Showing posts with label opinion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label opinion. Show all posts

Friday, June 12, 2015

Judgment day for hybrid running machines

Left to right: $2,000, $3,300, $9,300
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

Wednesday afternoon I participated in a debriefing session with fellow testers of the hybrid elliptical running machines. The machines had been removed from the testing lab a couple of weeks ago and I missed them. I was happy to see they were all back in place so we could refer to them in the discussion. It was interesting to hear what my my co-panelists thought about them since we were unable to share experiences during the test period. While we didn't share the same opinions on everything, most of us agreed on the machine we liked the least.

A few young and very fit people complained that they couldn't generate enough intensity on the machines to get a good workout. I rolled my eyes remembering my own experience unfolding myself from the units like a wet noodle after most of my testing sessions. I made the point to the group that I didn't think any of the machines actually duplicated a real running experience. Most people seemed to agree. That isn't to say that machines won't provide a great workout. I personally couldn't justify the exceedingly high cost of a fitness machine that isn't much different from my rickety Pro Form CE 6.0.

I was so inspired by Wednesday's discussion that I did an elliptical workout when I got home. I like ellipticals because I control them dynamically, unlike treadmills that have a mind of their own. After 30 minutes, with an outside temperature of 92°, I felt like I had all the intensity I could manage. Better still, the mild sciatica that I'd had through mid week seemed to be gone after I finished.

This morning I got out fairly early so I would beat the heat. I worked from home and needed to be back in time for a meeting that was being held using a Google Hangout. That meant I needed to look presentable even though I participated from the comfort of my home office-slash-fitness center. Early was a good call, because the heat really intensified over the short time that I ran.

I usually see other runners in the neighborhood on Fridays and weekends and today was no different. Besides the one young guy I always see no matter what day or time I run, the other runners were older (note to SIOR - even older than me. It's possible). I reached a road at the same time as another man and we headed in the same direction. Unlike that time in November when I "won" the race and triggered six months of disc related pain, I didn't take the bait. Instead I tucked in behind him until I reached my turnoff.

I'd like to think it was a relief for this guy not to have this hot shot runner on his tail, but he may not have even noticed. Owing to both the increasing heat and my limited time, I kept my distance to 3+ miles. I was almost home when I heard the familiar sound of my cell's ring tone. I chose to ignore it, but when I finished my run I saw that I'd missed an important call.

Rather than take the time to shower or even towel off, I returned the call from my garage. It was amusing to have a deep business conversation while standing in my sweat soaked running clothes. But that's what's great about working from home. You can alternate between business and non-business activities when you have to - and wear running shorts while you're at it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Somewhere between running and not really running

Workouts this week (running fitness machines): 60 minutes 
Today's workouts (treadmill): 1 mile plus (elliptical): 20 minutes

I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in a test of fitness machines that mimic the motion of running. Unfortunately, I can't share the brands or models until after the study is completed. At this point I'm thinking that the only fitness machine that actually makes you feel like you're running is a treadmill. However, if you keep an open mind, these machines can provide a great workout.

The concept of running comes up a lot in discussions about the test subjects. It's probably more accurate to look at these fitness machines as variations on an elliptical trainer. If you don't like ellipticals, your opinion won't change much when using this new design. Runners who do like elliptical machines will probably appreciate the key differentiator: user controllable stride length.

I've had orientation sessions using three different machines that have provided distinctly different experiences. On the positive side, the lack of impact produces a pain-free workout. Each machine approaches the motion of running differently and my acclimation to the "running" process varied greatly, based on the design. Not so positively, I've noticed a slight pain in one heel and at the side of one knee, although this may not be related to testing. I had a stand up desk installed in my office and have been on my feet a lot more this week.

