All aboard the Strava Train!

Runners are a special breed of people. You’ve all seen the article, “Are runners smarter?” We like to think we are! Especially when it comes to recording our training. When you’re a runner can’t help but gaze over your logged miles, time spent running, pace etc without feeling like a micromanaging pack rat. I promise you it’s fun being anal about the running digits. It’s the best way to monitor your progress and keep tabs on every run. How you ask? Stravastrava

One of my coworkers recommended using Strava – and I’ll admit, I’m never going back to just any mediocre mile logging website.  Let me explain. Strava is a playground for runners when they’re not running. You can upload your runs via a gps watch or even your smartphone. It works similar to facebook where you can follow your friends and see their workouts first hand. You see EVERYTHING! haha their pace, route, heartbeat (if they have the strap).

You may say, awww this is like every other website out there. BUT NO! One word. Segments. Segments are point A to point B stretches. They can be a single road, a steep 15% climb, descents, winding roads.

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This is a segment I claimed while I was visiting friends in Wilmore, KY (aka old stomping grounds).  You can see it’s an easy descending hill, so it wasn’t a challenge to grab. Here’s the leaderboard:Capture2

 

Since Strava was originally a cycling site, you can tell the running hasn’t taken off by storm. The leader boards are pretty weak in comparison to the cycling. By the way, see the guy in second? After I robbed him of his record, he tired to beat mine a couple days later. Aaaand you can see the evidence – no dice for him. Better luck next time.

Are you excited yet…blood boiling? Segments are bridging the gap between reality and good ol’ virtual competition. We’re living in a great time people. This site is an excellent motivator to get you on the road and having some friendly push and shove with your chaps.

The site also uses a club function. I’m currently on the Acidotic Racing leader board where your weekly numbers are stacked up against all your teammates. There have been many times where I’ll do double day workouts to put my face on the podium, even if it is only third place. It’s fun to be noticed for your hard work.

So this service is free. There is a premium membership for 6 dollars a month. There are couple of features that make it worth it. My favorite being the heatmaps. Strava will create a map and color coat it based on where you travel most.

heatmap

Here’s my running playground at school. The red lines are the most traveled roads and trails while the darker and lighter blue lines are taken less. You can see the campus and roads surrounding are super concentrated while the outskirts are more blue. It’s a really innovative feature.

Premium members also have access to useful training videos that explain how to do hill repeats, progression runs, and much more. Another way they’ve measured your workout efforts is through the Suffer Score. This scores the amount of effort you’ve put into a session based of off your heart rate frequencies and personal bests.

I highly recommend you leave your current mundane log and move to Strava. It’s a highway to relieve your hunger pangs for running, cycling, and swimming data. You’ll thank me later!

Check out this cool 2014 summary video:

http://2014story.strava.com/video/4267598

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Spinning wheels

Hey people, another friendly update coming your way. I’ve done a handful in the past three months, so much to tell! The biggest change has been the addition of cycling into my training. Yes, you’re looking at the proud owner of a new trek domane 2.0. I’ve logged almost 700 miles in less than two months. Can you tell I love it yet? trek-domane-20-triple-2014-road-bike I call him…Andy. Inside joke!

Cycling has become another outlet for me to unleash my demons and bring me back to earth. And the awesome part is I’ve met some great people just riding in groups. At Goodales in Nashua they have groups riding out on a regular basis, so there’s no drought of social gatherings. Learning the ins and outs of group riding has been a blast too. Get this. When you’re riding in a peloton (french word for platoon) everyone carries the same load of work. You ride in a line similar to a congo line or Indian sprints. Each rider takes his turn cutting through the wind at the front while the riders behind sit back and draft with little effort. It’s a fun and interesting system. I now understand why cycling tours are formulaic and strategic. There’s plenty to uncover and learn. So on with the not-so-good news. I’m a crash/injury prone newbie and here’s your evidence:EXP0000 Left collarbone is broken…you should see the other guy

What?! Again? Another injury? I have good excuses. My friend Jack and I were descending a 10% grade traveling about 40mph, when we banked a right turn and an extraordinary gust of wind knocked me from the center of the road to the shoulder in a  matter of seconds. It was one of the moments of shear surprise with absolutely no control. Once my wheels touched gravel – I knew my fate was sealed. The big OH nooo! Sure enough, I blinked and I was laying on the ground. I stumbled to my feet and saw the blood on my leg already reaching my cleats. Frankly, I was relieved it was only scrapes until I began a damage control search and my shoulder felt…out of place.

Long story short, Jack and I rode to the middle of town to the cycling shop to center my front wheel. The owner commented on my shoulder saying he’s seen a lot of broken collarbones and popped shoulders, and that I definitely have one of those. At that moment in time, hearing that something was potentially broken made me groan in disappointment. In the prime of my training?! No way man!

Currently, I’m off the bike for 6 weeks, which is saddening. The good news is running will be happening in less than 3 weeks. Whatever lessens the chance of me getting hurt again I suppose.

I’ve got lots more in store running wise. On June 8th I’ll be racing at Mount Ascutney in Windsor, VT and on the 12th I’ll be doing the Hollis Fast 5k. More to come!

Doors Opening

This is an update on what’s going on over the past week. No, it won’t be a sally sob story about not being able to run. It’s true. I can’t run, not even the treadmill. Currently it’s a waiting game for me to receive a 3d scan on my foot to REALLY see what the problem is. Doctors were on vacation last week sipping egg nog, so I’ll be opening a box of surprise news very soon.

You may ask…Alec, aren’t you going insane not running? And I would answer, I was. I’ve gotten over the fact that running isn’t possible for me with an injury, and that’s ok. It’s taken a lot of guts, complaining, and letting go to admit it. This is what’s best for my body. I don’t want to risk anymore chances of my heel getting worse too. I think it’s the best decision, even though, I’m still cringing!

Now with the positives! So when one door closes, you open another. In the mean time I’ve picked up the guitar again and learned some new songs via youtube. Yes, it doesn’t “replace” running, but it helps the free time pass productively. I’m enjoying it more than I anticipated too. It gives me a chance to be creative and patient with learning something new. Now here’s the big one. I’ve been hatching ideas in my head lately. I’ve come to the conclusion that a running injury could potentially happen again in the future. The question is, how to avoid it? Yes, taking care of yourself works, but what about an alternative when running isn’t working? Brace yourself. Cycling. There. It’s been said.

Cycling is the alternative because it’s still in the endurance sport realm. If a bad day happens and running doesn’t happen, jump on a bike! It’s a good distraction. The great thing is cycling is something fresh and exciting I know absolutely nothing about. It will give me a chance to learn the ins and outs of the technology, techniques, and nutrition. The bike I have my eye on is the Trek Madone 2.1, feast your eyes:

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Beautiful isn’t it? Now, I haven’t had the opportunity to try it because of the weather, but I have a really good feeling about it. It has an aluminum frame and carbon fiber forks for a smoother ride. Only 20 lbs. So light it might float away.

Have you gone outside? It’s cold! In the negatives here in New England. For training as of the moment, I’ve joined a gym to let off some steam. The stationary bike has been my training partner for the past week. He’s ok…a little quiet. In addition, I’ve been doing regular core work. The good news is it’s getting the job done giving me my daily fill. Thank God for the indoors.

I’m excited I’ll have another option to train come springtime. Something to go fast on and explore. What scares me the most is that I’ll enjoy cycling more than running, but I’ve quickly dismissed that thought. Running is a something I’ve put lot of time and effort into. It won’t be leaving me anytime soon.