Happy 2012!!

1 Jan

Happy 2012 from ScribsBlog! I wish you all a great year and hope you keep to your resolutions! If you need any motivation then have a read though my blog posts, hopefully they might inspire you. Believe in yourself, the only person stopping you is YOU!

Runkeeper 2.5.1.0 released

14 Dec

A new version of Runkeeper is out. The main update, apart from the normal bug fixes that all Apps benefit from, is support from the Wahoo BTLE heart rate monitor.

Falling behind on blog posts, running and not 100% again.

7 Nov
Posterior view of Gluteus maximus and Gluteus ...

Image via Wikipedia

Its been a funny few weeks. What with busy work, busy home and being away, my normal routine has got a bit mixed up. Add to this mix a new IT band (Iliotibial band syndrome) problem and not feeling 100% – again – and you’ve got a recipe for disaster!

At the moment my IT band problem is worrying me the most! I’ve had it before, although not as bad, in my left knee and I soon ‘fixed’ it by including a few new (at the time) stretches to my warm up/warm down routine and reverting to a previous pair of trainers. This time its in my right knee and I’m sure its more painful and actually causing a limp for a few hour after running. Not good!

So, the plan of action is to revert back to my trust old Newton running shoes for the time being and increase my IT band friendly stretches. YouTube is an excellent resource for demonstrations on how to do stretches and in this link my current IT Band stretch is demonstrated in example one (of three). I’m going to also include example two in my pre and post run warm ups/downs and might possibly look into example three (using a foam roller) if things don’t improve.

The other thing I noticed was that I’ve not been doing a full set of warm ups/warm downs due to being so rushed. I don’t think this has helped the situation and goes to show how important warm up and warm down can be.

The one big lesson I learnt last time I had an IT band problem, and still have difficulty with now, is that when you feel the pain coming on you should stop running and walk immediately. This is easier said than done when you’re miles from home, or when you’re nearly home and want to properly complete your activity.  But its good advise. The pain will (should) stop when you drop from a run to a walk and it will help prevent further damage. If you ignore an IT band problem and ‘man it out’ you can cause yourself further damage, possibly permanent damage.

Doing any sport can involve injuries, but its important not to ignore them. Yes we all get our niggles and pains when running, but you should keep a watchful eye on them and make sure they don’t turn into something more serious. As I’ve said before YouTube and forums like the one on runnersworld.co.uk can be an excellent resource for information.

I’ll keep you posted on how I get along. Next run is planned on my Newtons and for a short distance, perhaps three miles, no matter how tempting it will be to go for further!!

Runkeeper gets auto pause. Updated.

30 Oct

Its been a long awaited feature that has finally appeared in the latest version of Runkeeper for iPhone (2.5.0.0). What is it?

Auto Pause!

The theory is that with auto pause, enabled from the App ‘settings’ page, that your current activity will pause automatically if you ‘stop’. When you resume the activity will also resume, automatically.

Unfortunately, I’m unable to find any further information on the criteria for a ‘stop’. For example; some run tracking apps will auto pause if your activity distance drops dramatically to a crawl, others will class a stop as a literal stop, which I’m assuming is what Runkeeper is doing.

Android users will currently have to wait as this feature, and others, are in the current beta version.

More info here and on the RunKeeper support pages.

 

Update: I used auto pause this morning and it worked well and as expected. I was doing a cycling activity and had to stop of traffic lights. As I did Runkeeper automatically paused the activity and then resumed a few seconds after I resumed my peddling. Seems like a feature I’ll keep enabled as it works as described.

You may be asking what’s the point of auto pause and to answer that you have to appreciate that if you stop during an activity, say to talk to someone or to wait for traffic, etc, you stats (average pace, etc) start to be effected. You may ask “so what?” and for some people that may not matter. However, if you are training seriously your stats can be quite important as you try and improve your performance.

Running while away? No excuse here!

27 Oct

I’m drawing to the end of a week away from home due to a work trip. Its been an interesting  week, with busy days and early nights, but at least my running – or to be more accurate – at least my keeping fit hasn’t suffered.

Living in a hotel for any length of time can be a challenge, when it’s not a holiday trip. The first day or so can be a little exciting with the change of scenery, pace, people and getting to know your surroundings. However, this can quickly wear thin and you are left counting the days until you return home again.

