Time for a New Social Network: Garmin Connect Upgrades

Over the past few years we’ve been presented with more and more options for tracking our training and racing performance. It’s also become increasingly easy to that and share your progress and/or connect with friends and foes.

Training log/social networks like Endomondo and Strava have thrived by making tracking readily available on smartphones, and at the same time make it pretty simple for owners of other devices – for instance from Garmin – to import their sessions to these services.

That might be about to change.

4 days ago Garmin quietly announced social features on their Garmin Connect training log service.

Garmin – probably the World’s leading manufacturer of devices for endurance sports and outdoor activities – has kept quiet for a long time while smaller and more agile services established impressive followings in record time. A fair chunk of those followings are Garmin users, so it was almost just a question of time before Garmin would launch similar features.

At the moment things are very basic at Garmin Connect, but the launch communication above shows promise of more – without being too ambitious or promising too much. Rather too little, I hope.

Anyway, if you own a Garmin get on it and try it out – I’m here!

Crossfit Endurance Workout Of the Day July 12th

This morning spotted a Crossfit Endurance (CFE) tweet, which suited my plan for today in the most excellent way. Over the past 13 days I’ve trained 12 days and start to feel real fitness returning. Time to work a bit on speed without going too fast – without injury. CFE linked to their own blog post that suggests a few options for W.O.D. – Workout Of the Day. For me Thursday is currently a running day and the runs are right now somewhere around 6-8km and 35-45 minutes.

CFE’s suggestion was a training with long intervals, going all out for 5, 6, and 7 minutes with 2m30s and 3minutes breaks between intervals. With 10 minutes warm-up and 10 minutes cool-down that pretty much would add up to 43m30s – just what I need.

Did the training and enjoyed the long, hard intervals very  much. Had trouble keeping a high pace, especially in the 7-minute leg of the interval.

Normally I find it a pain to keep track of where I am in an interval like this one, but with the Garmin 910XT (as well as with many other modern heart rate monitors) you can create workouts targeted to what you’re going out to do.

I can recommend the workout from today. It certainly wore me out and that was the idea. You can find my workout here: http://connect.garmin.com/splits/198374874

Challenge: Garmin 910XT vs Garmin 310XT

This is a quick write-up and by no means a product review.

For a truly comprehensible review of the Garmin 910XT go here: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2011/10/garmin-forerunner-910xt-in-depth-review.html
For an excellent 310XT review from the same source, visit: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2009/09/garmin-forerunner-310xt-in-depth-review.html

In this post I’ll briefly try to cover my experience from a run done with both devices. As you can see on the image to the right this covers an approximately 5K run with both watches on the same arm.

Here we go:

  • Looks like they pretty much measure the same kind of distance. 90 meters out of 5040 isn’t much at all…
  • You’ll notice that the 310XT has been active for longer. It takes the 310XT longer to register non-movement, so it doesn’t pause as quickly. In fact “elapsed time” on Garmin Connect tells me that I was out there for a total of 27:31.
  • Pace is an odd one. It was rarely the same on both devices at the same time. I guess the Smart Recording on the 910XT is just a bit smarter – records a bit more frequently than the 310XT…
  • More on pace: the 910XT seems to be more spot on in general. The 310XT would have moments of 3minutes and change per kilometer, which is way faster than I can run right now – especially with a backpack.

I guess that’s pretty much it. The run isn’t really the reason to change from 310XT to 910XT anyway – the 310XT is still an excellent piece of hardware. No… the main differences come in swimming and cycling.

Of course later this year Garmin will come out with the Vector pedals that measure power and integrate with the 910XT – not with the 310XT. In addition – and I’ve been enjoying this so far – the 910XT can measure your swim like I did this morning.

I still need to perfect that. Generally I get distance which is about 100 meters too long on 1250 meters. That sounds like about 8% error to me. That’s a bit high and I’ve heard about worse for the 910XT. Potentially this can be fixed in firmware later on…?

In case you’re in doubt, the 910XT is the clear winner so far. For the multi athlete it’s simply version 2.0 of what was already a very good experience.

 

Set Conservative Goals !

When you set your goals, set them conservatively – not boldly! Don’t over-reach – make sure to be realistic and avoid pushing yourself too far!

When you set your goals, set them conservatively – not boldly! It’s a fine balance: push yourself, but not too far!

Recently participated in the half marathon across Storebælt in Denmark. It’s interesting – when you sign up for these kinds of races they always ask you what kind of time you have in mind that you’ll do. That’s done in order to let the fastest runners start first, then the 2nd fastest, then the slower and so on… and that’s all good and great.

The fun part is that it makes you think about your goal time amd then gets you thinking about how to get there. Trouble is that the sign up is so long before the actual event that – unless you know your own build-up very well – predicting how you’ll do becomes a somewhat difficult matter. I signed up for Broløbet 2011 almost 6 months in advance. 6 months out there was no telling what might happen in-between the date I signed up and raceday. All sorts of stuff could have happened that should have led me to change my goal time up or down.

