Category Archives: Calculations

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. 🙂


Recovery Catch-up

After taking it *slightly* easy for the last couple of weeks, I decided to knuckle down and do another marathon this weekend.

I hadn’t, however, reckoned on there being ridiculously strong winds in our area and a temperature drop back down into the 20s!

The British word “Bugger” seems most appropriate.

However, once I’d mentally committed to the distance I saw no reason to bail and went ahead with the run.

Again I pointed my feet in the general direction of Skippack, PA., and just kept on trucking. The wind was terrible for the first fifteen or so miles. At times it was like leaning against a wall. I was continually buffeted hither and thither as I tried to make slow progress along the road. The temperature drop meant that the chill really bit as the wind wound up. Brrr!

I decided I would take a slightly longer route back to my home as that particular trail was more shielded from the wind. This would mean that I would have to walk a little at the end of the marathon to actually reach my front door and, perhaps most annoyingly, the last two miles would all be uphill. The uphill part is inevitable to get home, but saving it all for the last two miles rather than spreading it across the last seven was a pity – however, needs must and the wind had to be avoided.

The last 14 miles of the run were all on the Perkiomen Trail from Schwenksville down to Oaks. Very pretty and somewhat protected from the wind. 

I completed the 26.22 miles in just a shade under four hours which shows how much of an impact the wind actually had on my performance. The walk home was a just over half a mile which was actually quite a nice way to let my legs relax a little. 

For snacks I had a bottle of Gatorade cut with 50% water, a Clif chocolate mint bar and a six pack of shot blocks. Just about enough to survive the distance.

Of course, once I got home I got an email from my running buddy requesting that we increase the length of our Monday morning run to seven miles. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger so I agreed… And it wasn’t tooooooo bad. Although, I did ask that we didn’t do any fartleks as my legs just wouldn’t have managed that.

Given that March has now past I checked my numbers for the month & year… 170 miles for March (pretty darn good) and 411 for the year to date. Now to eat my body weight in mini-eggs…

New Year Group Run

Well, Happy New Year to you all!

I trust you had a good night and didn’t stay up drinking too much (like I did). Partying at the neighbors house is too easy.

I went through my logs and calculated that I ran a total of 1367.57 miles in 2015. That’s significantly more than last year when I just made it to the 1000 mile mark. I guess marathon training really helps to pile on the mileage.

Today, my friend Ed and I started the New Year by joining the Fasttracks running club annual New Year’s Day run that starts in Valley Forge Park and goes out a couple of miles to the base of a big hill (Diamond Rock Road)… Which it is then an option to climb.

This was a challenging run for Ed as unlike our regular weekly run it was six miles with some significant hills and undulations. We normally run alongside a river and there’s barely a slope at all.

Nonetheless, Ed had agreed to do the run (even though he misunderstood the distance; ho hum) and so we started at 8:30 this morning with a hard run.

Here’s Ed and some of the others climbing Diamond Rock..

It doesn’t look too steep in this shot but there are sections that are 24%. It is a long tough hill.

One of the club members lives atop the mountain so we went there for mid-run refreshments and chatting, but, all too soon, it was time to saddle up and run back.

Coming done the hill was fine but they took their toll on Ed’s legs so we slowed the return run down and did more walking intervals. We don’t want to start the new year with injuries, after all.

On the way back into Valley Forge we stopped to get a photo with the State Park sign, using my Apple Watch as a remote for the camera; such a cool feature.

When we got back to the finish some people we still milling around for a celebratory toast which we missed. Some others came in after us so we hung out with them for a while to give everyone a chance to recover.

This was the first time my friend joined me at a running club event. Hopefully he didn’t feel like a stranger as they are a very friendly group.

What will 2016 bring? I’m not sure. Now I’ve done an official marathon, I’m not sure how I feel about it and whether I will do another one. I did miss Boston qualifying by a very small (8 second) margin but I’m not too hung up on that. I think I prefer running half-marathons and it takes less of a toll on your body, for sure.

I am going to try to be better about cycling to work more, even during the winter. I did buy some fenders(mudguards) for my bikes the other day so I won’t get quite so filthy when the weather turns. I’m looking forward to testing them out.

Other than that, I don’t really have any goals for this year. Maybe I can find some from around the blogosphere. 

