The Beach

As previously mentioned 2010 started off with a run on a beach in Cancun, Mexico. Well, it just so happened that my second run of 2011 went down the exact same beach.

I always like comparing results from year to year looking for what the improvement has been – or not. It’s just a good way to see how your form is developing.

Two days ago I did an almost 12km run on the beach between our hotel, Puerto Morelos, and the hotels beyond the village and this morning I ran a 5k. Should have been 6k, but a football (soccer) injury made me change my mind. Wouldn’t want to seriously injure myself. In-between the two runs I tested the half ironman swim distance – more on that in a different post.

First a few things about running on a beach:
– the sand means you’re not as fast as usual;
– if you run on the beach, chances are you’re in a warm location – that could well slow you down as well;
– right at the water beaches usually have a downhill from the beach towards the ocean, which means your running ground isn’t level. I suspect that could hurt your knees and hips – watch out for that!

Either way, especially the run this morning brought back memories of last as I was on the beach at 6:30 to enjoy the setting sun. There were a few other runners out, but I guess that most people tend to keep their eyes closed until a bit later in the day.

As mentioned, the football injury kept me from doing my normal run pace (as did stopping to take pictures and video). Basically I’m unable to run heel-strike without pain in my left shin, so I got in 5k of fore-foot running. It made me think that even if fore-foot running just takes you forward at the same pace as heel strike, just being able to sustain fore-foot running for a decent distance adds flexibility to your run, makes sure you can run if heel-strike-specific muscles are injured, and probably just strengthens your leg in general so your normal heel-strike run will be more stabile and powerful.

Either way, those are some of the benefits I saw today and thoroughly enjoyed.

2010 in Review

Ah yes… No end of the year without a proper review of the past year.

2010 started with a run on one of the beaches in Canun, Mexico. As I recall, it was a rough 6km run, which took me 40-something minutes. Rough, in the sense that I hadn’t really done the kind of training I do now. My fitness level was not where I wanted it to be and something needed to change.

At roughly the same time thoughts emerged on what my three main focus areas in life should be. Eventually I picked family, work as the first two natural choices. Training, finally was put in place as the third. That I wanted three main focus areas was no coincidence. Anything that you wish to do well requires focus, and cluttering your day with activities takes time and focus away from what’s really important. I started making a more serious effort to make my trainings and set two sports goals for 2010:
1) compete in a sprint triathlon;
2) run a 5km in less than 20 minutes.

Come April I had gotten doing the trainings down to being fairly regular and consistent. All three sports of triathlon: running, cycling and swimming was getting attention and improvements were being made. Also my media consumption changed and I spent more time listening to podcasts that were endurance sports related.
That lead to more and more input on the sport about training, racing, recovering and also about nutrition.

In May that lead to me dumping coffee altogether, which you can read about elsewhere. Either way we’ve now come out of 2010 without me having had any coffee the past 7 months.

I think it was during this time that Klaus, my racing buddy, brought up in conversatin that he had signed up for the Aalsmeer Triathlon and asked if I wanted to join. Shortly after I had signed up to the first triathlon since my debut in 2002 on the Olympic distance. My goals quickly became to beat Klaus, but also to beat the finish time for friend and ex-colleague Keld, who had raced a strong sprint distance at the same race a few years earlier. Also, I decided to change what happens on this blog. It used to be more about technology, and while tech is interesting it just isn’t one of my three focus areas and had to go.

During summer training went on and on race day in August I managed to keep Klaus just seconds behind me, but not beat the time that Keld had raced earlier (I still wonder how he managed such a strong bike leg).

Having checked the first box of my 2010, training focus shifted to running for. 12th September run in Haarlem. The 5km distance there was to be where I would see if I could break 20-minutes.
Eventually I did really well the first 3km, but started to fade on the fourth kilometer and finished with a time of 20:48 – just 49 seconds off my goal or 10 seconds too slow per kilometer. I’m confident I can reach that goal in 2011.

With all races for 2010 completed training focus moved to my weakest discipline and I’ve spent more time in the pool in the second half of 2010 than ever before. 2011 was comong closer and races started appearing on calendars.

