Geek Runner

So this year I decided to embrace my dislike of gyms. I’ve been fighting this dislike for a long time, to the point of hiring personal trainers to make sure I would actually go to the gym and do the exercises without having to memorize everything. Two years, 4 PTs and a lot of money later, I have to say it didn’t work. No fault on the PTs, don’t get me wrong. Although I would appreciate if they could get to a minimum consensus on how training should be, but that’s their issue. On my side, I did get fit; I was less stressed and with almost no fibromyalgia symptoms, had many laughs and learned a lot, but didn’t lose weight. And it’s very simple – exercise and no diet won’t make you lose weight. Dieting and no exercise will. So, exercise is just for management – toning up and stress prevention. And I won’t argue about this point anymore – you can say whatever you want, I won’t change my mind. And if exercise is management, I can tune it down a bit.

Living in Munich is a great motivator for outdoor exercising. Everyone is on their bikes, the sky is blue and there’s green everywhere. So after buying me a nice Fahrrad, I signed up for C25K program and started running – and loved it. I thought I didn’t like running – what I didn’t like was gyms. So after a few weeks, still building up resistance but several apps later, I decided to do a post about it. If you like technology to motivate you, maybe you will find this helpful. You probably also will need a smartphone…

Like I mention, the first app was C25K, or Couch (potato) to 5K run. Although it says K, the distance in there is measured in miles, and you can adjust your goal from 3 to 5 miles. Which is the first low point – how hard it is to have the metrics also in kilometres and kilos instead miles and pounds? I found this app long time ago on The Lady Geek TV app show, and was curious since then. I really like it because it acts like a coach, giving you feedback on what you should do: “warm up”, “run”, “walk”, “run”, “walk”… “cool down”. It tracks your path by the GPS and allows you to add a music playlist which will play randomly. I filled mine taking songs like “Run to the hills” and “Fly away” on iTunes Genius and pushing the resulting list into the app. I miss an option to tag power songs, to push some sprints especially on the last half of the exercise, when you are warm and feel you have more gas then time left on the app. It also has support for social media – Twitter and Facebook – but I won’t post my newbie lame runs while my friends are posting results preparing for marathons. But for start to running, it’s the best app so far.

I also tested the Nike+ GPS. My pair of tennis shoes/trainers/laufschuh is a Nike Structure Triax+ 13, which has a stronger support to correct pronation. I have to say it gives me a lot more stability than any other shoes I’ve tried, and it was one of the reasons I decide start running. Using regular trainers usually made me feel pain just for walking. This model also has support for Nike+, which is a tiny device you put underneath the sole and counts steps and speed. But since Nike+ GPS app do the same with the phone GPS, this piece it’s a bit useless now. As for the app, it doesn’t have anything especial – music, map, distance feedback, online report and social media – but nothing that makes it stand out from others. The only thing would be having a diary online, but that is also available from Polar. Although it does have the power songs tagging… maybe I should explore it a bit more…

A new app I’m trying is Endomondo. I like the name, I guess it comes from endorphin. I was attracted by the possibility to integrating with my heart rate monitor Polar FT60 – but it wasn’t what I thought. See, I love my FT60 – it keeps the log of my training and gives me feedback on the progression; counts my calories according to heart rate but also with the log and previous workouts; and even nags me if I’m particularly lazy in a certain week (feature I disabled after giving up on the gym, I may turn it back on now I’m regularly running). I love it even though Polar shamelessly won’t support Twitter or Facebook posting status, which drove me mad many times as I worked out my ass off into workouts like body combat or double spinning classes, which I would like to brag about it. But no, I had to post it only on my personal blog under, where only other Polar users could see. Many people request social media on Polar forums and Facebook page, but no answer from the company. And c’mon Polar, I’ve worked with social media libraries and if I can write a small app to do it, you can too.

Unfortunately, Endomondo don’t work with the FT60, will only work with a Wearlink+(the strap to capture heart rate) with Bluetooth support. And the one with Bluetooth won’t work with my FT60. Maybe Polar is driven by personal trainers, each one believing their training is the correct one and all others are wrong, so not even their own devices talk to each other… Right now I don’t have any particular motivation for buying a Wearlink+ with Bluetooth after spending good money on Polar to leave my precious pink FT60 useless. Maybe I’m the wrong type of consumer who still expects devices to last longer than two years. Hippies… and without that, I’m not sure I need Endomondo. But I will test it a bit more, since many friends are there.

And although I really like my Triax trainners, I’m really inclined to try five-fingers and barefoot running. I love to feel the grass under my foot or burry them on the sand, but I have fairly sensitive feet and I don’t know if that will work. I never liked Converse trainers because of that; I could feel every bump or small rocks on the street. But at the same time, I read about how trainers actually make your muscles weaker for too much cushion, so barefoot running would actually strength them. I’m not sure I will be able to get used to, but I’m willing to try.

I hope the fitness gadgetry will congregate at some point. I heard nice things about Garmin devices and the fact they follow industry friendly standards, which would provide better integration with software and applications. If I will have to buy something new, I would probably investigate them. But for now, I would appreciate if C25K could tag power songs and let me use metrics I’m used to instead making me do mental conversions every time. Let’s see who sprints first…


4 thoughts on “Geek Runner

  1. Hi! I’m using RunKeeper( to control my running, and I think that work with Iphone and also with Garmin Devices. I have a Garmin Forerunner 305, but particularly next time will buy another model which I can use like a watch and a trainer. I bought F305 in a offer for 149 euros, but you can use it just for exercises.

    After a month of vacations I will do the Munich half-marathon on Sunday. Now well prepared until the last month, but will be fun. And in October I have the Munich Marathon(but thinking about to change to half-marathon, these year will be to much).

    If will like to start running 10km, or a little bit more, there a lot of training in some magazines like Runners World. Also if you know a trainer in Germany, you can ask for a preparation to 10km. Its a nice distance, and if you do it right(slow and enjoying), its perfectly one hour of running.

    Keep running!

  2. Don’t be afraid to post your “newbie lame” runs. You’ll be able to look back at them later and amaze yourself with how much better you’re running now. I’ve experienced nothing but kindness, encouragement and generosity from other geek runners — Dave Stewart and Dirk Hohndel in particular.

  3. I was using Adidas miCoach app to track my cardio activity until the day I fell on the street and broke two tendons on my right ankle… almost 5 months ago and I still with pain ! Good to see that more geek friends are taking care of the body 🙂

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