I’d like to dedicate today’s entry to running – and by “running,” I mean short bursts of jogging (or yogging… It might be a soft “j”) followed by longer lulls of speed walking. I’m not trying to kid anyone. I am not a runner… but I want to be. That should count for something.

I love the idea of running – getting out in nature and away from the distractions of work, relationships, etc. Letting your legs create some distance between you and your stresses. However, what running is for people like me who aren’t born natural athletes, is something totally different. It’s exhausting. It hurts. It’s really not all that enjoyable of an experience.

One of my goals for 2013 was to run a 5K (again, using the term “running” loosely). I signed up for Color Me Rad months ago, and I have to admit, I’m terrified by it. Not because I can’t make it 3.11 miles, but because I don’t want to drag my team of thin, fit people down. The first step, to me, is training.

I started on Easter by running at Lake Hefner. When I hit the halfway point, I couldn’t believe how far I had come. The buildings where I left my car looked itty bitty… Then I realized that I had no choice to get all the way back over there. I was alone. No one was going to carry me or pick me up. It was just me and my legs.

af2ea5aa9a4411e2a8b922000a1f8ac2_7You know what? I made it. My legs and I were fine, albeit a little sore. I finished in 43:30. It’s not an impressive time, but I did it, which proved one thing to me – I could do it. The first run was a measuring stick… a place to start. And when it comes to exercise, the most important thing is usually the toughest – starting.

Since then, I’ve completed two more 5K trial runs (in the same week even! Whoa!) – Here are the pictures to prove it:


For those of you paying attention, you’ll notice my last run was both my fastest and longest. Yeah, okay. It was my fastest by :32 seconds, but it was still faster and I earned those :32. Don’t rain on my parade, haters. I’ll eventually cut 13 minutes off and be running at a decent pace. Just you wait.

All that to say, for you wanna-be runners like me, here are a few tips I’ve found in my three test runs:

1. Location, location, location!
I have yet to run in the same place twice. Part of “the dream” of being a runner for me is seeing new things – that’s a little pointless if you’re running at the same location every time. I did a simple Google search and found several locations in my area that are prime running spots. Plus, each place offers different course lengths, elevations and overall experience.
One last bonus that no one considers, you don’t know your way around. So when you hit that point when you think “Screw this, I’m going back to my car,” you have no idea if turning around or going forward is the fastest way back. Chances are once you figure it out, you’re probably pretty close to achieving your goal anyway. (I’m not kidding. This definitely happened on my second run and, to a lesser degree, my third.)

2. Everything is better with a soundtrack.
I know I keep talking about nature and escaping things, but I cannot run without music. As nice as the sound of birds and such is, hearing my feet hit the pavement just reminds me of how much work I’m really doing. Just as running is a distraction from stress, music is a distraction from running.
Another valuable tip – switch up your music. I have a “Work It Out” playlist, but my first run was set to a random shuffle; the second was two songs on repeat; the third was Sufjan Stevens The Age of Adz album. Each offered me what I needed to push through.

3. Chew on that.
Have problems getting parched during a run, but you don’t want to lug around a water bottle? Chew some gum. It helps. Scouts honor.

4. Excuses, expluses. 
Life is busy. As a girl with 4 jobs, trust me, I get it. There are usually a million reasons why you can’t exercise… and sometimes they are actually legitimate. The key though is that if you look for it, there are a few days here and there that there is no good reason not to go for a run. Take advantage of those times! It’s spring – there is going to be some nice weather and a few evenings that you have no obligations for a few hours – at least long enough to run, then shower and get ready to go about your business. Do it then. You’ll feel better after you push past that initial urge to be lazy.

5. Never give up, never surrender!
I admit that 43 minutes to jog 3 miles isn’t good, but that’s not really the point for me. Yes, I want to get faster, but at the end of each run the thing I’ve been most proud of is that I did it. I made the choice to get out and be active instead of sitting on the couch. Even if it took me an hour and a half to get through it, I still would’ve made a choice to be healthier. In the long run (pun intended), that is the most important thing.


App Review: Zombies, Run!

