How to run 300 miles

In January 2016, I set a goal for myself that I would run 300 miles in 2016.  This would be a 50 mile increase from 2015 – a year where I ran more than any year previous –  and an 80 mile increase from 2014.  The rules were simple, only running counted toward 300, of the miles run, they had to be recorded in the app, MapMyRun, warmups and cool-downs don’t count towards the mileage, and treadmill running doesn’t count unless it’s over 1.5 miles.

Setting Quarterly Goals

I knew from the start that it’s unlikely that I’ll run the same every week – temperature, daylight, and likelihood of injury all factor into my running decisions.  With this in mind, I set the following quarterly mile goals:  50, 75, 125, and 50 miles.  My rationale was simple, I have less of an opportunity to run in Q1 & Q4 because of weather and an early sunset.  Injury is a major concern too, if I go out to fast in Q1, I could injure myself and be out for a month.

My July – September goals were justified because of the same reasons as my Q1 goal.  From May to August, the sun sets after 7:30p, which allows me enough time to leave work and run 3+ miles.  This takes the burden off of weekends, which means that I’m not dependent on 2 out of 7 days for my ten mile weekly goal.  Also, longer days mean I don’t need use the gym treadmills where I run 2.5 miles before getting too bored to finish.

Reality vs Goals

Part of this post is to be honest with myself.  Even though I modeled this down to the week, I still fell well short of my goal.  To avoid failing again, we need to learn from my mistakes.

We can see that my actual running in Q1 fell short of what I thought was possible.  This is the result of several factors: weather and work.  Jan and Feb were pretty brutal, there was a “blizzard” the first week of February which prevented my from running most of Feb.

Q3 was the biggest reason I missed my goal.  In January I set a personal goal of 125 miles over a 13 week span.  In theory this was easy to achieve, I would need to run 10 miles a week, or run 3.33 miles three times a week (probably Wednesday, Saturday and another date).  In reality I wasn’t able to meet this goal, for reasons I’m still trying to understand.  Part of it may be related to my personal life, I went on more dates on weekdays and weekends.  Another reason may be the 3 mile races I competed in every Wednesday.  These races were tough, and I felt like I had to rest for several days to recover from the races.

Next Steps

Since I didn’t run 300 miles last year I’ve decided to fulfill this goal in 2017.  I’ll need to learn from the mistakes of 2016, and be more proactive in Q3 when the goal is higher.  I’ll also need to determine if I’ll accomplish this with a lot of short runs (1.5 – 3 miles), or longer runs 4 miles.  I’ve entertained the idea of training for a half-marathon to accomplish this with less runs, but I prefer to keep my training (and racees) under 6 miles per run.

VLOOKUP Tutorial and 3 Easy Tips

VLOOKUP and how you should it


The vlookup Excel formula searches your data for a keyword and returns a value instantly.  Think of how you order at Starbucks: If I want to know how much an Iced 

Coffee costs, I would find the Iced Coffee on the menu (2nd from the top), and


look to the right to see that a small costs $2.25.  Excel does the same thing, except it can search 100,000 items, in the same amount of time it takes you to search through 10.

Real Life Examples

Lets keep using the Starbucks menu for this example.  We want to know how much a White Chocolate Mocha would cost if we purchased the Grande size.  In this example, the “lookup_value” is in cell A12 ‘White Chocolate Mocha’, the “table_array” is A2:D9, the “col_index_num” is 3 and “[Range lookup]” is false. What vlookup is doing, is searching for ‘White Chocolate Mocha’ in the table we highlighted in red, and looking at the third column.  If we wanted the price of a Venti, we would have used 4 instead of 3 as the “col_index_num”.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  “lookup_value” aka White Chocolate Mocha always needs to be in the first column in the table.

Common Issues

  • You didn’t anchor your formulas.
    • If you copy the formula to the cell below, then the table array will also shift down one row.
    • To prevent this, highlight the table array in the formula bar, and press F4 (on Windows) to add anchors (signified by dollar signs).  This tells Excel not to move whatever you’ve anchored.
  • The thing you’re looking for shows up more than once.
    • When this happens, Excel returns the first thing it finds (going from top to bottom).
    • Avoid using names if possible (John, Sanjay, Allison) and try and use a full name or an ID number.  If I have data for multiple sales, there could be multiple salespeople named John.  Instead, if I wanted to know about a specific sale, I could see if there was an ID with the order.
    • If I’m more interested in the amount of money that Sales Rep John generated, I could use a different formula like Sumif() or sumifs().
  • Your “Find This” keyword, isn’t in the first column.
    • Always make sure that the table you’re searching from, includes the keyword as the first column.
  • Not using false as the [range_lookup]
  • The Find this doesn’t match the thing your searching for.  If you’re “Find This” term is “Jen”, but the value in the table is “Jenny”, “Jenn”, or Jennifer”, your vlookup won’t know how to find it.  Make sure the thing you look for uses the same names.

Next Steps

Once you’ve used the vlookup enough, you’ll notice that you want something more powerful.  This might mean you’re ready to move to the “index match” formula.

How often do I use Netflix DVD?

I recently cancelled my Netflix DVD subscription, which I wasn’t using as much as when I signed up in 2010.  Among my friends and coworkers, I’m one of the last people to use the service.  Before I canceled the subscription, I three years worth of Netflix send/return emails from my Gmail and cleaned the data in Excel.

So was Netflix DVD a good value?  In 2011-2012, it definitely was.  There were be nights where I’d watch a DVD the same day I received it in the mail, and mail it back the next morning.   But, as time went on, and I worked longer hours, I had less time to commit to movies.  All of a sudden, I didn’t want to commit 2-3 hours of my evening to a movie which demands my full attention.  My indifference to the DVD service started in August 2016.  In the graph below, we can see I stopped returning DVD’s almost entirely.

So what DVD’s spent the most time at home?

173 days: The Hateful Eight (June 10 – November 29 2017)

114 days: Her (July 30, 2014- November 20, 2014)

97 days: The Usual Suspects (October 10, 2013 – Jan 14, 2014)

93 days: Inside Llewyn Davis (November 20, 2014 – Feb. 20, 2015)

91 days: Paul (Sep 8, 2015 – Dec 7, 2015)

91 days: Foxcatcher (Sep 8, 2015 – Dec 7, 2015)

80 days: The Godfather (Dec 23, 2015 – Mar 11, 2016)

71 days: The Imitation Game (Aug 4, 2016 – Oct 13, 2016)

70 days: Nightcrawler (April 15, 2015 – June 23, 2015)