Bad News, Great News

I’ve been feeling pretty proud of how far I can run during the 30 minutes of my C25K workouts.

I’ve also been a little suspicious of the accuracy of my Fitbit. I never set it up for my stride (I’m not sure that it can be done, so will research forthwith). If I ran just one lap of the track at the gym, which is supposed to be a tenth of a mile, I’d get a tenth of a mile; but, over the 30 minute run, I would rack up over 3 miles yet never really managed to count over 30 laps. I’d get distracted, stop counting, and then just be in a zone.

The bad news: I ran on an outdoor loop today that is known to be just about 3 miles. That run clocked as 4.61 miles on my Fitbit. On the clock, I was at it for 43 minutes.

The great news: I actually ran the entire loop, stopping only for a couple of seconds about midway through to get a quick mouthful of water at a fountain that is right on the track.

So, yes, I can run a 5K. I am slower than I realized, but I can work on that. I can build up strength, and I may be able to adjust my stride to be a little longer.

I do wonder, and wish bigger minds than mine would chime in on this. I have a really, really short stride, and short legs.

Photo by pinknred via Flickr

Are you familiar with the Coastline Paradox? In a nutshell, you can measure the coast of a land mass, but the more accurately you measure (i.e., following every nook and cranny instead of just pulling the tape measure taut across little dips and inlets), the longer a measurement you get. Fractals figure into this, which is why you are probably better off reading how others describe it than taking my word for it:

…the property that the measured length of a stretch of coastline depends on the scale of measurement. Empirical evidence suggests that the smaller the increment of measurement, the longer the measured length becomes. If one were to measure a stretch of coastline with a yardstick, one would get a shorter result than if the same stretch were measured with a 30cm (one-foot) ruler. This is because one would be laying the ruler along a more curvilinear route than that followed by the yardstick. The empirical evidence suggests a rule which, if extrapolated, shows that the measured length increases without limit as the measurement scale decreases towards zero.

I bring it up because I wonder about the distance I travel, measured objectively by an odometer being pushed around the jogging trail, versus the actual path I follow around that trail, taking into account my bobs and weaves around other runners and my tiny stride. Could that explain that when I measure a single lap, paying attention the whole way, I get about a tenth of a mile (give or take a few steps), but when I look at some number of laps over a longer period of time with a greater number of steps along a slightly more varied path, I am traveling farther?

Or is that just a wacky way for me to try to say I’m running rather than I am running? 🙂 Oh well, it isn’t the distance, it’s the doing.

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5 Responses to Bad News, Great News

  1. Tammy says:

    Not able to help with the measurements, I’m just impressed with your running. Way to go!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Forgive my assumption, but I am guessing that the FitBit is like the Nike+ that you place in your shoe and it tracks your distance. If that is the case, I know for a fact that the Nike+ is incorrect unless you calibrate it. My friend trained for a half marathon without calibrating her Nike+ and thought she was doing great, but found on her run that her Nike+ thought she was done at around 8 miles rather than 13.1. I had a similar issue with mine until I calibrated it.

    Congratulations on your completion of the full loop aka 3miles/5 k. That is an awesome accomplishment! 🙂

  3. I can’t even walk 3 miles right now so If I could run 3 miles I would be on top of the world. You did awesome and have all the reasons to be proud! I am getting a Fitbit soon so I am taking notes 🙂

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