Apple watch and swimming

No not manually ….

If you have an Apple Watch 2 /3 or and you use Strava you’ll be as frustrated as I am that Strava doesn’t support swimming on the watch. You have to record any swim that you do using the watch’s native Workout app (which works really well), then manually create a new activity in Strava and fill in the details. There is quite a thread developing on the Strava Support forum requesting swim support for Apple Watch 2 / 3 and I would urge you to add your name to it. However, I have just discovered the Swim Exporter app that connects with Apple Health and Workout data and imports the information into Strava when you record either a pool swim or an openwater swim using the Workout app. It costs £1.99 and is incredibly simple to use: simply connect it to your Health app and link it to Strava and it will automatically display all swim workouts. To upload a workout to Strava, just click on the workout and click, “Send to Strava”. Job done.


Apple Store:

Shame Strava don’t do a swim part for their watch app

Strava sinks (and stinks) for swimmers

Screenshot 2016-04-25 10.49.41.png

There is a severe lack of Swim detail in Strava imported swim activities. Essential metrics for loyal Strava customers such as lap splits, heart rate, PRs, CRs, etc, etc are all missing. The current swim visuals are very poor indeed. I’m more of a cyclist and runner, but if I feel this aspect of Strava lets me down, I can only sympathise with true swimmers and triathletes.

Swapping to Premier paid membership didn’t make any difference in this aspect. Thus, one of the reasons I cancelled my Premier status as have many others. Strava is a great app, but outside cycling and perhaps running, it doesn’t cater for much else.

Many have invested in expensive fitness devices that allow measurement of these metrics. Without the ability of Strava to take advantage of these, customers will consider using the device bespoke applications instead.

Customers have been asking for this for years and Strava just doesn’t seem to care.

Even endomondo also a running cycling site is much better mapping PR’s etc

Screenshot 2016-04-25 10.53.20.png

Garmin itself does much more (it even shows the gap where I paused instead of pressed lap) but it has never really taken off as a social platform ….. will update this if i see something better.

Screenshot 2016-04-25 11.00.11.png

Garmin 920XT and running Dynamics

Got new life insurance and the company i am with offers 50% off on garmin products and as I am such a gadget head i decided to buy the 920XT which is also useful for swimming besides my normal running and cycling.

Screenshot 2016-04-17 15.52.59

The watch itself maps other data that i was not familiar with so popped out this morning on a run just over 10km to explore what the running dynamics mean.

Screenshot 2016-04-17 15.39.25

Running dynamics give a summary

Screenshot 2016-04-17 15.46.35

Cadence i know is stride rate – quicker chi type running has always been my thing – i am not a long heavy impact strider … In general, more experienced runners tend to have higher cadence. An often-cited target for running cadence is 180 steps/min. So i am bang on target for this run.


First off is Vertical Oscillation

I was feeling stiff at first but loosened up after a km of running – this is where the data goes into blue – there are green spikes in sync with the downhill sections after that …

The colors show how your ground contact time compares to other runners. The color zones are based on percentiles.

Color Zone Percentile in Zone Ground Contact Time Range
Purple > 95 < 218 ms
Blue 70 – 95 218-248 ms
Green 30 – 69 249 – 277 ms
Orange 5 – 29 278 – 308 ms
Red < 5 > 308 ms

Garmin has researched many runners of all different levels. In general, more experienced runners tend to have shorter ground contact times. Elite runners often have ground contact times of less than 200 ms. Virtually all experienced runners studied have ground contact times of less than 300 ms. Higher cadence and faster paces are both associated with shorter ground contact times. Many running coaches believe that a short ground contact time is characteristic of a more economical running form. However, at a set cadence, decrease of ground contact time usually increases vertical oscillation.

A watch if you spend all the time outdoors (and don’t want to scratch your rolex/omega/TAG)

I must admit although i like nice watches BUT (and its a big But) when i head out into the wild (or working in places like Iraq or Rwanda) I generally take along a G-Shock watch. This one does a lot in a simple package.


Casio announced a brand new high-end G-Shock model at Baselworld 2015, the GWG-1000 Mudmaster. This new model combines features of the Mudman and Rangeman with an analog/digital hybrid display. It has a case design that looks like a cross between an aviation G-Shock and the Rangeman, giving it a tough and tactical appearance. Model numbers are GWG-1000-1A (black), GWG-1000-1A3 (black with olive band), and GWG-1000-1A9 (black with yellow band).

how fit are you?

Do this test

answer truthfully now.

