Monthly Archives: January 2017

“And it’s Not About You Joggers that Go Around an’ ’round an’ ’round…”

To quote the Blur song from way back when, but today it was certainly about going round and round and round. 

My training programme called for 12.5 miles and I didn’t want to go off on a wild run around London for that distance. Too much planning to get the right distance for a circuit. 

Instead, I chose to run to “The Regent’s Park” and do loops to meet the goal. 

The park was two miles from my hotel and, after completing the first loop, I found it was about 2.7 miles in circumference. Therefore, three loops and the run back should make my target (near enough). 


Regent’s Park is home to London Zoo and you can hear the noises of the animals as they wake in the morning. There were also some reindeer out in a separate enclosure that were looking at me strangely as I ran by each time. 

There were plenty of other runners around in the park as well as gangs of cyclists doing circuits and riding waaaaay to close behind cars in an effort to draft them. If you are there for the exercise, surely drafting is a folly? Something to think about, cyclists?

The park is a nice place to run but the outer path has quite a busy road next to it that does leave you tasting the fumes a bit. It was nicer running on the inner pathways, but you cannot do that around the north end by the zoo. 

There was one runner there with her tiny dog (some sort of terrier) that looked like you wouldn’t want to run with it as you’d think t would be too slow. But, bugger me, it was a fast little thing and they easily blew past me and kept on going for quite a time before they stopped to rest. I was really surprised. 

By mile ten I was tired and the lack of fuel was beginning to slow me down. I was glad to be heading back towards my hotel and the free breakfast. 

Running back along Oxford Street at prime opening time was treacherous and often required me to skip into the bus lane to avoid laying out some poor pedestrian. 

I wasn’t far off in that estimate and ended at 12.2 miles. Damned if I was going to do that last 0.3 just for the hell of it. 

The route wasn’t picturesque so no photos again today. 

I did find a track at the northern edge of the park that I didn’t know existed. This will be good as I need to do 10 x 200s as one of my runs this week… I guess that will be tomorrow but I’m pretty sore right now. 

One other good thing about London: my meeting today was down in the theatre district and so I’m enjoying a warm beer in a classic London bar (Porterhouse) and soaking up the atmosphere while staring into my phone and typing frantically. 


Low ceiling and illuminated beer cases abound at Porterhouse. Along with a very wide range of beers. 

Off in search of food next: curry. Yum. 

A British institution. 🙂

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London 2017: Running Tourism

I’m back in the U.K. for some charity business and found myself in need of a run. 

So, I planned an interest 5.5 mile route that took in many sights of London. 

I started on Kingsway and headed down toward The Strand and through theatre district. 

This led to Trafalgar Square and the entrance to The Mall. This run along St. James’ Park takes you to Buckingham Palace (“Mornin’ Ma’am!”). 

A swift left-turn takes you back towards the Thames and Westminster. And, yes, I timed it perfectly to hear the seven AM chimes. Dong!

Over the Westminster bridge and then down onto the South Bank and past the Millennium Wheel. It was quite icy down here by the river so I chose to run along the tree line as the roots provide a little extra heat into the ground and reduce ice (top-tip).

Running past the Arty cinemas and museums of the South Bank, I eventually ended up at the Millennium Bridge and crossed back to the north-side. 

This bridge leaves you with one of the most English view available: a clear shot of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Lovely. No time for picture though. 


(This is what I saw; thanks interwebs)

I made a right turn and turned north when I saw signs for Farringdon. After checking my gps, I found the road back towards my hotel and finished in good time. 

A really fast 8:08 pace which feels really fast when you are in a city. I only had to stop for lights four times on the whole run. 

It was again great to see sooooooo many cyclists and run-commuters in London. This always makes me smile. I saw a line of about thirty bikes at one point on my run. Crazy!

I was overtaken once on the route (as I headed up the steps in front of St. Paul’s) and overtook a lot of people while I was out. 

I hope to get out again in the remaining two mornings I have here. 

I’ll try to take some pictures on the next run. Promise. 

More on the Nike+ Running Club Experiment

As I progress through the marathon training programme concocted by the Nike+ app, I am enjoying the challenging runs that it is assigning me. 

After last week’s benchmark run it has started to add pace requirements to the runs that I do. Currently, they are all well below the pace that I generally run at which seems a little strange. Perhaps this will adjust as the programme continues?

On Sunday I decided that I didn’t want to do the suggested exercise which was to tryout the Nike+ Fitness Club application. Instead, I opted to run 12 miles. 

