I imagine that there are myriad tools on the internet for runners and exercisers to use, and I’m just barely even aware of what’s available.  But what I’m using right now is working for me, so it’s worth sharing.

First, I’m using a simple google docs spreadsheet to track the miles on my shoes.  I’m told that this is important, because it helps keep us from running in bad, broken down shoes that have lost their cushion.  As of today, my shoes (and the rest of me!) have gone 30.45 miles.  I keep hearing estimates in the neighborhood of 400 miles for good running shoes, so I have a ways to go yet.

I’m also using a website called Fitocracy as a motivational and tracking tool.  There are a many things I love about this site.  First, it plays to the nerdy and geeky folks.  There are points (like experience points in a game) and levels.  I’m level 7!  There are also quests that can be completed and achievements that can be earned.  Additionally, after posting a workout, other users can acknowledge your workout by giving you “props”. I find this to be really helpful.  It’s really nice to have someone, even a stranger who lives far away, acknowledge my workout, usually within a very short time period after I post it.

There are also a huge number of groups that people can belong to.  Some are very silly, some are groups of like minded individuals, some are discussion groups for folks with a specific goal and others are serious groups that create challenges for the members to compete in.   A few of the groups I belong to are: Fit Geeks, Geek Girls Go, The Evil League of Evil, Weight Loss, Future Me, The 1200 Mile Club – Running, and Where is the pink monkey, he stole my watermelon.

Weight Loss and Future Me tend to have the most discussion of the groups I belong to, and the most newbies in them.  When I log in, I make sure to give props to anybody I happen to see on my main page or in any of the groups I go look at, who has worked out, completed a quest, earned an achievement or joined a funny or useful group.  I especially try to give props to any lower level members, because they’re the ones who need the most encouragement.  I’m pretty sure that a lot of people on Fitocracy do the same thing.

I also blog about what I’ve been doing.  That is going to happen here now, but I did use my personal blog from June through a few days ago.  I decided I wanted to have a more public blog for this, though, so here I am.  I find that blogging about my training is really useful.  If I’m feeling as though I’m not progressing fast enough, or if my motivation is suffering, just going back and reading older blog posts can make a world of difference.  It also helps keep me honest.

In the future, I think I’ll probably use Jeff Galloway’s website some as I really get my feet under me in my training plan.  I’ve also found some useful information and suggestions at the Runner’s World website, particularly for newbie runners.  And an online friend linked to a training website that I haven’t entirely decided whether to use yet, but I like the idea of it a lot.  It’s the 100 Pushups website.  Pushups are on my list of things I should probably be doing, and the plan at that site looks like something that could work for me.

And now for an actual update!  I did my long run yesterday, rather than waiting for today and I’m glad I did.  I went 4.7 miles, which is .7 miles farther than my previous long run.  I tried out a 120 second run to 60 second walk split for the first 1.5 miles (approximately) and found that to be a bit too much for me, so I switched back to my 60s/60s split for the rest of my run.  I may have also gone a little faster, but it’s sort of hard for me to tell.

Only 181 days to go!

A little more background

Before I get any farther in my training and blogging about it, I thought I’d give you a little bit more background on how I got from where I was on June 1st, 2011 to seriously considering a marathon.

As mentioned in the last post, June 1 was when I had my “to heck with feeling crappy” moment and started hiking the M trail somewhat regularly.   It was really hard at first.  I would have to stop and rest in the middle of some of the steeper legs of the trail, and at most of the switchbacks.  But over time it got easier and I was able to stop less often.  I nearly always stopped at the first switchback, though, to stretch.  I found that I got a lot less sore that way, which made a big difference in my motivation levels.  Eventually, the hike got easy enough that I started to run a couple of the legs (usually the 2nd and the 8th or 9th).  At some point I started to copy some of the other hikers and turn around to run back up some of the legs on my way back down from the M.

The point is, I didn’t just keep doing what was easy. I wasn’t satisfied with just doing the same thing, and neither was my body.  My body responded to being challenged.   If I didn’t challenge it, it did not reward me with the endorphin boost.  Now, don’t get the idea that I was “going hard” at these things.  I wasn’t and I still don’t.  I am a fairly lazy person and I’m still not what I would consider to be “in shape” at all.  But I’m a lot closer than I’ve been since my early twenties.  Even then I was thin but lazy so I still wasn’t very fit.

Right now, I’m far, far slower at my run/walk/run than I would like to be.  But considering I just started on 11/30, I imagine I will speed up considerably in the next  182 days.  I’m going to experiment a bit with my pace over the next week or two, and see what feels right.   I don’t exactly have a time goal for the marathon.  One of the presenters at the talk I mentioned, gave us the suggestion that a good goal for the newbies might be simply to finish before the food tent runs out of food.  That’s a very reasonable goal, to my mind.  My real goal is to finish and to have as much fun as I can along the way, both on the day of the marathon and during the training.

Most people who’ve done any training for something like this will already know the things I’m learning, but this blog is about being a newbie, so I’ll talk about some of that “obvious” stuff sometimes.  For instance, one of the things I learned at Wednesday’s presentation was that the cornerstone of my training is my weekly “long run” which will usually be on Sunday for me.  Right now, my longest “long run” has been the 4 miler I did last Sunday.  I think I’m going to do this week’s long run today, and rather than try to go farther than 4 miles, I will try to go faster and see how I feel.  I’m also going to play with my run/walk interval a bit and see how that feels.

While I’m looking forward to running with the group, starting on 1/22, I do value this time before class starts, and the opportunities I have to experiment with my pace and my run/walk intervals, without dealing with other people.

I’ve poked around a little bit at Jeff Galloway’s website and there seem to be lots of helpful suggestions and tools there.  One suggestion I saw there was to always rest the day before your long run.  Since I took yesterday off (not really on purpose, but I did), I think a long run today will be good for me and also help me out of the semi-depressed mood I am in.

That’s another thing that I find interesting.  I’m getting used to the impact exercise has on my mood, and when I’m depressed, upset or grumpy, I get the urge to go exercise so I can feel better.  That’s a really great way in which my body gives me some positive reinforcement, and it works.  We’ve all heard about that phenomenon from the exercisers in our lives, but most non-exercisers don’t really take it to heart as a truth.  I know I didn’t.  But now I know from experience and really appreciate it a lot.

So, my next post should be less background-y and more about something new I’ve learned or how I’m doing currently.

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