atomicules

Push propelled program tinkerer and picture maker.

LINK: Running 5000 Miles Around The Coast Of Britain

Love this story. Equal parts in awe and jealousy (although who am I kidding, I could never do that; 99% awe)

LINK: WorkOutDoors

This is a FANTASTIC watchOS app. I’d a nutshell I’d say it turns an Apple Watch into a high-end Garmin. I’ve used the Strava app and Apple’s Workout app and this trounces both of those. I hope Apple never buy it out and ruin it.

I’ve yet to even use any of the routing or mapping side of it, just the multitude of screen configurations and GPS signal strength display was enough to make it an easy buy in my mind

Hylo Running [V1] - First Impressions

I had pretty much settled on Nike Free RN as my running shoe of choice for the road. The added bonus of Nike is that is often pretty easy to pick stuff up in a sale. My last pair were at the end of their life and needed replacing so I ordered some more (in the sale!), received notification they were shipping (sooner than I expected) and then just after that another update saying they’d been delayed. Fair enough, it is “this year” after all, I wasn’t in a desperate rush for them so I could wait. After a couple of weeks I got in touch with customer support and they said I could cancel or wait a bit longer so I decided to wait. Over a month later overall I got in touch to cancel* because I’d stumbled across an alternative: Hylo Running [V1].

Hylo have done what other brands have been talking about for ages. Adidas have their FUTURECRAFT.LOOP project, but its first release is spring/summer next year. Hylo are here now, with (probably) a more sustainable shoe and the same circular process.

Nike have a reuse-a-shoe programme, but you either need to return to a store (my nearest is 280 km away) or pop into a London (only?) store to get a reuse-a-shoe bag which you can then use to return at a DPD collection point, but if you can get to a London store to get the bag you might as well just return your shoes there, surely? So mine are going to landfill. Eesh. Not great. Although I can’t but help think it’s better to run and chuck shoes than not run.

Hylo are also at a reasonable price point. As mentioned, I usually try to get Nike stuff in the sale, but if I were to buy Free RNs new they’d be £95. Hylos are £100, but supposedly with £10 back when you return at the end of their life.

Are they any good for running though?

  • They are lightweight. This is good to me… they are about the same as my Free RNs.
  • They look good off your feet… they look like proper running shoes. On my feet, looking down at them, they look a little bit school plimsoley, but that could just be because I got them in black (any other colour was going to get too dirty).
  • I’ve run 5kms and 10kms fine; According to Strava I even ran my second fastest 10k in them. At 20km… well I’ve only done one run, but they felt a bit firmer than I like and am used to towards the end of the run. I think they are somewhere in-between Nike Free RNs and Nike Terra Kiger (from when I’m running on the road to get to the off road bits). I have crappy knees and so I like something a bit softer for pure road. I will have to try again and see as it could have just been how I was on that day; I have since tried a 10k with the front half of my old Free RN insoles under the Hylo insoles to add a bit more padding with the added benefit of reducing the drop a touch (these have more drop than I’m used to) and that seemed a bit better; And it also saved a tiny bit of my old shoes from landfill.
  • They are really pretty flexible. Not a million miles away from Free RN. I like this too.
  • The uppers are not stretchy at all. So you do have to tie and untie laces. Where as on Free RN I tend to tie once and then lazily slip off/on forever more. This is not a big deal (I have to tie laces on my Terra Kiger too).
  • They have collapsible heels though. I love that. And even without any stretch/elastic there has been no heel slip.
  • It is nice having soles that don’t get stones stuck in them, but they don’t feel that grippy to me. I’ve run on damp roads and never felt like they were going to slip, but they didn’t feel sticky either. I’ve since run on icy roads and didn’t fallover. So I’d say they aren’t especially grippy/sticky, but they aren’t slippy either.

I’d say so far so good. My main hang-up and worry is around that firmness. I’ve only done 64km on them though so I’ll just have to see.

* - Typically they turned up about a week after I cancelled. I haven’t opened the box yet. I either need to return them or pay for them - if I return them I’m worried they’ll refund me money I never paid for them. So I’ll probably just try to pay for them and use them in approximately 736 km time.

2000km

2000km

When I started using the Nike Run Club app, I noticed it had a 160k platinum monthy goal. And I thought I’d never be able to do that. But 2000k a year is (just) over that every month. I think physically I could do more (knees permitting), it’s just there is too much of life that gets in the way.

