In defence of technology



Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash
Morning runners. How many of you are feeling a bit sore and tender today after a Sunday long run? I'm not, because I didn't do one. I've had a fairly minor bug for a few days - cheers small fry - and though I got some miles in over the weekend, I didn't stress out the system by slogging it round a pointlessly dispiriting 15 miler. So what's that got to do with technology? Well, coach Tom has me checking my HRV every morning. It's an app that measures your HRV using the phone camera, takes about 30 seconds and involves lying in bed breathing (I'm really quite good at that). If the resulting score is deviating strongly from baseline, it's a sign that something is amiss and the app will tell you to take it easy.

Now, I'm sure someone (or several someones) right now are rolling their eyes and saying "I don't need an app to tell me if I'm ill". Well, maybe, if you are perfectly in tune with your body. Most people, I think, aren't.  I mean, you also don't need a fancy GPS watch, or a Strava addiction, or a fancy foam roller - but it's perfectly ok if you do and you like these things. You can bang on about the purity of running and just being up in the hills by yourself but a snobbery about technology doesn't make you a better person. Sure, you have to know when to ignore that GPS (recovery runs, for instance) but the anti-technology/anything-about-modern-running diehards who bang on about how it was better in the old days when the elites ran without gels and watches clearly haven't met many of those old school elites. I've met a few, and they will tell you they'd have loved better running shoes and gels if they'd been on offer. They didn't rebuff technology, they just used what was available. Zatopek, my own personal hero, is often cited as a runner with a true work ethic, with 'no frills'. Yet he practically reinvented the entire notion of training: the sports scientist of his time. We all have a tendency to view the past through rose tinted, 'good old days' spectacles, as if runners of the past somehow embraced simplicity and eschewed technology, rather than just having a different model (training, nutrition, whatever) than what sports science now tells us is best. Fast forward 50 years and I'm sure runners of the future will be gentle laughing at our rudimentary recovery methods and how we didn't even know about RecoverOPod* beds.

At any rate, can you really always tell if you are tired, or coming down with something? If you are about to get a proper nasty fluey cold, or just had a bad nights sleep? I'm not sure I can, not with confidence. As so often with technology and running, the main use here is to tell you what not to do. Are you recovering properly from hard efforts? Definitely distinguishing between the heavy legs of DOMs and the heavy legs caused by a virus? So why not use something that measures it objectively, not subjectively.

So there you go. No long run for me, though I did get plenty of cake thanks to my dad turning a.. significant number of years. Victoria sponge with buttercream icing, and a rhubarb and ginger jam instead of the classic raspberry, since you asked.

Over to you.

*I'm totally patenting this

Comments

  1. Kate, the answer to your first question is yes, definitely a bit sore and tender after my Sunday long run. Was seriously considering bailing out at 6km, my right hip and ITB were misbehaving that badly. Thankfully my stubbornness paid off and I gradually felt better, then met up with my local crew half way through and eventually managed to trundle out 35km. Hopefully one of those runs that builds mental resilience.

    Parkrun the day before turned out to be interesting, as an Aussie Olympic 1500m semi finalist from Rio rocked up. Turns out she's pretty handy over 5km on path as well in disgusting heat and humidity. In hindsight, I thought I did ok to finish within 79 seconds of her, ha!

    As for the benefits or otherwise of technology for runners, speaking personally, I find that it does help to a significant extent. Although I'm not a massive geek freak, I do like analysing the data that comes from my GPS watch, surveying what my peers are doing on Strava, investigating (and occasionally partaking in) the latest on recovery, nutrition and the like. That said, I don't like being a slave to data and oftentimes run or recover by "feel".

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    1. LM...I dont want to tell you how to train but seriously...a long run the day after what is effectively a speed session? We aren’t getting younger, that feels like asking for trouble!

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    2. For my long runs the day after parkrun, I deliberately start off at a very easy pace / perceived effort. About half way through I'll assess how I'm feeling. Bear in mind that I don't really do proper "speed sessions" during the week, so parkrun is as close as it gets for me. I've also been getting fortnightly remedial massages and doing plenty of rolling and stretching!

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    3. Ok, but your second sentence would seem like a bit of an alarm!

      Any plans for after the heatwave?

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  2. Hello Kate and all, long time no see. I am also rather sore and stiff, even though I didn't run yesterday but did a fast walk of the Sunday hash in Bangkok. Over the last 2-3 weeks the back of my left knee/lower hamstring has been feeling sore and tight, so I thought I'd ease off running for a while, but now it's my right leg that's feeling the same. So I can't figure out if I've over-stretched, under-stretched, if it's something I need to worry about or just some passing thing and if I keep running, with stretching and foam rolling, it will eventually go away. It's frustrating to not know what the best course of action is!

