Asics GT-2170 Running Shoe Review

GT2170 vs Kayano

My very first running shoe was from the Asics GT range and ignoring the occasional dalliance with ultra minimal barefoot shoes, and condition specific trail shoes, I’ve stuck with Asics all the way. I’m afraid to say that as the years have passed my wallet has expanded and I have been persuaded to part with much more of my cash as I’ve climbed up the range in search of magic, go-faster running shoes. I do the same with cleaning products, you cant beat bicarb of soda and a bit of vinegar but you still can’t stop me wasting money on flash products and gizmos that promise to clean the house for me.

I was recently sent a pair of Asics GT-2170 running shoes to review and I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to place the GT-2000 series against the Gel-Kayano range and see if I can find an excuse to continue paying the extra £30-£40.

Both the GT-2170 and Gel Kayano are classed as stability shoes and are recommended for the moderate over-pronator. They are also both well cushioned running shoes which make them a good option for the overweight or heavy runner.

If you were in any doubt, I should inform you that the lovely clean pair of running shoes are the Asics GT-2170 and the rather muddy pair in the photos are my well worn Asics Kayano-17’s. The GT-2170’s have been restricted to fair weather and treadmill running duties for the duration of the testing.

I feel like I’m playing spot the difference with these images but they are remarkably similar shoes on a number of levels.

Both models incorporate the new guidance line feature in the sole. This is the longitudinal groove carved into the midsole that guides the foot through the most efficient stride and apparently helps reduce the weight of the shoe. On examination of the upper I was expecting to find that the Kayano was plusher and more comfortable but my suspicion is that they are actually identical – both are equally padded around the tongue and foot inlet (I’m sure it has a proper name but hopefully you’ll know the area I mean).

I’ve worked quite hard to find the differences in feel and performance between the GT-2170 and the Asics Kayano but I’m afraid I haven’t come up with anything concrete. The midsole is noticeably different between the models and I would suggest that this gives rise to a slightly more luxurious and cushioned feel to the Kayano but it is not a huge difference.

Admittedly I’ve been comparing a brand new pair of GT-2170’s to a pair of Kayano’s with 180 km on the clock. My impression is that the “new shoe feel” is more pronounced for the Kayano’s, you come out of the store feeling as though you are bouncing on air. That doesn’t seem to last very long though and after a couple of weeks I’d say the two shoes were pretty much on a par.

I think my next purchase could well be for a pair of Asics GT-2170 running shoes. So what to spend my extra £30 on?



Garmin Forerunner 310XT – The Review

Screen shot 2011-10-24 at 23.04.28

Having abandoned treadmill running in favour of the great outdoors it wasn’t long before I began to bemoan the loss of my preferred running watch the Garmin Forerunner 305. I long for pretty maps to illustrate my outdoor running routes and spur me on to explore my surroundings and for that you need GPS.

Fortunately for me I am spoilt, and my good lady wife didn’t listen to my moans for long before coming home with a beautiful orange gift – the Garmin Forerunner 310XT.

The Forerunner 310XT has been the long awaited upgrade to the Forerunner 305. The Forerunner 405 (reviewed here) let us down with it’s silly bevel features that went haywire at the first hint of moisture, so the Forerunner 310XT marks a back to basics approach, stick with the tried, tested and much loved functionality of the 305 but add the long called for water resistance that should mark this as the triathletes choice.

Not of course that I can call myself a triathlete having done only one sprint event about 3 whole years ago. I am occasionally known to dabble in open water swimming though, or at least I have done twice, but I don’t think one should limit oneself, who knows when I may decide to pull on the wetsuit and explore the local waterways.

So the biggest change between the Forerunner 305 and the Forerunner 310XT is that Garmin have made the 310XT waterproof and therefore suitable for the swim. Having looked into the watches swim capabilities though I think I understand why Garmin took their time to introduce the feature and make a truly triathlon oriented GPS watch.

If you wear the watch on your wrist, as most people do, the watch will be plunged under water with each stroke reducing and possibly even removing its connection with the satellites and the stroke action will have the wrist unit moving forwards and back and effectively mapping out a greater distance than the rest of your body. The result is a very messy GPS trail and a wildly overestimated swim distance. A firmware release has added open-swim functionality to the Forerunner 310XT which averages out the missed points and gives a smoother GPS and distance closer to the truth but still not what you could call accurate.

