Posts Tagged ‘running


Know Your Calories

(note: this article has been in draft form for a while, seeing the recent post on Lifehacker inspired me to get it out.)

An under-appreciated element of training for a marathon is tracking your daily runs in a training log. A training log is a great way for a first time or experienced marathoner to go back and look at where they were and where they are now. It provides me a great sense of accomplishment when I look at my training log. In the case of an injury I can look back and see what might have precipitated the injury. Was it over training? Running too hard? A change in surface? I track all of these in my running log.

An additional helpful thing that my log tracks automatically is the number of calories that I burned during a run. After a run I can look at how many calories I burned and get an idea of what I need to replenish those lost calories. Although you can’t get an exact count of the calories you’ve burned without running inside of a calorimeter (is that even possible‽), there are numerous tools that give you a close approximation.

One of the easiest ways to get an idea of the calories you’ve burned is to simply use a table. Find a weight that is similar to your own weight and a pace that is about what you did and you’ll get an idea of how many calories you’ve burned. A nice advantage of these tables is that they often contain many different sports, so it’s easy to look up and see how many calories you burned during that game of beach volleyball or that run around the park too. There’s an excellent guide at NutriStrategy that has most sports you can think of and even some less sporting activities such as taking out the trash. If you want to get a bit more advanced, you can utilize calorie coefficients. These numbers tell how many calories you burn per minute of activity per kilogram of body weight.

Pace (min/mi) Pace (min/km) Coefficient
5:30 3:25 0.300
6:00 3:44 0.266
6:30 4:02 0.250
7:00 4:21 0.233
7:30 4:40 0.225
8:00 4:58 0.208
8:30 5:17 0.191
9:00 5:36 0.183
9:50 5:54 0.174
10:00 6:13 0.167
11:00 6:50 0.155
11:30 7:09 0.150
12:00 7:27 0.140

Calorie Coefficients for Running. Multiply Your Weight In Kilograms by The Coefficient and Number of Minutes of Running.

Another way to track your calories is to simply use a website that calculates your calories for you. RunKeeper, a great iPhone/Android app that recently went completely free, will approximate your calories based not only on your weight, pace, and distance, but also utilizes elevation information. It then displays the calories burned on information pages for individual runs and a running total on your RunKeeper profile page. If I were to use RunKeeper as my only log it would require no additional effort to provide calorie counts.

If you want more information than just calories, including expected times for races of other distances, then WolframAlpha can calculate them for you. Visit the WolframAlpha Home Page and enter your information in a format similar to this “194lb 6’2″ 31yo male running 4.33 miles in 39.5minutes” and WolframAlpha will provide a whole slew of information about your performance, including predicted times for races from 100m to a marathon.

Snapshot of Wolfram Alpha Calories

Metabolic Information Generated by WolframAlpha (Click for Full Report)

Of course, there are dozens of other ways to count calories while running. My personal approach is to use a consensus from a couple of different sources and average them out. How do you track your calories for a run? If you don’t track calories, why not?


Running on Ice with Screw Shoes

As I’ve mentioned before, I train primarily in New York City, but also spend a lot of time in Minneapolis. While the snow in New York tends to disappear pretty quickly, once it snows in Minneapolis it generally sticks around all winter. Unfortunately, because most of the running paths along the river and through the park do not get enough use, they’ll keep a nice layer of ice on them all winter long.

I attempted to compensate for this when I purchased a couple of new pairs of shoes for running in Minnesota.  I purchased one pair of road running shoes and another pair of trail running shoes (a big shout out to Adidas outlet stores and buy 1 get 1 sales).  The thought was to use the trail runners on the snow and ice and road runners once the weather became more manageable in mid-April.  Unfortunately, as I discovered on my first run in the Minneapolis on Wednesday morning, this was not going to cut it.  My time was fairly slow, to be expected because of the 13°F air temperature, but it was extra slow because of patches of glare ice and rough ice that I needed to slowly navigate.  On Thursday morning my pace improved slightly, despite a lower air temperature around 4°F, but I chalk that up to regaining some of my Minnesota footing and knowing where particularly icy spots in the path were.

I knew that if I wanted to run better in the ice and snow I needed a better solution.  Talking to friends and googling around, I came upon three possible solutions.


Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats (image from E. Krinker on

YakTrax are nifty elastic bands encased in a metal spring that wrap around your shoe and provide dozens of extra contact points with the ground. They’re designed to fit over both shoes and boots and come in a variety of styles, including the durable Pro style.  YakTrax came recommended by several friends in the Chicago area who used them for walking through Chicago snowbanks.  They’re widely available at retail stores such as REI and retail for around $30.

Unfortunately, YakTrax don’t seem to be built for running.  While many runners have had great luck using them for light runs, I’m fairly certain that they would break after a couple of weeks of 50 mile runs.  For most runners they seem to break by having one of the pieces of elastic give way.


Stabilicers Sport (image from

Stabilicers from 32North are a slightly less common option that seem a little more durable than YakTrax. Rather than a series of elastic bands, Stabilicers are more like an additional sole that is strapped to your shoe.  This sole is designed to provide additional traction and features a set of spikes, which can be easily replaced.   It’s also possible to find them at retail, although my REI store didn’t have them, although their online site does.  They retail for about $40 for a pair of the Stabilicers Sport, which have great reviews on REI.  However, the lack of instant gratification made this a little more difficult for me.

