Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mac Tip of the Day

There's nothing like going to watch a movie on your Mac only to find the movie's been encoded in Microsoft's proprietary WMV format. To view a movie in that format you can download a QuickTime plug-in that recognizes and translates the WMV codec. The advantage of this is it's simple. The disadvantage is you still have your movie in this clunky proprietary format and depend on a 3rd party solution to continue watching the movie.

Alternatively, you can use the free software HandBrake to convert your WMV file to the open MPEG-4 (MP4) standard using the industry standard H.264 codec which is natively recognized on the Mac in QuickTime. This leaves you free and clear to watch your movies without the need to install a plug-in.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ran a 5K in the New Shoes

It felt great. I'm excited to see where this goes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The New Shoes

Photo on 2009-11-23 at 07.09.jpg

Kind of strange to actually call them "shoes" but that's what I'm using for the time being. I still have my heart set on getting a pair of Newtons but until then these will have to do. I plan on running a 5K in them this Thursday but after yesterday's mile I may have to rethink that decision. My calfs are killing me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Going [almost] Barefoot

I'm really having a difficult time choosing my next pair of shoes. The battle is between a pair of Newton Running Gravitas and the Vibram FiveFinger Sprint.

I went to a local running store yesterday with the intention of purchasing the Newtons. I've wanted a pair for such a long time and after testing out a pair I found they do exactly what I need my next pair of shoes to do: encourage me to run on my forefoot which causes me to strike the ground under my hips and push off using my glutes. This sounds like a simple thing but I've been running with incorrect form for so long that it's been a near insurmountable challenge to change my stride and gait even though I know it's not proper. In general change never comes easy but this is much harder than anticipated.

The drawback on the shoes was the $175 price tag. Being in the pricing business and understanding a bit about revenues and profits I need to see some serious facts about this companies profit per shoe before I pay that kind of money. Yes, we want people to be successful and yes companies are in business to make money. Yes, they need to fund their R&D and cover their overhead but if they're making 50%+ gross margin per shoe, that's unacceptable bull$hit and will not be tolerated. That's fleecing.

After chewing on my heart for a few moments I scanned the store and noticed the Vibrams. Intrigued by this ridiculous looking (dare I even call it) shoe I had to try a pair on and give it a go. After jogging around a bit I noticed these shoes also encouraged a proper running gait. Though not as obvious as the Newtons I could still accomplish the same thing in these with the added benefit of seeing what it's like to run pretty much barefoot. This would encourage my body to strengthen the ankles and foot muscles in ways shoes otherwise wouldn't promote.

The Vibrams are still astronomical in price for what they are: $80. But on the flip side I could get two pairs for less than one pair of Newtons while at the same time whetting my appetite to see what barefoot running is all about and leaving the mystery of the Newtons open to me for another day.

After a long and difficult night thinking about this I decided it's going to be the Vibrams. This'll definitely be an experience and one I'll be happy to report on. They're definitely not winter shoes and being at the start of winter they're going to get a lot of treadmill work. Something tells me by the construction of these things I'll be able to get more than 400 miles out of them before they need to be retired.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Not-So-Accidental Accidental Half Marathon

This past weekend was Halloween weekend here in the states and as of a few years ago a new Halloween tradition was set in Minneapolis. That tradition is to run the Monster Dash half marathon despite the fact that Anoka, which is in the northwest burbs, is the Halloween capital of the world.

This detail aside, the Monster Dash is really the event to do. Thousands of people as crazy as I am line up along the north end of Lake Harriet and pound out 13.1 miles. As fate would have it, I just happened to be doing a 13.1 mile training run that day and I also coincidentally happened to be doing it around the lakes so timing was perfect. Of course I provided my own assistance but it was still fun to run with a group of people instead of just by myself.

A lot of fun was had by all and I did get to run with some friends which was a blast. What made it great was I had negative splits the whole way. I don't do that too often so it was nice to see it happen.

Until the next event (that would be Thanksgiving day when I'm doing a 3.1 mile training run. Not sure where I'll do it but I haven't trained downtown in a while...)