Thursday, August 14, 2014

Plant a tree!!!

I hate New Year's resolutions.  Yes, that 'time-honored' tradition of exclaiming a change in yourself or your habits starting with a numerical change in the calendar year.  An attempt that will almost inevitably end in failure, further discouraging the probably needed change in the future.

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now."--Chinese Proverb

I hear people say all the time "I was never good at _____".  Why does that stop us?  You weren't very good at using the potty either, but with enough attempts, you got it down.  Why does difficulty discourage the human spirit?  This is what bothers me with New Year's Resolutions....why do you have to wait until January 1st to change?  Why waste all that time, when you could be growing now?  Plant the seed of change yesterday.......but if that didn't happen, then plant it today!!!

I remember picking up running again after quitting for nearly a decade.  I made it about 800m(1/2mile) and had to walk.  The next day, probably 801m.  The following day, I couldn't bring myself to do it.  The day after that....stopped after 400m(1/4mile) and walked the rest.  A week into it, I still wasn't running a full mile without a feeling of dying.  It was hard.  But, if it wasn't hard, everyone would do it.  "The hard is what makes it great!" Any great achievement is only made great by the adversity and challenge that went into preparing for it.

The mind throws up mental road blocks on a daily basis.  We can ignore them (and run head-on into them) or we can acknowledge them (and then hurdle them).  Just this morning, I was headed for a group run at 5AM.  I knew most of the group would back out and I'd be left to run solo with my headlamp in the darkness of pre-dawn.  Well, one lady showed up and we started off.  After half a mile, she told me to go on ahead, and after assuring that she was OK, I did just that.  Three miles in I could have turned myself back to the parking lot and finish with a nice 5K, but I told myself "Why not run another mile?".  After another mile, I said "We are already this far, let's get to the highway."  After the turn at the highway, I was headed back to the parking lot.  But, about half a mile before the parking lot, I said "Why not make a jaunt thru this neighborhood and tack on another mile?".  The end result was a 3.75-mile run turned into a 7-mile run.  Not because my body wanted to.  Not because I needed it.  But because instead of giving myself options out.....instead of making up reasons why I needed to be done (tired, lonely, dark, chilly, or it really was the first day of school), I came up with reasons to continue.  Fight mental road blocks by giving yourself reasons and incentives to go on.

Lastly, do something out of the ordinary.  We get so set in our daily routines that they become our daily ruts.  Find something outside your comfort zone and go for it.  Set a goal....and then double it.  If doing something sounds like it's going to throw your schedule off, I'd call it a great idea.  Add a few extra miles to your run tomorrow morning, try a new exercise, pick up a golf club, a badminton racquet, pull out a chess board, read a dictionary!  Go so far as to have people call you 'crazy' due to your ambitions, because then you know you are doing it right. 

If the only seed you planted 20 years ago was the seed of regret, set aside some time today to plant a seed of opportunity that will bear fruit for the next 20 years.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Math is easy!!

"Mathematics is the music of Reason" --James Joseph Sylvester

Most runners I know are pretty good at math.  Better than your average American.  Why?  Well, if you are anything like every other runner, you do math while you run:
  •  "....okay, one mile into today's run, 7:43 passed, looking to run 7 miles today.....carry the 4, divide by 60......I started at 4:30......I'll be done by 5:24!"
  • ".....10miles today, rest tomorrow, 6miles on Wednesday.....trying to get 50 in this week, Saturday is gonna have to be huge!"
  • ".....9hours into this thing, 39miles gone....boy, only leaves me a few hours to get that last 11miles...."
 And, if you have been paying attention during your running career you'll probably have noticed that most shorter races are measured in the Metric System. We all have ran 5Ks, 10Ks, 100m, 400m, etc.  But, with the establishment of the current marathon distance, in 1908, of 26.2 miles, we now have longer races measured in miles.  Marathons at 26.2miles, Half-Marathons, of course, at 13.1miles, 50M, 100M, etc.  Then, to confuse you a bit more, we throw in races for the ultrarunning community of  50K and 100K.

The inner geek in me enjoys mathematics.  I may not understand a lot of it, but I'm good at it, and can do some fairly large calculations on the fly.  Many, many, many hours of pounding the pavement have been spent keeping occupied by doing math in my head (if nothing more than counting cadence).

So, this is a short blog, pointing out the beauty of math as it applies to running.......

Everyone know what the Fibonacci Sequence is?  Well, quick definition:  The Fibonacci Sequence is a sequence of numbers (starting at either 0 or 1), where each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two.  So, 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc.  Easy enough, right?

Now, have you heard of the Golden Ratio?  Well, the math can be confusing, but basically, it's a rule of mathematics where two numbers have a ratio that is equal to the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two numbers.  The Golden Ratio is 1.61803.

Now, take the numbers of the Fibonacci Sequence and compare their ratios:
  • 3/2 is 1.5.....5/3 is 1.667.....8/5 is 1.6.....13/8 is 1.625
If you keep going, the ratios of the Fibonacci Sequence are quickly approaching the Golden Ratio.

Now, back to running......almost every runner knows that 1 Mile = ~1.6Kilometers.  The actual ratio is 1:1.6093.  Notice something?  That's right.....the ratio of Miles:Kilometers is almost exactly the Golden Ratio.

Take what you've learned to this point now and head back to the Fibonacci Sequence.  Pick a number in the sequence, let's say '13'.  Your number is in Kilometers.  The preceding number is that same distance, in Miles (in this case, '8')!!  Go ahead, check it out.
  • Your friend says he's running an 8K race this weekend.......Ask him, "What's your best 5-mile time?"
  • You're at a track meet and they announce the winner of the 3K having a time of 8min.  You can exclaim, "Wow.....4minute miles!"  (3K=2miles, 8/2=4)
  • You are trying to tell your German foreign exchange student that you ran a half marathon this weekend.  "Yeah, I ran 21K this was no biggie."
OK, OK, enough 'geeking out' for one day.  Next time you are out for a run, though....maybe you stretch that 10K afternoon run into a 13K, just to make it 'Fibonacci Compliant'!

Or, just slap those headphones back on and forget everything I just said........