A Big Life Transition
Last year in April, Runbell moved from Tokyo, Japan to Portland, Oregon. The move was mostly motivated to have our children enter Kindergarten in America for an American education. As with all big changes in life, habits have had to be recreated.
My habit of running has been one of the casualties of the move and now I'm searching for the way back.
The Beginning of My Running Habit
I started running almost immediately after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake on March 11th. This giant earthquake taught me the importance of being in shape, and knowing directions. Immediately after the big earthquake the roads were clogged and the trains derailed. Walking, running or biking was the only way to get to and from work.
On March 18th, 2011 we moved apartments and my habit of running was born. I ran every morning. I ran home from work instead of taking the train. I entered races and got better and better. Running became deeply ingrained in my life and eventually led to the creation of Runbell as a necessary tool for my night runs from work.
How to Get Back into Running
Running has mostly been replaced with biking in my life now. I bike to the office every morning and bike home every night. I love biking. It's fast and easy to do every day both to and from work. The problem with biking is that it has replaced running, which I love more than biking. I need to be running at least three days a week - four days would be better.
Using the 3-R's of Habit Change
According to Charles Duhigg, every habit is controlled by the same 3-step pattern. I first read about this pattern from Charles' book, The Power of Habit.
- Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
- Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)
- Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)
Now how to apply these 3 R's to running? I've broken my habit into two categories: weekdays and weekends.
Weekday Running Routine
Ideally, I run from the office to home twice a week.
1. Reminder - Scheduled reminders via my phone on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
2. Routine - Easy. My run home from the office is a routine engrained from Tokyo. It's just how I get home.
3. Reward - I'll take the time on the train during my morning pre-run non-bike commute to read books. I'm currently reading The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. I miss reading on the train.
Weekend Running Routine
1. Reminder - My new running partner, Tanken, asking to be taken for a morning run.
2. Routine - This one is harder. My son expects me to play with him in the morning. I'll have to sleep earlier and wake up earlier to be back in time for when he gets up.
3. Reward - A tired dog and a great start to the weekend.
Now getting my dog to be a good running partner is a work in progress. We'll cover that topic in another blog post!
What are some habits in your life and do the 3 R's apply to your running routine?
The Goal - A Race
Last and not least, of course, one more big motivation is a race to be training towards. Having a date with a target race time keeps me focused on an intermediate goal. Now to find some good summer runs in the Portland area. This blog post has some great tips for running a better, faster marathon.
Today we bring to you our review of Million Mile Lights. Funded on Kickstarter last year (we backed them), Million Mile Lights just went on sale earlier this year. Runbell met the team in person during The Running Event in Austin in December. The people behind the project are passionate runners and creative designers. Overall reviews so far have been extremely positive. We give them our highest rating as well.
What Are Million Mile Lights?
Million Million Lights (MML) are running lights for runners powered by motion, not batteries. They clip on to a belt (such as SPI Belt pictured below) or to shorts. The lights are perfect for early morning runs or evening runs, especially during the dark winter months.
- Battery free - always ready, never runs out
- Wearable - clip on and run
- Ultra bright - 30 Lum intensity with 200m visibility
- Lightweight - only 2.5 inches tall 1.5 ounces
- IPX4 Rating - Weatherproof and splashproof
Our Rating: 5 Stars!
Sensitive: We found the MML to be extremely sensitive to movement. A simple jog easily gets them lighting up. Even a slow walk gets them lighting up as well.
Durable: Unfortunately during our review and movie taking, I took a huge fall to the ground. My MML, my Runbell, and my body was unscratched. I finished my run normally. However, my winter gloves are now torn. So far MML is quite durable and can sustain a good fall.
Bright: The MML are not meant to illuminate the path ahead of you. They will not act as your torch through dark evening runs. They simply act as a way for walkers, other runners, bikers, and cars to see you. They certainly get the job done.
Light-weight: The MML weighs in at 1.4 ounces (40 grams). For reference, Runbell weighs in at 30 grams. Both are extremely light-weight.
Adaptable: With a simple clip on the side, the MML is easy to add to your SPI belt, Flip Belt or to your shorts.
Long Life: With no batteries to replace, your MML should just keep on working over the years. They come with a 5 year warranty from the manufacturer. They also aim for the MML to work for a million miles and hence the name Million Mile Lights. We did not test them for one million miles so cannot confirm...yet. Give us another 10 years and we will update here.
See our review on Youtube for the lights in action:
Running can be a joy, with the breeze in your hair, and trees and lampposts whizzing past in a blur of speed. It keeps you fit, and keeps you healthy. But if you are not careful, running can also be perilous. When you are out for a jog, make sure to follow these eight simple tips to keep yourself safe and make your excursion as enjoyable as possible.
1. Carry a Cell Phone
Always carry a cell phone with you on your runs. If you end up lost, injured, or disabled, a cell phone enables you to call for help. Make sure the battery is charged, and don’t count on having access to a public telephone. Phone booths are becoming rarer and rarer as cell phones become more common. Even if you can find a pay telephone, chances are it may not be operational.
2. Carry a Whistle
Carry a whistle or other noisemaker with you. It lets you signal for help if you find yourself in trouble. Should someone approach you in a threatening manner, you can create a loud, high-pitched noise that draws attention. With luck, the noise may even persuade an attacker to leave you alone.
3. Do Not Wear Headphones
Many runners enjoy listening to music as they jog. Yes, it is invigorating, and it helps to pass the time. However, headphones also impede your ability to hear what’s happening around you. Your eyes can only see what’s in front of you, while your ears receive signals from all directions. If you wear headphones, you might not hear the truck that turns the corner just as you step into its path.
