Christmas Gifts – Running related

The wish lists were filled with stuff, but not a lot was running related. As far as running goes I usually buy what I need instantly.
“Luckily” my trusted ear buds started breaking down about a month ago, so I asked new ones, with improvements: remote control to play next song and volume control. I like random playlists provided by Google Music but sometimes they can give songs I really don’t want to hear during a run.

Buds in and over the ear!

Remote control!

A lot of music joy coming in the future 😉

Second gift was something I could not yet bring myself to buying because it was too expensive: ideal for a want-list 😀
A soft flask. It’s the same fabric as a Camelbak and you can drink from it by pressing the bottle and biting the valve, so no tipping your head backwards.
It takes the form of your hand and in your backpack, which is much more comfortable than storing a hard PET bottle against your back.

Once it’s empty it practically takes no place to store it and it’s reusable, so the environment is happy as well.
I’ll enjoy this one.

What did you get for your Christmas? Running gear? Other handy stuff?

Pacing a Half Marathon?

Browsing through the blogs I’m following I’m reading a lot of resolutions (which I made myself too offcourse) and friends and family are obviously doing the same thing.

My brother ran his first half marathon this year and everything went way better than expected (Hoped for 5 min/km, ended up at 4:40 min/km which gave him a 1:38 finish time).
After some doubting about a marathon he decided to stick to HM for now and already signed up for one at the end of March.
At Christmas day he asked me to pace him.

I was honoured off course, but didn’t know if I could pull it off. My record dates 1.5y back (which is a lifetime considering my running career) and is ~1:36. My brother aims for 1:30 now.

I’m really considering this, because I think I can pull it off, but just to be sure I’ll test myself in the distance asap.
Last year I paced a marathon for a friend and that was in a relaxing pace for me, which meant I had enough breath to spare to say some encouraging words, With a 4:20 min/km (bit under 7min/mile) I don’t know if I’ll manage.

But see, the year hasn’t even started yet and opportunities already arise.

Have you ever paced a Half Marathon? How was it? I sure could use some pointers!

Weight graph – halfway through the holidays

It’s  a hot topic for everyone during the holidays: your weight.
Halfway through the holidays I’m already looking back and will try to give you some pointers if you have gained just a bit too much.

My graph looks rather good, I peaked during ‘The Days’ but as you can see it went straight down again afterwards.
This is how I did it, maybe it can help you.

  • You can go all the way during the holidays. It’s no fun holding back when you’re together with family and tons of delicious food. I don’t know for you, but I say ‘no’ to a lot during the year, so I see this as a reward. Come here chocolates 😉
  • I know this is too late for Christmas, but it might help for New Year: be extra careful the days/weeks before.
    My “pre-holidays-diet” gave me some reserve, which meant that even the highest number on the scale during these days did not give me guilt.
  • I did not drink alcohol.
    This is not easy, but it’s a choice I made and once I committed to it, it wasn’t all that bad. No alcohol, nor did I replace it with sugary drinks, but drank mostly water.
    Kept me hydrated, gave me a fuller feeling (less eating without having to say NO) and a lot less sugar consumption.
  • Went running after the holidays.
    I got one run after the holidays, combined with a ‘light eating day’ and that one stands for my biggest drop in weight after Christmas.
  • Be extra careful the first days after.
    I already told I’m working with myfitnesspal and even though I’m not always as meticulous as I should, it gives me a very decent idea if I can eat a snack or not.

Once again: happy holidays and enjoy the time together with family and food! 🙂

Christmassy week recap

A lot of diners, a lot of christmas shopping, a lot of spending time outside the own home.
Christmas time is a nice time, but busy none the less.
I felt like I was living out of my car, everything for my daughter just was stashed in there and stayed there for four days in a row.

A little snapshot of my family

But I enjoyed every minute of it.
Because of all the food and get-togethers, the running was put on hold (holiday break you know), but yesterday I managed to go running for about 15km (little under 10 miles) together with my brother.
It was running on unknown territory with a lot of talking. Very relaxed way to get some mileage done between all those big meals.
So short update, because other chores and family is waiting, but I wanted to check in to let you know I’m ok and see how you all are doing 😉

Did you enjoy your Christmas week? Did you get some running done?

Goals For 2015

I gave it a lot of thought and decided on my running goals for 2015.
The major doubt was if I could spent as much or more time in 2015 on running, but after putting the schedules together, J. and I decided it was an option, with a peak somewhere near summer as one of the major possibilities.

So here it is, my goals for 2015:
2 ultra distances
And in these 2 I plan to take on one at least one trail, which means about 90% off-road.
This is nothing extra from 2014 per se, but more to follow 🙂

+2500km of running
2500km ~= 1553miles.
2014 I’ll strand on 2274km (~1413 miles) give or take.
I planned for 2014km in 2014, and I obviously went way over.
My goal means an average of 210km (~130mi) per month, so this is no small goal.
If I run like this year and make sure I don’t have “down” months like Jan or Feb, it’s definitely possible!

Break distance record (currently ~57km)
Running further in one race or another would sure add to a nice year.

