Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A weekly run?

After my run.
Two data points do not make much of a pattern, but I'm wondering whether two runs over two weeks is the start of something. I've not done much running in the past. In fact, I only started to run after a gym workout in December 2009 with a friend where he and I ran next to each other on adjacent treadmills. I had never been on a treadmill, so he was surprised I could go 20 min without stopping. I was, too.

I used the treadmill once more in December 2009 and 5 more times in January 2010. I used the treadmill 4 times in February, and once in March. I also went for my first-ever run outdoors on March 6, 2010 for 25 minutes. I went running outdoors twice more in April, twice in May, once in June, and once in July. Now I've run once in August and I expect to run another couple times this month. Especially if my next run goes as smoothly as my last one on August 7.

That day was clear and warm but with low humidity. I chose a route close to my house on grounds maintained by a corporate headquarters. The folks who work in that building must work very hard because I never see anyone using the crushed stone path that loops through a meadow with a nice open view. According to, the route I take is 2.3 miles long and it has two short but steep hills (3.1% grade for 0.4 mile and 2.3% grade for 0.7 mile). I've run it about 4 times now and those hills push my heart rate to maximum. But on August 7th I felt good during most of the run. I didn't really feel fatigued during the run, and my only complaint was the cramps I felt in my upper right chest and right calf for approximately 10 minutes. I ignored them the best I could. My run lasted 25 minutes but that included 4 minutes of walking as a pre-run warm up. MapMyRun tells me that I ran at an 11.0 miles/min pace, and the website makes it easy and fun to keep a workout log. It even gives me smiley faces when I exceed my weekly averages.

I had not heard of MapMyRun until recently. A friend of mine used it to map out her own running route as she trains for a marathon. She was disappointed to see that the 5.0 mile route she measured with her car's odometer was only 4.7 miles according to MapMyRun. Without knowing anything about the website I assured her that the odometer was probably more accurate, as the website probably does not account for changes in topography. She insisted that it does, because MapMyRun gives you data on elevation change and hills. However, as I mapped my own route, I noticed that the mileage was calculated using the flat map of the route, and only after you click "save" and a little processing time do the elevation data appear. I am quite certain now that my original hypothesis was correct; the mileage estimate does not account for hills, so a car odometer is going to be more accurate. But do we really need to worry about a 0.3 mile difference?

I wanted to write about my run this week because in a previous post I challenged myself to run more frequently. So I did. And I will.

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