High stand-ards
The pain from my herniated disc has noticeably diminished but hasn't disappeared. My orthopedist has once-again canceled my follow up appointment, so I need to look into finding a different doctor. The improvement I've been seeing is encouraging, but I suspect that it may still hurt if I try another road run,

I decided to test the waters with a one mile treadmill run this morning. The forgiving and flat surface provided the best possible scenario for protecting my injured disc. I feared that the pain in my upper thigh that made Saturday's run a torture session would reappear. The pain didn't return, but my gait felt awkward throughout the entire session. I followed the treadmill run with 20 minutes on the elliptical, making it a well balanced, moderate workout. I may hit the road tomorrow and I hope it doesn't hit back.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

That "women-only" thing, again

Today's run (treadmill): 26 minutes

Runner's World ran a story on their site today that reminded me of a post I did in June 2012. The RW article is titled "Do Women-Only Races Still Have a Purpose?"and my post was titled "Are gender-specific races sexist?" In both posts, the point was made that the original reason for having "women-only" races was to provide a safe experience for women.

I didn't write my 2012 post to debate that reasoning. I agreed that women-only races were a good idea back in 1972 when women were marginalized as competitors. Even worse, women encountered hostility from men who were clearly threatened by female competition. But in 2014, gender plays no role in the outcome of an open race and I have never seen hostility directed towards women at any event. In fact, in 2013, almost 2/3 of participants in open races are women (per the RW article).

I think what continues to bother me about women-only races is the tacit suggestion that: 1. women are still disenfranchised, 2. women have not yet achieved parity with men in non-professional competitions and 3. women need to be treated differently. This type of exclusion would not fly in other circumstances where a population's civil rights have been restricted. Can you imagine if someone suggested a "gay-only" race to the LGBT community or a race that excluded all but one ethnicity? You can say this is different, but is it really?

Despite my arguments, I appreciate that many women seem to love the experience and the camaraderie of events like the Mini-10K and the Diva and Princess Half Marathons. But I still think it supports a double standard.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Faint praise for the treadmill

Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

I'm going to blame the transition from vacation to work for my sluggish performance this morning.  Even though I'm an early riser while on vacation, there's a big difference between waking up at 6:00 AM versus 3:45 AM. It probably didn't help that I set a 2% incline for the first 2/3rds of today's workout.

A year ago I probably would have braved the weather and gone outside, despite this morning's 11° temperature. My dislike of the treadmill experience used to outweigh the discomfort of freezing conditions, but I've finally accepted the treadmill for what it is. I even appreciate how I can change conditions like speed and elevation with a single touch. I'll reluctantly admit that, on an extremely cold morning, the treadmill can be the better choice.

Still, I far prefer the trails or the road, and I can't wait to get outdoors this weekend. I may have been better off resting today, but since I started the run I felt I needed to finish it. Around the 15 minute mark I realized I wasn't at full strength. I decided to drop the incline rather than hurt myself further. I did step up the speed a little when I did that, but not by much. Tomorrow, I will do an elliptical workout and (hopefully) on Friday the temperatures will be back in the 30's and I'll take to the streets once again.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thanks for your opinion but I love running

Our neighbors hosted a party yesterday to celebrate their son's graduation. I was talking with a few people when my neighbor walked over and mentioned that he hadn't seen me running in the neighborhood on Saturday. I told him that I'd done a run on the trails at Stillwell instead. I said that he should join me there some time but he smiled and said he'll stick with walking on the treadmill. This exchange prompted a few people to ask me about my running. One person (predictably) reacted as if I'd said that I'd spent the morning killing baby dolphins. "The only time you'll catch me running is when the beer truck is leaving." Hey, thanks for your opinion. Others were more gracious about it but still implied some negativity with statements like: "You're going to ruin your knees" and "Walking is just as good." I told one person that running shoes have evolved to the point that knee problems are unlikely as long as you replace your shoes after four or five hundred miles. He said that he had better things to spend his money on. You just can't help some people.

I've learned long ago that these negative reactions are mostly a projection of people's insecurities. Their negativism likely comes from guilt that they aren't able, or willing, to do the work. I remember when I was very active with karate some people would either poke fun of it verbally or do dumb things like pretend to shoot me with their finger to show that even the best martial artist is powerless against a gun. My point back to them was while they could pretend their finger was a weapon, mine actually was. After a while I'd just agree with them because it wasn't worth discussing.

In truth, I'm pleased that so many people find running to be a distasteful activity. Although I like seeing other runners on the road or on the trails I also like that most of the time it's a peaceful solitary experience. So when people drive by and look at me running with a miserable expression on my face, they can feel good about why they don't subscribe to this crazy sport. For me, I may look unhappy but I love it nonetheless. So in a way we all win!

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