    Otherwise, I've signed up for a succession of trail races in Thailand across this year, so I do hope my legs improve so I can get running properly again - building up from 10km to a 25km. A great way to see the country as the races take us to various places around the country. Though we have read up on what to do in case of snake bite, just in case!

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    1. I was thinking "oh how lovely, Thai trail races.." right up to the "snake bite" bit :)

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    2. So long as it's lager and cider mix being used a sports drink on the course that sounds grand.

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  3. Also a bit sore and tender, though my long run was very much aborted yesterday - I didn’t read the weather forecast right and ended up underdressed facing the hail and strong winds. I bailed 20k in losing the battle to warm up by running faster.

    Like you I use HRV (and simply resting heart rate, which I find correlates almost perfectly with it, actually, but my smart ring measures both) to decide how to juggle workouts and which days to go harder. I use lots of tech, more for analysis than for prediction, but I love comparing my “feel” to my numbers.

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  4. Yeah, I’d totally eat that cake.

    The winner of the 1988 London Marathon, Henrik Jorgensen, sadly died on Saturday. He was close to the finish of his daily 10k run around Bornholm when he suffered a heart attack. Way too young at only 57 years old.

    I’d had the pleasure of meeting him last year, such a nice guy. The whole family officiate at the Great Wall Marathon and running is certainly in the genes - daughter Anna represented Denmark in the Olympic Marathon.

    He’ll be greatly missed on the Danish running scene and the two biggest CPH running clubs, Mikkeller and NBRO, are planning a memorial run in his honour in the near future.

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    1. I saw a lovely post Mike Gratton wrote about Jorgensen on his Facebook page - as a friend and former rival. Really sad, such a sudden loss and as you say, way too young.

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  5. My lower back and hips (my pelvis area basically) is quite sore this morning, uncharacteristically so. I’m thinking it might be a result of some home ‘Yoga for Runners’ moves done over the last couple of days, I hope that’s all it is as I‘ve had to take Ibuprofen to relieve it. Bad news if I’ve bloody pulled or twisted something, felt fine on my long run.

    I’m all for technology but the simple stuff, too much data or too many graphs and I find myself losing sight of the activity and the pleasurable side. I’m teaching myself to be less of a slave to pace this year, so not looking at the watch during a run is a starting point. I’ve been doing lots of cruise intervals or fartlekking to keep things interesting, but just increasing pace during the run rather than pre-setting ideals. It’s good so far, I’m sure it will be at the expense of ‘best case scenario’ speed during a race but I wouldn’t mind seeing what that looks like. The flip side of rigid training … something new, may even race with my watch in my pocket!

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    1. My UK club did a race at the weekend where you have to predict your time for the 5k race. Closest to their prediction wins. Watches are obviously banned.

      It didn’t stop some people from wondering where the strava records for their race were - seems it is now second nature for folk to be able to see their pace and splits online whenever they run!

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    2. That's the thing, I'm not willing to give up the record and the data of the run, hence in my pocket. But yes, some people must think things happen magically in the cloud somewhere. Maybe one day soon when we all have built in GPS!

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    3. @Asta - my club does the same. It's like a scene out of Trainspotting for runners at the beginning of the race - serious Garmin withdrawal jitters. We're not allowed to run with our watches in our pockets, and we also do a route that isn't familiar (e.g. parkrun the other way round, or twice round the racecourse which was the option this year). Afterwards everyone floods on to Strava to record the race manually and title it to show that it really did happen despite not recording honest.

      @kyd I find the times I do run with my watch in my pocket strangely liberating. I've not had the guts to do it in an actual race yet (apart from informal club ones) but the one or two people I know who have have actually secured PBs, so maybe there's something in not being a slave to the tech.

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    4. I haven't had the guts yet in an actual race - apart from parkrun that is. The GPS at Southwark Park is so skewed that if I'm monitoring my km 's it puts me off as I look desperately slow. I recreated this at Burgess Park last year and got a PB!

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    5. I've done a race with the watch to record but not to check during and I practically died with nothing to hold back the horses from the fast start.

      It's clearly good practice though and you should be able to do it - might try at a parkrun again without it properly.

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    6. HD, I worry slightly about attempting a watch in pocket approach at a HM for that very reason. Would I be able to have the confidence to pace sensibly at first? Dunno. There are a few on here who have gone watch free for this distance and done quite well .. not sure I've got the bottle, I've got 6 weeks to think about it!

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    7. Yeah...the risk/reward ratio seems stacked against it. However, if you've practiced it and make a conscious effort effort to start slowly it might help you 'flow' later.

      I tend to race with my watch just showing the running time rather than pace atm so I'm not tempted to look constantly but still get the automatic splits, it would take a lot of persuasion for me to ditch that in a target race I think.

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    8. parkrun is a good place to practice running fast without looking at your watch.

      My club run a series of handicap 5k races through the summer where we're not allowed to wear watches. We just have to rely on our sense of can-I-keep-this-going-for-x-minutes?

