Friday, September 21, 2012

Blowing Smoke

Remember that time when I said I was going to consciously try to lose some weight? It was about three weeks ago. I did this whole blog post about it. If you need to look back, feel free.

I want to talk about my running routine a little. As I mentioned in that previous post, I've challenged myself to go from the couch to a 5k. I'm three weeks into it now and I'm really into it. I have days off built into the program, and on those days off, I find myself missing the chance to get out and move. I realize those days are built into the challenge for a reason, so I refrain and take the days to rest.

At first it was hard. That first day I went out was a struggle. The first day's requirement was only to walk 5 minutes, jog 1 minute, then walk another 5. That's it. But that one minute of jogging was tough. I know it shouldn't have been, but it really was. And probably would be for anyone who was as inactive as I'd been.

I have this app on my phone from the good people at Nike. In theory, it keeps track of how long I'm running, how far I'm going, and even tracks where I run through the phone's GPS. It also posts the results of my run onto Twitter and Facebook. That way, my friends and followers over there can give encouragement by liking or commenting on what I've done.

I thought I was doing so great. That first day, despite the apparent ease of the walk/jog, I was told by my phone that I had gone 1.87mi in 11 minutes and 43 seconds. I have to say, I was really impressed with myself. But then I thought about it and became really suspicious.

When I was a kid, it took me a good 20 minutes to circle the track four times for that stupid physical fitness test we had to do for PE twice a year. Granted, I can do a mile faster now, simply because I'm trying and because my legs are longer. Okay, they're not much longer, but there has been some slight growth since I was 7.

But I kept going. It felt good to think I was going around 2 miles each time I went out. And then this week I decided to really test it. Tuesday was a rainy day. Really rainy. So I didn't feel like running outside in all that. Luckily, my apartment has a fitness center, equipped with semi-state-of-the-art treadmills and elliptical machines. I jumped on the treadmill and went roughly the same pace I go when I'm outside. I could only estimate by what felt right compared to the numbers the machine threw out there.

That day I walked for 5 minutes, jogged for 6, then ended with another 5 minute walk. By the time I stopped the machine, I had gone a mere 0.95mi. SERIOUSLY?!

I knew the Nike app had to have been off by some margin, but I had no idea it was off by that much. So, what? Has Nike just been blowing smoke up my butt all this time? Trying to make me feel better about my jogging abilities than I really should?

I'm not discouraged. Not in the slightest. I still went out this morning. The application was a little more accurate today than it has been. At least, I assume it was. And I think the reason is the GPS signal. From what I can tell, Nike reads my distance based on how far the GPS thinks I've been running. All this time, I thought it was based on a motion sensor in the phone that acted like a pedometer. A lot of days, early in the morning when I've gone out, I've noticed the phone saying that the GPS signal was weak. Today, the signal was strong.

I've noticed some things since I began running. My breathing has gotten a lot easier. At first, jogging would cause my lungs to feel like they were on fire and I would be hyperventilating by the time I got back to the walking portion. Now it isn't the lungs that bother me. It's the legs. They are definitely feeling the burn. But I assume that's a good thing.

By the way, for those who are interested, three weeks into this thing I'm down 12 pounds and have gone in an extra notch on my belt. Seems kind of fast...

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