Tag Archives: mapmyrun

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 times, 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.


Feb Recap and Long Run

With temps right around the freezing point this morning it was a perfect day for a long slow distance (LSD) run. 

I knew I wanted to go long today and ate some extra food the previous day, although I might advise against Chicken Vindaloo in retrospect. 

After a light breakfast I hit the trails with a steady slow pace. 

I’ve recently switched some of the apps that I use as my company health plan no longer requires heart rate tracking to be reported to get bonus points. Therefore, I now do everything through the mapmyrun app. Tracking my shoes, my route, my heart rate and controlling my music, with a reasonable Apple Watch interface too. It is a pretty solid system. (Note that I have the paid version and that I also pay an annual fee for the service). 

I planned to run around 11 miles and extracted that this would get me approximately to a water/toilet block on the Perkiomen trail. I was about 0.2 miles off in my estimate; not bad. 

I’m also glad that I chose that particular location as a turning point as … Well… Vindaloo. 

There were quite a lot of runners put on the Perk trail but the other trails connecting to and through Evansburg State Park were all empty. I guess people are avoiding hill training! The next big local race is the Broad Street run and that is pretty well flat. 

I managed to complete the run with a slight negative split and an 8:36 pace. Not too far off pace really but not as fast as last weeks nineteen miler. 

Still, 22 miles in the bag and I feel fine so that’s not to be sniffed at!

I did a quick check of my running totals for February and found that I hit the 145 miles in a month mark. Also, not too shabby. This makes 241 for the year so far. 

I don’t have a distance goal for his year but instead just want to enjoy running. The marathon training at the end of last year made me start to count the miles too closely, wishing them away almost. 

New Year. New Intervals.

My friend and I decided that it was once again time to increase the length of our running intervals.

It has been a long road to get to this point in the running plan. We’ve taken it very slowly to eliminate the risk of any injuries along the way. This very slow and steady increase in both the interval durations and the distance covered has meant that he has been able consistently build his running performance and avoid all the usual pitfalls along the training pathway.

We are now doing this set:

  1. Walk for 2 mins to warm up (although it isn’t really warming up in the current temperatures of 10-14F!)
  2. Speed Interval: Run for six minutes
  3. Walk Interval: Walk for two minutes
  4. Repeat until 6 miles covered.
  5. Walk for one minute at the end.

One thing that we do try to do is achieve a ‘reverse split’. This means that you make the return trip faster than the outward trip.

We achieve this by reducing the walking intervals on the second half. After we turn around at the 3 mile point, we wait until the first walk interval and delay it by running for an additional 30 seconds. We then start walking for 1 minute 30 seconds.

If we feel fine at the next walk interval, then we run for an extra 45 seconds. After this we start walking for 1 minute 15 seconds.

At the next walk interval, we decide whether we will try to run straight-through to the end, or just push it up to one minute of extra running.

This flexibility in the return intervals allows us to push a little harder and further each time, but keeps us in tune with the various muscles and stops us doing anything stupid. It also means that we can gradually build towards the next interval goal and let’s achieve ‘course’ records regularly as a form of motivation.

Having gone from walking for 2 miles to run-walking 6 miles in around 58 minutes, all with no injuries incurred, I’d say that this has been a successful strategy. We’ve built up to this over the course of 15 months, so it isn’t a fast way to get from ‘couch to 5k’, but that’s not what I encourage anyway. Most of my friends who have tried those plans either got injured or found it to be tiresome and stopped running altogether.

I’m interested in encouraging people to run for the rest of their lives; not for a single event.

If you are looking to learn to run and don’t want to fall by the roadside, side-lined by an injury, try a run-walk-run approach like this.

Additionally, my friend can now run four miles without any walk breaks at all. He’s certainly set to get a new 5k record next time he runs one, that’s for sure.

If you need to know how to setup intervals like this, most popular running apps will support it. We use mapmyrun but it is an advanced feature that you have to pay an additional fee for. Make sure you have the volume turned up so you can hear the announcements. RunKeeper also offers a similar function. I know that Garmin devices generally support this approach too, so there’s plenty to choose from.

As a footnote (pun intended), you should track the mileage on your shoes. Most of these running apps will support this. Depending on your weight and running style the mileage you will get out of a pair of shoes may vary, but typically 300-500 miles is the most you can get.

Also, if you are just starting out and have a janky old pair of shoes that you used to wear for gym class, get rid of them. Go to a specialist running shop and get them to help you choose some appropriate modern shoes. They may ask you to walk or run on a treadmill to see how you move. Be prepared to have to spend an hour or more on this task and probably over $100 for a decent pair of shoes. Your body will be glad of the investment.

Get out there. Try running. And learn to love running by taking a very slow approach to increasing your distance.

Interval Training

In my last couple of runs I have been experimenting with using intervals on the return leg. 

This ensures you get a reverse split but is also good for your body (apparently). 

It certainly has helped my times improve over the last few runs but I’ll watch it a bit longer before commenting on it in detail. 

I’m rapidly approaching my 16,000 mile landmark on MapMyRun which I have been using since 2007 to track all my workouts. That’s a total of 1.1 Million calories burned! 

I’m still the same weight I was when I started all those years ago so I guess it works to keep you in shape. I am much fitter than then though; more of a shift to running over the last few years after focusing on cycling for six. 

My run today was helped by listening to the new a-ha album Cast In Steel. Very good.   


No Time to Update Blog

Sorry for the lack of updates but I ran out of time somehow. 

Monday’s ride to the dentist was excellent. Quite cool weather and a very generous chap at Donnie Mac’s Deli on 4th St in Conshy made for a great afternoon. The proprietor kindly gave me some soft pretzels for the ride home which were really tasty. I salute you, sir!

