Monthly Archives: January 2014

Using Instagram to Log Your Miles

This winter I started using Instagram as a way to log  my workouts.   You have to be a little bit creative in using pictures to showcase your runs.  It definitely helps if you have scenic or photo-worthy places to go!  It is actually super-easy to do, especially now that most runners always have their cell phone with them.

All you need is your cell phone and a few apps.  You could do it without your phone but the beauty of it is taking pictures while running and its simplicity.  I have a LG Optimus G which has a  13 MP camera which takes some great shots!!

Since I have an Android phone I’m going to talk about Android apps and give links to the Google Play store.  I’m sure all you Apple lovers can find the same apps in iTunes too!

Obviously you need the Instagram app. I just use my phone’s standard camera app, but you could install  a different one if you wanted.  I use Strava Cycling to record my run.  To record the weather for the run, I use the Weather Channel app.  Last but not least, I use Photogrid-Collage Maker to the make the collages of pictures.   I think most phones now have built in screen capturing (shot) but if yours doesn’t you will need one.

Now that you have all the apps installed you are ready to run!!  Here’s what I do:

  1. Screenshot of the weather (usually before I leave, I might afterwards if it is more dramatic!).
  2. Start Strava and run.
  3. Take a few pictures along the way.
  4. Take a selfie picture either at the end or at a special spot along the way.
  5. Finish run and take a screenshot of the Strava Results page (includes map, time, distance).
  6. Make a collage of the best pictures and screenshots in Photogrid, saving the collage.
  7. Use Instagram to enhance the image, writing a brief statement about the run, making sure to include #runlog and #running hashtags.  You can add others too. And if appropriate make sure to include the proper location.  Then I post to the social media sites that I want, usually Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
  8. Log my run in RunningAhead.

What creative ways have you found to log your runs?

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My Thoughts about MLK Today

Its probably cliche to write about MLK today, but he and his legacy are on my mind.

This is a quote that was used as the basis for the message yesterday church:

What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

I find it interesting that when you look back at what King said and fought for, he wasn’t just fighting for the rights of African-Americans.  His words are ultimately appropriate for every type of injustice.  The civil rights movement is for more than freedom and equality of black people, but freedom and equality for all people.

We are all truly equal no matter who we are.  The Bible says we are all created equal and in God’s image.  If we were all created equal then we should all be able to live as equals in a free society.  Sadly this doesn’t occur.  There are still currently significant gaps in every indicator across racial lines.  And there are still people and states trying to take away the rights of equality (same-sex marriage).

King also says:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

For a long time this quote was the signature on my e-mail:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

I have been given great privilege in my life, by being born into a middle-class white family.  Sure my parents were divorced and we struggled to make ends meet, but my existence and future was never threatened in the same way of my neighbors and friends now. It is easy to sit on the couch, listen to the news, and to shake our heads about those poor people.  But have you thought about the ways you are contributing to their “poorness?”

If you aren’t actively pursuing righteousness or justice then who are you serving? The oppressor?

We need to continue the fight that has not ended.  It is amazing that we have a Black president. There are millions of successful African-American men and women.  But there are still millions more African-American, Latino, Asian, African-born men, women, and children who are stuck in an oppressive system with no clear path out.

Part of the way out is for you and me to realize our role and our family’s role as oppressors.  I had relatives who owned slaves.  I had relatives who fought on both sides of the Civil War.  I had and have relatives who aren’t necessarily racist in the “evil” sense of the word, but who haven’t thought and fought through the stereotypes they have.  This quote from King sums that up:

Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten. A society is always eager to cover misdeeds with a cloak of forgetfulness, but no society can fully repress an ugly past when the ravages persist into the present. America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most element of greatness — justice.

In many places King’s dream has come true.  Our daughter enjoys playing with children from all walks of life at church, on the playground, and at our English class.  We hope and pray that she’ll continue to build these relationships and to not let color, economic background, or fear to get in her way of friendship and love.

At the bear minimum we need to find love.  Love for the kid who has a messed up family life and can’t help the fact that he’s too tired to learn at school.  Love for the woman who doesn’t know anything but abuse and so abuses her kids.  Love for the man who never had any one show him how to be a man without exerting his strength on a weaker person.  Love for people who don’t have conflict resolution skills outside of fists and weapons.

Love drives out fear and we need to replace hate and fear with love:

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

Along with hate and fear comes the unknown.  But I think deep down we all know when something is right or wrong.  I do believe that we are all born in the image of God.  With that comes the innate sense of right and wrong.  How many little kids do you know that have a clear sense of fairness or justice?  It becomes warped through time as they get older and see the corruptness around them.  But I do think that even as it has been corrupted we still have it inside of us and can fight for what is right.

Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.

Will you stand today on the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and fight for what is right today?

Getting Traction on Ice and Snow

What do you wear to gain traction while running in icy or snowy conditions? I personally wear YakTrax when I want extra traction and sure footing.  I know of people who drill small sheet metal screws into their shoes, and I’m sure people use other brand traction devices.  What is your preferred device?

There are a few factors I consider before adding my YakTrax to my shoes.

1) Where am I going?

We live by a hospital so if I run that direction I’m guaranteed that a large part of my run will be on plowed the majority of my run. Running the Lakes? They will be plowed, but not to the ground.  Downtown – plowed to the sidewalk.

2) What are the conditions of the trail/sidewalk?

This depends on where you go.  Most actual off-road trails won’t have been plowed and I often will wear the YakTrax on them just to be safe.

3) Is there fresh snow/ice?

If the snow/ice is fresh or falling then I’d probably wear them just to be safe.

