Friday, February 11, 2011

Running the numbers

It’s been a whirlwind of a week at work and this is the first chance I’ve had to jot down a few thoughts.  I’ll do my best not to make up for lost words the way I try to make up for lost miles.  My runs this week have been surprisingly good and consistent.  Last Sunday my gym was still closed and I was determined to get in a good run.  I sweet talked Ronnie into taking me to his gym, and after a 40 minute drive over some icy roads, I concluded that I better damn well make this trip worth it.  It was the morning of Superbowl Sunday and I don’t know if the gym was extra busy because of afternoon activities, if Rhode Islanders are more physically active than their neighbors to the north, or if Planet Fitness is simply a superior gym that attracts more clients than my own.  Whatever the reason, the gym was packed and the energy level was super-charged.  I ran a hot and steamy 8 miles (steamy is an understatement – it was like Georgia in July in there), and capped it off at home with a 2 hour snowshoe hike.  It was a successful day and I was proud of the miles I accumulated over that weekend.
                For the remainder of the week I continued accumulating miles, and if it were any other week in any other February in any other winter, I’d say it was an average-to-good week.  I’ve run 6 out of the last 9 days, and have 25 miles logged for the week.  I know this, because I keep a running log.  It’s nothing special, just a little something I put together that lists out date, miles, average pace, location, and weather conditions.  And, it totals my miles-per-month for a nice quick snapshot of my month-over-month improvements.  That’s on one tab of my Excel spreadsheet.  On another, I have my race calendar for 2011, color coded by race length.  There’s another tab that lists out my current PR’s at every distance.  And finally, all of my 2010 race results.  It’s really nothing special, just a little something to keep me organized.  I like to look back over the months and see my progress.  I think this is such a helpful tool, in fact, that I recently shared it with Todd.  Now, I think it’s a little like sharing a diary so I wasn’t sure it was appropriate for public viewing, but I wasn’t super worried about him sharing my sloppy 9:49 pace on December 19th with the world.  I thought maybe he would be impressed with my running log and perhaps want to create his own.  Instead, his exact words were, “there’s something very wrong with you”.  I think he’s jealous.  I’ve received similar feedback from my boss, who thinks some of my elaborate project plans are a wee bit too…“structured”.  As if that’s a bad thing!  As a project manager, my whole life revolves around compiling itty-bitty bits of information and using it to track, trend, and improve.  I blame some of my tendency to compile data (read: OCD) on my mother, who tracks everything from the weather to snowfall totals to miles walked to minutes in the saddle to barometric pressure.  (Okay - I made that last one up, I think).  Recently Todd and I were talking about how we’ve recruited a few more lunchtime runners at work and with various schedules and differing days in the office, we commented on how it was tough to keep track of who was available to run on any given day.  Bingo!  I know!  I generously offered to create a matrix to track everyone’s availability.  Then, depending on the number of runners we start to acquire, we might want to start storing average pace information and coordinating groups based on pace and shower availability.  As you can imagine, more sideways looks from Todd.  I think I’m going to create it anyways…I’m sure once he sees the final product he’ll be convinced at its usefulness. 
                Todd and I ran together four days this week, and covered every topic from racing attire to kids to dating to boob jobs.  We made fun of the smokers for making fun of us, and imagined the drivers must be thinking, look at those two clowns running in this unforgiving cold.  The time on the pavement flew each day, with the colorful discussions distracting us from the uncomfortable cold.  I never quite figured out why the wind blew in our faces in every direction all the way around the loop.  Probably just because we are running so fast.  
                Tomorrow’s a big day for my running log.  It will be two weeks from my half marathon, and time to get my longest run in.  Last week I did 8 on the treadmill.  Tomorrow I’m shooting for 12 on the road.  My plan is to do 6 with Kerri, then another 6 with Chris right after.  And, if all goes according to plan, Chris and I will be stopping at Ali’s house (conveniently located just seconds away from our start/end point) for a celebratory beer. (And yes, I track those too…in a separate log).  If I manage all 12 tomorrow that will bring my log up to 37 so far for the month, which is respectable.  With any luck I’ll get more consistent runs in next week, followed by 10 next Sunday.  Then I’ll taper and rest up for Hyannis.  Preparing for this half marathon has been like cramming for an exam and my running log is the equivalent of my detailed notes.  Next year I’m planning on looking back at this year’s running log as a study guide.  Whether it will be a useful guide of “how to successfully prepare for a marathon” or a solemn reminder of “what not to do”, only time will tell.


  1. The spreadsheet is great!

    I always make one when I am training specifically for an event (both my half and full marathons last year), color coded so I know which ones days I've skipped; however, for an overall journal I've been looking for online resources. I've been looking at lately because it allows me to upload my Garmin data easily... so no plugging of numbers. You know me, the less I have to input things the better :).

    Just registered for my next race. I've got my fingers crossed for this one... for a less obvious reason to most: St. Patricks Day Run - March 12.

  2. Scotty I knew a geek like you would appreciate the spreadsheet! I used to track through Nike+ but then stopped running with an ipod, then I started tracking with my garmin but I don't use that consistently either, so old school data entry works for me!