Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's a Small World, After All

This weekend I went to Orlando on business. My family joined me. On Friday they went to the Magic Kingdom while I attended a workshop. I joined them at the park about an hour before it closed. Before the workshop, I woke up early to run. Stacy wasn't crazy about my running in the dark in a strange area, so I agreed to just run on the hotel treadmill. I did, and it wasn't that bad. In fact, I kind of liked it. I'm still feeling it in my upper legs. Not so much in my calves, but more more in my quads than normal. It was very difficult to pace myself - I think I went farther and faster than I do when running outside. Between running in the morning and walking in the park at night, I got in about 21,000 steps: roughly double what I'd normally do on a running day. By the end of the day, my ankle was hurting a bit. Then, on Saturday, we went to Epcot. It was a great way to spend the weekend, and a nice precursor to starting HHST this Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Three R's

Rain, rest, and reluctance. I haven't yet started my post-C25k adventures. Tuesday was to have been my first day of HHST, but I had to be in court in Ft. Lauderdale early in the morning so that precluded my early morning run. Since the Hal Higdon Spring Training program is a more structured program than C25k, with the long run always falling on a weekend, I didn't want to offset the days and instead decided to just put everything off for a week and use Tuesday as an extra day of rest and maybe do some light maintenance runs this week. This decision was reinforced by the fact that my left ankle and shin have been bothering me again (just a bit - don't worry, mom!), and I definitely don't want to overdo it this time 'round. Fortunately, it has rained each morning so far this week, so I feel like I have an extra excuse for not being out there running. If the weather improves, I may do some light running tomorrow, go for a walk on Saturday, and do 3 miles on Sunday, and then I'll be in good shape to begin HHST next week.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

C25k: Week 9, Day 3 -- Graduation!

Today, with a run through the park, I wrapped up this go-round of C25k. Go me! It sounds funny to say it, but graduating from C25k is just as meaningful, to me, as graduating from high school, or college, or law school. I'm really pleased with the goal I set for myself, and with the fact that I was able to achieve it. Now, the trick is going to be continuing on and not hurting myself this time.

I figure I should take this opportunity to reflect on how this time through the program was different than my first time. For one thing, I didn't lose any weight this time through. Then again, I'm only 6 pounds above my goal weight. When I started the first time, I had 30 pounds to lose. So, on the whole, I'm pretty content on that front. As I continue running and my distance increases, I'm sure I'll shed those last few pounds.

Another difference has to be soreness. This time, there really wasn't any. I didn't ice after runs, because I didn't feel the need to. The day following a run, I felt fine. I suspect this is a sign that I could add another day to my running schedule. In fact, I think I am going to do just that: I'm still vacillating between doing the "One Hour Runner" versus Hal Higdon's "Spring Training for Novice Runners," but I think I'm leaning toward the latter. It includes runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, a Saturday walk, and a Sunday long run. I really like the fact that it uses both Saturday and Sunday, since I much prefer to exercise in daylight. The thing I don't quite understand, yet, is what to do if I miss a day. Do I just skip it? Or do I shift everything over by a day?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

C25k: Week 9, Day 2

Yesterday was my penultimate C25k run. My office was closed, so I didn't have to do it as an early-morning run, but I woke up early nonetheless so I could go see my daughters perform in their school's "Peace Day" celebration. Lila sang a song ("One Small Voice") with her class, and Zoe read a poem about peace - each in front of 600+ other students. It was an awesome start to the day. I'm registered as a school volunteer, so I was able to sit in on Zoe's morning class and I participated in her class routine, which included morning exercises. Lots of jumping jacks and moves that looked suspiciously like they originated from the Electric Slide. It was a good warmup.

After the Peace Day festivities and some errand running, I finally got around to running at about 3 PM, making this the first time I've ever done an afternoon run. Normally I steer clear of those, because of the heat. Determined, I went out nevertheless. I'm glad I did: it was a good run. The most notable part definitely was running down 10th Avenue North, which I've taken to calling "creepycrawly alley" in my mind since that's where I always run into the spider webs, and see the snails, during my early morning runs. In the late afternoon, there were no such creepy crawlies to be found. There were, however, literally hundreds of little lizards. Little lizards are a common part of South Florida fauna, and normally I don't give them a second thought. This run, though, I couldn't help but notice them: they were everywhere! The sound of my running must have disturbed them, because as I progressed down the sidewalk they would run from the swale, across the width of the sidewalk just inches in front of me, until they reached the other side where they would jump into the bushes. It was truly an amazing sight. I amused myself by pretending I was a T-Rex, my arms loose at my sides in standard jogging form like little T-Rex arms, and that the lizards were tiny velociraptors running in fear from me. It made for a really fun run.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

