which was on a Verizon plan:
It was supposedly listed at $599 but was free for the new year's special.  It's the Android equivalent of the iPhone.  But the plan we would have to get (we would each get one) would cost about $120 a month which was quite unacceptable.

So we ended up going with a real cheapo plan (suggested by a co-worker of mine) and a real cheapo phone but it had GPS and Android which is what I wanted.  It's a Samsung Intercept:
The phone is on the Virgin Mobile plan which uses Sprints cell phone towers.  Therefore we don't really get phone coverage in our house and the overall coverage is bad.  But the plan is a non-contractual plan (unlike Verizon's 2 year contract) and it gives us unlimited data and texting as well as 300 minutes for $25 a month. The other problem with a non-contractual plan is that you have to buy the phones in full and they were $170 each.  So now we're paying $50 a month for both of our plans.

The phones are really poor quality for an Android smart phone but we have found use in them and use them for various things.  One thing I really wanted to use it for was tracking my running.  Since it had GPS in it, I could use it while I was running and it would track my distance/pace/time, etc.  I didn't know what the "best" running app would be but I searched the Android market and came up with:

Adidas MiCoach.  I hadn't heard of it but I liked it right away.  I learned that there were tons of training/running apps and it was hard to determine which one would work the best.  Here is an image of my very first run with MiCoach and the phone:
(click on the image to see the workout).  The up and down nature of the run shows the varying heart rate.  This was a 34 minute run (straight from the workout sheet) that I did around my work on Wednesday.  I stopped the run on the phone as soon as I stopped running but had to jog back to work so it ended up being about 3.125 miles.

Results from Week 4 of the Juniper cardio/fitness challenge.
Week 3 of RaceRx study
Week 2 of Marathon Training

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Adrian's Summer Running 2011: Week 3.1 (Marathon Training)

Week 3 is over and I had another interesting running revelation.  Last week we had a potluck dinner at Meg's house (she was leaving for good; it was very sad).  I talked with Ashley D'Antonio and told her about this weird study I was partaking in and also told her that I was signed up for the Top of Utah Half Marathon at the end of August.  She had told me that she was planning on running the Top of Utah Marathon (full marathon) on September 17th.  I don't know why but the idea was really intriguing to me.

I went home and looked up training plans on and thought it wouldn't be too bad.  I feel that I could easily do a 12 week half marathon program and the full marathon was only an 18 week program.  I mean, there were some obvious greater distances with full training versus half but I still thought it was doable.  So I half-heartedly committed to doing the training.  ...oh and it just so happened that the marathon is 18 weeks away from yesterday (which means that week 2 of my training starts today).

On Hal Higdon's website, he has a lot of free training plans to use.  For the marathon, he has 6 specific plans: Novice 1 and 2, Intermediate 1 and 2, and Advanced 1 and 2.  I decided to attempt the Novice 1 plan since it was the "easiest" and seemed to be the most doable.  The most you would have to run would be 20 miles one time which was 3 weeks before the marathon.  But you would build up to the point and then taper down.  Nearly everywhere else in the country has their races on Sunday but in Utah, they're all on Saturday.

So I created a little spreadsheet that adjusted the training to a Saturday race day and put the date of each Saturday in the spreadsheet.

Now comes the next dilemma, RaceRx study.  This study specifically says that I have to run the times that are listed by my study sheets and nothing else.  So, I asked Matt Rhea (director of RaceRx) about it, but I just asked about training for a half marathon since that was the one that I was fully committed for (paid for).  Matt said that this study that I was participating in is very well suited to get me ready for the half marathon and 99% of the runners preparing for these events run many more miles than they need to.  Although a month prior to the race he would suggest adding 1 or 2 extra runs of 6 to 8 miles per week.

So I replied to him about wanting to run a full marathon and he reiterated that people run more than they need to.  He said that I shouldn't be having "long runs" 18 weeks before the race and that I can't add much running because it would mess up the study.  But again he said that a month (or 2) before the race I can add an additional long run or 2.

So I was a little torn on this and considered quitting the study so I could do the Hal Higdon training.  I wasn't sure what was the "right" training method to believe.  Therefore I decided to consult  On this thread: some people said they had heard of people doing the heart rate training and it working for them but no one had any real or direct comparisons, so I was still torn...

