Running Toward Self-Improvement
Nov 2, 2017
Phase 2 before the Run Lucky 5k in 2014. I weighed over 300 pounds at this point.

At Phase 2, we care about our team and realize that we all have lives beyond the office. Instead of ignoring the fact that we are all individuals and have goals and interests outside of software development, we acknowledge it. Beyond that, we encourage it.

Encouraging each other to pursue our interests is fulfilling and ultimately adds to our creative culture as a company. In this Beyond the Office blog post, Tim Gourley walks us through his transformation from "a sedentary and obese software developer into a marathoner in training," in his own words.

"I am Tim Gourley, a software developer for Phase 2, working with a variety of cool technologies and people. After work, I spend my time programming, writing, or playing video games. My hobbies tend to leave me sitting motionless for long periods of time.

Living this lifestyle, I have always been overweight. I didn't think it was out of control because I'd spend thirty minutes at the gym before devouring fast food. It was all good because I worked out, right? I ignored all warning signs of my obesity until they manifested in real medical consequences. I didn't want to be another obesity statistic so it was finally time to change.

I discovered calorie counting, and plugged my vitals into a formula to determine the number of calories naturally burned in a day. Subtracting calories from that, you get the number of daily consumable calories that will let you lose weight. That number becomes a budget, and treating it like a debit account gives the freedom to eat anything as long as it fits.

Those changes helped me become serious about running. I started walking on a treadmill and worked hard to increase my pace. Soon I was entering 5k races. I was hooked. Now I look for any excuse to get a mile in, be it outside or on a treadmill. It doesn't matter to me as long as I am moving.

At Castaway Cay in the Bahamas, running the daily 5k at around 200 pounds.

After a year of sticking with it I have dropped 113 pounds, going from an obese 300 pounds to my current weight of 187. I am consistently setting new running records for myself, and I finally feel like a legitimate runner.

The Moore War Run annual 5k race, just under 200 pounds.

I track all my runs. Tracking both treadmill runs and outdoor runs require a variety of tools, all of which talk to each other with differing levels of accuracy.

First, you need a way to track heart rate, position, and pace. A wearable device is a great way to capture this data. The Apple Watch, Android Wear devices , Fitbit, and Garmin watches can all gather workout data and share it with other applications.

I personally use the Apple Watch. It's built-in workout app uses both GPS and your heart rate to track vital statistics. It records both "total calories" versus "active calories" which is slightly more accurate than the estimated calorie count from a piece of workout equipment since it factors in your heart rate and other vitals.

On the treadmill, it is better to rely on the calorie data from your wearable device and use the distance and pace information from the treadmill just due to the strengths of each tool's sensors. Using both should give you a good feel for your actual performance.

Apps like MyFitnessPal are recommended to track calories. The cool thing about the Apple Watch is that any completed workout will get automatically sent to MyFitnessPal and the calories can be credited to your daily budget. You can then choose to eat some of those back or not, depending on what you want to do that day.

We are running as a team at Phase 2, and use Strava to track our runs. It records the standard metrics, such as pace, splits, elevation, and heart rate, but also has route creation tools and "flyby" maps so we can watch a loop of how we did during a run. You can also export your data to a common GPX data format to use in your own applications.

An example of the flyby tool from Strava

My desire to run keeps increasing. Now my eyes are set on the lofty goal of running a full marathon. In April, we are running in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon .

Several of us at Phase 2 will be participating: some running the full marathon, some running the half, and others the relay race or even the 5k. The point is that we are all coming together to celebrate life and a commitment to health."

If you are thinking about participating in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, you won't regret it. It is truly a memorable experience. Hope to see you there!