DC Rainmaker has written an excellent review of the Forerunner 310XT as it performs in open water and compared the results with that of the Forerunner 305 worn underneath the swim cap.
I recommend you check out his analysis if you intend to use the watch for swimming or triathlon. The point I’ve taken away is that the 310XT really needs to be worn under your swim cap if you want to be able to trust the data and get a pretty map. It doesn’t show any improvements over the Forerunner 305 which you can shove in a sandwich bag and also pop under your swim cap but I suppose it does offer some peace of mind in case you drop it and it gets waterlogged.

Another major change is related to battery life. You can now run or swim or bike for around 20 hours vs the 10 hrs quoted for the 305. This is great news for endurance athletes or indeed anyone who can’t be bothered to charge the unit after each use. I have noticed a reduction in the data recording options though and wonder if this has gone someway to improving the battery life. With the 305 you could select the data recording option to every second or every 4 seconds with the “Smart Recording” option. With the 310XT the option has gone and now you only have smart recording. This isn’t really a problem for me although I do notice the charted data is a little less granular than it was in the 305 and it’s always nice to have the choice.

As with the Forerunner 405, the 310Xt is ANT enabled which means you get the automatic upload of workout data using the ANT stick and it means that the watch is compatible with assorted ANT devices such as cycle power meters. I don’t have one of these but I’m sure if you did, you’d be very happy with the enhancement. If you want to use the watch as your main cycle computer it is worth investing in the optional quick release kit, which is relatively cheap.

I’ve paired my unit with the ANT footpod that came with my Garmin FR60 but you could also pair it with the Adidas footpod that comes with the miCoach if you happen to have one. You can set the 310XT to use the footpod for distance measurements if you are running inside or on a treadmill or leave it set on GPS in which case the footpod will be used to measure cadence only.

I’ve been using mine mostly on the run and have noticed a few other improvements:

Physically the wrist unit is smaller and sleeker and is of course orange. It picks up GPS signals very quickly and seems to hold onto them, so despite running in wooded areas I haven’t noticed any spurious results on my map output. The unit is easier to use with less delving into menu systems required. For example if I want to switch from bike to run I just press and hold the mode button for about 3 seconds and it pops up the option to select the sport.

The multisport function has been improved as well. You can set up in advance the different stages of your race eg. Swim, T1, Bike 1, T2, Run and then when you press the lap button it automatically moves you into the next sport mode.

As with the 405 you can change the pace of your Virtual Partner on the fly. Press the up or down for a second and then you can slow the little stick man down long enough for you to be able to overtake him. Perfect, but perhaps shouldn’t be used too often.

A number of features are common to both the 305 and 310XT but I’ve noticed improvements to the “Back to Start” and the alert features.

If you want alerts you can choose to have sound or vibration or both. The vibration is particularly strong and sends ripples up your arm to ensure you don’t miss your lap times or interval notifications.

The Back to Start feature is very useful if you run on unfamiliar routes. It effectively lays out a bread crumb trail for you to retrace your steps with. When I used it the other weekend, I was trying to get back to my car which was who knows where. I’d gone a little bit around the houses and didn’t want to literally retrace my steps so I ignored the first turn off and headed back to an earlier point in the route. I was impressed to note that the watch forgave me and soon started picking up its directional instructions, buzzing at me when it was time to left or right. I don’t remember this being a feature of the 305.

So here’s my assessment.

Pro’s and Con’s

1. Small, pretty and new
2. Waterproof
3. Longer battery life – 20 hrs vs 10 hrs
4. Better GPS reception
5. ANT enabled which allows for wireless syncing, footpod pairing and power sensor compatibility
6. Back to start routing available – Included with 305 but not 405

1. Not really a swim watch – it still needs to sit in the swim cap
2. A lot more expensive than the 305 which currently retails at amazon for less than £140: Garmin Forerunner 305 with Heart Rate Monitor

I’ve got a lot of pro’s there but then I like shiny new things and I didn’t have to pay for it. I have to say though that I am a bit disappointed about the swim functionality, I can see that it’s a tricky concept to engineer but I’m paying a lot for it over and above the price of the 305.

If you are a cyclist and want to use the power meter features then I think you would be happy with the 310XT, if you are a regular swimmer you may settle for the safety aspect of having a waterproof item even if you do have to wear it in your swim cap.

If you are a runner and don’t have need to record workouts in excess of 10 hours, I think you may want to take advantage of the reduction in price of the Forerunner 305 and spend the money you save on a swanky pair of Vibram Five Fingers or some such.

The Garmin Forerunner 310XT with Heart Rate Monitor currently retails at Amazon for just under £265.

Surrey Housewives organise the British London 5k

Where's Dan?

This time last year I came face to face with the world renowned shambles that is the British London 10k.

