Monthly Archives: August 2015

Clearing Your Head

Sometimes I run for fitness. Today I ran in search of clarity. 

Life throws many difficulties in your path and running can offer time to reflect on them and try to resolve the myriad competing thoughts and noise; like finding a moving lane through a traffic jam. 

15 miles was not enough distance to mull it all over but I certainly feel better about things. Getting too close and caught up in life’s minutiae but forgetting to enjoy the bigger more important things in life is easy to slip into. But rise above it we must. 

On a more technical note, my HeartRate Monitor only seemed to capture half of my run today and I’m not sure what is causing the dropouts. I wonder if the battery needs to be replaced? It certainly can’t be a proximity thing as the devices are never more than a foot apart.  

 You can clearly see all the dropouts in the lower graph here, plus I ran for 2 hours 7 mins and this only tracks one hour and seven mins.  

 The longer intervals are where I ran up and over spring mountain on the Perkiomen Trail. (Miles 5 and 11). 

I saw one of my work colleagues out on his bike this morning too. It’s always good to see a friendly face while you are out there! 

The Cool of Autumn Arrives

My last two morning runs have been wonderful. The temperatures have already reached the optimal range for running; 52-55F. 

It is slightly cold as you start and then you warm up and feel great. Very little humidity or sweating. Lovely. 

I’m continuing to use the heartrate monitor on all my runs and getting some useful insights from it. 

The Polar Beat application gives you a summary of the type of run you did based on how long you were in each zone, and what that means for your overall fitness. 

All very interesting but I have so far failed to do a screen grab of any of them to share with you. I will try to remember to do this next week. The insights read well but there doesn’t appear to be a way to revisit them after they pop-up immediately at the end of the run. 

Run/Walk Record

Nothing beats starting the week setting a new record on your training plan!

I went out yesterday morning with my friend for our regular training session and we did our standard 6.2 mile route as a run/walk with 3 minute run/2 minute walk intervals. 

The temperature was a lovely 62F and it was pitch dark at 5:30 when we started. 

However, we managed to set a new record for the route and completed in 1:05:19 which is a minute and 27 seconds faster than our previous best on that route. Nice!

We always aim to achieve a reverse split (faster on the way back) and do it by strictly following the interval timing on the way out and then extending the running pieces slightly on the way back. Generally we only extend by 20-30 seconds but that extra adds up. 

I think I may have nearly broken my friend though as we ran to the finish. For the last piece we basically ignored the last slow interval. 

I now wear long-sleeved tops to protect against the myriad spiders that try to catch us along the trail, plus cover myself with bug spray. No bites for the last two weeks so I’ll count that as a success.

Monday’s are so tiring for me as they start at 4:45am, run, then home to shower so I can cycle to work… I do a 1.5 mile walk at lunchtime, then cycle home again. By the time I hit the hay at 9:00pm I’m wrecked. 

Preparing to Beat the Blerch

My wife and I are in the last stage traning for the Carnation, WA, half-marathon which is the next stop on my wife’s attempt to run a half in each State and the 22nd anniversary of us ‘hooking up’ (as per the modern parlance). 

I ran a 13.1 as a practice today at an easy pace with a reverse split. 8:07 pace on the way out and 7:57 by the end. 

My heart rate zones looked pretty good too with a max of 185 and average of 159.  

 There seem to be quite a few dropouts from the sensor but I think this was because I started the apps up in an odd order today. The data uploads from Polar Beat to Virgin Pulse have been working well and are maxing out the points for my company health plan quite nicely. It’s good when the tech works right! 

Lots of music for the run and My Chemical Romance certainly helped up the pace for he return run, although I did tear up (unexplainably) for “Cancer”.  The Bluetooth Backbeat Fit headphones have been behaving themselves for the last couple of weeks with no dropouts at all. 

On with the day… 

Heart Zones

Now I’m training with a heart rate monitor again to win more points on my company’s healthcare scheme, I’m trying to focus on the heart rate zones that I’m training in. 

Initially I am using the zone levels recommended by the application but I may tune those as I gather more data about my current fitness. 

Yesterday I ran a new Devil’s Run (6.66 miles) from my office towards Collegeville in 77F with dripping humidity. It took me forty minutes to stop sweating afterwards! Crazy. 

Today I did a quick four miler and got the following HR results: 

 My average rate was 153 bpm and my max was 175 (which seems more reasonable than the 202 reported the other day). There are some parts of the run where it didn’t get any data. Not sure what happened there. 

I’m pretty sure my pace didn’t go under a five minute mile so there’s something funky on their graph!

The end of the week is nigh and I’m ready for a relaxing weekend. I hope you all have a good one. 

Oh, btw, the two year anniversary of this blog passed last week so thanks for reading. 

Humid Morning Run

Stepping outside today was like getting into a steam room. My glasses immediately steamed up and I was sweating within seconds. 

That said, it was a beautiful morning and with starting at 5:15am is was truly dark. I had already broken out my running disco lights to make sure others see me although I could just about make out the road surface. 

I tried out a new app today: Polar Beat. It is from Polar, the makers of heartrate monitors and it focuses around tracking your heart rate zones. This is something I’ve been neglecting for a while but is also worth points for me on my company’s health scheme!

I’ve hooked up my Polar account to my Virgin Pulse account and that gets me extra points every time I complete a qualifying exercise. 

The points are far higher than you get for just doing the exercise so it’s worth the hassle of connecting it all up. 

The app is very good and is easy to use. It connected to my (non-polar) Bluetooth heart rate monitor very easily and has useful output about the amount of time in each zone.  

