Tag Archives: runkeeper

The long quick run – New Forest half marathon race report

Sorry for the lack of updates. This has been for a number of reasons:

1) We’ve just moved house and I now have a commute
2) We’re less than three weeks away from having a baby
3) Work has been manic

This does mean that I had a two week “taper” period and that the last run I did before today’s half marathon was the 11.5 miler a couple of weeks ago.

So, it was with some nerves, Sensei Paul, and a pain-free drive down to the New Forest that we braced for the half marathon. It was a beautiful autumn morning – cool, crisp, bright sunshine and blue skies. The crowds were out in force. We had had a light breakfast and I’d had a bonus rice krispie bar before the race, but was otherwise running as I had trained – mostly on empty. I took my place with the ‘120+’ minute finish time staggered staring place as Paul dodged up to find the 80 minuter starting point (!), fired up RunKeeper and Mumford & Sons… and sooner than I thought possible, we were off.

The race was ‘chip-timed’ but only at the start and finish, so RunKeeper and my trusty £8 digital watch were providing the split information and helping me manage my pace. I’d said to Sensei that I wanted to maintain a pace between 6m and 6m15 per km for the race duration – which would see me hit my 2h20minute target. Of course, in the headiness of the actual race conditions, I fired on much quicker – managing a 5.36 pace through to 5k, 5.46 through to 10k, 5.56 through to 15k and 5.58 through to 16k – the 10 mile mark. All of these translated to personal bests for me! Which was fantastic, but also slightly misjudged… and of course the final 5k felt reasonably gruelling.

The race split into three broad phases for me:

The first 10k – exhilirating,fast, passing lots of people and maintaining reasonable pace.

The next 6k – starting to get passed by the runners that had paced themselves better and struggling a bit with endurance

The last 5k – gruelling endurance, fuelled by determination and a handful of jelly babies at mile 10, and filled with the satisfaction of overtaking the people who had mis-paced themselves and were now walking

Of particulate note was the last 500m – marked as the last 0.1 of a mile – should have been 160m! But managed a sprint finish at the end, which was particularly satisfying.

Time was 2h09.39 – you can find me on this site, race number 1555 at the New Forest Half Marathon. Full RunKeeper stats available here, but include splits below too.

GunPos No GunTime Surname Forename Gender Cat Team/Club Chip Pos Chip Time
1250 1555 2:10:33 David Armand M 1261 2:09:29

Sub 2h10!! A full 10 minutes better than hoped for at my most optimistic! About 2/3rds down the pecking order (about 1,800 ran), so a lot of room for improvement, but pretty pleased with myself.


mi Pace (min/mi) Elevation (ft)
1 9:20 36
2 8:40 30
3 8:50 -12
4 9:09 28
5 9:19 -18
6 9:41 -1
7 9:30 -44
8 9:59 -46
9 10:51 89
10 10:48 1
11 10:58 3
12 10:50 -43
13 10:00 -24

Paul, of course, came third with a new personal best of 1h17.06 – and so was waiting for me at the finish – and got a very nice trophy.

I was pleased to finish without stopping, amazed with my time, and to be honest spent the whole day thinking I missed 2h10 by 33 seconds because I misread the charts. Sub 2h10 – woohoo! Next stop, sub 2h – which will be a target for next year, depending on how the baby and my running routine play together.

Thanks to all who have supported me, from my lovely wife, my reliable physio, my friends, extremely generous family, my colleagues at Brands2Life and all the people who sponsored, supported, encouraged, cajoled and otherwise helped me through this. Especial thanks to Mr and Mrs Sensei Paul for the challenge, encouragement, mentoring and a fantastic race weekend. It feels a fantastic achievement for me and I definitely have the race bug now (although we’ll see how I feel about that when the aches set in proper tomorrow).

Next time – more stretching, more training, setting up a playlist for the run in advance (much as I love Mumford, the album repeating three times was a bit much), and perhaps a bit more gentle pace at the start…

If you were waiting to see if I’d manage it to sponsor me, I have now – so chuck the cash in over here! Thanks again all.

p.s. I’m knackered now so reserve the right to edit this when I’m a bit more copus mentis…

Long Slow Run in the countryside – 16 May

The weekend’s training was a bit of a mix – first a relatively gentle 10k on Saturday (although my quickest since I started recording runs with Runkeeper) – and then, whilst staying with Amanda’s family, a 10 mile country ramble on Sunday.

The 10-miler was challenging and entertaining for a number of reasons.

First; hills. My leisurely London route doesn’t really have any. My Hampshire ramble? Did. Very much so. Yowza.

Second; jogging with JKB, my brother-in-law, for the first 35 minutes, was good – but meant I wasn’t listening to the audio prompts from my new £6 purchase of Runkeeper Pro – resulting in my early pace being relatively slow (about 6m50 per km). I also need to warm up better – if not stretch – as it took about 35 minutes to work out the tightness in my shins.

Third; Runkeeper paid edition gave me audio prompts for the remainder of the run, pushing me to hit a target pace of 6m30 per km – great motivation, and will be invaluable in training. Looking like £6 well spent. I made it up to 6m33 by the end of the run – with some decent splits for me for a 10-miler. Overall, though, it was a slow run – 1h50 for the 17k (10.5miles) that I ran. I will need to up the pace significantly to beat the 2 hour target for the half marathon (either that, or get to a point where I can run the final 4k in 9 minutes!).