Fortunately, this time round I was invited to join the Surrey Housewives Set in their annual attempt to show Michael O’Reilly how mass participation events should be organised.

SHS Baggage Drop

Under the auspices of SHS1 the humongous portaloo/baggage drop nightmare of last year was replaced by a rather well equipped room in the Royal Horseguards Hotel no less.

Here we were able to leave our bags and eye up the breakfast that we would devour as soon as we’d got the running thing out of the way. The bathrooms were worth admiring as well, in contrast to the usual race day alternative they were delightfully perfumed and had neat little piles of personal face towels.

Outside, chaos reigned supreme as the afore mentioned Michael O’Reilly forgot to organise the promised baggage buses and the hoi polloi wandered round looking for someone who knew what they were doing.

Race Starter

Luckily SHS1 stepped into the breach and established a start line and pronounced that the race would start in 5 mins, ready or not!

Of course Michael was not ready and so many runners had to set off with their backpacks and handbags slung over their shoulders – they should have joined the Surrey Housewives.

It amazes me that good ole Mikey can arrange for a Spitfire to be plonked in front of the Houses of Parliament each year and for the Dad’s Army band to come and play “There’ll always be an England” but he can’t sort out a functioning baggage drop.


As for the run, it was hot, sweaty, painful but also strangely uplifting – who can fail to attempt a little sprint finish when Chariots of Fire blares out at the end? If pressed on actual numbers I will just admit to having achieved a personal worst but on all other fronts this race has been pushed well into the ranks of personal bests.

Queen's Cavalry

At the end, we were congratulated by the Queen’s Cavalry before being ushered back to the hotel for a continental breakfast with champagne. Quality organising and my only complaint is that now every other race is going feel ever so slightly down market.

Garmin Forerunner 405 – The Review


As you all know, I think the Garmin Forerunner 305 is the best thing since sliced bread but I’m so fickle it’s taken barely a thought for me to stick it on ebay and swap it for the new version – the Forerunner 405.

I’d like to say the new and IMPROVED Forerunner 405 but is it?

Reading the spec list it’s hard to see where Garmin made any attempts to improve on what had gone before, they missed out by not making it fully waterproof and therefore tri suitable, for example. Instead they appear to have simply repackaged the existing 305 as a sports watch that can be worn all day with the bonus of a nifty touch sensitive bezel control.

Out of the box, I decided I liked the look and feel of the watch very much. Garmin put a lot of effort into design and the strap closure is ingenious, a big improvement on the 305 which kept coming loose, snagging on my clothing and risked falling off. A minor point maybe, but Garmin are big on the little details.


The watch charged fully in 3 hours by the use of a strange bulldog style clip that slips snugly into a couple of recesses on the back of the watch. Another neat design but I fear it is just going to prove an inconvenience. With the 305 you uploaded data to the PC by slotting it into a USB docking station and it would charge at the same time as uploading. I’d leave my device in for a few minutes longer and thereby ensure I always hard a fully charged unit. With the 405, uploading data is automatic and will occur while the watch is still on your wrist, which now means I’ll have to remember to charge the unit separately.

In standby mode (ie time display only) the watch will supposedly last 20 days, although I’m down to 89% charged after 1 day so I doubt it will last much longer than a week. When used in active mode the battery life is expected to be in the region of 8 hours. So that’s another charging gizmo to be added to my pile of wires under my bed.

I thought the software was a bit of a faff to install, it didn’t happen automatically and I had to hunt around to see what it was that needed to be loaded up. It comes with Training Centre but after installing it I immediately removed it again because I remembered how pants it is. Instead I’m using the ANT uploader linked to Garmin Connect which is quite a neat online training log.

Setting up the watch is a doddle and it takes you through the process quickly with a mini tutorial that teaches you the basics of the bezel control. Basically:

  1. press and hold on the relevant label to access either time/date, training, menu or GPS functions
  2. slide around the bezel to move through menu options
  3. tap to accept
  4. tap in two separate places to activate the backlight

Forerunner 405 Virtual Partner

All very easy really. I had no problems using the bezel on the run, not that you need to use it much, you can tap to nudge the screen to a different view and in virtual partner mode you can increase/decrease the pace of your partner by sliding the bezel. I’m particularly fond of that feature as it means I can ensure I win every race now.

I’ve heard a few people fearing that accidental touches of the bezel would mess up the data but they shouldn’t worry. The start, stop and lap functions are all controlled by the big side buttons. Pressing the bezel during a run just alters the view – not a big deal. I haven’t tried it with gloves but as long as they aren’t massive affairs it shouldn’t be a problem.

