Monday, August 30, 2010

Half Marathon Training using the Adidas miCoach - Week 1

St Edmunds Tavern
Armed now with my Adidas Micoach I am using a heart rate monitor as my key method of training for a half marathon. I have never trained for a half marathon using a heart rate monitor as the key determinant.

miCoach uses four personalized zones to help you gauge your efforts during your workouts. The zones are the building blocks for all workouts with miCoach. Each zone represents a level of effort: Blue is easy, Green is medium, Yellow is hard, Red is maximal.

My heart rate zones have slightly changed since the initial assessment run and are now

Red Zone                159-165 bpm
Yellow Zone            152-158 bpm
Green Zone            133-151 bpm
Blue Zone               117-132 bpm
I re did the assessment run and the new zones are slightly higher than before which is good news as it shows a slight improvement in my fitness levels 

My week 1 schedule is as follows :-

30th Aug - 50 minute run - 5 min blue zone 40 min green zone and 5 min blue

1st Sep - 40 minute run - 5 min blue zone 30 min green zone and 5 min blue

3rd Sep - 40 minute run - 5 min blue zone 30 min green zone and 5 min blue

4th Sep - 70 minute run - 5 min blue zone 60 min green zone and 5 min blue

5th Sep - 30 minute run all blue zone

1st week is a total of 3hr 50 minutes of running. Mainly at a green zone pace

Green Zone 70-80% of your max heart rate 

This is known as the aerobic threshold and is a comfortable paced run where you can run for long periods of time as a result your heart and lung capacity are all improved . You burn fats and carbohydrates at the same 50% rate.

I completed my 1st run this morning which was a 50 min run through the centre of Bury St Edmunds .

I passed the St Edmunds Tavern in Risbygate Street. This pub has had a complete refurbishment and change of name. It was formerly known as the Rising Sun and is one of the oldest public houses in Bury St Edmunds. According to the Old Inns and Beerhouses of Bury St Edmunds guide it appeared in a newspaper advertisement in 1727. However it is thought to be older than this and legend suggests that Oliver Cromwell once stayed here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Short Run and a tale of two goalies

A short run recovery this morning. My 25 minute run was an easy paced effort following my long run yesterday.I decided to set my Adidas miCoach to do a 10 week half marathon training schedule as I am feeling more confident of being able to build up the mileage and hopefully lose some weight and improve my times.

All of the runs in my schedule are time based rather than distance and of course are based on my heart rate monitor training zones.

Yesterday afternoon I went to see Ipswich Town play Bristol City in the Championship. This is really Division 2 in England the Premier League being Division 1. Ipswich have made a decent start to the season registering a win in their first game this compares with last year when it wasn't until the 31st of October that they won a game.

Both sides have new goalkeepers this season both internationals. Our keeper Martin Fulop is a Hungarian International and City's keeper is the well known  David James who has played for England for many years including this years world cup.

I can only say he had a stinker yesterday and both goals were the fault of James. For the first he came for a cross and missed it allowing a tap in and the second he failed to turn a cross around the post patting it out for new signing Jason Scotland to score no 2. A good win for Ipswich. The video may not play too well but is a recording of the Ipswich fans baiting James who has just messed up for the second goal. I am sure he won;t have  a worse game all season and he is a good buy for Bristol but not yesterday!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Longest Run since injury

I ran for an hour this morning recording 6.5 miles in my diary. Felt pretty good and a few hours on my foot hasn't flared up to cause me any problems. It felt a little tight when I finished and I was wondering if the the dreaded plantar fasciitis had returned.
Beside the River Lark

However I think I am OK and it is just my body saying what are you doing ? My breathing isn't quite smooth and regular as I lack any stamina, I feel like a slow slug because of the extra weight I am carrying but I am happy to be running again
Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

Today I was able to run a bit further afield. Up to now all my runs have been so short that I haven't had time to venture far or felt confident enough that I wasn't going to break down injured and therefore didn't want to be several miles from home.

I went out of Bury St Edmunds and up the Rushbrooke lane. This morning was a little cool with an Autumn feel in the air but thankfully after almost two days of continuous rain there was some sunshine.

I returned through Bury St Edmunds past the Haberdean Rugby Ground and along No Mans Meadow and the River Lark. Through the Graveyard and up Abbeygate St and Risbygate to home.
Rushbrooke Lane

Good work out . My mileage for the week at the moment is very low only totalling around 16. I am gradually adding more time to 1-2 runs per week and as I do my total mileage will rise hopefully to get a solid base of 30 -40 miles . If my body is willing?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jam , Bread and Stair Climbing !

A rest day from running so made some Damson Jam, Bread and then decided to climb the stairs!

In a moment of madness climbed the stairs 14 steps 25 times up and down. Its quite a workout and I will do again - Its not so mad there is even a face book stair climbing group!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Understanding Heart Rate Zone Running

At first site it all appears a bit daunting and much easier just to run to a set  pace or a distance but in this brief post I just wanted to explore a little bit about using a heart rate monitor.

