Anyone who has read my first few blog entries will know that the aim of starting to run again was not to break records or to beat others; the aim was to get fitter. But I have started to wonder about the progress I’m making. Am I making any progress for that matter? It seems that, in order to understand how I am doing, I need to start taking a much greater interest in tracking my exercise.
This all came together when I stumbled across a website called Daily Mile whilst reading John’s blog at fitfor365.wordpress.com. To many this site will be as familiar as Google, Twitter or Facebook but, for the uninitiated, Daily Mile allows you to map routes and record workouts. Knowing that it can only add to my motivation, I have set this up as a public record of my running exploits.
After recording a few runs on the site, I realised that there was a crucial component missing. My times. Now, I have a watch, I can tell the time. What I didn’t have was a digital watch (apparently I’m fooling myself here into thinking that I need split-second timing, rather than the gentle circuits of the minute hand). And so a cheap digital watch became my first running-related purchase. It is black, plastic and has more buttons than it needs. I have yet to work out what the top left-hand one does, for example. But I have found where the stopwatch was hiding and I have started to use this to time my runs and track my progress.
Sometimes this works out better than others. Starting my run, I normally allow myself a few metres warm-up before I turn a corner, the point at which my Daily Mile route starts, and then I start the stopwatch. Or trigger the alarm. Ah!
I run on, not wanting to break my momentum, squinting at my new watch and pressing buttons. I stop the alarm, step off of the path, take a neat left turn, disappear into a bush and trigger the alarm again. Bouncing back onto the path, I stop the alarm, reset my watch to midnight and then, finally, start the stopwatch. We’ll add an extra 15 seconds onto today’s time then.
Coordination issues aside, this has added a further dimension to my exercise record. It allows me to see my pace and, although I’m not setting blistering speeds yet, it is interesting to start to understand how a few seconds difference over a kilometre feels when I’m running.
It also stops me from pretending that I have done more exercise than I really have. Aside from my weekly 5-a-side football (which Daily Mile doesn’t seem to have an option for), I have recorded all of the running that I have done over the last month or so. It’s a little sobering when you look back on it:
- 11 runs
- 43.17 km or 26.82 miles
- Fastest pace (km) = 5 minutes, 1 second
- Slowest pace (km) = 5 minutes, 35 seconds
- Total number of doughnuts burned = 15.89
I may wish that I had run further, faster or for longer, but this is the reality of what I have achieved and I can be happy with that. I see this as a benchmark. I have now drawn a line in the sand. From here, I can improve, or not, but I have a marker against which I can measure myself, someone to compete against. Me.
I think that deserves a doughnut.
(All images taken from the Daily Mile site)