Break duration record (currently 5:51)
This goes for the duration as well.
I’m strongly doubting to run a 6hour run in 2015, if I should do this, I’ll definitely break both.

I have some nice-to-haves as well. It would be great to get these as well, but they are not really complementary to the above goals, so it would be logical if I wouldn’t get them.

  • PB on the 5k
  • PB on the 10k
  • Marathon under 3:20
  • Run a nice trail just to enjoy the scenery (chance is, I’ll already get this at the end of January)

Be sure to link me up to your goals for 2015, I’d love to read about them!

Race Recap: Marathon Brabant, October 27, 2013

After the origin posts leading up to my race, here is the race recap itself.

We’re talking about more than a year ago, October 27, 2013.

I have trained for this day … a lot, yet I’m very nervous.
This is the first A-race I’ve planned in all my “running career”.

Day before I laid everything out and hung the bike rack to the car so The Girlfriend could pedal from one point to another and see me go :p

Race day … 6:30am
Had a good night of sleep and woke up fairly rested, time for breakfast.
Thinking I needed a breakfast of champions I go for

  • Banana
  • Honey
  • 3 white slices of bread
  • Dark chocolate
  • No milk, but lots of water.

Start of the race was 11:45 but it was a drive of 1h45, so we got going at about 8:30 am to surely be on time.
Drive was fine, I stressed as little as possible in the passenger seat and tried to clear my head.

Once there the nerves hit me. Looking for my bib I saw all these professional runners and got nervous.
I could choose between two corrals: -3:30 and +3:30.
Seeing I aimed for 3:30 I doubted but went for the -3:30 to push myself a little with faster runners.

Fast forward to the start (nothing happened that all of you don’t know: dressing, being nervous, going to the bathroom thrice, …)

Waiting in the first corral I say to myself I should keep running in my first 2 zones as long as possible, preferably until mile 20. Then I could see what’s left in the tank and speed up if necessary for my goal time. (3:30 = 5:00 min/km = 8min/mile)
I think you all know what they say about plans. I stand there, full adrenaline, seeing my heart rate is already at about zone 2 and the gun goes off.

Go go go … don’t go too fast, DON’T go too fast, … 1km: 4:39 HR: 155 (end of zone 2) *grmbl*

Nice action pic from somewhere near the start

Look at the arrow, it says marathon and points to me =]

So i didn’t take the best of starts. Every damn article talks about this mistake and I knew it, yet I went. 2nd km was too fast as well (4:43) before I got to pace myself.
Most of the following kilometers where at about 5:00 pace so that went well, but my heart rate was definitely too high. I felt it went well, but was afraid for the notorious wall at km 30-35 (~mile 20) or so. But feeling strong (and naive?) I kept going at this pace.

I brought gel and meli cookies with me, both great for carbs. Had one bottle of water with me and 2 waiting at given points with supplies.
Planning on eating one of these every 30min and drinking every km I had a solid nutritional plan, gladly it was one I actually stuck too!

Mmmm … Cookie

Everything was very solid until about halfway. That was when it got thoughts. Luckily The Girlfriend stood there and pedaled some time along with me. After 3km we sadly met an official saying this was not allowed, so it was plodding off on my own again.

The course was 2 times the same lap which meant I now knew what was coming.

Nice part through the woods lifted my spirits, but not my pace. It got harder and harder to get 5min km, but slicing the remaining distance in pieces helped a lot mentally.

Hydrating at km 31 (~20miles)

Last part of 4miles got really hard, quads started cramping, it was a boring piece with lots of wind and I knew an uphill and bridge part were coming up. I started passing ever lore walking people what was somehow helping but triggered a little voice in ly head as well. A voice that stated all those people were better trained, so if they were walking, surely I could for a bit. And if that meant not getting my goal time there was always another.

I pushed the voice away, clenched my teeth and got to the final part. Could wave to the girlfriend, could pass some walkers, started seeing more people along the way, last piece uphill was coming with the bridge after it and I pushed through, heavy as it was…

38km and uphill

It’s clenching teeth time!

Marathon Brabant – km39 on the bridge

The finish got closer, a nice banner was put up at the last 500m stretch. I wanted to speed up a little for the last part, but the cramp was too close. Just running out was a-okay at this point.


Obligatory Garmin shot! (WITH goosebumps)

Yup, it’s real, I did it, I’m a marathoner 😀

Finished in 3:29:29 (20131027_MarathonEttenLeur PDF), so barely made my goal time, but I made my goal time 🙂
Heart rate was consistently too high, which accounts for the cramps in the end.
But nutrition and hydration went well, so all in all I was very happy with my debut!

Endomondo & Strava link!

Marathon Brabant – Nailed it

Holiday Break?

Christmas is coming and so is new year’s, but I bet knew that already 🙂
Weather is terrible here, wind keeps on blowing 11m/s – 13m/s and my girlfriend has the flu.
Combined with all the dinners that are coming I suppose I can justify a holiday break of running.

Main reason I’m writing this down is because I don’t really feel like it, but I know it gives me stress and puts me in a bad mood if I should be running and I can’t because of whatever reason.
Trying to turn this around I’m putting myself on holiday break figuring that I’ll just be extra happy if I could get a run in.