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  6. p.s. rhubarb and ginger jam!!?? sounds like a heavenly combo!

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    1. It really is! I can't claim to have made the jam (just the cake) - it's from my girls school PTC. They do a lovely range of jams including a delicious three berry one, and some great marmalade this year. The rhubarb and ginger one is a nice "loose" one - not too set - so it's also lovely in a bit of plain yoghurt.

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    2. I make rhubarb jam every year but haven't included ginger before - will do so this time round!

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  7. Regarding aches and pains, today mine aren't so bad as I had to fit my long run in on Saturday and spent yesterday elbows-deep in cake. But I'm not going to lie, that 20-miler hurt with the outright drenching in the final hour the particular cherry-on-top. My lower body is basically a collection of niggles (might be downplaying that slightly) including hamstring, foot and shins (thankfully improving) that should probably be given a solid month off the road and into physio, but I'm an idiot and am determined to run my April marathon so they'll have to wait.

    No sympathy required, I'm picking and choosing from the training plan to get the more important sessions in and am under no illusions that it will be a fast time. But you all have my permission to tell me to take a break when it's done!

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    1. I can see you're becoming quite seasoned in cherry picking the training runs that matter and get you through. You did so well at Chester with minimum training, there has to be something in the, 'less is more but not too little' approach! Well done and good to have the confidence to do it.

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    2. Without wanting to sound like a complete wet blanket, is that wise? Fair play for being able to manage the training but would you not be better off recovering and then going again in autumn?

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    3. It's a fair question HD. I tried a break after the last marathon and while I thought at least the hamstring had sorted itself out, after a few weeks it came back. Neither seems to be getting any worse and I'm OK with "discomfort", if it became outright painful I'd have to reconsider. 10 weeks to go, so I'll continue to play it be ear.

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  8. Definitely sore this morning, but not from running. On Sunday I went for a bike ride for the first time since I crashed and broke my collarbone. In fact, I went round the same route as that last ride, but carefully and without the crash this time. It was an off road route and heavy overnight rain made the mud particularly clingy. At one point I had to get off and push due to lack of traction and the mud was so bad the wheels would not turn! Anyway, it turns out my rear is not used to 3 hours on a bike saddle any more.

    Parkrun was good. My third fastest time on that course and by far my fastest since injury. That was also mud affected as much of the initial section is on grass (now mud) and I had made a wrong shoe choice. Maybe that helped with pacing though, as I was faster in the last 2K than I usually am.

    I do love the tech, probably a bit to much if truth be told. I find that the HRM feature on my Garmin Fenix will show an elevated resting heart rate if I am coming down with something. This is usually before any sore throat/snotty symptoms, so if it is up, I know trouble is on the way. The rate can be up significantly when I have a fever, but at that point I am so miserable, I don't need technology to tell me to go to bed.

    I find that the tech also acts as a motivator. While the calories shown in Garmin Connect are a best guess based on heart rate, I do find that if I can keep the 7 day average active cals over 500 and stick to my usual food intake, I maintain a steady weight. As a result, even if it is not a real 500 cal measure, it is something I do try to aim for.

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    1. Ouch!! That sounds sore, hope you are't in too much pain. How long are you sidelined for?

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    2. The crash was last August, this was just my first ride since. The sidelining is over! I have been back running for nearly 3 months now, but was advised to wait before riding, as it is considered a 'contact' sport.

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    3. Sorry I completely misread that! (And actually thought "gosh, very sanguine response to another accident") clearly not enough caffeine yet this morning ;) That's really interesting that cycling is a contact sport! I would have thought that though the potential for injury when you have an accident is obviously greater, the actual activity is a lot less impact and therefore more suitable for rehabilitation. Would you have been allowed to go on an an exercise/spinning bike? (I ask only out of curiosity)

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    4. The contact bit was to do with the consequences of falling off. Any fall, even when stopping and not getting a foot down could have re-broken it. I managed to break it really close to the shoulder end of the bone. After the surgery to pin it, they told me if I damage it again before it has healed, there is not enough bone to try again. One end of the plate has 3 large screws in and the other end attaching the small bit I broke off has 8 tiny ones.

      A static bike was allowed, even when I had the sling. That did mean that I had to sit up and not actually hold the bars. Similarly once the sling was off, I was not allowed to load the arm, so still sitting upright on the bike. Later the load restriction was lifted, butstill advised not to cycle. I did try a couple of turbo sessions in the shed to start with, but the late summer heat made that unbearable even with a fan. I just opted for walks taking in as much ascent as possible to try and maintain some fitness.

      Next week I have what should be my final x-ray and official discharge. Still having physio to get full movement back. Not due to the break, but because of the length of time in a sling.

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    5. Glad you got out on your bike again Skipper. Any long layoff does result in a bit of uncomfortableness in relation to the saddle. It'll toughen up soon enough though!