For my first run I decided to set up a simple interval session, run 90 secs, walk 60 secs. I know that’s lame but I’ve got a cold and needed the walk periods to retrieve my hankies and have a good blow! Easy enough to setup, you don’t even need the manual. Features and settings are much more intuitive on the 405 than with its predecessor.

The intervals were well “signposted”, I was given a 5 second warning of loud beeps followed by a clear “chirrup” that marked the start of the next interval. I didn’t miss one and I appreciated the warning. A good feature.


I personalised the display I wanted to see on the run, you can choose upto 9 features to be displayed on 3 screens. On my main screen I had pace, time and distance and I accepted the defaults for the other screens. It’s well worth playing around though as there appear to be some great features. This is available on the heart rate screen for example and shows progress within your heart rate zones.

I had set the screens to auto scroll but will turn this off for the next run, I think it is more convenient to control the screen I view by tapping the bezel, that way I don’t have to wait for it to get around to the bit I’m interested in.

Back home, I was just unlocking my door, when the watch beeped to say it was uploading data. By the time I’d staggered through the hall to the laptop, my stats were already displayed on the Garmin connect website.

As a simple everyday watch its functioning fine, but I would have preferred the power save mode to be the time and date screen, not just the time display. It’s a fiddle unlocking the bezel so I can access the date feature. Its also quite chunky so if you have a small wrist you are unlikely to find it very comfortable and it will probably overhang a little. I don’t have a small wrist though so I’m alright Jack.

I’m pretty pleased with it so far and think there are clear signs of improvement, I’ll be scrutinizing it further though and am particularly keen to see if there are any improvements with the speed in which it locks on to a GPS signal.

*UPDATE 22 July*

If you are in the market for a GPS running watch, this is the leader in my opinion but as for pros and cons of the 405 vs 305 here goes:


  1. Faster GPS pick up, I’ve seen responses within seconds even when I’m moving but it is still not perfect. In heavily built up areas of London the reception is slow.
  2. Louder volume on the beep/alarm so you can actually use it for interval training.
  3. You can wear it as a watch all day – should last about 2 weeks before charging.
  4. There are a lot of new screens available and it is very easy to adjust – more intuitive than the 305.
  5. You can adjust the speed of the virtual training partner while you are on the run.
  6. Easy wireless upload.
  7. Smaller, lighter and more inconspicuous.


  1. Sometimes the bezel seems to be a little unresponsive, so if I tap the edge to get to a different screen it may not respond, so I tap again and eventually it goes crazy and skips thru multiple screens.
  2. Because I don’t want the useless training centre on my computer I have to be quick if I want to upload the run to Sportstracks, as it doesn’t seem to save the file on my pc.
  3. When the watch gets wet – say from splashing at a water fountain – the bezel goes nuts and the forerunner generally doesn’t respond. Wipe it dry and its back to normal again. See comments 22-25 and here’s a link to one bloggers frustrating although amusing communication with garmin about the issue.

Not many cons really but maybe I’ll to them later.

The Garmin Forerunner 405 currently retails at Amazon for just under £210: Garmin Forerunner 405 with Heart Rate Monitor and USB ANT stick – Black

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at if you have a product you would like me to review.

New Shoe MoJo

I cut last weeks long run short to attend pressing matters at the allotment so this week I thought I’d reverse my priorities – head to the plot first and then leave the afternoon free for running. After a few hours of digging in the wind I couldn’t decide if I was more in need of back stretching run or a luxurious hot muscle soak waiting at home.

Asics Gel Kayano 14

A mere 2k into the run and the muscle soak proposition was a clear winner, I was seriously considering a sharp left manoeuvre even though it might have been hard to try and pass off the short 5k loop as the weeks long run. Fortunately by 2.5k my spirits were soaring, I seemed to have discovered my new shoes. The run started to feel like a gentle jaunt across a sea of fluffy clouds and I was beginning to wonder if I could extend the run.

Don’t you just love new shoe days?

I’ve always run in Asics, I started with 2120’s but after a spate of problems with my ITB, a visit to the physio and a trip to the local specialty shoe shop to have my gait assessed, I moved up to the shockingly expensive Asics Kayano 13 model. I love everything about this shoe, except for the price, so when the Runnersworld Spring Shoe guide came out last week I poured over it in search of an equally comfy shoe at half the price of course it still nedded to be ideal for the overweight over-pronator. I found the ideal shoe but it wasn’t half the price, in fact I think it was a touch more expensive – Asics have brought a new Kayano model, the Asics Gel Kayano 14 and if possible it seems to be an improvement on my existing shoe.

