Suunto Ambit 3 & The Return To Training

There’s nothing quite like new technology to mark the resumption of training and the intent to return to ultramarathon running in 2015. Released just last week, the Suunto Ambit 3 offers improved functionality alongside connectivity with the iPhone (Android to follow), facilitating on the go customization, push notifications, and the ability to create movies of your activities, complete with photographs taken en route.

My last ultramarathon was back in March 2013, when I crawled around the D33 in a personal worst time of 6:18:33. Admittedly, it was only 15 minutes slower than the first time I ran it which, given that my longest training run had been just 11 miles, surprised everyone, myself included. With a baby due to arrive and a house to prepare, there just wasn’t the time for quality training!

Harris arrived just weeks before the D33 and I soon appreciated that training time was a luxury I could not afford, despite my intentions to try and continue running ultras.

Ironically, since I stopped subjecting my body to the battering of ultramarathons and ultra training, I have been almost constantly injured in one way or another.

My running did benefit from nutritional, training and running form advice that I received whilst participating in The Running Bug’s PUMA PB Challenge back in July-October 2013. The aim was to smash a 1/2 marathon PB set way back in 2008 which was considerably faster than I was running at that point.

Unfortunately, injury struck just 5 weeks into training and it looked doubtful that I would even toe the start line of the Great Scottish Run, my target event. Despite injury, I came within 1 minute and 45 seconds of beating my target, considerably better than I had hoped for and way faster than my running had been for years. However, it was still a failure, and a very public one at that!

In the wake of this failure, I will admit to losing my running mojo and, beset with one injury after another, I lost focus on running altogether, something that just a year previously would have been almost unthinkable.

Weight gain saw me shoot up to just under 16 stones, the heaviest I have ever been, and certainly not conducive to running.

As a baby-wearing dad, it was evident to me on an almost daily basis what carrying an extra 1-2 stone in weight felt like. Losing this amount from my own frame would make such a difference to activities, my daily life, and my general confidence.

Thus, approx. 3 months ago, I set about implementing a different food strategy. I wont call it dieting as there was considerably more to it than that.

I have since lost over 2 stone and am lighter than I have been in many, many years. I am even a stone lighter than I was when I ran the 95 mile West Highland Way Race which is quite a thought!

Each pound is increasingly difficult to shift but, encouraged by weight loss to date, I am persevering and intend to shift at least another stone in weight before I focus on consolidating at a target weight.

If there’s ever an incentive to continue, it has to be the impact on my running. Yesterday, for example, I ran 3 miles on the treadmill 4 minutes faster than it would take me back when I was happily running 6-7 ultras a year. Not only that, I ran most of it at various stages of incline, including 1/2 mile at 5% incline. That improvement is before I really get back into training in any shape or form!

(Update 17th September 2014: I managed to take another 2 minutes off of my previous 5k time yesterday lunchtime. Feeling it in the legs today but this is hardly surprising considering how hard I was pushing and, also, given that both runs were done in Vivobarefoot Trail Freak shoes with absolutely no cushioning whatsoever. Today’s a ‘swim day’ so I can give the legs a well earned rest, but I am wondering now how much further I can take the speed and if it can be translated into ultra PBs.)

So, even with some continued aches and pains, I now find myself in a place where I feel happy and able to balance a return to training while continuing to be the best dad possible. I certainly won’t be returning to pre-Harris levels of running and my training will focus on quality rather than quantity of miles.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve slowly increased activity levels, based on a mixture of swimming, cross training and running and it is with this mix that I intend to continue, with the majority of training slotted into a lunchtime and/or of an evening once Harris is tucked up in bed.

Hopefully, come early 2015, I will have a better idea if this will be sufficient to see me comfortably complete a 2015 ultramarathon, or two, or three… :o)

Suunto Ambit 3

Multisport

  • Route navigation
  • Up to 25 h battery life with GPS
  • Compass
  • GPS altitude
  • Heart rate in swimming**
  • Activity based recovery time
  • Speed, pace and distance
  • Bike power support (Bluetooth Smart)
  • Multiple sports in one log
  • Training programs
  • Growing feature set through Suunto Apps

Connectivity

  • Upload and share your moves instantly*
  • Customize your watch on the go*
  • Time and GPS satellite data up to date on the go*
  • Use your phone as second watch display *
  • See calls, messages and push notifications on the watch*

Enrich, Relive & Share

  • Take photos during your Move showing your current speed, distance, and more*
  • Create a Suunto Movie of your Move with 3D map, key metrics and images*
  • Share your experience instantly to your social media networks*

*with the Suunto Movescount App and smartphone
**with Suunto Smart Sensor

Installing the .NET Framework 3.5 on Windows 8 or 8.1

Try as I might, I could not get Moveslink to install on my Windows 8 PC in preparation for the arrival of my new Suunto and I was starting to think that I was never going to be able to hook it up to the PC!

