Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nano Nano

I don't consider myself a techie guy by any means, and I'm certainly never been one to be the first to own the latest hot thing. Case in point: I didn't buy my first iPod until last May.

And now I've gone and bought my second.

It was the day we got back from Boston after the New Year's party, January 2. We had barely unloaded the car when we sat back down and trekked out to Garden State Plaza to have lunch and hit Best Buy. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I'd decided that I would indeed be purchasing my second iPod, a Nano, and then shelling out for a new pair of Nikes and the Nike+ iPod accessories, the chip and receiver that allows you to track your workout and download mixes and all those other cool things.

The sneakers and chip came yesterday, so today was the first opportunity I had to try everything out. I had only used the iPod once in the week since I'd bought it, and that was for a treadmill run on Monday, listening to a simple shuffling of upbeat songs I'd added over the weekend. So last night, I bought the workout mix entitled, "Mastering the Treadmill with OK Go."

I should say that I'm pretty new to treadmill running. I competed in cross country in high school, figuring I could run 3.1 miles enough to earn a varsity letter. I realized after two years of high school that I had little chance of earning a letter in baseball, but distance running might do it for me. Plus, if I ever decided to get myself a varsity jacket, that winged foot was a pretty cool logo on the back in which to have my graduation year. (I never did get the jacket, though I did seriously consider it. Glad I didn't, in the end, because it wouldn't have gotten much wear after the winter of 1993-94. I definitely wouldn't have been That Guy Who Wears his Varsity Letter Jacket After Graduating High School.)

After my last race, I pretty much stopped running regularly. From the fall of 1997 to about 2003, I tried to get back into it, but never did it more than three or four times before losing interest. In the two years from 2003-05, I'd be back into it in spurts, then something would come up -- a cold, a trip, a string of busy nights that kept me up late -- and I'd be sedentary for a few weeks (or months) at a time.

When we moved to our current apartment in the fall of 2004, it took me a few months before I became comfortable enough to explore the modest but decently equipped fitness room on site. I became adept at the elliptical trainers, then added in various weight machines. Finally, last year, I decided I needed to give the treadmill a run. (Rim shot.)

I never managed to cover more than a mile and a half at a time. Yet when I went down there this morning, the plan was to start the OK Go workout and play the 30-minute session through to its completion.

It starts out easily enough, with walking intervals interspersed with light jogs. It gets serious when you start the ladder progression -- running intervals of 30 seconds, a minute, 90 seconds and two minutes (and then back down) at a pace you consider your max followed by a minute or two (or four, after the longer periods) of a steady jog for recovery. Damian Kulash provides the voiceovers, calmly instructing you to speed up and slow down, while adding bursts of encouragement. When he's not talking, several upbeat OK Go songs push you through the runs, with slightly relaxed beats during the recovery periods. I found myself chuckling at times, such as when their most popular (and most treadmill-associated) song, "Here It Goes Again," came up when I expected it to: at the start of the climactic two-minute run. Another well-planned song sync came in one of the later speed intervals, just when you might wonder just what you've gotten yourself into. That's when the chorus blares, "Seemed like a good idea at the time."

In the end, I managed to make it through the entire 30-minute workout at a pretty good pace. The treadmill readout said I'd covered about 2.8 miles and burned 380 calories (estimates, since I didn't exactly take the time to write them down). When I clicked the Nano, however, to hear its readout, I was told I covered 3.1 miles and burned 420 calories, while averaging about a 10:30 mile. So either the worn-out, public treadmill's calibration is a bit off, or I need to calibrate the Nike+ sensor for my pace. I'm kind of hoping it's the treadmill, however. If I actually ran 3.1 miles today, I'm in better shape than I thought and might not be so far from entering a 5K.

It seems like a good idea at this time, anyway.

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