Anyway, this was my goal this year. I was on track to smash it, but then hit injury and had to tone it down a fair bit after the second marathon. So I’ll probably keep this goal the same next year and not be silly and increase it to 2500km.

2000km is enough to be a challenge, but achievable around vagaries of life, work, injury, etc.

All of my eggs in two shoes

I realised with horror recently that I have placed too much emphasis* on running for my mental well being. So that when I get to times like now (“this year”) plus little injuries that seem like they won’t go away+ I’m kind of screwed. First it was my knee stepping over the damn dog (always in the way) and probably from compensating for that, and not properly letting that heal, I’ve gone and hurt my foot on the other leg. It’s very plantar fasciitis like. Crap.

Without running there is no way for me to empty my bullshit buckets (I prefer to think of it as starting with empty buckets that ovefill when everything is too much as opposed to reservoirs that deplete§). Yeah, there’s yoga, but it’s just not the same as being miles away from everyone at the top of hill.

Work is stressful because it’s just “this year”. Home is stressful because it’s just “this year”. Running is my escape; I find it odd that people want to run with other people, isn’t the joy of it being on your own? But perhaps cycling corrupted me.

I think I am going to need a plan B. Just in case.

* - Not sure what other option there is though. Cycling used to do the same; Although arguably contributed as well.

+ - Both my knee and foot healed (well, healed enough). I was being melodramatic. Although at the time when I was struggling to walk a few metres at home it didn’t seem so.

§ - Pretty sure I’ve said it in reverse before though.

Yoga

I used to be 100% in the yoga is pointless camp… and I was wrong. I love it now. It’s such a good compliment to running.

It all started from following half-marathon and marathon training plans in Nike Run Club. These are really good plans that adapt to your progress and mix in workouts from Nike Training Club. And that’s how I ended up doing some yoga workouts that I would have otherwise never have tried and realising I really enjoyed them.

When I started doing stupid amounts of cycling I discovered, much to my amazement, I could touch my toes after years of not being able to. When I stopped cycling and switched to running I felt this start to slip again - running is not great for suppleness.

I initially only did (or tried to remember to do) yoga after long runs when I would feel stiff and achy. But I’m gradually progressing to mixing in yoga regularly with running and it really seems to be helping with flexibility.

The NRC application has fourteen yoga workouts in total ranging from twenty minutes to forty-five minutes. It’s enough for now to keep things varied, but I am starting to wonder if there is anything else out there I can use? I think it’ll be hard to beat the NRC format though.

On the off chance anyone actually reads this and has a yoga recommendation I’d love to hear it.

Marathon No.5

After the last untrained for one I decided to not train for another one! My life is not conducive to being able to train properly - I’ve accepted that. But what I can do is do long runs at the weekends and mimic a training plan that way. So after the last one I gradually built up my distance again and found myself running the fastest 30k I’d done, finishing in well under three hours. I mean that leaves me over an hour to do a further 12km. Surely this time I could do a marathon in under four?

But it was not to be. Two weeks to go in the taper* down period I injured my knee stepping over the damn dog at home (she always lies in the way, doorways, etc; must be a weird guarding thing). And it did not recover.

Since I’d already mentally commited to it, I took the last two weeks really easy and on the day used painkillers, ibruprofen gel and a knee support to see me through.

I actually, weirdly, managed my fastest time yet. Four hours ten minutes. And also my fastest 30k. That’s despite the second half of it feeling shocking and even having to run/walk during the last couple of km.

Probably, even though this is my fifth one, I still shouldn’t be doing them: I’m not good enough yet at keeping my pace up over the distance. Cutting myself some slack on this one though because of my knee. Then again, though, the only way to get better at running longer distances is by running longer distances.

Next year!

* - Since I can’t train properly I shouldn’t try to follow a taper down. It only really works if you run shorter distances at a higher intensity. My intensity just dropped off

Marathon No.4

Stealing some of the text from Strava

My plan this year was for more of an off-road marathon. There is a nice 30k trail run I have which is basically running 15k to run up a big hill and then running back, but it’s absolutely beautiful and fun. And so then I worked out if I tacked on one of my wind turbine runs I’d be pretty much spot on for a marathon.

Of course, I’d planned on training for this and was just about to start that when lockdown happened. I’ve managed to do enough running even when we could only leave home once a day, but I thought I’d save starting a training plan until when lockdown ended. What happened instead was that I’d so missed running that 30k trail (it’d been over six months) that when the five mile exercise radius restriction got lifted last Friday I thought I’d just get up and have a go at my offroad marathon idea - If I was struggling I could just call it quits after 30k.

