Guilt Trip for Juneathon

So yesterday Lynn hit me with an ultimatum. Apparently I haven’t used my bike in about year and she is fed up of moving it around the dining room. I either have to get on my bike or put it back in the shed.


lady not to scale

The shed is practically a mile down the bottom of the garden and if I had to factor in the time required to retrieve it on the admittedly infrequent cycle commute occasions, I’d have to set the alarm half an hour earlier.

And that ain’t happening!

So today arrives and I dutifully drag out the lycra, and my bike, and head to the big smoke via pedal power.

That’s 34km in the bag for Juneathon and my bike gets a reprieve. Result!

It was also a glorious day and I found myself caught in a rather spectacular dust cloud in Hyde Park. I am grateful to @lucyslade who was quicker off the mark than me and managed to capture the scene beautifully.

Convert a Route to a Garmin Course File

I’ve been preparing cycle routes for my new bike commute and while that part of the process has been pain free and successful, the art of transferring the route to my Garmin Forerunner 920XT so I can follow it as a course, has been a royal pain in the proverbial. I have managed it though so I thought I would condense the steps into a mini tutorial.

Creating a Route

There are plenty of free iPhone apps available for plotting cycle and running routes. For cycling I have been using BikeHub and for running I’ve opted for GPS Outdoors both of which allow you to save the created route as a GPX file to email or to open in a different app. Note that I am interested in apps that create routes using their own internal routing engine (like your sat nav) rather than a manual drag and drop method for creating routes. If you are happy with the manual approach then I suggest you use the create course option on Garmin Connect which would save you the bother of converting and struggling to transfer the output to your device which I describe below.


Bike Hub GPX route plottingThis app allows you to optimise your route according to your desires for speed, distance or quietness. The default balanced route option gives a very similar route to the google maps cycle route and suits my needs well. I don’t think you can edit the proposed route as you can with google maps though.

You can email the GPX file to yourself using the curly arrow button at the top of the screen or you can navigate directly from the app itself.

As my goal is to get the route onto my Forerunner 920XT, I choose the email option.

Google Maps

I’ve been impressed with the routing engine in google maps, it has access to all the cycle routes and has produced me a remarkably quiet route into central London. It appears to be the safest route I’ve had so far which is a blessing as my city biking skills are a bit rusty.

Editing the route is a cinch with Google Maps as you can simply drag and drop the route to reveal other options. I wanted to do this for my return route when it will be dark as I’d much rather avoid the centre of Tooting Bec Common even if it does have a dedicated bike lane running through it.

Where google maps lets you down is its limited sharing options. It doesn’t offer the option to download as a GPX file but you can nab the URL and use another website to convert to a GPX file for you – GPSVisualizer

Google Maps Route

GPSVisualizer has quite a busy interface as it offers multiple conversion options.

GPSVisualizer OutputStick the URL copied from Google Maps into the dialog box towards the middle of the screen and hit the convert button.

It then displays your GPX output as a bewildering text file but towards the top of the screen is the option to save the GPX file. Hit this and save to your computer.

Converting GPX to Garmin TCX Course File

GPSies.comThe next step requires the conversion of the GPX to Garmin Course file (TCX file) using another free web based resource called

Set the options up as I show in the image, select your GPX file location and hit convert.

Send TCX Course to Garmin Device

You’ve now created a route, acquired the GPX file behind it and now converted that to the Garmin Course TCX format. The final task and the trickiest, is to get this TCX file onto your Garmin device.

I can’t understand why this process is not a simple matter of opening Garmin connect and importing the said course file, but it is not. There are many, many forum posts asking how to transfer GPX files to Garmin devices and very few solutions.

I’ve seen one Garmin Support solution for importing TCX files directly into the Garmin Edge device but I haven’t tested to see if this methodology would work for other Garmin’s such as the Forerunner 920XT.