So far I’ve signed up for three races. The first is the “Broløbet” in Denmark on the 28th of May – a half marathon across Storebælt on a highway bridge. My goal is to finish that race in less than 1 hour 45 minutes. I’ve also signed up for Triathlon Holten’s Olympic distance race on the 10th of July, but the big one for 2011 is one week prior to that.

The original plan was to gradually increase the distance of triathlons starting with sprint in 2010, do olympic in 2011, do half ironman distance in 2012 and then see what should happen after that. But when the Challenge organization came up with the half ironman distance race “Challenge Aarhus” in my birth city and what I consider my home city in Denmark, I couldn’t resist signing up!
The goal for my participation in “Challenge Aarhus” on 3rd of July is to complete the race and enjoy every minute of what promises to be a spectacular race.

2011 lies ahead and for 2010 I can only conclude that the season has been extremely
satisfying. I reached or gotnvery close to my goals and became quite fit in the progress. It’s also given me an opportunity to discuss health, sports, lifestyleand perspectives on life in general with old, close friends as well as more recent acquaintances. All of that has been very interesting and provided food for thought.

That’s a style and a focus I wish to continue in 2011 as I get started with new challenges in sport as well as professionally. It feels like I will have a good year.

Here’s to your 2011: I hope it will bring you health and happiness!

Challenge Aarhus, Half Ironman Triathlon: I’ll be there!!! :-)

I just had to participate in this one!!: The Challenge organization has come up with a new spectacular triathlon race. This is one is a half ironman distance race in my home city. Welcome to Challenge Aarhus.

The Challenge organization which also host to triathlon ironman distance and half ironman (70.3) races such as Wanaka, Roth, and Copenhagen is now getting ready to launch a new race: Challenge Aarhus !!

Challenge Aarhus takes place on July 3rd 2011 and is a half ironman distance race consisting of a 1,9km swim, 90km bike and 21,1 run. What makes me so enthusiastic about this particular race is that it takes place in my home town of Aarhus, Denmark, and the route is nothing short of spectacular!

That’s also why I’m very excited to have joined Challenge Aarhus, which will be my very first half ironman distance race – I simply can’t wait! It will be one of the great things of 2011 and I’m looking forward to it like a kid looks forward to Christmas. Just set up the event on Endomondo too and added the race to Athlinks.

The route promises to pass through spectacular sites. With start at Tangkrogen, which is also the starting point of the Marselisborg run and bike races, Challenge Aarhus will pass the Sculpture by the Sea on the swim, the hills of Aarhus on the bike, and then finally will pass through the ARoS Museum of Art as part of the half marathon route. Absolutely amazing!!

I’ll make sure to post more about the route, my training and thoughts on the race as we get closer to race day!!

Tech: Endomondo Adds Events Sharing

http://www.endomondo.com/embed/event/hJDoQCTIYaY?width=600&height=400
For all those Endomondo users who use the events feature of Endomondo to build a calendar of events for the year or period ahead: Sharing is now available. Endomondo launched the feature today.

I’m doing a half marathon in May 2011 – Broløbet 2011 – and in this post you’ll see that event shared on the right. Pretty nifty feature for those hosting events who want to build their own live event map. Endomondo also have a demo available on their blog. I think I might actually be running with a live Endomondo tracker during that race…

Now all we need is that race organizers start to see the potential of having a live map with adds around it hosted on infrastructure they can use for free. Sounds like a no-brainer!! The new feature even includes an option for spectators or participants to comment on the event.

Running the Hills of Luxembourg

We’re spending the weekend in Luxembourg and that’s always an excellent opportunity to experience hills and train a bit differently than normal. Today I went for a training in the hills around Grosbous, Luxembourg.

Started out going uphill without any warm-up, so I relaxed a bit before starting to work hard. In this area it’s up, down, up, down – never flat. Running here is excellent – I really like running in the forest. Even though there’s a road nearby, it’s quiet so all you hear is the sound of your feet hitting the ground; wet leaves sliding under your feet; small sticks snapping… It’s really cold – winter has certainly hit north-western Europe.

Suddenly while I was out running the silence was broken by … snow falling and hitting the leaves and branches around me. No sounds in the entire forest except my breath, my feet moving forward, and snow gently falling on the trees around me.