In addition, if you’re on a new course, that might make the task even more complicated. How steep are the hills and how long? Will you have long stretches where wind might play a part – oh – and how will the wind be on raceday?? What if it rains, snows, is just really cold or just really warm???

Admitted the latter wasn’t much of a concern in Denmark’s late May, on bridge in the middle of the ocean. It could get pretty cold…

Now, I set my goal time in December and as with the ironman I’ve been testing myself to see if I could at all do that kind of time in a half marathon. I was pretty set to go and do my goal time and had actually officially taken on a challenge with my brother in law that if he’d go for a personal record, then I’d do then I’d do the same. But even if I was all set external factors could still screw it up.

Take a good friend of mine, Lasse. He had been training for this race in his first full running season after putting the running shoes back on. He’d set a goal and training went well – but then he got injured; running in the wrong type of running shoes did that to his training. Some time went by for recovery, he got himself some good advice on running shoes and got back into training – which went really well.

After a training session he and I had in February he started adding kilometers to get to half marathon distance. It went well, but fairly soon he had another injury, prompting him to consider whether he might even have to abandon the race. Eventually he did the race and performed better than he had thought in the beginning of the year, but maybe not as he could have been had he avoided injury.

My point is this: When you are an endurance athlete with jobs and parenting to be done, both of which will take priority over your sport, you can benefit from setting conservative goals and be happy when you reach them. Conservative goals will largely ensure you don’t over-train, over-reach or get injured. They will make sure that you will be able to get better, reach your goals, stay healthy and fit to set new goals for the next season, where you can set new goals – conservatively improving on the year before.

Training Camp Luxembourg

Towards the end of April we spent some time in Luxembourg. The country has some of the most beautiful nature I have ever experienced, and I took the opportunity to get in some training.

At this stage Challenge Aarhus is just two months away, so I should really start to have the fitness for the distance. Only thing left is to build a bit on that and make sure that tempo and speed get trained as well.

In this post I’ll share my learning from Camp Luxembourg.

During the camp I ended up doing:
2x swim trainings @ 2h30m;
4x run trainings @ 3h35m;
2x bike trainings @ 5h15m.
Total training time in the neighborhood of 11 hours 20 minutes.

That felt like a pretty solid week’s work – more than I can normally fit into a single week. Actually it was more than I can usually fit in two weeks. The week was different in other ways too. The Amsterdam area where I usually do my training is flat as a pancake, but Luxembourg in contrast doesn’t have a flat kilometer in it, if you know where to go – literally. To make my point, I recently did a 90km ride in the Netherlands with a 59 meters elevation gain. In Luxembourg I did a 95km with a 1569 meters elevation gain. Sure is a special training location!!

It’s the same regarding running sessions. Normally in the Netherlands I would need to run into Amsterdam Centre and run the canal bridges to get a bit of elevation. In Luxembourg I run out of the door and have a relatively high total elevation before I’ve run a single kilometer.

For both running and cycling I found that I’ve probably spent too little time training strength. My aerobic fitness is excellent – I can go on for hours on end when it’s relatively flat, but as soon as I need to push a little harder for short bursts of time, there’s just not the right kind of power to do that. Since I’ve come back from Luxembourg I’ve been focusing on tempo trainings in order to increase especially my half marathon speed. That will solve part of the issue with lack of power, but as soon as I’m done with Challenge Aarhus, I will need to put more power in my legs for sprint distance triathlon in Aalsmeer towards the end of the racing season.

Finally, I had a couple of really long swim sessions in Luxembourg. One was a 3km and the other was a 3,8km. 3,8km is the full iron-distance swim, and I wanted to get that one in just to tell myself that my swimming fitness is more than ready for the half iron-distance at Challenge Aarhus in July. That worked. I now feel extremely confident ahead of the race.

I guess for any (self-coached, time pressured, non-professional) athlete it’s always tricky to find the right balance between training base, tempo, and power. In Luxembourg it showed that I have not paid a lot of attention to pure power. On the other hand, my A-race for 2011 is a half iron distance race, and maybe I don’t need that power for that type of event. It will be needed for the sprint later this year, though. Therefore as the year progresses, I will spend more time training tempo and power.

More on that later…

Road to Challenge Aarhus: Self-supported Half Ironman

The Start Location at the Pool
Where the Madness Begins

This week is going to be mostly about getting ready for the self-supported half ironman distance triathlon I’ll be doing on Saturday 16/4 as prep to do Challenge Aarhus. You can join the event on Endomondo. Yes, it really is a triathlon even if Endomondo lists it as “other”.
Also join the event on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=124035681003753.

If you’re in Amsterdam, Netherlands on Saturday 16/4 you’re free to participate in any part of the total distance and any amount of disciplines. If you join the swim you should expect to cover the (tiny) expense on your own.

Here are a couple of probable start times:
Swimmers: total distance is 1,9km.
Start time is around 09.00 at Sportfondsenbad Oost:

Bikers: total distance is 90km.
Start time is around 10.00 at Sportfondsenbad Oost: same as above.