Using the deprecated Garmin Training Centre to upload Garmin Course and Send to Garmin Device

Following a GPX course on a Garmin Forerunner 920XTThe Garmin Training Centre is not supported anymore but if you’ve had a Garmin device for a while you will no doubt still have this clunky program on your computer. For now you will be glad of it. If you haven’t and you want to install it, here’s the link to the old Training Centre versions.

Open Garmin Training Centre, if you haven’t used it in a while you will need to plug in your new device so that it appears in the available device list. It picked up my Garmin Forerunner 920XT without any fuss.

I then when to File, Import and navigated to my TCX file. It imported it without bother and now appeared in my Courses list.

Garmin Training Centre

The final step is to select the course and then from the Devices menu bar at the top, choose Send to Device.

It transferred and is now available to select from the devices Navigate screen. When you are riding or running the screen zooms in so you can follow the breadcrumb trail easily.

Which Garmin Devices Support Courses?

  • Forerunner 920XT
  • Forerunner 910XT
  • Forerunner 310XT
  • Edge Cycling Series



A Janathon Commute for Day 6

What is with this January weather, it is just not conducive to outdoor activities. This morning I was attempting to gather sufficient enthusiasm to walk to work. I was tucked under the duvet admiring the muddy prints that Hugo was leaving across the beige bedroom carpet and pondering how to get from bed to work without drowning. Motivation escaped me and even the cat’s howls for food were not sufficient to rouse me from my daydreams.

According to yesterdays paper, most of the UK workforce choose today, the first Monday in January, to start looking for a new job. I had to make it in if I was to join the rush and log onto the NHS Jobs portal.

When I finally dragged myself out of bed, I wasted 10 mins turning the house upside down trying to find my harsh weather gear but thats been missing since last years London 2 Brighton attempt and it continued to evade me. So what with the cat and the hidden overtrousers, I was now late for a job I didn’t want to go to and still had no protection from the horizontal rain.

I could only see two choices ahead of me
– Throw a sickie
– Try a run commute

Obviously as a committed, if de-motivated, management accountant, I chose the latter option. Donned my finest mountain marathon gear, shoved work wear into a plastic bag, and opened the door to the worst gale since yesterday.

Photo from Stockport Harriers

And off I pootled, jogging past the miserable folk huddled together hoping for a number 109 to pass with enough room for at least 1 extra passenger. I rather enjoyed myself actually, its always more fun to bound through ankle deep puddles and embrace the mini, lorry-induced, tidal waves that swamp you in road slurry. Its a badge of honour to arrive at your destination dripping and muddy, looking as though you’ve just won a championship cross country race.

Of course if you’ve planned your running commute properly you have a complete change of clobber so you can look like a professional. I am of course a seasoned, if rusty, running commuter so I had remembered everything bar spare socks. I had also forgotten that shirts need to be chosen wisely, starched cotton shirts do not take well to being bounced around in a rucksack, squished up against your lunch box. It came out looking like a grandads hankie and has tarnished my professional image a little.

Still, I am jolly content. Janathon has been done and dusted by 10am and with any luck my running gear will have drip dried in time for the homeward journey.

No Homing Pigeon

I’m approaching marathon training with all new vigour this week. After a slow and somewhat glum start to the program, which saw me achieving only 20km of a 20 mile weekly target, I have decided to show a little more gumption this week and commit.

Today was scheduled for my mid-week longish run which means a resurrection of the running commute. I wasted a good portion of the day playing with google maps, trying to determine the best tube station to start my run from. Shame I didn’t spend more time examining the details of the route.

It didn’t seem that tricky, just Tooting Bec to X marks the spot but less than a mile from home I managed to get myself horrendously lost, turning right when I should turn left and then again. Looking at the map it seems like such a sharp bend that I can’t understand why I didn’t notice that I’d just doubled back on myself and come back down a parallel street.

Day 13 – Delays

The day disappeared with itself yesterday. I’d planned a running commute which takes precision organisation and an evening without commitments but my boss had other plans and kept me back late. By the time I’d run home I had no energy for Jog, Log, Blog, all I could manage was the 3 B’s: Beer, Bath, Bed.

