"When I buy a new book, I always read the last page first.
That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends.
That, my friend, is a dark side."
In my perpetual pursuit of improvement, I am always on the lookout for new books, apps, etc that will help me be a more efficient runner. I pursue efficiency in an almost obsessive way. I'm not looking to be the best - I won't ever be the fastest, and I'm pretty sure I'll never be an athlete that others aspire to be. Running won't ever give me the gazelle-like figure of my running peers, and I'm ok with that. But I don't like to suck. I can run for miles and miles and miles, but if my entire run is clouded by the fear of falling behind the minimum pace it ruins it for me. I want running to be fun, and I want to be better. (Plus, let's face it - deep down, I'm lazy as hell, so the faster that I can finish these miles, the better!)
I recently read an article in a running magazine offering advice on apps geared towards beginning runners. I'm not a beginner necessarily, but I sure as hell run like one. I employ the "Galloway Method" of running - a form of interval running that is designed to mitigate injury. It's been successful in preventing injury, but try as I might I have not been able improve my speed or efficiency (breathing, heart rate, etc). The article mentioned several apps worth trying (Couch to 5K, Galloway, etc), but one in particular caught my eye - Running for Weight Loss by Red Rock Apps.
As I mentioned before, I'm not running to lose weight. Running and dieting doesn't work for me - running leaves me crazy hungry, and if I try to diet, I'm too tired to run. The reviews on the app, however, appealed to me for other reasons. Like other apps, the Running for Weight Loss app employs a variety of techniques that encourage runners to run, including a GPS running map, variety of coach voice options, and in-app tips. While these are cool, the actual training programs were what interested me.
The Running for Weight Loss app has 5 different training programs, two of which having multiple levels of training intensity: Walking for Weight Loss (beginner, intermediate, advanced), Start Running, Running for Weight Loss (beginner, intermediate, advanced), 5K Training, and 10K Training. Once you select your program, you can view each day of the running plan to see what's to come. (Just as I like to read the last page of a book before I read the rest of it, I like knowing what the end game is before I start any program. Couch to 5K programs were always good for this, but I never found one that I actually liked). After reviewing the first and last days of several programs, I selected one and prepared myself to start it.
I started this program last week, and I'm actually impressed. The visuals are simple and appealing - each interval comes with a both a countdown clock and calorie counter, and the GPS works both indoors and outdoors. [The indoor GPS worked better for me than the NikePlus app; I've decided to input indoor miles into my Nike app manually as I can never get it to read accurately.] The intervals themselves were similar to other apps/methods I had used, but I actually find these intervals to be more "right sized" for me. Not sure if it's the duration of the intervals or that my fitness has actually improved since the last time I ran on a treadmill, but I am running longer and faster than I used to!
The program that I selected with this app runs for 8 weeks (3x/week). I intend to use this for all of my runs during that time, even my long runs (I can use the app for the first 30 minutes, and then go back to Galloway for the remainder). I'm curious to see how much my endurance and speed improve... If I really do become a more efficient, slightly fast-er runner, I will be very excited! I know a few of you are also running (or planning to run) races this fall, so I figured I'd give this app a shout out. And for those of you thinking about it... give it a go! There's sure to be a program for you - and it's free!
In other news, tomorrow starts week two of my strength training program too. Woohoo! I'm going to be fit-ish by November... trust me!
Until we meet again!