App To No Good

In January 2011, the American Dialect Society named “app” the word of the year for 2010. Today, that word is engrained in our daily vocabulary. App is shortened for application, something that you download in your mobile device. I think everybody knows what an app is, unless you’re living under a rock.

There are more than 2 million app available in Apple app store currently, and for Android users, there are about 3.5 million apps. If you think about something, there’s probably an app for that. This technology has been part of our day-to-day life and it’s really on the up and up, or should I say, on the app and app.

I have several apps on my smart phone that make my life “easier.” I have an app for the weather alerts, an app to know where I park my car, an app to read and check the latest medical literature and studies, an app to do my banking, an app to control the air-conditioner or heater at my home even if I’m not home, and app to listen to Filipino radio stations, even if I’m 8000 miles away from the Philippines.

You already know that for about 3 weeks now, I have been using an app to help me improve my running (see previous post, App for the Challenge and App to Speed). I started with a pace of about 11 minutes per mile but with the aid of the app I was able to decrease it to 10 minutes per mile on my last run.

After a couple of runs with a faster pace, this week it was my objective to build on that and further improve my pace. My goal is to have it under 10 minutes or even a 9-minute mile.

But I failed!

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I ran a longer distance this time though.

I can think of a hundred reasons of why I was not able to achieve that goal. First, I had only 5 hours of sleep the night before I made that morning run.

Second, it was hot outside when I ran, with the temperature near 80º Fahrenheit. I know that was not really hot, especially if I consider that I grew up in a tropical country. But for me I rather run in a 30-60º F temperature and just layer up in my running gear. If the temperature is 90º F or higher? Forget it, that can kill a runner.

Third, the app did not give me wings in my feet.

Fourth, the app failed to give me more air in my lungs.

But I think the only acceptable reason is that running a 9-minute mile is not as easy as I thought, and I am not as fast and strong as I believe I am. As in most endeavor, it takes time and perseverance to achieve what you aim for. Maybe it would take me few more weeks or even months to attain that lofty goal. Or maybe never.

For now, I’ll just blame it on the app.

(*background photo taken during my run)

 

Not Running

The annual Des Moines Marathon is less than 3 weeks away. And I am in no close form to run it.

For the past 5 years, I participated in this yearly event, running the half-marathon (13.1 miles). This year I learned that a classmate of mine from medical school who is also now living in the US, but in another state, is participating in this run. Even out-of-towners are joining this event, not to mention some elite runners as well.

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(photo taken during Des Moines Marathon 2013)

Participating in this annual race keeps me committed on my running and hopefully this keeps me fit and healthy, which is the ultimate goal anyway.

I know it is not hard to find a hundred reasons to stop running and it is so easy to fall off the wagon, and stop exercising at all. Doing this half-marathon at least once a year keeps me motivated. Or unable to button my pants, or an innocent yet honest remark from my kids about my bulging belly, will also do the same.

If I follow the running gurus’ advice, like the Hal Higdon’s training schedule (click here) on how to prepare for the half marathon, my long runs should be at least 8 to 10 miles by this time. Adhering to these recommended training schedules assure you that you cross the finish line on race day without killing yourself. But I loosely follow those schedules anyway.

Yet, even if I am not on track in my training for the half-marathon, there’s no urgency for me to train hard. The truth is I was not even training at all. I have not run a distance of more than 3 miles for the past couple of months. I am indeed slacking.

Why? Have I lost the motivation? Have I resigned and accept my bulging midsection? Not at all!

About 3 months ago, I learned that on the weekend of the scheduled Des Moines Marathon is the date that my kids will have their piano competition. And I will not miss the world for that. So we will be out-of-town at that time, and thus I cannot do the run.

So I forgo on my training.

However last Sunday, just to challenge myself, I push to run 5 miles in less than an hour, and I felt good about it. Next weekend, if I can run 7 or 8 miles, then it is as if I am ready to run the half marathon, even if I am not doing it.

Just because.

Marshmallows and Delayed Gratification

It is hard for us humans to purposefully delay a pleasure, that we know we can possibly have now. We live in a day and age that we want rapid results, immediate benefits, and instant gratification. We want everything and we want it now. Pronto! ASAP! And we don’t care about its future consequences.

Studies have shown though, that the ability to delay immediate gratification is link to a successful life. In one experiment conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel years ago, he offered marshmallows to a group of 4-year old kids. He told them that if they want a marshmallow they can eat one now, but if they could wait several minutes, they can have two. Some of the kids immediately grab the treat though some were able to hold off. Mischel followed these kids until they were adults and he found that those who were able to wait were generally more self-motivated, more successful in school, and more emotionally stable. I just wonder though if the kids who ate two marshmallows got to see the dentist more. Sorry, I digress.

Looking at the things that we do now in our everyday routine, I know that some of the benefits from our efforts, we would not rake until much later. At least that’s what we hope for. There may be grinding days that we ask ourselves, what’s the point of doing all of this? But let’s keep reminding ourselves that someday we will have our gratification. So hold off gulping down that marshmallow, for someday you will have a whole bag all for you. What? Sorry, I digress again.

In four weeks, I will be running the half-marathon. This will be my third. And I am up to par with my training schedule. Last weekend I ran 10 miles, the longest distance I ran for this year so far. Training experts say that if you can run 10 miles, you can finish the half marathon which is 13 miles (21 km). I hope so. For that’s what I’m training for, right? That’s also the reason I’m not eating marshmallows. Huh?

So as I make the final push for my preparation for the half-marathon, I wonder would it be worth all the efforts – the early morning rise, the long, lonely and grueling runs, the buckets of sweats, and the muscle sores. Would the medal (which is probably worth $2) hanging on my neck, signifying that I finished the 13-mile run, the ultimate prize? Would having my name in the list of finishers the final goal? Would finally cooling off my heels, hanging up my running shoes, and just taking it slow after the half-marathon, and eating all the marshmallows I can eat, the delayed gratification I am alluding to? Heck, no! I don’t think I will stop running anyway even after the event.

By keeping on running today, what I am hoping for is in 15 years, when I am 60 and my son will be 24, that I can still play basketball one-on-one and keep up toe-to-toe with him. Or in 25 years when I am 70, and my grandson is 7, that I can still teach him how to dribble and shoot the ball, or show him how to do a lay-up or even a forceful dunk. Or in 45 years when I am 90, and my great-grandson is 1, that I can still guide and support him as he take his first steps, or perhaps just witness him bite a marshmallow.

That will be gratifying. Really gratifying. And it will be all worth it.

(*photo from here)