Next, I decided to ask the guy at work who announced this study since I assumed he ran marathons, etc.  He didn't run long distance but his wife and brother-in-law did and used Matt's program so he got me in touch with them.  The bro-in-law said he absolutely swore by Matt's training and suggested anyone do it.  He said it helped him qualify for the Boston Marathon, so that encouraged me some more to stick with the RaceRx study.  Though, I still had thoughts in my head of doing the long runs earlier than 2 months before the marathon because I wanted the mileage and wanted to do a long easy run as opposed to the strenuous varying heart rate runs.

Adrian's Summer Running 2011: Week 3

Week 3 is over and the heart rate training got a little more intense.  Here is an example of one of my workouts:

Though it was a shorter time, it was much more difficult to keep within my target heart rate zones.  There was another thing I forgot to mention in my last post.  Along with the heart rate monitoring, I also had to go on a diet with this research study.  We had to maintain healthy amounts of calories, proteins, fats, and carbs and log that information onto this website:

I kind of got obsessed with spark people and learned a lot about the nutritional facts of the regular foods that I ate.  This site helped me to eat quite a bit healthier as well as helped me to realize that I need to drink more water than normally drank.  It also helped me to lose some weight too.  It was nice.

Results from Week 3 of the Juniper cardio/fitness challenge.
Week 2 of RaceRx study
Week 1 of marathon training

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Adrian's Summer Running 2011: Week 2 (RaceRx Study)

Well, for week 2 of this running/cardio challenge, I got involved in a different program.  A guy at my work emailed everyone and talked about an organization in town, called Race RX.  They were doing an experimental study using heart rate monitoring for training in running.

I was somewhat intrigued by this and thought that it might help motivate me to run more, so I volunteered for this study.  It was very strange and not the best defined.  Apparently there were 3 different study groups and each one was doing a different study but all using heart rate monitors.  My group apparently was the hard one where we had to run 5 days a week and the times were between 20 and 60 minutes.  At each minute, we had to be in a certain heart rate range (or zone) according to a sheet they gave us after an initial assessment.  Another group was just told to exercise for 20 to 60 minutes and maintain a wide heart rate range.

The initial assessment was at their facility at 286 North 850 West in Logan.  I was surprised at the size of this place and how nice it was.  They had a lot of treadmills and other similar machines and had a huge back of their facility where they had the rest of their equipment.  They had me run on a treadmill and increasing speeds and put this horrible mask on my face to measure oxygen.  I also wore a Polar Heart Rate Monitor that worked pretty well.  They said they wanted me to get to an exertion level of 8 (on a scale of 10) and let them know.  They recorded all of the results and sent me my detailed workout schedule before the study was supposed to happen.

For this study, all participants had to buy a heart rate monitor.  Race RX had their own (with their name on it) that they had on a 25% discount.  So I got this one:
...and it didn't really work. So I had to take it back to exchange it with another one that "worked" but not really well.  It's just a low end, piece-of-junk heart rate monitor.  (After looking up HRMs, they can cost up to about ~$400...  This was one $65, and then discounted 25%).

The night before first week of training, we got our workouts emailed to us.  They came in 7 pdfs; the first 6 had 3 exercises and the last had 2, to make 20 workouts: 5 per week for 4 weeks.  My target heart rates were broken into 4 zones: 0, 1, 2, and 3.  Here is what it looked like:

And here is the example of workout number 1.

The first workout was relatively easy and they generally got harder as the weeks went on.

Here are my results from Week 2 of the cardio/fitness challenge.  I did the heart rate monitor training on Mon-Thur and on Sat (as you can see).
(This is week 1 of the RaceRx study)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Adrian's Summer Running 2011: Week 1

Well, week 1 is complete and I didn't do as well as I would have liked.  The Top of Utah Half Marathon, that I had already signed up for, is on Saturday, August 27, 2011.  So that put it at 17 weeks away.  My training method is a 12 week training so, right now I'm looking at 5 weeks of non-structured training.