Benefits of using a Heart Rate Monitor 

  1.  Its fun. I am just 2-3 into using a heart rate monitor but as a training tool its providing me with a new sense of focus knowing that I am running according to my heart rate. Its actually fun to measure your progress in this way.
  2. Takes account of your current fitness levels.Measuring the work-rate of the heart is the most accurate method of determining how much benefit you are deriving from your workout. Having been out injured for some time I could have returned to training like a bull in a china shop but feel as if this approach is more measured based on my cardiovascular fitness. It is therefore helping me to avoid over or under training. Over training could have me injured for another frustrating period so could this be the answer? When I look back at my running spreadsheets all too often I repeated runs over the same routes and turned what should have been an easy run into a harder effort trying to shave off  a few seconds of my personal best for a course. Using the heart rate monitor to run at an easy pace is proving challenging to my ego ! It feels so slow but from what I am reading too many runners do their easy paced recovery runs at too fast a pace. This is equivalent to raiding the bodies energy larder depleting the glycogen store required to help you run faster training intervals. So far I have generally found that I have been training too hard when a session calls for any easy paced run. However the converse is also true for some of the faster paced sessions when I am called to run at a higher pace so the heart rate monitor also helps to avoid under training
  3. Helps you to lose Weight ! After not running for several months I put on a stone or 14 Ibs in weight. I carried on eating everything I had got used to eating when I was a runner. Chocolate , beer, wine and good food have been my undoing ! The heart rate monitor will tell you if you are not running hard enough to lose weight or actually training too hard to burn fat. Experts suggest exercising at a pace between 60-70% of your maximum heart rate for 30 minutes or more ( Blue Zone Running). to burn stored body fat.
  4. I have my own Coach!  Apart from trips to the running track when I run with a club I ru alone. But now using the Adidas miCoach I have my personal coach chipping in when I need to speed up or slow down.
  5. More Statistics! Don't you just love statistics most runners pore endless statistics detailing their running progress. Using the heart rate monitor you can finally fill in that coloumn in the spreadsheet that you previously ignored showing your average heart rate. Go on admit it, you skipped it!

Measuring your Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate is measured when you first wake up in the morning. I must admit I have never done it but doing this post may help me remember or perhaps even a note beside the bed to remind myself! It is quite common for a  resting heart rate to be around  50-60 beats a minute  but the really fit can be as low as 30 to 40 bpm. I will let you know mine when I remember to do it.

During the day time when you are sitting, relaxed your heart rate should be around 70 bpm for most of us. The lower the rate the better. Again the really fit will have lower heart rates in the 40's and 50 bpm range.

There are many formulas for calculating maximum heart rate but I like the one known  as the Age/Weight Predicted maximum Heart rate. Foruma 1

Males 210 minus half your age minus 5% of your body weight +4

Females 210 minus half your age minus 1% of your body weight +0

As a male aged 49 weighing 198lbs my calculation is 210 -24.5 (50% x 49 years) - 10 (5% of a 198lbs) +4 = 179.5 rounded up = 180 - my maximum heart rate

The maximum heart rate is a figure that you enter into the Adidas miCoach in the settings. It is self defined and when setting up the device I took the more commonly used measure for maximum heart rate Formula 2  which is 220 - age 49 giving me a max heart rate of 171. Quite a difference from the above formula 1 . With the adidas miCoach you can easily change the setting for the maximum heart rate or use the assesment runs to alter the heart rate zones for you.

A third formula is known as the Karvonen -  Formula 3 . This formula is considered to be more accurate as it is based on your resting heart rate so has some personal basis for its measure. It is used for determing your heart rate training zones .

The formula is Target heart-rate = % intensity X heart-rate reserve + resting heart-rate

Again my calculation is for a 49 year old with a resting heart rate of 68 and an age predicted maximum heart rate of 171 at an 80% intensity level of maximum heart rate

171 (age predicted max HR) - 69 resting heart rate = 102 is the resting heart rate reserve x .80 (intensity level) = 81.6 + resting heart rate 69 = 150 target heart rate. This is equivalent to the yellow zone running using the Adidas miCoach For other zones simply apply a different % figure.

Using the Adidas miCoach

Armed now with my Adidas Micoach I am using a heart rate monitor as my key method of training.

miCoach uses four personalized zones to help you gauge your efforts during your workouts. On my initial run with the miCoach I did an assessment workout. This puts you through your paces over a  12-minute workout and progresses you steadily from easy to hard efforts. A scale from 1 to 10 is used, with 10 being your personal maximum effort.  You start with a walk and then build up to an effort level 9 before finishing with a walk. and miCoach then measures and create your specific zones.

The zones are the building blocks for all workouts with miCoach. Each zone represents a level of effort: Blue is easy, Green is medium, Yellow is hard, Red is maximal. During workouts  simply follow the coaching, such as “Speed up to Green Zone.” You know Green is medium effort, but how does miCoach know you’re exercising at your medium effort? In order to coach you, miCoach measures how fast your heart is beating (Heart Rate) but you can choose pace if you so wish.

Your zones are expressed in heart rate ranges that are right for your body. Since your heart rate reflects how hard you’re working, this is a personal way to measure fitness.