I wish you all a good year. 🙂

Last Long Run: Full-on Taper Week

So that’s it. Less than a week to my first ‘official’ marathon at Rehoboth Beach, DE, and I’ve just completed my last long training run. 

It was supposed to be another LSD (Long Slow Distance) run but I got a little carried away with the excitement of the coming race. My pace in the first couple of miles was fast so I allowed my self to slow a little mid-way and then pushed to get a negative split on the return leg. 

At the turn around point I was running a 7:52 pace (which is less than I have to run to achieve my goal for the marathon) and by the time I was finished the twelve miles I was at 7:38 pace. A good strong finish.  

 Those last couple of miles were very fast. 

So that’s it. A couple of short runs and a one mile time trial and then it’s marathon time! 

Crazy. I’ve done all I can to prepare for the race. Now I have to carb load and watch my weight. I read the other day that every extra pound above your lowest healthy BMI number (18.5 BMI = 129lbs for my sex/age/height) adds a minute to you marathon finish time; in theory I could be sixteen pounds lighter but I doubt I’d be sixteen minutes faster!

I also need to make sure I hydrate sufficiently and then hope the weather stays mild for the weekend. 

Keep ‘Em Moving

Today was looooong run day in my marathon training and I reached the zenith of the plan with the most miles in the week and the longest weekend run. 

As I commented yesterday, the training is to get you used to running on tired legs and this was certainly achieved. 

It was quite windy but the temps were around 46F. This felt cold for the first four miles on the Perkiomen River Trail but was okay after that. 

My legs were tired and tight for the first eight miles of the run and then, all of a sudden, they freed up. Until then the run had been a real drag; at two miles I felt like I’d never be able to finish. 

Once I reached the turn around point deep in the heart of Green Lane Park, PA, I felt elated. That last mile (mile 10-11) had all been uphill but it was good to turn around and run down it. 

I also stopped at this point to empty stones out of my shoes. After this I was positively bouncing back down the hill. 

My pace to the halfway point had been 8:30 on the nail. Supposedly a minute slower than race pace for these loooooong runs. 

With about five miles to go the batteries in my Bluetooth headphones went out (I didn’t charge then the night before; my fault) but then I got to listen to the sounds of the trail, which was nice. 

I saw quite a few people around when I started out but after mile eight the number of people thinned out. 

I tried to up my pace for the last few miles. To reduce your average time by a second after doing twenty miles requires you run 20 seconds faster for that next mile. Quite a feat at this stage. However, I pulled it off. 

By the time I finished all 22 miles my average pace was at 8:18. Result. 

My legs aren’t too tired and I’ve just filled up with a monster burrito from Q’doba. 

I dropped three pounds while out on the run and ate one clif bar and eight shot blocks. I drank 3/4 of a bottle of water and the route included one thousand feet of climbing. 

  The route was beautiful (as ever) and I cleared a lot of branches from the trail as I ran. 
  My splits were good and clearly show the negative split that I was trying to keep up. 
Now to recover. 🙂

Thanks for the comments of support yesterday; much appreciated. 

Busy Week of Running

I guess that somewhere in my subconscious I was trying to make up for the fact that I didn’t run on Sunday after flying back from Utah. I was tired (jet lagged) and dehydrated from all the flights, but I didn’t really have an excuse for not running.

To make up for it I did quite a lot of runs and I’m trying to keep to something like the intermediate experience running plan in the runners world book.

Monday I did a 6.2 miler… Tuesday 6.7… Wednesday a simple 5 and then Thursday was a ten miler with eight at marathon pace. So I ran Thursday and sort of guessed what my pace to reach the 3:25 marathon goal should be; doing it by feel. I ran a 7:44 pace. 

When I got home I worked out what I should do using the calculator on and… It said I need to run a 7:49 pace to achieve that marathon time. Pretty close and, in fact, slightly under. Good stuff.


However, if I enter my 10 mile time into their calculator it estimates my marathon time at 3:38:57. This is all very confusing. I assume these calculators work differently when you are entering your ‘best’ time for a distance vs when you are training for a longer distance and running at the pace approximate for the longer distance. Who knows? 

This weekend I have to do twenty miles. A long morning on Sunday…

Getting Back Into It

After a week long vacation in Utah and only squeezing in a couple of runs, I need to start making up for my slacking off in preparation for the Rehobeth Beach marathon on December 5th. 

