Friday, 25 July 2014

Mission abort and #projectsub20

After 9 weeks I was slowly getting back into marathon shape and my fitness was feeling good...BUT...my Achilles were feeling far from good, and I've finally realised that training for my marathon in September is going to be aborted.

I'm disappointed but in a way it's been good for me because it's forced me into going to get the injury properly sorted by the professionals. I've suffered with my Achilles in the past and had some Physio at the time along with rest and some off the shelf orthotics and it all went away for a few years.

But now the pain is back with a vengeance and I've let it go way too far pretending it will not get any worse but obviously now it has, and not only has it got worse in one tendon but the other is now just as bad....Stupid me!!!

This time round it all started from wearing my Solomon trail trainers at the beginning of the year. In no way am I blaming the trainers in design just the fact they are a totally different shoe to what I'm used to and with not as much support as I'm used to.



Greek hero Achilles
I could feel the problem beginning and should and could of nipped it in the bud there and then but having spent so long out last year with my busted ankle, there was no way I was going to stop running again....Stupid me!!!

I'm sure my running biomechanics are totally wrong also, there's always some ache or pain after running for a period of time. So I'm off to Finefettle next week in an attempt to be fixed once and for all!

3 is the magic number
So I've decided, when I return to running, I'm no longer going to train for marathons. The big miles don't suit me and I've completed 3 marathons (3 is my lucky number...3rd child, born on the 3rd month, 3 letters in my name) with a PB of 3:58 so I've achieved the goal of a sub 4 hour marathon.



Running marathons take a lot of time and dedication especially at weekends when I'd rather be having quality time with the family. I could get up early enough and run for 3 hours, be back by 10am and then have the rest of the day to do whatever, but I'd be so tired that I wouldn't want to do much more than have a big nap!


My new running goal is going to be attempting to achieve a sub 20 minute 5K time, currently my PB stands at 22:04 so I need to try and knock over 2 minutes off my time which over 3 miles is not an easy feat. 



To do this I need my running form to be correct, introduce a lot more speedwork and I reckon I need to  lose some extra timber along the way!

Parkruns will become race day and I plan to run 5 days a week, mostly at lunchtimes at work freeing up weekends to relax more.







Wednesday, 16 July 2014

TomTom Runner Cardio sport watch




I've had GPS sports watches in the past with heart rate monitors where you wear a strap around your upper body. All good but sometimes temperamental in keeping satellite signals under trees and buildings and often losing heart rate readings while on the run. 

Well what if you could have watch that doesn't lose signals under trees and can measure your heartrate without a chest strap....Enter the TomTom Runner Cardio sports watch!

The watch measures heart rate with a Mio optical sensor, which monitors changes in blood flow by shining a light at the rear of watch through the skin on your wrist. It's amazing and you are oblivious to this taking place. I'm aware of the Mio sensor technology as I have reviewed the Mio Alpha heart rate monitor in the past. Billed as the worlds first strapless heart rate monitor the Mio Alpha was a great watch but did not have any GPS built in or software to be able to download data.

But now combined with TomTom's GPS expertise, this is now a serious piece of kit.

The strap is the same design as the Mio Alpha, which I'm glad, as this was a good feature. It's soft and secure with no fear of coming loose on the run.

The watch was easy to set up out the box and comes with a USB cable for uploading to a computer and for keeping the watch software upto date through the TomTom MySports website. 

Once the watch is set up, you're ready to go. Navigating around the watch is simple. Moving left with the Joystick opens the status screen, Down opens the settings menu, Right opens the activities menu. The only touch screen capabilities work the back-light for the screen.

The joystick looks quite obtrusive but it actually does not get in the way, and is easy to operate whilst running.

To start a run is simple, a click to the right highlights the run option, another click to the right and the watch will begin to search for satellites using the latest GPS and GLONASS technology. Initially this may take a few minutes, and if you run from a new location it will be the same, but once it has located the satellites and if you run in the same area again the fix is almost instant. The watch will vibrate and display the word 'GO'. Pushing the button once more to the right begins the run. To pause a run, press and hold the button to the left, from here you can either continue your run by pressing right or finish the run by pressing and holding to the left again. It's all very simple.

Whilst running the large screen displays information of the current run: distance, duration, pace, average pace, lap time, lap distance, lap pace, calories, heart rate and heart rate zone. By pressing the joystick down you can scroll through each of these items....Now for my one criticism of the watch, once you've scrolled through to the end, to get back to the beginning you have to go back up through each item again. It would be nice if whilst continuing to press down you went back to the first item after the last. Other than that the information is clear and very accurate. I've run with the watch under heavy tree coverage and the satellite signal never weakened making for accurate results. 