So if I’m not prepared to settle for a cheaper shoe, I need to find a cheaper source for my fancy running shoes. I’ve just ordered from a new online retailer,, who were offering the Kayano 14’s at £88.99 with free delivery. Mine arrived the next day, so I’ll definitely be using them again.

Back to the run, I was springing along the track, realising that my mojo had returned. Full of the joys of running, I was back to sweating, puffing and grinning as the usual Richmond Park breeze did it’s best to flatten me.

Richmond Park

I was still smiling at 9k so when I noticed the offroad track that has tempted me for the last couple of months, I cut across the road and headed for the hills.

I love it when running feels like this – when pace seems irrelevant and the spirit of adventure grabs you, I wasn’t even worried to dirty my new shoes.

I think I’ll be saving these for the Wilmslow half so I can look forward to a morning of running on clouds.

Distance: 12.36 km
Time: 1:43:19

Salomon Raid Revo 20

Just made it back from todays running commute, it felt like a tough one but it was improved by the queues of festive travellers, I get a buzz from overtaking cars.

We were released from work a couple of hours early so I got to run on the scenic side of the river and cross the bridge all before it got dark and spooky. Of course today I was due to take my trial package on a test run, the package is the Nokia N82 Limited Edition Adventure pack which contains the phone, bundled with the Nokia Sports Tracker beta and the Salomon Raid Revo 20. A great set for the runner but not the forgetful runner – I now have two phones on the go and managed to forget both of them! I did remember the Salomon pack though.

Salomon Raid Revo 20

This is a super lightweight package but unfolds to handy size. I got my trousers, shirt, coat and assorted “stuff” inside the pack with quite a bit spare and no need to use the compression webbing for attaching my undies. Good job the extra space wasn’t required as I somehow managed to break the webbing attachment within minutes of removing it from the box, it sort of unwound into a bundle of fluff right before my eyes.

The pack is made of very thin material and I’m not sure how it would stand up to rain, the pack has a couple of plug holes at the bottom for water to drain away, which makes me think it isn’t going to make much of an effort to keep the rain out. The zips look pretty snazzy though, they appear to seal up as you close them so maybe it is more water resistant than I think. Will update next time I get caught in a downpour.

It’s a pretty snug fit on the back, it drapes over your shoulders like a soft cuddly bear (yuk) and the chest and waist strap holds it secure. The chest strap is a great design as it slips up and down the pack to ensure a damn near perfect fit. All in all though I think the fit is just a bit to snug, the pack sits flat against your spine. By the end of the run my back was feeling hot and sticky and this is on a bleak mid winter day, run with this in the middle of summer and I think you’ll pass out before 10 k is up. In contrast my Asics Barrios has a layer of bumps that hold the pack well off your back and is relatively cool to wear.

So the pack is a good size, has really neat waist band pockets big enough to hold phone, keys and iPod securely but its held too close to your back, meaning that the padding will absorb loads of sweat and is bound to stink within a few months. I hope the Inov 8 proves to be a better solution, when it finally turns up.

*UPDATE* I got my wish for a downpour, and I have to say that the backpack held up very well. Check out the details here.

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at if you have a product you would like me to review.

Return of the Civilised Running Commute

I’ve finally managed to wangle a work placement within a civilised radius of my home, so that means the running commute is back! I’ve been looking forward to this for ages, at last I can enjoy some scenic running routes rather than suffocating myself on fumes as I run along the edge of the A4. Not that scenery counts for much at 5.30 on a wintery UK night but it still feels good to know the river is just a wrong foot and a slip to the right of you even if you can’t see it.

CX commute

Turns out it’s a piddling little route, only 4.3 km but it will make a huge impact on my training mileage if I start running both ways. Until I sort out the gym (and therefore shower) membership, I’ll settle for a walk in and run back.

I’d forgotten the faff involved in planning a running commute. I used the first day to plant essentials at work, like smart shoes and a jacket and then tried to walk in today with the lightest clothing possible without risking hypothermia. In previous RC’s I’ve been able to leave a lot of clobber behind at work knowing that I’d be able to cram it in my bike bag the next day, but as my plan is for daily running I need to carry everything home. I couldn’t cram everything in the asics barrios bag, so had to attach a load of my clothes to the outside, knotting them around the shoulder straps.

I ended up bounding along the streets with my bra and trousers flapping out behind me in the slipstream.

You’ll probably not be surprised to hear that I’ve already been on to wiggle and ordered the slightly enlarged Inov8 Race Pro 18 – review will follow.

