Zombies, Run! The iPhone app

Zombies, Run!

20120329-130933.jpgI’m Runner 5 and I’ve just been dropped into a zombie filled wasteland. It’s 11pm and I am, to put it politely, shitting myself.

I’m the sort of girl who curls into a ball at the mere suggestion of being chased. I may even scream a little.

So, I was a little surprised that I had been tempted to part with £5.49 in order to try out the latest GPS running app – Zombie, Run! Which seems to be a cross between Runkeeper and Resident Evil.

I was on a hill and to be honest I was quite tempted to walk, but the voice over had just kicked in to inform me that zombies had been spotted. It turned out to be the previous Runner 5. Unlike me she was a pretty good runner, only she’d been got by the undead and now she was trying to get me.

Steep hills are not the best place to try and outrun professional running zombies, not unless you turn round and sprint downhill. I will turn round next time. As it is she got me, just yards from the summit, there was a flurry of fast beeping and heavy deathly breathing. I dropped half the items I’d collected enroute, presumably as a distraction and then just continued running until the next chase kicked in.

Given that you don’t have to do anything on screen during a mission, the game play is remarkably engaging. You select a mission, slide to run and then you do just run and listen. The story unfolds and the commentary seems to fit perfectly between gaps in your playlist.

As you run along you hear that you’ve picked up items. My first was a snazzy pair of Y-fronts. You don’t actually have to bend and pick them up, and neither do you have to “run to the tower” or “head east out of the forest”. This is make believe, no need for screaming like a girl when the Zombies swarm but you do need to pick up the pace if you want to escape them.

The first mission lasted about 30 mins and I managed to make it to a place of safety with a few items left intact. Back home I was able to “play” with the app, dragging my items onto areas of the compound – increasing their rating as I did. Not really sure what the point of that is at the moment, I believe it opens up new missions but all that will unfold as I play it a bit more.

It’s an expensive app but it’s pretty accomplished and looks to have an active development crew. The accelerometer mode is already available to try out which means Zombie, Run! will work on a treadmill without the need for GPS engagement.

20120329-131023.jpgThe app keeps a record of your missions so you can review your typical running stats as well as reviewing the number of times the Zombies got you! You can’t as yet review the GPS route, so there is no mapping functionality and I don’t think they’ve built in any social interaction so you can link up with other terrified runners or upload the GPS data to web logs.

This review by Doug is the best I’ve found so far.

iTunes link to : Zombies, Run! – Six to Start

Cheated by my iPhone app, long runs and doughnut eating


I was grateful for the Audiofuel app this evening.

I’d geared up, taken myself outside into the late night drizzle only to hear the dying beep of a flat Forerunner. Thank goodness for the new app – I flicked to the pyramid interval session and set off for my hilly loops.

I was still pleased at the end when I checked the time and realised I’d clocked one of my fastest times for the triple circuit. I was a little less pleased when I got home and discovered that the GPS was completely shot, had cut short my route and had just shouted the worst pace ever to my facebook and twitter friends. I was robbed!

The pre-marathon, marathon training plan is going pretty well so far. Still too early to be feeling confident but I’m back up to 8k long runs and the aches and pains are manageable. I’ll soon be on to marathon training proper.

Having suggested I was going to follow the non-runners marathon trainer, I have since opted for the ever faithful Hal Higdon Novice marathon plan. I like the fact that it builds in some respite weeks, unlike the n-rmt which builds inexorably to D-day. The main reason for the change of plan though, was the discovery of a rather marvelous website that enabled me to transfer the Hal Higdon schedule directly to my Google calendar and thereby save me hours of typing dull session reminders. The internet is such a wonderful place.

While I’m sharing links, I’m also going to add a couple more.

I’ve recently come across a new running event concept called Trailblaze. It’s an endurance running event that can be tackled independently and at any time. It’s set up by a company called endurancelife who have installed a number of checkpoints along some of Britains best long distance trails. You sign up, receive a dongle and then run your chosen route. You run as far as you can, stick your dongle in the checkpoints and then compare your times and distances to the runners that have been before you. You get little coloured armbands when you complete certain stages so you can brag about your prowess.

Of course there’s nothing to stop you running these routes without paying for the privilige but I’m taken with the concept and have signed up to run part of the Thames Path and secure my own wrist band and a freebie t-shirt. Sounds like a good way to get in my long training runs.

Finally, have you heard all the fuss about the fitness trainer who has just spent the last 6 months stuffing his face with doughnuts in order to get really fat? He managed to hide his six-pack under about 70lbs of additional blubber and just this week has started on the next six month phase of his plan, to shed all the weight and get himself fit again. It’s called fit2fat2fit.com.