I played soccer on Sunday and wondered how I should log those miles.  I emailed our fitness guy and he suggested using a pedometer.  While that doesn't sound very accurate, I decided to make up a metric of every half hour of heavy exertion in a sport, I'll count that as 1 mile.  This way, I know I went over 1 mile but I'm safely underestimating it.

Here are my results from Week 1 of the cardio/fitness challenge

Adrian's Summer Running 2011: Juniper Systems Challenge

Before the month of May, my company's fitness guy (Steve Suhaka) decided to announce another fitness challenge to Juniper Systems employees and their families. The previous 4 months, Steve made a fitness challenge for Juniper employees that looked at how many pushups and situps you could do, as well as VO2 max and body mass index. This current fitness challenge is a cardio challenge where each person participating will track how many miles they cover in 5 different categories:

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Swimming

Because Cycling miles aren't the same as running/walking miles, each mile cycling will count as 1/3 of a mile.  And because of the strenuousness of swimming, each mile of swimming will count as 3. Running, Hiking, and Walking will all count normally; 1:1.

The overall goal of this cardio fitness challenge was to have the participants cover 20,000 miles over the course of 16 weeks. With some rough calculations, that means the 80+ people signed up would need to cover about 15 or so miles per week; which is doable. At the end of the fitness challenge, Juniper Systems will have a 5k fun run to cap it off. A mileage sheet was emailed to the participants to record each person's miles for each of the 16 weeks (in each category of cardo).

I was pretty excited about this because I had already signed up for a half marathon and this would help motivate me to run.  And I had a feeling that they would reward people who ran the furthest, etc and I am hoping to be one of those people.  I was a little sad that Lisa couldn't do this because, at the start of this, she was about 6 months pregnant.

Adrian's Summer Running 2011

I have been running all summer (original post date of this blog entry is August 31, 2011, but I am backdating it to May 7, 2011) but haven't blogged about it. I will blog about my adventures in running for the summer and back date each blog post to the correct corresponding week. This is just for me personally to reflect on and if anyone wants to read about what I've experienced for the last 4 months.

Since about late 2006, Lisa and I had always had the goal of running a half marathon. I don't know how we came to this goal but it sounded like a good idea and would be something I could check off my list of things I've done in my life. Starting in December of 2006, Lisa and I started training for a half marathon that would take place on the weekend of March 4th, 2007. We used Hal Higdon's training program (to a degree) and were extremely dedicated to running. Since we didn't have a full 12 weeks, as suggested by the training, we fudged it to make it work. I was really proud of how far we came and how well we did, especially when we started running 9 miles in one day.

A couple of weeks before the half marathon Lisa got a message from Utah State University to come to a welcome weekend sort of thing to check out the campus. Well, I'm sure you can guess the rest, this weekend happened to be the same weekend of our half marathon. Needless to say, we never ran the half marathon and hadn't run one since. I was a little disappointed because we had trained so hard and did so well. I even thought about just running the 13.1 miles to see how well I could do... but I never did it. I wanted to have a "race day" like experience; unhindered by vehicles and other such distractions on a 13.1 mile run but figured I couldn't recreate that... I did learn that the weather for the half marathon was awfully cold (start temp was possibly in the high 30s) so that did make me feel a little better about not running the race.  (Oh and we got to go skiing for free up at USU so it was worth it!)

A couple of other times we attempted at training again for a half but other things kept on getting in the way: school, kids, school, and kids, etc. Last summer (the summer of 2010) Lisa started training again for a half marathon for late summer. She had a Salt Lake City half marathon in her mind and was doing well with her training. She had wanted to do the local, Top of Utah Half Marathon but that one is so popular that it fills up really quickly (a couple of months before the race). Motivated by Lisa's running, I started running too. She would run when it was light out, and I would run at night. But as the distance and time commitments started building up, Lisa couldn't keep up with her training; mostly because of the neediness of Olsen (and her willingness to get things done - school work). So she had told me that she wanted me to try the SLC half marathon that was later in the summer. It would be a short training span but I thought I could do it. Well, the logistics of getting down to SLC and participating in the half marathon didn't work out, plus, if I remember correctly, I had something else I had to do on that weekend. So we still haven't completed our goal of running a half marathon.

This year, back in April, I decided to take a different approach. I signed up for the Top of Utah half marathon way early. So therefore I was committed to run this race!