Shaking Things Up – Time Over Distance – Bonus Content: Gout Can Eat my Ass and Balls

A brief summary of the key points in this post today:

  • I have gone over to the new Apple Watch, using the native workout app and Healthfit for syncing and export
  • I have recovered from another gout flare
  • I am tweaking my diet again
  • I have started running for speed
  • I have upgraded from Garmin Edge 1000 to the Edge 1030 sensor bundle for cycling

Details

So that list is quite a lot. Thankfully I have quite a lot to say so hopefully this will be a blog post of a kind most revelatory.

Apple Watch

I continually flirt with gear and currently I have left my Garmin Vivoactive HR aside and turned to the might of Apple with its Watch Series 6. I avoided Apple Watch for a while as the notifications are so annoying, however I have been able to turn most off so now it seems to be an option. Additionally, and I hate to sound shallow, but media functions matter to me. Running without a long form podcast or an audiobook is, for me, intolerable. Not only due to boredom but also I view it as a missed opportunity to work my brain whilst I exercise my body. Right now the best Garmin can do is sync media to its watches using a wired connection to a computer and I am sad to say that that is just not good enough. This is supposed to be cutting edge fitness and navigation technology. When Apple Watch will synchronise it all as I need, wirelessly whilst I sleep is Garmin really offering nothing better than a 25 year old method to get media to listen to? Plus, now that Apple has retired iTunes and separated music, podcasts and video I would have to wait for Garmin to update its sync software, to say nothing of the fact that the software that Audible provides for getting audiobooks onto devices looks like the ancient software I used to use when I owned a Palm PDA – now there is a retro tech reference for you.

It seems to me that for someone in my demographic Apple Watch is the best I can get, so I did. The options and apps available are superb and now that Healthfit (£3.99) will export everything I need and connect to Strava I have to say that I am sold on Apple Watch going forward. For massive day hikes such as the Yorkshire Three Peaks I have my Vivoactive HR ready to go but as an everyday device it is surpassed. Things can change in future as always, but that is my roadmap for the time being.

Health

Gout is garbage. I still curse my bad luck at being susceptible. Even my GP cannot believe it. A teetotal, outdoors-obsessed plant muncher should not be so unfortunate, but there we are. My body simply cannot process uric acid as efficiently as necessary and from time to time I will have to put up with this crap. This time I needed two courses of prednisolone to get rid of it, and be under no illusions about what a horrible drug that is. Naturally I have not done much exercise recently, until the last couple of days.

Diet

I am attempting to tweak my diet to see if I can get the drop on gout. The current view is to get my kidneys to flush – more efficiently – the uric acid, so I am consciously drinking even more water but also I am adding pomegranate juice and powder to my diet. Allegedly this can help. The science seems to suggest that free radicals are raised during a flare and pomegranate contains a powerful antioxidant that will counter this problem. I will also be creating a tincture out of which I will make a herbal infusion to drink daily.

Speed

Today I ran 2.5 miles, prioritising speed over distance for a change, and with relative ease ran my first and second fastest miles, and weirdly Strava said that, according to my heart rate, this was easier than usual, so I need to do some thinking on this front. I do remain convinced that my diet is affecting my performance massively however, and all for the better.

This is much faster than normal and I definitely felt I had more to give.

Cycling

I have upgraded my cycling computer to the Garmin Edge 1030 sensor bundle so I now have a cadence sensor, speed sensor and a heart rate strap. I plan to spend the next few weeks and blog posts going through the Garmin sensor metrics to which I now have access and see what I can do with it all to improve my performance. Stay tuned for that.

Tribute

Today is a day of sadness, and those who understand will appreciate a simple pictorial reference. Goodnight to the Mozart of the Electric Guitar.

A Dumbass Went Over Ingleborough…

Today’s hike was over Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales and I managed to pause my Apple Watch and forget to restart when we stopped for lunch, so god knows what these figures and the map means. You can safely double the elevation gain, likely the calories too as I missed recording the hardest, most technical part of the mountain to climb, and I think I would probably add around two miles or so.

It was a grand day out nonetheless.

Incidentally, Apple Watch in its current iteration is a quantum leap ahead of the turd I bought in the form of the first generation model. Superb battery life and excellent functionality. I got home after recording this hike and the battery had depleted to 68%. My previous watch used to last three hours recording workouts. This is a huge improvement.

Blog of Ages

Good lord, it has been such a while since last I posted. This post will appear slightly late relative to the activities as I forgot to renew my domain name so I have to do that first, but hey, I am still here and hopefully somebody somewhere is vaguely interested in what I have to say on here.

I have been jolted back into blogging by the weather improving and the nights getting longer. Here in Lancashire we have very dark winters where the day essentially ends around four o’clock. This is particularly annoying for those with a family. The last week has seen sunny days and temperatures around ten degrees celsius which is definitely all the excuse I need to break out the hiking boots.

I ran twice this week. Conveniently my GP is about 0.6 miles away so if I jog there and back it’s a decent fifteen minutes or so of raised heart rate, which is fine just for a daily thing whilst I wait out the winter months. I am currently running using the latest Apple Watch and the auto pause does not always work properly indoors so the figures for mileage times and pace during the first run are wrong, but for what it is worth, here we are.

