I Aten’t Ded

Yes, not blogged for a while. Sorry. Blogging and running have both taken a bit of a back-burner, with both my fortieth birthday and the weather getting in the way a bit…

My last run was a while back. Last Friday, I at least went on a 10K photo walk through the fresh snow, which hopefully burned off a few calories. And looked a bit like this:


(There’s a few more of my Bristol snow photos here, if you’re interested.)

As I write this, this is the view from my back door:

…and I’m told it’s pretty slippery out, so I’m not nipping out for a jog just yet. But I will soon. Honest.

Work Life Balance

I lost momentum a bit this week. I didn’t get out for two mid-week jogs, mostly because as well as being back in the office 9 to 5, I’m also working hard outside the office, and had a couple of evenings taken up with social stuff, too.

Still, I managed to head out last night, at least, for a simple 5K down the Portway, my default “haven’t time for anything else and want to avoid puddles on the towpath” route. And, with luck — and hopefully not *too* much of a hangover after a friend’s birthday party this afternoon — I’ll get out again tomorrow, so at least I’ll have run twice.

This month is already my best month of the year so far in terms of distance, so I’m heading in the right direction.

Incidentally, the work I’m doing outside the office is at least relevant to running! I’ve been working on the Android version of Get Running, my friend Benjohn’s iPhone app.

So, if you’d like to help us test the Android version of Get Running, and you have an Android phone (or other device) with Android 2.2 or above, you can find a details of the Get Running Android Beta Programme here!

The Day Before

Despite what I said last time, I didn’t get a chance to run last weekend, so I’ve had a full week off. Which feels fine to me.

And tomorrow, I run the Bristol 10K 🙂

I’ll be starting off in the second of the two groups — i.e. with the slow people, at the back — at 9:45 tomorrow morning. This is my first ever race. Not that I’ll be treating it as a race; there’s nobody I want to beat. I’ll be happy just to get around and to enjoy the shared experience of running with a whole bunch of other nutters, whether they’re the pros who I’ll only see passing me on their way back as I head out towards the Suspension Bridge, or the people in gorilla costume who I might stand a chance of keeping up with.

If all goes according to plan I’ll be using RunKeeper to track me as I go around, and if the technology works then you’ll be able to watch me run on a live map at my public RunKeeper page. Just visit the web page during the race and you’ll see where I am, and be able to watch a little dot crawl slowly around a map for an hour and a quarter. No, I don’t expect many avid viewers, but hey…

Anyway. I’m runner number 9210. I don’t know how long it’ll take me to get through the start, but I should be finished about an hour and a quarter after that. I’m really not sure how long it’ll take me, because I’ve never run 10K on the flat, or run with a bunch of other people before. But I’m sure I’ll be posting a post-run update sometime tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll let you know how I get on!


Today, for the first time, I didn’t use Get Running. I’ve only got a few runs left in the C25K programme, so I figured I’d play with RunKeeper, one of my options for continued geekiness after I check all of the little boxes on Get Running’s “progress path”.

RunKeeper is one of the best iPhone running apps. I don’t see it as a competitor to Get Running; they’re different applications, for different users.

Get Running does one thing — gets a beginner running from scratch. And it does it extremely well.

RunKeeper is more general-purpose, and programmable, uses the GPS, links in with a web site, and does all manner of other clever things.

RunKeeper has a higher learning curve. There’s just a lot more to it, so it’s necessarily more difficult to get started with. Get Running effectively does one thing, and has one button, marked “Run!”, in large friendly letters.

RunKeeper needs you to turn off your WiFi (otherwise it might use the less accurate positioning information instead of the GPS), program your exercise yourself, if you’re following a plan, and starting off seems to involve pushing a few more buttons. Plus you’ve got to remember to stop it at the end.

(Also, RunKeeper’s synthesised voice prompts have nothing on the lovely, human, encouraging voice of Clare, who recorded the voice prompts for Get Running!)

But, when you get to the stage where the runs are just a half-hour of running, and you want to know a bit more about your pace, your progress, and how far you’re running, RunKeeper can make a very confident entrance into your training plan.

So, before I set off today, I programmed RunKeeper with the Week 8, Run 3 run of the C25K — carefully putting in two consecutive 14-minute runs, rather than one long 28-minute run, so I’d know when the halfway point was — and set off.

Today I’d decided to push my pace up a bit, to see just how far I could get in my 28 minutes. One RunKeeper feature I particularly like is a mode where if you tap the screen, it’ll tell you how you’re doing — your time, distance, and current pace.

This means there’s no need to crane your neck to figure out where you are in your run, or whether your pace has dropped off. I just slapped my conveniently-armbanded iPhone and the voice intoned my stats.

Anyway. Here’s the killer feature of RunKeeper, and why it’s called RunKeeper — the website integration. I’d created an account on runkeeper.com. I finished my run, hit RunKeeper’s “stop” button, told it I wanted to record my run, and by the time I was back indoors, it had been automatically uploaded to the website, and I could see it mapped out. And, even more hoopy, I can share it, like this:

Got to say, that’s pretty cool. And look — I’m doing pretty damn well! That’s 4.18km in 28 minutes, at an average pace of 6:45 per kilometer. That’s fast, for me, by the way 🙂

I’m going to use Get Running for the final week of the C25K, rather than RunKeeper — Get Running is easier to use, prettier, and the voice prompts are much nicer (and playback is slicker — Get Running fades the music down, speaks, then fades the music back up. RunKeeper just merges in with the music, making it difficult to hear.)

After that, I’m going to have to explore my options for getting up to 10K. RunKeeper will definitely be on the shortlist.

Week 4, Run 1: Long but doable

Go me! Just back from my longest run so far, the first run of week four. I was running with a beta version of Get Running on the iPhone, so I’m glad it worked fine. I really couldn’t do it without the voice prompts, especially the ones that tell me that I’m halfway through, or that there’s only ten seconds to go!

Today’s plan was four runs in total, a three minute run and a five minute run, done twice, with comparatively short recovery breaks in between them.

I was pushed towards the end — especially as the last bit ended up being uphill again — but I just kept plodding on, and didn’t give up. I’m encouraged that I’ve come this far. I definitely couldn’t have managed today’s run a few weeks ago.

Helping me again today was a Tangerine-generated playlist. I’m definitely finding it better than the iPod/iTunes “Genius”. While the Genius is good, it’s fairly limited in its knowledge of music, and there’s a lot of obscure stuff in my library that it simply doesn’t have a clue about. Because Tangerine analyses everything by its beat, it’s much more capable of stringing together things from my collection that (a) work for running, and (b) aren’t anything like as mainstream as Genius’s choices.

Today there seemed to be a bias towards eighties obscure pop, and nineties obscure goth, but there were a few things that didn’t fit either of those categories. In between Transvision’s Vamp’s Sex Kick and Passion Play’s Running on Empty (so appropriate!) I was grateful to Soft Cell’s The Night, which was the perfect tempo to keep me plodding through the last five-minute run. Nice!

Anyway. This evening’s picture is brought to you by another iPhone app, the rather nice Pano, which will stitch together panoramas in-camera. Neat trick!