Tools of the Trade

Showing some love for my favorite running tools…


Music and podcasts keep me going during my runs.  At the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon Expo I picked up the latest and greatest Walkman from the Sony booth.  It is the W Series Walkman® MP3 Player, a far cry from my favorite Walkman back in the day.  LOVE love love that there are no cord to contend with when running or better yet to tangle!  It comes with three size ear buds which makes for a comfortable fit, you hardly realize you are wearing it.  Another great feature, for someone like me that forgets to check the juice level until the last minute, a 3 minute charge provides 90 minutes of power.  It is water resistant too.  The downside, I now have a second device to load up with music and playlists.  Also, if you are reliant on the your iPod scroll wheel and view screen then you may take issue this device lacking both.  You really need a solid playlist setup so you don’t have to fumble with moving from song to song.  The best $50 I’ve spent in a long time!   


Training plans are a must!  You have to know what you are trying to accomplish before you can claim success.  I rely on Google Documents to plan my training and track my progress.  A simple spreadsheet mapping out the weeks down the side and the days of the week across the top.  I create a schedule of runs and then input what I actually ran.  I also track things such as pace, how the run felt, various other notes such as why I may have skipped a run.  Track any details that are helpful to tracking your progress.  There are a number of greatsites to find basic training plans for any distance.  I find a plan to use as a basis and then personalize it meet my needs.


Once you have a training schedule, it helps to map out some runs.  At least in my case, I find if I don’t have a set route I often end my runs too early.  Mapping routes out in advance takes the guess work out of distance guesses and sets clear expectations mentally of what I have to accomplish.  There are a of course numerous online tools available as well as GPS devices you can where, but Gmap Pedometer is my tool of choice.  It is simple to use and allows you to save the routes and easily link to the them from your training plan.


Knowing your natural pace is key to setting realistic goals.  I don’t use a heart rate monitor or GPS device top track it.  The best way I have found to determine your natural pace is do a few 3 to 5 mile runs at a comfortable pace.  Track the time of each, map the routes and determine your pace.  Likely they will all in the same ballpark.  What I do is at the end of a run, based on the mapped distance, I calculate my pace with a pace calculator.  For race day, I use the same tool to determine what my race pace should be to meet my set goal, you can even have it calculate splits for each mile.  I tend to run a pretty uneven race pace, so arming myself with this info going in helps me from burning out too early or running so slow I kill my chances of meeting my goal.

1 MILE = 1.609344 KILOMETERS

This simple equation is a necessity since most races are calculated in kilometers.  It is especially helpful when you are trying to keep on pace during a longer race since the splits are often posted in a kilometers.  Knowing the mileage for the 5K, 8K, 10K clocks allows you to know where you should be time wise to meet the end goal time.


Races are my biggest motivator, I need a goal to work towards.  In Chicago the CARA site is a great resource for finding your next race.  Just under four weeks until my next one!

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