Tag Archives: commute

Run for a Reason: Car Service

I occasionally like to share an idea to help you find actual real life reasons to run. It’s all very well running around in circles at a track, or doing out and back routes through your neighbourhood, but sometimes it helps to have a purpose for your run.

Today my purpose was to get my (wife’s) car serviced. 

The garage we use is about three miles from my office so it is a comfortable running distance between them. My plans were somewhat screwed when I found that part of the short running route was inaccessible due to floods from the recent rain and snow-melt combo. This meant that I had to resort to taking roads (during rush hour is not ideal) and going an extra mile or so.

Of course, doing this also means that you have to run back to the garage in the evening to get the car. I’ve never really enjoyed evening running and top-and-tailing the day.

Eventually I got back out on the road after waiting for rush hour to pass. This meant it was dark but I had the foresight to bring my blinky lights. The run was hard work on tired legs and after a trying day in the office. 

Running for a reason is good, but hard on a work day.


Recovery? From What?

The human body is a strange thing. I ran 26.2 miles on Saturday and come Sunday all I felt was a slight tiredness in my knees. No thigh aches. No soreness. Nothing. 

It is a very odd feeling. I did run it far slower (30 mins) than the marathon at the start of December but I sill expected some aches and pains. 

On Monday I joined my friend for our last run-walk-run interval session of the year. We stuck to our previous 5 mins run and 2 mins walk intervals, keeping them pretty well as per the plan. 

Next week we will move to the next interval level using six minute runs and two minute walks. 

My friend had some new tech this week: shoe lights. They were an xmas present from his family. It is great to see them embracing his new healthy lifestyle. 

These rechargeable lights strap into your laces and give out about 150 lumens. They worked quite well but are probably best suited to running on a Tarmac or paved trail. I say this because they are so low to the ground that uneven surfaces can lead to you not being able to see very far down the path. At some points we could tell if we were about to run into puddles or if it was just a shadow cast by the ground. 

They do light up items on the ground really well so it is unlikely you’ll trip over branches but I’d be worried about using them solely (pun intended) on a run. 

They do make you visible and would certainly catch the attention of drivers. Here’s a pic of my friend running off into the woods wearing them.  On my phone the picture is animated but I don’t think WordPress supports that yet. 

One of my xmas gifts was a new bag for cycling to work. A Timbuk2 bag. It was raining today so I thought I’d test it out. The bag has many compartments and has a folding section for packing clothes for work. This bag is much larger than my previous one that was an emptied camelbak water holder. I’ll comment more on this after I’ve used it a bit longer. 

That was the Week that was. 

It has been a packed week and I haven’t really had time to post any updates. 

It started out with a lovely run on Monday morning with my friend. We got another walk/run record for the course of 1:01:01 for 6.2 miles. This is always an excellent way to start the week and a nice recovery run after Sunday’s long run.  

Of course, one of the best things about this week is that the clocks got set back and there was some light in my morning runs. Generally I can switch off my torch (flashlight) by six AM now, unless I’m on roads. 

This does mean that I have to start sharing my running mornings with my wife again as she will run when there’s enough light to see by. 

On Wednesday I seized the chance to cycle to work after my morning run. The weather looked good (maybe a tad chilly) and I had a Java Users’ Group meeting in the evening that was within biking distance. 

It did mean riding a fair amount in the dark but I find that to be a feeling of adventure, especially as I mainly ride back roads. My seven mile ride home had me passed by just six cars. It felt good to get back in the saddle as I hadn’t done it since getting back from vacation. 

On Thursday I had a very early morning conference call with England that left me no opportunity to run. It is strange how much you miss a regularly planned run, especially when the alternative is sitting on a Conf call for five hours. 

My friends and I were discussing the possibility of running the Grand Canyon half-marathon next year until I read a post that pointed out that the course doesn’t go anywhere near the canyon. It doesn’t even offer views of the canyon. State Parks don’t allow organised events like that within their boundaries. 

And now it is Friday. I did a slightly longer run (8.4 miles) to make up for missing out Thursday and I am also riding today. 

This weekend is a recovery weekend in my training plan and only requires a 15 mile run on Sunday. That’ll be nice then.  

 I went out to lunch with my team on Wednesday and three of us had P. F. Chang’s Great Wall of Chocolate at a mere 1540 calories per portion. It is a good job that I like running and riding.

Running Hard

The temperature this morning was perfect for running. 64F with no humidity; who could ask for more?