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    6. I managed to re-fracture my previously plated clavicle when an i-zombie stepped into my front wheel on Tottenham court road a couple of years ago. It was this injury that got me back into running as I could not cycle on it, but could run after a couple of weeks. Perhaps I should thank the young lady with the phone and no road sense...

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  9. Just recovering from 3 weeks ick but still with residual cough. Volunteered at Lytham Hall as wasn't up to competitive running. I only compete with me but I can't run a race slower than flat out.. I just can't and I don't think that's a good thing to do post ick recovery. So I jogged the 5 miles slowly there.. walking a bit.. and got to watch Haley Carruthers smash our course while I froze to death and took pictures of millions of snow drops.
    When I bought my Garmin one bloke I no longer speak to coz he's a know all control freak threw a complete wobbly about how no runner needed such a thing (he couldn't run to the end of his own living room) and all I needed was a stop watch.. apparently the GPS would never work as I zigzagged around city streets.. a complete waste of money he said. I pointed out it was my money and that no runner zigzags unless being chased by a wasp or doing some weird training exercise.
    I love my watch.. It's useful.. and massively motivational.

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  10. A few weeks ago The Running Channel posted a video about stretching exercises after running. Now, I'm particularly crap at proper warm down exercises, and unless I can see what I am supposed to be doing, I don't understand or get it. So, after watching the video I thought I'd give them a go. Truthfully, each time I ran I had to look at the video again because I couldn't remember them at first. But anyway, after a number of runs I can now remember them! And they have been really good for making my legs feel healthy and sound. The exercise that seems to have benefited me most is hamstring stretching, something I've had problems with in the past. So, thanks Kate, Anna & Rick for some excellent videos.

    Training for my triathlon is going well. I'm really enjoying moving between each of the disciplines as it gives me a bit of a break and some mental refreshment. I had a very pleasant recovery week last week, with a reduction in the amount of running and riding. However, today is the start of the ramping up of all three disciplines, something that three large glasses of wine last night didn't help with for my early morning 2.4k swim today. I felt tired! Maybe alcohol is going to be an absent friend for the next 16 weeks.

    Oh, the other thing to report is that the training plan has me running/riding for a period of time at varying levels of perceived effort. It took a while to get my head around this concept because I still had to work out possible routes and distances. However, I love the idea that the plan says "run for 60/70/80/etc minutes at perceived effort x" as I feel much more organised with my time and I can get on with other things once the training has been done for the day.

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    1. Ah fab Pete, so glad they are proving useful! (Note to self: follow own advice more...)

      My coach also does the vast majority of my runs by time, not distance (eg 50 easy, 70 steady, half hour recovery) and I really prefer it now. It definitely helps to switch off the mindset of "oh dear that mile was slow" and to see it more as a period of training, rather than slogging out miles, if that makes any sense!

      My sole triathlon experience is now over 10 years ago but I do remember enjoying the variety of training. Ironically I hated the running though ;)

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  11. No aches and pains for me today as my 'long' run yesterday was only 8 miles. I'm easing back into marathon training to make sure my ankle is strong enough for the proper long runs, and because of the lost fitness over the four weeks of not/partial running. I'd be a fool to try and replicate my original training plan before I'm ready. Eight miles at an easy pace was very pleasant though I have to say - it's nice to do a run that feels way too slow at first, but gradually falls into a nice rhythmic pace. And you can run up the hills without slowing down AND reach the end thinking 'I could do a few more miles' instead of 'I'm wiped, couldn't run another step'. It's surprisingly hard to keep to a slower than average pace though - I've got some later ones where I have to mix up the easy with MP and intervals, so it'll be interesting to see how that works for me.

    I'm like kyd with the tech - nice to have and I always like to scrutinise things afterwards, but the graphs and data do my head in. I would like to work out how and why to use the 'Lap' function on my Garmin though, if anyone has any useful insights.

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    1. If you're anything like me you'll find the slower segments of the intervals much harder than the faster! I found this mind boggling the first time I attempted them, but it's a fact. If you're doing 10 mins easy followed by 10 mins MP x 5 for example, you'll know which ones hurt!

      I use the Auto lap function on my Garmin to mark every KM. Select Menu > Settings > Activity Settings > Auto Lap > Distance.
      Other than that you can just press the lap button to mark laps of a track for example. Is that what you mean?

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    2. Interesting that you found the slower segments harder than the fast ones! I'll see what happens. I've got a run in a couple of weeks that has me doing 3E, 3MP, then a series of 200m at high intensity then back to E. I reckon those 200m sprints are going to feel like an eternity!

      Do you press your lap key each time you finish a lap of the track? I have something called 'Lap pace' but I can't see how that's any different to just 'pace', seeing as my Garmin gives me the pace each time I do a mile anyway.