I don’t go away all that often, but I’ve found that my attitude has totally changed from a few years ago when I was totally unfit. What do I mean? OK here are some examples:

Food: You can easily eat a lot more than usual whilst away, and the food tends to be a lot richer than you might normally eat. Theres also the temptation of spending as much of that daily allowance as you can, which again, can result in taking in far too many calories, much more than your body needs.

For me the real killer used to breakfast! A few years ago I’d go mad on the cooked breakfast pretty much everyday. And we’re not talking small portions here. When I finally got fit I suddenly realised that eating loads of food wasn’t making me any happier, in fact it did the opposite, when I realised how much weight I’d put on. Nowadays my hotel breakfast will be a glass of OJ, fruit and yoghurt and a cup of coffee/tea. I enjoy this much more than eating the fatty slop alternative and you feel like you’ve accomplished something by looking after yourself. ‘Good stuff in, good stuff out and all that!’.

Exercise: Even in my fatty days I used to get quite a lot of exercise in whilst I was away simply by walking everywhere. Quite a few trips were to London and walking was a great way to see the sites and explore in the evenings after work. Nowadays I carry on that tradition and always make sure I book a hotel that’s far enough away from my trips work destination to give me a good walk. For this trip, for example, I have a car with me, that I used to travel to the hotel from home. However, the car has stayed firmly in the hotel car park and I have walked from the hotel to work instead of driving, which is about a 6 mile round trip. See my ‘Why drive when you can walk to work‘ post.

Would driving be quicker – Hell yes! If I drove would I get a sleep in – Yes, about an extra hour a day!

So why walk? Simple, I enjoy it, it gets me out, it keeps me fit, it clears your head and sets you up for the day. The return walk is also a great way to unwind and I often look forward to it. A lot better than sitting in a car! There also the obvious environmental benefits to leaving the car behind also. We all need to do our bit don’t we!

I’ve also learned that when booking a hotel to always try and find one with a gym. As some of ScribsBlog regular visitors know I normally hate gym’s and much prefer the great out doors, but they do have there uses on occasion. Its also a bonus if you can get a hotel with a gym and swimming pool.

I’ve said before, in previous posts, I always take my running kit with me when going away (work, holiday, etc), and this is also the case on this trip. But due to a potential oncoming knee injury I’ve purposely reduced my running this week and mixed up my exercise between walking (daily), running (back from work to hotel) and using the hotel gym and swimming pool (daily). This has been a good mix and has worked out well to help sort out my knee. Don’t get me wrong, I would have much preferred to do more running and explore the area, but I also don’t want to exacerbate the knee. So this week has been a sort of rest from running and more walking, elliptical equipment in the gym and swimming.

So remember, just because you are away from home doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself in shape. Eat sensibly and use the time to your advantage. Try and get a hotel a few miles away from your destination and walk or use the hotel gym and/or swimming pool.

The only person stopping you is you!

Scrib.

Books, paper and eReaders – Do we still have to use dead trees?

16 Oct

Since getting the Kindle App for my iPhone, iPad & Mac I can honestly say I have not read as much in my life!

Its just so convenient and you feel a little better that you are not contributing as much to the death of  trees.

I tried the iBook App from Apple originally, but I found that a lot of books I wanted were simply not available in the Apple book store. Frustrated, I tried the Kindle App and I haven’t looked back since. To be fair to Apple they are fairly new in this game and Amazon, who invented the Kindle world, have been doing it much longer and as a result have the publishing supply chain well established.

One thing I love about using an eReader, be it physical like the Kindle itself, or virtual like an App, is the fact that you can quickly grow a reading list of books you want to read in the future.

Amazon Kindle

What do I mean by a reading list? From time to time you stumble across a book title that you fancy reading (i.e. via a recommendation from someone else, a review you read, a title you’ve always wanted to read, the current best seller), but if you are already in the middle of another book you have to remember it or write it down. In the ‘old days’ of paper based reading I’d often forget what the book recommendation was, thinking I’d remember it – I never did, and was left thinking ‘what was that book!’. There was a second ‘got ya’ when you purchased a book, what if you didn’t like it!