Screenshot 2014-08-02 13.47.13


there is no way my VO2 is 62 – my polar HRM used to say it was around 57-59


What is your fitness age?

good article from WELL in the NYT ….

Trying to quantify your aerobic fitness is a daunting task. It usually requires access to an exercise-physiology lab. But researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim have developed a remarkably low-tech means of precisely assessing aerobic fitness and estimating your “fitness age,” or how well your body functions physically, relative to how well it should work, given your age.

The researchers evaluated almost 5,000 Norwegians between the ages of 20 and 90, using mobile labs. They took about a dozen measurements, including height, body mass index, resting heart rate, HDL and total cholesterol levels. Each person also filled out a lengthy lifestyle questionnaire. Finally, each volunteer ran to the point of exhaustion on a treadmill to pinpoint his or her peak oxygen intake (VO2 max), or how well the body delivers oxygen to its cells. VO2 max has been shown in large-scale studies to closely correlate with significantly augmented life spans, even among the elderly or overweight. In other words, VO2 max can indicate fitness age.

In order to figure out how to estimate VO2 max without a treadmill, the scientists combed through the results to determine which of the data points were most useful. You might expect that the most taxing physical tests would yield the most reliable results. Instead, the researchers found that putting just five measurements — waist circumference; resting heart rate; frequency and intensity of exercise; age; and sex — into an algorithm allowed them to predict a person’s VO2 max with noteworthy accuracy, according to their study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The researchers used the data set to tabulate the typical, desirable VO2 max for a healthy person at every age from 20 to 90, creating specific parameters for fitness age. The concept is simple enough, explains Ulrik Wisloff, the director of the K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University and the senior author of the study. “A 70-year-old man or woman who has the peak oxygen uptake of a 20-year-old has a fitness age of 20,” he says. He has seen just this combination during his research.

The researchers have used all of this data to create an online calculator that allows people to determine their VO2 max without going to a lab. You’ll need your waist measurement and your resting heart rate. To determine it, sit quietly for 10 minutes and check your pulse; count for 30 seconds, double the number and you have your resting heart rate. Plug these numbers, along with your age, sex and frequency and intensity of exercise, into the calculator, and you’ll learn your fitness age.

The results can be sobering. A 50-year-old man, for instance, who exercises moderately a few times a week, sports a 36-inch waist and a resting heart rate of 75 — not atypical values for healthy middle-aged men — will have a fitness age of 59. Thankfully, unwanted fitness years, unlike the chronological kind, can be erased, Dr. Wisloff says. Exercise more frequently or more intensely. Then replug your numbers and exult as your “age” declines. A youthful fitness age, Dr. Wisloff says, “is the single best predictor of current and future health.”

and my result …?

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 12.27.36boll*cks – in my dreams


Oi Fatty …. yes you

from huffington post

This is the average American male in his 30s.

usa bodyHe doesn’t look too bad, right? Well, here’s how he stacks up against his international peers from Japan, the Netherlands, and France.

country measurements

America’s expanding waistline may not be new news, but throwing the average American male’s body into a line-up spotlights America’s obesity epidemic, which is exactly what Pittsburgh-based artist Nickolay Lamm did when he created these visualizations (which obviously deal only with body size and not ethnicity or skin color).

“I wanted to put a mirror in front of us,” Lamm told The Huffington Post in an email. “Americans like to pride ourselves on being the best country in the world. However, it’s clear that other countries have lifestyles and healthcare better than our own.”

Here’s a look from the front.

country measurements

And a side angle — Oof, not the most flattering comparison for the American. He’s second on the left.

country measurements

Lamm constructed the 3D models based on body measurements collected from thousands of men by universities and government agencies — including the CDC, the Netherlands’ RIVM, and France’s ENNS. The average American male has a body mass index (BMI) of 29 — significantly higher than Japanese men (who have a BMI of 23), men in the Netherlands (who have a 25.2 BMI), and French men (who have a 25.55 BMI.)

Lamm said he used BMI charts and photos for visual reference, and ran the models by Dr. Matthew Reed, an expert on body shape measurement, for accuracy.

“I chose the Netherlands because they are the tallest country and are clearly doing something right there,” Lamm said. He chose Japan because it is well-known for its longevity, and France because, he said, “a lot of Americans like to compare themselves to that country.”

So what are the Dutch and Japanese doing right?

Experts suggest it has to do with a complex combination of genetic, environmental and social factors. A good healthcare system, better nutrition, and more active lifestyles have been cited as reasons for the towering Dutchmen and long-lived Japanese.