It’s a dangerous game, seems a little foolhardy but I have to admit it’s a fascinating story and I’ve got myself hooked on his blog. If you’ve got any weight to lose, you may well find some inspiration here.



Trail Runner and RaceBunny – A Perfect Complement for the GPS & Mac Enabled Runner


I think I’ve arrived late to the party but I’ve just stumbled upon a brilliant piece of software that can actually give Sporttracks a run for it’s money. TrailRunner is a superb piece of kit that acts as a standard GPS enabled training log but with added mapping and routing wizardry. I haven’t had enough time with it yet to provide a comprehensive review of all its features but I do still want to alert you to its routing functionality.

I’ve been looking ahead to the 16 and 20 mile long runs that form part of my marathon schedule and wondering how to find an inspiring route, possibly with some remote off roading and still ensure that I can get safely home at the end of it. The London Loop offers up some fairly secluded long distance trails but although it is signposted in parts, I know I would still get horrendously lost and throw my teddy out of the pram at mile 19.

I’ve therefore been looking for some way to carry the route with me. I’d just started looking round for yet another GPS gadget when I discovered that my trusty Garmin Forerunner 310XT will do the job for me (as would the 305). For some reason I had got it into my head that the 310XT didn’t support routes. In actual fact it doesn’t support routes but does support courses – I don’t know the difference but I do know that courses are just what I need.

This is where TrailRunner comes into the picture. TrailRunner is a 3 in 1 application: an activity journal, a mapping application and a route planning app.

Trailrunner stores all my routes, whether imported from GPS or created using it’s routing functionality, into my own personal network of tracks. I can also access the GPSies community to import nearby tracks and thereby beef up my own personal network.

I get the impression that network building could become quite a techy task. I’ve been reading the instructions and you have to get to grips with a glossary of GPS and mapping terms and occasionally help the program out by splitting and merging tracks.

Having done this though, the program unleashes functionality number 3 – the route planning function. Trailrunner can create a workout of a set distance based on my network, and if I rate the tracks in advance it will do it’s best to choose a loop taking in my favourite segments. Wizardry!

I’m importing my old workouts as we speak and mapping out the London Loop into 10 mile segments.

I can export any route held with TrailRunner to a number of different formats. If I choose TCX I can import the file to Garmin Training Centre and then send the course to my device. From here I can access it through the training menu. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

This isn’t a feature restricted to TrailRunner by any means. MapMyRun enables you to create routes and then export as a TCX file as does Google (I think), but TrailRunner is such an accomplished piece of kit that I can’t resist investing some time and effort into it.

DCRainmaker has prepared a useful illustrated walkthrough of how to create courses for the Forerunner 310XT (or 305/500/705) using MapMyRun as the route maker and Garmin Training Centre to upload to the device.

You don’t even need to have a Garmin sports watch to take advantage of these features either. RaceBunny is an iPhone app also by Berbie software that works seamlessly with TrailRunner. You can record GPS trails from the phone and import to the desktop software as well as downloading pre-recorded routes into the iPhone.

I’ve got quite a lot of dabbling and learning to do before I become adept at using TrailRunner, as you can see from my mapping example above I’ve got it riddled with waypoints. This isn’t necessary at all as you can link your trails to the map background. So in this case I am using the OpenStreetMap background which has all the legal trails already mapped, all I need to do is click to start my trail and the software miraculously follows the twists and turns to spit out a track.

When I’ve got a little more familiar with TrailRunner I’ll be back to give it a full review but if you love maps and gadgets and have a mac I’d really recommend you give this a go – it’s free and fantastic!

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.

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.

Comparing Commutes with Ascent for Mac

Ascent Activity Comp

I did the cycle commute twice last week, first on the painfully slow Brompton and then on the super speedy Specialised Sirrus Pro. I was expecting to shave at least 10 minutes off my time on the road bike.

Here’s what actually happened:

I presume my current fitness level is the rate limiter and not my bike choice, so I may as well stick to the Brompton, with its handy frame mounted bag and potential for shoving on the train when I can’t be bothered to go any further.

The activity comparison movie was taken from Ascent the activity tracker or sports log for mac. Since I’ve started using GPS again I’ve been really impressed with this software, I’m even beginning to get over the loss of Sporttracks when I moved away from the PC.

The activity comparison window is one of the best I’ve ever seen on a sports log.

Running Festival and Marathon Mag Giveaway

Triumph, Tanks, Thigh

Two mile runs seem to be the new black (@JogBlog) and my latest spree of treadmill couplets must make me positively gothic.

I’ve slipped to beginner runner status again but I’m gradually pulling back and feel happy to be putting in some mileage even if its slow and single figured. The ballot results for the Great North Run will be revealed in a couple of weeks and as my name is in there I’m going to have to start a proper program soon enough. I might even start running outside again which will result in an investment in another GPS gadget and blog posts littered with pretty maps.