It was a hard run, and I was wondering if I was maybe getting a bit ill. At least until I checked the stats for the run. On any given run in Amsterdam I have an elevation gain of about 20-40 meters at the most. Today I did 210m in almost 10 kilometers.

If you want more detail you can have a look at my Garmin Connect run:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/57974242

Equipment Series: Cold Legs?

One of the great things about triathlon is that you get to have loads of gadgets and stuff, which is just all about doing the sport. In this update I’ll talk about my most recent visit to sports retailer Decathlon and what I got out of that.

So, I had a gift card for Decathlon more than a year ago, but since I don’t pass the shop all that often and generally prefer spending my time on other things than hanging out in a store, I just hadn’t used it until now. I had a pair of winter running tights already, but now that the temperature is heading for 0 degrees Celsius on morning runs I will train with them so often that I need another pair to train in clean clothes – and I like that.

At Decathlon they usually don’thave much for me. Odd, as they have equipment for pretty much any sport. Seem they always just miss it. This time, though, they hit it spot on!

I found a pair of Kalenji running tights that are exactly right and tight in all the places they need to be tight. At the same time they’re really warm, so a run in 0 degrees celsius is no problem. At the same time the price seems lower that most premium brands efforts, and I can’t say that I find my premium tights all that much better than my cheaper Kalenji.

So far I’ve had two or three morning runs in my new Kalenji tights and all have been excellent!

Finally Back in Training!!

After an irritating 10 days after my dental operation last week, today was the first day that I was back in training. And how very nice that was!

http://www.endomondo.com/embed/workouts?w=i-uFXe4mjXE&width=250&height=350A colleague of mine from LogMeIn extended the courtesy of sharing some of his fitness and pulling me around an 11km route in the area. During the past 10 days my changed eating habits caused me to loose some 2-3 kilos – they’ll probably come back on pretty fast – and I didn’t train, so some loss of fitness is inevitable.

He kept me in the red during most of the run, but it was just nice to be out and about moving around again. The weather was nice and sunny – very much unlike Amsterdam in the fall – so it was pretty easy to enjoy. We ended up doing 5:04mins/km, which you’ll also see in the training content here, so nothing to brag all that much about. Right now I just want to start again extending that by 10% weekly, so I get a nice and steady build up to 21,1km – the half marathon distance.

That’s the only race that has been set up for next year – this route takes runners across one of the highway bridges in Denmark. I’ve done it once on rollerskates and what you don’t see when you drive it by car is the constant incline to the mid-point of the hang bridge. I bet many runners will be surprised at this. That actually makes me think that I need to work lunges and squats into my running to have excess strength to take on “Broløbet 2011“, as the race is called on May 28th 2011.

Oh, and I have to work on my rest as well. Get in as much sleep before midnight as possible, seems to be the advice. Do they mean the same day or the next day? 😉 Jakob signing off at 23:59…

Endurance Sports Content

Just spent some time reviewing this blog and upon reviewing it I’ve made some changes. As my motivation to write here is changing, then so will the content. As I’m throwing out a few non-family, non-work actitivies in order to make more time for sports it’s natural that the focus here changes too.

As of now this will become a mixed training log including thoughts about training, progress, and other items mostly related to endurance sports – and endurance sports gadgets as I’ve written about a few times in the past.

That should better support a few training goals of mine, notably half marathon and half marathon with a twist (more on the twist later).

Part of the blogging will be done on the go to keep blogging as efficient as possible, so you might experience a few typos, as my fingers get used to tablet computers on-screen keyboards.

This serves as a warning – let the training begin 🙂

Garmin confuses with Forerunner 110

Garmin Forerunner 110 is now available, but is the entry-level runners GPS-watch a good buy?

Some 4 weeks ago Garmin announced a new model in its lineup of heart rate, speed and distance measurement devices – the Garmin Forerunner 110. The 110 is a runners watch with no cycling support whatsoever. Sure, you can use it on the bike, but there are no options for adding cadence.