The furthest I've run with the watch is around 2 hours and battery life was hardly touched. The watch is recharged via the USB cable through the computer. When not being used the watch does not turn off but displays the current time when not in use.
One of five intensity zones can be selected to match your training goals and the watch will send alerts letting you know whether to speed up or slow down.

The five zones are: 
Sprint: mostly used as part of interval training.
Speed: high tempo training to improve your speed and fitness.
Endure: moderate to high tempo training to improve your lung and heart capacity.
Fat Burn: moderate tempo training, great for weight loss.
Easy: easy tempo training, mostly used for warm-up and cool down
The watch is very durable and has a scratch and impact resistant screen and is weather and water resistant.


Uploading your runs can be done connecting the watch to a computer via the USB cable or by Bluetooth onto any Apple device with the TomTom My Sports APP downloaded. The APP should be available for Android devices in September 2014. As well as the My Sports Website the data can be synced on popular running sites and community platforms, including MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, TrainingPeaks and Strava.


Syncing with my IPAD is the easiest and my favourite way of uploading, wireless and through the APP.

Once uploaded, Your run can be reviewed on the MySports website. I must admit I'm not a great fan of the layout of the site but all the information you would expect and want from your run is there. I would like to see a calender layout of my runs rather than a list that you get when entering the site. Also viewing the laps of the run is not clear.


This is a minor criticism of the software rather than the watch. I cant fault the watch and highly recommend, it's strengths being its accuracy and ease of use. 

The TomTom Runner Cardio sport watch is priced £219.99 and UK retail stockists include Sweatshop, Runners Need, Up & Running and John Lewis  also available from www.tomtom.com/sports

Monday, 14 July 2014

The British 10K London run 2014

Having run the iconic London marathon two years ago, it was nice to return to the capital to run again and take part in the British 10K London run.

I was invited to the event by Gung Ho, on behalf of New Balance. I've been lucky enough to review New Balance's latest trainers and their 1260 model has become a firm favourite of mine.

It was an early start as I made my way up to London and to the Cavalry and Guards Club in Mayfair for some pre-race hospitality adjacent to the start line. I could get used to this sort of hospitality pre-race in such grand settings.

Inside the Cavalry and Guards Club
Pre-race Breakfast
After breakfast and chatting with fellow blogger Steve from Blog7t and a couple of journalists from the Express newspaper covering the event, it was then great to be sharing the balcony looking over the thousands of runner, with the Military Wives Choir who sang some old wartime songs and then listening to the retired former head of the British Army reading wartime poems.

Great view from the balcony and the waves of runners
With the Military Wives Choir
The Military Wives Choir performing
With the 100 year centenary of the First World War it all felt terribly British and I felt quite proud of my Country. With the National Anthem being sung by the Choir before the start of the race I was feeling quite pumped up and ready to run despite my nagging Achilles injury.


World War 1 procession
Another bonus I had was the chance to start in the front group, a privilege I've never had in such a big race. Me an elite athlete for the day...who would have thought!


With so many runners taking part, I was expecting a slow start and a struggle to settle into any kind of pace early on. 

However with being at the front of the pack and amongst the lead runners, I started way too fast and by the first mile was running at sub 7 min/mile pace which is unfamiliar territory for me. 

Surprisingly, I managed to keep the pace fast for the first few miles, at 5K I was not far off my PB for that distance. My running the couple of weeks previous had become somewhat subdued due to my Achilles problems, so I was more than happy to be flying along. My new New Balance 1260's were performing great on the wet tarmac streets of London.

The crowd support was good despite being a short race and a damp Sunday morning. The crowd was particularly good along the embankment and approaching Big Ben near the end of the race. It bought back great memories of the marathon but this time without the pain of being at mile 24!
In fact the best way to describe the race would be a mini London Marathon. The course takes in some of the route of the marathon and some iconic London sites like Trafalgar square,The Ritz, St. James's Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Downing Street, All that within a 6 mile run! 

A great way to see the Capital, traffic free and I would highly recommend, especially for runners who don't want to take on the marathon but want the big London race experience.

The iconic route
I managed to complete the race in a respectable 48:26 before heading off to the New Balance Village in Waterloo place to collect my belongings. I picked up a nice New Balance goody bag and my medal and then took advantage of a free massage from YourPhysioPlan.com

This was great to get some long overdue attention on my Achilles and my tight calves which are causing the problem. I say 'great' but at the time it was far from that as the Physio pummelled into my knotted muscles!