4. Wear Reflective Gear
Always wear reflective gear, especially if you run at night, at dusk, or during the early morning. Dim light situations make you less visible than you think you are, and drivers may not see you amid all the bright streetlights and headlights on the road. Misty, foggy, or rainy conditions also make you hard to see, and shoe reflectors might be mistaken for light reflecting off puddles on the sidewalk. Therefore, be sure to wear reflective striping on your upper body and legs.
5. Carry Identification
Always carry identification with you in case an injury or sudden illness leaves you unconscious or unable to communicate. That way, police or medical professionals know who you are and can contact your family or friends. If you prefer not to carry a wallet, at least take a Sharpie and write your name, your contact information, your blood type, and any health issues on the inside sole of your athletic shoe. Road ID is also a good idea.
6. Tell Others Your Intended Route
Be sure to let others know which route you intend to take, so they know where to start looking if you do not return home as expected. If no one is home, leave a note or a voicemail.
7. Obey Traffic Signals
When running, always obey traffic signals. Never cross against a light when traffic has the right of way. Runners are smaller and harder to see than are cars, trucks, and SUVs. Moreover, many motorists are so busy concentrating on other vehicles they are not prepared for fast-moving pedestrians.
8. Use Runbell
Runbell is a sturdy, brass bell made especially for runners. With a flick of your thumb, Runbell lets you warn others of your presence with a bright, clear, ding! Whether you run on city streets or hiking trails, you are likely at some point to encounter other people, and such meetings sometimes end in collisions. With Runbell, you can politely signal your approach and give pedestrians time to move out of your way. When you ring the bell, dog walkers have time to control their dog, and dawdling bicyclists can speed up and leave you behind.
Runbell fits over two fingers and rests on the back of your hand, so it leaves your hands free for other uses. It comes in men’s and women’s sizes, and each comes with a couple of soft silicone inserts to adjust the sizing to fit anybody’s hand.
When you leave the house for a run, you never know what kind of hazards you might encounter. Play it safe. Make sure you keep all your senses engaged. Carry a cell phone, ID, and a whistle. Tell someone your intended route, or leave a note. Wear reflective gear to improve your visibility, obey all traffic signals, and carry Runbell with you to alert others to your presence and avoid painful collisions.
When you lose yourself in an invigorating run, you feel like there is nothing but you and the terrain. Whether your chosen course is the buzzing hive of city streets or the lonesome silence of wooden nature trails, you push yourself to your limits, build stamina, hone muscles, and burn away troubling thoughts.
It is a solitary endeavor, but you need not do it alone. You can—and should—bring some useful gear with you to improve your experience and keep you safe. The sections below discuss each item in detail.
1. Calf Support Tights
Calf support tights are a compression garment that helps prevent uncomfortable chafing and rashes that form due to friction. The gentle “squeeze” they provide helps runners avoid post-run muscle soreness and stiffness. They also minimize recovery time. Moreover, they keep runners warmer during cold-weather runs. Many brands also feature reflective materials to improve runner visibility during low-light situations.
If you are not wearing calf support tights when you run, you are missing out on all of these benefits, as well as increased flexion and muscle extension, which reduces hamstring strain and other tendon damage.
2. GPS Wristband
A GPS wristband is especially useful when you run in unfamiliar neighborhoods or twisty trails that fork and branch. It keeps you from getting lost, and lets you think about your training instead of your location. Moreover, many GPS bands made especially for runners have other useful features. Some can measure your heart rate and track your fitness level. A few can make predictions about the time it will take you to complete certain common race distances, while others make suggestions as to how long you should wait during recovery before you resume exercise.
Many brands let you upload your data to an online fitness log to track your progress and share your stats with an online community.
3. Waist Pack
A waist pack is a convenient carryall for your stuff. If you run in light shorts and a t-shirt, you may not have a place for your phone or keys. A waist pack lets you carry all your necessities, and some things you might not have considered.
The right waist pack should be lightweight, load balanced, and designed to ride just above your hips for greatest comfort. The pockets should be large enough to carry your phone, your keys, a wallet, and even an energy bar. Many brands feature one or more bottles, so you can carry up to 32 ounces of water or a sports beverage. My personal favorite is the SPI Belt (which we will feature in a separate blog post).
4. Reflective Gear
Reflective gear keeps you safe and visible during low light situations. “Low light,” in fact, need not mean complete darkness. Even at dusk, visibility declines dramatically, and unless you are wearing bright or white clothing, you may not be as easy to see as you believe. Reflective jerseys, trunks, and shoes improve your chances of being seen, and thus keep you safer during your run.
Runbell is a stylish, durable runner’s bell that lets you signal your presence to distracted drivers, cyclists, and other pedestrians. Whether you run on city streets or backwoods trails, you are sure to encounter others, and these people might block your path, step in front of you as you pass, or let their dog lunge at you should you startle it. A polite ching of your Runbell alerts others that you are near, and gives them time to get out of your way or get their dog under control.
Runbell is finely crafted, and designed to fit any hand. It comes in men’s and women’s sizes, and comes with smooth, circular silicone inserts that let you fine-tune the fit for greatest comfort. The bell rides atop your knuckles, so your hands are free for reaching into your waist pack, tugging up your calf support tights, or pressing buttons on your GPS wristband. Runbell produces a bright, clear sound that cuts through ambient noise and politely warns others that you are drawing near.
If you are a runner, these five accessories are essential. Each can improve your experience dramatically, and thereby help you stay fit, exceed your exercise goals, and enjoy your run to the fullest.