It’s been ages since I felt the way I do now about running; a feeling I’d describe as quasi-euphoric. I won’t go into any detail here about the trials and tribulations of the past 12-18 months. If you’re really interested in such long-winded stories, part one is here and part two is here. The long and short of it is that I was becoming convinced by the middle of last year that I might just have to hang up my runners for good, with severe nerve-related pain, discomfort and tingling, resulting in an inability to run more than a couple kilometers at a time.
I’d already come to the conclusion that ultimate was no longer a good idea due to a minor tear of my left medial meniscus about three years ago, and was really thinking I’d be almost completely focused on cycling for my endorphin fix. The problem with that is that I just love running. I like cycling well enough, but in my heart I am a runner. It’s cheap, easy and I feel better when I’m on a good run than I do at almost any other time. Whether I’m chasing people and a plastic disc in cleats, hitting the trails or pavement or ramping up for speedwork or hills, running gives me a fix like no other exercise.
Since I’m a little cranky about email marketing and spam, I thought it might just be me. However, when I saw a couple tweets yesterday echoing my feelings, I knew I probably wasn’t overreacting. On New Year’s Eve, I registered for the BMO Vancouver Marathon half. Within a couple days I got an email from them encouraging me to register. My immediate thought was, “WTF?”
This kind of misstep is more noticeable when the registration and the email follow in such rapid succession, but nonetheless, it demonstrates very poor attention to detail with regard to email marketing and, by extension, creates a poor customer experience. Just prior to this, I’d been pretty impressed when I noticed they’d implemented a responsive design on their main web site. Doing so indicates that they at least recognize that their customers access their site on several different devices with different viewports, and that they’re trying to create a good customer experience. As such, the poorly timed marketing email kind of killed the good will the responsive web site had instilled in me.
In April, I outlined my experience to that point, with my left foot. At that time, after several months of annoying and somewhat perplexing symptoms, I expected that by now, I’d have more of a solution – perhaps a surgery or something – to report. Sadly that’s not really the case. I can report some progress, though, small as it may be …
So that you don’t need to click the link above, should you be interested in such things, my situation thus far in a few simple bullet points:
- I began experiencing toe tingles and weird symptoms in the summer of 2011, which progressed to downright painful toe jolts.
- It took two attempts at a podiatrist to find one I could trust by early spring 2012.
- I was diagnosed with one neuroma between toes 3 and 4, with a slightly less clear problem between toe 1 and 2.
- I had begun sclerosing alcohol injections, in an attempt to decrease/kill the toe symptoms.
I guess you have to celebrate any successes you have with a situation like this, so I’m somewhat happy to report that the sclerosing injections were a minor success. Seven treatments were able to kill the intense jolting that was occurring while running and uncomfortable tingling that was occurring pretty much any time I stepped hard through the ball of my foot. This would include, but was not limited to, running, going up or down stairs and any kind of jumping and landing. So, as of the beginning of June, at least something had gone right.
Last week I hit Toronto for three workshops organized by Rosenfeld Media. Since I had to fly to Toronto to do them, it only made sense to do all three. My main purpose was, admittedly, to take Lou Rosenfeld’s Adaptable Information Architecture workshop, but I ended up with three very full days, the central theme of which was essentially to become leaner and more agile, and in the process, more productive.
On first blush, Do-it-yourself User Testing, Adaptable Information Architecture and Designing with Agile may all seem like quite separate things (except, of course, they’re all components of user experience design), but for me a river definitely runs through it, so to speak. They really are core pieces of what I do, so doing all three did seem pretty ideal.
Anders Ramsay was really an unknown entity for me as I got to day three. Like the other two workshops, this one was based on his book of the same name, though this one is yet-to-be published in 2013. The nice thing about Anders’ workshop is that, where the other two focused on ways of improving existing designs or those in progress, Designing with Agile was really about turning traditional initial design approaches on their collective heads.
While putting everything in his approach to work in my present environment would be virtually impossible, I made several small discoveries that I think I can begin to use in future projects. I say making our process completely agile would be impossible because, a) going there has to be a team sport, with everyone on board, and; b) it needs some level of top-down support and drive to happen. Each time I build a new large requirements document for a new application, I vow I will move from needs analysis more directly to sussing functional specs out of a more rapid, iterative prototyping process. However, it simply doesn’t seem to happen, in part as some team members have a strong penchant for overly detailed requirements before they begin doing anything, and in part because the rest of the business often can’t take the time to go through multiple, rapid group sessions to collaboratively design features. But I digress, and I know I can begin doing some of my UX work using some of the techniques from this workshop.