Race Stats
A great morning and a massive thank you to Gung Ho and New Balance for their wonderful hospitality.

The walk back and past one of the races landmarks
Some nice race bling



















Tuesday, 8 July 2014

New Balance 1260 v3 & the British 10K London run

I'm pleased to be able to get a chance to review one of my favourite running shoes again. I've reviewed and run in the version 2 of the popular New Balance1260 so now it was time to see how the 3rd generation of the trainer would fare.

What's so great about the 1260 is that although it's a stability trainer you feel close to the ground and the responsiveness of the trainer is second to none. 
The latest version of this trainer feels similar on foot to its predecessor, a roomy toe piece but keeps the forefoot in place, the upper then hugs the foot nicely feeling comfortable upto the ankle.

The blown rubber outsole gives plenty of stability but makes the shoe lighter than the v2 weighing in at 305 grams (10.8 oz).
The shoe looks busy with plenty going on, is bold and bright and is no shrinking violet! The appearance may put some people off, but I like it.The breathable air mesh upper allows for plenty of ventilation and is noticeable on the run; great when running in the heat.

The grip underfoot works really well gripping to the Tarmac and allowing a good push off yet there are no deep grooved areas that allow small stones to get stuck in (a real bug bear of mine on the run).


Not too many noticeable features over its predecessor but not much improvements were required. As the saying goes, if it's not broke then why fix it!

Cushioning - 8 out of 10, Good cushioning you'd expect from a stability shoe
Comfort - 9 out of 10, Very comfortable especially in heel area
Flexibility - 8 out of 10, Good Flexibity.
Responsiveness - 9 out of 10, Very responsive with the low profile

I will certainly be wearing my new trainers this coming Sunday at the Vitality British 10K London run on Sunday and will be heading to the exclusive New Balance Village’. New Balance, which is an official sponsor of the race, is treating runners to special incentives including access to an interactive chill out area, as well as a free sports massage for runners wearing New Balance.

The New Balance Village will be home to a host of activities including sports massage from YourPhysioPlan.com, a network of expert independent physiotherapy practices across the UK. Together with YourPhysioPlan.com, New Balance is offering runners wearing the brand a free sports massage in a space before or after the race. Those wearing the iconic brand will also receive a free New Balance T-shirt and an exclusive discount on a 12 month membership with YourPhysioPlan.com

Ready to run!
All runners are invited to celebrate after the race in the New Balance Village chill out area, where they can play crazy golf amongst London landmarks, feast oncomplimentary popcorn and pose for a picture in front of Westminster Abbey and Big Ben within the photo cut out boards. Visitors to the New Balance Village can also head to the New Balance market to pick up the latest New Balance technical trainers from sports retailer Sweatshop.

All participating runners will receive a free pair of exclusive New Balance union jack trainer laces and a discount voucher for Sweatshop at the bag drop areas at the end of the race.

The New Balance Village will be located at Waterloo Place, London. Runners taking part in Vitality British 10K London Run who don’t want to miss out on the New Balance race day incentives can pick up an exclusive discount on a new pair New Balance trainers with Sweatshop. Head to www.sweatshop.co.uk and enter code NBB10K by 31st July, 2014 to receive 20% OFF all New Balance footwear and apparel.

This year the Vitality British 10k London Run is supporting Help For Heroes as its lead charity partner and will honour the 100 years since the First World War with a host of activities.

Keep up-to-date with all of the latest New Balance news on Twitter @NewBalanceUKand newbalancerunninguk on Facebook.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Asics half zip top and 2 in 1 woven shorts

Following on from last weeks review of the Asics Kayano Gel 20 trainers, this weeks review is on two more Asics products. The half zip compression top and the woven running shorts.

Firstly the t-shirt is designed to improve your posture whilst running. The built in diamond shaped muscle panel on the rear helps to open up your chest to allow you take in more oxygen. 

You can definitely feel the panel working on your shoulders and your running posture which would be a great benefit on a longer run or race when losing strength in your core and getting ever closer to the ground mile by mile!

The compression top truly feels like a second skin, extremely comfortable, with no chaffing experienced. The material's wicking properties work extremely well and the t shirt stayed lightweight throughout the run.


There is plenty of reflective prints around the shirt making it safe to run in on when the sun drops on a warm summers evening.

Overall a comfortable compression top with some clever features above and beyond a lot of compression tops. Highly recommended.