I’ve worn my YakTrax a few times this year for runs. A lot of my runs from home end up having a fair amount of the run being on sidewalks that are well taken-care of (hospital or downtown) so I don’t wear them a lot.

The YakTrax basically use a coil of wire to form an X on the ball and heel of your shoe.  They pull over the sole of your shoe and have a strap that helps hold them on.  They make a very distinctive mark in the snow!  When running on clear pavement these coils add a little bit of spring to your step and if worn for long stretches can mess up your shins.  For shorter periods of clear pavement you can survive or run in a snow bank to prevent the shin pain.

In the past when I’ve known I’ll want them for running around a park I’ve crossed the street or even run in the street instead of running on the hospital’s clear sidewalk.

I’ve been wearing YakTrax since we moved to Minnesota 6 years ago.  I wore my first pair out mid-winter last year and bought a new pair of YakTrax Pro.  I did receive a free pair of YakTrax Pro to review this winter (and some hand warmers).

My YakTrax wore out similar to how the heel of my shoe wore down.  The rubber and coils on the back of the heel eventually broke due to my running form.  I didn’t keep track of how many miles it took for this to occur, but having them for almost 5 years seems like a pretty good amount of time for them to last.

Another benefit of YakTrax over sheet metal screws is that you can wear them on virtually any shoe (mine won’t fit onto my winter boots, but do on my every day winter shoes).  This also allows you to rotate through your running shoes instead of only wearing (and ruining) one pair of shoes!

Have you enjoyed your YakTrax or other traction method?  What works for you?

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January’s Challenge 2014

clutter

clutter (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

January – Get rid of something every day – After a busy holiday season of getting gifts and buying stuff for yourself on clearance it is time to remove something from your life!

This could be anything that is cluttering up your space.  One rule is that it has to be yours or you ask before getting rid of it!

We are blessed with so much stuff and I don’t like to get rid of things like that ugly metal shelving unit that I’ve had since high school. So it is good to get rid of things every now and then.  “Getting rid of” could mean several things:

Sell it – Craigslist, ebay, Garage Sale, etc…

Give it – Goodwill, Freecycle, “Free” sign, etc…

Trash it – Garbage or recycling just take it away!  Around here if something decent is sitting in the alley it could disappear! We’ve given and taken from this method.

We have a box of stuff in the basement that is waiting to go into my school’s annual garage sale.  I really wish there was a way to get rid of it earlier than that, but it is better to keep it for the sale than donate it to Goodwill.

One special note about this challenge is that you could do it a few ways.  The most literal would be to find something each day, but in the spirit of the goal it would be to get rid of 30 things.  Either way the challenge is to clean up your space!!

English: Fishing clutter The old stone-hoppers...

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12 Challenges for 2014

This year instead of creating a list of goals to accomplish throughout the year, I thought I’d try doing a small challenge each month.  During August of 2013 I unsubscribed to an e-mail newsletter each day and it felt very gratifying and actually helped me to continue feel “empowered” to unsubscribe from e-mails still today!

I also figure that 12 “mini” challenges are easier to keep than a few larger ones.  Each month you get to start over!!

There isn’t a whole bunch of rhyme or reason to my 12 Challenges and I’ll throw some more random ones out there as they come up!  Please feel free to join with me too!!  At the beginning of each month I’ll post a short description of the challenge and a review of the previous month’s challenge.

January Get rid of something every day – After a busy holiday season of getting gifts and buying stuff for yourself on clearance it is time to remove something from your life!

February –  Do the 7 Minute Workout Each Day – The doldrums of winter are here…  Hitting the 7 minute work out will hopefully spice things up!

March  – Unsubscribe, de-friend, unfollow – Time for some spring cleaning.  Clean out your inbox or news feed by getting rid of some unwanted/unneeded clutter!

April – 30 Day of Biking This popular event in its 3rd or 4th year is a great way to break out the bike and hit the trails!

May – Read a poem – Read a poem each day this month.  The sky is the limit with so many great poems to choose from…  Don’t just pick 30 haikus though!

June – Blog everyday – There are some cool writing challenges floating around the interwebs about writing novels, etc.  Find something to compelling to write about each day.

July – Be Outside – We don’t have enough nice days to sit out in the sun, so spend 15 minutes or more outside each day in July to soak in some rays!

August Take a Picture a Day – I’ve done photo challenges in the past, mostly trying to take a picture a day for a year and while that created some cool pictures, I also got some fairly lame ones.  Do it for a month and be creative.  Avoid the weird 30 day challenges that show up on Facebook!

September – Proverb a Day – With school in full swing it seems fitting to go back to the Book of Wisdom and read a chapter from the Book of Proverbs each day.

October – 30 Days of Core Work – Haven’t had a fitness challenge in a few months… Mix it up… 30 days of planks and push ups? or 30 days of planks and squats? Pick 2 or 3 areas and stick with it!

November – Give Thanks – Send in the mail a note of Thanksgiving each day.  A little Cheesy maybe, but we need to spend more time being thankful.

December – 30 Days of Advent Find something advent related and read/reflect on it each day.

I will doing a few things on top of the 30 day challenges like, reading the Bible each day using this plan and reading out of this daily devotional book.  I’d also like to read 20 or so books this year (as long as Amazon keeps giving me free books!!)

And then I can’t resist a challenge like the January 50 mile challenge laid out by Minneapolis Running!  On the racing scene my plan this year is to complete the following events:

April half marathon with my sister?

5/13 Almanzo 100 (bike race)

8/2 Minnesota Half (running)

8/15-16 Powderhorn 24 (bike race)

10/3 Something… maybe the TC Loony Challenge?

What are you thinking about for 2014?