Getting the most out of your Garmin!

Without doubt one of the questions I get asked the most is how can I get more out of my Garmin. Of course we all know how to record a run, track distance, time and pace.. but there is so much more these devices can do. So I thought I’d put together a few tips and tricks I use with my Garmin, that might help you get more value from yours. So in no particular order..

  • By default all watches have ‘current pace’ set on the main screen. This is fairly pointless, as GPS will fluctuate quite a lot during your run. Instead add ‘lap pace’.. that will show you the pace for the KM or Mile you’re currently running. So you can focus on keeping your ‘lap pace’ stable. This is my current watch screen set up.
    So it shows the distance I’ve ran at the top, the pace for my current KM that I’m running, the average KM pace for the whole run and the elapsed time at the bottom.

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  • Create your workouts on Garmin Connect, either on your PC or in the App. In this video I’ve made a 6x 1k workout with a 3 minute rest in-between the fast K’s. Once you've made and saved it you can then sync these over to your watch and follow each step through as you go on your run. This works on every watch apart from the 30/35 where you have to manually create interval workouts on the watch itself.

  • When you are running ‘Easy’ intensity runs, just have your heart rate on the screen. You can then set up an alert if it goes above a certain level. Say 150bpm. It will then keep beeping until you slow down. If you go to Run settings -> Alerts -> Heart Rate -> Then select your Zone 2 heart rate zone. It will keep you in this zone as you run.

  • On the Fenix 5+ models and the 645 Music, you can now sync your Spotify playlists with your watch. Then connect the watch to your bluetooth headphones. So now you can listen to podcast / music without the need to carry your phone with you as you run. You just need to install Spotify from the Garmin App Store.

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  • It’s very quick and easy to build routes on Garmin Connect, then sync them over to your watch to follow when your running. I do this all the time when running trails, as I always know where I’m going…and hopefully won’t get lost! Garmin Connect also has a feature where it shows you the most popular routes, so you know those routes are likely to be good. You will need a 735 / 935 / fenix 3, 5 or 5+ to use this.

If you have a Garmin 230 / 235 and want to navigate you can download an app from the store called dwMap. I haven’t personally used it, but am told it’s really good.

  • Also on Garmin Connect it can automatically plot a route for you. This is super useful if you’re in a new area or just fancy going a different way. Just tell it how far you want to run and in which direction and it will plot something for you using popular nearby roads or trails.

    You can then sync these routes to your watch and then use them to navigate with.

    This video shows you how to get a route plotted for you using the app.

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  • All new Garmins will charge up as you run, simply by plugging them into a portable USB charging battery. This is perfect for anyone running a very long ultra, as you can keep topping up the battery as you need to.

  • When doing hill repeats press the ‘lap’ button at the bottom and top of each climb, then compare all your lap times at the end.. try to get them all roughly the same!

  • You can download an array of watch faces from the Garmin store, which will show far more information at rest than default Garmin ones.

  • This is my current watch face that shows me the time, altitude, date, step count, distance travelled that day, battery percentage and if I have some unread notifications. There are hundreds to chose from so have a browse!

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I hope that helps you get some more use out of your Garmin. If you have any questions please just ask below and I’ll do my best to answer them! I will post another post with some more Garmin tips in a couple of weeks!

As winter is closing in, here are three head torches I recommend!

If you’re running at night, dusk or early in the morning I really recommend getting a head torch. Not only do they help you to see better, but they help others around you see you better as well, so really good for safety. For the vast majority of runners, the Petzl Tikka would be what I’d recommend, however see below for some other options!


The first head torch I had was a Petzl Tikka - Click here! - About £22

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For a first time head torch it’s was great, very comfortable, good brightness. The only downside is it takes AAA batteries, so you need to keep buying them, rather than recharging it. But they do last a very long time. Or you can buy a compatible rechargeable battery for it, these are around £20. Three lighting options provide good visibility whether you’re in the country or towns.

Stats: 86g / 200 Lumens / 240 hours burn time (AAA batteries)
Good: Lightweight, comfortable, compact.
Bad: Rechargeable option expensive, buying AAA batteries not very environmentally friendly.

The next head torch I purchased was a Petzl Reactik+ - Click here! - About £69

 During Sarah’s CCC 101k Ultra

During Sarah’s CCC 101k Ultra

Sarah now uses the Reactik+ torch for all her ultras and it’s never missed a beat. It has a sensor in the unit to adjust the brightness to the ambient light at that moment, to save battery. It takes some getting use to but works well. (Or you can just turn this feature off and use it like a regular headtorch) It is pricey, but the amount of light it emits is really impressive, you’ll never be unsure of the road ahead of you. The rechargeable USB battery is great and simply uses a micro USB and you can charge it anywhere!