Wednesday I ran 5.5. 

Thursday I ran 6.5. 

And this morning I ran 3. It felt pleasant to have the week winding down as it drew to a close. That’ll give me time to prepare for a longer run at the weekend, although I am considering a bike ride on Sunday instead.

This week I am at 37.5 miles which is my longest for quite a while so I’m happy with that. 

I’ve been watching my weight for the last few weeks and I’ve already seen 3.5 pounds come off; all this in preparation for end of season runs and bike rides. 

I am using the LoseIt app to track my calories as it integrates to mapmyrun to pick up all my exercise data automatically. It also counts up my steps through Apple’s HealthKit. My favourite feature: scanning barcodes on foods rather than having to manually enter data. Such an improvement to the tool.  


Intervals in the USA

After a quick trip to England to visit family and bring my wife and kids back to the U.S., I’m using my usual technique to adjust to the time difference; exercise. 

The morning after I returned I got up at 4:45 and headed out to meet my friend for our regular walk/run session. 

It is the start of a month so we have upped our intervals again. Previously we were doing 2:30 run with 2:00 walk. Now, we would have changed to 2:45 run and kept the walk at 2:00 but the mapmyrun app for Android that my friend uses currently has a bug that doesn’t allow any ‘seconds’ to be set for intervals! So we had to go to 3:00 run and 2:00 walk. Nice!

Sometimes I think it is good to have your hand forced to put in a little more effort, especially once you are in a state where your base fitness can cope with the additional exertion. 

The run went well and we (of course) set a route record of 1:08 for the 6.2 miles, with a strong negative split. 

With temps in the mid-60s we couldn’t have asked for better conditions, although there were a lot of spiders webs across the trail and we were covered by the end of the run.  

Something a bit like this, or am I being dramatic? 
The second day back now and I still crash a little in the afternoons but think that getting straight back into exercise really helps to get your body back in sync with the timezone. 

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. 🙂

A Number of False Starts and Stops

I have been technology challenged today. After forgetting to start mapmyrun for my ride to work today, I had to manually enter it once I got to the office… then I went for a walk at lunchtime and thought I’d use the Apple Watch exercise tracker for a change… I opened it up and found I hadn’t saved my last walk. I went to save it and hit the wrong button… boom. Lost it. Damn.

This evening I was going to do a quick run in preparation for the 5k on Thursday. The temps are higher in the evening and I need to adjust to be able to run full out. I started mapmyrun on my watch and then did a quick 2.5 mile run @ 7m 15sec pace. Nice… then I went to save it and my sweaty fingers hit the discard button. Bah! I lost more data.

Then it was time to ride home, I setup my iPhone before I went down to my bike… then forgot to start the damn app when I got on my bike. More lost exercise data.

Sometimes I think my brain isn’t wired quite the right way.

In other news, Apple announced lots of exciting updates at the WWDC event for the Apple Watch that are coming in watchOS 2 soon. This will allow the 3rd party apps to access the heart rate monitor and other techs that are built into the watch. This is good news… assuming I remember to start the apps!

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! 

Track Night with Apple Watch

I missed last weeks track event with FastTracks but I knew they were doing the same thing as week one, so I don’t feel like I missed out. 

This time I came along knowing there would be a different workout, a different coach AND having my new tech to play with. 

I started the session off by using Apple Watch to start a mapmyrun session to record my overall time and distance. I then turn the volume of my phone down to minimum to stop mapmyrun announcing all the half-mike waypoints. 

Then I put Apple Watch into stopwatch mode. This offers the ability to record multiple lap times from the same screen. After a warm up lap or three at a gentle jog we started the workout. 

Our target was: 200m consisting of 100m at 80% and 100m at 95%. Then walking 100m to recover… Then repeat ten times. Note that we were told to do the walk as 50m out and back.

The members of my set/group are really fast. The majority of them are older than me (some significantly) but they consistently hand my ass to me on a plate. I’m over the embarrassment of it by now and just hope that I can remain as fast when I get to their age! 

I ended up running mainly 38-40 second 200m periods. I was fairly consistent in my times but felt that we were probably running above the prescribed 95% level. The coach was running with us and didn’t rein us in. 

This was an interesting workout but it made traffic on the track quite chaotic and I felt sorry for all the other track users. We had three different groups running at different paces and going different directions on the track. This made it difficult for other track users. My apologies. 

Now for the tech. Well, I eventually got used to the stopwatch on the Apple Watch but it wasn’t easy. To press the lap button you have to use the screen. The physical buttons on the watch are set for other dedicated behaviours for the Watch OS. 

This means that before you can press the lap button you have to raise the watch to the appropriate position to get the screen to turn on, then try to find the lap button on the screen without knocking the stop button that is directly beside it. I also wear my watch on the ‘wrong’ wrist so this means the lap button is on the far side of the screen from my controlling hand. 

However, once I got used to this (and remembered that I was timing; stupid tired brain), it was easy to use. 

It has so good ways of presenting the data. I chose the digital face layout (hard press the screen) and it looked like this.   

When in use the lap button is in the same position as the ‘reset’ button above. You can scroll the lap list up and down to view the different results. It also has a graphical view but it doesn’t label it well so it has limited value.  

Then there is another mode that has it all in one.  

This shows the analog dials, the digital time, and the graph. 

At the end of the running I switched over to the mapmyrun app (double click the crown) and stopped the app. 

Everything appears to have worked fine.  

And if that wasn’t enough, I forgot my pedometer from work today so I had the Moves app running in the background of my phone to pickup my steps for the day (it is linked to my virgin pulse account).  

Completely teched out yet? Good, so am I. Dinner of meatless tofurky hotdogs and ice cream with strawberries. 

Day done.