Still, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m scheduled for another 3.1km trog on the treadmill tonight and GPS is just a little bit over the top and besides, if I can wait til September I might get to try out this new toy from Timex.

Despite being practically a non-runner at the moment (and therefore a poor blogger), I am still regularly asked to review or promote running related stuffs on the blog. The latest request was to publicise the first UK running festival, which looks really quite exciting.

It’s called “Love Life Love Running” and is a weekend event aimed at runners and their families. It takes place in the grounds of Cannock Chase over the weekend of the 24th/25th of July 2010. There are two main events: a standard 10k held on Saturday and a rather intriguing 6-hour challenge on Sunday.

I’m particularly drawn to the 6-hour challenge event which is a relay based around a 7km course and can be run by teams of 2, 4 or 6. It suggests on the event website that you can make this as challenging as you like but I haven’t seen the rules so can’t imagine what this means, I’m presuming motorised bikes are ruled out.

As a family oriented event there are obviously events aimed at the kids as well, such as the mini zoom – a 60m course where speed is of the essence. Not my cup of tea at all but there’s a certificate available for every finisher so I could be persuaded.

Anyway, if you struggle to find the time to sneak off to running events it’s well worth taking a look. You can sell it as a family getaway!

Also this week I was sent a copy of the Ultimate Guide to Marathon Running to review.

It’s a large format, magazine style book covering everything from goals, nutrition, motivation, training, technique and so much more. I’m really quite impressed with it and for the price I think it’s amazing value.

I recently canceled my subscription to Runners World mag, not because I was disillusioned with it, but I wasn’t running a lot at the time and after a 3 year subscription I was beginning to notice that the same things would come round too regularly. The content of the Ultimate Guide to Marathon Running magbook is such that you can save yourself an annual subscription to A N Other running mag but still get your fix of motivational tidbits and of course it is solely focused on the marathon distance and event itself.

It has a good training section, discussing various aspects such as interval training and the long slow run but the final 12 week recommended schedules are a bit thin on the ground. There are only 3 schedules illustrated, a 4hrs + (or get round), 3hrs 30 mins or a sub 2hrs 55mins. Personally I think there’s a huge difference between a 4hr marathon time and a get me round time but I suppose schedules are very personal things, there are stacks freely available on the web and it doesn’t detract from what is otherwise an incredibly useful guide to the marathon.

CREDIT: The Ultimate Guide to Marathon Running is available now on the magazine newsstand from WH Smith, Sainsbury, magbooks.com and amazon.co.uk for only £7.99

As I don’t have a marathon on the horizon and my planned half is quite some time away I thought it would be the perfect giveaway for one of my real running readers. Just leave me a comment telling me why you deserve the magbook more than me and I’ll post the book off to the one that makes me smile. You can be cruel but if you hurt my feelings you won’t win.

On an unrelated note, I will just take this opportunity to plug my latest obsession – warriorwoman can now be found masquerading as Big Betty, riding and writing about the new Triumph Bonneville.

If I’m not on here writing about running then I’m probably on whatapalaver discussing the trials and tribulations of motorbike commuting.

Garmin Forerunner FR60 – The Review

I can get over the treadmill boredom frontier by sticking a gruesome thriller on the iPod but the absence of a reliable data capture device (or sports watch) could call the end to a beautiful gym relationship membership.

I’ve worked my way through a number of fancy running watches over the years but my latest, the Forerunner 405 (reviewed May 2008) was just not designed to be a gym bunny buddy. Fortunately the Garmin Forerunner FR60 was released earlier in the year and appeared to be just what I required.

In summary, it’s a footpod/HR monitor which is ANT enabled meaning you can wirelessly upload data and connect to other ANT enabled equipment such as gym machines and the fancy new BC1000 Tanita weighing scales.
Unlike most of the others in the forerunner series, this watch does not have GPS, it is waterproof though.

I’ve had a few footpod watches before, including the Nike+, Polar 725 and Polar RS200SD and I’ve been impressed with all of them. In most cases they have proved to be accurate out of the box without the need for calibration and are ready for action from the moment you put the watch into training mode so there is no need to hang around stretching out your hamstrings while you wait for a the GPS unit to lock onto a satellite signal.

The footpod speed and distance monitors also have a huge advantage over GPS when it comes to monitoring pace. Pace readings on GPS units have a tendency to fluctuate all over the place while the footpod units prove to be more stable and therefore more reliable in any given instance.

What the footpods lack when compared to their bigger GPS brothers, is the ability to create lovely map trails of where you’ve been. GPS makes you feel like an adventurer, an explorer of uncharted tracks, but let’s face it, GPS isn’t for everyone.

