Night Running: Challenging. Garmin Vivoactive: Enlightening and Superb

Goodbye Apple Watch/Runtastic: hello Garmin Vivoactive and Garmin Connect! The difference in performance and between these two products is staggering. Apple Watch: buggy, annoying to use, crap battery etc. Garmin: solid, dependable, perfect to use. Yesterday I also learned that running in pitch black night slows me down! I was unsure of myself for many stretches of the course so I ran cautiously, clocking in at over nine minute miles, which is annoying, but there we are. Beats an injury from a nasty fall.

Data

  • 3.01 miles
  • 28:18 minutes
  • 9.25 minute miles
  • 502 calories burned
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Ticking Over

Yesterday I did another fast three miles. I hope to push my distance up again shortly but as I was sick recently it is a good idea to ease back into it. Short and sweet as blog posts go, but as ever, progress is progress.

Map and Data

  • 3.01 miles
  • 27:24 minutes
  • 469 calories burned
  • 9:07 minute miles
  • 138 bpm

Achievement Unlocked: Three Mile Personal Best. Corollary: I HATE RUNTASTIC.

Today I excitedly donned my running shoes after a week in the sickhouse (cold, snivels, fever etc) and prepared to leg it three miles, knowing that after a week of total rest I could potentially hit a personal best. I duly did so with a time of 24:33 (8:11 minute miles), but Runtastic has royally arsed up my statistics. I had to briefly nip somewhere during my run, at 2:83 miles as it happens, and I paused my Apple Watch with Runtastic on 24:02 minutes. Five minutes later, whilst still paused, Runtastic resumed my run on a time of 37:02. I have no idea why, how, or indeed what the sodding hell is going on with this frigging app but I am done with it. I am almost saved up for a Garmin watch now, so I will persevere with Runtastic for the next week or two before I drop it like a stone the day I get my a new watch. I have simply had enough of this useless app and the Apple Watch. It’s a combination that is fine for leisure joggers but if you’re serious about running and want to make serious gains then get some serious kit. I learned long ago through cycling and swimming that the gold standard for mapping, logging and suchlike is Garmin and I wish I had listened to myself. I also ended a personal best over three miles on a calorie burn of 230 – I think not, and my run was logged as a walk. More inaccuracies from Runtastic. Idiots.

Anyway. Today’s run. I made a few calculations and deduced my real time but god knows what my true calorie burn and heart rate was. It felt great, and had I known that I was doing so well I would have pushed harder to break eight minute miles. Still, we live and learn. I’ll get it next time. All I can say is that on a day when I should be feeling pleased with my little self for hitting another milestone, all I can think about is the fact that RUNTASTIC SUCKS THE SWEAT OFF A DEAD MAN’S BALLS.

Map and Data

  • 3.01 miles
  • 24:33 minutes
  • 8:11 minute miles
  • 463 calories (manually calculated)
  • Heart rate: god only knows

Achievement Unlocked: 3 Mile Personal Best

Today I hit 8:28 minute miles over a three mile run, shaving ten seconds off my previous personal best. My distance and trail running feels as though it has hit a natural pause and so I have spent my last few runs targeting a higher speed and better performance. Today I harboured the lofty ambition of getting below eight minute miles but that would have been a remarkable performance. Right now I am aiming to get to a suitable racing weight which is, as it usually is, frustrating because it always takes longer than one wishes, and as an ectomorph the weight arrives at my waistline first and leaves there last. Of course, progress is progress and ten seconds is a huge amount to take off one’s time.

I’ve no idea what weight I should be. Right now I fluctuate between 14.5 and 15 stones which is probably too heavy, even for a pretty broad-shouldered six footer. I would imagine that around 13 stones is ideal but I have to account for the results of spending the last year weightlifting, which will gradually reduce over time. I’m never going to be one of the 9 stone midgets who are the best distance runners, I am just aiming to shed the remaining excess weight right now. What is remarkable about it is that to look at me you cant see very much to lose, but I can feel it there. It is shrinking owing to my diet. I have slacked off this week on that front, but again, much like exercise you lull, you plateau, you rest and then you go again. I doubt that even the Olympians among us ever run down weight on either a natural curve, or, more dangerously, tip it all off a cliff quickly. It takes time, persistence and usually pushing through mistakes and off weeks. I should clarify that by slacking off I mean I might have a couple of days where I eat bread or something like that. I am fortunate in not having a sweet tooth and I don’t drink alcohol (and haven’t done for years) so for me resisting chocolate is not the existential struggle it is for my partner! As an aside, I still to this day, in the twilight of my thirties, cannot understand the female-chocolate relationship. Every woman I ever met is like a heroin addict with the stuff – what’s that all about?

