Runner 5 Versus Zombie Swarm (with Stella for back up)

A month since I last blogged which speaks volumes about how much running I’ve been doing. Not enough! I’ve had to change up the routine, something that I hear time and time again as way to get the mojo back. I just lost the love. The sofa was winning, and with added daily pressures, my training dropped from 3 times a week to just one lonely session. And I have to give credit to my friend Emily for that one, having a work mate running date helps enormously!

With that in mind I do need to find a running group to help kick my schedule into gear. I’m looking at a few at the moment (from the comfort of my arm chair) but I have yet to get up the nerve to turn up at one. The majority are free, so its not the cash that’s the worry, and I have it on good authority that most cater for all abilities, so what am I so afraid of?

My guess is it has something to do with the fact that I still dont see myself as a ‘proper’ runner. With two half marathons, and four 10kms races behind me, and another 3 races signed up for 2012, you’d think I may have convinced myself by now. I think I’m too slow, or slightly too curvy or maybe my gear isn’t quite the right stuff. I think I’m terrified that when I do join a group, I’ll not be able to keep up, or I’ll stagger up a hill too slowly. I am my own worst enemy here.

Its that old voice playing up again, telling me its easier to just not bother. So I had to counteract it this morning before I become all consumed with self doubt and probably unhelpful obsessing about mileage missed or fitness lost. So I went for a run, but left my HRM, Nike + app and GPS at home.

I just added a few Zombies, just to mix it up a little.

I saw this app advertised a few weeks ago, but for £5 I thought it was a little too steep to invest in. Bring on the Easter sales and for £2.50 I could just about justify it. The premise is, you’re Runner 5, collecting essential life saving items and out running zombie swarms with the aid of the radio controller back at base. Once you’ve completed your run, you log back on and ‘distribute’ you findings at base, unlocking new missions and helping level up your station.

If you can get over the very cheesy acting, its actually a lot of fun. I pretty much sprinted up my nemesis hill when I was told ‘IT’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!’ and the zombie moans get louder in your headphones. Stella had a ball. I’ll have to get her written into the script for the next upgrade. Its great for recovery runs or short, sharp sprints, as it reverts back to ‘radio’ mode after about 5kms. You get to choose your own music, so I’m thinking I may just download the sound track from Resident Evil for authenticity!

It got me out the door, and I’m rather intrigued to see what the next mission may be, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be up for another short run tomorrow. Anything that works, I reckon, is worth trying again.

And with the extra milage adding up little by little, I may just take the leap and turn up at a running club next week. There’s one next Tuesday with my name on it.

There’s an app for that

I’m a fan of gadgets. Gadgets and programs that measure performance in very efficient (and cool 3D!) graphs and give you great feedback on exceeding targets while providing colour coded levels and whizz bang cool trackers. Yes, I’m a bit of an amateur tech geek.

I have my Polar HRM which tells me exactly how may calories I’ve burned. I love this piece of kit mainly as it helps me work out if that double chocolate brownie is going to start showing up on my muffin top, or if I can have a few kals to spare, I’ll know I don’t have to feel guilty about the cheesecake I saw the other half whipping up while I ran out the door pre-run. It also tells me if I’m running too hard or not trying hard enough. Particularly satisfying when having completed a really tough hill and the blinking percentage point indicator looks like it may explode. HA! Yes! Take that! *cough splutter fall over* 
When I started running last Oct I was very attached to the Couch to 5K (C25K) app. It got me from huffing and puffing around every 20 seconds to comfortably jogging for twenty minutes and then to completing a whole 5K in just under 9 weeks. I logged my moods (sad face/happy face/I was nearly sick face) and terrain and weather and with every green light I ticked off by week, I grew more and more confident I could actually do this running, even in the British mid winter – and that it made me feel great.  
Once that ran its course, I fell out of love with the inflexible schedules, I started cheating on the C210K program with the very sexy and sassy  Nike+ GPS app. Its red. And has Power Tracks.  I have been hopelessly devoted to since January. It’s sultry voice over  has congratulated me on personal bests, she’s given me encouragement when I’m almost at my goal, marked my pace, time and distance and even shown up race organisers when they the track proves short of the advertised distance. Faithful and reliable, my routes have been downloaded and my miles logged religiously ever since.
Until today. With one week to go, this was to be my penultimate medium run. I made time for it this morning sacrificing the much needed lie in, sorted out Stella, got the cap on (in case of the looming rain). About half a km into the warm up, something starts to go wrong. The ipod starts skipping tracks. There goes my pace and this is enough to completely distract me. I run straight into a scary lopsided looking youth, with an equally scary looking lopsided hound (Stella held her ground!).
2kms later and without any warning my iPhone’s voice control takes control of my phone. SAY A COMMAND! it shouts at me through my head phones – this gives me such a fright I actually shriek out loud, giving a small elderly woman I’m passing with her shopping, a bit of a start. This Voice Control also stops all music and makes the Nike+ app start sending paniked notifications, ‘Weak GPS! Move app to the FRONT’.   So I do. I have to stop and remove the iphone from the equally snazzy armband. Swipe, click. Nike+ is reinstated. Music is back on. Running again! This time I only just about get back into my stride and the music stops and again….SAY A COMMAND! This time I give a group of small children a rather colourful demonstration of every cuss I know. Stop again, close apps, open apps, shut down phone, open ipod. Stella is now getting agitated, bored, beginning to protest –  wondering why on earth we’re not in Holland Park yet. Where there are squirrels. 
Further into the run I finally give up. Nothing helps. Nike+ FAILS to log runs, or logs four runs that make no sense or any relation to reality and the entire iPhone crashes. Now I have no reception. There’s no app for that. 
I’m hoping for salvation in the form of an Apple Genius. Or an upgrade. Or both. Either way I fear the love affair may be over with Nike+
Mapmyrun, let’s give it another shot.