My Running Apps

There’s so many good apps out there for running these days, and every runner has their favorite. These are the apps I use on an almost daily basis.

Garmin Connect

If I’m running, my Garmin Forerunner watch is recording it. Garmin Connect is the app that my watch syncs with to upload my run data. You can use Connect on your phone, or the slightly more featured web version.

Connect gives me the most details about my run, and various reports to help me track progress over the month, year, and so on. It also tracks my steps, weight, and sleep patterns.

The social networking side of Garmin Connect seems to be a bit of an after-thought though, which is the why I sync my runs with a couple of other applications.

Strava

I’m quite new to Strava, but I love it. It has, by far, the best social networking features. It’s easy to follow friends on there and comment on their activities.

I like how Strava will group runners together who ran with you, on your feed. It also analyses your route and lets you know if you’ve ran it faster or slower than before.

While Garmin has an implementation of Segments, it feels like Strava has done a better job of this and is probably one of the Strava’s greatest strengths. You are able to see how you compare to the rest of the Strava universe on certain sections of your routes – for example – I was able to tell I was the only Strava user to have attempted those hills in Boone this year!

Nike+ Run Club

My first love. The Nike+ Run App was the first app I used when I began running. I have a lot of connections on there so I don’t want to give it up just yet.

Nike have a great online running community as well, and their app developers provide the best and fastest support in my experience.

They also have cool sharing options complete with stickers, to post your runs to Nike itself, or facebook, Instagram, etc.

So, I have my Garmin Connect app automatically sync my runs to both Nike+ and Strava and everything seems to work seamlessly together without issue.

 

What gear do I need to start running?

The beauty of running is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get started. There is however, one area you shouldn’t skimp on, and that is shoes. Everything else mentioned here is optional.

Shoes

I’m not saying you can’t get a good deal on shoes, but until you know what you’re doing I highly recommend you visit a good local running store to get your first pair fitted. They will examine how you run and find you a pair of shoes that suit your running style.

When I first started running, I know this. I ran in an old pair of Asics Gels that I picked up in Rack Room Shoes. Got a deal, sure, but my knees suffered for it. It was because of that experience I decided to visit a specialized running store. I’m a neutral runner, and my first pair of fitted shoes were Brooks Launch. They cost around $100.

Another mistake people make is not changing their shoes frequently enough. The support in the shoe will start to break down and leave you prone to injury. It is recommended that you change your shoes every 350-500 miles.

I stuck with Brooks for my second pair, picking up the latest Launch model, Launch 3. Such a good shoe.

Again, I was glad to have them fitted because I had to actually buy a size bigger in this updated model. If I had simply ordered online I may have run into trouble.

Today, my current shoes (approaching end of life now) are Hoka One One Clifton 3‘s. These cost a little more (but so worth it). Around $130-140 at most running stores.

When you start out running for the first time, your shoes will last you for a long time. It should go without saying — make sure you wear a good pair of running/technical socks.

I’m running 100+ miles per month now so I’m having to change shoes every 3-4 months.

GPS Watch

I use a Garmin Forerunner 230. I used to use my phone (+ Nike Running Club app) to track my runs, but it annoyed me to have to carry it on my arm. I liked the idea of using a GPS watch instead so that I could leave my phone at home sometimes. The watch also allows me to track my heart rate when I wear the chest strap.

The Forerunner 235 model comes with a built in wrist heart rate monitor, but I opted for the separate strap monitor as the Forerunner 230 has much better battery life. I only train with heart rate monitor periodically to check if my VO2 Max has improved (more on that another time).

Phone

Yes, I still bring my phone on most runs — particularly the longer ones. I’ve been known to call my wife to come get me if I’m beat. She’s good to me like that. Plus, I like to take a photo or two to post my run stats to Instagram.

Belt

I usually wear a hydration belt (without the bottles), to carry my phone, car/house key, identification, gel packs, etc. I still struggle to find the perfect hydration solution for me. I hated the water slushing about on my waist as I ran, which is why I never carry the bottles.

Hydration Pack

With the weather starting to heat up quick, I did recently buy a hydration backpack from Camden Gear. I’ve been on a couple of runs with it, and I don’t particularly like running with it either, but it’s been the best solution so far. With the summer heat in North Carolina it may actually be a necessity on the longer runs.

Visibility

Most of my weekday runs are in the dark, and on the road. It’s important to be as visible as possible for the incoming traffic. I wear a bright led flashing light attached to my belt. It’s the bare-minimum I think, and I know there’s much room for improvement here.

Missed Anything?

Have I missed any gear you could not run without?

Runner Safety: Setting up Privacy Locations in Strava and Garmin Connect

If you’re a Strava and/or Garmin Connect user, you may like to share your route information with friends & family. However, it’s possible that this information is also seen by complete strangers.

As most of my routes will begin and end at my home, I was happy to see that Strava supported Privacy locations, where you can mask an area of your route maps automatically — e.g. your home or office.

Just last week, Garmin also implemented the feature. I have now set this up on Strava and Garmin Connect. Check out the screenshots below on how to set this up under your own profiles. I couldn’t see a way of doing this via the phone apps, so for both platforms I had to use the desktop websites.

Strava

Garmin Connect

How To Move From iCloud Photos Library to Google Photos on OS X

Photo embedded from Google Photos library.

I have been using the iCloud Photo Library for quite a few months now.

In an earlier post, despite it’s obvious strengths, I listed some things that bugged me about the service. One of those things was the amount of space used by the Apple Photos app. Even with photo optimization switched on, the iCloud Photo Library was consuming over 4GB of my 16GB iPhone.


THE REASONING

After reading up on Google’s Photo app for a while, I much prefer Google’s approach to the client iOS app.