I had 17km on my plan but the route didn’t quite work out that way. I walked for about a mile before the satellites picked up and then struggled to actually start the running motion. I was happy standing by the Houses of Parliament in the rain, watching the goings on, as the Garmin strained to communicate but did finally press go somewhere past Millbank and trogged fairly happily along the river and up through Battersea and Clapham.

I had a few good kilometres in the mix where I felt relatively spritely but it dropped off from 10k and by 12k I was suffering. My feet lost all spring and it felt like I was bouncing on bone. I was not sufficiently on form to deal with the hill that greats me within yards of our house.

I’ve had major energy slumps on my last two long runs. I’m pretty sure its diet related as I’ve been messing around with my carb intake. I’ve decided low carbs don’t work too well with long runs so have upped the consumption but I still felt sick as a dog by the time I got home. Lynn force fed me peanut butter on toast and I perked up miraculously

Day 6 and another Running Commute

I took my nordic poles into work today. I proper ummed and ahhed about it, but in the end I decided the health of my knee might be worth a bit of humiliation through Brixton.

When the heavens opened, mid afternoon, I was so grateful, imagining empty streets in which I could gallop along, bounding from one puddle to the next.

By the time I got to Brixton, it had dried out and multiple commuters were gathering. I extended the poles. Walked a little bit. Considered running.

I managed approximately 10 yards but was too embarrassed to overtake the couple who had witnessed me faffing with the poles and so stopped and retracted them. That meant I had to continue the run with two poles clutched in my hands. I now have rotator cuff injuries to go with my dodgy knee.

I’m not sure I’m going to stick with Nordic Jogging as a concept. I can’t cope with the spectacle and besides, the poles seem to skitter all over the tarmac. Maybe I should give it a go on a proper muddy trail.

Despite suggestions to the contrary my knee actually held up very well today. 9km ticked off and not even a twinge. I’m putting this down to a very positive experience with performance and injury specialist, Craig Carroll but more on that later.

Return to the Humdrum

A few days away from the hum and drum of life and I’ve already forgotten how to function.

This morning’s cycle commute was a case in point, I couldn’t get my brain into gear at all.

The moment I left the house and pushed myself down the col de Norbury, pedalling head first into the icy winds, I released I’d forgotten the windproof jacket. A few more miles of bobbing up and down on the Brooks machine of torture (aka saddle) prompted me to discover missing item number 2, the hoo haa ride and glide.

By the time I’d cycled for an hour this morning, certain essential protuberances had turned to cubes of ice and my hoo haa was non too happy.

I’ve ticked off 17.5km for the Janathon gods, hopefully I’ll be back later today with a running related offering.

Another Suitably Titled Running Commute

I forgot how much preparation these running commutes take, especially in this weather. I should have been at least 24 hours ahead of the game and deposited supplies at work, but I wasn’t. Instead I had to try and cram my work and running stuff into the tiny little hydration pack. It didn’t all fit, so I had to wear it all on the way into work. Despite layering up with shirt, jumper, running tops * 2 and a windproof, I was still freezing. I was also about 3 times larger than usual and took up more than my fair share of train seat.

Remarkably I managed not to forget any of my vitals and was able to leave the office this evening perfectly togged up for a cross town running commute. I stopped off en-route for an MRI scan on my left knee and then picked it up again from outside Guys Hospital.

I had a perfect 10k route plotted and uploaded to the garmin device but satellite communications were iffy until I’d wandered as far as the Elephant and Castle roundabout – which took an unsatisfying 0.79km off my schedule.

Now that I’m getting medical intervention for my running ailments I’ve turned into a bit of a hypochondriac, I can feel meniscal twinges on every step. I’m pleased to report though, that my debilitating calf injury appears to have cleared up and any remaining niggles seem entirely manageable.

I think the lay off must have done me some good. On the face of it, this was not the most inspiring running commute. The Elephant & Castle subway is a bit grim, and the A23 isn’t the most scenic thoroughfare in London but I was loving it nevertheless. It helps a lot that I’ve discovered the best running podcast ever (marathon talk) but I’ve also been raring to go for weeks and can now finally release all this pent up enthusiasm. I feel like I can run and run.