Runners: total distance is 21,1km.
Start time is around 13:30-14:00 at Sportfondsenbad Oost: same as above.

So, the things that need to be prepped are:

  • Pack my swim-gear
  • Check the bike to be race-ready and pack all that is required for a 90km ride;
  • Pack my running stuff (Thursday or Friday)
  • Go through the checklist at http://triathlon.racechecklist.com to make sure I have it all.

 

Road to Challenge Aarhus: March Training in Review

Beautiful Views on March Morning Runs

What a month. After February I had a few things to get working on and in March I have definitely moved closer to half ironman fitness. One of the things that all endurance athletes struggle with is time. After February I figured that adding 10 minutes per training would take the training volume up by about an hour on a weekly basis. By and large that has worked out pretty well. Where February ended up being a 14 hours 24 minutes training month, March had another 12 hours in it. It was especially the two first weeks that were really good. The two next weeks were pretty OK, but with other commitments the bike had to suffer and that took total training time down.

I learned a few things too that I’d like to share. Maybe they’ll prove useful to you:

  • Forefoot running training from zero to long distance takes long! I’ve had to set my sights on 5km forefoot running this year. Maybe next year I’ll be able to do 10km.
  • Nearly doubling training volume from month to month is a bit of a stretch. Be cautious and make sure to be listening to your body to avoid over-training. This goes for all sports, but especially for running!

Also, March seems to have been a bit of a strong month for social training platform Endomondo. I at least started getting invitations from people I connect to on Facebook, LinkedIn and from people I just haven’t heard from for years. That way I get to know another side of these people, which has been very interesting so far.
The weather has been very mild too so more and more people start training outside – also very encouraging!

Finally here’s a run-down of how I think March was per sport and what needs to happen over the next 3 months prior to Challenge Aarhus:

Swim: No real change since February. Still have to watch my left shoulder, so my number of swim sessions will stay flat until Challenge Aarhus. The required 1,9km is not a problem at all, so the swim is still on track! Learned in a podcast from TriSwimCoach that it could well be very smart to do a very relaxed swim in order avoid getting out of the water with a too high heart rate.

Bike: Weather was mild in March, so I’ve been outside a few times. Right now it’s a bit dark in the morning, but soon I should be able to do a morning session on the bike. This is probably where I need the most improvement, but we’ll see about that in April. For sure I will have to add kilometers to the cycling.

Run: March was an excellent month for running. Did my first half marathon in training in a time I believe is a personal best (note to self: check that on Athlinks). That said I probably can’t recommend doing three times the training volume month over month.
Now that the half marathon distance is in place I have started working on speed. For April that will mean shorter runs with 1km intervals at race speed or faster. Race speed is the pace I need to maintain to run “Broløbet” on the 28th of May in less than 1 hour and 45 minutes.

As a final challenge for April, I’ll be doing a self-paced and self-supported half ironman on the 16th of April. Standing at the starting line of a race without knowing that you can make it, doesn’t seem like a good idea…
Experienced triathletes have advised against doing half ironman as part of my training, but it just feels like the right thing to do. Therefore the week from 9th to 16th will be extremely relaxed with just a few relaxed and relatively short runs. After the half ironman the interesting part will be: how long does recovery take.

In other words: An interesting month lies ahead! 🙂

The #1 Most Important Advice for Endurance Athletes

Just a few days ago an old colleague of mine asked me what my #1 tip would be for someone who had recently started running and was now aiming at half and full marathon distances.

My response was pretty brief and I’ll share it here and elaborate on it a bit further.

The #1 advice to endurance athletes is:

Don’t get injured!! Whatever you do, train smart, don’t overdo things and through that, avoid injury!

You’ll likely want superman (or -woman) fitness and strength, run a marathon, do an ironman, and all that very quickly – but especially in endurance sports things take time.

Instead you will want to take it slow. If you can slowly build your endurance and keep on building then that really long race you want to be able to do will eventually happen.

Personally I didn’t always know this. I would sign up for races in the way to near future and try to do them being semi fit for the event, injuring myself either during training or during the race.

Since the beginning of 2010 I try to go about my build-up in a different way. I try to follow some basic rules that will leave me free of injury:

  • never add more than 10% to individual runs. Another version of this rule says you shouldn’t add more than 10% to weekly running volume and some even go on to work with months and quarters.
  • if you feel pain, never try to push through it. You might just be making things worse. Yesterday was such a day for me in the pool. I had to back off from getting better 50m swim time as my left shoulder started hurting. That swim was ended about 15 minutes early to avoid injury.
  • avoid going all out in sports your muscles are not used to. This goes for cross-training, gym sessions etc. which are part of your training plan, but also for the occasional game of football with your colleagues.
  • if you train or race with someone else who’s above your level – get them to perform at your level. Don’t try (too hard) to follow theirs as that could well be too much for you.

Following these rules has served me well so far. Only had few minor injuries over the past 12 months and every time they’ve been a result of not adhering to the rules outlined above.

Train hard, but train smart!

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!