With the eReader, for me, that problem dissapears to a large extent because I’ve got into the habbit of downloading the free sample of a book I fancy. The sample simply sits there in my eReader library waiting to be read, no physical book shelf required here. By the time I finish my current book I’ve normally got a queue of free samples to browse through. If I like the sample (which is normally the first chapter) I’ll buy the full version. If not I’ll delete it. Simple, efficient and environmentally friendly.

That leads me nicely onto the second thing I love about eReaders. If I want a book, assuming its in the eReader store, I can have it in seconds! Gone are the days of waiting for a book to arrive in the post, or to have to trudge down to the shops hoping they have it in stock. Simply select the book in the online book store and press ‘download’!

Paper production - Dead trees

I guess you can also consider the space, production, logistics and transport saving from not having to produce and cart dead trees

(paper) all over the world. Yes, there is an environmental impact to making and supporting eReaders, but once they become common place the environmental savings will be huge, especially considering that quick ‘throw away’ paper media like News papers and magazines are also starting to make an appearance on eReaders. Imagine how much cost and environmental impact just one major Newspaper causes per day.

Paper waste

Apple has just brought out the ‘Newsstand’ App for magazine viewing with iOS 5. I’m currently subscribed to the paper version of Runners World and, after reading the free electronic sample of Runners World on NewsStand, I’ll definatley be moving my subscription over the eReader version as soon as possible.

Reading on a eReader, for me, is easier, simpler and better than the paper version.

Ah, but what about battery life? What about it? I don’t have to charge my iPad for over a week and thats with fairly heavy usage. The Kindle, because of its E Ink technology, boasts a battery life of two months! Yes you read it correctly – TWO MONTHS!

But I can’t afford an eReader compared to a book with is just a few pounds! Yes, its true that the iPad is expensive, but in my opinion very well worth it. But the new Kindle, that came out last month, is only £89. OK, that’s still more than a book made out of paper, but consider that paper books are generally more expensive that the electronic version, simply because they cost more to produce.

For example I’m currently reading ‘Deamon’ by Daniel Suarex. On the Amazon book store the cheapest paper back version of Deamon is £3.52, a used hardback you can pick up for $4.52, whereas the Kindle (eReader) version is £0.99! Yes 99 pence! This is one of the better deals and most Kindle books are around £1 cheaper than the dead tree version, but you get the point. This is also not including the fact that you can get hold of a lot of ebooks for free if you look around. Some eReaders offer you the ability to import your own documents, so if you do get a free electronic version of a book you can still read it on your eReader.

If you read a fair amount, and you’ll probably read more with an eReader, it might not be as expensive as you fist though. Also take into account of the space saving in not having all those finished book lying around gathering dust and getting in the way.

iPhone 4s still stays dry with ZipLock bag!

15 Oct

A few days ago we, OK us geeks, waited with baited breath to see what would be in the Apple announcement.

Would it be a new iPhone? Would that iPhone be an iPhone 5? One thought that went through my mind was ‘If its a iPhone 5, presumably with a new body design, would it still fit into a ZipLock bag?”.

Why on earth would I want to put an iPhone, or any expensive smart phone, into a ZipLock bag? I does sound a bit mad, but there is logic in my madness. If you read my “Keep that iPhone dry – Perfect ZipLock bag size” and “Running kit” posts you’ll see why.

However to summarise: I go running in the rain sometimes and needed a cheap, reliable way to keep my really expensive smart phone (iPhone 4) dry, as I use a running tacking App called Runkeeper (its also a good idea to carry a phone whilst running for safety and emergencies).

iPhone 4s

I couldn’t find any purpose made, snug fitting, waterproof ‘bags’ for the iPhone 4 (or any other model for that matter) on the market, that would allow me to keep the waterproofed iPhone in my running armband or running belt.

However, after a big of googling I stumbled across the idea of using a ZipLock bag instead. And talk about cheap! No £££ cost as you can buy around 100 ZipLock bags for less that the cost of a bottle of water!

So the Apple media event came and went and the new phone wasn’t a iPhone 5, it was the iPhone 4s, which externally looks exactly the same as the iPhone 4. So no need to get onto ebay to buy any more ZipLock bags.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in 12 months time when the iPhone 5 finally make an appearance!

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