If you run the same few routes over and over again the joy of the GPS map soon begins to wane and if like me, you spend a good proportion of your time on the treadmill, the GPS output would result in a terribly unsatisfying mess centred above your gym coordinates.

Garmin Forerunner FR60 in Action – Screenshots

Here’s a few shots of the Garmin FR60 as I move through the history screens for one workout. The final image shows the virtual partner screen which is one of the view options while training.

Garmin Forerunner FR60

Garmin FR60 Compared to Nike+ and Polar


The Nike+ wrist unit offers an accurate footpod with a minimal design. It’s ideal for social networking as it makes it so easy to upload stats via twitter, facebook and assorted other widgets. It’s the cheapest option as well but I can’t help finding it a bit disappointing, I just can’t stand the cartoon style display of the stats.


I really loved the RS200SD, the display was brilliant and the history data lent itself perfectly for being transferred to a training log. It has now been superseded by the Polar RS300X and I was momentarily tempted by it until I started pricing up the extras. The really annoying feature of Polar is that they require you to buy all the necessary attachments separately. The ridiculous “flowlink” is required for uploading data to the web but costs £49.99 whereas Garmin include their usb ANT connectivity stick in the box along with the watch.


Garmin has the edge over the competition, everything is supplied in the box and the connection is relatively straightforward.
Having uploaded the data it is easy to import the data files into sporttracks or other training logs.

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

London to Brighton – Geeky Stuff

As promised earlier, here’s the route map for the London to Brighton 2009 Bike Ride, courtesy of RunSaturday.

I’ve also added the speed splits from Sporttracks just to illustrate how painfully slow the process was. I’ve currently got my log set up to show running and jogging paces but its quite interesting to see that I was walking for at least 7 miles of the ride and barely jogging for another 4 miles.

Go early is my recommendation!

L2B Pace Chart Sml

And here’s the GPS elevation, its bound to be slightly inaccurate but it gives you a feel for the route.
You can click on both images to enlarge.

Cycling London to Brighton 21-06-2009, Elevation - Distance Sml

Brompton World Championships – 2008

I am such a social cretin before an event and watching the city boys arrive at the coach station in their pin striped suits and titanium s-bar bikes didn’t go anyway towards making me feel at home.

I cheered up a bit on arrival at Blenheim when friendly faces appeared out of the crowd and I was reassured that Emma’s Dave hadn’t abandoned me to do the race on my own. Shame Trinny and Susannah weren’t there though; they would have been able to advise me that the short and dumpy tie style wasn’t going to do much for my physique. They might also have mentioned that a thick woollen jacket wasn’t the best sporting wear for the hottest day of the year.


I had received tie training lessons some months ago, in a pub and even through the Stella haze I could remember some of the specifics of the double Nelson knot. Or maybe it wasn’t a Nelson, that sounds like a wrestling move and that was another night and a completely different sort of pub. Anyway, my tie, it ended up in some form of quadruple knotting affair which may even have been stylish if only I were tall and lanky.

BWC - The Start

So with the race about to start we’d had to lay out our bikes in the folded position, on numbered markers. I was going in the first wave, with Dave two waves and 4 minutes behind me. With the horn sounded we ran to the Bromptons, unfolded, pushed to the track and then set off.

I can’t believe that I’ve gone to so much trouble, practically having my gps surgically embedded in my wrist, and yet “forgot” to set the flippin thing off for the race. Now you are just going to have to take my word for it when I say it was HILLY. Big, long hills!

I may have mentioned before that I don’t do hills, not uphills anyway, but with Dave a mere 4 minutes behind me I didn’t have a lot of choice and had to keep pushing. When I finished the first 6.5km loop I came really close to throwing up on the corner, I thought it would be a slip hazard though and with Dave still behind me it could be seen as unsporting.

One of the guys in my wave had a video camera on his helmet and captured some of the beauty of the course. I was breathing so hard, sweating gallons and concentrating too much on the waves of nausea that I didn’t notice my surroundings.

It’s a bit noisy so I suggest you turn the volume right down, but before you get bored, pull the slider across to 4 minutes and wait for me to appear like a bat out of hell. He managed to capture almost a full minute of my backside flying down the hill with my coat tails flapping in an aerodynamic fashion.

BWC - Goody Bags

I crossed the line in front of Dave but the gap could be measured by Brompton lengths rather than minutes but we both looked rather worse for wear.

The results are just in:
Lap 1 15:48
Lap 2 16:57
Total for the 13km 32:45 (Dave’s time was 30:26)

In terms of positions I’m 268/364 overall or 21/44 for the women. So I’m actually in the top 50% for a sport! It beats swimming.

1 2 3 5