If This Were Easy…


More things I learned from my pedometer

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 9:03 am

First off, I have not yet died, which makes it seem fairly unlikely that I will die as a result of this morning’s walk. If I was going to, it’d have happened by now. Of course, I still haven’t done the strength training part of this whole exercise thing.

So, having spent several hours last night learning that Beats Per Minute analyzers that you download off teh intarwebs for free are not the most useful things ever, I did eventually manage to put together a quasi useful mix of songs with almost the right tempos in the right order, all layed over with tracks of my voice telling me when to change paces. And this morning, I went walking.

According to my pedometer, I walked 2.59km in 3503 steps over 31 minutes, at a pace of 2.66km/h and burned 384 calories.

Those of you who are word oriented just glazed over that entire last paragraph, but the math nerds in the crowd just went “WTF?!?”

That’s right, according to my pedometer, I managed to cover ground twice as fast as I was walking — in half an hour, I walked about an hour’s worth of distance. Now, the distance measurements themselves weren’t hyper-accurate in any case, because the stride length was set too long, but that doesn’t explain the lack of internal consistency. My best guess is that the calculation for distance traveled is based on stride length corresponding to one step, while the calculation for walking speed is based on it being two steps.

This is why complete requirements should be documented before you start coding, programmers!

I checked my route with Google maps, and figured out that I actually walked 2036 metres. I assumed the step count was fairly accurate, and reset my stride length accordingly. I’m not sure how much the speed intervals would have changed my stride length, but I figure it all probably averages out to a middling amount. I’ll check it again tomorrow against the Power Walk results, which are at a more consistent middling pace and see how it compares.

With Google’s distance numbers, over a 30 minute walk, that puts my pace at about 4km or 2.5miles an hour, on average. It was speed intervals, so obviously that went up or down, but it was interesting.

I plugged that value into a couple of calories burned calculators, and they both indicated approximately 244 calories for my weight and average pace, which is a good chunk fewer than the pedometer thought at 348, but I’m not sure how much the speed interval affects that calculation, so it’s hard to say if the pedometer is wrong or not. If the calculated values are closer together after tomorrow’s more steadily paced Power Walk, I’ll assume the interval accounted for much of the difference.

Assuming it’s correct, the pedometer should be able to pretty accurately judge distance in the future, but the speed thing is going to be pretty suspect.



  1. I just started a learn to run 5K , and lady, you can just download free podcasts that tell you when to start/end your intervals. Even podcasts that just have the verbal cues, and you overlay your own music (though I am too lazy to do this, especially since the intervals change each week)

    I have been looking at getting a Garmin to track my runs, but I’m trying to hold back on getting all the fancy gear, maybe save it up as a reward for myself when I can run 5K. You don’t *need* to know all the numbers, just getting out for a 30 minute walk is good enough. Try not to get sidetracked by the gear….I bet you spent more time setting everything up than walking!

    BTW, if you really want some specific BPM, I can grab some of the CDs we use for classes in the gym. My step CDs are around 126-132.


    Comment by GlowingTeapotBowler — 2009-04-27 @ 9:32 am

  2. Huh. I never would have guessed you could download interval stuff, though I suppose it makes sense. I’ve done it now, so I guess I’m good for awhile anyway, but once I get through the two week program and need to figure out where to go from there, I’ll take a look at what I can find on the web for the future.

    Is it more general stuff, or am I likely to find something that fits my specific plan? IE, do people do these things for pretty much any popular interval plan?

    I wasn’t looking for highly specific BPM stuff, just a general sense of faster vs. slower that didn’t require me to think actively about and listen to a ton of different songs to find them, but just doing that probably would have worked just as quickly as the BPM analyzer. I ended up with an okayish mix, though my warm-up song on the Speed Interval mix is a touch faster than the one for the first interval, which is a slightly faster pace. I wanted the songs to change with the intervals and didn’t want to edit them, so I ended up picking songs that were already approximately the same number of minutes as my intervals and that limited my choices substantially.

    Finding a 1 minute long, very fast song, was less difficult than I would have expected. I ended up with a short track from Carmina Burana that gets faster and louder and rises to this holy fucking crescendo right at the end, which is just perfect, because it’s for the last speed interval at the end of which I’m dying, and then I get to slow down to just a cool down pace.

    I am trying to be good about not buying too much new gear. Except I need new running shoes.

    Comment by Easy — 2009-04-27 @ 9:45 am

    • I’m not sure about the walking podcasts, but I can do a search on iTunes later. The “Couch to 5K” plan that I am following is not exactly what I’d like (the intervals are not all the same, it’s like run 3/walk 1.5/run 5/walk 3 then repeat, which is weird) but whatever, I’m out there running (and pushing the Dictator while she munches pretzels – that must count for some extra calories). I am on week 4 and have not lost any weight nor changed shape, but my skin feels baby soft. Seriously, the skin alone is enough to keep me running!

      And yes, spend money on running shoes and proper attire, but no more electronic gadgetry!

      Comment by GlowingTeapotBowler — 2009-04-27 @ 10:44 am

      • I’d assume that pushing the Dictator must be quite a lot of extra calories burned. I was debating whether I felt like carrying a water bottle or whether, since I end up looping past my house, it would be better to just leave it on my car and grab as I looped, and you push an entire child! Wow.

        Comment by Easy — 2009-04-27 @ 10:57 am

  3. Wish I could be there to cheer you on, Jackie! Hang in there.

    Comment by Kim — 2009-04-27 @ 12:37 pm

  4. Oh I knew there was a reason I never got the pedometer, too much math. Although even a word geek like me did go “huh?” when I looked at the distance travelled and the rate.

    Comment by beaglesmuggler — 2009-04-27 @ 4:25 pm

  5. OK, Prevention has two podcasts, one beginniner, one advanced. They’re 16 minutes each, free on iTunes. Running room has walking clinics for $60ish, but I hesitate to tell you to spend more money just to walk. How are the shoes?

    Comment by GTB — 2009-04-27 @ 9:54 pm

    • Cool, thanks, I’ll look for the podcasts.

      I think the shoes will be good. It was tough to find a pair that were both the right length and the right width, but New Balance makes women’s runners in multiple widths.

      The woman at Running Room was very helpful, and did say they had a walking clinic starting in June, so I might check that out then. I’m not sure what a walking clinic will offer, and should have asked, because stupid as this sounds, I really do think I could use some advice on walking technique. The leg dominance thing is probably going to be a problem if I’m not careful.

      Comment by Easy — 2009-04-27 @ 10:01 pm

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