I see a lot of early mornings in my future…

Today I met my friend for our weekly 6.2 miler. At 5:30 it was pitch black and even with lights it is getting hard to differentiate the trail due to fallen leaves. LED lights give off an odd blueish light that doesn’t allow you to make out dirt vs leaves very well. 

Despite this we managed to run a new record. Partly due to reducing our ‘warm up’ walk down from five minutes to just two; at this time in the morning walking around isn’t enough and you need to run to warm up. It was 36F but dry. Our intervals are still at 4:00 run with 2:00 walking.

Outfit-wise, I went with ear warmers (first mile), long sleeves and gloves although I stuck with shorts for the day. 🙂 

The time at the finish was 1:01:22 for the 6.2 miles. At the 37 minute mark my friend asked me to predict when we’d complete and I said 1:01:25 so I wasn’t far off, was I?

My friend has continued in his weight loss and is now at the incredible weight of 181lbs which is a total loss of 229lbs since his journey began. That’s about the same weight I was when I came to America. 

To finish off, a photo from my recent trip. I hope they don’t start setting up porta-potties like this at races. ;-p

Taken at Hole in the Rock, just outside Moab, UT. 



I believe this term isn’t really used in the U.S., but I found myself shouting it out this morning as a newspaper delivery car threw down a paper a few feet in front of me as they whizzed by me. How rude!

It certainly made me jump, I can tell you. But after I’d shouted out I had the thought that it probably didn’t mean anything to him. Oh, well. 

Yesterday I ran with my friend doing our run/walk combo and got another course record for our Betzwood route; 1:04:50. 29 secs faster than our previous best. 

Today my wife decided to take a day off running so I seized the opportunity to get an extra one in. A quick 6.8 miler just to help my legs recover from the weekend. 

In other news, I entered my timing info from the Beat the Blerch race into a timing calculator and it puts my estimated marathon time at 3:27… That’s just two minutes over the Boston Qualifing (BQ) time for my next age group (come November). This is good news. A little work to do but not too much! 

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. 

Heart Rate Reserve: Why Don’t More Sites Mention This?

Why is it that after a two weeks of researching heart rate calculations I find the following information?

I have no idea, but I found this buried in the website, it was on the wiki page for heart rates, and it seems to make complete sense to me. May be I like it because it seems to correlate with my own results, and that shows a bias on my part, but I’m going to document it here for completeness sake.

As I’ve been running I found that my HR zones seem to be calculated too low for the effort I was putting in while running. For example, to keep within the 80% range while running was really difficult as it felt too slow. Putting in sufficient effort to run the pace I require was jumping my HR out of the zone I was supposed to be training in.

Well, it seems like the reason may be that you shouldn’t calculate your zones as percentages of your Maximum Heart Rate (HRMax) but it should be calculated from your Heart Rate Reserve (HRR).

Your HRR is derived by subtracting your resting heart rate from your HRMax. You then use this to calculate the percentages for your zones and add it onto the Resting Heart Rate.

It sounds complicated but here’s a worked example:

My measured HRMax is 189 beats per minute (bpm).
My Resting Heart Rate is 61 bpm.
Therefore, my Heart Rate Reserve is 189-61=128 bpm.

The Heart Rate Reserve is essentially the amount of variation in beats per minute that my heart can support from resting to all out effort. It is this range that should be used for calculating the HR zone in which to train.

If we then calculate 1% of this value (1.28 bpm) we can use this to work out what the HR training zones should be.

My 80% zone would be at (1% HRR * 80) + Resting Heart Rate:
(1.28 * 80) + 61 = 102.4 + 61 = 163.4 bpm.

I know what you are thinking: surely a small change like this does make much difference to the end value? Well, if you compare my 80% value calculated from my HRMax (151 bpm) with this new value of 163.4 bpm, you can see that it is 12.4 bpm different. This is about a 10% off which is equivalent to an entire HR zone range!

Isn’t that fascinating? Why isn’t this info discussed on more pages? Or did I just miss it until now? The wiki page about heart rates says that there wasn’t much research into this but that it was used by Karvonen in a small study.

I will update my HR Calculations page to have this info in the chart.

As for a training update, I didn’t run today as I had a long, tough day at work yesterday topped off with a disturbed night from my daughter, but yesterday’s run was much more aligned with these zones of effort and actually leads me to believe that I could potentially get the speed I need in the appropriate HR zone.

At any rate (excuse the pun) I am looking forward to experimenting and finding out!