Achieve the Impossible Fitness Tracking Dashboard

Achieve the Impossible Fitness Tracking Dashboard

Back in July I was inspired by Greg Whyte’s book, Achieve the Impossible, to knuckle down and finally nail the 100km challenge that appeared to have morphed into my very own personal Impossible.

Using the tips outlined in the book I identified the key measures of success and drew up an Excel Dashboard that I could use to monitor my progress towards my view of personal fitness excellence. I’m using the term excellence here to mean an attainable level of achievement that should put me in the best position to be able to achieve my goals.

Achieve the Impossible Fitness Tracking Dashboard

So, as I want to be strong, resilient and aerobically fit, I’ve identified 11 measures that I think will provide a good indication of my ability to run 50km and then get up the next day and run them again.

They broadly fit into the following categories:

  • Strength measures – Deadlift
  • Aerobic capacity – Cooper Test, Lactate Threshold, VO2 Max, MAF pace
  • Weight
  • Endurance – distance measures

I’m not sure that I’ve chosen the best 11 measures yet as there is some considerable overlap between all my aerobic capacity indicators but it is my starter for ten and I can easily amend if I find that another measure will more accurately indicate my ultra-readiness.

Once you’ve defined your measures of success you need to draw up a scale, I’m using 0 to 10 for each measure so that they plot well on a radial chart (as shown above). This is quite a tricky task as well. I’ve chosen to show my current position in each measure as a zero, so that I start from the centre of the radial chart, and am assuming that the only way is up – I’ve left no room to slide. Defining the 10 score is much harder. I have no clue where my “Excellence” in VO2 Max lies for instance. I could probably search t’internet for Lance Armstrong’s VO2 Max score which most people would consider to be excellent but would it be my excellence?

Given that I’m going to train clean, the answer is probably not.

It’s a problem that I can’t define excellence in all my chosen measures. It means I will only really be able to track the direction of travel, hopefully improvement, but I won’t be able to say when my target is achieved. That only applies to the aerobic measures though, for everything else I have a history and pb’s to chase. I’m very clear on the weight I need to be to feel confident on race day and the 5km time that would mean I was sprightly and as fit as I’ve ever been.

The other measures are going to have to be a work in progress. Just like me.

You can download my example Achieve the Impossible Fitness Tracking Dashboard here, but you will need to amend the targets as I very much doubt that your idea of “personal excellence” will match mine.

Run Slow to Run Faster – The Maffetone Method

run slow to run faster

It’s not good for the ego to be outrun by a dog walker but that is the short-term risk of adopting The Maffetone Method.

run slow to run fasterThis weekend I was “running” behind a dog walker for at least 20 minutes, running within yards of him before my heart rate monitor beeped at me and I had to drop to a dawdle. The dog walker edged away until finally, my heart rate edged to the lower end of my training target and I could prepare for the overtake manoeuvre again.

This went on for a good 15 attempts before I decided it was probably easier to turn around and head back home.

What is the Maffetone Method

The Maffetone method eschews the no pain no gain ethos, in favour of super low intensity training to optimise aerobic performance.

I came across the Maffetone Method when I was researching different ways to assess and record fitness gains as part of my Achieve the Impossible Challenge and plumped for the MAF Test as an accessible and useful gauge of improving aerobic fitness.

The MAF Test, which stands for Maximum Aerobic Function test, has you run over a set distance between 1-5 miles (in my case 5k) all the time keeping your heart rate within in a set range – the Maffetone Range. The Maffetone Range equates to either heart rate zone 1 or 2 and when you start out it’s really quite difficult to exercise and keep below the maximum allowable rate.

Determining your Maffetone Training Range

Phil Maffetone describes a simple 180 formula to determining your maximum training heart rate.

Step 1) 180 – Age

Step 2) Take this number and adjust by one of the following:

a) Recovering from major illness/surgery then subtract 10
b) Injured, new/returning to training or sickly then subtract 5
c) Consistent trainer (4 days a week for 2 years) then make no change, your max MAF training heart rate is 180 – age
d) Experienced athlete (2+ years) with consistent or improving performance then add 5

As I’m between b) and c) and can’t bear to stick to rules I’ve gone for subtracting 3, so my max training heart rate is 180 – 44 – 3 = 133

To find the range you simply set the lower range at 10 beats per minute lower than your max. So my training range (and MAF test range) is 123 to 133 bpm.

