Normal service to be resumed shortly

From a running, and personal, perspective February has been far from ideal. That’s not to say I haven’t managed some good quality runs – it’s more the consistency. At a time when I have a plan to increase my weekly mileage, things haven’t entirely gone to plan (do they ever?).

Over the last 4 weeks I have spent alternate weeks in the UK and the US. It wasn’t planned – my dad died early in the month and my first trip was in the hope of seeing him just in case the end was coming (I didn’t make it, things happened faster than expected).

Running provided the time for contemplation and probably kept me sane (at least for some of the time), but then last week I got a horrible sore throat and then even moderate activity wiped me out so running was out of the question. I managed a short, slow run with RVRR last night which went better than expected considering I’m still blocked up, hence hoping to get back to “normal service” (although I’m hoping to instill a new normal for my running).

With the first USATF team championship race in just over 3 weeks, I’m hoping I’ll be on form, and I hope to post many of the things that have been going on in the last 2 months that I haven’t got round to posting yet.

Day 3 with the Garmin Fenix 3

It has been 2 days since my original Garmin Fenix 3 Review and I’m still finding my way around the functions. After getting the watch on Thursday (setting it up on Thursday evening), running on Friday, then flying to England on Saturday (daytime flight, which raised the question about a “flight mode” given the connectivity options on the watch, but with no answer I turned off the bluetooth as that seemed to be the only option I had – the plane managed fine), today was my second chance for a run.

After posting on the Garmin forums and a look at the GPS accuracy, I changed the recording mode from “smart” to “every second”, and I also turned on GLONASS.

The GPS picked up the signal quickly again, saying it was ready before I’d even opened the door. There was no hanging around this time before starting my run, which is perhaps why the first half mile does not appear to have had a good lock and makes it look like I was running on the opposite side of the road – I knew something wasn’t right when I looked at the screen a quarter mile in and it had me running slower than a 9 minute pace when the effort was clearly faster than 8 (maybe even closer to 7) at that point. My suspicion was confirmed when it suddenly jumped to around a 6 min/mile page presumably to correct itself. The route was an out and back, running on the same sidewalk with the exception of running along the A1198 where the map shows that it clearly picked up the side of the road I was running along. Full details here on Garmin Connect. Apparently with a faster pace my cadence may be a little higher, and my stride was longer – we’ll see how this tracks over time with various runs.

The return (tracking to the left) was accurate, but early issues meant the start of the run was not accurately recorded.

The return (tracking to the left) was accurate, but early issues meant the start of the run was not accurately recorded.

By contrast the route along the A1198 was accurately recorded both ways.

By contrast the route along the A1198 was very accurately recorded both ways.

I did not bring the rubber strap on this trip, so ran with the metal strap (I have the Sapphire model). It was a little looser than I would have liked so I may take another link out when I get back to the US where my link removal tools are, but then I worry it will be a little tight for day to day comfort.

A note on battery life: 2 runs (just over 3 miles and 5 miles respectively), one with every second GPS with GLONASS turned on, 2.5 days since charged and approximately 1 day with bluetooth turned off (on the plane and overnight) and now the battery is at 75% which I think is pretty impressive. The clock face I am using also has a seconds hand (the standard one) and this was noted as something that would use more battery.

One thing to note is that I need to be more careful about the notification settings from my phone. Someone in the US sent me a text message when it was the middle of the night here in the UK. My phone was on silent, but the watch vibrated when the message came in and woke me up. I turned off the bluetooth because it was the quickest way I could think to deal with it in my sleepy state.

My latest update at 3 months of ownership can be found by clicking here.

Garmin Fenix 3 Review

It is apparently a bit hit and miss still as to who is getting the Garmin Fenix 3, but I ordered a Sapphire edition from REI on January 6, and it seems that REI is getting them before anyone else if the Garmin forums are accurate.

After taking it out of the box I plugged it in, but the watch appears to be fully charged already. Going through the initial set up screens was very simple, and then it needs a GPS signal to set up the time. I placed the watch by the kitchen window (it’s a garden window so more open than most windows, but it probably would have been okay by another window) and went to brush the kids teeth. By the time I was back the time was set.

Next I connected it to the Garmin app on my phone. Again, very simple instructions to get that all set up. It was also easy to connect the HRM-Run heart monitor that I also ordered earlier in the week (before I even knew the watch was on its way, which again was very lucky).

I downloaded the Garmin Express app to my computer and connected the watch via USB – the instructions in the box were sparse, and there is a manual online but it’s not easy to find, although once your device is set up with Garmin Express it is accessible there. The Garmin Express app walked me through setting a preferred wi-fi network, and then showed me that there was a firmware update (not surprising with a new device like this). Even though Garmin Express said the update was complete, once I had disconnected the watch from the computer, the watch had to install the update (just another couple of minutes).

