A friend of mine recently asked me if I would like to join his team for the Tough Mudder event in Tampa on December 1st. I had heard of these extreme challenge courses before but went to the event’s website to get more information. According their site, a Tough Mudder event is a “hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.”. This video was also available, highlighting some of the obstacles and doing a very good job of intimidating the heck out of me.
Some of the obstacles include:
- Swim through the ice, under a wooden plank and pull yourself out on the other end
- Sprint through a field of live wires — some carrying as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock
- Run through a trench of blazing, kerosene-soaked straw
- Swing Tarzan-style across a series of hanging rings suspended over a pool of ice-cold water
And the list goes on and on. The question running through my mind is “Could I ever survive this kind of brute torture?”. I am a long distance runner, not a Navy SEAL. The only reason I want to complete this is so I can be a total bad ass. Because anyone who can finish this race deserves that title. Will keep you updated on my decision!
“Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug is a great asset to people trying to create user-friendly websites. Krug uses business websites for most of his examples but all of the tactics discussed would greatly improve the layout, functionality, and overall impression of any kind of webpage. The title of the handbook, “Don’t Make Me Think” could basically be the tagline for his consulting business based on his teaching methods. He explains that webmasters over-estimate the attention users give their website. We don’t start at the top and read all of the copy, labels, or even look at all the pictures. We are scanning quickly and erratically for key words. We don’t want to have to think about what to click next or where to look for the search bar, the website should make it easy for us. The faster we find them and understand how to navigate the page, the easier our experience is, and we gain trust in the business and their website. Krug uses human tendencies recorded from his own research to guide webmasters in designing and writing for websites that are efficient and effective.
The fact is websites should be treated like a billboard for a company, not a brochure. Web users are looking for specific words or phrases. Good, clear design can help steer your customer in the right direction. Visual hierarchy draws attention to the most important details, and shows accurately the relationship between things on a page. Important text should be larger, bolded or a different color, to differentiate it from other words. Staying true to conventions also makes for user-friendly web design. Some web designers fail here for the sake of trying to be creative or innovative with their designs. However, conventions work because humans are creatures of habit. For instance, I always look in the upper right hand corner of the homepage. I am conditioned to do this because it has become a convention most websites follow. If I can’t find it there, I may become frustrated and move on to another site. Or the quality of my experience and trust in this specific company or organization might fall. It is also important to make things that are clickable obvious. The idea is to get customers to move beyond the homepage, so this step is key. Using actual icons that look like buttons is the best bet in my opinion.
The home page is the most important page of a website. A Krug puts it; homepages are the “waterfront property” of the Internet. Users have a choice of what pages to navigate to away from the homepage, but everyone starts there, so it must appeal to all kinds of people. It should answer the following questions within a few seconds of glancing:
- What is this?
- What can I do here?
- What to they have here?
- Why should I be here?
If the homepage can answer these questions, while having a visually appealing layout, you have a much higher chance of reeling in the customer, and keeping them at your page.
So today I ran out of time to do the intense work out I had planned so I had to revert back to my trusty old Frat Lap. What is a Frat Lap you ask? It’s a loop along the edge of UF’s main campus that I frequently jog. I like it because its entirely on paved side walks that run along main roads. This makes it safe because there are always people around and because you are on pedestrian walkways. My running friends and I dubbed it the “Frat Lap” because half way through you run down Fraternity Row. It rolls of the tongue doesn’t it? When you start at my house and complete the full lap it’s about 2.5 miles. Just enough to break a good sweat and complete 30 minutes of cardio. Here is a map of the Frat Lap (it shows less mileage because I began my map at the major intersection rather than my address).
My minimum daily exercise is running a Frat Lap
This morning around 10:30am it took me 31 minutes to complete the frat lap. Not very fast but it’s still Africa hot here in Gainesville. I am so looking forward to some cooler fall and winter weather. The briskness in the air just makes you want to get outside and run. That’s when I can handle those 9 mile doozies.
I made this map with a free program online called Map My Run. You can create your own profile, fill in your goals, and track your mileage all for free on this awesome site! Definitely check it out if you are trying to keep track of your progress.
Tomorrow I am planning on doing a frat lap and Jillian Michael 30 Day Shred Level 2 work out video before class. Then off to Tampa for a Rays game! Check in with you guys this weekend!
This is Shannon speaking! (on the left). Above is a picture of my best running pal/sorority sister Laura Jane and I after the Gasparilla 15K last March. It was one of my proudest moments and a good representation of what this blog will be about.
Thanks for viewing what will be the first of many entries into this diary/bulletin board/work in progress! I have created this blog for a couple of reasons. I will use this first entry as an introduction to myself, my life, and what I hope to accomplish with this blog.
Who am I?
Shannon McCarthy, age 21. I am a Tampa native but have been in Gainesville for the past 3 years studying Telecommunications and business at the University of Florida. I was a dancer in High School and never had to worry about staying fit because I burned all the calories I needed to in practice. When I got to college, I realized quickly I needed a new way to stay in shape. I started running basically because I was intimidated by the gym since I had never used one before. Last year, I decided I wanted to start challenging myself to long distance races.
Why did I decide to make a blog?
Let’s be real. The endorphin high after a long run or gym session is always worth it, but its easy to fall into a rut… As I did this past summer. Losing focus for a few weeks can really throw off your fitness goals and make it tough to get back into the game. By sharing my experiences and goals with other runners, I become accountable for how I treat my body and what I can accomplish. And by becoming an active member of the blogging community, I can greatly benefit from the stories of others.
What will I be blogging about?
Primarily my diet and exercise journal (which consists mostly of running). I do not follow any strict or new age diets. Maybe one day, but right now I am a poor college student! I do the best that I can with the food my sorority feeds us and what I can afford on a tight, TIGHT budget. I get pretty creative with the salad bar and sometimes experiment with healthy recipes. I love food, and am all about a balanced diet with wiggle room. Bloggers are people who enjoy learning and dialogue. Hopefully other people interested in maintaing a healthy lifestyle will view my blog and we can share each other’s ideas, experiences, goals, and thoughts!
My current goals?
Since running the 15k in March, I have not run more than four miles continuously. My goal is to run a half marathon by early next year, hopefully in under 10 minute miles. I am also trying to become more aware of the food I consume and watch portions. I try to run 15 miles per week. However that will most likely increase as I get closer to race date.
Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to writing about my workout routine tomorrow!
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