The task then is to conduct a baseline line MAF test and then start Maffetone Training which just means that you have to keep all your training runs, in fact any form of exercise, within the Maffetone Range. You are supposed to avoid all forms of anaerobic exercise until you have reached your aerobic peak which you can identify by a plateauing of your MAF Test performance.

How to do the MAF Test

Pick a course that is convenient and relatively flat, ideally you will want to use the same course for each future test.

You will need to be equipped with a heart rate monitor so you can ensure that you stick to your range. I have set mine to beep every time I fall outside of the range but that’s not necessary, you just need to keep an eye on it. After a while you will get used to how you feel and how your breathing changes when you are in or out of the training range.

You need to do a good warm up before you start the test so that you’ve got your system used to movement but this also needs to be below your maximum training heart rate determined above.

Then you start the run, recording your lap times and finish time.

Having completed the first test you will have an average pace for the entire distance and each individual lap.  This is your benchmark from which to compare all future tests.

It is recommended that you repeat the MAF Test every month and as you progress you should note that your average pace decreases even though you are sticking to the same HR range. That means you will run faster and faster for the same aerobic load which has got to be a good thing.

The best example I’ve seen of this is from trifundracing:

MAF+TEST+081613

The MAF test is remarkably hard. Not in a gruelling way but just because it is too easy. I can’t walk fast enough to stay consistently in my range but neither can I run slow enough. That means I’m trapped in a perpetual run walk cycle and that is challenging when all you really want to do is run.

If you are fitter and lighter than me, you will probably be able to run for the entire duration of the test but it is going to feel painfully slow for you.

So is it worth it?

Only time will tell of course but having spent a bit of time focussing on my heart rate behaviour I am more inclined to give Maffetone Training a good go. The fact that my heart so readily climbs to anaerobic levels under the slightest levels of exertion suggests that I must always be training the anaerobic system. It makes sense to me that I would benefit from a good few months of low level aerobic base training.

In The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing (*)Phil Maffetone illustrates his method with case studies and even suggests that some of his athletes eventually struggle to hit their maximum MAF heart rate as they’ve become so aerobically efficient. I find this pretty hard to fathom, from my perspective I barely raise my knee into the running form before my heart rate has jumped by 30 beats. When I actually start running, regardless of pace, my heart rate zone is breached within seconds and I have to drop to a walk. The thought that I might someday be able to sprint at that same heart rate feels a bit mythical. I would settle for being able to jog for an hour at that rate though.

The fact that the MAF test enables me to accurately measure performance improvements is a great bonus and I can’t wait until I manage to run the entire distance, even if it is at a snails pace.

MAF Pace and Race Results

There is apparently a link between the average pace achieved during a MAF Test and your pace at various race distances.

Phil Maffetone includes a table on his site which gives an indicator of how much slower your test pace will be.

It doesn’t cover the slow poke range but to give you an idea of where I am. My MAF Test pace over 5km was 10:00 mins/km while my Bushy parkrun time this week was 41 mins which is a race pace of 08:11 and required an average heart rate of 167 bpm and a max of 185 bpm – definitely not within the Maffetone range.

I’ll be repeating a parkrun monthly to see if I see an improvement after training slow and low.

(*) indicates the use of an affiliate link to amazon

BSX Insight Review – Lactate Threshold Testing at Home

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I’m a attracted to the technicalities of training more than the actual training, and I’m always on the look out for a gadget that might reduce the need for the latter.

I was immediately attracted to the BSX Insight campaign on Kickstarter, not only because it’s a cool new sporty gadget but also because it offers insights that should enable me to train smarter (where training smarter means training less). Perhaps not less than I currently train but less than a very eager, yet clueless runner. 

