Category Archives: Distance

Marathon Training Update & Nike+

Early mornings can suck sometimes. Especially when you have to run on a holiday. 

But then you come across a view like the photo above and it’s all worth it. Very few others saw this site. All of time waited for me to witness this. 

My Nike+ training plan gave me a relatively light week last week but is stepping it up this week. 

I had several speed runs last week which I still find tough to get motivated for even though only last for half an hour at the most. 

I had two speed workouts; one that was 12×200 and another that was 8×400. All with short recovery times because the mornings were chilly. 

The Nike+ Running Club app on my phone has now broken one of the nice new features! It no longer repeats the info from the phone on your Apple watch. Twice this week it crashed on the watch but kept running on the phone. In fact, it never really started up properly. 

I had to delay my Friday long run as we decided to have a family breakfast and I couldn’t run after that! So I ended up going out on Sunday morning for a 12.75 miler in the temperate weather that hit this weekend. 50F is rather surprising for February. 

Later that day, Nike+ asked me to update my run programme and when it did this it put down a 12.5 mile run for Monday too. What a cow! I think “Nicki” (my name for the voice of the Nike+ app) has got it in for me. 😦

This week is going to be tough with the 12.5 miler today, a benchmark run, a 6 mile recovery run and then an 18.5 miler on Friday. 

I’m going to have to increase my food intake as I’m starting to feel like my legs are very heavy and underpowered. 

Nike+ Niggles Resolved

Mostly.

Last week Nike released an update for their Apple Watch and iPhone app. 

One of the major things that it fixed is something I had commented on in these pages before: when you start the run from your phone it doesn’t put any info on your watch! 

Thankfully, they seem to have resolved this along with putting some additional thought into the solution. 

For one thing, once you start the run on the phone and then get going , if the watch loses contact with the phone it will politely ask you if you wish to continue the run from your watch. Nicely done, Nike. 

Also, if you are running this way and you pass a distance milestone (each half-mile in my setup) it will announce the distance through your headphones that are connected to the phone, but also do a little chime on the watch so that you know you are progressing. 

All-in-all this was a nice update from Nike and I haven’t seen any new problems from it. 

On Friday morning I followed along with my running plan and completed a sixteen mile run. 

To do this on a Friday morning met hitting the streets right around five AM so I could complete it and still get into work on time. The picture above shows the view from my front window. 

It was very cold at 8F (that’s including the windchill; 20F actual) but it was beautiful out. The full moon illuminated the streets perfectly and was enhanced by the snow fall from the previous day; so, while it wasn’t quite full daylight, it was very easy to see without a flashlight. 

To get to sixteen miles I had to make up a new route as all my usual runs of that distance would take in State Parks or Trails and they were all covered in five inches of snow. 

So I concocted a route on the roads of Trooper and Skippack that gave me the necessary distance. An out and back route that wound through some pleasant neighbourhoods and skirted along the side of the Evansburg State Park. 

I wasn’t fast but a steady 8:35 pace was pretty good for that early in the morning and being so  dry thoroughly wrapped up (this makes it harder to run). The route had quite a lot of rolling hills, hence the elevation number above. Notice that t also has my heart rate recorded! 

The rest of Friday was a struggle as I was tired and very hungry(rungry). I didn’t help myself as I was in such a rush to get the run started that I didn’t eat beforehand and I only took half a Clif bar with me; oops. I managed not to eat too much junk though. Honestly. 

“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. 🙂

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. 

Boxing Day Marathon: Summary

On Monday I returned to Valley Forge National Historical Park for my sixth Boxing DayMarathon attempt.


The first few years I did it by doing two half marathons in a day; one early in the morning and another late in the afternoon. I soon realized that this is actually harder than just running the total distance in one go. If you split the distance you’ll find your legs start to lock up during the day and it is really hard to get back out again.

This year, despite being very under trained, I went with the all-out straight-up marathon approach.

And it was very, very difficult!

Last year I took around 3 hours and 45 for this run. This year it was closer to 4:45.

So, what went wrong this time:

  1. Valley Forge Park is hilly. This shouldn’t be news to people that have been there before, but including circuits of the park in a long run is not such a great idea when you are under trained. I chose to start in the park, with a five mile loop, spin out for a run along the Schuykyll River Trail, and then come back for the seven mile outer loop around Valley Forge. The seven mile loop is even hillier than the main loop.
  2. Not enough training. Over the previous couple of months I had barely run. Perhaps ten miles per week in many cases, and in others less. Normally I would be up at 30 to 40 miles per week in preparation for the run.
  3. Not enough snacks. I didn’t have quite the right combination of snacks for the run and tried to put something together, but it wasn’t really quite right.
  4. Carrying extra weight. The reduced mileage and increased seasonal snacking left me carrying about 5-7 extra pounds for the run this year.