Anyway, here goes the usual info…

Map and Data

  • 3.01 miles
  • 25:30 minutes
  • 8:28 minute miles
  • 464 calories burned
  • 59 feet climbed
  • 158 bpm average heart rate

Achievement Unlocked: Sub Nine Minute Miles

What a run today! As I did two hikes of fairly intense difficulty over the weekend, including a very steep climb in excess of 600 feet, there was no way I was going a high distance this morning, so I aimed for three miles and treated this as a recovery day. I absolutely legged it as fast as I possibly could, clocking in at my best miles time to date. I highly doubt that I will be able to replicate these times over my typical greater distances, but it is still a great achievement for me. It is a fresh, cold morning today as well so I figure that my muscles need a short recovery run and a good rest today.

Map and Data

  • 3.01 miles
  • 26:02 minutes
  • 465 calories burned
  • 59 feet climbed
  • Average heart rate 148 bpm

Deep Suspicion of Runtastic and Apple Watch

Today I put in a good seven miles having suffered a midweek migraine. I take medication to mitigate them but that only reduces symptoms. That is a welcome therapeutic outcome but it still does not allow me to run as I still do not feel as though I am anywhere near good running condition. That aside, today’s post is concerning my suspicions of modern fitness tracking technology. First of all, I am all but disinterested now in Apple Watch, in particular the optical heart rate monitor. My scouring online for information about this has demonstrated to me that optical monitors are pretty inaccurate and therefore unreliable. In addition to that I learned today that its distance tracking is based upon an accelerometer sensing arm movements – hardly accurate either. My mind was made up long ago to save up and buy a Garmin Vivoactive watch and this has only further convinced me to do so. GPS is obviously better, although the Garmin has no heart rate monitor at all so I am going to see if I can use it with my heart rate strap that arrived with my Garmin Edge cycling GPS. Stay tuned for more on that front.

I am also suspicious of Runtastic because I uploaded my most recent workout and the calorie burn is remarkable. I have always been led to believe that one hour of running will burn 500-600 calories, so to burn approximately double that on a time of 1:10 hours is ripe to say the least. I overestimate my calorie consumption on My Fitness Pal and have done for a while, mainly due to the cruel irony of exercise whereby the fitter one gets the harder one has to work to burn the same calorie count. I used to log walks as workouts to get the calorie burn from that to count against my eating but I have stopped doing that too in order to reduce my intake. I am hardly a heifer but I do want to get down to and maintain a racing weight. I am pretty tall and broad so I am never going to hit ten stones or anything like that, but I do want my body fat content in single digits.

I look forward with interest to what results a Garmin watch will yield, mainly because of the tangled web of calculations I have to make based upon compensating for what I am almost sure is over-estimation of the calorie count of my exercise. On the other hand, the positive side of this run is that I maintained yet another good distance at ten minute miles or better. That seems to be my standard, and I at least want to get under nine minutes, which is why accuracy in calculating fat burning is so important to me. Any weight I can shed will translate into seconds shaved off my times.

Map & Data 

  • 7.1 miles
  • 1:10:24
  • 9:55 minute miles
  • 1132 calories (I am very suspicious of this)
  • 354 feet climbed
  • 135 bpm average heart rate

Never Trot With the Trots!

Today was the learning of another valuable lesson for me: never trot with the trots. There is no way to say this that isn’t pretty gross, so I shall be frank. Last night I ate an absolutely huge vegetable and Quorn kung po stir fry. I rarely eat Quorn but it is a good way to break up the wall of random vegetables in vegan food like this. What the hell it did to my physiology I cannot say specifically, but this morning I did five (FIVE!) giant poos before leaving the house. By giant I mean that I filled the pot. Nay, perhaps even destroying it once. By lunchtime it was eight. I had to take some Loperamide after it became more and more watery and gave me cramps in the late morning at home. I set off to run the same trail as yesterday and had to stop after 5.5 (ish) miles due to the pain of running in this state. I walked the remaining couple of miles. It wasn’t pain per se actually, rather a malaise and unpleasant muscle soreness, likely due to mild dehydration.

Now, I have to say that I probably made a mistake in running on consecutive days, something I am going to put a stop to. I am rapidly bearing down on swimming season so that will be what I do on non-running days. I have learned the hard way today that my body needs optimum fuelling and treatment for good results.