 As you can see above, cool clear graphics. Heart rate zone five is the top one in the bar graph. 

According to the device my average was 161 and my max was 202. It seems unlikely the max was that high and I would put that down to a glitch as I wasn’t running that hard. 

Any way, 5.05 miles run in 42 minutes for an 8:19 pace. Not super fast but at least I got out. 

Summer Heat

The summer heat is upon us once again and our air conditioning chose this weekend to pack in. Fabulous. 

Today I opted to do a long bike ride with some friends rather than run. 63 miles with a few quite tough hills. It was also very warm ending at about 95F. Phew!

The new gears on the bike were good and I only had to drop down to the small chainring for a brief 21% grade hill… The rest were manageable in my big chainring with some considerable effort. 

The heat did become quite repressive towards the end of the ride. After being out in it for six hours I was done. 

The others tell me we did about 4000ft of climbing but I tracked it as only 3200ft. 

Now to try and keep cool without air con…

No Time to Update Blog

Sorry for the lack of updates but I ran out of time somehow. 

Monday’s ride to the dentist was excellent. Quite cool weather and a very generous chap at Donnie Mac’s Deli on 4th St in Conshy made for a great afternoon. The proprietor kindly gave me some soft pretzels for the ride home which were really tasty. I salute you, sir!

Wednesday I ran 5.5. 

Thursday I ran 6.5. 

And this morning I ran 3. It felt pleasant to have the week winding down as it drew to a close. That’ll give me time to prepare for a longer run at the weekend, although I am considering a bike ride on Sunday instead.

This week I am at 37.5 miles which is my longest for quite a while so I’m happy with that. 

I’ve been watching my weight for the last few weeks and I’ve already seen 3.5 pounds come off; all this in preparation for end of season runs and bike rides. 

I am using the LoseIt app to track my calories as it integrates to mapmyrun to pick up all my exercise data automatically. It also counts up my steps through Apple’s HealthKit. My favourite feature: scanning barcodes on foods rather than having to manually enter data. Such an improvement to the tool.  

 Progress. 

To Bike Commute or Not

Today’s early morning run with my friend, saw us setting yet another course record of 1:06:46 for 6.2 miles. 

While out I thought I’d check the number of steps per minute that my friend does. Turns out he is at 175 which is pretty darn close to the recommended 180. 

I also wore a long sleeved top this week to reduce the creepy feeling from all the spider webs across the riverside trail. Much better. I also covered myself in insect repellent but I’m not sure if that works for spiders! Anything to reduce the number of bites that I get each week. 

Later today I have a dentist appointment about 13 miles away from work so I was in two minds as to whether I should commute by bike today… In the end I chose to do it but the weather is now starting to look a little dubious. 

Hopefully I will not get drenched on the ride to the appointment. Riding home doesn’t bother me but I don’t want to have to sit in the surgery soaking wet for an hour. 

My legs are tired. Lots of running (21.8), cycling (26) and walking (1.5) over the last day. 

Out Early for Perfect Weather

It may seem strange to many people that we runners get up early on weekends, but it is often essential on the summer months. We need to be out there before the sun gets too toasty. 

Today I was up a 5:30 and on the trail at 6:30. I drove to Evansburg State Park and used the fisherman’s lot near the entrance as my base. This would leave me with more running through the actual park. As my route shows, I ran through a fair piece of the park and then headed out towards my favourite trail: Perkiomen River Trail. En route I am saw signs for Skippack village and thought: “hmm, perhaps I could go that way and make a loop out of it…”. 

I did some rough estimates in my head for distance and figured it would be around 15.5 miles. I was planning to do 13 but an extra two isn’t a problem… So off I jolly well went on a new route. 

The trail towards Skippack is relatively narrow and very twisty. Fortunately it is well signposted as there are several junctions and (small) road crossings. 

I also discovered that this was quite a hilly route.  

 The road out of Skippack was long. And straight. And hilly. 

It takes you past the entrance to S.C.I. Graterford which is quite well hidden and not really marked on any road signs. There are four roads around the prison and they are ALL called Graterford Prison Road. Very confusing. 

I had estimated that when I reached the Perkiomen River Trail I should be at about 8.5 miles and I hit it at 8.3. Not too bad for a guess! I figured it would be about 7 miles back from that point, but with one big hill to climb. 

I overtook a few runners on this piece of the trail, one who commented that I was fast. She was running with a full camelback water rucksack which looked too big and it wasn’t tight enough on her. Each to their own. Perhaps she was running a very long way today.

Going up the big hill a cyclist overtook me and then began to falter a little way ahead. I nearly managed to catch him to offer a push. That would have been funny! 

At a couple of points I did my cadence check and was at 197, 194, and 184 steps per minute. Not bad over this distance. 

Mapmyrun once again killed the music on my Bluetooth headphones. I use them regularly without the running app and never have a problem but as soon as the app gives announcements it kills the link to the headphones.  This time I simply packed them away and didn’t bother faffing around with them like last time. 

All in all I completed 15.3 miles in 2 hours and 11 mins. That’s about an 8:32 pace. It’s not very quick but the hills were harsh. 

Now I’m sitting outside Starbucks with my decaf iced coffee contemplating a refill before heading home. Life is good.  

 In other news, my local newspaper from home ran a “35 years ago” article the other day and featured in one of the shots was me shouting encouragement to team mates at a Keephatch Junior School sports day, 1980. How random is that? I’m the third one in from the right. 

I don think I ever saw these at the time so to find them 35 years later is really weird.