Saturday 30 April 2016

Devil's Elbow 20km

The Bank Holiday weekend had poor weather forecast so when I awoke to sunshine this morning it seemed that I had to do a run. I've done 3 swim days this week anyway. I planned to do around 18km as a step above the 14km done over the last few weeks but the route ended up a few hundred metres over 20km. This is the first time I've done that since my minor ankle sprain 4 months ago which was followed rapidly by gut upsets.

The run was hard work from the beginning. I felt tired and lethargic. I'm on the edge of getting a cold so perhaps that  affected my performance? Perhaps my central governor knew it had to make me take things easy to complete the task? As the first long run in ages I decided to accept the early fatigue and walk uphill sections and keep my hear rate low. The main thing was to be on my feet for a few hours.

My various leg annoyances (left knee, right ankle)  made themselves felt at a very low level but not to a degree that they can even be called niggles. What is clear now is that size 9 Roclite 295 are too small and that the size 9.5 pair don't really aggravate my ankle more than the smaller size. I still think the old 315s suited my feet better, a pity that they are obsolete.

Thursday 28 April 2016

April 2016 Week 1 Session 1

The first long swim in these 12 week blocks has been tough before and it was tough again today. It did include two PBs, as the warm up was my fastest ever at 5:11min/200m with no pull buoy and the total distance was 3533m which took nearly 90 minutes. I know that over the next weeks the difficulty will be less apparent and the time will drop by a few minutes.

I tried to start very gently and make more effort at the end but a drop in pace through the session is quite clear. At least the pool was nearly empty so I could potter away at my own pace and not get in anyone's way, no often catch someone up.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Swimming PB but not quite to target #2

I was in Acton for my three monthly review this morning. The air temperature was cold and I was very glad to have my new DryRobe. After a chat about progress and the warm up we set to with filming and then the 400m time trial. In January I'd hoped, but without any real backup, to do the 400m in 8 minutes. Today I really believed it possible and set off firmly, but not too fast in the hope to achieve it. I reached 200m in 3:57 but then faded to come in at 8:03 minutes which as a personal best but just below my target. It was still 20s faster than January so progress is solid.

Julian said that he thought I looked stronger, with a good rhythm and indeed I did feel that I could have pushed a bit harder or a bit longer. Previously I didn't think there was any reserve. I've been set a new programme to lengthen the long swims and sessions to focus on power. The latter should help with strength and body position which even I can tell is much improved in the video.

Monday 25 April 2016

January 2016 Week 12 Session 3

That's the January SwimSmooth programme completed. I'm still having serious problems with 'fast' sets in that they never are. I do far better when working at a firm aerobic level as attempts to go faster are still linked to more splash and less action.

In my first 400m set I was making an effort and aimed to keep it up until the end. That worked really well with a clear ramp in pace until I was at 2:05min/100m. A pity it wasn't the clear 2 minutes! However in the subsequent 'slow' 'fast' sets I didn't manage to reach this and indeed by the 40th length my pace is declining due to tiredness. If I want to have any chance of achieving the 8 minute time trail later this week I'll have to focus strong but steady.

Tuesday 19 April 2016

January 2016 Week 12 Session 1

Ten seconds faster than last week. After over 75 minutes of swimming I completed the sets a mere 10 seconds faster than last week. Much of that derived from a fast-ish warm up set  but to my mind the most important bit was that today I could have gone faster in the later sets

Although my pace reduced towards the end I felt that I had reserve but  not enough to accelerate past the swimmer in front. For the last 2 sets I was pausing after each length to let him pull away and then catching up by the end of the length. I didn't have enough power to accelerate past though. So you could look at this as either I could have been a quicker, or, even though I was a tiny bit faster than last week I didn't feel as tired. Either position shows a gain.

Incidentally, to be fair to the swimmer in front, he didn't have a pull buoy to help him along. So he was doing 2:18min/100m for 1500m or so whereas I managed a best of 2:29min/100m in my 200m set.

