The stupid season has been in full swing. Plenty of food and alcohol. There was even a reasonable dose of running thrown in there too. As has been the trend for the last month, I haven't exactly trained the house down. I haven't been a complete slacker either. That leaves me far from peak fitness, but probably have enough in the tank to get some good work done over the next couple of weeks to get something decent at the Two Bays Trail Run.

In the mean time I've scored a new toy. Lucky me. A Garmin Forerunner 210. Check out DC Rainmaker's in-depth review if you want to find out more. GPS data, pacing, heart rate and more ways available to me to analyse every run. For a geek like myself, that equals an extra element of fun beyond the running itself.

I've pretty much used heart rate monitors since I first decided to take running seriously back in 1999. Over those years I've measured courses in different ways. From using marked tracks, taking a car over a road course, a bike over trails and even taking a paper, pen and ruler to a map. Then came the joys of sites like google maps and I've experimented with using the GPS mapping of my smartphone and various apps to record a few runs. After years of training, racing, experimenting, following different guidelines, ignoring the data and analysing the bejesus out of everything I have come to the conclusion that keeping it simple works the best.

The Garmin will be an awesome tool. However, it will be of value in helping keep an accurate training log, and provided a massive amount of information to analyse after my runs. This will allow me to make adjustments to my training plan and get a better idea of what really is working, versus what isn't. During the runs themselves, I certainly won't be challenging the features of the watch itself. For most runs, I'll hit start, mark a couple of lap points then hit stop at the end. The actual running will be mainly by feel. Of course I'll have a few sessions with specific time/pace or heart rate guidelines, but then again, if it doesn't feel right, then it isn't. This is where the science meets the art of training.

Of course getting out there and putting in some quality and consistent work is more important than stressing over whether HR zone 3 ends at 155 or 157bpm. You can't learn everything just by studying it. It is more important to get in the experience. Worth reading The African Way of Learning... Just Do It.

For those who have followed my blog for some time, and also read plenty of other running related blogs, you will notice a lack of product reviews from me. Why is that? It could be as simple as I just can't be bothered with it. Also I don't believe in reviews all that much. Shoe reviews in particular tend to bug me. Usually they are either a regurgitation of marketing crap or they just apply to author's personal experience. That said, there are exceptions and some reviews are of value (DC Rainmaker's stuff as noted above). The majority, in my opinion, are not. The reviews rarely seem to match my own experiences with shoes.

My personal view is find shoes that suit you. For me I've gradually moved from the stronger motion control shoes combined with orthotics to very light weight, neutral shoes without orthotics as my technique and body have adapted over time. Currently I am doing the majority of my running in the Adizero Tempo 5, but rotate this with the Brooks T7 Racer, Asics DS Trainer and even the Brooks Cascadia 7. That's a long way from my time in the Asics Kayano and Brooks GTS Adrenaline. Does the shoe make me run better? No, but a poor shoe choice causes problems. A poor choice is very individual. At the moment my favourites are the Tempo 5 and T7 Racer because they just feel fast. Why do I mention all this? Just because I thinking about running toys, and shoes would have to be the essential toy (barefoot cult members please don't chime in here). Plus my Adizero Tempo 5's fell apart the other day after a little 300km. The inside mesh on both shoes disintegrated where the insole rubbed against the side wall. I was very impressed with the customer service Adidas displayed when I took them back to the store today. An instant "no way should that have happened," and within a minute or so I had a brand new pair in my hands.

New watch. New shoes. I might have to find some new running routes.


  1. Thanks for the links. You've never owned a Garmin? Will be interested to see what you think. My 305 is still going strong, although 'beep' function has died. The 'current' pace function is pretty useless, so I use 'last km lap' for pace. Will also be interested to hear if the strap reduces spikes. I've taken to electrode cream to cure this problem (Bah Bump). Anyway, all the best for the 2 Bays and 2013!

  2. That's right Ewen, never owned a Garmin before. I believe the instant pace is improved to something more useable by averaging things out over a bit more time to cancel out the extremes in GPS pacing peaks and troughs. Seems, ok to me, but definitely is a fair way from 100%. I'm still trying to figure out what I like believe between, instant, lap average and overall pace, plus mixing up intervals, auto lap and manual laps. Different situations and personal preference will come into it. Plenty of fun though. As for the HR spikes, I've haven't noticed any so far, and its had a good amount of use. Definitely better than the different Polar ones I have used over the years.


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