The first five miles went by quite smoothly and it was at 5.5 that I met up with my friend Ed. He joined me for 9.5 non-stop miles along the Schuykyll River Trail and the Betzwood Trail. This is the longest distance he has run without doing a walk-run combo and it was great to have the company along the route.

Mile 16 was where I started to have issues. My legs just stopped wanting to move. I tried fueling a little more and kept walking to give my legs a chance to recover. This is quite early in the run to be having issues. Once the food kicked in I was able to run again and kept going to about mile 19 where I took a bathroom break and refilled my water bottles (no, just no).

Crossing the new Sullivan’s Bridge I stopped to take a picture for someone who was half way through their first long ride since having some shoulder surgery.

The last seven miles were around the outer loop of the Park and it has many hills and is mostly non-tarmac trails. It starts with a long and steady climb. At mile 21 it started to hurt again, so I decided to switch to a walk/run strategy. This got me through to about mile 24…

At that point I had to just walk. I had nothing left in the tank at all. I felt like a bit of a sham walking around the park in my running gear but I had no choice.

At mile 25.5 I started running again and tried to keep going to the end… my car was waiting for me at 26.7, half a mile past the marathon mark.

I was sooooo glad to make it to the car. I got my thermal blanket out of the back of the car and wrapped myself up as all the walking had made me much colder than running would have done. It was done for another year. 

Next year I will prepare more. My thanks to Ed for the company during the marathon as that really helped early on.

Fast Start

This week I finally gave in and started on a more general fitness regime to supplement my running. 

After researching a number of apps that tie into the Apple Watch, I decided upon the Seven fitness application. 

The aim: seven minutes a day for seven months. 

Simple, huh? The app is quite game-based and gives you three ‘lives’ each month to allow you to miss an occasional day. As you complete sessions it unlocks more feature and rewards. 

The app is full of ads that can be removed for a $2 purchase but I’ll wait until I’ve used it for a while to see if it sticks. 

I’m on day two (not much) and I can certainly feel some extra aches and pains from the workout. I already know that the Apple Watch integration is terrible and crashes/hangs often. However, the app itself seems robust. 

It has lots of configuration settings for voices so you can customise for the type of voice you respond best to. It gives clear instruction and has animations to show what you are expected to be doing in each exercise. 

It would have been good if they had tied the app into the Apple Watch sensors to measure the various activities (jumping jacks, running on the spot, etc.). Clearly it would not work for all activities (push-ups, dips) but tying in for the others would have been cool. 

After doing the seven minute session, I then went out on a ten mile run. 

Boy, was I fast!

I’m not sure whether it was the abundance of Saturday morning runners on the trail or that I was already ‘jacked up’ from the earlier workout, but I flew along for the first mile getting 6:30 at the one mile mark. I suspect the GPS may have been off, but I was still shifting. 

The other miles were around 7:20 and slowed once I hit some hills. 

There were plenty of ‘rabbits’ on the trail for me to run down and overtake. Groups from local running clubs, casual runners, and slow bike riders (one of whom was singing at full volume and happy as Larry as she was passing me by; hilarious). 

By the end of my eleven miles I finished with an average 7:37 pace. I’m quite happy with that given the temps were close to 80F. 

My Lumo Run hasn’t turned up yet. 😦  I was hoping to be able to write about it this week and start improving my running deportment. 

Take it in your Stride

It’s the last day of the month so I thought I’d finish it with a bang. 

I’m doing a lot of work on the house at the moment, so I wanted to ensure that I had enough energy left after my run to actually achieve some things today; therefore I chose to run a mid-distance,  eighteen mile route. 

The Perkiomen Trail was beautiful this morning with a temp in the low 70s. The humidity, however, was close to 100%. I was essentially dripping with sweat within a mile. It is a shame that water weight doesn’t count as weight-loss. 🙂

The trail greeted me with many wild animal sightings in the first mile: a doe and her fawn, a fox, a groundhog, some rabbits, a buck and then a heron. 

Clearly I hit that perfect time in the early morning when they are all about the business of getting breakfast. Silflay was the word used in Watership down, I believe. 