The run went well and was an enjoyable run on the Perkiomen Trail from Schwencksville. 

On completing the run, I chose to categorise it as an ‘Other’ event as I had already competed all the runs for that week. 

Come Monday morning and a new training week and guess what? The app tells me I need to do an 11.5 mile run. On a Monday morning. After doing 12 miles the day before. Bugger off!

I tried to reclassify the previous day’s run so that it would count as this one, but to no avail. There’s no way to edit the assignment of previous runs; even the website doesn’t offer a way to do this. Boo. 

Because of this, the app thinks I bailed on the long run for the week. :-(. 

I did actually go out and do a four miler but that isn’t twelve miles!

Roll on to Wednesday morning and the prescribed run was a speed run with 8x800m intervals and 2:45 recovery (strangely specific). 

I wasn’t too happy about this as that’s a lot of intervals but opted to hit the streets. Running track intervals on the road is tough as you have to allow for traffic and the ground is not flat; hills in fast intervals. Yuck. 

For the recovery periods I simply jogged a little and ended up running a total of around 7.5 miles. 

Did you notice how vague that was?

Why? Well, the speed test only counts the distance you run during the speed intervals and not what you cover in the recovery. 

Four miles is all that counted from the 7.5 I covered. Grrr. Not best pleased. 

Any way, one useful thing you can do with these 800s is use them to calculate your estimated marathon time using the “Yasso 800” approach. I know this is a correlation prediction rather than a causation, but it is fun to play with numbers. 

After some finagling of the numbers I worked out that my marathon time would be 3 hours 43 minutes. That’s pretty close to my current expectations of my performance. 

Back to the Nike+ stuff: I’m not best pleased that I have to run the speed tests with the phone in my hands. As I got sweaty I was worried I’d drop my phone. I think I’m going to stick some strong magnets inside my gloves so that they will grip the metal plate in my phone case and take some of my worry away… I’ll let you know how that works out. 

Have a fun week running. 🙂

Nike+ Run Club Experiment

I have been an avid user of mapmyrun for many, many years, but with my purchase of the Apple Watch Nike+, I’m trying out that app for a while.

My trial with Nike+ continues with the third week of my plan and some variations on the types of run it is having me do.

Firstly, it had me run a speed test this week. This wasn’t a great experience. The speed test is laid out as running 400 meters five time, with a two minute rest break in between. If you try to start this from your Apple Watch Nike+ it will tell you to use the phone. When you use the phone you will quickly realize that you’ll have to keep your phone in your hand while you do the run! 

After you start the run, you need to watch the screen to see when you pass the 400 meter mark, then you have to press a button. This starts the two minute rest timer. Once it passes two minutes you need to press the button again to start the next 400 meter section… there are no audio prompts, no guidelines and no feedback. 

Again there is no integration to the watch whatsoever.

At the end of the run, the disembodied voice of Kevin Hart blasted through my brain congratulating me on the run.

My feeling about this exercise routine is that it was very poorly implemented.

The second run type was a benchmark run. This was really well implemented. A benchmark run is a seven minute gentle warm-up, followed by three minutes of all-out effort and five minutes cool-down time.

When you start the run, a calm-voiced trainer gentle talks to you about what you are about to do. They introduce the form of the run, why you are here and give you good general coaching encouragement. Throughout the warm-up the coach builds your enthusiasm for the coming effort.

There’s a count down to the theee minutes and you’re off! The coach chimes in a couple of times during this hard effort encouraging you to push harder and letting you know how far through you are. Then, all too soon, the hard effort is over and you are in the cool down phase.

Here the coach tells you what you achieved, massages your ego a little and reminds you why you are doing this.

Once you complete the run, that disembodied Kevin Hart voice comes back to award you a gold star.

What a difference between the implementations! 2/10 for the speed routine. 9/10 for the benchmark. 

I’ll fill you in with more details as I move through the program.

Froze My Butt Off

Finally some wintery weather has descended in the Philly suburbs. 

A light dusting of snow arrived Friday night and then the temperatures plummeted into the low teens Fahrenheit.  

This led to some great playtime with the kids on Saturday and to a very cold run on Sunday morning. 

The actual temp listed was 13F but the real feel was 3F; so getting the right kit was imperative. 