BSX Insight Review

BSX Insight is a small sensor, worn in a tight calf sleeve, that monitors muscle oxygenation in order to estimate your lactate threshold. It apparently has a high level of accuracy when compared to the industry standard lactate testing methodology, which involves multiple blood draws to measure the increasing concentration of lactic acid in the system. For the first time, lactate threshold testing has been opened up to the masses, for home testing without invasive blood tests.

What is Lactate Threshold

In everyday practice, the most common use of the term is the intensity at which your body can no longer sustainably keep up with the energy demand. In other words, it is the highest intensity, or the fastest pace, that you could maintain without a steady increase in blood lactate.

In practice, it represents the highest workload that can be maintained for an extended period of time, usually around 45-60 minutes.

BSX Blog

It’s still early days with the development of the BSX Insight and at the moment you can only perform LT assessments with it. In time you should be able to use this in daily runs to monitor muscle oxygenation in real time.

Lactate Threshold Assessment

You start with the BSX Insight app which requires you to answer a few questions relating to your current conversational and 10k pace.

Note that this is a gadget for elites and slow pokes alike. If your conversation pace is 10 min/km or 5 min it will still take you through your paces and deliver results for you. 

The app then indicates the pace zones it will take you through, aiming to have taken you to exhaustion after about 30 mins of progressive running.

The app then connects (via Bluetooth I think) to the BSX sensor which in turn connects to your ANT+ Heart Rate monitor. I used the HR strap that came with my Garmin 920XT and had to hold the BSX sensor next to the strap to cement the initial connection. Having made the connection it held it for the duration of the assessment.

Once the setup is completed it is time to get on the treadmill and hit start. You really need to use a treadmill for the assessment stage as you are required to maintain a consistent pace for 3 minutes before it bumps you up by perhaps only 0.1 kph for another 3 minutes. It would be extremely hard to hit that level of consistency if you were running free.

During the run the app indicates your current instructions, either a pace or speed target to maintain, along with your heart rate and current muscle oxygenation levels.

BSX Insight Muscle Oxygenation

I imagine that when you reach true exhaustion the muscle oxygenation level will begin to drop off. Unfortunately I have to imagine this as I’ve done the test twice now and think I have bailed on both occasions, just before my lactate threshold was reached. It didn’t seem to harm the experiment though, and so long as you run for at least 20 minutes I think the app will be able to estimate the LT.

Results of the Lactate Threshold Home Test

The results are calculated almost immediately and your results are compared to any previous assessments you’ve completed.

Probably the most useful feature is the display of your personal training zones. And that’s personal as in truly personal and not just calculations based on 220 – your age. You can view your training zones as either pace based or HR zones.

The trick now is to take these zones and design a training program which utilises your new found insight, to push the boundaries and increase your fitness so you reach your Lactate Threshold at a faster pace.

BSX Insight do offer a free training program to help with this but in a nutshell, I will be keeping the bulk of my runs in the Zone 2 Aerobic Threshold with twice weekly interval sessions where I push to Zones 4 and 5. It’s these higher zones that will work on improving my LT.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops and perhaps integrates with other services. At the moment I can see the results of my assessment but I don’t seem to be able to access the data. I’d like to be able to view the muscle oxygenation and HR charts as shown above but at the moment they appear to be locked down.

Can I Improve my Insulin Response with a Month of Exercise?

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January of course means Janathon, a month of daily exercise and good intentions so it’s a great month to test the impact of exercise and other healthy choices.

Glucose Tolerance Test and exerciseAlongside running, I intend to spend January testing my blood sugar. I’ll be checking in on a daily basis to see the impact of exercise on my insulin response.

I’ve just finished reading Fast Exercise, Dr Mosley’s introduction to High Intensity Training and while I wasn’t that impressed with the book (see the Fast Exercise book review) I was intrigued by the section on monitoring the impact of exercise through blood glucose testing.