Screw Shows

The most low-tech solution was to create a pair of Screw Shoes.  This option was suggested be a friend who read about them in Runner’s World and provide a link to a summary article about screw shoes because the article was not available online.  A little more searching led me to Matt Carpenter’s article about Screw Shoes, where he goes into detail about sizing of screws and extolls readers to make their own.   This seemed like the least expensive solution.  A trip to Home Depot and $3.15 later, I had 36 #6 3/8″ hex head screws in my possession.

Now, here’s the key to my success with Screw Shoes, get a drill with a magnetic hex driver.  If you’re using #6 screws, the 1/4″ hex driver head should work just fine.  Then, just put them all around your shoes in the deepest parts.  In my case this was where the tread was extra deep for trail running. After about 10 minutes of work, I had 18 screws in each of my shoes and I was eager to try them out for New Year’s Day.

My Screw Shoes: The Adidas Kanadia 2 - Awesome on the Top Side

My Screw Shoes: The Adidas Kanadia 2 - Killer on the Bottom Side!

While it was -4°F on New Year’s morning, I still had the best times in the last week. At first I was a little cautious, the shows felt a little funny, especially on pavement.  The whole sole wasn’t making contact and they really bit into the pavement.  It was a hard run.  As soon as I hit ice, about a quarter block away on the sidewalk, the different was night and day.  Where before I was extra cautious, I could easily cruise over the ice with no worries.  I began to tempt fate and run over the black ice, the really slick stuff.  No problems, the shoes bit and let me cruise over at near normal speeds.

After my first run in Screw Shoes this morning, I can easily say that they’re more than worth the $3.15 and 10 minutes of work — not the best $3.15, that would be bandaids or Body Glide, but they make running in winter possible.  Of course, on the down side, I’ve just relegated this pair of shoes to winter running only — but what pleasant winter running it is.

Sadly, it looks like this may be the last time on this trip I get to use the Screw Shoes.  They’re miserable for running on pavement, and I’m sure they’d destroy a treadmill, which as you can see from the forecast for tomorrow, is going to get some use.  Running at -10°F is one thing, but -18°F with a -32°F wind chill is too extreme for me.

-18°F at 9am? That's a bit too cold for running outside. Time to hit the dreadmill!


Welcome Back Cold Weather Running

It’s now the middle of October and the warm weather of summer has given way to the cooler weather of fall.  Here in Minneapolis the cool weather of fall has already given way to some almost wintry weather.  Yes, cold weather is back.  This morning I woke up at 7am to see it was 24 degrees in downtown Minneapolis and that there was about an inch of snow on the ground.

A Healthy Coating of Snow on the Cars

A Healthy Coating of Snow on the Cars

By some stroke of luck, or by the luck of me checking the weather report earlier in the week, while running errands yesterday at Target I happened to purchase a pair of running tights and some gloves.  I’m pretty sure that now that I own running tights and tight running shirts for running the cold that I’m officially a runner.  This provided me a nice chance to test of the tights, and I have to say that I was really pleased with the performance despite the fact that they’re just cheap tights from Target.  I never felt cold despite the fact that the temperature never rose about 30 during my run.

I'm sure those sprinklers help when it's 25 degrees outside

I'm sure those sprinklers help when it's 25 degrees outside

Unlike a lot of runners I’ve spoken to, I love running in the cold weather — blame it on my Minnesota blood.  When training for the Pittsburgh Marathon some of my favorite runs were when it was brutally cold outside (for Pittsburgh, at least) — when the temperature was down below 10 degrees.  One of the greatest things about running when it’s cold is that it’s quiet.  There’s some magic in being the first person to break into the a nice thin layer of snow.

I wasn't the first runner out this morning

I wasn't the first runner out this morning

Running in the snow isn’t always great.  There were a couple of bridges that ended up a little like skating rinks this morning, but they were clustered early in the run.  Also, a section of my path was boardwalk with snow on top of it, which I decided it was better to just avoid because of the potential danger of ice on the wood.  However, for today, the cold weather proved to be a great run.  I ran 18 quality miles at a pace that was better than my typical marathon pace — a great training run for the New York City Marathon in a few weeks.  The plan called for 20 miles today, but given the marathon I ran on Sunday, this was perfect.  Cold weather, beautiful snow, and quiet.  I look forward to quite a few more quiet cold morning runs.

What about you?  Do you live in a climate where the weather gets cold?  How does the cold weather change your training routine?

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Marathon Times

2011 NYC Marathon3:57:45
2011 Hartford Marathon3:58:17
2011 Chicago Marathon4:20:16
2011 Grandma's Marathon4:07:43
2010 Big Sur International Marathon4:22:49
2009 NYC Marathon4:37:05
2009 Twin Cities Marathon4:43:28
2009 Pittsburgh Marathon4:14:38
2008 Erie Marathon5:11:40

Upcoming Races

  • Nov 6 - New York City Marathon, New York, NY
For previous races, check out my Race Log