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Stats: 115g / 300 Lumens / Burn Time 5 Hours max or 10 hours reactive.

Good: Brightness, Beam spread, App connectivity, Build quality, Rechargeable USB.
Bad: Price, Bit bulky.

My current head torch is a Petzl Nao+ - Click here! - About £122

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If you’re heading out in tough environments nothing will beat this. I have it as it’s incredibly bright, you can replace the battery in an instant and the red light on the back is great for safety when I run in town. The companion app (get it on the App Store, Google Play etc) is very simple to use and you can fully customise the torch depending on what you’re doing. At max brightness it will illuminate up to 140m ahead of you! As the battery is at the back, it balances really well and you don’t get any ‘bobbing’ around as you run. You need a proper USB drive to charge it, I just plug it in my Anker USB box, or portable battery.

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Stats: 185g / 750 Lumens / From 7 up to 15 hours burn time.

Good: Incredible brightness, App connectivity, Build quality, Rechargeable USB, Comfortable.
Bad: Price, Heavy.

Other considerations..

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Silva Trailrunner version 3 - Click here! - Approx £35

Not a recommendation, I’ve never used it.. but a friend of mine swears by his… so worth having a read!

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Black Diamond Spot - Click here! - Approx £30

I borrowed one of these a few weeks ago and was suprised at the brightness. Uses AAA batteries, so you’ll have to keep stocking up.



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Purchasing an item by clicking the links helps support the website. These reviews are my own, completely genuine and not influenced in anyway!

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What I Eat In A Day - Vegan Runner Video

BREAKFAST
Water
Granola
Mango
Strawberries
Blueberries

LUNCH (makes 4 wraps)
Heinz Creationz Mexican Beanz 390g
Wraps x4
Rocket
1 Green Pepper
Olive Oil
Optional Vegan Cheese

SHAKE
Almond Milk
Chia Seeds
Frozen Blueberries
Banana

SNACKS
Bagel
Peanut Butter
Jam

DINNER (serves 4)
Spaghetti
Courgette x1
Mushrooms (250g)
Cashews (100g)
Almond Milk (500ml)
Vegetable Stock (500ml approx)
Garlic Powder
Lemon
Salt / Pepper / Herbs

Plus lots and lots of water! 

Tips for Running in the Heat!

Everywhere in the UK and Europe seems to be basking in a heatwave, which is brilliant for those beach lovers, but can easily play havoc with everyone who is training for autumn marathons.  

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Without doubt, running in hotter temperatures puts your body at increased stress and without proper preparation could lead to issues but take a few precautionary steps and you'll be just fine. 

Here’s a few tips and tricks I use for when it’s hot. The training must go on!

  1. Stay close to home, the car or the office - Now is not the time to run your big loop, that remote trail run or an out and back along the canal.  Instead do some repetitive loops near where you can store some water and supplies.  It’s far safer to do a few small loops, than one big one.
  2. Run by effort, not pace - Ignore your GPS watch showing your pace and look at your heart rate or if you don't have a HR monitor then run on effort or feel.  
  3. Electrolytes - I take these before and during my runs to help maintain sodium and magnesium levels, which are commonly lost when you sweat.  Some products I like are SiS GO Hydro or Precision Hydration.  Just add them to water. 
  4. Drink to thirst - Don't drink loads just because you're worried.  If you're thirsty then have something to drink, if not then wait.  
  5. Early mornings provide the coolest temperatures of the day in the UK. 
  6. Head for the park - Asphalt reflects the sun a lot more than grass, so run on the grass where you can.  Plus the park will usually have lots of trees, so you can run in the shade they provide.  Check out www.findafountain.org for parks with water fountains too! In London Greenwich, Victoria, Richmond and Regents Park have them. 
  7. Wear technical clothing - it will draw sweat away from the skin to evaporate. Size up as it will allow it to breathe better.  Use body glide to avoid chafing.
  8. Suncream - I only use waterproof factor 50+. If you start to burn your body will over heat rapidly. 
  9. Take a handheld bottle if you’re running for 30-60 minutes.  I’d recommend getting a pack for anything longer while the temperatures are 25+ degrees C so you can carry more water with you.
  10. Slow down or stop - if you're not feeling it, don't worry! There's no shame in slowing right down or even stopping completely and trying again later on when it's a bit cooler.
  11. Always run with your phone, a bank card.  Just in case you need to get in touch with someone, buy a drink or get the bus home. 
  12. Treadmill running - if you're really not great in the heat then head for the treadmill and make the most of the gym's air con!
  13. Hat - Any hat is better than no hat, keep your head protected and out of the sun. 
  14. Post run - I like to refuel with things like bananas, crisps (for the salt), watermelon, milk, melon. Putting ice on the back of your neck and taking a colder shower will help you cool after as well. 
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Finally running in the warm should be fun, enjoy it while it's here.  Before we know it the rain and cold will be back.  If you're on holiday, have a great break! 

