Monday, April 16, 2012

20 runs, 20 days

I'm in the gym, getting set for another run indoors on that uncompromising device, the Woodway treadmill... thinking of the end product, that beautiful, effortless run outside under sunny skies.

Sand separates the sea
From me on my desert island

Sun obliterates the sky
And I, I'm just like anyone
No matter how I try
I wanna see the sun.

And it shines
To illuminate the distance
Illustrate the difference
Between you and me

At the beginning of April, I vowed to run every day at a set minimum pace for at least 40 days in a row. I managed to get a small streak going. 20 days in a row so far. I'm halfway there.

Like any other exercise program, there have been easy days and hard days. The minimal standard is 15 mins at 7.0 mph enforced by the treadmill. The standard is raised to 20 mins at 7.0 mph as the days passed. The treadmills at the gym are made by Woodway, with claimed accuracy to 1/10 mph.

On some days, particularly if I rested well the night before, the standard is easy to meet. The running form is good and the minutes just fly past. For example, day 20 in the charts below, I ran for 45 mins and didn't feel tired. (In fact, I only stopped before 60 mins because my iPod Nano on my waistband flooded with sweat and stopped recording.) However, the point is not to run to exhaustion, but have enough leftover to continue the streak tomorrow.

And so it is the hard days that threaten and define the streak. Some days are difficult because of inadequate rest (sleep). Sometimes the legs are tired right from the start. Then meeting the minimal standard takes a lot of stubbornness and willpower to keep the streak going. I can tell you day 17 where I just managed 18 minutes felt way harder than 45 minutes on day 20.

Here are the statistics. 103 km in 20 days. Total time is 8 hours and 54 minutes. Burned 8429 kcal. Average pace 5:11 mins/km.

With respect to pacing, I leave the treadmill at 7.0 mph (11.2 km/hr). This corresponds to a 5:20 min/km pace. If I feel like testing my legs a bit, I will add on 3 mins at the end at 7.5 mph (12.0 km/hr or 4:58 min/km pace). On the charts below, the bars in green are not on the treadmill. These are outside runs. Interestingly my natural outdoor speed (a bit under 5:00 min/km) is faster than my set treadmill speed (which feels hard enough to me).

On day 1, I ran for just 15 mins at 7.0 mph and it felt quite hard. By day 20, I ran for 45 mins at 7.0 mph and I felt I could do more. Starting on day 21, I will increase the baseline speed to 7.5 mph. This puts additional physiological and psychological pressure on the streak but sooner or later, I've got to man up (HTFU) or stagnate.

Here are the runs. Distances: day 1 through 10.

Distances: day 11 through 20.

Time spent, day 1 through 10. (Note that even a 15 minute run effectively takes an hour out of one's schedule. Walk to the gym. Change. 5 mins warm-up at 3.0 mph. 15 mins run at speed. 5 mins cool down at 3.0 mph. 10 mins stretching. Shower. Walk back to work. It all adds up.)

Time spent, day 11 through 20.

Here is the recorded accuracy of the iPod Nano 6g's internal accelerometer:

Different running surfaces affect the accuracy. On average, it's about 10% optimistic. All distances reported in the charts above have been individually corrected (assuming Woodway's claim of 1/10mph accuracy, and outdoor run distances are verified using Google Earth).

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