Friday, November 7, 2014

Just Another Walk in the Park

Shortly after I changed jobs in April 2014, I started looking for a fitness center close to work so I could keep working out. With my previous gig I was working out 4-5 times a week. Knocking out a workout over lunch is perfect for me. Making time to workout at home before/after work is a little tougher.

Unfortunately the fitness club options were few and high priced between. There is an awesome high end fitness club/spa type place right next door, but it is the price of a nice cable TV package per month. As sort of a stop-gap solution I figured I could just walk around the neighborhoods near the office a few times a day and figure out what I want to do.

Westwood park is a perfect park for walking and it is located just across the street from my building. The park is situated on an entire city block, so its nice and spread out. The park has side walk walking trails, several tall trees, playground equipment, a baseball diamond, and a picnic shelter.

So one day in early July I started walking the park on my smoke breaks (I don't smoke, I just call them smoke breaks). If you have read much of my blog you could probably start to guess what is about to happen. I started thinking what if I started tracking laps in this park? I could start timing each lap, see how fast I could walk a lap, compare the laps over time, etc. It is almost like an illness. I am constantly looking for datasets in everyday activities.

I used Google maps to carve out a lap and on July 8th I tracked my first three laps. Using my trusty Timex stopwatch I tracked the lap times: 5 minutes 30 seconds, 5 minutes 34 seconds, and 5 minutes 53 seconds. I considered 5 minutes and 30 seconds the baseline. Again the first approach to this experiment was to see how fast I could power walk a lap.

In order to decide which laps will be counted in the fastest laps record book, I setup a couple rules.
Rule 1: All steps must be on the sidewalk, no walking in the grass.
Rule 2: You can only walk, no jogging.

Rule 2 was pretty subjective, I mean I was not following the official Speedwalk rule book, but basically I said no jogging, just power walking.

I had an epiphany on day 2, July 9th. After tracking 2 more Personal Best Record (PBR) laps (5:23 and 5:16), I said "Self! why am I not breaking these laps up into segments." Instead of tracking one large lap, I should break the laps up into segments to see which parts of the course I need to work on. Again using Google Maps I split the track up into four segments (s1,s2,s3,s4). This allowed me to measure my time with more granularity. Who doesn't like more granularity?

July 10th was the first run measuring the four segments. I set a new PBR of 5:08 with the following segment times:

S2 0:01:47.7

With the new segment tracking in place I was well on my way to fastest lap time greatness. After each walk I could review the segments and try to determine where I could improve comparing times to previous segments. With each lap I was walking faster and faster, pushing harder to get the time lower. At some point I knew I would reach my Terminal Walking Velocity and would not be able to shave anymore time off the route unless I ran. That day came on July 24 on Lap 3.

Lap 1 and 2 on July 24th were pretty fast laps (5:00 and 4:57). I started the final stretch of Lap 2 and was determined to power walk the entire last lap with laser beam focus and extreme vigor. After the dust settled and the shin splits subsided I realized I had made history that day my friends. This lap was the fastest Westwood Park Speed lap humanly possible by thejoestory.

S2 0:01:34.9

Sixteen days after starting I had reached Terminal Walking Velocity average 4.98 MPH on the entire lap, a 12 minute mile pace. At this point I wasn't really sure what to try next with the experiment, having reached the fastest lap. I had started tracking distance during week 2 and started to wonder. How long would it take me to get 100 miles completed on this route I had carved out? What if I tracked and recorded the data on every lap for 100 miles and then wrote an article on it? Here we are my friends.

Near the end of the July I estimated it would probably take until the end of October to finish the 100 miles. So I set courses for 100 miles and started eating laps in the park just about everyday I was in the office. I reached 100 miles on 11/6/2014 just over my projected date and it felt good to be finished with this project. With about 40 laps to go I was getting burned out on this route and I wanted to switch it up a little. However, I pressed on and logged a total of 263 laps in the park with a total distance of 100.36 miles.

Naturally my co-workers started wondering why I was walking so many laps around the park. I let them come out and get a little taste of a power walk lap with me. I had to throw these times out because they couldn't handle my power walking prowess. I threw out a total of 6 laps because their slow lap times were skewing my numbers quiet a bit.