Better Late than Never


Pigeons Trafalgar Square

As usual I wake up on race day, filled with absolute dread. Looking back it seems quite an appropriate apprehension. The British London 10k had already been billed to me as being just about the worst race in the UK calendar and with just moments to go before the start I found myself enveloped in a Hitchcock movie wondering just how bad this day was going to get.

OGB finally came and rescued me from the tramps and the birds and dragged me off to the baggage drop. More angst followed, as he joined the longest toilet queue in the world and I decided that using a portaloo after 20,000 nervous runners wasn’t high on my pre-race agenda.

Where's Dan?

By the time OGB made it out of the potty zone, the holding area was deserted and we had to hot foot it to the start – 1.5 km away. By the time we arrived I was absolutely desperate for the loo but we’d missed the starting gun by 30 mins so I had no option but to clench and start running. I spent the next 10k looking around for toilets and wondering how the heck I was going to get to the end without an incident.

It was a fantastic route through central London, taking in Picadilly, the Embankment, Westminster Bridge and Millbank. It was my first road race and I did find it quite peculiar, it was hard not to stop everytime one of the traffic lights turned red. Stacks of supporters lined the streets and helped to generate quite a festival atmosphere, encouraged by the strange dad’s army style orchestras – very last night of the proms.


Apart from needing to wet myself from the very start, I had a great run, not a pb but not far off either. I felt comfortable throughout and I was able to walk at the end, which is just as well as the nearest toilet was another 2k away.

Garmin records 10.3 km in 74 mins. No official times will be reported as the organisers could only manage times for the first 400 and I would guess that I fell just outside this ranking.


Early morning runs aren’t the best, obviously you have to get up ridiculously early but more importantly you end up finishing before the pubs open. We did find somewhere open but they were only serving soft drinks til midday – what hapened to 24 hr licensing hours? My mum rang while we were waiting for the clock to strike 12 and we had a strange conversation:

Mum: Where are you?
Me: London, I’ve just run in the British 10k
Mum: Oh thats nice, were you walking?
Me: Did you just ask me if I was walking?!
Mum: Well yes because you couldn’t drive it could you.
Me: I ran – it was a running race.
Mum: You ran? How many metres did you say it was?
Me: That would be 10000 metres.
Mum: Did you finish it?

I was thinking to join in Lardathon for July but after an afternoon in the pub I had a slight hiccup in an otherwise exemplary day (beer being classed as legitimate carb replacement therapy) and polished off a twin pack of cream doughnuts. In my defence, I went shopping for the weeks groceries on Saturday and actually put back my multipack of hula hoops as I couldn’t face confessing my sins every day on the blog. I therefore claim that the two net each other off and I’m in the clear.

A Half Commute

My regular running commute has been on the back burner for a while. I started at my new placement a few weeks ago which has pushed the required running distance to 13 miles, part of which covers a portion of the West’s very own murder mile, or in fact murder 12 miles. Needless to say I haven’t been rushing to try it out. Today I was based at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Aldgate and it just so happens to make a far more scenic 13 mile commute.

When I left the house this morning, the forecast was still for horrendous thunder storms over London, so I packed my running clobber and a little umbrella. I was impressed that my asics running pack has a special slot for an umbrella, but really, did I actually intend to run with one? Seems I did. Crappy forecast though – it was a scorcher.

Tour de France

I started running from Tower Bridge and then proceeded to weave myself in and out of all the hot and sticky tourists on the south bank.

I’d drained my water bottle by Westminster Bridge and was wondering if I should have considered Gu’s or gels for my impromptu half marathon attempt. I didn’t have any so I compromised with a Solero Exotic ice cream and a bottle of water – shocking £2.50 down the drain but I bet those sachets of slime aren’t cheap either.

Resisted meeting the OGB slacker for a pint at St Thomas’ and picked up a few partner yoga tips instead.Partner Yoga

Now then, given my previous max mileage was something like 10.67 km, it would have been foolish to jump straight up to a 13 mile (20 km) run and I have to say that I didn’t really intend to run the whole way home. Trouble is I didn’t have that many alternatives sorted out – there aren’t that many tubes near the river and I never look or smell my best after a 10k run in the heat so I’d probably be blocked from entering by the sniffer dogs.

I got up to my 10k barrier and started walking a bit and then started running a bit and then I started to notice that my toenails were peeling away from the nail bed and my shins were hurting and my hip was hurting and….

You get the picture, I was in moaning minnie phase and it continued until I got to Hammersmith and decided to fish out the oyster card and hop on the bus that takes me to my local chippy. I managed a final little hobble trying to get my feast home before it got too steamy in the bag. Finished the day jolly satisfied with my can of cold stella and a whopping plate of fish and chips.

