Category Archives: Motivation

Drivers. Direction. Eh?

Running with the Dogs

Hi strangers! Sorry I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks. 

The marathon training was all going well and I got up to my 21.25 miler the other week, and then realised that I’d picked a target weekend that my wife is away running a half in North Carolina… so I’ll be on daddy-duty and unable to do a marathon. 

Doh. Rookie mistake. 

Anyhow, I used the chance to take a little time off (1 week) which coincided with us having so relatives visiting, so that was quite nice. I was able to partake in late night imbibing without fear of impacting my early runs. 🙂

Today I squeezed in a 6 miler locally before taking my kids to their first swimming lesson. 

I was literally dogged by neighbourhood dogs all through my run. Many were just loose in their yards and hemmed in by invisible fences. 

I’m quite the dog person and don’t get scared by them, but when there’s no visible fence and the dog is hurtling toward you barking it can be a little unnerving. 

There were five dog walkers that I ran out into the road to avoid. 

Then there were three ‘loose’ dogs in their yards that came at me barking. One was behind a physical fence but the others were not. 

When they are on a corner lot, the dog will run around the edge of the property with you barking and getting all excited about seeing someone running. The loudest was also really close to my turn-around point so just a minute or two later I came back to see her. 

It wasn’t particularly early on the Sunday morning (around 8:00) but certainly I suspect that it would have annoyed some of their neighbours. Ah, well, nothing I can do to stop them. 

I managed to do a solid reverse split on my timing. In fact, it was more like a pyramid as each mile got progressively faster. Starting at a 9:00 pace and ending up near 7:20 pace. 

Dog owners: what would you suggest as a strategy to minimise their barking? 

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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. 

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.

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.

And he’s back…

Greetings blogosphere!

Did you miss me?

I got caught up in spending time with family and really cut back my running for the last couple of months, so I stopped updating the blog. I seem to be back now, however.

Lots to catch up on but I’ll spread that out over the next few posts.

Reasons I’m back:

  1. I managed to run my traditional Boxing Day marathon earlier this week. It half killed me as I hadn’t been running enough to really be able to do it easily. Lesson learned. 
  2. I just upgraded my Apple Watch (original) to the Apple Watch Series 2 Nike+ version… and it is lovely. 

Today’s run was my first with the new watch and it worked great.

I had a music playlist on the watch and connected my Bluetooth headset to it to get some good sounds for my run.

I then used the built-in Nike+ application to record my run…and I left my cell phone at home! 

The Nike+ app (Nike+ Run Club) is really well executed, easy to read, use and it gives good feedback through the headphones, too.

As for the gps tracking on the new watch, well it was within 0.01 of the distance that is usually measured by my iPhone, so I’m going to call that accurate. Given that the iPhone number can vary by more than that on any one run, I’m thinking this is in the right range. It was old to see the route instantly on my watch when I completed. For some reason it hasn’t picked up my heart rate info from the Apple Watch so I’ll have to investigate that.

The watch looks cool (now I sound old) and I went with the model that has the light watch and strap with Volt colored inset holes on the strap.


It goes well with my shorts and belly in this shot. Yeah, I’m going to need to work on that a little. 🙂

I’m quite looking forward to giving some updates so I won’t blow it all on this first post. Have fun out there and enjoy your New Year training routines.

Unusually Good Weather

While my friends are all suffering the stifling heat of a Philadelphia summertime, our trip to England has us enjoying far more reasonable temperatures. 

In fact, it is quite warm for England but nowhere near as crazy as the temps at home. 

I’ve been running every other morning and just repeating the seven mile loop I found as there aren’t many roads around and the trails are all overgrown. 

This sign is on the road to the house my family have rented for the week to celebrate our parents 50th Wedding Anniversary. 

The house has some rather nice views too. 


For variation I ran the loop in the opposite direction. I’m not sure if it was easier that way as the hills seem bad both ways, to be honest. The profile looks like this:


The trip is still providing much needed time with my family and running around after my energetic two year old. He’s having a blast with so many people to play with. 

Fitting running into any vacation can be a challenge but if you are lucky and don’t mind running on roads, you can generally do it quite easily. 

You Know You’re in England When…

Another summer, another trip to the UK.

I’ve not managed to do many runs yet, but they have all been in very pretty areas of the country.

I thought I’d compile a short list of things that stand out when compared to running in the US. So, you know you’re in England when:

  1. You have to run on the other side of the road.
  2. The drivers let you pass and give a jolly wave of acknowledgement.
  3. The town you are exploring is at least five times older than the country you live in (Wells vs America).
  4. If you ask for directions when you are running in the middle of nowhere, you have to concentrate really hard to decipher the accent.
  5. When you look up the road and see views like this tiny church:
  6. And this… A bloody great big cathedral…
  7. And this… From another view point…
  8. And this…
  9. Go on then… One more and this… The last remaining fully medieval street in England…

There are some very old and scenic places in the UK. These pictures are mainly from Wells’the smallest city in England’ a where they filmed a number of the outdoor scenes from the Simon Pegg/Edward Wright cult classic Hot Fuzz.