I headed out nice and early and was keen to achieve a reverse-split time for the run (faster on the return than on the way out). I also wanted to check out my steps per minute as I hadn’t for a while. 

To do this check you just need to count the number of steps you take for a minute. Or count for thirty seconds and double the result… No rocket science here. 

The outbound run was strong and, as I rounded the curve back towards home at the 3.3 mile mark, I started my first step count. 188 steps per minute. Nice. That’s pretty close to the ideal of 180 preached by so many trainers. My outward average pace was 8:05. 

Two miles later I repeated the experiment and counted again. 192 steps per minute. Excellent. 

I think that knowing I was going to do this really helped me keep moving. By the end my average pace was 7:47, so clearly a faster return run. 

Success on both counts. 

The ride into work today was lovely and I really wanted just to keep on riding… It is a shame that we have to work for a living. 🙂

Running Early

The summer heat has certainly arrived in PA and the only option for running without entirely melting away is to get out early. 

This doesn’t reduce the humidity but at least the temps are in the 70s with no blazing sun. 

Yesterday I met my friend for our Monday run at 5:30 am and ran 6.2 miles. We marginally missed a best time because I pushed him a little too hard in the first half of the run and he had to rest on one interval on the return. Lesson learned. Must employ reverse split. 

This week I am commuting to work on my wife’s hybrid. It is much nicer than my one and has had hardly any use. It is a little chunky but has good gearing and came back up the hills pretty easily. 

The tyres also have rather more grip than any of my other bikes so that’s an added benefit in these days of random thunderstorms… One of which I got caught in when I took my bike shopping last night. I put the baby trailer on and headed to the supermarket and then the beer shop. As I stepped out of the shop the sky opened. Most refreshing. 

Interestingly, in the half mile from the shop back home I saw about seven other cyclists. It’s nice to see others out! I then sat and watched the Tour de France. Some nasty accidents today and the climb looked like fun. 

Today I was out early for a 3.7 mile run. My pace was slow at around 8:07 but it is very muggy and it was supposed to be a recovery run. I took the hilly route to push a little harder. 
There were two other runners out and about five walkers. Again, it’s good to see other people being more active. 

An Active Time Ahead

The weekend is upon us and so the exercise program kicks up. 

Today I ran 3.8 miles with my friend and then decided to take my bike out for an evening spin, clocking up 24 miles at a fast pace. But not as fast as MapMyRun thought I went on Wednesday night… 360mph. On my bike. Crazy! They need to put some quality checking parameters around the output of that app. It would be better to report ‘bad data’ than to give completely crap info. 

Tomorrow I’ll be hiking up and down Mount Misery and Mount Joy in Valley Forge park. The temps are due to be low and there might be rain. Perfect. 

Sunday I have a charity bike ride that I haven’t really trained for at all (oops) and I may do a run later in the day… The jury is out on that piece. 

Then on Monday I’ll have another early morning run. Phew! 

Action packed. I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I had a massage on Thursday night and now I feel really loose and bouncy on my feet. It is always worth getting a good massage from a decent trigger point therapist. 🙂

Two Hard Days

My Wednesday and Thursday’s always take it out of me. Wednesday’s usually consist of biking to work, to track, running track and then biking home. All in about 26 miles biking and 3 miles of running. 

After getting home after 8:00 and going to bed around 9:15, it leaves little recovery time before Thursday when I bike to work and do my mid-week long run (6-8 miles). 

This week was made harder as I couldn’t get to track because I had to write a presentation I’m giving next week; Agile Processes for Software Development. 

I ended up not leaving the office until seven and so ran locally rather than track. This means I did about seven miles around the Audubon Loop through the grounds of the John James Audubon house rather than the three I would normally cover at track. Following hat with my long run this morning (another seven miles) and my legs feel like they are ready to fall off. 

I may have to review my running schedule as evening/morning combinations are tough, especially when paired with cycling. 

The chipmunks on the trail here are getting a little blasé about people; one little guy didn’t even more as I ran within a foot of him. He didn’t even flinch!

I injured my heel today as a stone got caught in the back of my shoe and immediately caused a cut. I should have known better than to wear short socks on a gravel trail. Wardrobe malfunction. 

Always Choose the Scenic Route

Today I decided I should ‘man-up’ and actually ride to my evening track session rather than using it as an excuse to drive. 

To be fair, it is quite a long way from my office but given that it is National Bike to Work Week I thought I should give it a crack. 