Unfortunately I’d not had a good nights sleep, but it felt “now or never”ish so I still got up at 5.45am (on a Saturday!) and did it. I’d made some flapjack the day before so took that and some novelty “brussel sprout” white chocolate truffles I found in the cupboard left over from Christmas (did not check use by date).

I fell over at about 15k, just before the hillclimb. The path was so overgrown I couldn’t see where my feet were. I was already pretty wet from running through the tall grass, falling over completed the job.

I’d stashed a bottle of water at about 32k since I’ve run the 30k route enough times to know I can do it without water (this is Scotland afterall. It was 7-8 degrees C when I did this in July; I started the run wearing gloves) and before breakfast. That was also my bailing point if things weren’t going well. But I felt good at that point so I walked and drank for a few hundred metres (a far better approach than what I’ve tried in the past which is trying to run and drink - I can’t do it!). I stashed the bottle again to pick up on the way home.

I think I did ok up until 37k and then cracked, but in all fairness I was running up a big hill again by then; I ran even more slowly down it because my legs were tired and I didn’t trust them myself not to trip and fall over.

Funnily, it turns out this more offroad route is actually slightly less hilly than my road route. In terms of total elevation, anyway: 476m elevation vs 571m. Although the offroad hills are steeper! This is also the fastest marathon I’ve run 4:20:02. Pretty happy with that as I thought I’d be slower with this route.

Next year I might try to tack on the other section of wind turbines which would take me very close to 50k.

Risotto Run

Copied from Strava (which I don’t have set as public*):

  1. Pre-heat oven. When warm place covered ham joint in oven. Place pan of stock on low. Run about 7km.
  2. Pop in house and put risotto pan on hob to warm through, add olive oil, butter and garlic. Run about 1.4km
  3. Pop in house and add rice to pan. Run about 1.4 km.
  4. Add stock to pan. Run 1.4km
  5. Add stock to pan and remove cover from ham. Run 1.4km
  6. Add more stock to pan. Run 1.4km
  7. Add more stock to pan along with frozen peas. Bread in the oven. Run final 1.4km
  8. Add cheese to risotto. Ham joint out and diced to add to risotto with more stock. Done.

Something like that anyway….

During this Corona period I have found myself in pretty damn fortunate circumstances really. My biggest “complaint” is only being allowed out for one run a day and (per guidelines) only for around thirty minutes to an hour which gets used up running with the missus and the dogs; However, living on an old farm I have now got a 700m running “route” without even leaving home and if I somewhat figure of eight it so I run it both ways then one complete loop is 1.4km

* - I had brief thoughts about indieweb-ifying my running data, but it seems far too impractical. I wouldn’t want any of it on here as public and therefore pointless to even try; POSSE would be too impractical; PESOS more practical, but still pointless.

Sending Teuxdeuxs to Apple Watch

A simple solution with quite some prefix first

I got an Apple Watch from my wife and daughters for my birthday. Whoop!

I had actually been looking (just window shopping) at running watches recently and had dismissed the Apple watch as a possibility. I’d kind of dismissed all watches as a possibility actually: I really didn’t need a watch as using my phone was fine. On that note, some time ago I planned to write a post about “running with technology vs without”… I guess that decision was made not long after as the Nike Running Club app became too useful (training plans and being able to keep track of distance run on shoes) and now Strava similarly (It’s kind of less good, buggy and great all the same).

At my kind of price point I was thinking of one of these two:

  • Garmin Forerunner 45
    • Pros
      • Looks good
      • 13 hours battery on GPS, 7 days as a watch
      • Light weight
      • Similar size to Apple watch
    • Cons
      • No barometer
      • Smaller screen than Apple watch despite similar overall size
  • Coros pace
    • Pros
      • Ridiculously good battery life: 25 hours GPS, 30 days as a watch
      • All the technology. They actually make watches with more stuff - I can’t see the need myself
    • Cons
      • Looks massive, but maybe that’s just me. I doubt I’d wear it everyday as a watch
  • Comparing to the Apple watch:
    • Pros
      • Unlocking your computer. Until work stop me unlocking my work computer with my watch this is a godsend. Funny though, I could auto-lock and unlock my 12” powerbook back in 2003 with my T68. Only took Apple an entire decade to catch up
      • Activity. Yet to decide if it’s gimicky. I mean I was active before… and didn’t care if I’d stood up every hour or had an entirely inactive day after a big run. But it’s pretty interesting in the meantime
      • The Strava app. It’s a little buggy, but also works reliably (if that makes any sense)
      • Pagerduty… for occasional acking
      • Wake screen on wrist raise. When running in the dark, etc, super useful
      • Barometer. Although the Strava app doesn’t use it!
      • Super light weight
      • Great display
      • Looks good. Still looks futuristic in my book
      • Audio feedback / notifications… it’s not clear to me, but I don’t think the Garmin or Coros can speak the pace and distance, etc like the Strava app can on the Apple watch. And actually this is probably more important than the display when running because I struggle to hold my wrist still to read the display anyway
    • Cons
      • Battery life. More below