Why? Continue reading “How To Move From iCloud Photos Library to Google Photos on OS X”

This Is Why We Darken Our Auditorium

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STORYCHURCH started in a Durham school gymnasium/cafeteria back in 2010. It was so great! The school was brand new, so everything was clean and shiny — and super bright — thanks to the myriad of windows along the side of the room.

It was often so bright in fact, that Pastor Jeremy and I regularly talked (and talked) about the excess of light in the room and how we wished we could control it.

A little over 18 months ago, when we started to renovate what is now our first permanent location, the first thing we did was block out all the windows and paint the roof black. I was absolutely giddy with the possibility of being able to control the lights, at long last. No joke.

While caught up in all my giddiness, I’ve failed to communicate properly the WHY behind it. Here are some thoughts on why we like to control the lighting in our auditorium.

Continue reading “This Is Why We Darken Our Auditorium”

6 Ways Apple Could Make Their New Photos App and iCloud Library Awesome (for me)

  1. Reduce the app footprint. Give me the option of whether all, partial or no photos at all are cached on my iPhone. All my photos should still be available but thumbnails will stream to my phone from iCloud instead. I also use iTunes Match – I can stream all my music without having to download and carry around a percentage of my music library and no-one thought of that when developing Photos? The current all or nothing approach for Photos is forcing me to look at alternative solutions.
  2. Make it faster. The Photos app on my phone is slooooow. This is probably because the phone is trying to work with zero space left (see #1). When I click to attach a photo in iMessage, it can take an age for the photos to initially appear.
  3. Help me get rid of my duplicates! Not Apple’s fault, I know, but please include an intelligent duplicate finder and help me reduce the overall size of my photo library.
  4. Better integration with other iOS apps. Sometimes it can be tricky to pull an iCloud photo into Instagram because it doesn’t appear to be downloaded, even when I’ve clicked on it before loading Instagram. To get around this, I created a ‘scratch’ album which I’ll share images to and then pull them from there, or used copy & paste where supported.
  5. Families share photos! I know I can share selected pictures/albums within family sharing. But I want to be able to automatically give access to all my photos to anyone on my family sharing set-up.
  6. iTunes Syncing. The iTunes sync content bar thingy which tells me the ratio of content types that are on my phone displays 82GB for photos (I have a 16GB phone). On top of that, the tool-tip on that bar is accessible right the way across my screen, well off the edge of the iTunes app.

 

Recipe: Banoffee Pie (Ridiculously Yummy, Yet Easy to Make, Dessert)

Banoffee pie is a graham cracker base, with layers of banana and caramel, covered with a layer of whipped fresh cream!  It is up there as one of our favorite desserts, ever!  The best thing is, it’s sooo easy to make!

Ingredients

  • 1 Can (14 Ounces) of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust
  • 1 Carton of Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Ripe Bananas

 Method

You can’t really go wrong with this.  Follow the steps below to make perfect Banoffee pie, every time.

  1. Remove the paper from the can as best as possible. Boil a pan of water and then place the can into it unopened. Boil for 2.5 hours, adding extra water as necessary.  While that is boiling you can get on with the next step.
  2. If you’re tough like me, pour the cream into a bowl and whip by hand (using a whisk). Alternatively, whip the cream using an automated mixer. Just make sure it whips up nice and thick. Runny fresh cream is not acceptable. Think Cool Whip consistency, but do not use Cool Whip. Do not use fresh cream from a squirty can either. I don’t care how real it says it is. It ain’t.  Put the bowl of fresh cream in the refrigerator until later.
  3. Just before removing the can from the water, slice up the first banana and put a layer at the bottom of the graham cracker pie crust.
  4. Remove the can carefully from the pan. Use a tin opener to open the can, and be on your guard for any hot caramel flying out. Open the lid fully and give the contents a stir. The caramel should be nice and thick. Pour it all over your layer of bananas in the pie crust. Put the pie crust in the refrigerator for about 1 hour (or until the caramel has firmed up a little).
  5. Now you can add the fresh cream.  I like a good layer of it, but you can add as much as you’re comfortable with.
  6. Put some chocolate shavings on top.
  7. That’s all there is to it.

Pursue Your Spouse. Never Stop.

It’s heart-breaking when a marriage falls apart. In recent years Liz and I have seen many marriages of people we know under attack, some seemingly beyond repair. The worrying thing is, this seems to be on the increase. Now more than ever, we need to be focused on our marriages to keep them as healthy as we can.

We’ve been married now close to fifteen years. Marriages take work. The pursuit of our spouse must never stop. Every relationship is different, but here are some things that we aim for and I think work well for us. Be sure to let us know what works well for you.

Continue reading “Pursue Your Spouse. Never Stop.”

Recipe: Scotch Eggs

What You Will Need

  1. A pack of minced pork/sausage meat (16 0z)
  2. 6 Eggs
  3. Toasted coarse breadcrumbs

Preparation

  1. Hard boil 5 of the eggs.
  2. While they are boiling, beat the remaining egg in a bowl.
  3. Place a good layer of breadcrumbs in another bowl.

The Messy Bit

  1. Remove the shells from the 5 boiled eggs.
  2. Divide the pack of meat into five.
  3. Flatten a meat portion in the palm of your hand.
  4. Place an egg in the center and wrap the meat around it.
  5. Ensure egg is completely covered and meat layer is as even as possible.
  6. Take and gently roll in the beaten egg bowl.
  7. Take and gently roll in the breadcrumb bowl.
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 for each egg.

Baking The Eggs

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425.
  2. Place scotch eggs on a tray and place in middle of oven. I use a tray with a rack to help fat drain away.
  3. Cook for 25-30 minutes.

Serving Recommendation

Best served with fries and Heinz Baked Beans!