Total non bus assisted distance (dotted line) was 16 km or 10 miles. Quite a long bloody way but I have some work to do before the Cabbage Patch 10 in October.

13 miler

Gadgets & Gear

sennheiser pmx680i

I’m a self-confessed gadget freak and another close shave with eBay and a ridiculously expensive but absolutely essential running watch has triggered the creation of this page – my homage to sports gadgets (mostly running gadgets), gear and utilities that you can almost not afford to live without.

There is a link to most of my gadget reviews on the side bar but here are my top picks for essential running, swimming and strength equipment, software, books and resources.

Some of the product links are affiliate links, if you use these and then buy a product it will help towards the upkeep of my blog and make me grateful. A lot of the products have been sent to me to review but I also spend a lot of my hard-earned cash on gadgets, I try to indicate the source of the product in my gadget reviews but rest assured I will tell you the truth about product regardless of the source.

Activity Sports Watches

The sports watch seems to be my running gadget of choice and to date I have tried and reviewed many from the likes of Garmin, Polar and Timex, ultimately settling on the Garmin Forerunner series as the de-facto runners watch.

Forerunner Evolution

I’ve been through all of the above (and more) but as a stat loving but frankly useless runner, I’ve recently decided that the latest breed of activity trackers with GPS suit my needs very well. They blur the boundaries between lifestyle and athletic watch in my favour.

Garmin Vivoactive HR vs Fitbit SurgeIt was a close battle between the Fitbit Surge and the Garmin Vivoactive HR but if running and activity logging are your main requirements, you can’t go far wrong with the Fitbit Surge. It’s not as flash as its younger Garmin challenger but it does the job perfectly and Fitbit is undoubtedly the most socially connected platform around.

If you are a more serious runner, you are likely to be more tempted by the high end forerunner series. Whether you opt for Forerunner 630 or 735XT will depend on how seriously you take other sports such as swimming and cycling (and your bank balance). It’s well worth checking in with DC Rainmaker to read his extremely in-depth reviews on the latest available gadgetry before making your final choice.

And if you are and outdoor rugged type who hikes or climbs as well as everything else you may consider splashing out on the hugely expensive Fenix 3 HR. That’s where my gaze is cast at the moment.

Running Shoes

I’ve trialled a good many shoes over the years and ridden the waves as fads come and go. I started out with the traditional Asics Kayano but then moved through barefoot, to minimal to maxi-minimal, to plain weird and I am now stuck somewhere towards the middle of that journey, wearing a pair from each genre depending on the conditions.

Maxi-minimal running shoes

On the treadmill I wear Cloudflyer from On Running, the soles have strange rubber ‘clouds’ and they seem to offer the perfect level of spring. For serious mud running and OCR events I wear Inov8. In hot weather and holidays I tend to pull out the super-minimal barefoot shoes, such Vibram fivefingers and my goto daily wear are Hoka One Ones.

Hoka One One

In the photo above you have two pairs of Altras followed by three pairs of Hokas. Between them the two companies have owned maximal running technology. The first pair of Hokas I owned were Hoka Mafates and I loved them with a passion. Huge, heavy and deeply, joyously comfortable. They are not for everyone, they have relatively tight toe boxes and don’t last very long but I still love for the protection they offer my quads on downhill runs.

Hoka have expanded their range and no offer much lighter weight versions but I think they lose the essence of Hoka-ness and I avoid them. If you prefer a much more roomy toe-box, try the Altra. The shoe on the left is the Altra Torin 2 and is a shoe I literally live in. I walk everywhere in these and I’m sure the flat soled comfort has improved the strength of my feet.


For trail running you can’t go far wrong by sticking to inov-8.

These are sturdy shoes designed for the British countryside and all it has to offer in the form of mud, wet and tears. I particularly like the inov-8 roclite 315 (wiggle) which is a unisex model designed for all terrain types (except road).

I’ve also tried the inov-8 mudclaw but I found the shoe a little too narrow. The Roclite 295 (wiggle) is another great trail running shoe and has a softer upper and wider fit for a greater level of comfort with no need to break the shoe in.

Vibram FiveFinger

I’ve caught the barefoot running bug and have now built up an armoury of minimalist shoes.

I don’t recommend that the inexperienced barefoot runner throws away the standard running shoe in favour of either skin on tarmac or minimalist shoe running but there is a place for barefoot running in most peoples training routine. Just take it slowly to avoid injury and you should reap the benefits of increased foot mobility, strength and better running form.

The defacto standard barefoot running shoe is the Vibram Five Finger and my particular favourite is the Vibram Five Finger Speed (wiggle) with its cool laces – perfect for attaching a foot pod.