The Garmin 910xt – a user review

A review by John Sharp who will hopefully one day be writing more on this blog …. a review of the Garmin 910XT which was up there along with the newish Garmin Fenix a a possible Polar RCX5 replacement….


I used to love her. I used to stare at her, mesmerised within her Cyclopic trance. I would gently caress her cool smooth features. She would respond, teasing me with secrets, revealing ever more with each tap and stroke. I knew how to push her buttons and she knew how to respond. And she could read me: tuned into my palpating heart as I grew increasingly hot with her encouragement. It wasn’t to last. Passion this intense rarely does. She couldn’t live up to my expectations nor I hers. Her faults, invisible at first, soon became obvious and impossible to ignore. She became quick to fatigue; from her I demanded stamina which was beyond her. She needed attention and new energy almost daily. She was temperamental in anything other than perfect conditions. Sometimes unpredictable and chaotic; often stubborn and seized. Soon the cracks in our relationship (most metaphorical, some actual real cracks) became insurmountable and the first GPS watch I ever loved, my Garmin Forerunner 405, and I were to go our separate ways.

the queen is dead long live the queen

The limitations of the FR405 are well known but I had been able to tolerate the terrible battery and infuriating bezel for a couple of years before a broken strap served as the catalyst for indulging in a new toy. I’ve been wearing Garmin’s Forerunner 910XT since March this year, have used it whilst competing in a spring marathon and throughout the build-up for an autumn marathon effort. This article is less a technical review of the device and more a discussion of how I have used the device over the last six months or so.

publicity pic

Whilst Garmin have released and specifically marketed other watches (e.g., Forerunner 610) for runners, a reluctance not to endure an anticipated fractious ‘touchscreen’ and a shorter battery life led me to consider the FR910XT. Technically, the 910XT is a triathlon watch. In fact, it’s essentially an upgrade to the clunky Garmin FR310XT. This means that not only can it track every single data point imaginable whilst running, but it can also do the same thing whilst biking and swimming. It’ll track and display pace, elevation, distance, calories, pedal cadence, swim stroke, laps and much, much more. Any information you might want to know, the 910XT is probably able to provide it.

It would be easy to get bogged down in the wealth of data on offer. What is vital is to establish which information is most pertinent to your needs. When I started running regularly three years ago I focussed almost exclusively on pace, running every outing at or above a predefined speed which I believed I should be capable of. Nowadays I don’t care so much about pace for the vast majority of my running. Rather, most days comprise ‘easy’ running during which I will not exceed 75% of my maximum heart rate. One of the advantages of the larger case required to house a bigger battery is the opportunity to incorporate a massive display. This is excellent for allowing the presentation of multiple data fields simultaneously and users are able to choose how many ‘pages’ of data they would like to scroll through, how many data fields they prefer in any one display ‘page’, and what specific data that should be. My own preference is to have one single screen on which I can see my effort (%age of maximum HR), my average pace, distance, and time elapsed. Users can choose from a huge selection of options (e.g., some might prefer current pace rather than average). When racing I adopt a radically different approach and rely on only one data field, the time. Selecting just one data field permits a much larger size of font. No distractions with other information; just the bottom line. And even then I typically only switch to this screen in the final minutes of the race to see how close I am to any targets I’m aiming for. For the rest of the race, the forerunner is resolutely set to the ‘Virtual Partner’.

The ‘Virtual Partner’ (VP) was undoubtedly my favourite feature of the FR405. The VP allows you to monitor your current pace against a set speed or predefined pace. I use, nay depend on, this feature for tempo workouts and races. I will plug in the pace I want to achieve with the hope this somehow also ‘programs’ my legs. This mode displays a (poorly) illustrated running character who is either ahead, level with, or behind the target pace. It offers a quick and ready means of establishing whether you are ‘on’ or ‘off’ target in either direction and gives you a swift kick up the backside (comedy extending boot not included). It also indicates just how far ahead or behind you might be by both distance and, more usefully, time. Whilst for workouts I often find myself trying to ‘keep up’ with the VP, in races, at least when starting with fresh, tapered legs, this feature allows you to temper your enthusiasm and regulate your pace appropriately.