I’ve never had an official glucose tolerance test so I don’t have a reported problem with my blood glucose levels but I do have polycystic ovaries which are thought to result from insulin resistance. I’m less bothered by the actual readings though and more by the trend. I’m fascinated to see if I can create a recordable and positive response in the space of 4 weeks following relatively simple lifestyle changes.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIT) and strength training have both been reported to improve the insulin response in a variety of test subjects and that will be my plan for Jan. Daily HIT or weight training sessions with a 10 hour fast so I can have a controlled measure of blood sugar in the morning. Simples.

I’ve bought my blood glucose monitor, braved the first puncture wound and am now raring to go. I do of course need to wait until January because I have the glucose roller coaster, otherwise known as Christmas, to navigate.

A Great Fitness Assessment

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I spent much of the afternoon worrying.

I’d been offered a full Bupa fitness assessment by the Great Run sponsors and I was fretting. I’d spent the last 3 weeks either in my sick bed or recovering from the effort of dragging myself out of it. I was not really in the mood for a full on, exercise to exhaustion session.

As it happens my initial fears of a VO2 max session on the treadmill were replaced with a much scarier prospect – half naked exercise biking with an audience.

They didn’t advertise that.

Turns out the required exercise levels were to be capped at 80% of estimated max HR and therefore I never really felt as though I was exerting myself too much but that was probably a good thing. High energy topless exercise is not to be advised for the well endowed lady.

I was actually experiencing a sub max VO2 assessment which involved cycling through ever increasing resistance levels while breathing through a mouthpiece. I was wired and tubed up and able to view numerous screens displaying my blood pressure, pulse, heart rate trace from assorted chest electrodes and the O2 and CO2 composition of my breath. It was a fascinating cockpit of body data and I’d love to rig that up in front of my home gym. I wouldn’t understand it but who cares, I’d have pretty charts.

Thrown in to the assessment were stretch and strength exercises, lung capacity tests, electrical impedance body fat measurements and a review of all of the above with the exercise physiologist.

I’ll get a full report in a weeks time but for now you’ll just have to take my word for it – I’m super fit.

Or at least I would be if I wasn’t super fat.

Efficient heart, super lung capacity but the gold standard measure of fitness, the VO2 max (or in this case submax) was low because it is a measure of the volume of oxygen delivered per kg per min. I’ve got way too many kg’s to make this a great number. It is quite a good way to estimate the impact of weight loss on fitness though, just by altering the denominator in the equation.

Given the mainly positive messages I received at the assessment review I can actually say I feel quite inspired to try again to drop some more weight. I think it would be fascinating to have a concerted effort with a diet and fitness program and then book myself in for another session in 6 months time to review the impact.

The assessment was extremely good value at £149 for easily a full hours session, I think its perfect for setting a baseline from which to measure improvements if you are new to exercise or targeting a new event or fitness push.

My only criticism is that it was advertised as a VO2 max test while they only delivered a submax version. This sort of thing might be important to you if you are trying to get an absolute measure of your fitness or compare it to a previous max result.  As a comparator to the same test its perfectly valid though.

9 Top iPhone Apps for Runners

athlete diary

I’ve been running with my iPhone for a couple of years and I think I have now got a fairly stable armory of running or health related apps that I would be prepared to recommend. I’ll split them into 4 sections and go from there.

The Running Logs

The iPhone is my ever present mobile computer. It bothers me that my training logs are locked away on the laptop at home, or worse, spread across a few online logs like Garmin Connect, Adidas miCoach and Fetcheveryone. Surely when someone asks me how my training has been going for GNR or VLM, I ought to be able to pull out my phone and demonstrate with a pretty chart or a weekly distance log. It’s taken a bit of effort but I can now do that. Of course no one has asked how my training has been going for a while.

Athlete Diary (web link) (iTunes Link)

So for example I have set up a few keywords such as wt, Avg HR, Shoe 1 etc. Each keyword can be defined as total, avg or non-numeric which determines how it is shown on the charts and summaries. As far as I know there aren’t any limits to the number of keywords you can have but it does pay to think about it at the start so you can build up a consistent data set as you go along.

