At least it's not out of bounds.
At least it's not out of bounds.

flickr photo by vladdythephotogeek

I used to play a lot of golf with a group of good friends. I wasn’t very good, but I always had a great time walking up and down the fairways or, more often, searching for my ball in the rough. In between the hazing rituals, small dollar gambling, and the 19th Hole, I found golf to be one of those pursuits in life which both challenges your self-confidence and makes you slow down and examine how to improve your performance. Every time I would hit a couple of good shots, perhaps sink a nice putt and start to feel good about my game, I’d shank the next shot (or two) into the trees lining the course. Very humbling.

Now that I’ve taken up running, I’m glad I experienced the lessons of patience and perseverance golfing affords.

For every few runs where I feel great-eating up miles with what I hope is good form and a perfect stride-I’m going to have a run, (or two) where I have difficulty maintaining a good pace and even a four mile stretch is going to feel like a forced march. But instead of making excuses to stay inside and avoid the shot at my self-esteem a bad running session provides, I use the lessons I learned years ago playing all those rounds of golf-put the last hole behind you and tee it up again. Even if you’re spending a lot of time in the rough, the bunkers, or the water, you’ve got to keep playing and believe your next shot will be better. And believe me it’s a great feeling when you strike that ball just right and it heads straight toward the hole. It’s kind of like a golfer’s high.

Some days your going to feel like you’re Paula Radcliffe or Brian Sell crossing the finish line in first place. And some days your breathing is going to be a little ragged, your knees will send out distress signals, and your lower back will stiffen up. No matter how good you are or how much you’ve trained you’re just going to have running days like that. Don’t let that stop you,though. Put those days behind you and tee it up again.

How do you motivate yourself after a blah run?

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Mile After Mile

Hey, who's that handsome runner?
Hey, who's that handsome runner?

After seeing the site mentioned in a few Twitter posts, I decided to check out, “A social training log for runners, triathletes, and cyclists.” I haven’t delved too deeply into the site just yet, but I’ve already used it to log a couple of recent training runs, and I’ve enjoyed using the site.

Dailymile features a clean, web 2.0 interface with lots of colorful, Apple-style graphics and navigation icons. Like Facebook, the site allows you to connect with other users, send notes to one another, connect to events in your area, upload photos and video, all while updating a log of your activities and the changes you make to your profile. Once you sign on with an account, you can create a typical social media-style profile which allows you to include bio information, upload an avatar, and link your posts to your Twitter feed. You can tell Dailymile which activities you’re into-cycling, running, triathlon, for example-what your training goal is, and where you live. As the site grows and people begin to friend each other up, users will probably use this geographical information to form running and cycling groups or let Dailymilers know about fitness meet-ups in their area.

Of course, the main purpose of dailymile is to keep track of your training output. And while hard-core athletes who weigh themselves after each bowel movement may not find the web site robust and full-featured enough for their needs, I like the way the site keeps track of and displays the mileage and time data you input. It even calculates your pace so no more doing math in your head or using another third-party site. You can even add a note including one of the dailymile’s emoticons to let everyone know how you felt during your workout, which drives one of the cool social media-driven aspects of the site. If you post notes with a “blah”, “tired”, or “injured” emoticon, you may find yourself listed under the People tab in the “Athletes who need motivation” section. Here you can send other dailymilers a little training love with a “Congrats” or “Nice Job” blast, or, if you’re feeling a little competitive, an “I’ll Beat You” notice.

Dailymile emerged from invitation-only beta today, so, while social media stalwarts like badges and links to Twitter are already offered, integration to mapping web sites like isn’t. Until then, the I-don’t-run-in-the-shade-because-tree-leaves-screw-up-my-Forerunner-data crowd will probably stay away, but the Facebook and Twitter set will feel right at home.

Check them out at

What are some of your favorite fitness web sites?

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Lighting my way home.
Lighting my way home.

flickr photo by MDV

Since I’ve come to enjoy sleeping in a bit on weekends, I upended my usual routine on Sunday and did my long run in the evening. Usually I run through the nearby neighborhoods to get my miles in. But with 14 miles to get through I didn’t want to invite boredom by looping around and around the same streets again and again. Instead I decided to run through Golden Gate Park even though darkness was falling as I set out. It was quite dark out by the time I hit the Panhandle and moved through the eastern end of the park near the Hall of Flowers and the museums. In that part of the park, though, there’s a lot of lighting and you’re generally safe as long as your aware of your surroundings. But I was going to be running all the way down to the end of JFK Drive and then back up along MLK Jr. Drive, so I was in for a surreal, calm but slightly unnerving experience. There were a few other fellow sufferers about, but by the time I got to Crossover Drive I felt I had the park all to myself. Foolishly I pounded down the path even though it was so dark at times I occasionally couldn’t see the path itself, anything that might trip me up, or low-hanging tree branches. Sometimes I would come into a clear area and the sliver of moon would throw enough light to show me the way, but then it was back under the tree canopy, and I had to run the path from memory, picking my feet up slightly higher than I normally do to clear any unseen obstacles.

Shortly after the turnaround point I passed one other soul, and moments later experienced the spookiest part of my run yet. I followed a route which took me onto Middle Drive which overlooks the Polo Grounds and Speedway Meadows. For about a mile or so I was on a street closed to traffic with no one else around and moonlight barely lighting the way. I was well aware I was alone in an isolated part of the park vulnerable to anyone who might wish to do me harm, and I could hear in my head any number of admonitions against running through a darkened park on a cool fall evening. But I was having too much fun to care. I find the effect of running through a quiet park, day or night, calming and peaceful. It’s so much easier to focus on the essentials of what you’re doing-trying to knife through the air like an efficient running machine-with all of the normal distractions of the city stripped away. The park portion of the run behind me, I emerged onto the boisterous, crowded sidewalks of Haight Street and made my way home.

While I wouldn’t recommend everyone run alone through a cold, dark, urban park without wearing any lights or reflective gear, I had some wonderful meditative moments which helped propel me through a great run.

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Coming Attractions

Frohe Weihnachten, Tom!
Frohe Weihnachten, Tom!

Have you noticed all those ads on the TV for Tom Cruise’s new movie Valkyrie? If you’ve seen them, you’ve probably noticed the movie is being released on December 25th. Christmas Day. Now, I know with houses full of family members celebrating the holidays, many people choose to trot down to the local movie house (or in the case of Valkyrie movie haus) to take in a show. But, can you imagine the Christmas Day conversation people would have to have about Cruise’s latest masterpiece?

“Hey, I know. Let’s go see Valkyrie!”

“Mmmm. What’s it about?”

“A plot to kill Hitler!”

Nice way to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.

Of course, that got me thinking. What other films which might be considered out of sync with the holidays have been released on Christmas Day?

Christmas Day 2007 may have brought us feel good fare like The Water Horse and The Great Debaters, but it also marked the release of AVPR: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem. At least the word “requiem” sounds kind of holidayish.

2006 left Children of Men, Notes on a Scandal, and Black Christmas under the holiday movie tree, while 2005 was pretty much horror-free. Other holiday gems include, Suspended Animation (Will Chill You To The Bone!), Thirteen Days (Woo-hoo! The Cuban Missle Crisis), and The Hours (what’s with Nicole Kidman’s nose?)

Maybe next Christmas will bring the release of another remake of Dawn of the Dead.

Leave a comment…if you dare!

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