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    3. I have the auto lap set to the default 1km. I try to just look at the pace when it buzzes the end on a km. One thing that has puzzled me is that sometimes a little while after the km has been indicated, I get another buzz and a figure like +10. Is this some sort of split feature that is also enabled by default? I do tend to get slower in the later kms, so that would make sense.

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    4. RGG - I don't have a Garmin but I believe from speedy mate who paces me, 'pace' is how fast you're going at any given time and 'lap pace' is either the average you've done for the lap (which you can set as you like, though it sounds like a mile is the default) so far or the likely finishing time of it. So if you start like a bat out of hell for 800m and then die, you could have a 'lap pace' of 6 mins and 'pace' at 7. Maybe!

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    5. The pace field is 'current' pace, or rather a short time interval pace that is effectively current. If you have just gone up a steep bit and slowed down a bit, you will see the pace drop the recover as you start out on the flat again.

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    6. Ruby - firstly, looking at your Strava, it looks like you have Auto Lap turned on and set to 1 mile.

      The following data fields - lap distance, lap pace (average), lap speed (average), lap time (elapsed) - all pertain to the current lap, and reset when you tick over into the next lap.

      Separate to these, you also have (or can have): distance, time, pace (average), speed (average) which all pertain to the total run and do not reset when you tick over into a new lap. Average pace (and speed) continually updates as you go, e.g. if you speed up or slow down.

      In addition, you have (or can have) several data fields which are *current* (i.e. instantaneous, or almost so), including pace, speed, HR, HR zone, cadence etc.

      So there are 3 pace fields available to us: current pace, lap (average) pace, and complete run (average) pace.

      Even with auto lap turned on, you still have the option to manually, at any point, start and stop a lap, using the lap key (on some Garmins, this has to be enabled in the run activity profile). So, for example, you could jog 3.5 miles to track (getting 3 one mile laps and one half mile lap), then manually mark laps every 400m, 800m etc.

      Personally, I don't use the lap data as I'm running other than looking at the displayed lap time (automatically displayed) when the watch buzzes at the end of each auto lap. (But remember I've never done interval workouts or track...)

      By the way, if you've ever wondered why Strava pace is sometimes different (faster) compared to Garmin pace, the main reason is if you've stopped running. Strava uses 'moving time' whereas Garmin uses true elapsed time for its 'headline' figures. A second reason could be that Strava calculates slightly different distances when it reprocesses the data, compared to those recorded by the watch.

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    7. Skipper, assuming you have a Garmin, that +10 is most likely "Performance Condition":

      "As you run, performance condition analyzes your pace, heart rate, and heart rate variability to make a real-time assessment of your ability to perform compared to your average fitness level. During the first 6 to 20 minutes of an activity, your watch displays your performance condition score. Performance condition can also be an indicator of fatigue level, especially at the end of a long training run."

      Excellent: 11 or greater
      Good: 2 to 10
      Baseline: -1 to 1
      Fair: -10 to -2
      Poor: -20 to -11

      I did a run last Autumn that looked like this(!):

      https://postimg.cc/hQmCpwtd

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    8. PS - sorry for the length of my posts above - hope they make sense and don't over-complicate it...

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    9. As complicated as you might think your replies read Paul, you've made me look at my Garmin and see how it can help me doing hill intervals tomorrow. After a lot of "what the f**k!?!" shouting at the watch, I know have it set up for the morning's exploits. It's got an open timed warm-up, then 10 reps of 2 minutes (up hill, hard) and 3 minutes (downhill, easy), then an open timed cool down. I've played with it in the house without having to move and know what button to press to start the intervals and what the sounds are like at the end of the of each part of the interval. Hopefully I'll remember it all in the morning and it is helpful. I might come back and let you all know.
      Cheers Paul for making me check out some of the tech that I've paid for but never used!

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    10. Sounds like you've programmed a workout into it Pete - well done and good luck with it tomorrow. All the intervals (wu, work, recovery, ...., cd) should show up as separate laps in your Strava (wu and cd could be more than 1 lap each depending how long they are).

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    11. Paul, it does make sense. I remembered that it was +4 at parkrun. Now I know what to look for, I can see that the point on the graph at around 15:45 where the performance first shows has a value of 4.The matching point on the map is where I remember it displaying. Finally the mystery is solved. I never get a good look at it as I am busy running.

      I don't suppose you can shed a light on my other garmin bugbear. I have a fenix 5s and while moving, the gps trace seems accurate, but when stopped, I get a lot of scatter points. Not much of an issue running or on the bike, but when hiking a quick buttie stop looks like I have been dancing about and can add a lot of distance to the trace. If I have my garmin montana recording as well, there is a lot less random scatter, or maybe it has some sort of average position replacement when it detects that sort of pattern. It would be really handy to be able to select a point and tell it to replace all points in a given area with a single point based on the average position of all those circled. I could do it manually, but it is too much faff to download, clean and upload the trace.

      Sometimes I pause the recording, but while this makes the distance more accurate, it messes up the total time.