The installation of Moveslink would only get so far before bombing out with a .NET Framework 3.5 installation error. I finally found the answer to my problems, not on the Suunto site, but from general searches concerning .NET Framework 3.5.

“The .NET Framework is an integral part of many applications running on Windows and provides common functionality for those applications to run. For developers, the .NET Framework provides a consistent programming model for building applications. if you are using the Windows operating system, the .NET Framework may already be installed on your computer. Specifically, the .NET Framework 4.5 is included with Windows 8 and installed on your computer with the Windows 8 operating system.”

Therein lies the problem! Moveslink relies on .NET Framework 3.5 but 4.5 is already installed on Windows 8. The .NET Framework 3.5 is not automatically installed with Windows 8 and, thus, needs to be enabled.

To enable the .NET Framework 3.5 in Control Panel:

  • On the Start screen, type and then choose Control Panel
  • Choose Programs
  • Choose Turn Windows features on or off
  • Select the .NET Framework 3.5 check box

Full details online at Microsoft MSDN:

Hopefully the above will save others the frustration that I experienced, and let everyone focus on getting their lovely new Suunto Ambit watches set up :o)

New Barefoot Running Magazine Web Site

Barefoot Running Magazine, the world’s first barefoot and minimalist running magazine, has a new web site www.bfrm.co.uk with news, events, competitions, reviews and more! One of The Team may even be familiar to some of you!

The web site also contains links to current and back issues of the magazine.

50,000 Views

 

Wow, who would have thought it. My little running blog, started more as a personal reminder of my own running exploits than anything else, has now surpassed 50,000 views since I started recording stats back in mid 2012. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by. I hope you found what you were looking for.

2015 should hopefully see a return to ultra running for me again and there will no doubt be many more experiences to blog about. I’m not back to full ultra training yet but that’s not far off and I have high hopes that 2015 will be the year of the PB :o)

Links Roundup, 9th September 2014 & Hoka Clifton

It’s been a while since I last did a links roundup, something I am going to try and do more regularly, as much for my own reference as anyone else’s, as there’s just so much interesting stuff out there and keeping on top of it all is a nightmare!

Final Call For Loch Ness Marathon

Best be quick if you want to run one of the most scenic marathons in the UK. Entry for the Loch Ness Marathon has been extended as a result of a technical hitch with the web site and now closes at midnight on Tuesday 9th September 2014.

I’ve got fond memories of running this one, including the surreal sight of a long line of double decker buses travelling along the narrowest of country roads to get everyone to the start line (and also the sight of said buses emptying after some brave soul requests a toilet stop en route and everyone descends on the countryside to empty their bladders!). A fantastic route with possibly the world’s most famous loch and some hills thrown in at intervals for good measure!

Ultrarunners Living the Dream?

My wife and I have often discussed our desire to relocate to the Cairngorms (or the Canadian Rockies!) but, most likely, it’s something that, if it happens at all, will happen later in life. The prospect of leaving careers behind to focus on running, or indeed, other outdoor pursuits, is no doubt something that appeals to many of us but, as the following article highlights, sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan.

‘Ultrarunners Living the Dream?’ follows Matt Flaherty, Adam Campbell and Mike Wolfe as they leave their law careers behind to focus on training and racing, and makes for an enlightening read, especially in the case of Adam Campbell, who actually finds that having all the time in the world isn’t necessarily the best option. Unfortunately, injury also features and highlights just how easily this can impact on goals and aspirations.

Dos & Dont’s From Top Ultramarathoners

“The thought of how to approach your first (or fiftieth) ultramarathon can be daunting. Although you’ve trained hard, it’s easy to waste precious pre-race energy worrying that a few small mistakes with your nutrition or pacing can result in a DNF or, worse, an injury. What follows are a series of race-day ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ from some of the top athletes in the sport. Take these tips to heart as you prepare to go the distance!”

