It’s not hard to find a story about a geek who made a website and a year later is a high-tech millionaire. You might even be thinking “yeah, I’ve got an idea that’s a least half that good”. Here’s the rub: you’re not a coder. You’re not web developer or java programmer, and don’t know a thing about running web services.
If you’re just a regular Jane, you might be thinking: “OK, I’m good at managing projects but I’m not a coder or a web developer”. If you’re Guy Kawasaki, you already know what to do. Guy started Truemors on a sum of money he describes as “credit card debt”. If you have any inclination toward entrepreneurship, I highly recommend reading about it on his blog (also found on the Running With It blogroll). The specific entry is here.
I was having dinner with a “Regular Jane” a couple days ago. She has an idea worth looking into and had some questions about what was possible as far as connecting the web and SMS messages. Since my job involves the frontier between the internet and the phone I was in a pretty good place to answer her questions. (She asked about how one would generate SMS messages to a mobile phone from a web-based application. The short answer is to use an SMS gateway provider, which you can throw into Google or read the wikipedia article about it.) I also told her about a blog entry by someone who is not a web developer built a Web 2.0 company in short order.
Giving a friend regurgitated advice from the web isn’t so hard. In fact I have not much in qualifications other than what I’ve read in blogs and books (to be fair, this is not a trivial body of work). In the interest of gaining empirical knowledge of the kinds ideas I think are good, I just opened a research project on Elance (sounds like freelance). Elance is a site that aggregates freelancers from around the world to bid on your project. It can be anything from customer service, web design, application development, or in my case, research. I have an angle on a traditional business that I think might be worth my time to persue. I need to determine what the start up costs to get in are. If it’s on the scale of a ten year old car, I’m in. If its on the scale of a luxury car, I’m out. I’ll let you know if a couple of weeks when the research is done.
Training updates are in SOAP form, borrowed from Art Clarke at Running Naked.
In some ways things are not going as well as planned. Last week a running workout ended early. Running gets to my stamina in ways that other activities (swimming/running) do not. I came back two days later and met the intended running goal for that day which was great. Yesterday’s run also did not go as planned: the available treadmill was broken, so I ended up just going outside and running. As expected running in the normal way is more work than the treadmill.
The last three running workouts were supposed to be 1.6, 1.8, and 2.0 miles respectively. In reality they were 1.0, 1.8, and 1.0. The last 1.0 mile run was non-treadmill run. There is slight pain in the knee after running outdoors.
Running remains the greatest level of risk. Discussions with other triathletes suggest the goal of “just finishing” is appropriate and I agree.
- Increase number of training sessions from 3 per week to 4 per week
- Focus on building running endurance. Every session will involve running in some way.
- Swim at least once per week.
What is the point of all of this?
To make me better. To make you better.
Being the best me that I can be is the most important goal I can imagine for myself. Anything I post here will endeavor to describe things I’ve done to better myself that might help or inspire you as well. Some days, the bar will be low and I might post something that is amusing. Amused, I think, is better than not. The next day I’ll talk about methods for processing email that reduce stress and increase your efficiency.
If I had to make a list of themes, this would be it. Everything relates to one of these:
The caveat: I’ve been working on this post for nearly a month. It still does not feel done and I suspect it never will. I’m never done learning, and to declare this entry finished would, in a way, be declaring boundaries for what might be covered here.
The Goal in Context:
I have not been very active with technology for the last 5 years (being a manager will do that to you). The management path has been good to me: I’ve learned numerous skills that help to keep teams functioning, productive, and motivated. That being said, I’ve been witnessing the power of the internet lately and thinking about how it might be leaving me behind. What better way to play a little bit of catch-up than to run a blog (how Web 2.0 of me) that allows me to explore all of the interesting new technology. For some perspective, the last time I touched the web was pre-adsense; my how things have changed.