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    12. Not knowing the name of the field made it hard to search for. There is a good thread on Performance Condition here https://forums.garmin.com/forum/on-the-trail/wrist-worn/fenix-3/121337-

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    13. An update on me setting my Forerunner 220 to help me do hill reps this morning. It was brilliant!
      It was set to do an open timed warm up, that allowed me to get to the bottom of the hills I was using, then hitting the correct button to start the intervals, I was away. There is a countdown vibrator that meets you know when you are coming to the end of the interval, but having matched it to a place in the road on the first rep helped. Then a slow jog down the hill back to the starting place, using up all the recovery time and then away again as the second interval started.

      What I really liked is that it made me be disciplined about what I was trying to do. So I didn't add any recovery time because it was getting harder, I didn't skip some of the intervals because it was getting harder and it made me dig deep when I was supposed to be pushing hard and then use the recovery periods as effectively as possible! I'll be issuing this feature again. Thanks Kate for talking running tech and Paul for talking the time to explain some of the features of the of the forerunner, which made me be instruinqui in the first place.

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    14. Skipper - not used it for hiking and so haven't encountered that problem. Must be quite annoying for an extra k or so to keep getting added. I can see online that other people have had the same problem.

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    15. Great stuff Pete. Next is to look at Kate's interval workout this morning and get that one pencilled in :)

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  12. I'm a wee bit stiff but not too bad after a the longest run in a HM block (20k) on Sunday to take me to a first-ever 80k/50m week. I've certainly felt worse but also better so we'll see how the next days go.

    As for tech, agree completely that the old runners would have used whatever they could, they weren't being spartan out of principle. Along with Zatopek, Bannister had his very early sport science, treadmill, specically made shoes etc. I don't check every morning but if I'm feeling peaky and unsure if I'm just tired or under the weather I'll use the watch to test for an elevated heart rate when I wake up and adjust training accordingly...as with most things, using tech as an aid will likely help you, being an obsessive slave to it will not.

    Speaking of tech and shoes, some cracking times at the Dubai marathon, particularly for Herpassa Negasa who carved five and a half minutes off his PB to break 2:04...only he was wearing adidas kit and badly disguised vaporflys. The evidence is becoming overwhelming that it's 'gotta be the shoes' as the old advert said. For professionals who don't run for self-improvement but cold hard cash it now seems a no brainer that you need to beg, steal, borrow or murder your training partner for these shoes or you're going absolutely nowhere.
    What's the view among us humble plodders? If you've peaked at a 3:01 marathon or 41 minute 10k, buy the shoes and achieve that elusive time starting with a 2 or 3, it seems certain that you're not actually any better, faster, stronger or fitter than you were before - you just have the means and the motivation to spend 250 euros on a pair of springboards.

    Unless you're looking to qualify for things - and even then, everyone getting faster will just see a tightening of standards - literally no one other than you gives a toss about your times so what's the point in doing it? On the other hand, all shoes are designed to make you go faster, you'll run better in a fancy tech t-shirt than cotton etc so what's the difference in maximising your chances? Who knows...I suspect my own decision will be made rather easier as by the time I hope to be on the verge of my next big number - another year to 18 months all being well - the cost will have come done considerably or other companies will have found a way of replicating the plate. Fingers crossed at least!

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    1. Could just shoes really account for a whole five minutes though? And how could it ever be fully proven? I honestly think I've been running faster since I swapped my 8mm drop NB for 0 drop Altras, but in that time I have also trained for a marathon, run a lot more races off-road and done a lot more speed training and S&C full stop. So how can I say without a doubt that it's the shoes?

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    2. That's the golden question....Nike claim 4%, his PB drop was 4.3% iirc.

      Certainly the number of pros running - and winning/doing well in them - is incredibly high and anecdotally I've yet to see a blog or messageboard post where an amateur who has them isn't very impressed.

      Various studies mentioned here which suggest they work: https://www.outsideonline.com/2367961/how-do-nikes-vaporfly-4-shoes-actually-work

      Ofc whether everyone gets the full 4% claimed is debatable and yes, other factors come into play - if you've just spunked 250 euros on shoes, presumably you're going to train and eat properly for your next race, though you'd think the pros were doing that already.

      So the exact amount of benefit isn't certain but what does seem clear is that if you spend the cash you'll run your next race faster.




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    3. No Ruby, I dont think it can.

      If the shoes are worth 5.5 minutes then Mo Farah is in reality ‘only’ a 2.10 marathoner...which is obviously nonsense.

      Anecdotally, the people I know who use them and improved in them were already on a steady trajectory of improvement and only the guys really committed to running were going to spend 250€ on shoes. Nobody who was already ‘good’ and consistently hitting the same tradings has made a huge leap.

      If someone like Scott Overall gets a pair and finds 6 minutes on his PB then I’ll buy it - but there’s no evidence for that from what I’ve seen.