A Dithering Commute

Yesterday I announced to anyone that would listen that 3k’s were the new half-marathon.

It’s just not true though.
A bag of chips and a bottle of Newcastle Brown still tastes like a sin after 3 paltry kilometres.

With that in mind I decided to dust off my long distance shoes and attempt another running commute. Attempt being the operative word because I’d prepared myself for one of those last week but got diverted by the pub and managed only 4k.

Today I had a little more incentive, the underground was still pole-axed with the strike fallout and my journey in on the train scored high on the “most hellish journey ever” scales. I was not in a rush to embrace public transport.

I wandered down to the embankment, slowly picking up my satellite signal and started running along the Thames.

I trogged on, ignoring pub invitation texts, choosing instead to descend into an anti-running mantra. This was my make and break run for next weeks Great North Run. My training has been lacklustre and I am no where near 13 mile standard, this commute was supposed to make my decision clear – run or not run.

What I think about when I go running:

Ughhhhh I don’t like running, I want to stop, I don’t want to run 13 miles, I’m not cut out for long distance running, maybe I could just stop now and try out this pub, it looks like a very nice pub but probably too nice to sell Stella, not that I only drink Stella, if I did the Great North Run I’d drink Newcastle Brown ale and folk would cheer as I ran and I’d be a hero.

Then I’d start again taking a slightly different route but basically ending 13 miles later with a beer in my hand and a medal round my neck and a new t-shirt for my collection.

By the time I’d quit whining I’d run 6km and it occurred to me that my breathing had calmed down nicely and if it wasn’t for all the whittering in my head I was almost having a nice time.

I passed on through Battersea Park, admiring the Buddha admiring skippers carried on to Clapham Common and arrived at Tooting Common slap bang in the middle of the night. Dark and gloomy and altogether just a little bit too spooky to navigate. I skirted the edges and called a halt to my run 12.5 kms after I started it.

Still not good enough to confirm I can manage the half marathon but at least I was still standing. I’ll try a proper long run at the weekend and make my decision then.

Short aside – This post is a little out of context now, it was written last week but the publishing was delayed by an administrative error on behalf of my web hosts who kindly forgot to renew two of my domains!

Two Common By Half

Two Commons

The new accessible job arrived and sucked away all my handy exercise avoidance excuses…..time to resurrect the running commute.

My first attempt was an unwelcome struggle, my head was in a seriously moany place and my feet were doing that teenage scuffing thing. I made it past two commons lurching in a stop go fashion and finally quit at Somerfield in order to replenish the Stella supplies.

Today’s run was a bit more exciting, I’d heard a rumour that the non runner may be catching the 5:18 train. Thereby giving me approximately 25 minutes to hot foot it down the high street and nonchalently drape my sweating being across the bonnet of her car to ensure a lift half the way home.

Needless to say I made it. Amazing what you can pull out of the bag for an easy ride.

true weight

I got an iPhone recently which has proved mighty useful for navigating me through some commutimg crises but will unfortunately result in a decline in photo quality for my blog.

I’ve been checking out the promisingly named “50 Awesome iPhone Apps for Runners” blog post, they don’t all have very good reviews on iTunes but I may check a few out. High on my list will be True Weight – 3 months of idleness has not done me any sartorial favours and I need to get back in control.

In the spirit of
1. getting back into the swing of things
2. jumping in at the deep end, and
3. acquiring more t-shirts
I’ve signed myself up for an assortment of events.

First on the list is the London to Brighton bike ride which has been on my wishlist for some time.

Then it’s time for a re-run of the British London 5k which promises to be particularly exciting – at least in terms of the location of it’s post race champagne reception. Stay tuned.

Finally (at least for now), I’ve gone and signed myself up the scary Great North Swim. I’m hoping to be able to finish it without the asthma attack this time, which probably means a little more training…