Since I’ve found Art Clarke’s (Running Naked) SOAP format for reporting on training so interesting and useful I am adopting it for my own use as well. In short, SOAP is a method used by physicians to aid in treating patients. SOAP is a way to organize thoughts that helps the physician (or anyone really) examine all parts of a problem eliminating natural biases. For an explanation on how and why, read Art’s entry about it.
Overall training is going well. I feel great, although I feel hungrier than I used to, but presumably I’m burning the calories off in training. The bicycle ride on Sunday was harder than I expected it to be (I decided to go fast and see if I could lap my training companions on a 2.2 mile course. I failed, but not by much.) The cycling may be my biggest risk because I have a tendency to hyperventilate that may need to be managed.
Running is up to 1.4 miles. Swimming is at 1/2 mile. I did a cycling workout that was 13+ miles this weekend. No soreness or pain of note to report.
I’m arguably in the best shape of my life. I have no doubts that I will be in shape to finish the triathlon. It is beginning to occur to me that the triathlon is a race and that I may want to be more competitive than previously thought. The original idea was just to finish but the competitive spirit may take over.
Keep increasing the running distances; this is the most important. By the end of the week I should have run 1.8 miles. Do at least one swimming workout this week (Friday probably). This week is challenging from a scheduling standpoint, so I’ll have to be creative to stick to it.
After an hour long visit to Sports Basement in Sunnyvale, I ended up with a pair of Saucony Progrid Omni 6 running shoes. After an analysis by the very helpful and knowledgeable sales staff we determined that I have overpronation. (It it very difficult to find references to the word “pronate”, it is always defined as “pronation” or “overpronation”.) This was explained to me as a tendency for my ankle to collapse while running. As a result I ended up with the highest level of ankle support available. Proper running shoes are rated with different levels of ankle support which makes it easier to know which shoes will work best for you.
The shoe selection process was much more scientific than I have ever had before. I tried on 15 different shoes and did comparisons between them by putting one type of shoe on one foot and a different on the other. Each iteration of this process involved jogging up the path in the store being observed by the sales associate. He was also very patient when I wanted to repeat tests with the types of shoes on opposite feet than I had already tried; it seemed that whichever shoe was on my left foot always felt better since my right knee is where my injury is.
The real test is how they performed when I ran. On Thursday, my workout plan was to swim one half mile, and then to run 1.4 miles. I’m happy to report that I felt no pain in my knee that day, nor the day after. In all fairness, it could have been the difference between swimming as a warm-up versus the elliptical trainer as a warm up. Today, the workout will be 40 minutes on the elliptical followed by 1.6 miles.
Other good news: I’m ahead of the curve on running. With luck and perseverance I will pass the 1.5 mile marker running today.
Based on inspiration wand wisdom from my buddy Art Clarke I’ve put more thought into this weeks training regimen. For those who don’t know him, Art is one of the more clever people I’ve had the luxury to work with. If you want to learn from someone’s successes he’s a fine choice. If you want to learn from his failures, he’s good for that too. Check out his blog here.
Training for this week:
- Tuesday (today): 35 minute normal workout on the elliptical trainer. Run 1.1 miles on the treadmill focusing not at all on speed, and entirely on form. Stretch after workout.
- Thursday: Go to a store and hopefully purchase proper running shoes of joint saving quality. Swim 1/2 mile, then run 1.3 miles. Stretch after workout
- Weekend: Do either an elliptical workout then run 1.4 miles, or cycle at least 10 miles. Since I have no structured daytime plans, doing both is not out of the question.
- Consider purchasing an inexpensive cycling computer to gather higher quality data for cycling training.
- Put out of mind that I drooled over a Cannondale cyclocross bike in a shop last weekend. My Bianchi is just fine.
A worthy and useful plan must include milestones. Since I’m training for a triathlon, my plan includes fitness milestones, and today, I crossed the first one: I ran one mile.
In most circles, running a mile is not considered that big a deal, nor should it be. However, since my relationship to running has been tense at best this is meaningful for the following reasons:
- This is a mile run without pain on a previously injured knee.
