Category Archives: Sports

Podrunner: Intervals

I finished the Couch to 5k program and then came in 545th out of 789 people in a 5km race — not bad for an absolute beginner — and then started looking for something else to keep myself interested in running. I happened upon the Podrunner: Intervals podcast by DJ Beatsmith. I am now on week 6 and I can definitely recommend this podcast as a good running companion. The only complaints I have are: there is too much talking before the run (the talking time should be incorporated into the walking warmup); the times are not announced at the beginning of the podcast, so you have no idea how long you are going to have to run that day unless you go and look it up every day before you run (and the times are hard to find on the website); there should be a 5 minute cool down time after every run (the cooldown times are seemingly random); and the podcast just ends so sometimes you start back at the beginning of the podcast without realizing it.

The P:I website does not have a clear listing of the actual intervals that are used, so it is hard to evaluate the program before you begin. Here is a list of times for the workouts that I eventually found by digging around the archives and the Yahoogroup for the podcast. Hope someone else finds them useful.

First Day to 5K: Week 1

5-minute warmup @ 128 bpm
60 seconds @ 142 bpm
90 seconds @ 128 bpm
60 seconds @ 142 bpm
90 seconds @ 128 bpm
60 seconds @ 142 bpm
95 seconds @ 128 bpm
65 seconds @ 142 bpm
95 seconds @ 128 bpm
65 seconds @ 142 bpm
90 seconds @ 128 bpm
65 seconds @ 142 bpm
90 seconds @ 128 bpm
60 seconds @ 142 bpm
95 seconds @ 128 bpm
65 seconds @ 142 bpm
3-minute cooldown @ 128 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 2

5-minute warmup @ 128 bpm
90 seconds @ 138 bpm
Two minutes @ 128 bpm
90 seconds @ 138 bpm
Two minutes @ 128 bpm
90 seconds @ 138 bpm
Two minutes @ 128 bpm
90 seconds @ 138 bpm
Two minutes @ 128 bpm
90 seconds @ 138 bpm
Two minutes @ 128 bpm
90 seconds @ 138 bpm
1 min. 50 seconds cooldown @ 128 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 3

5-minute warmup @ 130 bpm
90 seconds @ 140 bpm
90 seconds @ 130 bpm
3 min. @ 140 bpm
3 min. @ 130 bpm
90 seconds @ 140 bpm
90 seconds @ 130 bpm
3 min. @ 140 bpm
4-min, 10-sec. cooldown @ 130 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 4

5-min. warmup @ 129 bpm
3 min. @ 140 bpm
90 sec. @ 130 bpm
5 min. @ 140 bpm
2 min. 30 sec. @ 130 bpm
3 min. @ 140 bpm
90 sec. @ 130 bpm
5 min. @ 140 bpm
2-min. cooldown @ 130 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 5 – Mix 1

5-min. warmup @ 130 bpm
3 min. @ 140 bpm
3 min. @ 131 bpm
5 min. @ 140 bpm
3 min. @ 131 bpm
5 min. @ 140 bpm
2 min. 30 sec. cooldown @ 130 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 5 – Mix 2

5-minute warmup @ 130 bpm
8 minutes @ 140 bpm
5 minutes @ 131 bpm
8 minutes @ 140 bpm
1-min. 45-sec. cooldown @ 130 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 5 – Mix 3

5 min. warmup @ 130 bpm
20 min. @ 140 bpm
3 min. cooldown @ 130 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 6 – Mix 1

5-min. warmup @ 131 bpm
5 min. @ 141 bpm
3 min. @ 132 bpm
8 min. @ 141 bpm
3 min. @ 132 bpm
5 min. @ 141 bpm
4-min. cooldown @ 131 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 6 – Mix 2

5 min. warmup @ 130 bpm
10 min. @ 140 bpm
3 min. @ 131 bpm
10 min. @ 140 bpm
4 min. cooldown @130 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 6 – Mix 3

5 min. warmup @ 130 bpm
25 min. @ 140 bpm
3 min. 30 sec. cooldown @ 130 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 7

5-min. warmup @ 130 bpm
25 min. @ 140 bpm
4-min. cooldown @ 130 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 8

5-min. warmup @ 130 bpm
28 min. @ 140 bpm
4-min. 30-sec. cooldown @ 130 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 9

5-min. warmup @ 130 bpm
30 min. @ 140 bpm
4-min. 30-sec. cooldown @ 130 bpm

First Day to 5K: Week 10 – Graduation Mix

5-min. warmup @ 135 bpm
35 min. @ 145 bpm
4 min. 30 sec. cooldown @ 135 bpm

Couch to 5k

A friend recently asked me to join her in running a 5km race and at first I rejected it outright, as the idea of me being able to run a race of any length seemed quite ludicrous. However, after giving it some thought, I decided that it might be just the thing to get me to put away my keyboard and start moving my body. The race is in April and the application deadline is in February. I still haven’t decided whether or not to actually compete in the race — and when I say compete, I mean it in the sense of “trying to finish the race, hopefully without collapsing” — but I thought I might try to design a training program that would help me discover whether or not I might be up to a 5km race at some point.