Sunday 17 April 2016

Three runs this week

It's not all that much, but this week I managed 3 runs, varying in length from 5km to 14km. After various illnesses and irritations that's a significant step forwards. This evening I set out to reach Oxstones for sunset but time was getting on and I was going to be late home. I decided to push on as I felt that I'd been cheated of the sunset twice before over the last month and the weather was so good that it was a great chance to be on the fells.

It was a crisp evening with excellent visibility and really I needed a thin pair of gloves in the chill breeze. I rushed down the road back home hoping that 30 minutes of downhill tarmac wouldn't hurt any part of me. I noticed that my right ankle was a bit tender as a washed the dust off...

Saturday 16 April 2016

January 2016 Week 11 Session 3

This has been a poor week for swimming as I've failed to find time around work to do it. Evening runs seemed a little easier to fit in. Today I completed week 11 just before the pool was reconfigured. It was apparent that I've had a week off as I felt out of form and struggled to get power on for the slow/fast 66m sets. It wasn't too awful but I didn't reach 2:00min/100m at all.

The best I could manage
The important thing is that I've been and put some effort in. In fairness my shoulders felt tired before I went! I think week 10 was hard on them and subsequent circuit classes have added to their fatigue.

Friday 15 April 2016

Review of Alcatel Pop D1 for navigation: 1. Viewranger meets Android

Part 0 of this review is available here.

GPS linked with mapping is now well established and exemplified by products such as Garmin's Oregon, Montana and GPSMAP64 series devices. These are well known products that are accepted to be pretty reliable although there are some known limitations of the software.

To me, the major limitation is the restricted options for mapping and often high prices for high quality topographic maps. Several third parties, for example talkytoaster, provide packed versions of OpenStreetMap open source maps which does broaden the options for affordable mapping.

Sample from Look n feel by TT
Strangely OS mapping licensed to ViewRanger is far better priced than Garmin's especially as it can be bought per tile or in various discount packs.  ViewRanger also offer OSM mapping and licensed worldwide mapping. In principle the ViewRanger mapping base appears more user-orientated than Garmin's.

ViewRanger runs via a web browser on PCs and this component provides a great resource for designing routes and looking for interesting features on a map - you can use any free maps or tiles that you have purchased. More importantly the system runs as an App on Android, iOS and Symbian platforms thus covering the vast majority of smartphones. It is worth stressing that both the  desktop and mobile programmes are free, you only pay for licensed mapping.

After a little online searching I found a new Alcatel Pop D1 for sale on eBay for £32 including delivery. This is a dual core Android 4.4 device with a basic specification (512MB RAM, 4GB flash) including 12 channel GPS. The 'obsolete' smartphone market is very fluid so any given day other devices will be available.

The unit is clearly made to a budget with a plastic body and screen, all of which flex under pressure. The battery is removable which is helpful and the standard Sim and microSD easy to fit. I used a 8GB microsSD to make sure that I'd plenty of space.

The phone was readily charged and set-up with ViewRanger. I deleted as many of the bundled games as possible but some of the apps are built-in and can't be deleted. They can be deactivated though. With a bit of tidying the key icons can be fitted onto a single screen so there's no need to swipe, or more importantly, the option of swiping and hiding ViewRanger! I made a new Google account and haven't linked it to my mail/blog/calendar/paypal accounts so that I don't need to set any security. From previously using my Nexus tablet out of doors I knew that having to type in passcode was irritating whilst walking. Of course now I'm at risk of losing some credit from my SIM if the phone is stolen but again that is a new account and a SIM isn't required for GPS.

The phone boots-up in 45seconds with ViewRanger starting in 12 seconds until a map is displayed and centred to the previous known position.  GPS acquisition is varied as is the case for all devices but 30s seems sufficient in most cases.

In early tests I found that the GPS was powering down as the phone went to sleep which is great for battery life but not for navigation. I tried various settings in ViewRanger to keep the GPS switched on but none seemed to work. After a bit of online searching I found that this was a known problem. There are various Apps on GooglePlay that aims to force the GPS to keep running and I found that  ActiveGPS seems to work best for this combination of hardware and app.

Out and about

This morning I had the chance to do a morning run before the predicted wet weather arrived. Perhaps the morning was warmer than I expected as within half an hour I felt over-dressed, but I do prefer being a little too warm than a lot too cold! The light and warmth during this week have given an impression of spring arriving and that possibility was supported by the first bluebells that I've seen this year.

