Sunday, May 31, 2009

Free is just as good

I got a text from my mom this morning wanting to know the website I use to track my calories. I'm excited that she wants to keep up with the walking now that she's back home. I use no fancy equipment. I am not a member of a gym and I use all free services online to track my running paths, look for hikes and track my weight. You can too without spending any money. 

The two things I invested in was a descent watch - mainly for stopwatch to track the times of my runs and really good running shoes. I got the Timex Ironman watch at REI. Unfortunately it does not have a heart rate monitor, but I bought it before I started running. I'd like a watch with GPS with heart rate monitor, but every time I talk myself out of it because I've had such great success with this watch, I don't need to get another watch. Normally I choose to run without music. I get into a cadence with my steps and breathing that I don't need music to keep me going. Although sometimes I just want something to pump me up. This cool watch came with an iPod dongle that plugs into my iPod Video Nano so I can throw the iPod in the back pocket of my running shirt and have all the controls on my watch to change volume and track! It's pretty cool for that and works really well. The only thing is I do run in parks and the streets of my neighborhood and it's important to hear people and cars, so don't pump the music up too loudly! 

Having the proper shoes is really important for running. I started out just using the tennis shoes I had in my closet. It's important for me that when I start a new activity I like to see if I actually like it and get in the habit of it before I pour any money into it. I ran in these shoes for about 10 weeks before I made the commitment of new shoes and man I'm glad I did. My coworker recommended a place in Campbell, CA called Running Revolution. They were absolutely phenomenal in finding the right pair of shoes for me and my husband. 

The first thing we did with the sales lady was took off our shoes and walked across the room barefoot. This was so they could see the natural structure of our walk. I happen to pronate on my right side, which means my ankle rotates inward when I walk. I had no idea before. She then selected shoes that are designed to help pronation. I also got special soles in the shotes called Superfeet. I actually had these in my previous running shoes and she asked me why because I didn't know I pronated before. I said they felt more comfortable when I walked in them at REI. Yes, they were an up-sell, but I obviously made the right decision on the comfort factor because they helped my ankles and knees stay in place. 

After selecting a pair of shoes that fit comfortably for me, they put us on the treadmill to watch us run for about 30 seconds. They took out a small video camera and taped us running from behind. Then we stopped and all watched on playback to see what we look like when running. Our ankles were in line and everything else they look for was good. I've never had a more pleasant purchasing experience. Oh, by the way, I walked out with a pair of shoes 1/2 a size larger than my foot. So when you run your feet swell a bit and the impact of your foot to the pavement makes the print of your foot wider, so by going up a 1/2 size, you allow for this to happen. I never knew that. Now, your feet should not be coming out of the shoe, so be careful. They gave us a 10% discount because a coworker recommended them and we traveled a distance from Palo Alto just to go to the store. I believe the shoes were about $90 each, so if you look around at shoes, that's a pretty good price. I also learned that you are to replace your running shoes every 300 - 400 miles! For some people that is every few months, but for me that's a bit longer. 

So tracking the mileage on my shoes and tracking the distance of each run go hand in hand. At first I was trying to track mileage with my car. Do you remember doing that as a kid with your parents? The same coworker that told me about the shoe place, also recommended a website that uses Google Maps, but for running! You can put a start point on the map and select point that it will automatically map and track the mileage. You can have it specify to stay on the road so you don't have to be to precise with your selected points, or you can go off road and map around parks. It's MapMyRun.com and they are fantastic. 

This is where I keep my entire workout calendar. It's free and I think it does the trick for what I need. It can be a tad tricky to navigate, but once you get the hang of it, I think it does a pretty good job. If you do have a GPS device or a Nike device, they can easily update in the feature so you don't have to map your steps. When you start, you'll set up a profile that includes your height, weight etc. What I've found to be critical is being very accurate. If you do a run in 21:35, don't put in 21:00 or 21:30. Put in the correct data, if you can be so specific. This will more accurately calculate your calories. I love going back in the calendar to compare all the times of the same route. 

Tracking my weight is something I do every day. I wake up, pee and get naked before stepping on the scale. I found this widget in my iGoogle page options. I used the widget called The Google 15 before, but it sucks and I abandoned it long ago. I started a profile with this new site MedHelp.org. They have a shit load of trackers from pregnancy to cancer to anything you can think of. I only use the weight tracker. The chart function is really cool because your progress, or hopeful progress is awesome to see when the line goes down & down. I weigh myself every day despite others saying to do it once a week. I do this because I now know the complex patterns of my body. I go through good spurts and bad ones, but when the numbers go up a bit, I know why and I can help control that. Plus water is an important factor and I've learned not to get depressed and just keep pushing - the numbers will begin to decrease again soon. I've plateaued so many times, but it never lasts long because I know it's inevitable and I will never give up. 

I wanted to write all this because it is possible to work out and loose weight without paying money to join a gym or have special equipment. I love being out with nature instead of in a hot, stinky gym. I can be myself on the pavement and run without judgement. If I run by people that are looking, they can only look as long as the time it takes me to run by and not being stationary on a treadmill for 30 minutes. I think gyms are evil that give me more complexes than solving the ones I already have. You don't need any additional money to go out right now and start doing something about your life. Take back control. I posted a lot of links today. This is not a commercial, but I wanted to pass along the tools I use to others in hopes to make it more possible to get started now and not waste another day. Also, if you use something you love, please pass it along to me. I'd love to try new things! 

I myself am planning a hike for hubby and I. Time to make some PB&J sandwiches and get out there... after I finish my coffee! Happy Sunday!