Running

New Shoes!

I ran 7 miles this morning in my new Clifton 3’s.

I was trying to hold out for the new Hoka One One Clifton 4’s (due early Summer), but my knees were starting to give me some grief over the last week or so. Fortunately, the Clifton 3’s, which I was currently running in, have dropped in price. So, since I knew the exact size I needed, I picked up a new pair at Amazon for under $100.

It’s a great shoe, and my “old” pair lasted me around 450 miles (since January) – for comparison, I changed my Brooks Launch at 380 miles. I’ll look at the Clifton 4’s again in a few months. They have apparently made them more durable without sacrificing the cushioning.

My old Clifton 3’s will not get to rest just yet — I’ll keep them handy for running in the rain, muddy trails, etc.

How often do you retire your shoes?

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Running

New Half-Marathon PR!

While I’ve yet to run any actual half-marathon races, I have ran the distance now on two occasions. My first attempt, back in mid December took me 2:14:12. My second attempt, on Sunday morning past, shaved over 10mins off the previous time with a result of 2:01:06.

I’d have loved to have landed under 2hrs, but I’m very happy with this progress, considering this route is fairly hilly (for Morrisville)!

 

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Running

Challenge Yourself

Coming into Fall of last year, I was quite happy with my 60-70 miles monthly mileage. The funny thing is, I think I would still be running the same distance each month if I hadn’t heard about Challengeville.

Challengeville is a vibrant online running community. It exists to encourage and cheer you on as you attempt to compete one of the running challenges each month. It was started by Bart Pierce (aka @oldguyrunning on Instagram), and you can read his amazing story over at Challengeville.net.

As a community, it has grown so much for something that started only 5 years ago. Bart has a handful of helpers now, known as the Challengeville City council. They are the voice of Challengeville and provide all the encouragement and shout-outs you receive when you participate in a challenge.

There are seven challenges to choose from:

  • THE NOUVEAU (26.25 miles)
  • THE TIMEFIGHTER (48 miles)
  • THE PHOENIX (70 miles)
  • THE TINMAN (93.3 miles)
  • THE TRANSFORMER (121 miles)
  • THE BIGFOOT (150 miles)
  • THE MADMAN (200 miles)

When I first signed up, I selected the TIMEFIGHTER challenge (48 miles). I received a message from Challengeville a day or two later, suggesting I sign up for TINMAN instead. They thought I would be under-challenged otherwise.

I loved that encouragement and belief in me as a runner, even when I did not believe in my own ability. I reluctantly agreed to the scarier challenge. That very first month, my mileage jumped from the average 60-70 to 90-100 miles per month!

I have signed up every month since and will continue to be part of this great community.

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Running

What is VO2 Max?

From WikiPedia: VO2 max (also maximal oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen uptake, peak oxygen uptake or maximal aerobic capacity) is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption as measured during incremental exercise, most typically on a motorized treadmill. Maximal oxygen consumption reflects the aerobic physical fitness of the individual, and is an important determinant of their endurance capacity during prolonged, sub-maximal exercise. The name is derived from V – volume, O2 – oxygen, max – maximum.

Over the last couple of years, fitness trackers (e.g. Garmin, Jabra and Fitbit) have started to make use of the VO2 Max formula to measure their users’ fitness levels. Previously only available to athletes in a laboratory setting with specialized equipment, these devices can estimate your VO2 Max close to laboratory results.

In saying all that, it’s not a value I have often checked. Garmin is only able to calculate/estimate it when I wear my heart rate monitor during training sessions, and that is not often. I think I will start wearing it more frequently to provide a wider data-set for analysis.

The reason I’m posting about VO2 now, is because I wore my heart rate monitor last week for a run and noticed an improvement in my VO2 score. I pulled up the Garmin app and compared my VO2 scores over the last 12 months. It was really rewarding to see such an improvement.

vo2-graph

And this graph below is always encouraging as well, another year and I should be very close to goal weight. Slow and steady is the way to do it.

weight

 

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Running

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.

 

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Running

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?

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Running

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

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