A smashrun for the last day of Juneathon

smashrun dashboard

I’ve dabbled with the “gamification” of sports but the joy of a new badge and an animated high five rapidly slips into the arena of vaguely irritating notifications.

I was therefore quite surprised at just how quickly I become absorbed in smashrun, the latest app for accumulating, rewarding and hacking running statistics. I’ve even been encouraged to go on an afternoon run, in a heatwave, just so I can get my first badge.

Smashrun was billed as a geeky dashboard for the runner and self-quantifier. Just my cup tea, so I headed over to the homepage and lost myself in the fascinating array of charts. Within minutes I had signed up, connected my account to Garmin and then watched as it sucked 8 years of running history and 3295 km of running goodness into my dashboard.

This is my favourite chart so far, it shows that I was totally rocking in 2007, possibly asleep from 2008/2009 and could do to pick up my running shoes a little more often for the rest of 2015.

smashrun dashboard

I also found out that Sunday’s 5km pootle around Mitcham Common was the longest run in 3 months and that’s just a little bit embarrassing.

On the smashrun website they explain their reason for being with this snippet:

It’s cold. It’s raining. You drag your butt out of bed, pull on your sweats and a windbreaker. You feel like phoning it in after the first three miles, but instead you lock it down and dig deep for that last mile. You get home, shower quickly and rush to work only to show up 5 minutes late. Your boss peers over his coffee. Nice to see, you managed to make it in.

Now, it wasn’t easy to make that run happen. And at the end of the day, it can be hard to say what it accomplished. Maybe you’re in a little better shape? Maybe it’s helped you maintain your internal discipline? Maybe you feel more balanced?

What Smashrun is designed to do is to give you a context for your run. Finishing that run today meant that you’ve run 280 miles this year. That puts you in the top 20% of the runners on Smashrun. It’s more than 50 miles farther than you’d run last year at this time. And it was the 3rd fastest 4 mile run you’ve ever run. You’re running twice as many miles a week as your friend Joe, and when it comes to sheer discipline — showing up day in and day out — you have few peers.

That resonates with me, data and statistics can be mighty powerful if they are displayed in the right way and incredibly motivational. I’ve recorded just about every single run of my adult life and smashrun looks like the tool to bring those runs to life again.

Come and join me, I could do with some friends.

Guilt Trip for Juneathon

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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.

Ouch!

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.

A Bone to Pick with Juneathon

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I’ve been skirting around the idea of running since my new Juneathon alarm went off at 6:30 am. It’s now 11 pm. 

I postponed the morning run in favour of an evening run, before dinner, but that was pushed into touch by the far more favourable idea of doing it on a full stomach, after dinner. Of course after dinner it became a whole different ball game and I dropped the idea of running altogether. 

So hunting around for a suitable alternative I thought I’d give the Freeletics app a go. Freeletics is a new app that has been nagging me to exercise with it for the last two weeks but I’ve ignored it.

I fired it up and tried the recommended Workout of the Day (WoD) – Metis. No equipment required and just 3 exercises. How difficult can it be?

Well I’m sitting here on the floor quivering and that’s despite bailing after round 1.

I finished round 1 in quite a state after 10 burpees, 10 climbers and 10 high knee jumps. Lynn was watching on the sofa, supportively guffawing, while videoing my efforts. I moved between cursing her and cursing the phone but when the app flicked straight to round 2 with the same 3 exercises but now at 25 reps each, I’m afraid I blew a gasket and started cursing Juneathon too.

Having calmed down a bit I thought I’d give Freeletics the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it was throwing a killer WoD at me because it had no idea quite how unfit I’ve allowed myself to become. So I’ve just signed up for the coaching option and taken my max rep test. I knocked out 85 full squats in 5 mins and may never walk again.

Having taken the test and filled in my body stats the app can no longer be in any doubt about the basket case standing before it. It ran through its algorithms and spat out my new program.

What do you know. The first workout it has in store for me is METIS.

I may weep.

Stuck on Sprint

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Eager to get Juneathon off to a promising start, I set the alarm for 6:30 am and almost skipped my way downstairs to the treadmill. 

