There’s an app for that

I’m a fan of gadgets. Gadgets and programs that measure performance in very efficient (and cool 3D!) graphs and give you great feedback on exceeding targets while providing colour coded levels and whizz bang cool trackers. Yes, I’m a bit of an amateur tech geek.

I have my Polar HRM which tells me exactly how may calories I’ve burned. I love this piece of kit mainly as it helps me work out if that double chocolate brownie is going to start showing up on my muffin top, or if I can have a few kals to spare, I’ll know I don’t have to feel guilty about the cheesecake I saw the other half whipping up while I ran out the door pre-run. It also tells me if I’m running too hard or not trying hard enough. Particularly satisfying when having completed a really tough hill and the blinking percentage point indicator looks like it may explode. HA! Yes! Take that! *cough splutter fall over* 
When I started running last Oct I was very attached to the Couch to 5K (C25K) app. It got me from huffing and puffing around every 20 seconds to comfortably jogging for twenty minutes and then to completing a whole 5K in just under 9 weeks. I logged my moods (sad face/happy face/I was nearly sick face) and terrain and weather and with every green light I ticked off by week, I grew more and more confident I could actually do this running, even in the British mid winter – and that it made me feel great.  
Once that ran its course, I fell out of love with the inflexible schedules, I started cheating on the C210K program with the very sexy and sassy  Nike+ GPS app. Its red. And has Power Tracks.  I have been hopelessly devoted to since January. It’s sultry voice over  has congratulated me on personal bests, she’s given me encouragement when I’m almost at my goal, marked my pace, time and distance and even shown up race organisers when they the track proves short of the advertised distance. Faithful and reliable, my routes have been downloaded and my miles logged religiously ever since.
Until today. With one week to go, this was to be my penultimate medium run. I made time for it this morning sacrificing the much needed lie in, sorted out Stella, got the cap on (in case of the looming rain). About half a km into the warm up, something starts to go wrong. The ipod starts skipping tracks. There goes my pace and this is enough to completely distract me. I run straight into a scary lopsided looking youth, with an equally scary looking lopsided hound (Stella held her ground!).
2kms later and without any warning my iPhone’s voice control takes control of my phone. SAY A COMMAND! it shouts at me through my head phones – this gives me such a fright I actually shriek out loud, giving a small elderly woman I’m passing with her shopping, a bit of a start. This Voice Control also stops all music and makes the Nike+ app start sending paniked notifications, ‘Weak GPS! Move app to the FRONT’.   So I do. I have to stop and remove the iphone from the equally snazzy armband. Swipe, click. Nike+ is reinstated. Music is back on. Running again! This time I only just about get back into my stride and the music stops and again….SAY A COMMAND! This time I give a group of small children a rather colourful demonstration of every cuss I know. Stop again, close apps, open apps, shut down phone, open ipod. Stella is now getting agitated, bored, beginning to protest –  wondering why on earth we’re not in Holland Park yet. Where there are squirrels. 
Further into the run I finally give up. Nothing helps. Nike+ FAILS to log runs, or logs four runs that make no sense or any relation to reality and the entire iPhone crashes. Now I have no reception. There’s no app for that. 
I’m hoping for salvation in the form of an Apple Genius. Or an upgrade. Or both. Either way I fear the love affair may be over with Nike+
Mapmyrun, let’s give it another shot. 

Speeeeeed! Who fartlek-ed?

Tried my hand (feet?) at Fartlek  training tonight, which in case you’re not familiar with the term, means ‘speedplay’ in Swedish. They know their stuff the Swedes, blow your socks off coffee, heart attack cake and running fast for short periods of time. My kind of people!

Started my short 7 km route with 3 pretty killer hills, not very long in distance, but with good sharp inclines, enough to get the heart rate pushing the 90%+ mark. Perfect for short sharp bursts of speed.  Then hit Kensington Palace gardens to try up the speed. I’m pretty surprised that I can manage decent stretches of high tempo running without keeling over. The training does seem to be paying off. Amazing feeling too, had no idea I could actually get up to a sprint at all and maintain it.

10 days to go until the big race, one long run in the schedule left and then tapering the training next week.

Will also be looking at new gear for the coach. This caught my eye!

Working off the Brunch!

After a weekend of birthdays, full on ‘big-fry-up-with-everything’ brunches at Mike’s Cafe and a very glamourous hen do the sunday run was really needed!

Still really struggling with motivation, but after about 2kms, the aches and pains ease up, I hit Hyde Park and I remember why I keep doing this! Happened to see a spectacular sunset over the Great Western rail lines en route back from Royal Oak around 8.5kms and avoided an overly keen Doberman in the park. Never a dull moment.

Two weeks to go until the big race and I’m starting to think about upgrading some of my kit.
Here’s the wish-list:

New arm-band for the old iphone, ‘sexy’ new dri-fit nike vest and a pack to keep the nurofen/jelly babies/extra shoelaces at hand (just in case). I don’t ask for much. My trainers are good to go for another 100 miles, so I cant be forking out the big cash just yet.

Stella could do another 100 miles tomorrow given half a chance, speedy madam out paces me every time. Giving some serious thought to entering her into the Women’s Running column that they run monthly featuring people who train with their dogs. May need to invest in a new collar for a  proper photo shoot, diva that she is!