C25k: Week 9, Day 1

Today has only just begun, but it already is replete with milestones. Today's Week 9, Day 1 run pushed me over the 100-mile mark for miles run thus far this year (for my runs tracked on Running Ahead - my total mileage is more like 144 miles, if I count all runs starting from W1D1 of my first time through C25k). It also means that I have now entered a new city on my virtual Route 66 road trip. Funk's Grove, Illinois, look out! Daniel Terner is in town, tearing up the pavement!

Another milestone today: my weight jumped up 3 pounds since the last time I checked, putting me pretty much right back where I was when I started this go-round of C25k. But we won't talk about that one, will we?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Rain Delay

C25k W9D1 will have to wait one more day: this morning featured little rain but heavy and frequent lightning. I decided not to run in it. The storm reached its height at about 3 AM. By 5 AM, when I'd be heading out, it had almost fully passed - just very occasional flashes in the distance - but I still decided not to chance it. Good thing, too: a quick search on Google this morning pulled up lots of news stories about ipod-wearing joggers being struck by lightning while running. This quote, in particular, stood out to me:

His eardrums were ruptured, his jaw fractured and he suffered first- and second-degree burns from his chest — where the device was strapped — up into his ear channels, along the trail of the iPod’s trademark white earphones. He also had burns down his left leg and on the foot, where the electricity exited his body, blowing his sneaker to smithereens in the process.

The decision not to run gave me a little bit of extra time this morning. As it turns out, I needed that time to deal with a flat tire on my car. So all is well, and Week 9 will begin tomorrow.

Monday, September 17, 2007

No Sleep for the Weary

No C25k run for me this morning. David had a rough night. He's teething, and on top of that he has a cold and is congested. He was up every hour or so. Poor little guy! He's getting six new teeth at once. It has left him out of sorts, and the cold isn't helping him feel any better. Stacy took the brunt of it last night but it left me exhausted, as well. I decided getting an extra hour of sleep was preferable to waking up at 4:30 for a run. On the bright side, it means that when I finish C25k it'll be with a weekend park run this Saturday.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

C25k: Week 8, Days 2 and 3

Another 2fer blog entry. This was a great week of C25k for me. By pushing my Day 2 run forward a day, I was able to have two daylight runs this week: Day 2 on Thursday morning, and Day 3 on Saturday morning. I was able to do both as park runs, which I really love. The Day 3 run was an especially good one: Rather than any feeling of running in place, this last time I actually felt like I was propelling myself forward. My pace was no different, my gait was no different; as far as I can tell I did nothing different. It just felt better, like everything was finally clicking into place.

Also, I learned on my W8D3 run that I am not observant AT ALL. I have been going the same way literally dozens of times between this time through C25k and the last. This time, for the first time, I noticed a 7+ foot cactus growing wild right on the side of the road, inches from where I always pass. I know it didn't sprout over night, nor was it planted by someone. So how on earth have I never seen it before? It's not like these things are common and easy to overlook where I live. What's up with that? I guess I've always been distracted when passing by it, every other time?

In other running news, I have joined a group on Facebook devoted to running. The group was started by someone participating in the same Cool Running support-group thread in which I participate. I can definitely see how it will be a great resource for us and I look forward to being an active member of the community, post-C25k. Also, since joining facebook to become a member of that group, I've located and "reunited" with several long-lost high school and college friends I haven't heard from in 10-15 years. We're having fun catching up, and I've discovered that some of them are runners, too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rest Day

I didn't run today, intentionally. I wanted to give my left leg an extra day of rest, since it is the one that was starting to bother me in my last run, and it is also my left ankle that fractured (sprained?), last time around right after C25k graduation. As I get closer to graduation again, and the same amount of intensity and mileage that caused the problem the first time around, I find myself becoming increasingly paranoid that the same thing will happen again. Of course, this time through I've been wearing the right type of running shoes for my feet instead of off-the-shelf "these look nice" sneakers. Hopefully that will make a difference. The other benefit to not running today is that tomorrow I am off work and so will be able to do a sunrise park run.

