Feed on

silhouette-of-runner-1136556-mHere are three smartphone apps that I’ve found very useful as I’ve run races after races, in search of improving my speed.

Couch to 5K (iPhone | Android):   If you can already run continuously during a training run for 5K, skip this app.  If you can’t, then use this app.  It will take you from mostly walking to being able to run continuously over a period of 8-9 weeks by running just 3

How? By alternating between running and walking at set intervals.  At first, you mostly walk, and run a little.  As the weeks progresses, you walk less and run more.  This app will tell you (with a voice) when to switch between running and walking.  You can even listen to your music while using this app, and it will pause the music briefly to let you know to switch.

No need to get caught up about progressing through the weeks at exactly the pace it tells you. If you need to repeat a week, that’s fine (and easy to do).  I did so myself a few times.

It’s also highly recommended that you walk for 30 minutes a day for 30 days before using this app – that’s a minimum fitness needed before you train up to run for a 5K.

Runkeeper map of the path of my recent 4 Mile Race.

Runkeeper (iPhone | Android):  How can you tell if you’re running faster, if you aren’t measuring your speed and distance?  This app does that.  Plus, keeping tracks of your runs is motivating in being able to see your overall progress, or lack thereof.

You set it on right when you start your run, and it’ll track, via GPS, all the stats about your run:  Your speed, your distance, the height of the hill you run up on, etc.  Your run will be plotted on a map too.

You can also set it to tell you via voice at the intervals you want, what your speed is, or how many miles you’ve run.  During training run, I set it to notify me at each mile marker what mile I’m on.

I love using this app during races, because after a race I can analyze it to see what speed I was at each mileage.  My aim during a 5K is always to run each mile during a race a little faster than the previous mile, and this app lets me know if I’ve done this.

I caution you though not to look excessively at this app during training runs – or you may get too hung up on your speed.  When I finally implemented the rule of not looking at my speed until the end of my run, I was able to relax and enjoy my runs more, which meant I ran more often, which improved my speed.  This app is still a very important key to each training run as I can look and analyze my runs after I finish them.

Interval Timer (iPhone):  This is an awesome interval timer that will beep at whatever regular interval you set it to.  After a run, I set it to my stretch timing – it beeps after 30 seconds to let me know when to end my stretching pose, then it gives me 5 seconds to switch, then automatically starts another 30 second countdown for my new stretching pose.  No need to constantly look at a clock or count in your head how long you’re stretching for.

Given that injuries afflict and slows many runners, and that stretching, done right, reduces injuries, this app can help keep you running.  🙂

A bonus way to use this app is to take strategic 30 seconds walking breaks during races to improve your overall speed.  Longtime running expert Jeff Galloway (author of the very useful book Galloway’s 5K/10K Running) recommends taking 30 seconds walking break at regular interval (depending on your speed – at my current speed it’s every 7 or 8 minutes) when running.  This helps your muscles recover a little bit during the run as walking muscles differ somewhat from running muscles.  Then, when you start running again you’ve got more energy, which ultimately leads to having a faster overall pace for your race.  I don’t do this during training runs anymore (it’s more fun to run without taking walking breaks), but I still do take these strategic 30 second breaks when I race.

This app can beep when it’s time to take your 30 second strategic break, and when it’s time to run again.

That’s how you can run faster in 3 apps or less.  Do you have an app that you find very helpful to help train to run faster?  If so, let me know, as I enjoy testing new apps to improve my fitness.

The Cost of Lying

Consider the real cost of lying.  It’s not what you may think.  It’s not about people catching you, finding out that you’re lying.  It’s not the cost to your reputation when you do get caught.  It’s not about other people getting mad at you if they catch you.


If the above happens, it means you’re not skilled enough at the tactics of lying.  You can always get better.  You can always lie very strategically in a way that tremendously minimizes the likelihood of getting caught.

That’s the kind of lies I used to engage in growing up.

When I was 19, instead of spending the summer at the beach with my father as usual, I instead stayed at my mother’s house.  My objective was to get a summer job and save up money for college.

I didn’t get hired in the first couple of weeks, so I entered into an agreement to work for my stepfather.  After a week or two, that didn’t work out, so I ended up just not working for the rest of the summer.  When I went to visit my father at the end of the summer for a week or two, he asked me:

“How was work?  Where did you work?”.