Softstar Run Amoc

Barefoot or minimal running can become almost a spiritual experience where you begin to feel part of the landscape and the track you are running along. It’s a much more involved and gentle way to interact with the trail.

To me, these RunAmoc moccassins (Sofstar link) from SoftStar are the perfect “at one with nature” style of barefoot running shoe. They are hand-made in America and can be customised to your preferred colour scheme. I opted for the plain black version but asked for a slightly thicker sole (still only 5mm though) so that I could use it for trail running.

I really do enjoy running in these shoes, I may look a little bit crusty in them but I feel free.


Running Headphones

I’ve worked my way through a fair number of headphones in my running career, I’ve tried in-ear, over-ear, banded, wireless bluetooth and mp3 earpieces. For the last few years though I’ve always returned to the same manufacturer and have now settled on a specific model which I can happily declare to be the best running headphone ever!

Sennheiser PMX 680i Rugged Neckband Headset with Integrated Remote and Mic

I first came across the PMX680i when I was at an Adidas miCoach launch event. Adidas have paired up with Sennheiser to produce a branded product that offers significant improvements over the earlier Sennheiser models. Note that there are two Sennheiser PMX 680 models, the PMX 680 and the PMX 680i, the addition of the i does add nearly £14 to the product but with the addition of a microphone in the volume control it adds so much versatility. I use mine to take calls while out on a run, I can press the yellow button and chat away without breaking stride (admittedly I can be hard to understand while puffing away). I can press the yellow button for a little bit longer and trigger the voice control feature of the iPhone which then enables me to control the gadget remotely – “Play Amy MacDonald” and it usually does, “call Lynn cos I’m tired and need a lift home” usually results in the iPhone lady telling me “calling Charing Cross A&E Department”, which is sometimes more appropriate.

I was really upset last week when my first set of PMX680i headphones failed on me, it was hardly a product flaw though, I tend to leave them dangling from the treadmill and the cats can’t resist chewing on the cable. With visible gnaw marks and loose cabling the sound quality was somewhat impaired and it was time to buy another pair. There was no question of me buying a different set, these are the best I’ve ever come across, they fit extremely well, they don’t cause any discomfort, sound quality is excellent (so long as you keep them away from the cats) and they are waterproof. The volume control and mic unit is very light as well which means you don’t suffer too much with an irritating  unit that bounces on your chest as you run.

The only downside that I can see about these headphones is that headband style does restrict your headwear options, so they aren’t any use under helmets or headbands.

Running Books

I’m always on the look out for running inspiration and I devour running books at a blistering pace. Here’s a selection of my favourites but if you need more I usually have an Amazon recommends list on the sidebar where I add other books I’ve enjoyed.

Born to Run

This book filled me with excitement and has obviously had the same affect on many others as it’s often cited as having inspired the world’s obsession with barefoot running.

In parts it’s a hugely exciting tale of ultrarunning adventure, in others it’s an evangelical barefoot bible.

Here’s the link to my review for a full synopsis of Born to Run.

Running on Empty

I’m drawn to ultrarunners, I find their pain so intoxicating and it certainly helps me put my 5km woes into perspective.

Running on Empty (amazon) is hot off the press and covers Marshall Ulrich – the 57 year old guy who surgically removed his toenails as they were getting in the way of his running – as he runs across America. 3063 miles in 53 days. Nuts!

It’s a fascinating story though and there’s a bonus at the end as its polished off with details from Ullrich’s training and nutrition diary. I love that sort of thing.

Run Less Run Faster

This isn’t my usual inspiring read but anything training plan that suggests I can run less is going to attract my attention and this particular book is a nerdy runners dream.

The Furman Institutes (FIRST) method is based on a 3+2 schedule called Run Less, Run faster(amazon), 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.

I’ve put together a whizzy spreadsheet that will spit out personalised FIRST trainings schedules for full and half marathon distances and is based on 5km paces from 15 to 40 minutes, so even the slow runners are catered for here.

Running Software – PC, MAC and iPhone

SportsTracks (PC)


If you’ve got a gps unit then you need SportTracks, don’t worry, this one is free so you definitely can afford it. Even it you don’t have a gps I reckon its still worthwhile having as your dedicated training log – it just won’t look so pretty without the route maps.

This screen shot just shows the basic activity screen but there is stacks more hidden away – weekly, monthly and yearly reports; splits; athlete stats including weight and injury/illness status. Again the blog is littered with examples.

Unfortunately it is not mac compatible so I’ve had to move away from the best training log available *weeps*.