Fourth; I overlapped with the Hook Fun Run for about 5 miles of the run, which meant a lot of confused marshalls when I first ran the wrong way, and then ducked off on a “wrong turning” around mile 6. Accidentally ran two races last week, ish! Still, running as part of a “race” (even though I wasn’t racing) helped with the motivation and the pace.

I survived the run happily (fitness improving!) and only slightly stiff the day after (although a headcold/hayfever has held me up for a day or so). Hoping to get back into training tomorrow but the rest of this week’s training will likely be minimal as heading off for a cousin’s wedding this weekend (in India!). See if I can find an air-conditioned gym for a treadmill-based run whilst I’m out there…

More running technology – iPhone sports armband & SprintGPS

Ok, so technically I tried these whilst cycling this morning rather than on an actual run, but quick initial assessment…

This iPhone sports armband works pretty well – other than the fact that with the extended strap you need guns the size of a small redwood to have it fit snugly, it holds the iPhone secure, gives good access to the iPhone screen and  generally does the job. You can fiddle the strap so it fits comfortably on more modest guns. The lack of a fitted screenguard will make it less useful in the rain, but I’d rather have unimpeded access to mess around with the interface the rest of the time… Downside for me is that the iPhone needs to be out of its regular case to fit in it, but I guess any armband that didn’t require that would be pretty bulky.

SprintGPS is a competing app with Runkeeper (which I’ve mentioned before) which I decided to give a try because it a) supports cycling as well as running & walking and b) they followed me on Twitter and left a comment here, so was impressed by their social media prowess ;-). Like Runkeeper, it uses a GPS lock on your iPhone to track pace, location, etc., over a timed workout (giving you splits, average speeds, estimated calorie burn etc.) – unlike Runkeeper it also has music controls in the free version (vital until multi-tasking with iPhone OS4.0 kicks in, as I discovered when a phone call during my half-marathon training run on Sunday interrupted my playlist, never to be resumed) and a few other cute features. Social media sharing via Twitter and Facebook is pretty seamless (although not quite as pretty as Runkeeper, which gives you a thumbnail map in your share) and GPS lock was quick and effective. The online route map and analytics are pretty good too, although again this doesn’t feel quite as slick as Runkeeper’s.

Tempted to try this on my next long run… What does anybody else think?

Update: SprintGPS free only lets you save a couple of activities, rendering it pointless. I’m back with Runkeeper, and considering RunKeeper Pro (but will wait for iPhone OS 4.0 before I do that…) The armband, however, works brilliantly when running too.

Running technology (or Nike+ vs Garmin vs Runkeeper)

I’m not a naturally fit person. Exercise has never been an easy thing, and I’ve never really ‘trained’ as such. Talking to Sensei Paul about his marathon training, it became incredibly apparent how aware he is of things like his own pace, heart rate, the distance and time he’s trained for, his energy levels… well, there’s an app for some of that, I discovered.

Nike+, a combination heart-rate monitor (HRM), wireless pedometer and reasonably clever iPhone app seemed a sensible first port of call. It was relatively cheap (about £40), it would help work out pace, duration, etc., and there’s a HRM with the sportsband. By working to improve my pace and trying to get my training heart rate up, I’d gradually improve. However… after reading a couple of articles like this one it became apparent that the Nike+ tool isn’t massively accurate. Worse, there were mixed reports on the (non-replaceable) battery life of the sensor, some saying it lasted as few as 30 miles (other saying it lasted for 2 years). And worse still… I gave up Nike shoes about 5 years ago, so would have to use it in a shoelace pouch… which according to fellow B2L runner Susannah makes it less reliable.

So that got scratched off the list.

Next up was the Garmin Forerunner 305; £133 worth of giant-ass GPS watchery. Now; other than cost and the fact that the watch face was the size of a small heli-pad (you should read some of the Amazon reviews), this seemed like a better idea. Runners loved this; even Sensei Paul, who only got a mobile phone about 6 months ago (seriously, its true!), thinks this is a good idea. Everyone wanted me to get one so they could play with it… but, I’m saving up for a house and an iPad, and it was a lot of dosh… so I decided to try an iPhone app first and see if it matched the features in any way without draining my iPhone’s battery down to zero.

Enter RunKeeper Free. It is, erm, free, uses the iPhone’s GPS to track your pace, duration of run, route of run, elevation and everything else.

And it is awesome – amazing for something that costs zero pounds and zero pence. It does drain the iPhone battery quite quickly – I run listening to music and a 30 minute run takes off about 15% of the battery life of my 3GS. A 50 minute run took out 25%, so there’s some proportionality. But given that my longest run is going to be a couple of hours, and the iPhone charges up hella fast, I don’t think its going to be an issue. The GPS lock is quick (assuming you turn Wifi off, which apparently interferes). The app keeps tabs of all of your previous runs – here’s one of mine.

The only problem I have with RunKeeper is that the iPhone needs to be out in hand… so I’ve had to invest in an armband – we’ll see how much difference that makes when it turns up.

I’ve used RunKeeper three times and its proving effective in motivating me to improve my efforts (my slightly obssessive personality kicking in again, trying to beat my previous paces on similar runs)… I have been followed on Twitter by the makers of an App called SprintGPS which I might try out as it supports other exercises too (cycling etc). Will keep blog-readers posted on progress…

Do you use running technology? What’s your view?