This is an excellent article and, with the benefit of hindsight, I can totally relate to these words of wisdom from Anton Krupicka, Pam Smith, Geoff Roes and Michele Yates.

Reading through the list brought back memories of some of the worst (and best) experiences I have had running ultramarathons, from injuring my Achilles 6 miles into the 55 mile Cateran Trail Ultra and hobbling on to complete the race and the 95 mile West Highland Way Race just a month later, from my one and only (to date) D.N.F. at my first ever Highland Fling, to my completion of the West Highland Way Race, despite explosive diarrhoea and projectile vomiting! Well worth a read.

“When things get tough (they will, probably way tougher than you can currently imagine even), believe in your training, believe in yourself, grit your teeth and do it. Doing hard things is extremely satisfying once you’ve made it through. Don’t forget that in the moment.” (Anton Krupicka)

“DO expect something to go wrong. No matter how perfect your training has gone, this is ultrarunning and a lot of crazy things can happen when you are running for hours on end. If you accept that something may go wrong ahead of time, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to tackle problems when they arise and to look for solutions, rather than wanting to throw in the towel.” (Pam Smith)

A common thread throughout the tips is to start eating and taking on calories early, even as early as 15 mins into a race.

6-Year-Old Runs 22:26 5K

Six-year-old Jaden Merrick ran 22:26 at Saturday’s Park to Park 5K in Waterloo, Iowa, more than 90 seconds faster than the single-age world record of 24:07 he set on August 2. I can only dream of a 22:26 5K. Well jealous lol! (and hugely impressed!)

Hoka Clifton

For all the Hoka fans out there, the road running Hoka Clifton is now available at www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com (£89.99)

“Quite possibly the smoothest runnng shoe on the market, the Men’s Hoka Clifton offers an incredibly cushioned ride at an almost impossibly low weight. Early stage Meta-Rocker sculpting geometry provides a fluid, efficient ride and the stripped down SpeedFrame upper leaves no extra weight for you to lug around. If you want to take the feeling of running on grass with you to the concrete jungle, look no further than the Hoka One One Clifton.”

Bin Forest

Located approximately 2 miles north of Huntly on the A96, the Bin Forest offers a number of waymarked trails and some stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It’s a forest that we have passed many times en route to/from Elgin but never got around to exploring – until Sunday 24th August that is!

Opting for the Bin Hill Trail, the yellow route, we were taken out of the car park on a steep little start, winding through trees on a fairly narrow path in darkened woods, a wake up call for the legs having been sat in the car for the best part of 50 minutes. The gradient was sharp enough to be challenging yet rideable, even with a toddler in a WeeRide sitting in front of me.

“It might be called ‘the Bin’ but it’s got nothing to do with rubbish! This site takes its unusual sounding name from the Gaelic for hill or mountain – bheinn (pronounced ‘ben’). Bin forest was first planted in the 1840s with fir tree seeds brought back from North America by the famous Scottish plant-hunter David Douglas. Originally planted to supply timber, this forest now offers much more than just wood.” (http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/visit/the-bin)

“Look across from the high paths to the River Deveron, Look up for a glimpse of Peregrine falcons or Sparrowhawks, Look out for signs of Fox and Pine Marten, and look down to see many wild flowers growing along the paths in Summer. Explore this Working Forest to find the Gallon of Water, a shallow pool at the top of Bin Hill, which legend has it was thought to cure whooping cough.” (http://www.visitaberdeen.com/attractions-and-activities/view/the-bin-forest)

We did spot numerous birds of prey circling above, but we didn’t know to look for the Gallon of Water (Should have done my research beforehand!). However, with plenty more routes to explore I’m sure we will be back to explore further in the not too distant future.

Huntly is located close by, which proved to be the perfect place to grab some lunch and to visit the excellent Huntly Castle, a most impressive ruin cared for by Historic Scotland.

  • Gallon of Water Trail, 0.7m/1.0km (White)
  • Ord Brae Trail, 1.6m/2.5km (Green)
  • Ferny Knowe Trail, 1.6m/2.5km (Red)
  • Queen Tree Trail, 3.5m/5.5km (Blue)
  • Bin Hill Trail, 4.1m/6.5km (Yellow)

Links

Run, Walk, Cycle Scotland