Kit included:

  • Snowboarding socks
  • Under armour underoos (an extra layer for butt)
  • Sugoi winter leggings
  • Under armour cold weather long sleeve shirt (x2)
  • Cycling wind breaker layer (has long back pockets that also cover your butt). Make sure this is a visibility colour against snow; do not wear white or grey. 
  • Balaclava
  • Baseball cap
  • Winter mittens

10 miles later, all that froze was my butt. My face and hands were toasty. I wore my iPhone holder inside my outer layer to stop the phone from freezing up. 

I wasn’t fast but then no one would be with all those layers on. 9:07 average pace reported by Nike+. 

I’m writing this sitting on a heat pad to defrost my extremities 🙂

Tech-wise I ran with my Lumo Run device today and I got ‘in the green’ results for four of the five measured categories, with the only exception being my hip rotation. 

I used Nike+ on my Apple Watch for tracking and started it from my watch. This meant that to hear the announcement for distance and speed I had to hold the watch up to my head as the sound wasn’t routed through my headphones that were connected to my iPhone. Nike really need to get their integration worked out. 

Now to get showered before my sweat causes me to get a chill. 

Have a warm week. 

Nike+ Run Club: Strange Behaviors

Two more runs on the books since we last spoke; Monday was a quick run with my friend Ed and today was a 45 minute run as prescribed by the Nike+ marathon training programme I’m testing out. 

Which brings me to Nike+ Run Club: what is going on with this? It’s behaviour is very inconsistent. 

I’ve used it four times now and get different behaviours most times:

  1. First run Sunday: started from watch. Recorded heart rate but no elevation. 
  2. Second run Sunday: started from watch. Recorded heart rate but no elevation. Same so far. 
  3. Monday run: started from watch. No heart rate or elevation. 
  4. Wednesday run: started from phone.  No heart rate but elevation recorded. 

Also, it seems that there is no integration between the phone app and the watch app. If you start the run on your phone the data doesn’t show up on your watch as you run. I assume this is why it isn’t recording heart rate, too. 

It’s all a bit odd to me and clearly there are som edges that need to be rounded off. 

The app itself on both the watch and phone are very slick looking but have some internal integration issues too. If you start a run as part of the programme and compete it correctly, it still doesn’t mark the run as being done in the programme. You have to go into each run and assign them to the various programme activity. Weird. 

I’m trying to be good and did a few stretches after the run. My son decided he would be my coach; very helpful, I’m sure. 

Fast Tracks New Year Day Run

Happy New Year everyone.

The club’s traditional New Year’s Day run at Valley Forge Park was this morning. It starts at General Knox car park and heads out on the rolling hills of Yellow Springs Road, then takes a sharp right up the vertical challenge of Diamond Rock Road. There were around thirty people at the start point consisting of Fast Tracks members and other from various running groups in the area that we meet with for regular runs.

This run is certainly a challenge as the hill of Diamond Rock is a constant climb and just seems to get worse as you progress; ending with a section that is around a 20% incline (if my cycling memory serves me well).

There were a few of us at the front and we stopped to take a picture at the bottom of the hill (I wasn’t in it; I took it). 

As we started up the main part of the hill there were four of us. Three of us made it to the top within a couple of seconds of each other, although I was there first. 😉

One of the club members lives near the top and had kindly left a few drinks out for us (much appreciated). We all waited a while for the bulk of the group to catch up and then decided on routes back down.

Most went back along the road, but a small group of us decided to do the Horseshoe Trail that connects onto the op of Mount Misery and takes you back to the start point. This is a nice route that runs along the ridge at the top of the hill and is (again) rolling hills.

Parts of the trail get quite technical and it comes at you quite fast too. I missed a couple of turns due to my unfamiliarity with the route, but the people I was with spotted it within a hundred feet or so.

There was a log book partway down the trail and a few people stopped to sign it and some chose to take longer route down the mountain and around the Creek Trail. I stuck to the plan and did the Mount Misery Trail, getting back first out of the group. I rarely run with the groups so I’ll take whatever I can get but will add that it is not a race. I just finished first. Some people were running up the hill with a child in a jogging chair; now that’s dedication.

After hanging back in the parking lot for a while waiting for people to come in and to say a few ‘happy new year’ greetings, I headed back to the car and home.

Here I am in my new Fast Tracks running shirt that I picked up just yesterday in anticipation of the run.
In total the run was 6.9 miles, but, oh those hills! Nike+ Run Club doesn’t seem to give elevation details in the app or in the site.

The Apple Watch worked well today with the distance announcements coming out of the speaker on the watch rather than my iPhone. That made them much easier to hear rather than having them muffled by the case on my arm. Nice touch.

I wish you all a happy new year and hope you enjoy your running in 2017.