An early start today as my son forced us awake. The first snow of the New Year fell overnight and so I had to get myself together to get out there.
Winter tights (as there was a wind and it always feels colder with snow on the ground), gloves and ear warmers while not essential, really help on days like this. It took about six miles of running until I found a section of trail that no one or nothing else had run or driven on, which was a surprise because this area isn’t exactly populous AND it was early on a Sunday morning!
The trail pictured above felt *alive* because the snow was causing the overhead cables to crackle and buzz as I was running below. Quite a mysterious and alien sound but relaxing in a white-noise kind of way.
This weekend I increased my distance from 12 miles to 14 miles. I put some water in my belt and some shot-blocks, but didn’t eat any of them on the run. At one point around mile 8 my chin froze and I had to cover my face and blow warm air onto it to defrost a little.
From my house it is about four miles into Evansburg Park’s main area. From there it is possible to join onto the Perkiomen Creek And Skippack Trails. Seven miles out and back in the cold was more than enough today. Once home I had to scrape the drive and sidewalk to get the snow off; one of the problems of having a steep driveway.
During the week I managed to get out several times and one of the runs was a guided run from Nike+; featuring a long interview with Paula Radcliffe it was an insight into her career and how she drives herself to get results. An interesting short form interview with some quiet spaces for just running with your thoughts. I quite like that.
Time to answer some questions about using the watch on its own.
The Nike+ Running Club app has been deeply integrated into the Apple Watch now since they introduced the GPS version. But I feel it is only now that it is all starting to come together and work as a holistic system.
Do you still need the phone with you?
No, you can now just run with the watch. I have the Apple Watch 4 with both the GPS and a paid cell line connected to the watch. This, in theory, means that I have everything I need to make this work. You don’t really need to have the cell service connected to track your run, but I like the security of being able to call for help (for me or anyone else that has problems) or to pull up a map if I get lost.
There are some features that you can only setup by using the companion app on the iPhone, including: shoe tracking, route details (trail, road, etc.), and note taking. But the core items for running now work independent of the phone. You also have to use the phone app to configure the screen layout options for the Nike+ displays on the watch. Very odd, but I guess they do this to keep the watch interface as simple as possible.
Some other observations with this: if you want to use the watch during the run and have your phone with you, you’ll probably still need to start it from your watch. Occasionally, when I start it from my phone it will appear on my watch, but mostly it doesn’t.
Can I Run with Podcasts?
When I run I tend to listen to podcasts which now have an app on the Apple Watch, since iOS 12. You’ll need to pair you Bluetooth headphones to the watch to make this work. However, it doesn’t support playlists, so this means that after each episode ends, you have to switch over to the podcast app and select another to listen to. This works well and I haven’t yet had that screw up the run tracking.
To achieve this while running and using the Nike+ run club app, single press the button on the Apple Watch (not the scroll wheel) and select the podcast app. Not the ‘now playing’ app as that won’t help you. Once in the podcast app, select the option in the top left corner to go back to the list and select another episode. Once you have it, press the play button.
I’ve noticed that the watch will switch back to the run automatically if you wait long enough, but I generally just take care of this myself by double-clicking the scroll wheel to switch to the last app used. In this case, that will take you back to the Nike+ app.
What About the Guided Runs?
The iPhone app offers a large selection of guided runs where a coach or celeb will talk o through various different run types. This is now available on the watch. You have to make sure to download the in you want to your watch before you set out, it once it is there I found that the integration works really well.
These runs are typically very high quality, with good banter between the coaches and any celeb guests. They will help you understand differently paces and keep the weekly grind more interesting.
This week, for instance, I did a speed run hosted by a British coach (Coach MacRae, Sally?) that did a six minute warm up, a pause for a stretch, then followed up with a minute at mile pace (9/10), three minutes at 5k pace, a few more minutes at 10k pace, then a few more minutes at recovery pace. It was unusual to do a speed run that got slower through the progression, but it was quite a refreshing approach.
These guided runs are well implemented and work really well. If have Apple Music, they will integrate with a sound track, but I don’t pay for that!
Completing the Run.
At the end of the run, you can simply stop and wait for the watch to detect this, or slide the screen to find the pause button. Once paused, you are presented with the options to ‘resume’ the run or to ‘stop’ it.
It the gives you a results summary screen and may announce some congratulatory commentary from a famous runner/celeb.
If you scroll to the bottom of the results you’ll see the ‘done’ button. Press this to finish it all up.
Updating the Stats.
Once you are back with your phone, you’ll be able to update the stats and other info in the companion app on the iPhone.
Tracking the mileage on each pair of shoes is very useful if you are putting in a lot of miles, although you’ll know when your shoes are done by the way your legs and feet feel at the end of a run. For my running style and shoe combination I can get around 400 miles per pair. That may be significantly more for some people, or less for others. The only way to find out is to track the shoes.
The Nike+ app does like to award achievements as you progress through the various programs. You may get a trophy for running 3x per week, for example. For taking part in the Sunday 10k.
Will You Miss Anything Running Without The Phone?
The camera. As a blogger it is helpful to have the camera with you to snap a shot for the page, or to memorialize a glorious sunrise. But at this time of year it is fine as it is mainly pitch dark when I run in the mornings.
The playlists. If you are going on a long run and want to string a number of podcasts together, this can be a pain. You’ll have to manually select and start each one on the watch. You also need to make sure that they downloaded to the watch. It is worth noting, however, that you can use Apple Music playlists just fine.
Social Media integration. Possibly. You cannot do any of this from the watch. You have to do it when you sync back up with the Nike+ app on the phone.
I’m loving having the freedom to run without my phone. It is quite liberating but still allows me to collect the stats I’m interested in and listen to music or podcasts. Today I ran 12 miles with just the watch and my Bluetooth headphones, and everything worked perfectly (again).
I’ve been up since 6:30 am, I ran 12 miles while listening to podcasts with just the watch, I took my son trampolining and tracked my exercise there with the watch and paid from some stuff using Apple Pay. It is now 9pm and the watch still has 22% power left. Pretty. Darned. Good. 🙂
Yet again we failed to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve and I found myself in bed by 11:15.
But that did mean that I managed to get out of the door nice and early one the 1st January. Just three and a half miles, but that’s a start for the year. It was also surprisingly warm and windy at 57F; phew, what a scorcher!
My running stats for last year are pretty poor as I had a few confounding factors.
Firstly, last February I broke my hand playing with the kids and was unable to run for about eight weeks. Whenever I ran I could feel the bone in my hand moving up and down and just decided that I should let it heal. That also got me out of running in some very cold weather so “hurrah” for that. 🙂
I ran one marathon in June in just under 4 hours. This is good. Normally I try to run two to three a year so it was a low year. But I did keep myself at marathon level throughout September and October and run 23 or 24 mile distances a few times.
Overall, I ran about 870 miles over the year which is way below my normal levels. Hopefully, this year doesn’t have as much downtime.