I selected level 9 in my Sprint 8 high intensity program and sauntered through the warm up before shocking myself with the first incline sprint of the series. 

I haven’t been very religious with my run training of late and so I was biding my time impatiently and counting down each remaining second of the interval. The treadmill finally beeped for the end of the 30 second sprint and the start of the recovery phase. I relaxed a bit and then panicked as I noticed that I was moving towards the end of the track and the treadmill was not slowing down. 

I picked up to sprint mode again and bashed frantically at the reduce speed button. I got it down 1 kph but was still very definitely sprinting. 

Either the treadmill decided that the first day of Juneathon was a good day to malfunction or I lost a lot more fitness than I’d thought. 

I had to resort to the big red panic key. Yanked it out and thankfully came to an abrupt yet ungainly stop. 

So the first run of Janathon proved to be short but quite exhausting. I may need to venture outside for the rest of the month. 

  

A Lunge for the Samaritans

Side plank dips

I’ve just started another 12 week round of fitness and fat loss with Julia Buckley. Last time was The Fat Burn Revolution but now its stepped up a notch and become Extreme Inferno.

I kicked off the week with an Insanity styled grilling called SweatMax. After 25 minutes leaping around the front room I was left with a semi-permanent frown, sweat blindness and a mass of lumpen concrete where my calf used to be. Just my cup of tea.

Side plank dips

Today was time for MetaSculpt which meant I got to drag out the dumbbells again and partake in increasingly tricky, whole body moves. Here’s Julia illustrating the particularly nasty side plank dip. I managed 5 heavily modified side plank dips before deciding it was time to move on to the next set. Unfortunately that meant I had to start lunging on my dodgy calf. I’m not good at lunging at the best of times and as my Achilles appears to have calcified these were especially wobbly versions.

Side plank dips

I therefore surprised myself when on the morning walk into work, I managed to perform the smoothest and deepest lunge of my adult life.

I spotted, a few yards ahead of me, a discarded crumple of paper. The paper had a certain quality about it, the sort that makes you not want to draw too much attention. I looked ahead, ensuring that I wouldn’t give anything away with my line of sight. And then I walked on and in perfect flow, I dipped with a knee to floor action, scooped up the crumple and came back up again into a walk.

I continued on my way and didn’t examine my pickings until I’d cleared at least a mile. To my delight I found two £5 notes scrunched together and now sitting in my hands.

Not wanting to offend the pavement gods I have now deposited the offering in my Samaritans charity fund. So my Grand Union Canal Challenge fund is slowly rising but I still have a very dodgy calf and a very, very long walk to do this weekend.

A Juneathon Triple

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I’ve had a mini streak.

3 days jogged and logged but I’ve fallen at the blogging hurdle.

Each run has been just a tiny bit worse than the last one. It started on Friday with a late night run after an “end of exams” celebratory evening. I valiantly tackled the hilly, round the block, circuit with a half chicken and 3 bottle of Sagres inside me.

They did their absolute best not to stay inside me.

Sunset over Putney Bridge

On Day 14 (a Saturday) I slept in til 11:30am and therefore missed all parkrun opportunities and risked a repeat of last weeks midday sun showdown. I opted for an easier life and relaxed until sundown before embarking on a Thames loop with Lynn. I only had a light salad for tea so there was no chicken tapping desperately on my stomach wall but I felt pretty wretched nonetheless. I gasped my way around a shortened 6k loop and grasped at hypochondriacal straws.

Today I thought I’d remove any meal obstacles, so I could neither blame half chickens or light salads for my running malaise. I rolled out of bed at 9am and hit the treadmill without even a coffee passing my lips.

I opted for a 20 minute HIT session and would like to say I killed that routine. Rather predictably though, it came closer to killing me.

Lets hope Juneathon Week 3 welcomes a fitter me.

Mad Dogs

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#wakeupTerrible timing today.

I was on twitter this morning trying to get Lynn to wake up so we could hit the trail. It would have been more effective to have given her nudge.

As it was, we didn’t get to leave the house til midday and then spent at least an hour driving the 30 mins to Putney. Most of it was spent jumping from bumper to bumper in Wandsworth.

