Monday, 25 March 2013

This looks hard...

Chanced upon the V3K but as someone who can't walk along sharp ridges with confidence I can't see doing it with jelly-legs.

V3K blog header

Good concept nonetheless.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Strava duplicates

I've now noted a few instances of Strava duplicating an activity that I've uploaded directly from my Garmin watch. They have different titles so it's almost as if GarminSync is running for me in the background...

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Over 7 minutes per km!

Unusually the weather forecast has been spot-on for the last 2 days and so the suburbs of Sheffield are under a blanket of snow.

Picturesque Sheffield trees in the snow
Near home it's maybe 100mm deep although in the city there's a mere film of slush. Despite still suffering a sore throat I decided to do the usual saturday run and met up with a much reduced posse (only 1 other) in Endcliffe park. Progress was very slow and I was slowed to a walk up Porter Clough with shortage of breath and burning calf muscles. At Ringinglow the snow was dusty and drifting across the road, piling high against walls. Pretty but a barrier to good progress; striding through up to 500mm will never be easy! Back at the park the 5km parkrun was underway, somewhat surprisingly perhaps, although everyone was slow.

The jog home was more than enough and I count that 14.6km as doubly tough. But that doesn't show on my automated log.

What a change from last Thursday. Fast to tardy in less than 48 hours.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Much improved 1km PB

Now I'm 2 weeks into introducing an interval training run and although I'm sure it is too soon to have had a physiological effect I have a new 1km time. My Strava log had a ridiculous 2m47s time but that was due to a GPS glitch that saw me zig-zag a few hundred metres in zero time. So I cropped that run to make things sensible and repeated my attempt at a Millhouses 1km. That is about the only vaguely flat 1km or so length around home.

The result of a bit of effort was 4m18s (or 4m29s on the Strava 'park 1km segment' as it is a little bit over 1km) which I'm pretty pleased with. At the time of posting I'm #10 on the Leaderboard but that could be lost so easily...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Sore throat enhances performance!

This evening I arrived home with a sore throat. Not too bad, just irritating and no cough and so doing a run didn't seem contraindicated. I'd decided to take it easy anyway. The run through Dore was an uphill struggle, literally, but as I was slightly earlier than usual I continued along Long Line. Another uphill slog (downhill in the photo though) but it added a few km and helps to break the pattern of similar Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Long Line, Dore, Sheffield (Graham Hogg) / CC BY-SA 2.0

I'd slightly misjudged the time and it was time to put my headtorch on as I reached the top of the road. All downhill to home after that though.

Once the GPS data was uploaded it became clear that I'd done a level 1km section in my second best time and up through Dore was a PB by a few seconds! None of this is meaningful but at least it showed that I wasn't 'ill', I just had a sore throat.

Many years ago I read an article suggesting that  you never really know if you're really not fit to go out until you do. Many times, once you've taken the plunge it all feels OK.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Trail shoe review

I didn't write this but agree with it:


The shoe has been on the market for 6 years or so which is eons in running shoe terms. Must be mostly right then although in that time the market position of the shoe has shifted from light and fast to solid and reliable.


Twelve years ago I did a detailed dietary and exercise analysis on myself  for a class I was teaching as I wanted some real figures for  demonstration purposes. The technology then was a bit crude and free-to-use online food databases rather restricted. Now the USDA provide this useful tool, the interface is a little clunky but it seems to do what's needed:

SuperTracker can help you plan, analyze, and track your diet and physical activity.

This sort of tool (or even  pen, paper and a copy of 'McCance and Widdowson's the Composition of Foods') is very helpful in developing an inventory of nutritional need and relating it to your actual diet. One does need to remember though that many micronutirent RDAs and 'food pyramids' are not backed by substantial evidence and inevitably have a political or socio-economic bias underpinning them.

For instance, the cover of 'Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010' does not show any red meat on the cover which cannot be representative of the typical American diet. The cover photographs show a political wish, not the life of the population. Likewise, the same document recommends that protein should account for 10-35% of the calories of a typical man's diet. That corresponds to 50-175g of protein. Contrast this with the British reference level of 55.5g and the WHO recommendation of 54g for my weight, with their advice that two times this level should be risk free whereas three times may not be; so an American 175g intake might be harmful. These simple macronutrient values are affected of course by 'protein quality' and a myriad of individual factors, which are well discussed in the WHO document. As for micronutrients...

Saturday, 16 March 2013

20km without a parkrun

Now I've repeated the 20km distance but without the fast, mostly level laps of Endcliffe Park. I'll admit that the pace was slow but the ground was quite muddy and there was 500m of ascent, 100m more than on my previous 20km. Running a little loop near the house got me to the 20km but really I should have gone around the block again to reach the half-marathon of 21.097km.

Last thursday I went for a shorter distance with the aim of some speed. I succeeded in a fast-for-me 1km along Millhouses park but the return uphill to home was hard work. Nonetheless I think such variety is needed.
Goldstar from psdGraphics
I'm excited by Strava (see widget on the right) at present as it does more dynamic updating of performances than Garmin Connect. Unlike other packages it also allows comparison of performance on segments of a run in the free version.  These features mean that has generated 'achievements' nearly every time that I've been out. Children love receiving gold stars to reward their efforts, and so it seems do I.

(As an aside, it is worth mentioning though that I did a bulk upload from Garmin Connect to Strava via GarminSync. This third party script started with my newest runs and worked backwards in time. So some of my historic achievements may not be accurate...)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

No faster, too consistent?

I've been running a loop around Dore for 3 weeks now. I had hoped that I'd be getting a little faster by now but oddly my fastest time was my second try on the circuit.

On the first time the ground was icy so that would never be quick. So what's going on? Inclusion of this loop has involved an increase in distance and time during the week, so I am training harder and doing more, so recovery becomes more of an issue. As a component of this, I'm also swimming to improve fitness but not wear my joints too much. Best part of 40 years ago I was probably a good swimmer, but since then my skill has steadily diminished. Now I find swimming hard work, especially linking strokes to breathing so I don't build up too much of an oxygen debt. I'm getting some guidance on technique but that merely serves to require me to keep going!

Picture of a mechanical metronome
Metronome by Vera Kratochvil
Also my speed seems pretty consistent, I do slow down uphill, but on inclines and level, at 0km and 15km I'm going at very much the same pace. I think it is now possibly too constant  and has been reinforced by repeated runs of similar length, around 10km to 18km, rarely much less, nor much more. Too much routine. Lots of training plans that I've seen include variety and require changes of pace to help break such barriers. The problem now is that I'm in a comfort zone.

On the bright side though, I have added time and distance without much of a problem and that is a key outcome. My long term goal is distance, and not speed, after all.