Course Details

As mentioned the course was a walking trail in Westwood Park. Here is a quick picture tour of the course. Sorry this is a sad attempt at trying to embed a google photo album into its blogging software. Come on Google we deserve better free services than this. Geez!


Here is an overhead view of the four segments.

SegmentDistance Feet

So each lap was 2015 feet or .38 of a mile. During each smoke break I would try to get a 3 lap set completed which took a little over 15 minutes. See table below for lap/distance calculations.

LapsDistance (mile)

Days of Week Break down

The new gig affords me the luxury of working from home some days. You can see with the lap counts that the days of choice are Fridays and Mondays. The majority of WFH days are Fridays and you can see the low lap count.

DayLap CountMiles

  • Mondays had the best overall average. I will chalk that up to being refreshed after the weekend ready to dominate some laps. The highest average for Fridays tends to support that theory. In fact you can see a day to day growth of the overall average
  • Thursday was the record breaking day with the fastest lap recorded.
  • Thursdays laps were also the most sporadic with a 10 second lap standard deviation. 


  • I spent a little over 21 hours completing this project.
  • S1 has a really low standard deviation of 1.5 seconds. That is equivalent to roughly 6 feet. Wild to think over 260 something laps that the first lap was that consistent.
  • Total lap times were mildly sporadic when viewing the standard deviation of 8.3 seconds. That is a swing of 30-35 feet
  • If you look at the Min time line and view the lap times on the PBR July 24th Lap 3 run you will notice that the actual Terminal Walking Velocity could be a little lower. Only July 17th the record was set for the S4 segment at 01:01.3, which is .3 fasater than the PBR S4 of 01:01.6

Calories burned

One of the intial goals of the speed walks in the park was to keep active and excercise. Using the Run Keeper app I was able to calculate the number of calories burned / lap. Run Keeper calculated I burned 60 calories/lap. That works out real convenient since standard lap set was 3 making my standard calories burned 180, which so happens to roughly equal the amount of calories in a 12 oz. can of Mt. Dew (170).

LapsDistance (mile)Calories per lap

So how many total calories did I burn in this experiment? 15,780 calories burned. Or 92.8 Mt. Dews.

Big Mac55028.69090909
Chick Fil A Chicken Biscuit44035.86363636
Pepperoni Pizza31050.90322581
Cool Ranch Locos Taco Supreme20078.9
Mt Dew17092.82352941
Fun Size Kit Kat60263

Man I love some Cool Ranch Tacos. I should eat 78 of them, because I earned it. After creating this chart I wanted to create a web site to allow people to plug in numbers and figure out how long it would take for them to burn off the item. I have to put that on the TODO list.

I attached the heart rate monitor and tracked a few laps. Here is a 3 lap sample heart rate snapshot.

One cool thing the Heart Rate shows is that I am elevating my heart rated during the walks. Since I work in the computer biz I have to make it a point to get up and keep moving throughout the day. It would be easy for me to sit long periods of time at work with no activity. I am trying to stay as active as possible during the work day.

Raw Data

Here is the Raw Segment Data in all of its glorious splendor. Given the awesome photo library embed earlier, not sure how this google sheet document will embed but it's worth a shot.

Wrap up and Pictures

So my four month Walk in the Park data collection project comes to an end. I can honestly say I was tired of collecting data for this thing. I am ready now to explore the surrounding neighborhoods near work. Here is a list of things I saw while on the walks.

  • Countless dogs
  • Dozens of wild dogs off their leash with owner not concerned about who dog attacks
  • Dog Fight
  • People of all ages
  • Several Circle of Life moments involving birds and grasshoppers
  • More squirrels then you could shake a stick at
  • Sister crashing into her brother on a bike
  • 4 Suspicious looking delivery vehicles
  • A football game involving some annoying teenagers
  • A Chris Cakes party
  • Tired parents
  • Lost Sippie Cup
  • Lost Hoodie Sweatshirt
  • Lost Soccer ball
  • Kids trying to play baseball
  • This one couple over and over and over again, think we had the same morning walking schedule
  • Some hippies under a tree

Finally here are a few more pictures of the Terminal Velocity Speed Power Walk project of 2014.


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