I am not going to post the map and stats for an unfinished run. Instead I am happy to inform be posting about running and mental health benefits very soon. It will be a post from the horse’s mouth as I am a suffer myself, so I hope it helps anyone else at all who is in a similar position.

Pushing for Better Quality Running

For a while now I have been deliberately focusing on raising my average speed, and as a consequence my heart rate, during runs. Today I ran yet another good distance, some seven miles, at better than ten minute miles and so I am making great strides. One particular skill is to even out one’s pace for better fat burning, and today is a significant milestone for me in that respect. On previous runs I have had a very uneven pace and my heart rate data from Apple Watch shows that my heart rate has been outside the 127 bpm threshold for around half of the run, and that is a rather irritating waste of time. I solved this problem by concentrating on maintaining a ten minute mile pace and also by running a trail for a good portion of the way. I must say that running through a forest on a sunny, fresh, cold and clear autumn day with the sounds of birds tweeting and running water everywhere is a rare pleasure and I will most definitely be repeating it whenever possible. Granted, it was only a local park rather than actual wilderness but nonetheless it is a beautiful place and so very beneficial for the mind and body. I always make a point to turn off the headphones and stop listening to whatever podcast I have on in order to take in the sounds, smells and sights of nature.

So, a beautiful and rewarding run today and I kept my heart rate in the fat burning zone for 21:35 minutes, a significant improvement on my previous best performance. Only 15% of the run was below a useful heart rate. Raising the heart rate like that is much easier in the midst of great natural beauty.

Map & Data

  • 7.05 miles
  • 1:09:19 hours
  • 9:50 minute miles
  • 1121 calories
  • 377 feet climbed
  • Average heart rate 246 bpm

Achievement Unlocked: The Tolkien Trail ***Updated With Map***

Today was our second hike of the weekend and it was a cracker. Seven and a half miles of hard slog that means out children collapsed into bed this evening, falling asleep practically immediately. As a parent I find this as satisfying as can be. The hike today was The Tolkien Trail. It took us through the countryside surrounding Hurst Green, and at one point near to Stonyhurst College, a very expensive public school where J.R.R. Tolkien often visited and stayed, and against which I played football and cricket at school, beating them regularly. I was particularly reminded of one occasion when we played cricket against them and they waltzed up to us and announced in their toff tones that they would ‘bowl us out’. We won the toss and promptly smashed them all over the park, clocking up over a hundred runs in thirty overs, eventually embarrassing them and winning by a huge margin (for a schoolboy match). Those happy memories came flooding back to me today and brought a smile to my face. No doubt those boys went on to have the last laugh, however, as they and their fee paying school would have opened up a world of opportunities, both personal and professional, the likes of which were absolutely off limits to a working class kid like me who hailed from one of the poorest towns in Britain.

Photographs

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Anyway, my navel-gazing nostalgia aside, today we had a good hike, only getting lost once. This trail takes you through fields riddled with cow dung, farmland, forests and villages, all of which were beautiful. There is very little climbing to do on this, save for a couple of particularly steep but short forest paths that are, thankfully, stepped. The toughest thing is following the trail as some of it is nondescript farmland with very little in the way of landmarks, so getting one’s bearings can be challenging. I recommend this trail to anyone with a bit of stamina. Despite being relatively short it can be a hard slog in parts. If it has rained recently then you are going to sink in mud and cow dung. It is worth it for the fresh air and the stunning natural beauty.

Data

Rather irritatingly Runtastic isn’t exporting GPX files again, seemingly a website glitch so I can only give data for this one.

  • 7.67 miles
  • 2:19:23
  • 947 calories
  • 535 feet climbed

A grand day out, a great weekend spent hiking in the countryside and a lovely finish to our activities for the week. Happy children, satisfied parents, and a tired but active and, hopefully by tomorrow, well-rested family. Back to work/school tomorrow.

***Update: Map Added***

A Run and a Hike

Yesterday I ran and today I hiked. The run was a six miler and whilst it didn’t clock in at sub ten minute miles, I know it was because once again Runtastic failed to pause during stops. This was just a maintenance run so I won’t post maps or data (I may update this post with those later). I am more interested in today’s 4.3 mile hike over a local beauty spot, Pendle Hill. This clocked in at 2:18 hours, not bad for young nippers.

Dragging three children under the age of ten was no mean feat, but it was worth it for its own sake, and doubly so when I watched them devour their meal this evening and then doze off to sleep immediately. Very rewarding.

Map

We loved every second of it, and the view was fantastic. This is the phase of acclimatising the kids to serious hiking. Hopefully by this time next year we will have been all over the Lake District on various hikes.