Gear Review: Nike Plus

This could just as easily be titled

An Ode to Nike Plus

Because, and this is so true, I am completely in love with the Nike+ app. (Pipe down, overly conservative mid-westerners, I am not suggesting marrying my app). This thing is awesome. I even have a basic Garmin and yet I head out most days clutching my smartphone so I can use the Nike+ app instead.

I should note that I am not in anyway getting paid by Nike, Nike+ or its affiliates to write this. But Nike, if you’re reading (ha!), I totally would. I’m just going to throw that out there.

The Nike+ app is a great product, especially for beginners in our sport. Although I had known about its existence for some time, I didn’t start using it until a friend recommended I do so when she picked up running. Like I said, I had a Garmin watch and I didn’t see the need for it. My Garmin is a highly accurate GPS tracker that also tells me my split times, makes sure I stay on pace and allows me to set intervals for long runs. What could the Nike+ app have on that?

Plus, the brand of smartphone I have (Google Nexus) makes it difficult for me to find an armband to lash it to my upper arm. I still don’t have one, but if you know of a good one worth ordering off of Amazon, please let me know.

The thing is, Nike+ is fast and easy to use, especially as the GPS tracker finds me very quickly. I live in a densely populated (read: skyscraper filled) area, so the GPS tracker on my Garmin could take upwards of 5 minutes to activate. Nike+ is free and available on all Android and iPhones, meaning many of my friends use the app already. Nike+ allows me to connect with them, through the app, and see how they are doing. Nike+ also publishes runs to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc, if you are into those sorts of things. The social media and communication driven aspects of Nike+ are things the Garmin line of products, while more professional, just can’t keep up with. Finally, Nike+ is speaks to me throughout my run via my headphones, so I can automatically hear when I have hit the next km, what my splits are so far, and if I’ve just achieved a new milestone.

Frankly, using Nike+ is like having my own little cheerleader in my pocket. Ellie Goulding once came on over my headphones to congratulate me on my fastest mile ever.

Now, truth be told here, there are some things the Garmin does better than Nike+ is designed to do on its own. I don’t have the Nike watch, so maybe it fills in the gaps. Garmin is a far more accurate GPS tracker and is lighter than carrying around a smartphone with you. Its battery life also lasts longer, and the watch is waterproof-ish. Plus the elevation charts Garmin provides post run are second to none. Garmin also offers a full line of products from the beginner (which I have) up to the triathlete level watch. Nike+ just isn’t designed for it.

So come race day, I’ll have my Garmin strapped to my wrist. But for every day leading up to race day? Nike+ all the way!

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Why Your Slowest Mile is Always the Same

Myrtle Cook of Canada (left) winning a preliminary heat in the women's 100 metres race at the VIIIth Summer Olympic Games / Myrtle Cook (à gauche), du Canada, remportant une éliminatoire pour l'épreuve du 100 mètres femmes, aux VIIIe Jeux Olympiques d'été

Yesterday I wrote, rather facetiously, that the second to last mile/km usually feels like the the longest of them all. It turns out that isn’t just something we all feel is true; it is true.

Israel Halperin at Memorial University in Newfoundland conducted a study which asked volunteers to exert the maximum amount of effort possible contracting their arms. Sometimes, they were told to do this for a predetermined number of reps, and other times they were not told how many they would be doing until the last rep. In each and every case, the effort would decrease with each rep until the last one. The last rep would either equate in effort to the first, or exceed it.

So what does this mean for us, as runners? It means that our bodies are programmed to reserve energy for a final effort, even when we are told to exert “all-out” effort prior to that. In other words, our brains are hard-wired to perform that last mile or km faster and with our reserve energy, even if we don’t plan on keeping reserve energy. We just can’t help it.

The take away is if you are trying to run even splits – each km or mile at the same pace through out – focus your mental game on maintaining your pace in the last few kms or miles of your run.

(Photo Credit: BiblioArchives)

7 Things to Know About Run Clubs

Having you been thinking about picking up running as a hobby recently? Thought to yourself “I can do that!” as you watch a brightly coloured, tightly clad Running Room member fly by? Or are you simply tired for the elliptical machine?  Or maybe you’re looking to start exercising and need some extra motivation.

Either way, I want to congratulate you. You are awesome. Honestly! Deciding to do this makes you already amazing. And really, there is no right or wrong way to go about this, as long as it is healthy and avoids injury. That said, one of the most common ways people (myself included!) get into running is through a Run Club.

Here is what you need to know about run clubs in general.