The ascent up Limb Valley was muddy, near the top as is so often the case but really in such a lovely spot one can't complain. I had hoped to continue up to Oxstones but unfortunately I didn't have enough time and headed via the scenic route back home.

At 13.2km this is the longest run for a month. I'm definitely feeling ready to get back into running now.

Saturday 9 April 2016

Morning runs again?

Nine weeks ago was the last time that I ran on a Saturday morning and although I managed 14km it was too uncomfortable to want to try again. Now my gut disturbance has been much improved for 6 days such that I've not suffered from pain at all.

Today the Cofield pool was on 9am opening with 9am children's lessons  so I'd have had no chance of a decent swim. My arms and shoulders still feel a little tired and achy from the last 2 weeks of hard work so perhaps that was a good thing.  So, with supposedly pain-free guts I ran around the woods. I had been tempted to do a half-marathon route but that would have been stupid after not managing anything over 10km, and nothing before 17:00 for literally months. A longer run can be done another week when I'm sure I'm a bit more in training and not going to take a step backwards.

Ecclesall Woods are always lovely so I completed a 9km loop, including a slight extension as I was feeling fine!

From Alcatel Pop D1 Android phone,
I wasn't rushing and took the opportunity to trial the Alcatel Pop D1 a little further on both Tracking and photography. The camera isn't great, it does get the essence of a scene but nothing more. The GPS worked a little better than previously and I'll write about that elsewhere.

Thursday 7 April 2016

January 2016 Week 11 Session 1

Today I set off too fast for a 3200m session which I knew was the case, but I felt the need for speed.

The warm-up was done in under 5:14 min and the first two 500m sets at 2:11min/100m and 2:12min/100m pace. That's 6 seconds/100m faster than in Week 10! I paid for it though as by the sixth set I was down to 2:25min/100m. The final average was a few seconds better than in week 10  which was itself a few ahead of week 9.

My arms are tired and I feel that my shoulders are suffering. I wonder if the paddles last week took their toll? Tomorrow should certainly be a rest from swimming.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

January 2016 Week 10 Session 3

After a badly constructed warm-up where the first length was fastest I set to a routine of slow/fast alternate 66m sets. In the first of these I achieved an average of 2:03min/100m across 66m twice.

The pace for 'fast' lengths is repeatedly hovering around the 2:00min/100m line, at last!
For both sets of 400m at a fair aerobic pace I averaged 2:14min/100m showing that I wasn't fatiguing too badly. However by the end of the second slow/fast set the best I could manage was 2:15min/100m at 66m.

I am developing a feel that for better speed I have to focus on length and power of the catch and not attempt excessive tempo. Just a bit is enough! I'm consciously reaching through my shoulder too.

Saturday 2 April 2016

January 2016 Week 2 Session 2

Back-to-back swim today resulted in some poor pace and above-average strokes/length. It was clear that I was tired, at least in my arms. My morning resting heart rate wasn't raised. My recorded performance was also impaired by having enforced breaks and slow-downs due to other lane users. That's life. Basically I failed to increase pace beyond the first set where my best 100m was 2:08min/100m.

Four swims this week and the distance starts to look respectable
Importantly I tried the paddles again. I should have been using them since Week 1 but my previous experience was of them being so unwieldy that  I found excuses not to bother. Today the excuses ran out and the paddles weren't so bad. I think that this means that I'm getting a better approach to the water and better, more powerful, catch so that the paddles don't twist awkwardly. I could feel the increased load on each stroke. Hopefully I'll be able to lift my arms tomorrow.

Friday 1 April 2016

January 2016 Week 10 Session 1

I achieved a PB today by miscounting and doing an extra 2 lengths, so it was my longest ever swim at 3266m. The pacing was good too.

The moving average was 2:20min/100m with a the first set averaged at 2:18 and the last at 2:21. That seems very consistent to me. Consistency became easier as time passed as people left the pool for home (or a night out). Initially I had to adapt to others in the lane but by the time I finished the pool was empty apart from me.