It was quite busy out for being so early. At one point (around mile five) I passed the chap that overtook me a couple of weeks ago. He was sitting resting so it didn’t count. But, he did start heading my direction.

I stopped to clear some branches from the trail and glanced behind me about a mile further up the trail and, sure enough, there he was stalking me. 

Not again, my friend. Not again!  

As it happens I could see another runner in the distance and decided I’d use him as my quarry. I increased my pace to pass him. 

It took me close to a three-quarters of a mile to catch up with him. He said he was doing five miles out and about to hit his turn around. This was now about mile eight and I decided I’d do another mile before turning. 

Determined not to be passed now that I had no direct target before me, I tried a few tricks to help keep my pace up:

  • Light on my feet
  • Pushing back as if on a skateboard
  • Standing straight
  • Powering with my arms
  • Engaging my abs. 

It seemed to work as I reached nine miles without being hunted down. 

This list reminds me that my LumoRun is supposed to arrive this week. A cool new gadget to test out. 🙂

Once I started heading back down the trail I saw him about half a mile back. Clearly I’d actually be putting more distance between us. Yes!

The rest of my run was at a more relaxed pace as I took in the lovely scenery and feed across the river. 

I stopped to refill my water bottle with two miles to go. The humidity was really oppressive by this point and I was looking forward to the bottle of Gatorade that awaited me in my car. 

I was basically out of running juice by this time and jogged at a slower pace for the remainder. 

The Gatorade was like nectar and I had soon consumed the entire bottle. 

Now, sitting eating my well-earned lunch on the last day of the month I thought I should check-out my annual mileage thus far. 

Today’s run pushed me upto 156.07 miles for the month and to a total of 921 miles for the year. My second biggest month of the year thus far (March = 170). 

I got a text from my friend that I train with and he said he managed to do 116.5 miles this month which is his highest ever. Having a dog to run with twice a day is really ramping up his mileage and helping him shed some extra pounds. 

Here’s a screencap from a video I took of them them other week. She’s a lovely dog. 

Now I need to get back home and carry on decorating my garage. Some patches to smooth off on the wall and then to put a second coat of primer on to drown out the brown (why’d they choose brown?) drywall. 

My wife is away at the moment but had this t-shirt shipped to me. Funny. 

I guess that’s a good point to finish for now. 

Living the dream, man. 

Living. That. Dream. 

Beware Chains

Today I ran twenty-three fabulous miles up the Perkiomen trail and into and around the park at Green Lane. Lovely. 

The early morning was a suitably cool 69F with a gentle breeze, and the trail was nicely in the shade. But, of course, the temperatures didn’t stay that way for long. 

On the way up I was in quite a chatty mood and greeting everyone that I passed on the trail. There is one lady I’ve seen quite regularly running in the opposite direction to me and she clearly does very long distances too as we pass twice at quite distant places on the trail. 

As we passed I asked her how many miles she was doing today. Her response was that she was only doing ten as she did eighteen the previous day. Like I said, she clearly runs a lot of miles. 

I was focused on adding extra miles to my route by running through the whole of Green Lane Park as I’ve not done that before. Generally, I’ve either turned at the entrance or about a mile in. 

This time I ran through the park and ended up at the bandstand. As I approached it looked like there were toilets on the side so I decided to take advantage of those and headed towards them. 

They were at the top of a slope so I run towards it and … Ouch… There was a freakin’ chain across the slope. I thin light chain with no sign on it. Against the light concrete it was next to invisible. 

While I didn’t go flying over it, it bloody hurt and startled me. 

As the evening is progressing the bruising is coming out:


The other leg has a matching one although not quite so dark. 

Fortunately it didn’t affect my return run home. I ended up having to walk for half a mile as the temperature slipped into the 80s. Other than that it was quite a strong run. 

Ah, I did get overtaken by a very slight lady on my return. I rarely get overtaken so it stood out. I had caught her earlier on the trail but then she accelerated and stayed on my tail for two miles. I eventually had to rest for water and snacks and she went past me and I didn’t catch her again. She turned around after four miles though, so I’m going to tell myself that she was running less distance than me and that’s why she took me. (Naa, she was just faster).

A coke icee and a large bottle of Gatorade later and I felt great. 

My food strategy was better this time although I did lose count of the number of shot bloks I’d eaten. At least I didn’t entirely run out of energy this week. 🙂

Enjoy your running and keep cool as the temperatures are rising. 