Ways we can reduce plastic in our oceans, with Adidas and Parley.

Caring for the environment around us and the world of running are two things that seem to go hand in hand.  I've always been passionate about living a ethical life, leaving no trace and trying to live in harmony with all those we share the planet with.  With that in mind I've put together a list of 5 easy ways we can all make a difference to reduce our plastic consumption.  It's something I'm trying to do everyday, to protect the planet and become a more responsible runner!

1. Get a reusable water bottle - On all my long runs I used to stop and buy a 60p bottle of water from the supermarket, drink it, then just throw it away.  The cost soon mounts up, but more importantly that single use plastic bottle could well end up in the ocean after I've thrown it away.  Now I take my hydration vest on my long runs, which not only uses less plastic, but it's cheaper too!  For day to day away from running I bought a metal flask that now goes in the car, on the tube or wherever I'm travelling.  You can throw it in your bag for after races, so you don't have to take a plastic one that is usually handed out as you cross the line. 

 Running with a pack on longer runs is easy and much cheaper! 

Running with a pack on longer runs is easy and much cheaper! 

2.  Helping out locally -  Have a look at the Marine Conversation website, clicking here.  They list beach cleans going on all over the country, throughout the year.  What better way of getting fit and doing good than heading out to collect plastic from our beautiful beaches!

3. Get a Spork! - Using plastic cutlery is just as bad as plastic bottles, so treat yourself to a metal spork that you can keep in your bag / car / office desk.  Not exactly running related, but plastic cutlery, straws and cups are a big deal when we are trying to reduce plastic consumption, so metal permanent alternatives are great. 

4. Campaign for your local races to use non plastic cups - I get it, drinking from bottles during a race is easy, quick and a time saver.  But it only takes a few seconds extra to drink from a cup and you will be saving lives.  There are plenty of biodegradable cups on the market these days, so make sure you are asking your local RD's if they can make a switch.  

5. Put your muddy shoes in a tote bag, old sheets, a dry bag.. just about any bag other than a plastic bag.  You're going to have to wash your muddy shoes anyway, so why not throw the bag into the machine too! 

 Join the movement to Run for the Oceans!

Join the movement to Run for the Oceans!

So have a think about what you can do, any change big or small will make a difference! 

South Downs Marathon - 2nd Place!

 2015 - 3:59:58

2015 - 3:59:58

As many people know I have two distinct chapters in my running life.  One from about the ages of 18 - 23 where I ran roughly 12 marathons, averaging around 3:45 before then taking 8 years away from running.  In 2015, very unfit, not in great health and in a bit of a mess with life I gave running another go to get my life back on track and naturally turned to running to turn things around.  

The 2015 South Downs marathon was one of my early races back then and my first real attempt at running on trails, so it was a big learning curve.  It was a tough race for sure and I crossed the finishing line in 3:59:58.. that was quite a sprint for the line to break 4 hours! 

It’s always very odd returning to races, with all the knowledge, fitness and experience I have now.  But it really goes to show me how far I’ve managed to come in a relatively short period of time.  

I'd secretly got it in my head that I'd try and beat my 2015 by an hour and come in sub 3.  Judging my previous years results that would give me a good chance of getting on the podium and mentally a big boost with my trail running. 

 It was cold on the start line, so jacket over pack was the only option! 

It was cold on the start line, so jacket over pack was the only option! 

The first 7k is mostly uphill and I set off with the lead pack, that had around 4 of us in it.  Some of the early pace setters dropped off quickly as the vertical kicked in.  I’d chosen to take a Salomon pack so I didn’t have to stop at any of the aid stations, I could carry enough water for the race and take my own nutrition.  When I breezed through the first one without stopping I knew it was a good call, saving valuable time and it’s always best to have your own fuel sources on board that work for you. 

 Head to toe in Salomon!

Head to toe in Salomon!

5k came up in 20:34, the next 5k in 21:52, then 21:23, then 19:54.  Given the big changes in elevation it’s hard to read much into this, but it was consistent and my heart rate was averaging 160 for the first half, so I knew I still had plenty in the tank if I needed it.

 Don't take photos at the top of hills, everyone looks awful!! Haha..

Don't take photos at the top of hills, everyone looks awful!! Haha..

The lead pack had dropped down to two now.  I'd mapped out the big climbs before, so knew exactly when to take my gels so they’d hit my system in time for the hills.  I took 4 in total, the same as a road marathon, but had some Maurten drink in my bottles as well.  I grabbed a couple of waters from the aid stations, that I could run with quickly, so all in all it made for a pretty efficient strategy.   It worked surprisingly well, I never felt tired, no stomach issues, really happy and one I'll be using again.   