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    4. I don't think there's any doubt from the emerging evidence (as in, trials) that they do give some performance gain. How much is of course the question. The 4% is clearly just the marketing slogan. But actually I think it's probably also on a range according to who wears them. As we all know, everyone runs slightly differently and some people may get more gains from them than others. When it comes to amateurs asta is obviously right in that if you are wearing them for a marathon, say, and have been training for a PB... and you get a PB... obviously might well have got that anyway. Clearly they are pricey, though then again, the other brands seem increasingly to be pricing their top models in the same direction - Adidas Ultraboost, for instance, are £150 new. Asics top model £160. Obviously no one has to buy them either of course!

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    5. I bought a pair of VF fly knits just before Christmas - they seem to have sorted out the supply-side a little and I could think about it for a few days before taking the plunge.

      I tried them out last Tuesday - on a 4 mile tempo run around Regents Park, scaring the winter tourists, pigeons, geese and swans. The bad news first: you still have to push hard, the shoes don't do the running for you. The good news, it felt ever so slightly easier to maintain the pace. Pace-wise I ran the block more smoothly than previous tempos on the same route. But this could be attributed to familiarity with the route. The noticeable difference was when I was cooling down: I didn't feel any effort running along maybe 40-50s/mile slower than the tempo pace. When I stopped, my legs didn't feel like I'd done any hard running.

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  13. I like my watch, especially the Track Back feature which has helped me out a few times after getting lost in the mountains with 'weather' approaching. The watch throws an awful amount of data at me, but I'm only really interested in distance, elevation gain and - sometimes - how fast I'm going.

    Speaking of pace, I've been spending the year so far seeing how achievable my target is of running 100km at somewhere around 5:40 minutes per kilometre. I know for some on here that doesn't sound that fast, but at that distance it's quite a fair lick for a mere mortal... especially when you factor in the hills. I've come to the conclusion that around nine-and-a-half hours of solid running is doable, but an awful lot can go wrong between now and July.

    The pessimistic tone has been adopted because my running has been stop-start since returning to these shores in September. I've had an infected blister, a calf niggle, a hamstring niggle and ITB issues. The most recent spanner-in-the-works has been a common cold. There was barely any running last week, but I mustered myself out on Saturday for a muddy, traily 14 miles with 600 metres of ups, most of which was spent coughing up and blowing out all manner of yucky stuff. The head and chest were sufficiently clear yesterday to do a hard hill/sprint/tempo type thing for 11 miles (400 metres of ups). The legs are feeling fine today, so let's see what the rest of the week brings.

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  14. Managed my long run yesterday; not sure about the rest of the country, but we had weather warnings for wind, and as my long runs normally go along the coast for most of it, you can imagine how pleased I was at that. Ended up being brave and going off-road (because although I hate mud, I hate wind more) and ran along some disused railway lines turned walkway that are nice and sheltered from the wind. It wasn't the disaster I was expecting, but I'll be looking forward to my trusty track tomorrow night.

    As for tech, I'm all for it. I was actually reminded of Google Glass a few weeks back, and how there was a program for cyclists built into it that effectively gave your sunglasses a HUD for whatever you wanted. That could theoretically work with running too, especially with the way augmented reality has pushed on in the last few years.

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  15. About running technology, this is a bit off track and also very unpleasant, but there was a big murder case in the North West that concluded about 2 weeks ago. The jury found someone guilty of two murders and it was evidence that the police had gathered from the murderer's Garmin Forerunner watch! It turns out that the murderer had planned at least one of the murders and the GPS information on his watch pinpointed him to the area of the killing. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-46902706

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    Replies
    1. The Runner's World report (https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a25924256/mark-fellows-runner-hitman-murder/) is even better since they include the important details such as race times!

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    2. That's a much better article than mine HD! Runner's World clearly went for the info that would interest us runners!
      I pushed pi my pc and didn't realise i wasn't logged in to the blog, hence Unknown.

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    3. I should read before posting!
      I meant to say I'd posted on my pc and didn't realise I wasn't logged in.

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    4. But it was so mysterious Pete! especially with that subject matter!

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  16. I like having the tech to track my miles and pace, like lots of others, it motivates me.

    My main problem is trying to avoid letting that get in the way of my actual run.

    Last couple of weeks I have been in Auckland visiting my brother and the first couple of days my first mile was painfully slow from having to to wait for lights and dodge lots of people as I got out of the CBD and then I felt under pressue to speed up to push my average pace down for the run, not ideal when you are swithing from cold NH winter to humid SH summer!

    Luckily, I caught myself on, stopped working about pace and really enjoyed some great runs about NZ, added bonus of getting to run with my brother which I don't get to do all that often!

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    1. Well jel, I love running in Auckland. Hit Tamaki Drive!

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    2. The slow mile was to get out to Tamaki Drive from my apartment. It's a great stretch.