My miCoach heart rate zones  based on maximum heart rate being 161 and initial asessment are currently

Red Zone                154-160 bpm
Yellow Zone            147-153 bpm
Green Zone            129-146 bpm
Blue Zone               113-128 bpm

Heart Rate coaching takes into account how you’re feeling each day. If you feel stressed or tired, your heart beats a little faster. As a result, you can run a little slower than usual while remaining in the zone. This helps prevent overtraining on days when you could use a break. Conversely, if you feel great, your heart rate will remain lower and you’ll be able to go faster while staying in the zone. Heart Rate also accounts for challenging terrain. If it’s hilly, for instance, you won’t need to run as fast to remain in the zone.

Red Zone 90-100 % of your max heart rate

This is the all out sprint or  "interval" training for short bursts only. It is not a training zone that has so far come up as part of the general training using the miCoach. I did touch on it during the initial assessment training as rquired by the miCoach. Its probably equivalent to do doing fast 400 metres intervals.

Yellow Zone 80-90 % of your max heart rate

This is known as the anaerobic threshold where you feel the "burn". This is hard paced running.
By increasing your heart rate as you cross from aerobic to anaerobic get fitter and faster but you can only maintain this pace for limited amount of time because anaerobic means without sufficient oxygen.

Green Zone 70-80% of your max heart rate 

This is known as the aerobic threshold and is a comfortable paced run where you can run for long periods of time as a result your heart and lung capacity are all improved . You burn fats and carbohydrates at the same rate

Blue Zone 60-70% of your max heart rate 

This is equivalent to the jogging zone in my book. However is valuable as a recovery run and burns fat . Up to 85% of calories burned in this zone are said to be fat calories depending on your level of fitness.

I am still a beginner when it comes to running with a heart rate monitor and in many of my runs my results show that I have only achieved 50-60% of my time running in the right zone. This is part of my education trying to run to the zone.

My run today was an interval session which included 6 intervals in the yellow and green zone and the rest of the time blue zone running for a total of 25 minutes. My average heart rate was 139.

Anyone else using the heart rate monitor methord?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Robert Bloomfield - Famous Men and Women of Suffolk No 2 in a Series

Way back in 2005 on this blog I ran a short series promoting the most famous men and women from Suffolk, England which is my home. I thought it was time to re visit this series starting with those famous men and women I originally added and then look to add more names. Though this has little to do with running I hope it will serve to broaden the knowledge of any interested readers in the people and the county where I run. After all it is Running in Suffolk.

No 1 in the series was John Constable which you can find in an earlier post. After an artist lets turn to a poet.

Robert Bloomfield 1776 - 1823 He was born in Honington, Suffolk. His father was a poor tailor. His mother, a teacher at the village school, taught him to read and write and at 11 he went to work on his Uncle's farm at Sapiston. He proved to be too frail for this, so at 15 he went to join his brothers in London to learn the trade of shoemaker. In his spare time he was inspired to write about the Suffolk countryside. He composed The Farmer’s Boy while making shoes, remembering the lines in his head until he could write them down. Initially it was refused by several publishers but was eventually published by Vernor and Hood in 1800. The work was very popular selling 26,000 copies within two years.

He followed up his success with Rural Tales (1802), Good Tidings (1804) Wild Flowers (1806) and The Banks of the Wye (1811). In 1790 he married Mary Ann Church. His last years were dogged by illness and partial blindness and in 1812 he moved to Shefford Bedfordshire where he died in 1823. His success was shortlived.

The Farmers Boy

On Giles, and such as Giles, the labour falls
To strew the frequent load where hunger calls.
On driving gales sharp hail indignant flies,
And sleet, more irksome still, assails his eyes:
Snow clogs his feet; or if no snow is seen,
The field with all its juicy store to screen,
Deep goes the frost, till every root is found
A rolling mass of ice upon the ground.

His love of Honington came out in this poem

My heart was roused, and Fancy on the wing
Thus heard the language of enchanting spring
"Come to thy native groves and fruitful fields!
Thou knowest the fragrance that the wild flower yields
Inhale the breeze that bends the purple bud
And play along the margin of the wood"

There is a Robert Bloomfield Society who seek to promote his life and his work

Honington is better known as an RAF base and since 1937 has seen a range of planes fly from here including Wellingtons,Dakotas, Canberra Bombers, Valiants,Victors,Buccaneers and Tornadoes.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thirty Minute Jog in Bury St Edmunds

August has been a very wet month after a better than average summer. At least that is what I think it has felt like. After heavy rain last night it has rained for several hours today as well.

However I timed my run well at lunch time when it was sunny and headed out for a 30 minute easy jog at the slowest heart rate blue zone pace.

The heart rate is useful to help you gauge your effort. As my fitness improves, I should notice that I am able to run faster for the same effort. However I am just 2 weeks into using the heart rate monitor as my method of training rather than by pace or distance.

My achievement today was running for the 3rd day in a row  injury free.

Trying to keep the Adidas mi coach heart rate zone has given my running a new focus at the moment. I have the option to switch to running by pace and I daresay at some point I will try this in the future but for the moment I am sticking to training by heart rate monitor.

John Constable - Famous Men and Women of Suffolk No1 in a Series.