Running Number 20033

Its all happening! Running number arrived today with a HUGE T-Shirt, which thankfully I won’t be wearing as I have the bright orange Starfish Vest to wear with pride. Slightly nervous now, only three weeks away….

I’m hoping to do two more long runs before I start tapering the training back ahead of my trip up to Scotland.

Having a bit of a panic about what to take! Its definitely cooler up in Glasgow, which is no bad thing. Baggy T-Shirts are a total no either way. Bin bag and a hat is the advice I’ve had from the internet forum gurus. Please don’t call the fashion police!

Tuesday – Holland Park/ Kensington Palace Gardens 11K

Variety is the spice of life, right? And I need some of that! Lately it feels as though my world revolves around work and training for this race.  Route mapping, ipod shuffling, calorie counting, and rescheduling social engagements to catch up on the miles. Alternate with late nights at the office, and a very busy time of year and I am exhausted! And in need of something new.

Getting home this evening I didn’t have the energy to map an entirely different route, so I just reversed the one I have been building on, and added another km. Nike+ have also just added a mapping function, so check out the link here:  Reversed Route 11K
Funny how such a simple change can make such a difference – and great to switch the hills up a bit. Ended up with more energy than I began with. Brilliant side effect of running I’m finding. 
So, besides the iPhone cutting out at 8.5k, great run and feeling more confident with 10k going by without a stitch or any pain in the joints – so clearly I must be getting fitter! 
Stella, on the other hand is enjoying a week off the training as I need to work on speed (she slows me down a bit with general pit stops) so has been chilling on the sofa. Hard life 😉

Rutland Water: Sunday Session in the Country – 13 miles Run/Walk

Note to self: When planning a 13 mile training run on the sunday, do not complete a 60 minute hard core boxing session on the Saturday. Not big, not clever. Just painful.

Waking up at 7am on Sunday morning, every muscle in my shoulders and back were crying out for another two hours in bed and a sports massage. Hot shower did very little, but got my trainers on regardless and hauled myself to King’s Cross to catch my train to Peterborough.

A friend of mine was kind enough to source a great route around Rutland Water (near Peterborough) for us to attempt 13 miles ahead of my half marathon up in Glasgow. Check out our route here Rutland Water 13 miler – Ahhh fresh air and countryside!

Which also includes stinging nettles, flocks of sheep, bugs and hoards of families on rented bikes. Almost more dangerous than the maniac cyclists infesting West London. So besides a few stung up calves, rather a lot of sheep dung and a few close shaves with rogue 5 year olds without training wheels – amazing run over looking the water and not a police siren, bendy bus or traffic light in sight.

And with with signs like this – I could do with more trips out to the country

Beautiful weather meant it was hot hot hot, and I caught a ridiculous sun burn – but managed 10k run and took the additional 21km at a much slower pace (ahem) I’m blaming the boxing!

Scrumptious italian lunch over looking the lake after the 3.55hour run/walk/gossip, Sunday session success!

Cross Training – Boxing Clever

I have been reading far too many running forums and am very easily swayed by those who advertise they have 3 marathons under their very skinny belts and manage 5K races in under 26 minutes. I also have a sneaky suspicion that in fact they may preach more than they practise, but being new to this regular exercise malarky, I’m trying to get as much info as I can.

Apparently its not enough to pound the pavement 4 plus times a weeks with hills and speed work, you need to eat right, drink obscene amounts of water and cross train.

Now bearing in mind I live with an exceptional cook who has the most potent sweet tooth in London, eating right is going to be a challenge. At present we have a cherry and blackberry crumble mocking me from in the kitchen and leftovers from an exceptional gnocchi and chorizo dinner begging to be finished. We dont eat badly. We just tend to eat a lot!

Water, thankfully, is not my nemesis, and although there may be small outbursts of panic as I cut back on the coffee, this I think I can manage.

So that leaves Cross Training. Having just joined Gymbox, the obvious contender is boxing, which my internet forum gurus also highly recommend for increasing stamina and upper body strength. Not wanting to leave anything to chance I hit the sales to procure:

Decent gloves –  which in hind sight are a tad too big! But do the job
Wrist wraps – these are very cool, you put them on and immediately start to feel pretty hardcore. And also a bit like a mummy, but that goes away when you put the gloves on

Sweat bands – I am unlucky, I’d like to say I glow, I don’t. I sweat. A lot.
New shorts – which again in hindsight, I’m not sure I have the guts to wear. They are *short*!

I’ve just finished my saturday morning session of Thump (no contact, just contact pad work) and I’m impressed. I managed to burn 576 kals in an hour (according to my HRM), which is more than I do spinning – and I know my back and arms got a decent work out I should be in agony tomorrow…ouch. My co-ordination is way off so combos are tricky! My poor work out partner almost got smacked about the head once or twice when I went for a hook rather than a jab. Hardly Million Dollar Baby in the making, but its early days.

They offer early morning proper boxing classes too (in a ring – yes really! but without th Rocky music thankfully), so I’m going to add a few of those to the schedule and see if this helps boost my fitness without putting additional pressure on my joints.

Now to finish off that crumble…