Luckily, there is no need for me to design anything. (And I mean “luckily” in the sense that I would have absolutely no way to know how to do such a thing, and so it wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.) The nice people at coolrunning.com have come up with a way to train yourself to run 5km over 9 weeks. Their program is called the “Couch to 5k Running Plan” and I think it is perfect for people like me who would otherwise have no idea how to start. The basic idea is that you do alternating intervals of walking and running, and over the weeks you gradually increase the running and decrease the walking.

I tried it for the first time on Wednesday morning. I am better at convincing myself to exercise in the morning, so I woke up bright and early, layered up my clothing and put on some mittens, strapped on my iPod and away I went. The first day of the plan requires you to walk for 5 minutes, and then alternate 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes (or 8 times), followed by another 5 minute walk. I have a watch with a timer, but as luck would have it, the battery was dead, and my local shop refuses to repair it without sending it away for a few weeks, so I ended up borrowing a timer from a friend who is an elementary school teacher. I started the timer when I set out for my 5 minute walk and then kept checking it to make sure I was on track. When my walking time was up, I reset the timer and started jogging, again checking the timer to make sure I was on time. I knew that it would be difficult to keep track of the number of times that I had done the run-walk combination, so I devised a system that involved having 8 pennies in one pocket, and moving one penny over to the other pocket every time I finished running. Simple, but effective. I then kept my eye on the timer and completed my training for the day. (By the way, the VERY BEST training-for-a-5k-run song EVER is “Keep Hope Alive” by The Crystal Method.)

This was all fine and good, but I did feel that the timer and the pennies made everything a bit fiddly. What if I forgot to bring the pennies one day? What if I started running, but forgot to set the timer? I know these are not really important questions, because I could just make things up as I went along, but I am a bit of a perfectionist, and the chance of these things going wrong decreased my pleasure in the experienced slightly.

Later that day, when I was searching the internet for ways to de-fiddle this process, I happened upon the answer: the Couch to 5k Podcast, by Robert Ullrey. Robert has recorded nine weeks’ worth of podcasts to go along with the Couch to 5k Running Plan. There is music in the background and he gives you instructions about when to start walking and running all the way through. It is just PERFECT. All I need to remember to do is to take my iPod, and Robert takes care of the rest. What a great jogging companion!

I tested out the Week 1 podcast on Friday, and found it to be very useful indeed. Because Robert was telling me what to do, I could forget about all the fiddly details of the program and just concentrate on running. I was able to focus on my form and my speed (such that it is) rather than worrying about checking the timer and transferring pennies. It was very liberating.

I have only used the podcast once, and only done two days of the 9 weeks of training, so I can’t say yet whether they are effective, but I can definitely say that they are going to let me get further in my training than I would have without them. (If I actually do manage to finish the program, or better yet, enter the race, I will let you know!)

Feb 28 update: I just finished week 6 and so far, so good. I have signed up for the race, but I am still not sure whether I will be able to do it any justice. We shall see…

Soft Volleyball

I have recently learned how to play soft volleyball in Japan. The rules are basically similar to volleyball, but there are some differences.

  • the ball is bigger and softer
  • the court is smaller
  • the net is a bit lower
  • there are four people to a team
  • there are no specific positions (receiver, setter, etc.)
  • your team MUST hit the ball three times before returning it to the other team
  • you cannot jump when you hit the ball
  • loss of serve means a point for the other team
  • you must serve underhand
  • serves that catch the net are considered to be in play as long as they make it over the net
  • you have to win by two points (same as regular volleyball), or get to 17 first

Other rules are the same as regular volleyball.

  • the (four) players rotate after winning the serve
  • you have to serve from behind the end line of the court

It is easier for a variety of people to play because of the size and softness of the ball and the lack of jumping. However, the ball moves rather quickly, so you still have to be quick to react. The fact that the ball has to be hit three times before it gets returned means that it encourages team work.

I couldn’t find any information about the rules online anywhere, so I decided to put them up here for now. If I find out anything else, I will put it up here.

Sumo

I have just recently become interested in sumo. You might think that it’s just big men in diapers pushing each other around, but there is much more to it than that. The basic rules of the sport are quite simple (get the other guy out of the ring), but the history and the culture behind it are fascinating.

I don’t purport to be an expert on sumo, so I will just point out some sites that I have found useful.

Banzuke
http://www.banzuke.com
Sumo mailing list archives.

Hakkeyoi
http://hakkeyoi.net
Lots of stats.

Nihon Sumo Kyokai
http://www.sumo.or.jp
The official site for sumo stats and rikishi biographies. Also offers live streaming of bouts.

SC Group Sumo Information
http://www.scgroup.com/sumo
Includes excellent sumo FAQ.

Sumo Fan Magazine
http://www.sumofanmag.com
Good explanatory articles.

Sumo Mailing List
http://statgen.ncsu.edu/majordomo/sumo.php
List with very high traffic. Definitely subscribe if you are interested in regular updates on all things sumo!

SumoTalk
http://www.sumotalk.com