Archives For running

A New Year’s Resolution

New Year's ResolutionsAt the end of December and/or beginning of January of every year millions, perhaps billions of people set resolutions for themselves on how they want to improve their lives in the new year. This year will surely not be any different. Unfortunately, for many this meme from last year will surely reflect a reality. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

I’ve been using the fitness tracker app RunKeeper since February 2010. I use it to record almost every run. Last year the app developers challenged people to enter their New Year’s fitness resolutions. Now you can add a resolution whenever you like, but while you’re thinking about it, why not do it for the new year, right? The good thing about using the app is that you can easily see a record of what you’ve done in the past. So I looked and saw that in 2012 I ran some 2500KM. Seeing that I set my New Year’s Resolution to run 3000KM in 2013. On January 1, 2013, I then went out and ran 15KM  or 0.5% of my set goal. Yesterday (December 31, 2013) I ran my 3000th kilometre of the year. Yes, it took an entire calendar year, much to my chagrin, as there was a time in the year when I thought I’d over achieve my goal by 10%.

Crazy? No, calculated

Running 3000KM might sound crazy to some of you. But, I believe that most people can do it. I say that with the caveat that you need to know where you’re starting from. If you haven’t run more than 2km since school, it might be a bit difficult, but you can train up again. I trained from 0 to a marathon in 3.5 months which was a bit fast, but thanks to an open schedule possible. Yet, going from 0.5km to 10km only took a month, of regular running. Back to the 3000KM — Break it down. 3000KM/365 days = 8.22 KM/day. Now, most people probably won’t run every day, so let’s say they run 5 times a week. At 5 days of running a week, you’ll need to run 11.54km each day you go out. If that sounds like too many at one time, you can break it down into two runs a day on those days (morning & evening). But maybe you want to start with a lower goal, perhaps 2000, or 1500, or just 1000. Important is to set a goal. But that’s not enough.

A Roadmap

A goal is important, but a roadmap to that goal is equally if not more important. Apps like RunKeeper, Dacadoo, Strava, Map My Run, etc., provide you with a tool for tracking your progress. This act of tracking is like creating your own roadmap. Some of these apps even have built in training programs that will help you achieve certain goals. Setting milestones, knowing how much you need to do by when is important. In running there are no shortcuts! You need to move your legs to go somewhere, you can’t coast, though when you get into your groove, it will sometimes feel like you’re flying. With approximately 1320 steps per kilometre, you will need to take at least 3,960,000 steps.

Because life is hard to calculate, it’s important to mark milestones. For the 3000km I broke the year into quarters, meaning that I wanted to achieve 750km after 3 months (end of March), 1500 after 6 months (end of June), and 2250km after 9 months (end of September). Doing that meant that I kept up the running and didn’t let too many to-be-run-kilometres accumulate at the end of the year. This was good, as work really shook things up at the end of November and start of December, to a point where on December 21st I still had 225km to run. Determination is what got me through that. An average of 20km/day for 11 days.

Summary:

  1. Determine where you’re starting from
  2. Set goal
  3. Calculate what you need to do to get to your goal
  4. Set milestones
  5. Track what you’re doing

Application to other fields

While I’ve been writing about running, you can apply this above theorem to different goals.

Want to lose weight? Know where you’re starting (current weight, current calorie intake, current calorie usage) and then set where you want to go. How many fewer calories, how much more exercise. Record what you eat and your exercise.

Want to save money? Record where you’re spending money and see where you can save. High electricity bill? Try and lower it. You might also look at how you can earn more money on the side by doing something you really enjoy – baking, gardening, painting, helping people etc.

Want more time for things that really matter to you? Record where you spend your time, then see where you can extract more time for those things. Maybe it’s less TV, maybe it’s shortening a commute (change home or work) or going from driving to public transport so you can be productive while commuting.

As you can see, the five step approach is a great way of achieving your New Year’s Resolution. Think about how you can apply it to your own life. Below is how I did that to achieve the 3000km and what that looked like.

My Year Running

As I wrote above, I started on my New Year’s Resolution for 2013 on January 1st with a 15km run. The charts below show you distance per day, week, and month. On average I was running 10km/hour in general. It took 295 hours (12.3 full days) or 3.4% of 2013 to achieve the 3000km. It was the best 3.4% investment I’ve made, because running helps me perform better at work, and stay healthy, which means that other things function as I would like them to.

I ran 2800km of the 3000km with On’s Cloudrunners

My favourite races of the past year were the Eiger Ultra Trail 101 and the Matterhorn Ultraks

On a map, 3000km from my house is like running to Oulu, Finland or to Alanya, Turkey.

Resolution 2014

This year’s resolution is 3500km of running and 100 hours of rowing.  Prosit 2014!

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Neuenschwander with pacers

The weather conditions, despite the forecast, in the early morning hours of April 23, 2012 looked promising. Perhaps the sun would shine, or at least the rain hold off. It was marathon day in Zurich. I was hoping for a new personal best and so was the Maja Neuenschwander from Bern. Only Neuenschwander’s time would give her more than just the feeling of elation one gets when one beats a personal best, it would give her a ticket to represent Switzerland at the 2012 London Olympics this summer.

Hardly five minutes after the starting shot was fired the skies opened and started dumping their contents on the runners from some 40 nations. This was no summer rain, but rather a bitter early spring rain. The participants pushed on hoping that a quick dump would get it over and done with early in the race.

