Let’s See How Far We’ve Come

[originally posted at gametheoryninja.com]

I like running.  It’s cheap, convenient, and relatively easily scalable.  You can do it anywhere.  Running makes you happy.  I’m also convinced running makes you smarter.

My New Years Resolution this year was to run 1000 miles in the year 2010.  I’m proud to say that I accomplished this goal as of yesterday.

I’m an economist, so this means I also like charts and graphs.  In celebration of joining the 22% of people who actually keep their New Years Resolutions, I made some graphs to showcase this achievement and wrote a bit of analysis at the end.

A bit of background: I did some running last year, too.  I mainly wanted to use this resolution as encouragement to continue running.  As with any sport, it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated.  I set my goal at 1000 miles for the year, divided out what that would be per week [19.25], and rounded up to 20.  So far, I’ve averaged about 32 miles a week, with some obvious spikes, and one dip just below the weekly goal of 20 miles [it was the week after my birthday].

Last year, I ran two ultramarathons: the 36-mile Lake of the Sky Trail Run and the 31-mile Santa Cruz 50k.  This year, I ran the 31-mile Sequoia 50k in February and the 26.2-mile San Francisco Marathon last week, finishing in 3:52:55.  Races for the rest of the year are to be determined, but might include the Redwood Park 50k, the Healdsburg Marathon, and the Silicon Valley Marathon, organized by my running hero, Dean Karnazes.  I’m already registered for the California International Marathon in December.  Hopefully, I’ll finish one of these marathons with a time under 3:40:59 and qualify for the Boston Marathon.

This post wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Badwater, the 135-mile footrace across Death Valley in July.  I wrote an article on the race a few years ago and got to interview a lot of very cool runners.  Watching the event in action, in 2008, was an inspiration.  If they can run 135 miles, I thought, I surely can run 3, or 6, or 10.  Because a half-marathon – 13.1 miles – isn’t even 10% of the length of that race.

I’ve read a lot of books, articles, and blogs about running.  Everyone has their own take on the sport.  Like every other runner out there, I’ve got my own ideology and approach.  It’s simple: no excuses.  Just get out there and do it.  Don’t stress out about how fast you’re going, or how much your pelvis is rotating, or what your VO2 max is.  Humans have been running for a very long time.  We were built to run.  Therefore, we know how to do it.  It’s natural.  Running is normal.

Yes, the most recent studies on diet for runners or shoe alignment might help you become a somewhat better runner.  Maybe using a GPS watch or some other technology gadget will give you more information on your stride or average miles per hour.  But, at the end of the day, the only thing that standing between you and running is, well, you.  So put on your shoes and get out there.  No excuses.

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