So after a 4.5 mile ride to the office as I forgot my helmet and had to turn around at the half mile point to go back and get it, I spent a busy day at work. 

Come five pm I got changed and started the one hour ride you over the hills to Conestoga High School and the FastTracks track running session. 11 miles later I arrived with fifteen minutes to spare. I didn’t feel like I needed to run warm ups but instead did some stretches and ate an energy bar. 

The intervals tonight were:

  • 4x200m; first 100m at two mile pace, second at one mile pace, with 50m walk then 59m jog recovery. 
  • 2x400m; first 200 at two mile pace, second at one mile pace, with 100m walk then 100m jog recovery. 
  • 4x200m; first 100m at two mile pace, second at one mile pace, with 50m walk then 59m jog recovery. 

This only took thirty minutes and my intervals were very consistent. In fact, the two fastest runners from the group weren’t present so I found myself leading the pack and setting the pace. Also announcing and timing the intervals as the coach’s watch battery had died; Garmin, tut!

Intervals were:

  • 45 secs
  • 46 secs
  • 44 secs
  • 45 secs
  • 1m 32secs
  • 1m 32secs
  • 43 secs
  • 42 secs
  • 42 secs
  • 40 secs

Pretty good! Apple Watch worked perfectly this week as I think I’ve got used to the feel for the screen controls. 

Then, after a gentle one lap cool down, I jumped on my bike and rode the 12 miles home. Those last few hills really hurt and the temperature was rather on the ‘refreshing’ side of cool. 63F with a strong cold wind. 

Ah, well – at least I wasn’t sweating my pants off! 

I’m thoroughly knackered now and looking forward to a run tomorrow morning and a well-earned massage tomorrow night. 


Footnote: mapmyrun are experiencing syncing issues currently and have been for a couple of weeks. It is a little frustrating as I would have expected a fix by now.

Oh, and as for the title of this article, always take the scenic route through the historic park  especially around sunset; beautiful! 

Running Commute

It has been a while since I actually ran to work and back. In fact, I haven’t done it since I changed jobs so, following a suggestion from my wife, I decided to do it today. 

There is one tricky part on the journey that just cannot be avoided. The road narrows, has a steep hill and there are no sidewalks. 

One person, we’ll call them Mr Mustang, decided that they should beep me for using the road and causing him to slow down to the speed limit. I shouted an appropriate cuss in his direction and probably waved a finger. 

Other than that it was an uneventful run in. The return trip will be a lot tougher as it is all uphill but I think I’ll survive alright. 

I ran with my backpack so I could have a fresh t-shirt for the office, but I guess I could have run with just a belt for my wallet and door pass if I’d been a little more organised. 

That reminds me, my new RoadID arrived late last week so I feel a little more secure out and about than before. I think I lost my old one in London in early March and it has been weird running without it, especially on roads. I had setup the emergency contact info in my iPhone so I did still have that data about me if something has happened, but most people don’t know about that…

From iOS 8 onwards you can store your emergency contact info in your lock page of your iPhone. It is setup in the Health app on the last tab. This allows someone to access your emergency data from the lock screen if you are unable to respond. 

It may even allow someone to return your cellphone to you if you lose it, so it is probably worth completing anyway! 

From the lock screen, press the Emergency button in the lower left of the screen and then choose ‘Medical Id’ again from the lower left. 

Time to return to work after having lunch outside by the lake…  

What a beautiful day to eat outside.  

Further Adventures with Apple Watch

Today was another active day with a bike commute to work, plus a run/walk with my friend. 

The Apple watch worked well for my ride in, even sensing my button presses through my gloves (thin running silks). There seems to be something quirky going on with mapmyrun saving things when you finish up an exercise. I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly what yet but sometimes it has problems to saving. I’ve not lost any data though… Yet. 

I had to cycle to the start for my run/walk which was four miles from my office. Then we did 6.2 miles and maintained the 1:30/3:00 run/recovery that we’ve been doing. Next time we will change the interval schedule. 

After this I had to cycle four miles home. Uphill. By this point I was very hungry and tired. It seemed like a long hill home. 

I’m enjoying the watch though and the other functions on it appear to work well. The battery life has also not been an issue, ending the day with about 40% remaining. I would point out that I don’t have many notifications setup on my phone preferring instead to pull messages when I am ready for them; this allows me better control over my work. 

Time to feed and shower.