I plan to run on Friday morning, so I switched the strap because the temperature is supposed to be extremely low and I will want it on over my running gear – switching the straps was a very simple process with the included tools and took less than a minute. As you can see from the pictures, I was also messing around with the watch face options. There aren’t that many to choose from yet, but there should be more to come as time goes on.

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Friday morning:
When I got up this morning, the Fenix 3 indicated that there was an update so I got ready for my run while that was happening. Once it was done I put my old Garmin Forerunner 405CX on my right wrist, and the Fenix 3 on the left and started to get them ready. I wanted to switch everything on before going out the door because my weather app on my phone was telling me the wind chill was -7 Fahrenheit.

The strap is longer on the Fenix 3 which means that even over my winter running clothes it holds properly. Here’s a comparison of how my 405CX fits:

405CX barely closes

405CX barely closes

Fenix 3 strap easily fits around thick winter clothes

Fenix 3 strap easily fits around thick winter clothes

Now, it seems that one of the updates introduced a minor glitch (UPDATE: it does not seem that the update caused this, most likely explanation is that I accidentally hit the status change option in the settings menu to “hide this from the list) – “Run” has disappeared as an activity option (it’s still an option in the settings for set up of data fields), so I chose to run using the “Trail Run” option (I’m not quite sure what that would do differently). I started the search for GPS signal inside the front door but knew I would have to go outside and wait. However, the Fenix 3 picked up the signal extremely quickly even inside, with a porch covering outside the door! That didn’t help this morning because I still had to wait standing out in the cold for the Forerunner to pick it up. This alone is great for me – I hated waiting outside for the 405CX to pick up the signal sometimes – especially the days when it seemed close to getting it, but then seemed to have to start searching all over again.

It was ridiculously cold, and down in the park I had to carefully pick my way between ice sheets across the road, so I kept the run short. However, the two watches recorded different distances, and some other differences too.

Fenix 3 – 3.08 miles, average pace 8:22

Garmin Forerunner 405CX – 3.13 miles, average pace 8:14 (well, that’s bound to happen when the distance is greater over the same time).

The difference appears to be from early in the run (well, I say early, but the entire first mile is all off on the 405CX). The forerunner didn’t even have the start in the correct place and has me running through people’s houses to the park, and then on a path that would have been covered in ice.

405CX unable to track my route for the first mile - not on roads, or even on the wrong road at one point.

405CX unable to track my route for the first mile – not on roads, or even on the wrong road at one point.

Fenix 3 - an accurate picture of my run.

Fenix 3 – an accurate picture of my run.

I’m loving all the extra information I’m getting from my run too with the HRM-Run monitor. My cadence is about where I thought it was (forefoot running gives me a high cadence) – it will be interesting to track these with different types of run. The temperature reading is presumably picking up some of my body heat(?) because it was single digit fahrenheit (without the wind chill) so indicating an average temperature in the high 40s is definitely wrong – if I cared that much there is an external gadget for getting that reading available.

I’m off to England tomorrow for a week, so will see how things go there – at least I won’t need my winter running clothes with temperatures in the 40s, so I’ll be keeping the metal strap on for those runs.

Follow this link to my day 3 follow up review – another run plus notes on battery life.

Monthly NJ running round up – January 2015

I’m going to attempt a regular monthly round up of NJ running in the news, along with a look ahead. If you come across any NJ running news, or anything that may be of interest to NJ runners, email me at runninginnj (at) gmail (dot) com.

January is the month where you may see a few extra people out running in your local park for a couple of weeks as people start their new year resolutions, but eventually they succumb to the cold, but it’s also the month which sees runners struggling through snow and ice to get the miles in as they prepare for spring races.

For many the year started with New Year’s Day races such as the Hangover 5k in Westfield.

Within a couple of days, a popular tradition called the Freezing Cold Hash was causing controversy (despite a seeming discrepancy between what was being said, and what was actually shown on a video taken at the time) – read about the complaints here (as someone I know said, it’s not often you see the comments section of an article on NJ.com being generally positive), and read a more positive spin on the event here

The new year also brings a change to NJ USATF clubs with
the Sneaker Factory Running Club being disbanded at the end of 2014.

There are also a few changes to the USATF Championship race schedule this year with a couple of new 5k races, and the introduction of a wildcard race for those going for the individual NBGP points.

The very popular Spring Lake 5 miler registration opened today and as usual is expected to see out fast, but it still appears to be open. It’s not a race I have run mainly because I’m not sure how I feel about such a large race over that distance. How do you feel about it? Love it or hate it?

Feel free to leave comments about upcoming races that you enjoy.