The VP has been embellished on the 910XT. The ‘Virtual Racer’ (VR) feature allows the user to race against existing courses and workouts. In essence it provides a ‘shadow’ of you, or someone else who has previously completed the same route, and allows you to monitor your progress against yourself or them. Whilst the VP maintains a constant speed regardless of the terrain and gradient, the VR allows for more realistic comparison. For example, when faced with a substantial climb, the VR adjusts to a much slower speed for the hill. A nice interactive feature allows users to download workouts from the Garmin Connect site onto their device. This would allow individuals to ‘race’ against friends who completed the same event in previous years. For example, if I had a friend who completed the Virgin London Marathon this year who I was desperate to beat, I would definitely consider inputting their effort to ensure I stayed ahead of them. It is exactly reasons like this that I have no friends. This feature can also be used when cycling and I understand the Team Garmin-Cervelo files from the Tour de France are available for you to ‘compete’ with David Millar et al. albeit without the EPO, closed roads, and full complement of domestics.

Numerous other features and settings are available. I can only imagine there are some people whose training life has been revolutionised by the ‘Intervals’ feature which enables users to setup a simple interval workout which the watch will then guide them through, barking (or vibrating and beeping at least) orders on cue. Setting up intervals allows the sessions to be designed and tailored for the individuals needs and permits the user to specifying how long the warm-up is, the number and distance/time of work intervals, the rest interval, and then the cool down. I suspect this mode would be useful for complex sessions and negates the athlete to carry and refer to pieces of paper or recall which number of 20 repetitions they happen to be on at any given time. Amazingly, there is the capacity for sessions to become infinitely more complex and any idiosyncratic routine can become designed in the ‘Workout’ mode, a feature with an endless array of ‘if/then’ type scenarios. In truth, I’ve never gone near it.
Whilst most of the features seem well designed to meet the needs of a competitive athletes, even the lame modes aimed at the novice can be adapted with a little imagination. For example, the Run/Walk function (essentially just an alert to prompt users to start running after a short pre-planned spell of walking) can instead be used as a fillip to get endurance athletes (e.g., ultra-runners) to eat regularly. I would guess the prohibitive pricing of the 910XT would discourage any entry-point purchasing. However, the battery and features will definitely appeal to seasoned ultra runners. Garmin should change this feature to an ‘Eat-a-gel’ alert.
The ultra-running boom has led to new performance demands for GPS devices. Training on predominantly flat surfaces altitude is rarely especially relevant for road racing. It’s data I neither seek nor need. However, my eventual hope is to turn to the trail and with those the hills. For years cyclists have managed to get barometric altimeters within their handlebar mounted computers. Runners have had to tolerate GPS-based altimeters. The FR910XT introduces an integrated a barometric altimeter. An old friend, Nicol Boyd, is a recent convert to running and, churning out miles on the mountainous trails of Hong Kong, accumulates thousands of feet of elevation. In a sport where elevation covered is arguably more important than distance is this a useful new addition? Unfortunately, Nicol is not convinced, “The barometric altimeter is highly temperamental and always spikes 100-200m at the start of every run. Even well into the run, when things should have settled down, the altimeter readings are pretty erratic and very often out by a noticeable margin. This sucks if you are one of the many people who like to run up hills.” Whilst firmware updates might help resolve such issues, it seems improvements are required.
It is not only the unreliable altimeter which takes the shine off the 910XT. The heart rate monitor frequently struggles to record accurate data. Most commonly this occurs at the outset of a run and can take a mile or so of spiking before settling down to accurate levels. This appears to be a long-standing problem for Garmin. Their previous HR monitor was inadequate and it appears their attempts to improve this, introducing a new design of strap and monitor, have failed. Some Garmin advocate transferring the Garmin transmitter into a Polar Wearlink+ strap.
Quibbles aside, there is much to be admired in this Garmin unit. The battery life is exceptional. Whereas my FR405 would regularly ‘die’ on me during runs, the FR910XT’s battery has never yet been fully depleted. Garmin estimates a 20-hour battery life and this seems accurate. The general build seems good. Being a triathletes watch requires the case to be waterproof and robust. Whilst the watch is most definitely ugly, it is functional. Besides, I’ve never understood people who want to be able to wear their GPS watch “as a watch”. Like all Garmin Forerunners, the watch syncs wirelessly to and ANT+ USB from which the information is upload to the online Garmin Connect software. This is becoming an ever expanding and accessible interface and includes optional synchronisation with iPhone apps and social media integration with easy sharing of routes and workouts. The interface is relatively attractive and easy to negotiate and generally very reliable.

So, with the six month honeymoon period over, are my new love and I for keeps? Lets wait and see whether she guides me to a new marathon PB in four weeks time.

Polar release integrated gps watch the RC3 GPS

For recreational runners and cyclists who want integrated GPS with smart guidance. This looks like a better made version of the Garmin 610 …. As some readers might know I have the Polar RCX5 with a separate G5 gps pod. I love the extra features of the RCX5 but think that for most athletes and the less tetchy and geeky this RC3 with integrated GPS makes more sense.