Having set up the keywords I can head back to the search facility and select the date period covering the last year, select running as my sport and perhaps select the training type as race. If I now look at the log it will show me all the running races in the last year. Moving to the summary sheets the same applies – running races in the last year. If I now choose the chart option I can select the keyword of interest so for example max HR to show the variation across the selected events. If I selected a specific keyword in the search facility such as Shoe 1 my log and summaries would show all the runs where I wore shoe 1.

It is such a customisable application that is very nearly worth £11.99

The feature that makes me so particularly happy about my purchase is the import/export functionality. The designers have gone to huge effort to enable you to get all your data into the log. It’s a bit of a faff and I had to wipe the database clean and start afresh a few times before I got the hang of it but I do now have every single run from the last 4 years loaded up. I pulled data out of Sporttracks, Garmin connect, Fetch and others, faffed around with it in excel to get the right format, converted to a text file, emailed it to my phone and the copy and pasted it directly into the import screen of Athlete Diary – Genius!

It’s hard to believe how happy that makes me. All my data inside my little phone. The Athlete’s Diary – Stevens Creek Software is well worth the initial investment in time and money.

HRM Log FM (web link) (iTunes Link)
Before I came across the Athlete Diary I was convinced that the answer to my problems was an app that synced with Garmin Connect. Admittedly I don’t have all my runs on there, I had a life pre-GPS and sometimes I run on the treadmill but in recent times it is fair to say that most have been uploaded to Garmin Connect. Garmin Connect is a terrible website though and it doesn’t help me get the stats and data on my phone.

After a lot of searching I came across HRM Log FM. As an app it doesn’t do a lot, you can’t add runs or modify data in any way but it is a perfect way to view data stored on Garmin Connect. The sync is fairly painless and new runs are added to a calendar view, clicking through enables you to view the details – summary, lap details and a pace and heart rate chart. The route map isn’t shown unfortunately but it’s still very useful.

The GPS Apps

I am not a big fan of the GPS apps but then I have a Garmin Forerunner so why would I bother?

The GPS reception is not as good as the purpose built watches and the effort drains the battery far too quickly for my liking. The last time I used it I nearly found myself stranded at the end of the Wandle Trail with no juice left to call for my pick up vehicle.

Having said that I have tried a good few and have been impressed with two: Adidas miCoach and Nike+ GPS. I’ve previously reviewed the Adidas mobile miCoach app and you can read that here.

Technical Running Stuff

PaceCalc (web link) (iTunes Link)

A very simple little app. There are many websites around that will perform the same function but it’s handy to have it wrapped up in a stand alone program.

You enter your time for a race or a custom distance and Runner’s PaceCalc FM returns a screen with pace and speed conversions in metric and imperial and then on another screen it displays projected race times on the basis of your entry. It also provides a series of recommended training paces.

Cadence (web link)

This is perhaps a bit gimmicky but I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about efficient running styles at the moment. I don’t have one but would like one and apparently one of the ways to get there is to shorten your stride length and increase your step rate or cadence. 180 steps per minute is the holy grail apparently. Seems unattainable to me but I’m happy to give it go.

This app is just a running styled metronome, I set the rate to 180 (or some other number) and the little feet beat out the pace for me to follow.

That’s all there is to it.

Diet and Weight

Some runners and particularly this one, need to keep on top of their weight, or more accurately chase after it like a hurtling runaway train.

I’ve got two favourites weight logs, True Weight and FatWatch.

True Weight (web link) (iTunes Link)
I’ve used True Weight for a long time, it’s very simple and uses the Hackers Diet principles to show the “true weight” after all the fluctuations have been smoothed. The display is clear and you can view the actual weight recorded as well as the trend line.

I have to admit that unfortunately, these figures are not mine.

FatWatch (web link) (iTunes Link)
I recently moved over to FatWatch as I wanted to record both my weight and my fat %.

It uses a very similar method for plotting the trend and allows you to set a goal and show your progression (or lack of) against it.

Both applications enable you to export your data via email so you need never lose data to a locked in app again.

As you can see I have an unfavourable divergence between the green (target) and red (trend) line so it’s time to take remedial action and start the calorie controlled approach for a while. This is where the last app comes into it’s own.

Tap&Track (web link) (iTunes Link)

This app gets reviewed all over and has proved to be incredibly popular because its so intuitive and smooth to use.