I don’t know if this makes a lot of sense, but it sure does to me, so there it is … my holiday break starts today (instead of a 30k run :-))

Enjoy your sunday!


Will you be running a lot during the holidays?

Slowly Saying Goodbye To 2014

December 20 2014
Only 11 days and we can start cursing again when we write down the date (oh right 2015 *grmbl*)

2014 wasn’t too shabby. Not running wise nor personal.

Quick personal recap: I became a dad for the first time! She’s already eight months now and boy does it go fast!

Running wise:

  • Tracked 2274km to date (~1413 miles)
    I guess if all goes well I could add another 50 or so in those 11 days but we’ll see
  • Bought 2 pair of new shoes
    • Pearl Izumi: a brand I had never heard of and will continue buying
    • Scott: a trail shoe that fits like a glove
  • Ran 6 races which means an average of one every 2 months, way better than expected
    • A very low-key trail of 25k that wasn’t a real race (no bibs, no timing) but helped me convince I was ready for longer distances & trails
    • A 5k race where I PB’d below 19 minutes
    • A 50k which went waay better than I had hoped for – 7 min below my aimed time and relatively fresh (see my PB page for exact timings btw)
    • A marathon in one of the nicest settings there are ‘In Flanders Fields’ at Ypres, great way to start the remembrance of WW1. Did this one as a pacer and ended just above 4h. Was very happy with the recovery afterwards etc
    • A 56k trail with 1200m of ascension (~3937feet).
      This was my ultimate goal of 2014.
      I suffered, but in a good way and finished just below 6h.
      Distance record, duration record, busted quads record 😀
    • 10k run where I broke my PB. Sadly not below 39 minutes, but since short distances weren’t my focus this year, I’m happy that I PB’d!

2015 goals post coming later, just give me some time to look back at this post with a content smile 🙂

I’d love to read about your year, be sure to link me up in the comments!

App Review: Endomondo

Disclaimer: i do not get sponsored in any way, felt it was necessary to tell this as i see a lot of discussions going on at blogs about this topic

When I started running I did not want to spend an awful lot of money on a GPS watch. Not sure if running was something I would keep on doing, I went looking for a cheap alternative and stumbled in the wonder world of running apps.

There’s a lot of choice in running apps now, but in my day it was pretty scarce. Endomondo got a lot of thumbs up then so I went for that one.

A lot has changed since the early version and I think that many bugs and irritations have evolved well down the road.
Important to say: I am an Android user and can only judge the app on this OS.
For screenshots and general features I point to The Play Store

I know this is somewhat lazy, but I figure there’s no point in showing a bunch of screenshots, I just will list the top 5 and the worst 3 parts IN MY OPINION.

Worst 5

5. Social Part IN THE APP

I honestly swear with Endomondo social wise. It’s a clean layout with a nice timeline and user-friendly way to add comments etc. In the app hower they force it and it’s rather slow going even on Wi-Fi

4. Random crashes 🙁 No notification when en route

I have a decent phone (LG Nexus 5), yet the app sometimes crashes for no apparent reason. Okay, it happens. Downside is that you (obviously) do not get a notification, which can result in logging loss.

3. Pages – Who uses those?

Section of Pages. Nice try Endomondo, only reason that’s used is for shoving ads up our face.

2. Sharing to Facebook

It’s either yes or no. You can activate or deactive it, you cannot choose to share some runs.
(Actually there is a way, to do it afterwards, but that’s just a nuisance)

1. GPS (Device dependent…)

This is very device dependent, but the GPS is picky. For example ‘Swarm‘ can get my location instantly, yet Endomondo keeeeeeeps on searching for GPS signal and can suddenly let you know that GPS signal is lost. Resulting in some weird GPS routes.

Exhibit A: weird GPS results

Best 5

5. Easy pause & unpause

Because of the nice clean main page (see below) it’s very easy to pause and unpause your workout without delay.
You can even set autopause on if you’d like, just be sure you do not turn 180° to head back, because more often than not it will autopause on the spot.

4. Ending the workout

As easy as you pause the workout you can end it. At that point it’s very easy to add some text about how the workout went and pictures if wanted.
Everything with a hashtag gets tidily stored in your workouts so you can search on them later (I use it to track mileage with my different pair of shoes)

Sorry for the dutch interface 🙂

3. A LOT of sports are available

The list is actually waaay too big, but I suppose that some kite surfers would actually take their phone on the water 😀

Part of the list of sports

2. Startup interface

One thing that hasn’t changed all that much between versions is the startup screen. It’s clear and easy to use. Very user-friendly, very to the point and very customisable (3 fields that you change to anything)

1. Audio coach

What I really like the most about the app is the audio coach. You can customize it in a lot of ways so you can get all the feedback you want at any time you want. Very handy to just plug-in some headphones and no need to bother to look at your phone during your run.
Even during intervals it works great, but that’s a PRO feature.

For totality:

Main site
Endomondo blog
My Endomondo account – Feel free to add me!

Review of the website and advantages of the premium may follow later.

Do YOU like Endomondo?
Do you KNOW Endomondo?
Would you consider using it after reading this?