  1. They are everywhere. Many fitness apparel stores have them, such as Nike, Lululemon, Lole, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and, of course, the Running Room. In addition, many communities have their own run clubs, not affiliated with any particular store or brand. You can find a list of some here, but a simple Google will do the trick too.
  2. They are free. Usually. Almost all run clubs are free (clinics are not, see #7 below), meaning they are a great way to motivate yourself while not spending any cash.
  3. The people are awesome. Think about it this way: this is a group of people who all voluntarily got up on a Sunday morning, left their warm beds, families and mugs of coffee behind to come stand in a huddle with you and then trot off down the road for a pre-determined length of time. The only people who would do that are people who also actively enjoy the camaraderie of running. You can have some of the best conversations on the road or trail with these people.
  4. What happens on the run, stays on the run. As with anything, there are good days and bad days. If you are having a bad day and things go down on the run this unspoken rule applies. Basically, this is a judgement free zone. We all have days where we breakdown or hit a wall, and no one – I repeat no one – will understand better than your fellow run club members.
  5. You will learn a ton. On any given day there will be first timers and veterans present, but make no mistake, there is something to be learned from every person there. Veterans can motivate you push past your perceived limits and newbies can be your partner-in-crime as you pound out the kms. Take the time to pick the minds of the veterans. If you haven’t already noticed, runners love to talk about running. You won’t be bothering anyone there!
  6. You will be motivated. I feel I should give a word of caution here. Run clubs can be so effective that you will find yourself signing up for and completing goals you never thought attainable. That’s the magic of running with a wide variety of abilities and doing it regularly. So if you start out saying to yourself “I am only doing this to run 5k. That’s it! Nothing more,” like I did, then be prepared to be proven wrong. But hey, enjoy your marathon! It will happen.
  7. You can join a clinic. Clinics, typically offered by the Running Room and their peers, are paid-for sessions that have a strong teaching component in addition to the run club. Clinics vary by the provider but are usually structured with a goal race in mind and offer the participants a professional training schedule to follow. The group is usually lead by a trainer that leads lessons before runs and is available via email for Q&A. I highly recommend these if you are serious about a specific race and want to train for it properly.

Have a favourite run club that deserves to be shared? Something I missed that everyone needs to know about run clubs? Leave it in the comments! And Happy Running!

Log Off and Go Run

March 06, 2013 at 11:31AM

Another day done! Time to log off your computer and lace up.

Go for a run because it makes you happy. If you’re not happy to start, you will be once you finished.

For me, today is a steady run (tomorrow is hills — looking forward to it!). I’ll be running at a steady pace, without breaks, for the length of my run. If you are interested in other run terms, click here.

How many miles are you crushing today? What are you training for? I want to hear from you in the comments.

(Photo Credit: Arya Ziai)

Race Plan 2014/2015

Back when I first started running, and that wasn’t all that long ago, I had a dream of running 5 whole kilometres in a row. I still think that’s a huge accomplishment, and I’m proud of myself for meeting that goal. I used to think that when I finally – finally! – hit that goal, I’d be happy to settle down and keep just fit enough to bust out 5 long kilometres in a row.

….that didn’t happen. I know; what’s wrong with me? Can’t a girl just be happy? Apparently not. So I ran a 10k. Then a half marathon. Then I eventually, with some cajoling, got around to running a 5k race. A little backwards, right?

 

Back in the day, I also casually mentioned to that first run coach that a long, far off, not-really-going-to-happen-in-this-lifetime dream of mine was to run the famous Around the Bay race in Hamilton. The history geek in me loves that it’s the longest road race in North America, the McMaster University alum loves that it is a chance to be back in my old university town and the braggart in me wants to be able to say I ran it, hills at kilometre 17 and all.

Here’s a tip – don’t tell your run coach about long, far off, not-really-going-to-happen-in-this-lifetime dreams. Unless you actually want them to show up at your next meeting with a fully fledged run plan thats been approved by two other veteran runners as “do-able”. Take it from me, folks.

So here we are. I now actually think I might be able to run Around the Bay 2015 – 30k with hills and all – and so I’ve set out a race plan help me achieve that. Maybe I’ll see you there!

(This will probably be added to as the year goes on – look for updates here on the regular)

Dawn at the Don – 8k – July 13th, 2014

Midsummer Night’s Run – 15k – August 16th, 2014

Tommy Thompson 10 Miler – September 28th, 2014

Scotiabank Half Marathon – October 19th, 2014

Tannenbaum 10k – hopefully going ahead, date unannounced (let me know if you find out the date!)

Around the Bay (30K) – March 29th, 2015