Thursday, January 24, 2008

Running Encouragement. SportTracks.

In order to get fitter I started doing more cycling last year, I discovered the fun of the man made single track trail.
In November I decided to have another go at running, or more realistically jogging.

I did a year or so of running in 1998 and have done the odd 3 or for miler over the last ten years. I needed some encouragement to get out and do it, so a gadget was needed. The Garmin Forerunner 305.

I also needed a new plan of attack. I have only ever had one running pace, whether running 6 or 16 miles. I paid a visit to Runners World and used their excellent pace calculator.

Now I needed to mesh the two together, in steps SportTracks.

I love gadgets and I love analysing data. I blame the data thing on 13 years working in Certification, however a friend of the family thinks I'm mildly autistic.

I started on the running paces. The easy run was very easy, much slower than my normal pace. The tempo and VO2 max paces were faster. I'm going to show you how the Garmin and sportTracks handle the Yasso. This workout is 800m runs at Yasso pace with 200m recoveries.

First let me tell you that I am sticking to the metric system as much as possible here. The pace is in min/Km not minute miles. Heres the pace zones I use.

I ran a mile warm up and a mile cool down with 4 Yassos in between. You make up the workout and download it to the Forerunner, then you do the fun bit.

After the run upload the data to your PC and SportTracks.

This is the main page for the activity.

There are sections for different activities such as running: trial-road. Cycling trail-road etc. There an 'other' for other stuff !

The bottom left panel can be changed to view different data for the activity.

Here's the pace window, you can clearly see my workout and my attempt to hit the Yasso pace on four occasions.

Next we have a splits page. If your workout had clearly defined splits they will be shown or you can make tour own. The various splits 800m run / 200m rest are shown here.

Any bar or part of graph you select in the left pane is highlighted on the satellite image on the right. This is clearly demonstrated in the next panel. This shows the heart rate for the workout and I have selected the zone where my heart rate was at it's highest. This is in the Yasso but interestingly there are a few 'spikes' near the end of the run, unavoidable hills !

If you need motivation, something to monitor your pace and heart rate and hours of endless data analysis then come join the mildly autistic runners club.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Icy Cycles

Sorry, I've been out cycling again.

I first went from the house and around a loop I had never done before.

Leave the A9 beside the Tomich Restaurant and head on up the hill. Turn off towards Kinrhive Farm.

As you can see it's a pretty steep climb up to the farm and beyond. It was quite cold too.

I noticed a sign saying that shooting was in progress and soon saw some evidence of this. Some Pheasant and Snipe ? hanging. I didn't pinch any, honest.

There were pleasant views at the top of the hills I turned west and headed for Inchidown.

The grassy parts had been muddy but were now hard with frost.

I had one more stop to admire the view, which included Fyrish and a snowy Ben Wyvis, before descending at 30MPH and trying to dodge the ice.

Talking of ice, now today's cycle was all about ice.

I was accompanied on this one by Andy Todd. It was going to be a longer loop including Inchidown and Aldie Burn. You can start this one at the same place.

We were under no illusions about the cycle. The hills are easily visible from Invergordon and we knew there would be both snow and ice.

We ascended and descended Inchidown without much trouble, gliding over the top of some nasty icy patches. We then 'hit the tar' by the Drove stance and worked our way along the Struie road towards the next part of the offroad.

The next part was difficult. I have climbed Cnoc an t-Sabhail loads of time but today it was mostly trail-wide ice. There was no grip at the lower levels. Brief respite came when we got into the more snowy parts but when this became the noisy stuff it sapped the legs. We eventually made it up.

Now we had to descend. At first it was OK though rather slow as the crusty snow seemed to hold onto the tyres. Hitting long flat frozen water was great, but then you would hit the snow again and it was like throwing out the anchor.

Lower down the snow disappeared and the nasty ice returned.

I yelled as I nearly lost the bike on a particularly nasty bit, I then heard another yell and a crash. Andy had been kicked off the bike.

No broken bones or bike parts so we soldiered on. There had been a lot of tree felling in this area and the vehicles had compacted the snow and ice making the conditions treacherous. We were barely able to walk let alone cycle.

The red section below shows the uncycleable ( is that a word ? ) part of the trail.

Checking the FR305 data we walked/coasted for 5Km ! We eventually got out of hell and hit the gritted tar to take us back to the start.