From a running point of view it’s just the battery life that is a negative, but that’s only when comparing to other sport watches. For me, practically, there is plenty of battery life: From fully charged I got up at 6am (ugh… on a weekend as well) and went for a 2.5 hour run, then just used the watch for “stuff” for the rest of the day and it still had 12% remaining at 3am the following day; Unsurprisingly I didn’t then get up early that morning to go for a run.

I might dream of one day doing an ultra, but I’ve only run three marathons in past two years and the Apple watch (especially if I disable the heart monitor) is going to be good enough for them even if I’m slow. Weekend to weekend a 30k 3 hour run would still be an occasional long run for me and the watch can handle that and the rest of the day no problem; I don’t wear a watch to bed so charging every night or every week is no real difference.

Maybe in a few years I’ll need a watch that can handle 10 or so hours of gps running, but also… perhaps not.

I’m not counting Siri as a pro as I’m not into it at all. Just too old for it I guess. I’m not overly into the smart features of a smart watch. I mostly do want it for running. I have turned off most notifications, removed what other apps I can, etc; However, one thing that I thought would be handy would be seeing my Teuxdeuxs, just as a little reminder (without using Reminders… I’m Team Teuxdeux) so I came up with a very simple solution taking advantage of Haskerdeux and Remind again. I have this in my remind file:

REM AT 07:00 RUN export EMAIL="fromme@mydomain.com"; haskerdeux today todos | mutt -s "Teuxdeuxs" myaddress@icloud.com

That sends me my todos to my watch each morning. You can actually get an email of Teuxdeuxs via Teuxdeux itself, but for the email address I use I don’t have IMAP set up and nor do I want to (mutt straight into a maildir is the best email experience). I had to actually go and create an iCloud email account for this. My Apple ID dates back to the .Mac days and although that address is still valid as an ID it isn’t as an email address. I guess alternatively I could have figured out forwarding an email to the iCloud one via Postfix, but this remind and Haskerdeux solution works great.


[EDIT: 2020-02-13] Some updates:

  • I have pretty much decided the Activity stuff is a gimmick. How do you decide what to set for Move calories? And… I’m going to do what I’m going to do anyway. I kind of liked the idea of being reminded to stand, but then sometimes if I’m in the flow it’s just another nag. So I’ve given up on all this. Maybe it’s good for those trying to get fit, etc. Shame, because I actually really liked the Activity Analogue watch face (the one with the subdials) and this has now sent me on a wasteful journey of trying to find another watch face I’m happy with.
  • I’ve discovered my battery life is/was so good because Strava was not actually reading my heart rate in the background. I had disabled background app refresh for Heart Rate which seemed to do that. Strava only recorded a heart rate when I looked at the watch… interesting. Since then I’ve struggled to re-enable proper heart rate tracking in the background for Strava. And I may just get to the point where I give up on heart rate stuff altogether because I don’t really care. I’m running for fun. I am never going to use the heart rate stuff to “train”.

[EDIT: 2020-03-04] Sadly it seems the heartrate monitoring flakiness is a known issue with this model. I.e. it’s great at monitoring my heart rate if I’m doing nothing or walking… as soon as I run and record a workout it’s like it “freezes” at reading the heartrate only recording it a couple of times, etc. I’ve managed to get one workout to record properly so far. At first I thought it was Strava, but the same with the Apple Workout app so I’ve disabled heart rate monitoring; The only time i might be interested would be during running - I don’t care otherwise.

[EDIT: 2020-06-22] I ended up subscribing to Strava and so then decided to have another go with heartrate data on the Apple Watch since Strava can do useful stuff with it. Trying the approach suggested here about opening up the heartrate monitor before running. Limited success so far. Such a shame it doesn’t work as intended.

These are the ten most recent posts, for older posts see the Archive.