I’m now out in the hills of Devon and trying to work out routes that don’t involve too many hill climbs, but that is proving to be a bit of a challenge!

Having a blast and having a break. It’s all good.

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. 

Welcome to Summer

Hellooooo summer. 

I suddenly realised I hadn’t made any blog posts for 15 days. Where did that time go? 

Well, I’ve been steadily increasing my mileage at the weekends again after taking a short break. I think it is key that even ‘experienced’ runners be very careful when they start to return to higher mileage. It is tempting to just crank up with distance as ‘you know you can do it’ but this path leads to injury by going further than your body is currently trained for. 

The answer is just to increase a little each week. I did 10, 13, 15, 17 and this week, 20. 

Running in the summer presents its own unique set of issues:

  1. Finding somewhere with good shade. Getting out of the full sun is important if you are planning for longer runs. 
  2. Get out early morning. To avoid the full heat make sure you get out early before it gets too much. If you have a long run, get out even earlier. 
  3. If you are going long, take water and plan a route that will take you via water stops so you can refill. 
  4. You will sweat more so you will need gels to replenish your body. I use clif shot bloks as I don’t like liquid gels. 
  5. Expect to get some chafing. This is something I’m experiencing for the first time this year following using the new shirt I got from the recent 5k. It is a material that feels more like cotton (although it is 100% polyester) but somehow it didn’t work well for me last week. Perhaps using it for the first time on a 17mile run was a bad idea? Any way, expect more of this when you sweat more in summer months. 

What else is going on? Hmm, well, the guy I run with on Monday mornings is looking to get a husky. This is a great running dog, but it will also be good to get him out even more than he already does. 

We saw an eagle out on the Schuylkill River Trail the other week. It landed on a pylon above us watching the rabbits. Here’s a pic for you from my friends phone. 

My Brooks Glycerine’s reached their 400 mile mark with today’s run. I have already purchased some new shoes as one of the big stores had a massive sale the other week and Brooks Ravenna shoes were 35-65$ a pop. This is less than half price so I bought two pairs. Perfect timing and this means that I will now be solely in Ravenna’s for the coming future. 

The Glycerine’s were great shoes. They have slight holes in the tops around my big toes and the left foot has slight wear on the outside back edge of the shoe, but other than that they held up really well. 

Here they are slightly dust after today’s run. 

The Perkiomen Trail was superb today. Quite a few runners and walkers about, plus some groups of pleasure cyclists (the nice polite casual riders). 

20 miles with an 8:15 pace isn’t too bad for the time of year. 

Feeling pretty groovy now and looking forward to a lazy Sunday afternoon. 

Take care out there and enjoy those summer trails. 

Work 5K: SEI Cares Rush Hour Run

It is once again that time of year when the SEI Cares Rush Hour Run happens in Oaks, PA. 

For the first time in many years the temperatures were a lovely favourable 75F. Generally they are in the high 80s with high humidity, so this was a rare treat. 

After a Monday morning run and cycling to work Tuesday, I took Wednesday off running to save something up for the 5K. Now, I’ll admit that this feels a little pathetic as it is only a 5k but the field is very competitive. What do you expect from an Investment Banking company?

And also, this:


There were 500 people at the race at $40 a head, so we successfully raised $20k for charity. 

The race always sells out in a matter of days as there is so much free food and beer after the race. It is quite the party on our riverside/lakeside campus! 

Lots of local vendors give free food away and some raffle prizes, too. 

With the temps so perfect, I had no excuse for under performing… Or so I thought. Then I realised I’d left my phone strap at home and so wouldn’t have pace info. What the hell, I decided to run tech naked. 

As we set off past the Chik-Fil-a cow, the pace at the front was aggressive. Some people can’t pace themselves and I knew I’d soon be passing many of them. 

The course is a very fast route. It starts at the top of a hill and runs down into a riverside park (Lower Providence Valley Park) and along the Perkiomen Trail, then turns around near a dam, but ends before the hill climb! So, you get all the benefits of the downhill with no hard work later. Hurrah! 

Most of the route is in the shade, too, except for a brief portion running directly onto the sun. 

At the half way point I was flagging somewhat. I had no idea how hard I was running but the effort was starting to bite. I slowed a little and a couple of people slid past me, then it got easier.

My wife and kids were waiting about a 1/4 of a mile from the finish so I high-fived all of them and accelerated towards to line. There was no way I was going to catch the people that had overtaken me as they were too far ahead. 

At the end I finished 31st over all and 7th in my age group… With a 20:47 time! That just shows how fast the people in this race are. This time is my second fastest 5k ever and my record was set quite a few years ago when I was more sprightly. 

The guy that won it (for the 8th year in succession) ran 16:3x or something like that. He was two minutes ahead of the next person! 

After a recovery down at the finish line and cheering a few people across the line, I headed up for the after-party. The food and drink were excellent again this year with Dia Dolce cupcakes, Frank and Jenny’s Gelato, pizzas, chik-fil-a sandwiches, pasta, etc… Oh, and a plentiful supply of beer. 

My legs were a bit tight the next day, but not too bad really. It was a good family outing.