Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Thanks Juneathon - challenge completed!

I've been and off and on blogger since 2006, in the last couple of years mostly off. I've blogged about my dogs (my first post was all about attending Crufts with Lola), about crafting, about photography and latterly about running. I have good intentions to get into a rhythm with my blog, but after a few posts, life tends to get in the way and the posts tail off.

This is why I'm pretty proud of having made it through every single day of Juneathon. I've blogged 30 times (this is number 30) in thirty days and that has to be a huge record (ahem - personal best!) for me.

The first step to me getting organised enough to stick at a task is always an awesome new notebook and the inevitable lists of post ideas and post content.

It's the last day of #juneathon and I made it!

But what gets me more excited is that today I added this next page to my notebook.

Bring it on July! #blogging #running

I can't promise I'll be blogging everyday, but the intention to continue to at least plan to blog makes me happy. So thanks Juneathon, not just for keeping me active through June (weirdly that's the easy bit), but for getting me back to doing another thing I love. 

Final Juneathon update - I've still got rather tender quads from the weekend so with the temperature at 28C when I got out of work this evening, I took the opportunity for another rest day... unless you count mowing a quarter of an acre of stupidly long grass!

Current vital statistics

I love a good statistic and with a number of apps talking to my Garmin I'm not short of data to geek-out to. Strava, Runkeeper, Fitbit and Garmin itself all spew out some great stats so here are a few choice from the last week (Monday to Sunday).

Total distance run - 42.4km and 4h 31mins on my feet. If anyone is keeping count that's a full marathon - no wonder my quads are calling out for a rest day (and they got it too!)

Longest run - 21.1km - that'll be a half marathon right there!

Number of runs - 5 - this is definitely my limit I think - although if it wasn't for a proper long run I reckon I could have squeezed in another...

Shortest run - 3.8km. Probably should have rested the day after that HM but the OCD part of my brain wanted to see my distance tip over the marathon distance. Think I'm paying for it today!

Fastest pace - Tuesday's 5km was a 5:40 per km pace. That'll do for the heat an humidity of this week.

And looking in a broader sense - June has been the month where I've run the most km in total - a total of 128.6km.

Juneathon update - Definitely in need of a rest day, but that didn't stop me walking the whole of the million miles around Ikea this evening after a full day on my feet at work! Reckon that suffice for today.

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Cargo Runner

Innovations and new concepts in the running world are always interesting and I spotted this new innovation by young London designer Sven Ladiges - it's a new method of transporting your gear especially when run-commuting.

Called the Cargo Runner it's what appears to be a standard rucksack but with a hidden secret - inside the bag is a set of wheel, a waist band and a connecting sprung tube so that bumps in the road don't affect your movement.

The video makes it look rather convincing and while I have some reservations about how it would handle the rather more rugged surfaces I run on - even the pavements around here are full of tree roots, it's definitely really interesting. It could certainly make an impromptu run to work easier and would negate any need to prep in advance!

Junathon update day 28 - After my half marathon distance yesterday I did a short recovery run (although I'm not sure how much my quads thanked me for it!) of 3.8km to bring my total for the week to a cheeky marathon distance!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

AfterShokz Sportz 3 Headphones - Review

I love a bit of new running gear and recently picked up some new headphones for running -   They are the AfterShokz Sportz 3 and are over the ear headphones with a few unique features, the primary of which is that they use bone-conduction technology and don't actually go in your ears, leaving them available to hear what's going on around you. This might be traffic, bikes sneaking up behind you on the trail or other runners in a race but allowing you to still listen to music at the same time - essential for long runs especially!

The headphones come in a great semi-hard case - especially useful for chucking in your run-bag as it'll protect them from getting crushed/broken.

Inside is a section for storing the cables (more about that later)and any other bits and bobs you might like to store in the case - I pop my iPod inside to keep that safe also. There is also the main section for the headphones with an elastic start to hold them securely.

The unique nature of these headphones is that they allow you to listen to music but also keeping the ability to hear what's going on around you. This is achieved by the two pads that sit immediately in front of your ears rather than inside your ears. The pads have a smooth and fairly soft covering and I can confirm that they are really very comfy. I ran 13 miles this morning and didn't notice them at all. 

I was a little concerned that it might be rather uncomfortable to wear my running sunglasses at the same time, but this was completely fine too. The   have a cable to attach to your phone/iPod but wireless/bluetooth compatible options are available also, but as I use a iPod rather than my phone for music these wouldn't work for me.

 The cable of course connects via this handy volume control with a clip on the back to secure to your running vest. The orange button is a power button and the little flap to the right hand side is for a micro-USB cable to charge the unit - the power reportedly lasts 12 hours and only takes 2 hours from flat to fully charged.

 The AfterShokz are also water-resistant so I'd have no worries using them in the rain and they certainly felt comfy in hot weather today - they are definitely sweat proof!

I'm really impressed with both the sound quality (I'd say they are as good or better than my Yurbuds) considering that they aren't even in your ears! It seems almost unreal that bone conduction (using vibrations to the bones in your inner ears) can do such a good job! I was able to chat with other passing runners today without turning off my music or taking off my headphones and could hear bikes sneaking up behind me and hear people around corners on the trail ahead - there are definitely no surprises with these! I could even hear the birds singing in the woods!