Monday, September 10, 2007

C25k: Week 8, Day 1

Despite the title of my blog, very seldom do I have dreams about running. In fact, I don't think I've ever had one. Last night was an exception:

My morning began at 3:30 AM, a full hour before the early alarm went off. At that point, for some reason, I started sleepwalking. I sat bolt upright in bed then started across the room for my running kit. Luckily, my moving about the room woke up Stacy and she asked me what I was doing. I crawled back into bed and fell back to sleep until the first alarm, at 4:30 AM. In that hour, I had dreams about running. I dreamt that I went downstairs with my running kit, and that I took it out onto the back patio where I proceeded to get undressed, outdoors. Nobody was about. I changed into my running clothes and did some stretching out on the back patio. I remember putting on a blue Superman-emblem shirt (that I never wear while running), but I don't think I put on any running shorts. My parents came around and we talked about how impressed they were with my getting up early despite not being a morning person. By that time it was sunrise (in the dream) and I started out for my run. I ran my normal route. I recall feeling that the run was unusually difficult, but uneventful. On the way back, I felt like I was moving very slowly. At one point I stumbled. Other than that, the dream run went well. I woke up feeling exhausted, just in time for my real run to begin.

Out of curiosity, I tried looking up the interpretation of dreams about running. Most of them talk about running from something, or running to something. They talk about fear, and pursuit. My dream wasn't really characterized by any of those things, though. It was just me, running my normal route. Not toward something, or from something. No sense of fear or dread or pursuit. I don't think there necessarily was any deeper significance to the dream, though it did seem to have a residual effect on the quality of my actual run this morning.

My real run was almost what I'd categorize as a "bad" run: I felt like I was pushing it the whole way and I never got into any sort of zone. At some points I seriously considered stopping and walking. My calves, and even the soles of my feet, were burning. At one point I thought I might be courting a shin splint. I perservered, slowly, and when the run finally ended and I started my cooldown walk I felt like I was walking at the same speed I had been running. Some runs it just feels like I'm not really propelling myself forward - that all of my energy is going vertically, none horizontally - this was one of those. Regardless, I finished it. I wore pants. I didn't stumble. So, in my book, it was still a good run.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

C25k: Week 7, Days 2 and 3

I didn't blog about my last run, but run I did. It was a fine, uneventful pre-dawn run made more enjoyable because I was using my own custom playlist with time prompts spoken by Mrs. Roboto. With the completion of that run and today's Day 3 run earlier this morning, I'm now officially on Week 8!

Since this morning's run (W7D3) was a weekend run, I waited until sunrise and ran through the park. It was relatively cool, with low humidity - perfect running weather. I didn't see many other people - just a couple of geriatric racquetball early risers and a few dog walkers, but wildlife abounded: squirrels, turtles, egrets, ducks, geese, and - oh, yes - snails and spiders, too. Some roadkill, too, but that doesn't really count, does it? Fat black bumblebee-like bugs were hovering in the area at one point in the run: I'm not really sure what they were, but we kept our distance from each other. I felt like some kind of bizarro Snow White (only, you know, more manly), with woodland creatures all about me. Just as I finished my cooldown walk, the Chariots of Fire theme started playing on my nano, and so, inspired by it, I ran the short distance remaining back home.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


No run for me this morning. I overslept. I heard the first alarm, at 4:30, but slept right through the "real" one at 4:45. I awoke, bleary-eyed, at 5:30. Still early for a non-running day (when I sleep in 'till 6:00 -- ooh), but too late to begin. I don't feel too broken up about it since I've been doing my C25k running every-other-day instead of three times a week. Looks like tomorrow will be a running day, instead.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

C25k: Week 7, Day 1

Yesterday's run was the first run of Week 7. As I recall from last time, weeks 7-9 really fly by. I feel like I'm in the home stretch, now, and I'm so glad to be done with the interval running. Instead of running to the C25k Ullrey podcast, this time I used my own playlist (with the DINGs and spoken prompts) and it worked flawlessly. Yay! I actually didn't mind the computerized voice. Makes it seem like my nano is one step closer to sentience, though, which is a little freaky.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Make Your Own Kind of Music

I wrote this entry in September of 2007. The instructions still work, but you might want to check out this more recent post that gives some easier alternatives. It also contains a link to a new-and-improved version of the Visual Basic script mentioned below. -- Dan, 7/26/09

Today's blog entry is a bit different. I'm not going to post about my Couch to 5k run for Week 6 Day 3 (it went well. No spiders or snails to dodge, no sprinklers to avoid - what more could I ask for?).