The outer layer of the shorts are made with a breathable woven fabric which is extremely lightweight and loose fitting giving plenty of ventilation. Due to the lightweight material the shorts can flap around but the benefits of the ventilation out weigh this minor criticism. There is also a zipped pocket in the rear of the short.

The inner sprinter length tights are made from a breathable mesh which gives extra support, and are seamless which helps prevent rubbing against the skin.


There are reflective prints around the shorts increasing visibility running at night.







Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Asics Kayano Gel 20

  • I must admit, I'm new to Asics, never had a trainer nor any running Apparel....but If the Kayano Gel 20 is anything to go by then I've sure been missing out! 

  • The Kayano is now in its 20th year, I've been running for nearly half that time and wish I'd given these a go in that time. This is a stability trainer which is particularly good for me as I overpronate and have low arches, so need good support for my feet.

  • There is plenty of support in the Kayano but by far it's most impressive features are making the run comfortable. It's truly like running in your slippers! It's noticeable from the first time I put them on and I particularly liked how soft they felt around the ankle which again was noticeable when running. 

    The Fluidfit technology that Asics use in the upper is a flexible mesh that stretches in multiple directions and this gives a snug but not restrictive fit, imagine wearing a glove on your foot.

    The Kayano is nice and lightweight for a stability trainer but with new technologies in outer sole making, most trainers are so much lighter these days. Asics use their GEL cushioning system in the rearfoot and forefoot along with the FluidRide technology which gives bounce back, and again enhances a comfortable ride. The outsole material has high abrasion-resistant qualities for added durability, which is good if you go off road like me. Although not a trail trainer, I took mine on some less technical trails and they handled the surfaces fine but the trainer is at it's best with what's it's designed for and running on the tarmac, this is when you really get the benefit of the bounce back and how comfortable the shoe feels.
    The Impact Guidance System (I.G.S.) allows linked components from rear to midfoot and forefoot to work together to enhance the foot's natural gait from heel strike to toe-off.

    Others features of note is the Exoskeletal heel counter that provides good heel fitting and plenty of reflective material for added reassurance when running in the dark.

    • GEL-KAYANO 20
      Without a doubt this is one of the best trainers I've run in (and I've been through a few!) with comfort being the Kayano Gel 20 best attributes. A new favourite for me.
    Cushioning - 10 out of 10, Plenty of support throughout
    Comfort - 10 out of 10, A*
    Flexibility - 8.5 out of 10, Good for a stability trainer
    Responsiveness - 10 out of 10, Very responsive on the Tarmac

    Overall 38.5 out of 40
The Kayano Gel 20's can be purchased at  http://www.asics.co.uk/ 


Friday, 6 June 2014

Marathon training - Week 5



Week 5 already and still the main emphasis is on speed while the mileage on individual runs is relatively low.

Last Saturday I managed to bag a 5K PB at my local parkrun which I was really chuffed with and finished 24th overall out of 169 runners, 3rd in my age group. So there may be some life left in this old dog after all! But let me tell you, it hurt, real bad, I'd rather be at Mile 22 in a marathon! 

22 minutes running at full capacity is a killer but when the pains gone and the results are in, it's very rewarding.

With exception to two of the runs above, all the rest of my running has been faster than marathon pace which I'm finding to be beneficial on the longer slower runs. On the 11 miles last Sunday, I ran the first 3 miles slower than marathon pace, the next 5 I tried to keep at marathon pace to learn how this feels and the final 3, faster than marathon pace to push myself when I'm feeling tired at the end of the run. Hopefully I can continue to do my long runs like this for a while but will probably struggle when I start hitting the big 18 -20 mile runs later in the schedule.

My Achilles are still causing some problems but I'm managing the injury well enough to being able to keep running. A combination of orthotics, eccentric heel stretches and ice cold soft drink cans are doing the trick! It's a little trick of mine I use at work where I keep two cans of drink in the fridge. After my runs I stuff them into the back of my socks where they ice my Achilles (Genius!) As long as I keep all this up (which I forget to do a lot of the time) then I seem to be keeping the injury at a manageable level.

My Orthotics to support my low arches and achilles support

Stretching everyday keeps the Physio away!

My 10.36 mile Sunday run was my first hilly run. I've not really been concentrating on hills this time round as my race in September is a nice flat one. Although I will add some hill training into the schedule for variety my main concentration at the moment is building fitness. But it was nice to get back on the trails for this run and run one of my favourite local routes, and despite not running this hilly route recently I found I coped quite well with some of the tough hills.

So it's so far so good, I'm really happy with how the training is going and despite the Achilles niggles it's onwards and upwards!