When we finally arrived at the river, the sun was baking. Every runner passing us looked thoroughly jaded, in a damp, beetroot impression of jaded, and I was a little nervous about starting to run.

We started, and my heart rate rapidly climbed to 168 desperate beats per minute and stayed like that til we reached Hammersmith. By Hammersmith my guts had knotted themselves so tightly that I had to crawl into Riverside Studios in an attempt to recover.

That recovery took 15 mins and I was still shaken when we set off again.

There was a hint of a breeze and the stretch of riverside pubs were upon us. Watching other people drinking ice cold lagers gave me some peculiar relief and I began to feel a bit better and was actually encouraged to extend our planned 8k to a 10k.

The extension was probably a mistake.

When we turned back it felt like the oven door had been opened and we had 5k left to retrace our steps.

It turned into a run/walk torment but we made it back to the car without passing out and my Garmin declared it to be the fastest 10k I’ve run since I got the watch for Xmas. That can only indicate quite how lazy this year has been – there was nothing fast about today. It was beautiful though.

The Thames

A Stretch Challenge for Day 4 and 6

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I have overuse niggles from the waist downwards. Tender spot on my hip, tight hamstrings and a couple of shin splints for good measure.

I basically haven’t yet recovered from my very long walk almost 2 weeks ago.

It’s been quite fortuitous that while I’m in need of some rehab, James Dunne of Kinetic Revolution has just released a 30 day challenge to make me a better runner.

The challenge consists of 15 min exercise sessions mixing up stretches and balance routines. I’ve been working on my hip flexors and hamstrings so far and have loved the one-legged slo-mo sprinting.

There are a glut of 30 day challenges doing the rounds for June. Lynn has signed up the Ab Challenge which I think she might regret on Day 30. It looks like a recipe for an injury or two to me.

The Ab Challenge

Running with the Foxes

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I went out for a solo run this evening. Just me, the dope dealers on the hill, and a load of foxes.

The dealers remained in their BMWs, exhaling aromatic compounds from the windows but the foxes criss-crossed my path the entire way round.

On my third loop, 3 small fox cubs tumbled out across the path and started playing on the verge. They eyed me warily, but despite me plodding along in my massive Hoka’s and breathing like an exhausted asthmatic, they stayed put while I passed.

It was too dark for photographs so instead of a cute image of frolicking fox cubs, you’ll have to make do with an image of my route from Strava. The image in the left was the route recorded by my top of the range Garmin 620 and the one on the right using the free Strava app on my iphone. I feel a little robbed.

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A First Strava Crown

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I downloaded Strava to my phone this morning, half expecting it to nestle between the many other unused GPS run logs that do little more than clog up my iPhone memory, but while reading a few Juneathon blog posts before work I was intrigued to see that @BandTRuns was coincidentally mentioning Strava Segments.

It seems that Strava segments are snippets of routes that you can monitor yourself against. These segments can either be private or public and if they are public you get to see how you fair against other local runners.

It sounds like a rather intriguing concept and provided sufficient motivation for me to leave the treadmill behind and head out for a late night circuit of the local posh houses. Lynn joined me and we did 3 loops, actually managing to keep running to the top of the hill on each circuit as well. My heartrate was drifting with each additional loop and may well have maxed out if I’d tried for a  fourth.

Strava Segment Crown

I chose to use my Garmin 620 rather than the Strava iPhone app so I could monitor heart rate as well as pace and would worry about the connection issues between Strava and Garmin later. It did in fact prove to be more of a faff than I’d hoped. The Garmin Communicator doesn’t work with the latest Garmin 620 and unfortunately Strava doesn’t work with the wifi upload or Garmin Connect mobile device.

DC Rainmaker came to the rescue with his instructional post on automating the upload and syncing of training devices and fitness sites and I am currently 65% of the way through a major synchronisation using tapirik to link Strava, Garmin Connect, Sporttracks and Dropbox.

I uploaded today’s run manually so I could check out the segments and was a bit miffed to see that there were none in my circuit. I have created a tiny segment now though and am currently the fastest and only runner to have completed it. I believe I now have a crown.

Long may it last.

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