Monday, January 22, 2007

Born to run again

Fine. I admit it.

You got me, Apple Inc.

I love the Nano and the Nike+ gadgetry. I find myself excited to run nearly everyday, even if my legs are still sore from the previous day's workout. Unfortunately, I've had only one chance to take the whole operation on an outdoor run, and that was a trip to a local high school track to calibrate the system.

Man, was that a shock. It was a mild enough morning -- probably mid-50s -- and I was well dressed in nylon pants, a breathable long-sleeved shirt and a fleece vest. I even put a hat on to keep myself warm enough. I stretched and started off with a light jog to warm up. When I found the starting point for the 400 meters, I set the iPod to calibrate and took off at a steady, comfortable pace.

It wasn't long before the pace became more difficult than I'd imagined. The far turn seemed to tilt uphill while I also encountered a headwind now that I no longer had the building as a buffer. I pushed on through the turn and down the stretch, completing the calibration easily enough. I walked another lap before starting to run again, curious as to how accurate the reading would be.

After running another 400 meters, I pressed the center button for an update. "Total distance: point 2-5 miles," the lady said. Excellent.

"Current pace: 8:53 per mile."

What the hell?!?

No wonder that first lap felt so strenuous. Clearly, I am terrible at setting my own pace off of the treadmill. No wonder I struggle to cover even a half-mile anywhere but on a moving platform with televisions in front of me.

The calibration confirmed, however, that the readings on the treadmills at our fitness center are way off, either in their own calibration, or in my pace. When the treadmill says I've run a mile, the iPod says I've covered a mile and a tenth, if not more. The treadmill says my pace is 10 minutes per mile, but the iPod says it's closer to 9:50. It's certainly possible that my gait is not that refined, but it's still a surprising difference.

After a couple days off last week because of soreness in my legs, I've run two days in a row this
week. Yesterday, I set the iPod for a two-mile run and gradually increased the speed of the treadmill, covering 2.2 miles (with a cooldown) in about 22 minutes. This morning, I returned to the OK Go workout, but found myself laboring through the longer intervals, my legs burning with every stride. I slowed down to a walk for one of the recovery periods, and took the sprints on the back end at a slower pace than I'd intended. Tomorrow, the plan is for another rather leisurely two-mile jog, but I may take the day off if my legs remain sore. I'd like to try to do five days straight through Thursday before I take the weekend off while I'm in Pittsburgh for work.

Go go Gadget legs.

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