"I'd rather be seen on my bicycle than on a park run" - Quote from the dark side

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Running Logs

In my previous post I referred to my running logs of the past 9 years. I log very detailed information about every run I do and I've been doing this since I started running in 1981. Unfortunately I don’t have my logs of 1981 to 1993 anymore. They were mostly in small diary style log books that we used to get at running and sports stores.

I do however still have all my logs from 1994 to 2012. I logged all my runs and races in A4 size exercise books from 1994 to 2000. I still have the books and they make for very interesting and entertaining reading.

My running logs from 1994 to 2000.

Towards the end of 2000 I made the transition to MS Excel. I created a very good log that keeps stats for anything you can think of. This log evolved into a huge maze of spreadsheets and graphs over the years, including detailed training plans as well. I also captured every run from my 1990’s books in this log.

My very detailed MS Excel Log

Earlier this year my wife bought me a Polar RS800CX watch with GPS and heart rate monitor and this added a new dimension to the stats and details I can log.

The Polar came with good software that uploads run data and produce graphs and other statistics. It also has good planning features and I am in general very happy with this.

Polar ProTrainer Software

However, I am a stats geek of very high proportions…J  I also log my training on dailymile. This is mainly for my virtual life as I use it to feed through to my blog and FB. I also enjoy all the friends I connect with on dailymile.

Dailymile is another great log!

Still, my stats-geek-ness  (no there is no such word) reaches a lot further than this. I keep extremely detailed stats of my races. I have run 1369 races since July 1981 and have the time, race time, date and every detail of each race logged. I can pull stats for any race related query in seconds. How many at what distance, PB’s for all distances and basically any race related query I may have.

The Polar ProTrainer software is not great for race and shoe history and stats. Having my runs logged in Polar ProTrainer and Excel is OK but far from ideal. I want all the info in one place.

So I’ve been searching the Internet for the best running log that can keep all the stats I want plus the info from my Polar watch…all in one place.

There is one more requirement I have. I must be able to access all info while offline. I want the info on my Laptop, not on the Internet. Living in Africa means Internet connectivity is not very reliable and usually quite slow.

I have tried many programs and I’m still experimenting. There are many good ones.

SportTracks is brilliant and there are many plugins available. Importing data from the Polar model I have is however a bit of a problem including many steps. I need some plugins but will certainly experiment with these.

SportTracks is very good but not the best for Polar.

TrainingPeaks have everything, but the offline version (WKO+) is not as great as the online version. It is expensive in comparison to the others as well.

TrainingPeaks is good but expensive.

Then there is Runner’s Studio…

This is a great app and with a great user interface. It is perfect for keeping and pulling my race stats from all the years and there is nothing my spreadsheet does that Runner’s Studio can’t do.  Runner’s Studio gives me everything my spreadsheet has as well as the info from my Polar.

Runner’s Studio is currently on top of my list.

I am trying Runner’s Studio at the moment and I am very impressed so far. The only thing I can’t view in Runner’s Studio is a route profile with altitude as this supports Garmin only at the moment. I view my route profiles mainly with Google Earth anyway as it gives all the information needed.

Google Earth is perfect for routes and profiles.

I am almost sold on Runner’s Studio and if I buy it I will do a full review as soon as I feel comfortable with it.

Do you keep detailed logs? Which application do you use?

Keep it going!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Attack of the Coxsackie Virus...or not?

In September 2003 I have the following entry in my running log: “Strange little blisters on my hands and feet. Skin feels weird and back muscles funny.” Two days later: “Headaches and upset stomach continues – diagnosed with Coxsackie virus that I got via Rohann’s Kinder Garden.”

In October 2004 I have the following entry in my running log: “Small blisters are back on my hands and feet and skin feels weird again. Is Coxsackie back?” A week later: “Stomach not well…I’m sure it is the Coxsackie virus again.”

In November 2004: “Down with Meningitis! Doctor positive it was caused by Coxsackie virus.”

October 2005: “Can’t believe it! Little blisters on my hands and headaches with upset stomach! Coxsackie virus!”

November 2006: “Upset stomach really bad. Skin feels very weird and back muscles ache. Headaches not too bad this time.”

2007, 2008 – Nothing!

December 2009“Skin weird with small blisters…I can’t believe this! Hospitalized with very bad stomach and dehydration. Headaches not good but surviving.”

2010, 2011 – Nothing!

November 2012 – “Only noticed small blisters on my hands today. Skin weird and headaches quite bad. This must be why Sunday was such a terrible run. It seems Coxsackie is back. Can this be? It sure feels like it.”

The above are all extracts from my running logs.  This thing has really been very irritating and annoying. It drains my energy completely and puts my running back a few weeks every time. I thought I was rid of it but I am not so lucky. Whether it is the Coxsackie virus or not I don’t know. I just know I am really sick of it.

As a result I am not running the Sani Stagger Marathon this weekend. I am just not ready to drag myself over that huge mountain.

I will however run a half marathon on Saturday instead. A real tuffy. The Tom Jenkins Half Marathon at the union buildings in Pretoria. This would be a nice little test in itself. The profile shows why…

 Tom Jenkins Half Marathon

So Sani is out of the window but all is certainly not lost. I have to look after myself. I have enormous goals for 2013 and can’t afford any setbacks now. I'm also not nearly done with 2012 as well.

Have you ever battled some illness or condition for multiple years? 