Instead, I've decided to post some detailed instructions that explain how to make your very own C25k running music, including interval notifications. I'll boil it down to two simple steps. (Each step has 37 parts). Note that you can do either step, or both steps. If you do step one alone, then you'll wind up with a playlist of good running music. If you do step two alone, then you'll wind up with a playlist of maybe-good running music that contains interval reminders. If you do steps one and two together, you'll wind up with a playlist of good running music that contains interval reminders.

The steps, in brief:

1. Create a playlist on iTunes that consists just of the running music that you want. You can make this a regular old playlist, if you like, but why not mix things up and make it a "smart" playlist instead? Below I explain how to do that.

2. Add interval notifications to your playlist. You'll have to make a different playlist for each week of C25k, because the intervals change each week (and in weeks 5 and 6 they change by the day, too). If you are lazy, and like Robert Ullrey's choice of techno-heavy music selections, then use his podcast and your work is done. I suggest that you use his podcast, but when week 6 rolls around and you start doing the uninterrupted runs (and thereafter, continuing on after "graduation"), ditch his music and use the method described below.

Okay - here we go with the more detailed instructions:


(These instructions created for Windows iTunes version

1. From the File menu, choose "New Smart Playlist" (Cntrl-Alt-N).

2. Select the tick box up top, to say "match ALL of the following rules"

3. Down below, select "Limit to 25 items selected by RANDOM" (or more, or less, depending upon how long you want your list to be).
4. Select "Match only checked items"
5. Select "Live Updating"
6. Now add your conditions, to indicate to iTunes which songs in your library should be chosen. I have the following conditions, but your mileage and taste may vary:
  • Playlist is NOT Slow Songs (This, for me, is key. I have a separate non-smart playlist called Slow Songs. If I hear a song from my list that I think is not suitable running music, I put it in the Slow Songs playlist. iTunes will exclude any songs found on the Slow Songs playlist when randomly selecting songs for my Smart Jogging playlist).
  • My Rating is ***** (Common sense reminder: If you are going to use ratings (you should), you need to actually rate your songs. If you don't rate anything, but you require your smart playlist to include only four- and five-star songs, you'll get a playlist with nothing on it).
  • Podcast is FALSE
  • Kind IS NOT Audible File
  • Genre IS NOT Audiobook
  • Genre IS NOT Children's Music
  • Genre IS NOT Easy Listening
  • Genre IS NOT Jazz
  • Genre IS NOT Spoken Word
  • Genre IS NOT Inspirational
  • Genre IS NOT A Capella
I have a couple of others (like Artist IS NOT Yanni) that I use, as well. But who knows - maybe you love running to Yanni. More power to you.

7. Give your new Smart Playlist a title. I use "Smart Jogging"


Taking the following steps will add audible "DING" chimes within your new smart playlist (or any ol' dumb playlist, for that matter), in the intervals you specify. For example, I wanted to prepare an interval playlist for a 25 minute run with a 5 minute warmup walk at the beginning and a 5 minute cooldown walk at the end. To do so, I created a script with intervals of 5, 12.5, 7.5, 4, 1, 5. This puts an audible DING after the first five minutes, after 12.5 minutes (the half-way point of the run), another 7.5 minutes later (20 minutes into the run) to signify there are five minutes remaining, 4 minutes after that (to signify one minute remaining), one minute after that (to signify that the run is done and the cooldown walk should begin) and finally 5 minutes after that, to signify the end of the cooldown walk and workout. I take no credit for making the script that does this - all credit goes to Jeff Welch. His Team in Training page is where I found the instructions that follow with regard to the DING intervals. Pay his site a visit and follow the instructions on it to set up the iTunes DING script. As per his instructions:
  1. Download his script file. (Or, download Scott Gould's improved version. Scott improved the script to allow for an initial playlist of any size. The improved version starts adding songs to the running playlist from a random location, randomly selecting a start song from the playlist so that you don't have to hear the same music again and again. If the start song is at the end of the list then it loops back to the start of the playlist. - Dan, 7/26/09)
  2. Unzip to your desktop.
  3. Add the "Ding.mp3" sound file to iTunes.
  4. Create a playlist that you want to use (or select an existing one, like the smart playlist you created following the guidelines listed above).
  5. Inside the "iTunes Runners Playlist" double click the "CreateRunnersPlayList.vbs"
  6. Give it the name of the playlist you just created.
  7. Give it the pattern you desire.
Example, for a 25 minute run with a 5 minute walk bookending either side:


