Monday, July 04, 2011

How to Sleep In and still Run Like Carl Lewis

So this morning, I declined to set the alarm, letting my awesome sleeping habits and ability to go to sleep earlydelusion be my alarm instead. And it worked like a charm. I woke up, got ready, headed out and was completely alone on the trail.

Because it was noon and 90+ fricking degrees out with 40% humidity.

Still, today marked an important milestone in my post-injury recovery: The first time I slowed down because I had a sudden epiphany that will solve the world's oil crisis I couldn't breath instead of because my knee hurt! Although I could be deluded, I think it's in part because of my weak attempts at following the Pose Method of running which look something like this:

If you watch that video carefully, you'll notice that Carl Lewis' feet don't actually touch the ground for the entire 100M.

So Pose, is this method by a bunch of British sport scientists who are trying to make their triathletes faster and it basically involves running by falling forwards. They claim that its two main benefits are being easier on the knees and keeping your heart rate lower at the same speed. There is a lot of debate about the second claim, but as for the first claim, I can say I'm a believer. For the whole story, buy their Book or watch their Movie, but my two take-aways for knee-saving today are thus:

  1. Lift up with your knees. You can seemingly get a similar propulsive effect from not leaning forward as much and pushing back with your trailing foot, but this is most definitely much harder on your knee. Especially one with a torn PCL.
  2. Shoulders back, head up. Just like Mom said. Mostly this is significantly more attractive makes your body more like a plank, which means it falls forward faster and with less effort. Also helpful is that it is easier on your lungs to breath this way.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Turning Runkeeper Cycle Logs into Watts

A good enough approximation is (10 x velocity x slope x mass) + velocity^3 / 8

velocity in metres per second (divide kmh by 3.6, divide mph by 2.25)

mass in kg (bike and rider)

slope in percent

output in watts.

Example, a 70 kg rider on a 7 kg bike doing 18 kmh up a 10% grade:

(10 x 5 x 0.1 x (70 + 7)) + 5^3 / 8 = 5 x 77 + 125 / 8 = 401 watts = 5.7 watts per kg. That's Cadel Evans territory.
In keeping with my all numbers, all the time philosophy, I decided that what I really need to be able to do is to turn a watts number. Of course, the way to bankrupt yourself correct way to do this is with a gizmo on your bike like this one:

If you want a non-wired version of something like that it'll set you back about $1,000.

So I figured, there's got to be a math way to do it. And I googled, and found this cool formula:

A good enough approximation is (10 x velocity x slope x mass) + velocity^3 / 8

velocity in metres per second (divide kmh by 3.6, divide mph by 2.25)

mass in kg (bike and rider)

slope in percent

output in watts.

Example, a 70 kg rider on a 7 kg bike doing 18 kmh up a 10% grade:

(10 x 5 x 0.1 x (70 + 7)) + 5^3 / 8 = 5 x 77 + 125 / 8 = 401 watts = 5.7 watts per kg. That's Cadel Evans territory.
Sweet. So now I just have to get from runkeeper data to this formula. Here's my most recent AWESOME ok for a beginner ride:

And then I realized that since I always bike a loop, the whole first part of that equation dissapears and we get simply velocity^3/8. Which honestly seems like a drastic oversimplification, but what the heck, let's give it a shot. 2:33 min/km needs to be converted to meteres per second for this formula, which converts to 153 seconds/km. Divide by 1000 to get .153 seconds/meter, and invert to get 6.535.

So, after this simple conversion, the internet is telling me that my power output for this ride was: (6.536^3)/8 = 35. Which is pitiful. Also, I don't believe it.

So, what's wrong? Well, for one, there's no account for resistance, size of bike, wind resistence, rolling resistance etc. So, I check out There, entering in the same numbers resulted in 97 watts for the ride, which is closer, but there again there are problems. Primarily, there is no way to indicate the elevation changes in the ride. As the runkeeper data shows, the road goes up and down significantly. The uphills suck, and the downhills rock, but do they offset each other? Not likely. But I'm out of time and space, so that will have to be the topic for another post!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Couch to 5k. Again.

This is me several months ago:

And this is me now:

Standard disclaimer about photos of me: Neither of those are actually me.

So approximately 400 years ago, the Dr. gave me the verdict that that I had torn the ligament that holds the kneecap, well, on the knee. Otherwise it just becomes a cap. Which is what I had. Fortunately, he said I'd be back to normal in a month. Now here we are, 399 years and 11 months later, and I finally ran a 5k again. At less than half the speed I was running 10k's before.