- This is a mile run after a workout on the elliptical trainer
- This is a mile run when I didn’t really feel like working out
Next milestone: running 2 miles.
Days left until triathlon: 48
*edit – there was a slight amount of pain in the knee after the run. It was not evident the next day, which is when it is typically the worst. Training tomorrow will involve a 1.1 mile run.
So what am I doing to train exactly? As I alluded to in a previous entry, the obvious first step is to evaluate my present fitness level.
Can I presently:
- Swim .5k – yes
- Bike 20k – yes
- Run 5k – no
In my case, the focal point of my training is becoming clear. I need to work on running. Compounding the situation is that running is the last phase of a triathlon, so I’ll have to do it after swimming and biking, which means I’ll be starting the run tired. I interpret this as a secondary focus of training on general endurance.
Because of the subtle injury in my knee, I’m taking the running pretty slow. I’ve done three training sessions so far, distances of 0.50, 0.63, and 0.75 miles. The encouraging news here is that I have not felt pain in the knee at all. It is possible that a treadmill is a much more forgiving situation than hard ground. It could also be that since I’m doing the running after I’ve done a workout on an elliptical trainer, the good long warm up has made things work that much better. It could be both or neither. Whichever way this is a good sign.
However, at the present rate I’ll be running 3 miles right around the date of the Triathlon, which does not seem like sufficient preparation. If I move the increment of mileage up from .125 to .250. This puts me at a 3 mile distance around the middle of October, which meets other training goals that I have (more on that one in my next post).
The plan, in all of it’s documented formality:
- twice per week, at the gym: swim and run. Swim at least 1/2 mile. Run incrementally more each time, working up to 3 miles by mid-October
- Every weekend bike 10-15 miles.
- In mid-October, do a simulated triathlon at the gym (swim .5k, bike 20k, run 5k)
Staying motivated may be the hardest thing to do when forming new habits. Remember all of those great resolutions for the new year that have fallen by the wayside. One method I’ve used is to find a training partner: the idea is that you’re accountable to your training partner to show up on schedule. Skipping a work out becomes a social liability, “Hey, why did you flake on our running date at the last minute?”.Since I can never seem to find a training partner that has a schedule or commitment like mine, I often turn to books to keep myself honest and my motivation up. Ultimate Fitness: The Quest for Truth about Health and Exercise by Gina Kolata is a great book that examines many of the myths of fitness and claims made by those selling exercise routines, diets, equipment, etc. Kolata is a science reporter at the New York Times, which in my opinion gives her better than average credibility and means that she can explain things in English as you and I understand it.
Speaking of motivation, it was reading Ultimate Fitness the first time a couple years ago that really got me to push myself in my exercise regime. It seems that it’s time for a reread, so look for a full fledged review in a couple of weeks.
Ultimate Fitness by Gina Kolata
he three elements of a triathlon are swimming, cycling, and running. Two of these I enjoy and am decent at. The third will take the most of my dedication and effort to think about. Throw in a knee that historically is uncooperative and we’ve a real recipe for non-success.My loathe for running has been with me as long as I can remember. My parents were both runners, which, even as a child, I never understood. I was a pretty athletic kid, but I still hated running laps around the field during PE in school. Running as part of soccer, basketball, or any other sport was just fine, but as a end unto itself, forget it.
Fast forward to 2006. I really got my act together and lost a good bit of weight (30 lbs). I figured, just for kicks, that I might give running or jogging another shot just to see what the fuss was all about. It turned out, the being 30 lbs. lighter made quite the difference. It wasn’t a barrel of monkeys exactly, but it was approaching fun. So I went out for a second shot a few days later. That’s when the knee pain started. Since then, after any activity that puts stress on the knee I feel it the next day.
As physiological problems go, this is pretty minor. It is merely irritating; it does not even rank as inconvenient. That being said, it would seem to serve as a warning that going further down this road may be potentially damaging.
Action Item: See a doctor about the knee and make sure this is
a good idea not the worst idea ever.