Example, for week 1 of C25k, which consists of a 5 minute walk, 8 repetitions of 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking, and then a 5 minute cooldown walk:


After running his script, you'll have a new playlist called *Smart Jogging (assuming the playlist you were working from was called Smart Jogging).

With both of the above examples, five minutes into the playlist the song then playing will stop, you'll hear a DING, and the next song on your playlist will begin playing.

Of course, all of these dings are ridiculously hard to keep track of as you are running. So I took it a step further, and I have created spoken voice prompts to accompany each ding. These short spoken MP3s can be manually added to your playlist after each DING Jeff's script inserts. The spoken MP3s say things like "5 minutes remaining", "half-way point", "begin your cooldown walk", "one minute left," etc. A much easier approach would simply be to use the Nike+ system, but Nike+ works only with an iPod nano, and these instructions don't require a nano (or even an iPod for that matter - any MP3 player will do).

The spoken-voice files I made are:

BEGIN WARMUP WALK - "Begin your warmup walk now"
WARMUP OVER - "Your warmup walk is over"
HALFWAY POINT - "Half-way there"
5 MINS LEFT - "Five minutes remaining"
1 MIN LEFT - "One minute remaining"
BEGIN COOLDOWN - "Begin your cooldown walk"
DONE - "All done - congratulations"

Plus a few more generic ones:

BEGIN WALKING - "Begin walking now"
STOP WALKING - "Stop walking now"
BEGIN RUN - "Begin your run now"
STOP RUNNING - "Stop running now"

You can download them HERE. Sorry about the funky computerized voice. My microphone wasn't working well, so I used a text-to-speech synthesizer. It sounds better than Stephen Hawking, and worse than HAL. It is fine for my purposes. Hopefully, for yours too. I actually kind of like it.

Next, import these spoken cues (or make your own, if you don't like mine) into iTunes. Import them by selecting "Add File to Library..." (Cntrl+O) from the File menu of iTunes. There are 11 voice files, plus the DING file you previously added. Once you've imported them into your library, select and drag them over to your *Smart Jogging playlist.

Once you have them in your *Smart Jogging playlist (they'll all be down at the bottom), just drag each one to put it after the appropriate DING. See the picture below for an example of how I have my 25 minute run set up.

Note that the files are of very short duration, just a few seconds each. If you have "crossfade playback" enabled in your iTunes preferences you may find that they bleed together a bit too much for your liking. Adjust to taste. I turned off crossfade playback entirely, and that seems to work best for me.

Please be aware that Jeff's script changes the stop time of some of the songs on your playlist. If your first two songs have play times of 2:30 minutes and 2:40 minutes and you've specified your first interval to last for 5 minutes, for example, then the second song will be cut 10 seconds short so the DING can play at the 5 minute mark, and then the next song will begin. To reclaim your lost 10 seconds, you need to run the second script that he included in his file. It sets things back. Before running it (he calls it UndoCreateRunnersPlaylist, and it is the second script he included in his zip archive), first delete the spoken voice prompts you added to the playlist. Also, be aware that the script will work on the entire playlist you choose - so if you have a playlist that is 60 minutes long, and your script calls for 35 minutes worth of intervals, it will run (almost) two times down the list.

If things get messed up, or for some reason his undo script doesn't work right for you, you can always manually reset the stop times of any affected songs. Do so by (1) right-clicking on the song; (2) select Get Info...; (3) click "Options"; (4) untick the "stop-time" box.

Also, it should go without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that you should use caution before unzipping any files and/or running any visual basic scripts. I've looked at Jeff's script and it is perfectly innocuous, and his zip file and mine are virus free. However, you can never be too careful. Use your virus scanner of choice, just to be on the safe side. I cannot be held responsible if his script causes a llama to eat your monitor, or something else unexpected along similar lines.

If you take the time to set this up, and you like it, please let me know by commenting on this blog entry!