Happy running all!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Five Fotos For Friday

While I was out running on the mountains at Golden Gate, Anette joined the supporter's walks that were held on day 1 and day 2. These walks are always part of the Wildseries events and take the supporters to some spectacular places while their loved ones run the races.

These are five of my favourite photos that Anette took on the walks:

Golden Gate is world famous for its caves and hollows.

Many of these in the area. Wind erosion made breathtaking caves.

From inside one of the caves.

Water erosion.

Beautiful waterfall.

Have a great Friday and weekend everyone!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Some Stage Race Stats

The Golden Gate Challenge is done and dusted and now I must prepare for the next challenge. Before I move on I want to share a few stats from the stage race:




Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Total for Race
73km (45.3 miles)
 Calories Burnt
 Heart Beats
Max Heart Rate

Max Altitude
2562m (8405ft)
2312m (7585ft)
2398m (7867ft)

Elevation Gain
1343m (4406ft)
1414m (4639ft)
864m (2835ft)
3621m (11880ft)

I captured all of this with my Polar RS800CX and as far as I know it is quite accurate. I will still do a proper review of the Polar. So far I am very impressed and enjoy all the stats a lot.

Below are the profiles with the speed (or lack thereof). This was slow but hard running indeed. I was clearly much faster on the downhills!




So that is it for the Golden Gate Challenge. My next race is the Sani Stagger Marathon on 24 November. I ran this race in 2010 and although it is extremely hard, I enjoyed greatly. More hills waiting... :)

Happy training everyone!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

2012 Golden Gate Challenge Day 3 Report (17km)

With Day 1 and Day 2 in the bag Day 3 arrived and it was a bunch of tired runners that gathered for the 4AM start. That meant that we were up by 3AM for day 3. The idea is an early start to be on top of the mountain to watch the sunrise. However, there was no chance of that today with low clouds and mist covering the mountains.

Ready for the last day!

Early start so headlights on!

I was very happy as my legs and body was feeling much better than I thought I would at the start of day 3. I was tired, but not really sore. Still, I was glad that day 3 was only 17km long.

On our way for the last time!

The first few kilometers were run on the road. Everyone was in a great mood and the time on the road went by very quickly.

At some point we turned onto the concrete road we came down the previous day. Today we had to go up to the chalets we passed the day before. It was a steep climb but did not hurt as it did when I ran down this road.

Back up to the chalets on our well known concrete road.

Checkpoint at the chalets.

Early morning view.

We ran passed the chalets and up onto a road that leads to some radio towers. It was not long before we had climbed above the chalets. The road was wet and muddy. The first mentionable climb of the day was done!

Going further up.

Wet and muddy on the mountain.

It was dark and misty on the mountain but not cold. I was glad I chose to go with short sleeves. It remained very wet under foot.

Dark, wet and misty.

I knew we were climbing high again today and I kept an eye on my altimeter. According to that there was still some hard work ahead. Knowing it was the last day certainly made me push harder. I was on my way to finish an incredible race. I was in a very good space as I ran on the mountain.

Running here I felt awesome!

Soon the climb to the radio towers came into view. It was a “road” with two tracks. This made it easier but it was very wet and slippery in places.

Road up to the radio towers.

Slippery going up.

I ate more Race Food and kept remembering their add saying “you eat your way up a mountain”.

After some hard slogging I reached the radio towers. The marshals here were wet and cold. It was not too far from the mountain top now. The view was once again incredible.

Radio towers.

Awesome view again.

From the radio towers we followed a trail along the top of the mountain. I took great care as there was some serious mountain edges on my left.

Trail along the mountain top.

The finish among the trees far below.

There was still some climbing to do.

Stay away from the mountain’s edge!

We followed the trail all along the top of the mountain. I was feeling strong and knew I was done with the most serious climbing of not only the day, but of the whole race! As we started the descent I passed quite a few runners with very sore knees and legs. I realized how lucky I was. My legs were tired but I had no pain anywhere.

Starting some knee breaking descents.

This is a beautiful place!

We linked up to the trail we ran on day 1. The last few kilometers were the same as day one, but I was feeling tons better and stronger than on day one. As the hotel came into view I phoned Anette who was there for breakfast. She could see me running and this gave me an enormous boost! Today I was ready to tackle that buttress!

Trail with Bradwag Buttress in the background.

I pushed quite hard on the way to the buttress and passed more runners. The faster guys from day 1 and 2 had much more pain in their legs than I did. The trail was still wet and muddy and I was very careful here. I didn't fall once during the race and was sure to keep it that way.

Wet and muddy trail.

Not long and I reached the stairs going up to the buttress. Today I had much more energy to tackle them positively. They were still a great test though.

Stairs up to the buttress.

Last steep push!

Then it was down the chain again…

Over some rocks…

Some interesting formations!

Through some hollows...

Over the little bridge for the last time!

To the finish…with a few runners I caught in the last few km.

I crossed the line in 03:27:42 for day 3. I was done! I finished the 2012 Golden Gate Challenge! I was very, very happy!

Day 3 done! 2012 Golden Gate Challenge done!

The last part of the trophy is your name on the base. Awesome!

Complete trophy.

Anette was there once again to welcome me home and I was in running heaven. How great is it to have this wonderful wife as supporter?

With my faithful supporter during the race…love her dearly!

What a journey! I am sure the Golden Gate Challenge will see me again.