      My brother took me on a great route down round Hobson Bay as well, although the King Tide meant we had to wade for about 400ms!

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  17. Well said Kate. I love my watch. I guess it's a bit of a comfort blanket; I've run OK without it but the motivation it gives me is invaluable. Plus the geeky post run analysis of course. And I'm too old and set in my ways to change.

    Much of my soreness has gone as I did my long run on Friday, the first 32km outing of this training cycle. The last 6kms were a bit of a slog but I'm pleased to have stuck it out to the end. Saturday's parkrun was a recovery run, as was yesterday's trot to an extent although I can't say I appreciated being beaten up by the wind. It was ridiculous.


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  18. Hello all. I enjoy my tech as both a motivational tool and a record of my progress or lack of it. I also like to put a comment on Strava not so much for others but as a reminder of how the weather was, how I felt or what I was trying to achieve. I'm to be found doing this quite soon after the end of my run to much derision from my wife who will ask if I am telling my pretend friends what I've done. I have told her that the alternative is that I tell her about my run so we have agreed that it's best if I continue with my own version of reality.

    So pretend friends (I know you're real), in my running life I am going through one of those enthusiastic phases and went out on Saturday morning with the aim of a fast 5k followed by a steady 5. I ended up with a 22'06" 5k which is my best for a couple of years followed by a steady 8.5k that felt good at under 5 minute/km pace. I think those hills a couple of weeks ago paid off! I also hit my biggest week's distance for sometime and 100km for January. This, for me, is quite a long way. I know that running slumps come and go so it's nice to be enjoying this high at the moment. It may well be helped by my wife and daughter who have both finished week 3 of c25k and my former heavyweight friend who has lost 3 and a half stone and who I am running his maiden HM with in March. He did a 20k run on Saturday - his furthest ever - and said he checks to see what I've done and it helps him So, another tech benefit.

    Happy running, everyone and keep warm this week UK runners.


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  19. I did quite a lot of running on the weekend, kicking off with the Southern Area XC Championship at Parliament Hill Fields on Saturday afternoon. We managed to get away with running over relatively dry ground and I scraped into the top 25% which was OK - my usual target for this sort of race is top 50%. While we were in the pub later the heavens opened and I think if that had happened earlier I would have been 10 minutes slower around the course. Sunday's run was pretty late on, I settled on going out for 15 miles, I got into a nice pace pretty early on, but it made the last few miles a bit tough. I'm not sure if I had a sock malfunction or just that my shoes were too new, but the last 3 miles were very painful on the balls of my feet.

    HRV - I'm sure that could be useful, but it's yet another dataset to look at. For now I'll try to improve my recovery by paying more attention to my sleep pattern.

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  20. No long run for me because tbh I simply didn't want to. Weather was dry but windy and the thought of going out in it for a slog that would bring me no joy failed to shift me off the couch...and I regret nothing. As technology I love it I misplaced my HRM recently and whilst it doesn't make me a better runner it does help me understand why some runs don't just feel tough but genuinely are. Great for folk that can run to feel but I am not one of those folk so something that tells me how a run is going during it via a buzz and a flashing display is lerfe t for me

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  21. I do record everything, but on easy runs I’ll just have my route/track showing and don’t look at pace til I finish.

    Been a bit quiet on here, Monday’s are busy! Since new year I’ve been nursing a sore hip. Nothing bust, just everything tight and a bit of bursitis. Mangeable with a ton of stretching, and gradually getting better. It really doesn’t like my Wednesday tempo run, but was pretty good through 16miles yesterday. It’ll get a week off running when it’s doing skiing next week, so hopefully that’ll sort it out.
    Marathon training otherwise going well, getting the runs in, just over 50miles last week - a lot for me, only been there a couple of times before.
    Tempos are going well, faster intervals not so well (bit slow), which is the opposite way around to normal. Hoping it’s just been lack of concentration on the last couple.
    Anyway, winter has well and truely hit the last couple of days, in its full windy, wet, snowy, icy glory. So just hoping to be able to avoid the mill and keep running outside.

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  22. This weekend's long run wasn't very long at all - only 6 miles - which in the wind, rain, sleet and eventually snow, was plenty. Funny, when I ran that same route about three weeks ago in the crisp winter sunshine, I met loads of cyclists, runners and dog walkers. Yesterday, not a soul!

    I love my Garmin. It's a very basic one - probably for the best, as I'm not very teccy - but I still find myself absorbed in stats and graphs. And it's great for being able to see your progress - or otherwise. My biggest bugbear however, is how slow it can be to pick up a GPS fix. Not unreasonable perhaps at home, living as I do in the middle of nowhere, in a forest at the bottom of a hill. But in central London? Outside Westminster Abbey? Ok, I know there are high buildings, but it has also been quite temperamental in other, more open parts of the city. Hey ho. First world problem I suppose.

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