Way back in 2005 on this blog I ran a short series promoting the most famous men and women from Suffolk, England which is my home. I thought it was time to  re visit this series starting with those famous men and women I originally added and then look to add more  names.

Though this has little to do with running I hope it will serve to  broaden the knowledge of any interested readers in the people and the county where I run. After all it is Running in Suffolk.

My series began originally  with perhaps the famous of all Suffolk folk - John Constable. I have repeated  it below with some updating.

John Constable 1776-1837.
1st Day Cover
East Bergholt in Suffolk is the home of John Constable, the world famous romantic landscape artist.

It must have been a combination of the big Suffolk skies, the winding lanes and thatched houses that gave Constable the inspiration to paint. John Constable was born in 1776, his father was a wealthy miller who owned water mills at Flatford Mill and Dedham. He must have been a bit of a disappointment to his father who perhaps wanted him to follow in his footsteps and for a short while he did work at one of the water mills but it seems he was easily sidetracked and would end up sketching.

Constable was admitted to the Royal Academy in 1799.  However he was often  dreadfully homesick for Suffolk.
Like many artists Constable wasn't particularly successful during his lifetime,his picture of the Haywain received acclaim in France but he wasn't that popular in England. It is said that during his lifetime he only sold twenty paintings in England.

"I should paint my own places best", he wrote to his friend John Fisher in 1821.

John Constable spent a short period at a boarding school in Lavenham Suffolk

Constable wasn’t seen as a suitable match for  Maria Bicknell. Her parents believing she would be marrying below her station . It was only after John's father Golding Constable died in 1816 that they married later that year. None of Maria's family attended the wedding. After 12 years of marriage and 7 children Maria died from pulmonary tuberculosis . Constable was heartbroken and is quoted as saying 'I shall never feel again as I have felt, the face of the world is totally changed for me'.
Constable died on March 31, 1837, and is buried in the churchyard of St John’s, Hampstead.
Constable once said “No two days are alike, nor even two hours; neither were there ever two leaves of a tree alike since the creation of the world. The sound of water escaping from mill dams, willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts and brickwork, I love such things. These scenes made me a painter.”

Today thousands of people descend upon East Bergholt which struggles at times to receive the volumes of tourists.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

5th Annual World Wide Festival of Races

As I return from injury I said I wouldn't be doing any races. I have quickly changed my mind as I have entered this morning the World Wide Festival of Races. This is the 5th annual race and is being held over the week end of the 9th/ 10th of October 2010.The difference with this race is that I need merely to step out of my front door and I will be the race starter!

You can run on your own, with a group of friends or enter a local road race scheduled for the  weekend of 9/10 October.

Take a look at the website it is easy to register and enter a race distance of your choice. You can chose to do a 5k , 10k or a half marathon. With my current level of fitness a 10k race will suit me and I registered for this.

I was entrant no 398 and so far the only entry from Bury St Edmunds though there is a fellow Suffolk runner at Haverhill. There are runners from 32 countries at the moment.Last years total entrants was over a 1000 and this years will probably surpass this.

The race is a totally free, fun world wide community run. You can share your training and progress and then register your time and results afterwards. In a sense it is not a real race as there is no prizes for the fastest time and with different time zones many of us will be running at different times. However why not register if you are not doing anything else this week end it should be fun for any runner and fellow blogger.

I am not sure where I will chose to run - from my front door or perhaps select a location somewhere in Suffolk. Let me know if you register it would be interesting to know if you do. 

You can hear more about the race on a number of running pod casts  including the Runners Round Table.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bats and a good run in Bury St Edmunds Suffolk

Last night my better half and I visited Nowton Park in Suffolk for an advertised guided walk at dusk. The walk indicated the possibility of hearing various bird songs and tempted to learn a little we ventured out at 7.30pm to the park.

We arrived met the ranger Malcolm and his daughter then waited for others to turn up. We waited in vain for this as no one else did! We were the only ones who turned up for the walk despite it being free and advertised in a leaflet. Not wanting to keep the ranger out just for us we did ask if he wanted to carry on but as it was his job to be there anyway he confirmed that the walk could go ahead.

Although we didn't see or hear any unusual bird life the highlight came at the end of the walk when we reached the lime tree avenue.  The ranger produced a monitor which detected  the frequency pitch of pipistrelle bats. I have never seen so many bats and as we walked down the lime tree avenue there must have been hundreds of bats diving through the air. Fantastic experience and totally free. Thanks to Malcolm and his daughter.

After last nights walk I ventured out at 8am for my long run of the week. I am building my base slowly and my log run at present is just 55 minutes. I am running for time and by heart rate monitor at the moment. The weather was good , warm with a breeze. I wore a technical t shirt and shorts with my Saucony Jazz 13's. I really like these shoes immeadiately comfortable straight from the box, light but supportive for the neutral runner.