That pretty much seems to be the story for the Garmin Forerunner 110. It impresses with simplicity: the display holds less information than for instance the 405/405cx which has previously been written about here, there’s less of a setup hazzle and in simple terms you could this a back to basics design.

Comparing the 110 to the Garmin Forerunner 405 is fairly interesting. The 110 has a lot less features than the 405 and as far as I can judge only heart rate based calory usage is the only feature of the 110 holds that is missing on the 405.

Many have so far mentioned that they see the Garmin Forerunner 110 as an entry-level watch, but the price of around €229 for the version with heart rate is HIGH for entry-level! I have found the Garmin Forerunner 405 for just €259 with heart rate monitor. For just €30 price difference you’ll get a whole lot more with the 405, and so the conclusion must be that the Garmin Forerunner 110 will flop despite the nice marketing.

It’s a basic entry-level heart rate monitor with speed and distance and interesting features for the runners, but comes at far too high a price. Leave it and instead read a later review on entry level GPS, heart-rate monitors on this blog.

Garmin Forerunner 405/405cx vs Polar RS800cx G3

For the gadget-happy athletes, the comparison of Garmin Forerunner 405CX and Polar RS800CX.

A while back I read a Garmin Forerunner 405/405cx review which was pro- the device. This text was intended as a comment on that review, but grew a bit out of hand for a comment. Here first a few words on the Garmin – just for context. Garmin, the word is yours:

“The Forerunner 405/405CX is the evolution of GPS-enabled training. This sleek sport watch tracks your distance, pace and heart rate, then wirelessly sends the data to your PC for later analysis. The 405CX features heart rate-based calorie computation and comes with a second wrist band option suitable for smaller wrists”.
For a comparison on the Garmin Forerunner 405 and the 405CX I suggest you go here:
https://buy.garmin.com/shop/compare.do?cID=141&compareProduct=31859&compareProduct=11039

Now, while all that Garmin marketing and the products themselves certainly do make you think about how you can use one of them in your training, there are a few things that should make you think twice. For instance the battery life of Garmin 405/405CX is not impressive and will require frequent charging. If you go somewhere far away for training or competition, do you really want to have to worry about charging your heart rate monitor too?

If you compare the Garmin 405 to the Polar RS800CX with G3 (GPS) sensor – the premium product from Finnish company Polar you’ll find both pros and cons for both. Let’s start with some of the Polar’s weak points:

  • too many devices: heart rate band, wrist unit, GPS-unit;
  • since recently: the Polar is a very closed platform with no current options of exporting Polar data to other platforms – although I haven’t tested it, the Garmin does offer export to Endomondo and other tools that allow for mapping and sharing of training routes and data through various social networks.

The advantages of Polar vs Garmin are:

  • The disadvantage for the Polar can also be turned against the Garmin: More devices in the Polar solution also ensures that if for instance the GPS runs out of battery during training you will still get heart rate data for the remaining session. Not so with the Garmin where it’s all lights out if the wrist unit dies. Furthermore the Polar’s battery will take you MUCH further than the Garmin battery – probably because the battery doesn’t need to support the same amount of functions.
  • Final comment on the battery: Battery change with the Polar doesn’t happen often, is easy, and relatively cheap.
  • Soft heart rate strap on the Polar. With the Garmin the heart rate strap is hard and a soft is only available for an additional $70.

I’m missing more information on social network integration. The Polar is completely unfit for any type of social network interaction. The Garmin has an own network with a few shortfalls, but more importantly allows exporting training files to services external to Garmin.

Conclusion: For me Polar wins this battle. The shortcomings in the Garmin package are a source of irritation if experienced while training. I have a feeling that I might find myself without battery really often.

Still, one has to often if Polar is fighting the right battles. Presumably the consumer market is where they get most of their money and they might want to watch it more closely and avoid what has happened to the Navigation device manufacturers: Mobile devices with minor additions grabbing market share with free software.

It’s happening in the training device market already: mobile devices from Apple, Nokia, HTC and more now include GPS for positioning and speed data, software for the tracking and uploading, and finally all they need is a 3rd party bluetooth heart rate monitor and off you go. I’m not aware of any heart rate straps that will do the trick, but as soon as they come out, Polar should get worried.

More about that in a future post.