I instantly made up a lie.  A big lie.  I told him I spent the summer working at the first place I applied (which had rejected me), and that it went well.

He said “Good.  I want to reward you for working during your summer, so here’s an extra $500 cash”.

I accepted it.  He never found out I lied.  (well, until I decided I should probably tell him about it when I put this blog post up 🙂 )

So, what’s the cost of lying?

After all, I got $500 for lying.  It was totally unexpected, but I still benefited from it.  I also generated some “good” feelings in my father since he was proud I worked, and I avoided “bad” feelings for myself by lying – as I avoided being criticized by my father.  I also avoided seeing my father disappointed in me.

Giving all of these wonderful benefits, what’s the real deep cost of lying?

The truth is that lying:

1)  Damages our self-worth, our self-respect, and how we see ourselves.  This severely limits our life.
2)  Damages others by disempowering, and weakening them.

How Lying Impacts Us

How do we feel toward others who lie to us?  Do we tend to feel a sense of disgust, dislike or disrespect toward them?   How does our society view liars?

Whatever feelings we have toward those who lie to us – we actually have the same feelings toward ourselves when we lie.  When we look in the mirror – the person in the mirror knows exactly what we did.   Even if no one else knows, we know it.  Our subconscious knows it.  And we feel the same toward ourselves as we do toward others who lie to us.

Lying sends this powerful message to our subconscious:  “I’m not good enough to tell the truth.”.  That impacts our self-esteem, our self-respect, and our feelings about our integrity.

Do that repeatedly, and the damage to the self-esteem keeps on piling on.  Our sense of integrity weakens, and we know it, if not consciously, then deep down subconsciously.

So what you might ask?  The result, when our self-respect is lower, we treat ourselves worst.  Our lives become harder.  We suffer more.  We don’t feel good about ourselves.  We’re not at peace.

That’s the real cost of lying.  The devastating inside damage we do to ourselves.

When I lied to my father about my summer, I was actually communicating to myself that I wasn’t good enough to tell my father the truth, that I needed to be ashamed at how I didn’t achieve my summer’s objective, and that I wasn’t brave and courageous enough to tell the truth.

I didn’t know at the time the cost I was paying for that lie.   Yet, I still had to pay it with that hit on my self-respect, my self-worth, and my integrity.

Looking back, that certainly wasn’t worth the $500.

How Lying Impacts Others

When we lie to others, even when we try to “spare” other people’s feelings (ie, so-called “white lies”), we disempower and weaken others.  It’s also a form of saying “You’re not good enough to handle the truth, so I’m going to lie to you.”.

When we tell a lie to others,  we may get the temporary benefit of the other person not being (temporarily) hurt.  But the long term result is that they don’t get empowered to make real decisions based on the truth.  They get more falsehoods thrown at them, and they’ll continue making decisions based on falsehoods.  Thus yielding worst results.  That makes their lives harder, not easier, and ends up weakening them.

Human beings are so much stronger and capable of taking on than what we give them credit for.  Yes, the truth can temporarily sting,  but lies do much more damage long term.  By telling people the truth, we empower them to make better decisions and come up with better realizations.  By being honest with people, we also communicate to them “I respect you.  You’re good enough to hear the truth from me, and I know you’re strong enough to take the temporary sting that comes with it.”.

It doesn’t matter if our loved ones never find out we lied to them, they must still pay the cost of our lies.

Moving Forward

Thus, lying always has a cost – both to ourselves – even if we aren’t aware of the cost, and to others, even if others aren’t aware we lied to them.

Now, there certainly are benefits to lying, which is why we’ve almost all engaged in it at one time or another.  However, when we look closely, in almost all cases, those costs are way higher than the benefits.  I can only think of a handful of cases though when the benefit to lying is higher than the cost.  One example:  If a madman asks me where my sister is because he wants to go kill her right away, the benefit for me to lie to him would definitely outweigh whatever cost there is.  These cases are rare, but they can and do happen.

Knowing that lying brings a tremendous cost to us in the long run is something I’ve found to be tremendously powerful in helping me express the truth – especially when that truth is hard and scary to say.  The next time I found myself unemployed, I told my Dad the truth.  That way, neither he nor I had to pay the price of me lying.  And that has made all the difference in the world for me.

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