My run today consisted of a slow 5 min jog warm up and warm down which sandwiched 40 minutes of steady green zone running. This is a meduim effort run run which keeps my heart rate around 150 bpm. Adidas Micoach states:-

  • Heart Rate coaching takes into account how you’re feeling each day. If you feel stressed or tired, your heart beats a little faster. As a result, you can run a little slower than usual while remaining in the zone. This helps prevent overtraining on days when you could use a break. Conversely, if you feel great, your heart rate will remain lower and you’ll be able to go faster while staying in the zone. Heart Rate also accounts for challenging terrain. If it’s hilly, for instance, you won’t need to run as fast to remain in the zone.
  • Seeing results: Check your charts to see how your average speed per zone increases as your fitness improves. For instance, you may simply walk to stay in the Blue Zone at first, but as your fitness improves you may find that you’re able to jog in the Blue Zone.

I am really enjoying the Adidas micoach, I feel freed up not having to look at my watch to see my distance and times. I am running more slowly than I used to but to avoid injury I think this is sensible and hopefully by following the heart rate monitor my fitness and speed will improve.

My route took me through Bury St Edmunds town centre  and into the Abbey Gardens and along by the River Lark.

My stats today were :-

55 minutes
759 calories
5.3 miles
heart rate average 139 bpm
pace 10.26
stride rate 189 steps a min

73% of the time I kept to my heart rate zone. my heart rate remained in the green zone and didn't drop back to the slower blue zone jog pace at the end of the run 

Please with today as this was my longest run and it was pain free.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Horringer Fair and Best Run since injury!


Today I ran a short interval session which had 3 paces or heart race zones - blue , green and yellow. Coaching is good on the Adidas Micoach especially on the interval sessions as you are regularly getting advised to speed up or slow down to try and hit the heart rate zones.

My session included 6 faster paced yellow zone runs and 6 intermeadiate green zone runs and easy paced jogging in the blue zone for 10 minutes.

What I enjoyed most was no pain from my foot and I was able to almost entirely not think about the possibility of my injury returning to haunt me.
I am still running short distances but all being well will slowly start to add more time on the run rather than aiming for distance.

I am still getting used to trying to run according to the heart rate zones rather than at one flat rate pace. My score of 42% is one of the better ones to date and shows just how far I have to go to get fit.

Run Stats

25 mins
2.8 miles
9.06 minute miles

140 bpm average
Score 42%

Stride rate 190 steps a minute
I am following an Adidas Micoach schedule which runs over 16 weeks until early December. My main aims are to avoid injury, get fit and lose weight. I won't be doing any races though I am following the Micoach Half marathon schedule. If all goes well then I may look for a race but I doubt there will many road races in December.

Photos are from the recent Horringer Fete including a ring of Morris women!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Website Wednesday - Konkura

Here is an interesting site that I think is worth a taking a look at.

Konkura (as in Conqueror) is a website for everyone who has a competitive spirit. You can take on colleagues , friends or total strangers from around the world in a wide range of sporting challenges.

It has running and core strength challenges and that was my interest in looking at this site but it also have a huge diversity of challenges related to cycling and  swimming so may appeal to the  triathlete. There are also some more wacky challenges such as downing a coke current leader has achieved this is 9 seconds!

For the runner there are currently challenges related to running the mile and a mile and a half. Perhaps the most interesting challenge is the The best all round runner in the world. Here you enter your best times for 6 events 100 metres, 400 m , 800 m , 1500m, 5000m and 10000m .

There are not too many running challenges at the moment but you can once registered create new ones. So fellow running bloggers  take a look at the site and  challenge me to some events!

Obviously all of this depends upon trust that everyone is honest enough not to fiddle their scores but what would be the point in that you only cheat yourself.

I also like the idea of the plank challenge and push ups in one minute.Right time to challenge my son on this not that I stand an earthly chance!

Free sign up , no costs involved just a little competitive fun . I have signed up and will enter a number of challenges as I gradually return to fitness. In particular I think a good indicator of fitness progress will be doing the mile challenge and I shall certainly give this a go though it might be quite scary how slowly I am currently running- old age, injuries too much wine beer and chocolate could have something to do with it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Found a Fiver , Breakneck Speed and a Couple of Runs

On Sunday I ran a green zone run. No I am not living in a war zone simply using the Adidas mi coach. A green zone run is a medium effort which extends your endurance and optimally burns calories. You'll also build a greater cardiovascular capacity - or foundation - to push harder in later stages and more intense zones.

Heart rate based training helps you:
  • Know Your Body Better: When you train consistently, you'll learn how your body responds to exercise.
  • Track Your Progress: As your fitness improves, you'll be able to handle harder runs.
  • Pick Up the Pace: mi Coach lets you measure your pace against your Heart Rate and, as you improve, you'll be able to run longer and faster at the same heart rate as you were (at a lower intensity) a few months back.

Least that's what the official blurb from the Adidas site tells me.

After a 5 minute jog in the blue zone I then ran 40 minutes at a steady green zone pace followed by a 5 minute warm down jog. I managed to run for 79% of the time at the green zone pace. However the rest of the time I ran too quickly and this is when the mi coach steps in and my friendly coach interrupts my ipod playing songs from Tokyo Police Club to tell me to slow down.

In short what I am finding is that I have tended to run a lot of my training runs at too fast a pace probably leading to injury. Much of the time my training has been at a green zone pace and I am struggling to run at the slower blue pace which does feel a bit like a crawl .Blue zone  is an easy effort builds your aerobic base and improves recovery. It also allows you to put forth a greater effort in the higher intensity zones to get more out of your running. 