 All the data is on Strava!

All the data is on Strava!

The 20-35k splits were 22:06, 22:02, 21:38 again nice and even.  I was beginning to lose sight of the leader now, he was just that little bit stronger on the hills than me and in hindsight I probably had more to give, but didn’t want to throw away what was looking like a strong performance and go for glory, in what was only ever a training race run.  

 Giving it the beans on the final descent..

Giving it the beans on the final descent..

Hitting 40k in 2:51:37 I knew I’d have to give it some to get in under the magic 3, but cracked out a 3:37km on the downhill stretch into the park, which meant I could enjoy the finish.  It was hard to tell exactly where the third place runner was as we were finishing with all the half marathon runners, so there was a sea of people around, but there was certainly no one catching as far as I could see. 

 Coming into the finish!

Coming into the finish!

Crossing the line in 2:58:57, an hour and one minute faster than 2015 was an incredible feeling.  It was the first time I’d really put in a performance on trails I was happy with, I ran strong from the off, hit my A goal and finished fresh with more to give. 

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Next stop Verbier for the St Bernard 73k / 4000m+.  Time to have some fun in the mountains!

A big well done to all the runners out there on the Downs, it was nice to meet some of you afterwards.  If you haven't done this race before then it's a great introduction to trail running for sure, the half is a great route as well, so look out for it in 2019. 

Thank you for all the messages of support and following along, it's very much appreciated.  It all adds up to make a real difference, so can't thank you enough! 

 Get in!

Get in!

May Recap - TP100, New Zealand, Liverpool and YouTube!

As May draws to a close, it’s time to take stock on maybe the craziest month I’ve ever had and see what’s coming up over the next few weeks! Three big races and launching on YouTube!

Races

We started at the Centurion Thames Path 100 mile, from Richmond to Oxford.  Having completed the race in 2017 I was keen to come back and give it my absolute all for a better placed finish.  The baking heat soon put pay to that, with temperatures reaching 25 degrees in the afternoon sun.  It was simply a lesson in keeping moving forward, one foot in front of the other and not letting the conditions get into my head.  After one big sick, damaging my knee, multiple toilet stops in the bushes and lots of soul searching throughout the night, we finally crossed the line in 22:42, for 56th place. A PB, if such a thing exists for 100 mile ultras!  The near 50% drop out race this year showed just how hard those conditions were, so I was very proud of getting my second buckle!

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For the weekend after we jetted off with Air New Zealand to the Hawkes Bay region on the North Island.  Running a marathon the week after a 100 miler will always be tough, but this added an extra dimension being 12,000 miles away! It was one of the most picturesque races I’ve ever done, running through vineyards, apple orchards and along the beautiful coastline.  Crossing the line in 2:58 was actually surprising considering how I was pretty much falling asleep in the latter stages of the race.  For the race video, with lots of on course footage, check out the link  

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Going for three in a row we headed to Liverpool for the Rock n Roll marathon with the goal of trying to keep the sub 3 hour marathon streak going.  It was standing at 18 as I stood on the start line!  The sun shone down on a beautiful Liverpool day and I knew it was going to be another toughie.  After 5k I had two stitches and after 10k I was in a bit of trouble..  but somehow the drop off in speed plateaued and I managed to find some pace in the second half of the race to just dip in under 3 hours, in 2:59.  For the race video, with lots of on course footage, check out the link at

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The following weekend I was meant to be lining up at the Grand Union Canal run, a 145 miler from Birmingham to London.  But sadly I was just too wreaked, too tired, too drained.  The schedule beforehand was overkill.  All my fault and I had to register a DNS, by first for many years.  A sad day, but I'll be back in a few years to tick that box. 

Up coming Events - Hopefully see lots of Strava and Instagram runners here! 

9th June - Endure 24
16th June - South Downs Way Marathon
7th July - Trail Verbier St Bernard 73k
4th August - NDW100
18th August - UltraVasan 90k

In other news!

I launched a YouTube channel with lots of running tips, tricks, advice, race reports.  If you’re looking for some help with your running check it out!  I’ll be uploading twice a week! It's now live! 

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So that’s a wrap May.  You’ve been a blast!  500km run and raced. So many smiles over all of those miles. :-)  Bring on June! 

4 Minute Warm Up Routine to use before every Run!

It's so important to get your warm up right.  Preventing injury is the main benefit, but also it helps ease you into the right mindset for the run, so when you set off you're prepared and ready for action.

I've made a video showing you how I warm up before every run, so check it out here!

The 6 areas I always focus on are

1. Slow jog
2. Open and close the gate
3. Leg swings
4. Walking lunge
5. Butt kicks
6. High knees

Build these into your routine and help yourself to stay injury free for longer!