About 1.5 hours in to the race the sun decided to show up, but the wind picked up and everyone running back towards Zurich from Meilen am Zürichsee faced a strong headwind.

Despite these conditions Neuenschwander persevered and achieved a new personal best of 2:31:56. That was 1:04 minutes faster than the qualifying time set by Swiss Olympic. Jubilation for Neuenschwander, she’d be going to the Olympics, or so she thought.

This past week allegations were made that Neuenschwander cheated by having pace runners in the Team-Run event running the distances: 9.7, 10.8, 4.0 und 17.7 kilometers. According to official IAAF rules athletes are not allowed to have pacers running different distances. These rules are clear.

Swiss papers like the boulevard paper Blick called out “Bschiss beim Züri-Marathon!” and then went on to defend Neuenschwander. Even the NZZ’s reporting on the event suggests that Neuenschwander should be allowed to go to the Olympics. And a poll of Blick readers suggests that some 41.1% of people believe that Neuenschwander should represent Switzerland in London.

I’m a runner and while I have great sympathy for anyone who runs long distances at at that  speed in those conditions, I believe that Neuenschwander should not be sent to London. Her victory in Zurich is tarnished and even if it is accepted, should she do well in London, it will give the press material for calling her eligibility into question.

Yes, she ran the 42.195 km on her own, but pacers help one run more controlled and calculated without having to totally listen to one’s own body. It is an advantage and having your pacers run different distances is even more of an advantage as there can be more calculations made.

This event is a great analogy though for the current Swiss political and financial attitude. We read the rules to our advantage and find loopholes that help us and when we’re accused of not following the spirit of the rules or to not do that anymore, we throw a temper-tantrum and say that we are being unfairly persecuted by other countries.

Even if our banks officially say that they do not accept untaxed money from customers, the fact that they didn’t verify that means that they were working in a grey zone. The same applies to recent laws that limit people’s freedoms and other initiatives. While they are decided by the people in a democracy, Switzerland ergo the people did sign onto international treaties guaranteeing all people exactly those rights that we are now trying to revoke (reference to Minaret initiative).

What Neuenschwander and Switzerland need to understand is that they are not being unfairly punished. There are rules and those rules need to be respected. The spirit of any rule always favours the higher moral ground. Seeking out loopholes is the opposite of that. I didn’t achieve a new personal best on that day, but there are other runs. I think Neuenschwander is a talented runner and sincerely hope that she keeps trying for the Olympics, if not 2012 then 2016, but without pacers.

Since I started running in 2008 there have been a number of things that I’ve noticed. I’m fitter, feel better, and think clearer. The other thing that I’ve noticed is that I buy a lot of running shoes. I’m not addicted to shoes by any means, but I run approximately 60 kilometers a week in training and then add the marathons and running events to that and you see the numbers add up. In my basement storage space I have a closet full of worn out shoes. It is generally the uppers that wear out the fastest I find, though a loss of traction is also an issue.

Last year alone I purchased 4 pairs of running shoes and over 2000 km of running including three city marathons and four mountain marathons completely destroyed the shoes. The question always remains though, what can be done with the shoes?

Believing that I would one day come up with a brilliant scheme to process and recycle my shoes, I have not been throwing them in the garbage but saving them. The other day I was speaking with a shoe manufacturer and asking them about shoe recycling and I was told that it is currently too difficult. But I decided to look around on the Internet again for a program that recycles shoes.

I found that Nike has such a program in place. They turn shoes into three different sport surfaces:

The fabric (uppers) –> basketball court underlay

The foam (midsole) –> tennis courts

The rubber (outsole) –> running tracks

Nike Shoe Recycling

What to do with your old running shoes

This program does not exist in Switzerland, but it does in Germany and there is even a Nike shoe recycling plant in Belgium.

Here is my idea:

On April 22, 2012 the Zurich Marathon will take place for the tenth time. Nike is one of the official sponsors. Nike should set up a giant shoe collection for recycling at this year’s marathon. With over 6,000 runners and many more spectators this could be a huge drive to collect shoes. Furthermore, the city of Zurich or other developers could already work with Nike to possibly purchase some of the flooring components that will be made with the shoes.

On their site, Nike says that they will recycle running shoes from every brand, but stress that they can only recycle running shoes. Furthermore, the shoes cannot have any metal components like spikes (so no cleats).

Beside the shoe drive for broken and worn-out running shoes, it would also be great to have a shoe donation. It has happened to me that I’ve tried on a new pair of shoes in the shop, they felt great, I bought them, but when I actually went to use them I didn’t like the way they felt. These shoes could be donated to people in other countries, who would benefit from having protection for their feet.

Any major event that brings thousands of people together should by its vary nature also seek to increase social responsibility and address a social need. Shoe recycling addresses the environment and shoe donations raise poverty awareness.

Shoe facts:

Every year the Swiss pay more than 50 million francs for running shoes.* In Germany that number is over 165 million euros**. That is a lot of running shoes. In Switzerland that’s more than 200,000 pairs of shoes.

According to a report in National Geographic, it takes approximately 80 million liters of water to produce a million francs worth of shoes. Or 80 liters for every franc of shoe value. The environmental impact of shoe production must not be underestimated.

16000 liters of water for a pair of shoes

*This number was 48 million in 2000, so it must surely be much higher now.

**This number is from 2008, and is probably also higher now.