It feels alien and almost embarrassing to run at such a slow pace but I am going to stick with as a radical new form of training. After all I have been injured for a lot of the last year and this is worth a try.

Directly after my run which was just over 5 miles I felt fit enough to visit Nowton Park and we did a 2 mile walk around the circumference following the yellow route path. Almost immediately on starting the walk I found a fiver! A stroke of luck and not the first time I have done this at Nowton Park. 

On a previous walk around here I found a tenner. What is it about Nowton Park that encourages folks to empty their pockets of cash? Might be the thought of the ice cream van at the car park or the haste to get back to the car when they get the car keys out.  Still not complaining, I just need to visit Nowton Park more often to reap the rewards that are there to be found. Why go the beach and metal detect when you can go to Nowton Park and pick up free money after all it grows on trees. Well at least it does at Nowton Park.

An element of me feels guilty for picking it up but if I didn't someone else would and once dropped how would you know who was the rightful owner.

On Monday I did a very easy 30 minute jog at a very easy pace. So far so good with the easy pace running.  Certainly not Breakneck Speed

David Monks -  Photo from the recent Latitude Festival where Tokyo Police Club played. Now on tour in USA and Canada promoting their new album Champ.

Friday, August 13, 2010

No sign of the Perseid Meteor Shower but my running is improving!

Last night when it was well and truely dark five of us bundled in to a car and drove to a remote rural spot in Suffolk and then hopped out of the vehicle and stood by the roadside.

Well one of us stayed in the car as they claimed it was cold. The occasional car passed by with full beam lights and slowed as they passed us. Although we couldn't see the drivers you could tell they were thinking what are 4 people doing stood beside a car in the dark!

The driver had had the bright idea to see if we could find a high spot in Suffolk away from nearby towns and villages so as to get the best possible view of the Perseid Meteor Shower. We stood and stared in all directions for a good hour and to be honest we did see 2-3 shooting stars but were unclear whether this was the Perseid or not.

According to the BBC  the Perseid meteor shower is caused by debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. Every 133 years, the huge comet swings through the inner part of our Solar System and leaves behind a trail of dust and gravel.When Earth passes through the debris, specks hit our atmosphere at 140,000mph and disintegrate in flashes of light.

It was a little too cloudy to see much and so we left our corner of Suffolk and returned home still having enjoyed a bit of star gazing. What was also amazing was the number of planes on a regular flight path across the skies. There was a constant stream of planes sometimes stacked in the sky above each other .

Wednesday I ran 2.5 miles in a comfortable two paced effort. Firstly walking for 5 minutes and then a steady jog for 20 before walking last 5 minutes. I am following a Micoach training plan to get me fit by using the heart rate monitor (hrm)as my key driver rather than pace per mile.  I have never really used a hrm before and am learning this takes a little practice to make the sensors on the back of the strap to work. Frustratingly on this run they didn't work - not absolutely sure why but probably down to the need to moisten the sensors with warm water before the run. I did wet them but with cold water and I didn't centre the HRM in the centre of the chest like you are supposed to do.

This morning I did a 20 minute effort but I again struggled with the HRM. Perhaps it is too loose and needs to be tighter. Hopefully I will crack this to make the HRM work otherwise for me I will return to the Garmin.  Todays run was the best yet as I followed the advice of my android lady friend coach. A warm up of 5 minutes was followed by a run of ten minutes  in the yellow zone which is a fairly decent paced run . What I didn't notice was any foot pain today so I am realy pleased with this and hope it continues. A warm down jog and my 20 minutes was complete.

Progress is being made finally!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Five Mile Easy Run using the Adidas Micoach

Ever heard of the Adidas Micoach? Well I was the lucky winner of an instant prize over on the Sennheiser/Adidas 5forsports web site. All I had to do was enter my 5 fav running songs and I won an Adidas Micoach which retails at £108 or $172 dollars at and at Wiggle .  So price wise and as a product it is competing with the older 205/305 versions of the Garmin Forerunner - tough competition as these are tried and trusted products.

When I have used the Adidas micoach for a week or two I will do a review and give my honest opinion.  In brief what you get for your money is a heart rate monitor, a stride sensor and a coaching device called a mi coach pacer. However I can see there is loads of performance stats to synch back to your computer after a run but more on this another time.

Initially I am using the pacer to set my self an easy programme to return to fitness after a long injury lay off when I packed on the weight. You have a choice with the mi coach pacer to run according to pace or by heart rate. I have never really used a heart rate monitor before but have decided to give this a go.

At lunch time today I ventured out for a gentle and slow five mile run. Conditions were very good warm with plenty of mid day sunshine. The Adidas Micoach links to your IPOD or MP3 player so you can listen to music or a podcast on the run but as and when there are updates your personal coach will overide the music and give you an update on a number of statistics that you can set.  There was a choice of coaching voices either male or female and I chose the later.Not sure what that says about me!

I had set the pacer to give me a half an hour coaching session. The session comprised of a 5 minute slow warm up in a heart rate zone called blue 113 to 128 bpm , followed by 20 minutes in the green zone 129 to 146 bpm before a warm down of five minutes in the blue zone.