AfterShokz Sportz 3 are RRP £49.95

Juneathon Day 28 update - 13.1 glorious miles today - it was really hot and I was very grateful for my Camelbak and got through most of the 1.5l. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

For the long run - long run checklist.

The last 4 weekends have been full of races and parkruns so I've rather neglected my long-run, but tomorrow I'm heading out for what I expect to be a 10 miler and you can definitely tell it's firmly on the agenda as I have a raft of bits and pieces lined up and charging. So here's a breakdown of my essential long-run gear.

1. Garmin Forerunner 10 - Because how else will I know quite how lost I got in the woods.

2. Fitbit One - To capture every single step to calculate quite how much pizza I can justify afterwards.

3. iPod Shuffle - For 2 hours of tunes!

4. Aftershokz Sports 3 headphones - these are a new acquisition - they've been with me on one run so far, lets see how I get on with them on a longer trot out.

5. Sports sunglasses - mine are cheapo generic ones from Sports Direct as I'm not convinced I can be trusted not to lose/drive over them!

6. Calf Sleeves - unless it's stupidly hot tomorrow morning I like to pop these on for a long-run. I find they really support my calves and of course they claim to increase blood flow which can't hurt for longer distances!

7. Socks - I'm easy going about my choice of socks on shorter runs (as long as they are running socks that won't chafe) but for a long run I like to wear my favourites - in the winter I like Hilly cushioned socks, but they are a bit warm for the summer - my favourite warm weather socks are Sugoi tech socks.

7. I've not tended to take water on runs of this length, but with the hotter weather, I think I'm taking my Camelbak tomorrow. Within it will be...

8. High5 Zero sports drink - this seems to agree with me and as I'm quite a salty sweater (TMI!) it's nice to replenish those salts.

9. Nakd Bars - I like the Cocoa Orange bars and will take two with me, but likely only get through one - these are flippin delicious and are good as a bit of a top up of fuel mid-run.

10. iPhone - I do feel like I should take my phone on longer runs just in case, but it's also good for a few pictures - if only because it forces me to slow down and take it easy!

Hope you've got a nice run planned for the weekend - leave me a comment and let me know.

Junathan update day 26 - An easy 5km for me today after work. Pushed it a little bit on the last km for a fun finish.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Bling whore

A year ago I ran my first every race and I had a fine old time along the way. I crossed that finishing line and felt like a proper runner. I was handed a welcome bottle of water and my very first medal. I'd never in my life won a medal or trophy before (I don't think swimming certificates or cups from dog shows really count in quite the same way) and it felt really nice.

It didn't take me very long to sign up for another race and in October of last year I ran the 10k at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival and received a rather lovely medal.

And thus it had started - I've ran several races now and as I wrote about here - the existence (and the quality) of the a medal is definitely a big part of the decision to enter a race.

#blingwhore #running #medals

Coming soon to a local town is a Colour Run. A few friends are doing this run and I'm sure it'll be heaps of fun but there is a part of me that can't quite yet bring myself to hit the button on the entry. And the reason? No medal. I don't mind paying for races - I've paid for lots already, but somehow It seems strange to put down in excess of £20 for a race without chip timing, without a medal and where the main point of the 'race' is to run slowly enough so that you get coated in dye. Surely the idea of a race is to go as fast as possible. I can run for free and without needing a medal every week at parkrun... all we need is a few jokers with some dye and you've got yourself a colour run!

I'm sure I'll cave and enter, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it, but it'll certainly feel strange!

Juneathon update - Day 25 - rest day today but enjoyed a glorious long and warm romp along the beach with the dogs.

Shoe shopping anxiety

I'm on my third pair of the same Nike trainers that I've been wearing since I started running (fourth pair in total if you count the ropey pair that I traded up from after the first run of Couch to 5K. But it looks like I'm not going to be able to get hold of another pair as they seem to have been discontinued, so the search is on for some new shoes. I did pick up some Asics trail shoes from TK Maxx and the classic 'do they feel comfy?' method of shoe selection seems to be holding up at least so far. 7.5km on the trails and some tarmac this evening and no twinges so far.

However nice they might be though, I'm not sure I can use these knobbly soled lovelies for road running so I think It might be time for a bit of shoe shopping. According to my physio I've got flat feet and I over-pronate so I guess I *could* pop along to the shops and pick up something else intended for my general sort of flipper feet that just feels really nice or I could man-up and face my fear of the treadmill! I tell anyone who asks me about running shoes how important it is to get your gait assessed but never having run on a treadmill I'm almost certain I'll fall off it! Maybe the solution to all of this is at least get someone to film me on it so I can spend the £250 of 'You've been framed' money on shiny new shoes!

Juneathon update - Day 25. As mentioned above - 7.5km post work at an easy effort after pushing the pace yesterday. Wore my new trail Asics and Aftershokz headphones (review coming soon). Both were great!