I’m not one who stays up-to-date on app fads (or any fads for that matter). Eventually word about apps like Angry Birds and Words with Friends just happen to get around to me. I say all that to say, Zombies, Run! was the exception. I found out about this app about a week before it released after a friend posted a link to a news story about it on Facebook and I knew I had to have it. As a person who strives to enjoy running, I knew if the app was as cool as it was in my head, it could completely change the way I run.

Price: $7.99
Fitness level required: Beginner

Zombies, Run! is a fitness and game app all in one. The story unfolds as you are dropped into a camp that is in need of help from “runners.” Runners collect supplies that you distribute to the survivors in your camp – Abel Township. You survive, they survive. There are currently 30 missions available, but developers will release more missions in the near future. Missions last between 25 – 30 minutes depending on your soundtrack.

Zombies, yay:
Personally, my main problem when running is that I think about what I’m doing too often. Me running without music? Forget about it. I wouldn’t make it down the block. I have to be distracted. Zombies, Run! is the perfect solution for me. By the time the first section of dialogue was over on my first mission, I had already knocked out 1/4 of my run without even realizing it.
One thing that works in my favor for this app is my active imagination. If you can’t play along, this app will be of no help to you. The people on the radio will say things like, “You should see the hospital in the distance on your left.” I can easily look up, decide what object “the hospital” is and push myself to get to that mark as quickly as possible.
If you have a problem pushing yourself, make sure you turn on the zombie chases feature. Nothing will motivate you to keep running than a horde of zombies ready to devour your brains. Don’t worry, the chases only last 1 minute max. You can handle it.
For those of you who have been long-time users of other running apps like Nike+, you can run both apps at the same time. However, I would suggest turning off the audio cues in the other app. It’s much more motivating for me to hear that the work I’m doing is going to save lives rather than hear some athlete I’ve never heard of patronize me anyway. (No offense, Nike+. I love you.)
Another thing to keep in mind, this app will work for any level runner. The mission isn’t based on any set speed. Whether you choose to run or walk the entire time, when a zombie attack occurs, all you have to do is speed up. You’re not required to pull a Usain Bolt or anything.

Zombies, boo:
I’ve discovered very few drawbacks to Zombies, Run!, and the flaws it has aren’t significant enough for me to not recommend it.
It would be nice if I could change my distance from kilometers to miles. I’m assuming this will be a fixed soon. (If it already is fixed and I’m a dummy, tell me how to change it in the settings, please.)
This is my own problem, but I hate iTunes. I lothe it, so I don’t use it. I choose to listen to my music through Spotify. It’s my understanding that Zombies, Run! is programmed to pause your iTunes playlist while the narrator is taking, but of course, this does not apply to an outside app like Spotify, Lastfm, Pandora, etc. Not only does it not pause the playlist, there’s no way to even control the volumes separately making it difficult to hear the mission at times. I’m not pinning this as something the developers missed and I don’t assume it will be fixed. It would be too difficult to work with so many outside companies. I’ll just have to bite the bullet, put my workout songs on my phone and pray syncing it doesn’t delete everything I have. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

Yes, $7.99 is a lot for an app, but in my opinion, Zombies, Run! is worth the cost. I find myself thinking, “Man, I really don’t want to run today, but I’m really curious about what happens next in my game.” The motivation to get off my butt and workout is definitely worth $8 to me.

Rating: A

Power Songs

At the beginning of the year, I invested in the Nike+ app after seeing a few friends tracking their progress with it on Facebook. If you want to shell out the $1.99, it really is worth investing in.

One of the features on the app is the ability to set a “PowerSong” – a song meant to give you an extra boost when the GPS sees you’re dropping below your set pace. Seeing as I’m also currently working on a Top 100 Songs I Never Get Tired of Listening To list for The Poncho, it’s only natural that I would also sit down and assess which songs in my “Work It Out” playlist really pump me up.

Here are my top 3 selections in no particular order:

Daft Punk – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Two Door Cinema Club – What You Know

The Bravery – An Honest Mistake

What are your power songs?