During the run if I was running to fast or needed to speed up the coach would ask me to slow down. This was enjoyable and helpful and I found that during the half an hour there were 5-6 times when I needed to slow down. I can immeadiately see this is the big plus/selling  point with this gadget after all what would you have to pay to have a personal coach? I can see that once I have logged a number of runs the coach is going to be more and more of a personal coach as my previous performance , speed and heart rate is measured so as to base future runs by.

Did I keep to the pacer bpm zones? Not very well in fact for only 40% of the time. I think this was mainly due to my carrying on running after the half an hour session for another 20 minutes at a higher pace.

Interestingly the Micoach stride sensor over the distance of 5 miles registered the same distance as the Garmin forerunner which I also wore as a test to make a comparision. I was surprised by this but if the stride sensor is as accurate or nearly as as accurate as a GPS then this will remove a big obstacle in my mind.

Todays run was a slow one and I can still feel my heel pain , hope I am not coming back too soon. Time will tell. The achievement today was running 5 miles - not far but it felt a long way today. I just hope there is no after reaction in my heel.

More on the Adidas Micoach in a wek or so.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Returning to Running

I am crossing my fingers but I do believe there is some light at the end of the tunnel as I am beginning to run again. Albeit very short runs and I am still feeling my injured heel. I am finding that after a mile my plantar fasciitis hurts a lot for a few minutes and then goes enabling me to run short distances. Currently there is no lasting affect and this is the difference compared to  back in May as then when I ran I was limping by the evening and the following day.

I have had a very frustrating time with this injury and I began to consider if my running days were over and perhaps I just wouldn't be able to do this anymore. It was difficult with the weather being so good and seeing other runners out and about when I was driving only rubbed this in as a sore point.

My last proper run was on the 23rd of April 2010. Since then I ran a few times in May in hope that I could just ignore the injury. I had a couple of goes in July and then at the beginning of August I have managed a number of very short runs :- 2 miles on the 1st , 2 on the 2nd , 3 on the 4th , 4 on the 6th and 3 miles this morning.

I tried cycling for a while and as good a sport as it is (love watching the Tour De France) I just found it wasn't for me. Partly I suppose because I didn't give it enough time, my bike was a freebie given to me probably about £70 retail but is a heavy town cycle not a specialist light road
cycle. It was heavy and sore on my back side and there was the constant threat of traffic on our Suffolk roads. When I cycled for an hour or hour and half I just didn't get the same effect that runners high , I just felt sore in the back side. I wouldn't rule it out in the future but it would have to be with a proper road cycle.

So in the break I have totally festered and when I got on the scales I had managed to put on 7 kilos and go from 83 to 90 kilos! Thats a lot of extra weight and is another prime cause I believe of plantar fasciitis.

I am not out of the woods yet as I say I can still feel pain at the beginning of a run.I highly recommed wearing Fitflops  these have been my saving grace as I don't feel any pain when wearing these. I am now making use of the Scholl Orthaheel Gel Heel Orthotic. 
These seem to help.

All I am attempting to do in the near future is hopefully continue my recovery and once again get fit and at the same time lose the weight I put on. I am going to plan out out a gentle return to running using a heart rate monitor instead of running to pace per mile. I don;t know about you but I have always followed training schedules using pace as the key factor.  Running using a heart rate monitor will be new to me and this will exciting to see how well this works in practice.

Thanks to runners who have posted me kind words of encouragement during my break. I am sorry that I haven't been to on the ball in returning any comments. I just found that as I wasn't running it was difficult to have anything to do with running without feeling frustrated and jealous. I stopped buying Runners World magazine as well as clearly I was no longer a runner.

Hopefully I am back!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Adidas Sennheiser CX 680 Sports Earphones

When I am training I love to run listening to music or pod casts on my IPOD nano . However how many of us take the care to actually buy a decent pair of earphones so that we can enjoy the best quality sound? I know I have been guilty of this but it is daft when you think about. You can have the best MP3 player or IPOD in the world but if you have a poor set of earphones what's the point?
An example, when I bought the IPOD nano which I absolutely love and is great for running it came with a set of those white ear buds. The sound from these earphones was tinny and they were useless for running as they immediately fell out again and again . I know as I tried it and had to give up listening to the IPOD because I was thinking more about the earphones than my run.

In the past year or two I  have been through a succession of earphones none of which seem to last very long.  All of them in the budget price range so perhaps I shouldn't expect too much. Most of them failed within 6 months usually due to one of the earphones no longer having any sound. Most recently I bought a pair of JVC HA-FX34-BE - In Ear Marshmallow Headphone.  . However whilst I am sure these are adequate for walking they will fall out if you run and there was a lack of bass sound.

I have tried neckband headphones, ear buds and clip on earphones. My preference and it is personal is the in ear canal earphones.

I was looking for some new earphones for running when I stumbled upon the Sennheiser 5 for Sports Running Song Charts. My post at the end of June on this blog recommended you pop by and vote on your fave running songs. Have you done so let me know who you voted for?

I was impressed by the Adidas and Sennheiser campaign to promote their products for runners and the song competition was fun to enter and after talking further to the folks at Sennheiser in Wedemark in Germany I agreed to do a product review of their CX 680 Sports Earphones.