You start by entering your height and weight details and after setting your weight loss goals it determines your daily calorie allowance. By the grace of god or perhaps metabolism, you can increase your daily allowance by logging some exercise. I’ve just this minute bagged 30 mins on the treadmill so that I can polish off half a bottle of bubbly without having scale anxiety tomorrow morning.

Tap & Track -Calorie Counter is a typical food, exercise and weight log and works on the principal that if you diligently record everything that you eat, you might just think twice about putting it in your mouth. I find it quite effective but you have to be strict and record everything.

Like most of these logs it has the American bias but it does still seem to have a lot of foods available locally (including Sainsburys and Pret a Manger) and besides its an absolute doddle to enter your own items which you can then save to your favourites list. I don’t mind doing this, when I go on a diet I tend to eat a rotation of very similar foods so after a fortnight I’ll have just about all the options covered.

I read reviews where people doubt the accuracy of some of the nutritional entries, I’ve found a few problems as well so its advisable to sense check new items or enter them yourself from the label.

It doesn’t seem to handle alcohol particularly well. I’ve entered the details for Stella manually but it doesn’t have a section for alcohol content and so the nutrition chart doesn’t include a piece of pie for the proportion of calories that comes from alcohol. That’s a bit of a shame for me but maybe something they could easily add as an update.

Despite a few niggles, this app is a joy to use, very well designed and so far it seems to be helping me towards my goal.

So there you have it, 9 top iPhone apps for runners, have I missed any must have apps? Let me know.

Personlised FIRST Training Schedules – A Marathon in 3 days a Week

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Crossing the line at the end of the Great North run I felt elated, 10 mins later I was sick and feverish.

Any fitness I had in September disappeared over the next 5 weeks as I feebly battled a chest infection. Now that I’ve more or less cleared my chest and started venturing back onto the treadmill or out for a Grid Run I find myself struck down once again, this time by a bolt to the back of the knee. I can’t run without yelping and trying to do so has left me with a permanent limp.

This really does not bode well for my marathon training plans.

I haven’t been resting on my laurels though. While my body may well have been degenerating rapidly my mind has been busy researching training schedules and drawing up plans.

Hal Higdon has a series of well respected schedules available but they are relentless and require you to commit to 5 runs per week and a max weekly mileage of 44 for the intermediate program. At my pace that’s a lot of my life to spend running.

I accept that marathon training is supposed to be gruelling, the reward doesn’t come after a days pain but after 4 months of commitment and then a days pain but if there are alternatives I’m going to be tempted.

Fortunately there are alternatives and plenty of them.

One of my overriding requirements for this marathon is that I’ve got to get faster – not fast, but I don’t want to be running around that course after 7 hours. There is one schedule on the market that claims to increase the pace of anyone who sticks to the plan and that is FIRST from the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training. It seems that even Boston qualifiers have achieved PRs using the FIRST method of 3 runs per week, and if it can work for someone at the top of their game its bound to do something for me.

Their method is based on a 3+2 schedule called “Run Less, Run faster”, not to be mistaken with “Train Less, Run Faster” because although you only run 3 times a week you are supposed to take part in some fairly energetic cross training on 2 other days in the week.

The key to the success of the FIRST plan seems to be related to the nature of the 3 runs. Each one is very specific and targeted at improving a key element of your running fitness. Key Run 1 is a track repeat session, ideally suited to treadmill workouts, Key run 2 is a tempo workout and Key run 3 is the Long Run a familiar staple of any marathon plan. RunnersWorld has a useful article giving an overview of the approach and Fetcheveryone has a very active forum on the topic.

The Furman website has the marathon schedules available to download along with the target pace charts.

I’ve spent a few hours knocking up a spreadsheet that includes the FIRST Novice Marathon Plan and the FIRST Half Marathon plan along with all the recommended paces for runners achieving 5k times anywhere between 15 and 40 mins. The spreadsheet personalises the schedule so that you can select from the drop down box your latest 5k performance and see each workout broken down with your specific target paces. I’ve gone to quite a bit of effort with it because I wanted to be able to print off a clear schedule for use on the treadmill.

