The Great Liberator

Want to run in the winter? There aren't many options. You can run outside but unless you really enjoy soaking in sweat underneath wollens you have to get special(read:expensive) winter gear. Even then there is always the risk of slipping on the ice. So the sensible and the cheap have no choice but to remain confined to the gym. In the gym the only choices you have are:
1) Run lap after lap around the track till it drives you crazy, or
2) pound the treadmill in a small room till you get soaked with sweat and die of boredom (You can contemplate on the backside of the person on the machine in front of you, but I have yet to come across one that can sustain my attention for > .25 of an hour).

So, I generally prefer the former. In any case, it is settled that running inside is rather boring. But come spring and there are the great outdoors. Just to be outside can be so liberating. The fresh air, the constantly changing scenery, the path along the river, the sound of the twigs on the trail getting crushed. What would I not give to be able to do this all year long?

For me, running outside can also be problematic. I am not sure if I have a serious running addiction, but I do know that I have a measurement fixation. Sometimes I wonder, if I run simply to collect more stats - mileage, average pace, pace for each mile, last lap time, etc. The treadmill might be boring but it's wonderful for anyone who loves exercise stats. Some stats don't make much sense but when they show up on the screen you can't help thinking - Was I burning more calories last mile? What's the elevation?

You can't have everything - scenery and stats if you are not rich enough to buy a Garmin device . In comparison, the simplistic digital watch can only tell you the total time but not how fast or how much. There is an option to run on a marked trial if you really want stats for pace per mile, distance etc., but running on the same trail day after day is like repeating the gym story once again.

That problem has been recently solved. To run, all you now need is a good pair of shoes and the - Google Pedometer. Liberation at last! I can now run wherever I want and still be able to compute most of the stats quite reliably. Of course, this webpage is extremely useful for bikers and walkers too. You might also want to use it to settle long-standing debates with people that your choice of route IS the shortest distance from Point A to Point B. The interface is a bit clunky but freedom always comes at a price.


Sumedha said...

You're at a stage where you can entertain yourself with fancy stats; for me it's still a question of building brute endurance and finishing the race :P

Ashutosh said...

For me, running is a tragically failed endeavor, a consequence of feet flatter than flat bread. They hurt like crazy. I am going to resort to swimming now, which can only start when the weather warms up a little.
That Garmin device is really something! I never knew something like that even existed.

Ashutosh said...

How are you finding Dennett's book by the way?

Hirak said...

Dennett's book is highly recommended. He is such a good writer. It was referenced in a way in Nature's (11th May, 2006) review of Dawkins and 30 years of the Selfish Gene

"Religions are like viruses of the mind". Dennett studies religion as a natural phenomenon, though the 'fluke analogy' might seem derisive to some, I thought the pun was quite risible.

Ashutosh said...

Thanks. Loved his 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea'.
I also recommend Kenneth Miller's 'Finding Darwin's God', if you haven't read it. Miller is an exceptional man; one of the most vocal proponents of evolution (and opponents of ID etc.) and ALSO a devout Christian. He is a professor at Brown. He tries to search for a common ground between evolution and god. I am halfway through, and the book is highly recommended even for its devastating and entertaining critique of ID alone.