Wednesday 13th February

This was when I ran down there to get a blood test and the watch kept running whilst I was at the surgery.

Map

Friday 15th February

Slightly shorter run, but again Wednesday’s distance includes spurious data from the watch not pausing properly.

Map

Saturday Afternoon Hike

We hike every year, as often as possible, and we always commence with a hike around Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales. It is beautiful up there.

Map

If you are not too experienced a hiker or you need to get fit then this is not too challenging and the location is rewarding in terms of scenery and views looking out over Yorkshire, and the fantastic waterfall, Janet’s Foss.

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

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

Not a Bad Week, Changes are Afoot, and Losing Patience with Apple Watch

So, since breaking fifteen miles this week I have been a little under the weather and I have taken action, made a few decisions and finally caught up with running again. Currently weight is falling off me, mainly due to cutting out bread and sugar (simple carbohydrates: my nemesis) and other similar bad foods. I have replaced them with nuts and fruit. Of course, I ate those before, but sparingly, however I have discovered that adding fat and calories from nuts is a superb way to manage one’s physique. I now might have toast every ten days or so, if at all, and unless I bonk during a long run I do not eat sugar at all. Obviously when referring to sugars I mean those such as fructose (in all its many dastardly forms). Natural sugars found in fruits for example are just fine. My diet is something I have been scrutinising intensely lately. I have looked into a ketogenic diet and I am trying to get somewhere close to that, however my priority with food and lifestyle is veganism, for reasons of both health and compassion. I will always adhere to the principles of a vegan diet, and that means that options for low carbohydrate, high fat foods are limited.

When it comes to nutrition I am a novice and I am trying my best to brush up on research, and whilst I am not convinced by a diet of low or no carbohydrates at all, I do think that I used to eat far too many carbohydrates in terms of calorie volume. Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the fact is that my diet plan (and it is a plan – fad diets are a portal to lifetime yoyo-ing and are very unhealthy) is proving to be effective for me and it is based on the following, in rough order of importance to me:

  • A vegan ethic, teetotal and no fizzy drinks (sodas to my Yankee friends)
  • High prevalence of starchy foods, dark green and leafy green vegetables, a variety of beans such as kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), black eyed beans and black beans
  • Whole grains such as quinoa, millet and buckwheat
  • A variety of nuts, my favourites being pistachios, followed closely by cashews

Since we are a family of six we have one pot dishes most of the time so I always cook with sauces or bases made from either tomatoes or coconut milk. Veganism carries certain risks with it, deficiencies in certain things such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron. Viamin D I have covered by being outdoors most of my free time, however iron and B12 are more challenging. Getting around that comes down to fortified milks and by putting nutritional yeast and/or Marmite (both B12 sources) in practically everything. When it comes to iron it is fairly easy to overcome. Spinach goes in everything, and with young children there is the obvious problem of them turning their noses up at anything that looks green so it gets chopped as finely as possible. Cunning I am.

Anyway, the point of all of this being that whilst I shall not be going full zero carbohydrate, a major reduction whilst keeping things fresh, often raw and with no sugar is proving to be very good for me. So that was the first decision I made.

My second decision, made yesterday, is that of stopping weightlifting. I absolutely hate it. I have tried to convince myself that I wish to do it but I loathe it, I have to torture myself to motivate myself to go and I cannot see a way forward into serious distance running whilst building upper body strength through heavy lifting. Instead I am going to do resistance exercises with my body weight, focusing particularly on planking and things like press ups and lunges. To be quite honest resistance is not a priority really since I live in a very hilly area. There is not much exercise I can do without doing resistance owing to the terrain, so as long as I incorporate a little upper body work I think that that should suffice. In addition to all of this winter is coming and in winter I swim, so that will give me plenty of work above the waist.

On to tonight’s run. This week I had intended to run home from university, something I keep banging on about here, however lectures were not on this week, it was an induction and as a returning student it was not for me to attend. My mistake, so I will see if I can pick up where I left off and do it this week. So, this one was only a gentle four miles. I have cycled a wee bit since the fifteen miler but tonight I kept a shorter distance and aimed to push harder in terms of speed, and managed to get back under twelve minute miles. I stress that a good portion of my runs are climbing serious hills so until I do take the relatively flat course from UCLan to home I will not know how fast I can run on flat terrain.

Map

It is funny how, when pushing through barriers, one always feels better. Yesterday I made deliberate attempts to extend my gait and stride further, faster, and longer on the hill climbs. All the while my instinct was telling me to conserve the energy, yet when I ignored it I felt better, stronger, and more energised. It is very odd how that works, but it does work. I have suffered no ill effects and felt much better after the run.

One last thing, yesterday my Apple Watch decided not to allow Force Touch to work, meaning that I had to get out my iPhone to pause and end Runtastic and record the run, thus defeating entirely the point of using the watch in the first place. I am rapidly running out of patience with this device and I am looking at my options for a proper running watch. When Apple Watch works properly I like it, but it is too slow, too often it tells me my iPhone is not in range, even though it is two inches away, and it is buggy, laggy and slow. As a long time Apple fan this disappoints me hugely, but there we are. I can now no longer recommend Apple Watch as a fitness tool. It simply does not cut the mustard.