If you want to try it out yourself feel free to download it and test it out:

FIRST Personalised Marathon and Half Marathon Schedule for Excel – 97.

FIRST Personalised Marathon and Half Marathon Schedule for Excel – xlsx.

Now all I have to do is get over my knee problems and start running.

Extending Google Maps

So, here is the tube map showing progress to date, you may have to zoom out to catch the extremes, depending on the size of your screen:

**UPDATE** I’ve removed the image as it seems to be slowing the blog down and crashing folks computers, you can still view The Full Screen Map over here.

If you don’t know about google maps, it’s a particularly useful little gadget. Click on the “my maps” tab and then either plot a map manually or import a data file from SportsTracks or whatever GPS mapping system you have on the computer. There are a number of examples in the previous few posts. You can colour the map as you see fit and then copy the link to an embedded image. Very swish.

I’ve been including these embedded google maps to illustrate each section of the London Underground route but have been struggling to display all the sections together on one interactive block.

There are a stack of hacks for google maps out there as well but the two I have found particularly useful are, GPS Visualizer and Map Channels.

GPS Visualizer is an incredibly in depth utility. If you are into maps, you want to check it out. It enables you to plot multiple gpx tracks onto one image and will colour them according to an amazing array of variables such as speed or altitude. You could plot atmospheric pollutants with coloured blobs suggesting density or of course simple tracks showing how slow you actually run. I’m sure I could plot my geographical tube map using GPS Visualizer but to be honest I can’t be bothered to stay up all night trying to fathom out how to do it.

Map Channels is very easy to use. It requires you to have set up all your routes as google maps already but thats not a problem for me. You can then create maps with multiple map channels visible. If you set the colour and style of the track in google maps this will be replicated in Map Channel image. Incredibly easy and yet it includes a great number of style control options.

I’ve only just started playing with this one but I’m impressed by how well it has enabled me to display multiple, differently coloured tracks.

It’s Christmas!

You should see the floor of my flat – tis littered with no end of exciting possibilities. I could of course take a snap and show you but then you’d see the truth, which involves an awful lot of boxes, wrapping and all those other things that I haven’t quite got round to putting away yet.

There are about 5 more months to go before I get thrown back into exam anxiety so in the meantime I’m needing a new project, that’s in addition to the running project and the allotment project which have ceased to be a new and have now slipped into the realms of “norm”. In times like these my fall back project always seems to be “teach yourself programming”, so here I am with a floor full of teaching manuals. The trouble with programming is the plethora of different languages out there, and then there are different variations of the same language like C, C+, C++ and C#, what is the novice supposed to make of it? As I can’t be bothered to research this too much I’ve opted to dabble with two languages at the same time: Python and VB.Net.

I’ve got python cos its free and sits nicely with computer that I just broke and accidentally forced into being a linux machine and VB.Net because that goes with my windows laptop and because Sporttracks, the best program ever (that I should have written) was developed in dotnet.

I’m sure no one is interested in all that but the other thing fighting for space on my floor is a little package that I’ve been asked to trial. Inside is a running rucsac the Salomon Raid Revo 20 and the latest Nokia N-carnation, the N82. What joy eh? I can see that I’ll have to go out and do a bit of running over the hols to try both of these gadgets out. Is it possible that the N82 could beat the N95 as running gadget par excellence?

The Raid Revo 20 is particularly welcome, I ordered the Inov8 Race Pro 18 ages ago but it seems to have been lost by the Royal Mail. I’ll try the salomon substitute tomorrow on my running commute and report back.

Weird and wonderful routes to Warriorwomen

This post is surely asking for trouble but here goes. A recent plugin – Firestats – has opened my eyes to the wonders of google searches and more specifically the search terms that lead visitors to this site.

Some are quite painful:

  1. Iliac crest pain in back and hip

but others are darn right uncomfortable:

  1. Pictures of Bushy legs of Women
  2. Very Big Girls Bums
  3. Bulging Underwear
  4. Women’s blogs of underwear