Every Cloud Has One

This was the view that greeted me on the return leg of my Monday morning run. I’m pretty sure that the sign is a warning for cars to slow down for children, but it looks like a indictment of my running prowess! Everyone’s a critic. 

Rather a splendid view of the sun rising for a second time over the low clouds giving that silver/golden lining effect. Stunning. It left me with little images of the sun burned into my retina for the next five minutes or so.

Today I got up early and headed out into the fog that was a 75F day with 100% humidity. Oh, boy, was that sweaty! The windows of my house were all fogged over which is always a sure sign that it is going to be bad outside.

I planned to run a ten mile out and back but hadn’t thought that it would be that humid. Because of the weather I loaded up with a bottle of water (something I wouldn’t normally bother with for a run of ten or fewer miles) and I was very grateful for it when I reached the five mile turn around point. 

When I got back to the house I had lost 3.5 lbs through sweating! That’s insane for such a short run. My clothes were all soaked through. 

Breakfast and a couple of glasses of water later and I was ready to take on the day!

In other news, I got an email from a project I’d sponsored to say that they were getting ready to ship. The Lumo Run device is a gadget that you clip onto the middle of the waist band on your shorts (at the back) and it gives you lots of interesting data about how you are running. It can track foot strike times, the orientation of your body, whether you are twisting your torso as you are running. It gives live suggestions to improve your running style as you go… Well, that’s the theory. I guess we’ll see what it is like when it arrives. 🙂

From their website it looks like the device will support the things I already use like my fitness pal and map my run. I’m excited to get it soon and see what it is really like. 

As a wise Jedi once said…[blog title]

Eventually, My Legs Gave Out. 

And that sums up today’s run pretty well, so I’ll just end there.

What, you want to know more? Well, okay then!

I planned to run twenty plus miles today and headed out in the shade of the Perkiomen Trail. It was a lovely cool 67F when I hit the trail and all was well with the world.

There were plenty of cyclists out in the early morning light and they were all courteous. There were a few runners out there including several people who looked like I hoped I look (I know that I don’t as these people were perfect physical specimens and I was just lumbering along). In my mind, I was running like those elites. 🙂

All was going fine. I started slightly earlier on the trail to give me more miles before hitting the end. I then ran a bit further and when I clicked over to eleven miles, looked for a turn around point. I don’t like to just stop part way on the trail and like to find something to use as a turning marker; a sign, a junction, a gatepost, etc. 

At this point I was all the way up in Green Lane Park and the day suddenly got a lot warmer. The temps were soon close to 80F and I had a whole lot of miles to get back through.

I also hadn’t brought enough snacks for the extra distance which is something I only realised once I was out at this point. Why I didn’t think that before I set out, I don’t know. One Clif bar. 6 Clif shot blocks and a bottle of water. Nowhere near enough for this distance. Bugger. 

In the woodland trails I had a moment where a stunning Buck appeared on the trail before me. He stood there and assessed me, then decided he should duck under the trail railings and disappeared down towards the river below. A beautiful moment, albeit only briefly.

Eventually I knew I would run out of food I was was trying to eat slowly, but I needed to keep hydrated. Then I realised that my route went past the back of a bicycle shop; perhaps they’d have water. Indeed, they had a soda machine (alas I had no funds) but on the side of the building I found a hose.  I ran it until all the warm water stored in the hose had gone and then filled my bottle. At last, water! At this point I still had four and a half miles to go.

I headed on down the trail and drank the water. Soon I had emptied the bottle again, but I knew there was a water stop at a toilet block on the trail at the two and a half mile mark. Once there I filled up again and rested briefly. I was out of food and starting to feel out of energy. I continued on for another mile or so and then had to stop and resort to walking the remainder. 

I started walking at the 20.6 mile mark and had 1.4 miles left to go. It felt bad having to walk the last bit, but I had no energy left to run that last bit. So, I soaked in the morning sun and enjoyed natures abundance; squirrels, chipmunks, people boating, cycling and running… Ah, someone overtook me that I’d passed earlier. Boo. I tried to run a little but soon decided that there was no chance I’d get past them, so I switched back to a walk.

Eventually I arrived at the car and scooted around the corner to the local Dunkin Donuts to get a very large icee drink. Lovely. And a couple of donuts, too, of course. Yum.

It was a fun morning run but I now know that I need to plan the water fill-ups a little more and take more food for that distance. The half bottle of red wine the evening before probably didn’t help much either…bad Rex Goliath!

Even after all the walking at the end, my average pace for the 22.25 miles was 9:19 which is still pretty reasonable.