After two weeks of running with the the CX 680 Earphones I would have to say these are "simply the best headphones I have ever used when running".
In short if you want a pair of  sweat resistant, high audio quality, earphones then the CX 680's won't let you down.

I have managed to run 4 times over the last week all of these short runs between 2 and 3 miles as I test my injured foot. My son also gave them a try and gave them a big thumps up.

If you are a runner then the reasons why you should consider buying these are:-

1.They don't fall out !

Ahhh the frustration of running with earphones which fall out is as bad as your shoe lace coming undone. You just don't need it. I want to run and focus on what I plan to do be it a training run or an interval session.  

The CX 680's come with a what I guess is a fairly unique feature - Ear Fin pieces!  They look a little like Dr Spock's ears in miniature form but in fact these are flexible rubber hooks . When you insert the phone into your ear canal you slightly bend the ear fin to fit under the fold of skin just above your ear canal. This might sound difficult but describing it is more difficult then the actual action which is extremely simple.

You can remove the Ear fin pieces entirely from the earphones if you so wish to do so when listening with your feet up in your home. However they are comfortable and in practice I am not sure I would worry about doing this but you have the option.

In the packaging you are provided with 3 pairs of ear adaptors and 3 pairs of ear fins in small, medium and large size to cover all sizes of ears. Again Adidas and Sennheiser have thought through this product with the runner in mind and given you choice.

2. Great Sound !

I have to tell you that that when  listening to a range of tracks from many different rock, reggae, pop , punk, folk and classical artists in some songs I heard both words and instruments that I have never heard before. Perhaps that is  partly a reflection of the previous earphones I have purchased but listening with these earphones is a pleasure as you instantly recognise that this is a quality product with dynamic sound giving a wide range of bass and treble. The frequency range is from 18 to 20,000 Hz.

3. Volume Control and Isolation from Ambient Noise

The  ear canal style of headphones offer isolation from ambient noise. In my runs this week in the town centre I have been careful to ensure the volume is not on full. As an experiment when putting these up to full volume you won't hear people talking nearby , birds and most traffic noise. This does give you the opportunity for a complete focus on yourself and your running but if like me you run sometimes in busy town centres then there is volume control on the extension cable. Changing an IPOD which might be attached to the side of your arm and in a Velcro case can be difficult so this is a handy feature.

4. Cable Management System

From experience when running, I have found it oh so easy to knock the ear phones out of an ear when turning suddenly or getting my arm and hands in the way and accidentally pulling the cable. Once again with the CX 680 earphones you are given choice. You have the option of two set ups either to just use the short yellow Kevlar cable to connect to your IPOD attached to your upper arm. I have tried running this way and as the lead is short you do need to position your IPOD well up above your elbow or the short lead will pull the earphones out when your turn suddenly. 

As long as you do this the earphones remain put in your ears and as an added option you are provided with a cable clip which is designed to attach to the cable and I like to clip to the top of my running top under the neck for added security and to keep the cables tidy as I tend to flap my arms around when running!

The second option I mentioned before is to use the supplied extension cable with volume control. There is a large clip on the extension cable and I have found that you can run well with this clipped to the side of your waist. You then have the volume control for your IPOD easily accessible and the longer cable doesn't have to flap as you have the additional cable clip to secure to your running top.  The cables are reinforced with Kevlar and will hopefully ensure greater longevity.

5. Lightweight 

The earphones and cables are lightweight and you forget you are wearing them.

6.  Water & Sweat Resistance 

If you are like me as a runner you are outdoors in all weathers . In the UK we have just come through the coldest winter in 30 years but have enjoyed a decent summer. With the sunshine comes good honest sweat. The CX 680 earphones are said to be uniquely water resistance. The earphones are supplied with diaphragm guards which are small foam filters which help ensure the quality of the sound. Your are provided with a spare set of diaphragm guards and a tool to remove and replace old diaphragm guards.

You can apparently rinse the earphones under the tap to remove any built up grime though I haven't tried this.

7. Two Year Warranty 

As I have mentioned before previous earphones I have bought have only lasted around 6 months. The CX 680's have a 2 year warranty. Along with an instruction manual and all of the spares you are also provided with a handy Velcro storage pouch. With other cheaper earphones I have bought any spares had to be kept somewhere in a drawer or cupboard and without any pouch could often go missing.

Any negative points? Not really but minor points are as follows:-

The packaging was quite tough and I resorted to scissors to get the product out of the plastic in the box. However at least the product was secure safe and undamaged.

The left and right ear are marked with a  small L and R on the earphone. This is in the same black colour as the earphone and in the dark this is quite difficult to see and I would have preferred the L and R to be in bright yellow as per the cables.

The bright yellow cables might not be every ones cup of tea but not a big issue for me.


How much will you have to pay  for the CX 680's? As ever shop around on the Internet. They are available from Amazon for £44.60  This is the best price I could currently see which is about double what I have paid in the past for previous earphones . Can this be worth it? For the reasons I have stated above I think it most definitely is . Check them out as I doubt for this price there is a better pair of earphones.

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