Following my running ambitions


TomTom Runner Cardio: Connecting the data

IMG_3617.JPGOver the last week or so I’ve really had a good chance to try out my new TomTom Runner Cardio, putting in several runs for my marathon training.

One of the things I’ve really been impressed with is the quick and easy way running data is uploaded.

Firstly, the watch is really secure when it’s in its cradle; it won’t fall out and sits elegantly on the edge of my desk – something my Garmin failed to do.

Before I could upload my runs, I had to, as standard with any manufacturer, create an account with TomTom MySports – but don’t fear if like me you use an alternative like Strava (or Endomondo, Map My Run, etc).

Once I’d downloaded the desktop software for my connection, I found I can request it automatically exports the data to these sites. It’ll even open automatically in that software once they’ve been uploaded.

But going one step further, the TomTom Runner Cardio can connect with my phone via Bluetooth and send data to the MySports app.

Granted, it’s not the quickest way to upload my info – it can take several minutes – but that’s time I should be stretching after my run anyway so no real loss.

And again, TomTom automatically sends the data to Strava so the info is right there ready for me.

I can’t over emphasise how convenient this is; these days I really only use my computer for connecting my watch and writing my blog, so I approve of being able to cut one of these out, especially if I should be doing other things with my day.

I’ve found there is just one downside to always using the Bluetooth option and not having a physical connection: I forget to charge my watch.

The battery life is pretty decent, but not even this watch can cope with 25 miles or so spread out across more than a week without needing some charge.

Of course I discovered this while I was out in the middle of my 18 mile run this week in training for my marathon – I was grateful I had my phone to use for the second part rather than resorting to just guesswork!

Don’t forget you can support my marathon attempt through my Virgin Money Giving page – click the link for more info and to sponsor. Thank you!




TomTom Runner Cardio: Running to a beat

Essentially my running over the last few weeks has been pretty consistent – and it’s not going to change in the build up to my first marathon.

TomTom Runner CardioSo rather than bore you with the same details, I thought I’d review my new TomTom Runner Cardio, kindly given to me to test by The Running Bug.

I’ll be doing a few posts over the next few weeks, each focusing on a feature that this latest GPS watch offers.

One of the key ones is the built in heart rate monitor, that works by reflecting a green light against the wrist, registering changes in the capillary veins.

It means I can track my heart rate across my run, including at the time – meaning I know how much I’m working, rather than guessing.

I’ve never been able to do this, instead having to do the basic estimate of gauging my pulse by judging how much I can talk (basically the more I can talk, the slower my heart is going!)

I tested it out on my run this evening from work, intending to stay in the Speed zone for as long as I could.


But knowing that your heart is going at 180 beats per minute doesn’t exactly mean anything; less so when you’re running at the time.

So to help this out, TomTom have created five zones, each of which is higher than the one before: Easy, Fat Burn, Endure, Speed and Sprint.

zones-ratesThese are calculated by your age, height and weight, although you can change them using your online account.

As well as being able to look at the zones afterwards, you can monitor it at the time, and the watch will alert you if you’re above or below your intended zone.

This means you can be sure that you’re putting the right amount of effort in, whether you’re going for a long run or going all out over 5k.

It also means you can focus a training plan rather than it just being based upon time or distance.

It’s a great feature that gave me the encouragement to keep going and really push throughout my run rather than just jog my way home; instead of focusing on my pace, I was ensuring I was being consistent with my workout.

And it was so simple to upload my run as well – something which I’ll tell you about soon!

Back to the marathon

You might remember from the beginning of the year that my 2014 running plan of running a marathon went horrendously wrong when I injured my IT band in both legs.

Although it put me out of running for the best part of two months, I was determined that it wasn’t going to be the end of my goal, although it was painful to see my Manchester Marathon number arrive!

Over the last few months, I’ve slowly been training towards the Chester Marathon, which is held on Sunday 5 October.

And slow really is the correct word; I’ve deliberately set my pace at slower than 10 minute miles, which would add nearly half an hour to my overall marathon time.

I’ve also been less rigorous with my mid-week runs, both with distance and with pace. In fact whilst I was in Glasgow, my weekend long runs where the only ones I did.

I was a little nervous last week when I went up to 15 miles as that’s when my injury developed last time.

But I got through it running alongside the canals of Birmingham – although I did wonder where exactly I was at the time!

Canal 15 mile route

Over the last week I’ve found that my legs are getting back towards my pace pre-injury and found that I’m beginning to get faster in both my mid-week runs and my longer runs.

I’ve just got to slow myself back down – after all, I’ve got another 5 weeks of 18+ miles to go. I’ll save the speed for the big day!

Glasgow 2014 – Bring It On!

Glasgow Mixed ZoneFor the last couple of weeks I’ve been in Glasgow, soaking up the city and volunteering at the Commonwealth Games.

Although I didn’t get to see any of the athletics in Hampden Park, I did get to see the marathon, some hockey and the gymnastics where I was helping out with the press operations team.

My role involved helping press reporters get the interviews with athletes they want and giving them any information they need.

I was just a few metres away from the action on the pommel horse, and mere inches away from some of our medallists as I held dictaphones for reporters that couldn’t reach.

The two weeks have flown past and have been immense; every day has brought new challenges, spine-tingling atmosphere and, of course, incredible sport.

As I’ve been in Glasgow for 12 days I needed to go for a run – justified as just the one as I’d been on my feet for hours at a time whilst I was on shift.

I was camping for the Games and the marathon route passed right outside my “door”, with the blue racing line being painted on Friday night.

I’m back in marathon training (don’t say it too loudly; I don’t want to jinx it!) so needed to do 13 miles to keep myself going, and with the marathon course being two laps, it seemed perfect to use the course for my run – otherwise the chance of me getting lost in the city was pretty high!

The course was a nice mix of Glasgow city centre and suburban countryside, showing the rich variety and heritage that the city has, including the refurbished docklands now used as concert and conference venues.

It was the slowest half-marathon I’ve run as I’m really taking training easy this time round, plus the crowds in the city centre for the Games don’t make it easy to get by!

The 11 days of sport have been great to watch and have really changed perceptions of Glasgow, including mine.

It’s just a shame it’s all finished!

Regaining my running mojo

Today I should have been posting about my successful marathon experience around Manchester and how much I enjoyed it (or otherwise).

But the truth is I haven’t been to Manchester today, and I certainly haven’t run 26.2 miles.

It all went wrong in February when my first proper running injury – my iliotibial band – knocked me from completely running for about 3 weeks.

Added to that, I was knocked sideways by a chest infection which meant I didn’t want to move from the sofa for a week.

Despite getting over my illness and some interferential therapy for my injury (being zapped in the legs), the result was that I lost my running mojo.

Quite simply, I didn’t want to go out, especially knowing my Manchester marathon was pretty much over weeks before the race had even started.

Even writing my blog was difficult, hence the lack of updates since the end of January.

So how am I getting over it? It’s taken time and focusing on a new goal.

I’ve been setting up a running group in Birmingham for LGBT runners – the Birmingham Swifts – and helping others with their planned runs.

It’s made me get my running shoes back on and enjoy going out again.

I’m still determined to do a marathon this year and have been long at autumnal events so watch this space to find out more.

But congratulations if you’d been out running a marathon today (or over the next few weeks).

And if you’ve lost your running mojo, be patient. It’ll come back, I promise.

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