Actually, I still don't feel in shape to do it, but the above race is put on the never boring and occasionally naked Boring Runner who promised a box of prizes like his old sunglasses and used sneakers if everyone would run the race from him, and I'm like, "Hey, who wouldn't want to run a race that only exists on the internet? It will fulfill all of the stereotypes my friends have of me. And then I did. And it looked like this:

Friday, June 24, 2011

So apparently I just suck at running

First off, a picture just for my fair trading half who is always saying that she doesn't understand the absurd ratio of cars to houses on our street. This particular absurd ratio came from my bike ride this morning:

So then I went and finish my run. Here's the stats, courtesy of the new cockpit :

So not bad right? And here's the thing: I wasn't even really trying. Basically this makes me really angry at running. So basically, a really fast race is about 1:25 min/km, or roughly 80% faster than this. By comparison, the fastest 10k I have *ever* run was officially 52 mins, or about 85% faster than a really fast race. Translation? I SUCK AT RUNNING. Oy. Maybe the Pose Method will help me. I'll let you know. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Forget stories, give me numbers.

Timothy Ferris, author of Four Hour Body. Looking Sketchy --->

Anyone who has ever read anything by Timothy Ferris knows that it's about 1 part awesome, 2 parts horse ...stuff. That includes his recent book The Four Hour Body, which is essentially his chronicle of attempting to hack his own body. I was especially interested in his section distance events (since that's why I do). Unfortunately that turned out to be a bit on the horsey side, the experiment mentioned in the book never actually took place, instead pointing his poor readers to this page which has been coming soon since he decided that suckers like me would buy the book anyway for a while.

But, this isn't about that. This is about an actual good suggestion that he had. One of the big things to the book is that if you want to see some progress, measure EVERYTHING. As a computer completely real and legitimate scientist, this totally appeals to me. So, two years after finally getting a real job again, I went out and bought myself some real equipment. And oh my goodness, I couldn't be happier.

So when I got home, I got to plug it all in to the computer. (OK, I lied, that part is automatic too). Yes folks, I came home to this:

Now, if I understand that 4 hour body book, I'm only 3.5 hours away from winning the Kona Ironman. See you there!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My New Inspiration

As The Girl knows, I've recently become obsessed with a new video. I haven't actually said this out loud, but I think everyone realizes that I see it as a metaphor for my life. If you haven't seen it before, you totally have to check out.... The Race:

I have, in fact, been known to stand up at my computer and start applauding that finish. Of course, that's mostly because that's where I want to be. I'm sure that's where most people want to be. I mean, who hasn't been tripped up, lieing down flat, watching their hopes and dreams fly past them. That's why Heather is so inspirational here.

Heather doesn't give up, in fact, if you watch carefully, she doesn't even slow down. The race starts out super fast with the field closing the first 200 in somewhere around 29 seconds. People lock into their positions, seemingly all fairly OK with where they are in the race. Heather makes a move towards the front and trips, but when she trips, she's running towards a 59 second lap two. The second lap, in other words, was slightly slower than the first for the whole field. She takes 2-3 seconds to get back up (hard to tell, it's off camera) and then starts running again. Heather finishes the last lap in 29 seconds and wins the race.

So basically, what Heather did, is primarily to not slow down. It was a run of faith. She got back up, and ran exactly as fast as she was capable. If the entire rest of the field had run as fast in the last 200 as they had in the first, Heather wouldn't have had a chance. That was totally outside of her control. She simply ran as fast as she could, and it was enough.

More later, but for now, it's time for me to get back to "Running" my own race, which means for now working some more on Bluefire Reader.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

India - outsourcing jobs to Canada again!

Yes, I wrote that title correctly :) This post is about a fascinating company profiled in this video which uses technology in the form of social networking education to help fill the giant void of higher education in India. The remarkable stats sighted in this video have IIT (India's IT training capitol) accepting 8,000 new applicats every year and turning down 342,000 every year! Learnhub was founded to fill that void. So check out the video which reminds me yet again of Paul Graham's statement that good startups are remarkably similar to non-profits.

New Name, New Story

Well, in line with the new focus for this blog, I've renamed it to "Technology and Aid in the Modern World." It still doesn't have quite the exact feeling to it that I want to convey, but its much closer.

And, to go along with it, I have another story for you guys, this time from Wired. In a special on cancer, they profiled Don Listwin who, looking back, must have worked at Cisco right about the same time I did. He was the heir apparent to Cisco CEO John Chambers when his mom was misdiagnosed (twice) with a bladder infection instead of the cancer that she was actually suffering from.

Well, Listwin, like many in his position, knew that something had to be done, but he did it in a very engineering sort of way. Listwin found out that 90% of patients whose cancer was discovered early (so-called Stage I) live to survive their cancer, while only 10% of late-discovered cancers (Stage IV) survided. Listwin's Mom was a stage IV cancer patient by the time she was diagonsed. Probability wise, if Listwin's Mom had been in the Stage I category, she will still be alive today. Now Listwin had worked at Cisco during the boom years and had manage to put together over $100 million dollars in savings, so he decided to stop his business pursuits and start the Canary Foundation - an institution devoted to enabling cancer detection in as many and as early of ways as possible. Well done Mr. Listwin.