One thing polar need to look at in the future – well two things to really help Polar appeal to all the mass market is firstly to go ANT+ using the most common and useful protocol for sensors and the other is to enable polar personal trainer to export .tcx files so that users can upload into social exercise sites like Strava, Endomondo and MapMyRun to name a few. Or failing this to allow those websites to access the protocol for the polar communicator / uploaded.


  • Training Benefit gives you instant feedback after your session
  • Tracks your route, speed and distance using built-in GPS
  • Running Index scores your performance
  • Slim and lightweight design with rechargeable battery
  • Allows you to share your training with your friends


Body measurement features

  • Compatible with Mac (Intel-based) via USB cable
  • Compatible with PC via USB cable
  • Compatible with via USB cable
  • Back to start
  • Distance – training, lap, and total
  • Route mapping – opt. with web service
  • Running Index
  • Speed/Pace – current, average and maximum
  • Backlight
  • Date and weekday indicator
  • Display text in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish
  • Dual time zone
  • KeyLock
  • Low battery indicator
  • Rechargeable battery
  • StopWatch
  • Time of day (12/24h) with alarm and snooze
  • Water resistant – IPX7

Armstrong clocks in a tasty second in the panama half- ironman

There was plenty of speculation about how the 41-year-old would do in his first race as a pro, but at least two things were certain as the starting gun sounded to begin the point-to-point swim in the warm waters of the Pacific.

It was pretty certain that Lance would be close to the top after the swim as he has a strong swimming background and there was no doubt he would make quite an impact out on the 56-mile bike course.

However nobody was quite sure how he would hold up with all the much younger speedsters out on the run course.


Lance came out with a large pack and was 34 seconds behind the leader Matty Reed. As the pro men left the bike transiton, Lance was sitting in 11th spot.

His past history as a competitive swimmer kept him in close contact with all the major players in the race.



As expected Lance made a move on the bike course and at the 15k mark had moved from 11th to 5th place.

At the half-way point he made his move toward the leader and soon he was riding at the front of the main chase pack along with Chris Lieto, but it was still Billard Betrand of France leading the way as the cyclists headed into Panama City and the bike/run transition.

Very near transition Chris Lieto takes the lead with Lance right behind him waiting to pounce as Betrand slips to third.

At this point it was certainly shaping up to be an interesting run.


As the first pros reached the run transition area the top four were Chris Lieto, Lance Armstrong 6 seconds back, Bertrand Billard 9 seconds back, and Oscar Galindez 1:29 off the pace.

At 2k into the run Chris Lieto looks very strong in the lead and Lance Armstrong is 10 seconds back with Billard close to Lance in 3rd spot.

At the four mile mark Lance is just 5 seconds off the front and Chris Lieto, but Oscar Galindez and Bevan Docherty are making a charge and are just 1:39 and 2:46 behind.

Lance! Didn’t know you could run so fast! In the blink of an eye Lance is leading Ironman Panama 70.3 by 26 seconds.

There is a very good possibility that Lance used up far less of his energy reserves on the bike course as opposed to the other cyclists.

If that’s the case, it might just be next to impossible to catch him at this point.

It really appears that Lance will be either 1st or 2nd in Ironman Panama 70.3 and it all hinges on how much Bevan Docherty has left in the tank as he closes to within 1:15 of Lance Armstrong.

All the other main contenders have fallen off the pace. Either way it will be a sensational result for Lance.

What a finish it’s going to be as Lance holds a 55 second lead over Docherty with just 4 miles to go. Apparenty it’s a media frenzy at the finish line that rivals Kona.

Small wonder. This is one of the greatest moments in the history of the sport.

In order to catch Lance, Bevan will have to run about 15 seconds per mile faster and that’s asking a lot of even this great runner.

45 seconds now.

Lance hanging tough and Bevan only made up 10 seconds and that most likely will not be enough but in the last few miles Docherty picks to be really picking up the pace.

A race for the ages. This will be very close.

Bevan Docherty wins Ironman Panama 70.3 2012!

Lance Armstrong finishes second in an incredible race.

visit for Ironman Panama 70.3 races results 2012.

Amazing … I heard he was going to compete but to get a second in an amazing lineup is a fantastic feat. He has certainly had the allegations and unfounded rumours to fight and there is a certain stink that can’t be erased easily but his performance today was mind blowing.


Up until the last mile I thought he might hang on for a win against Bevan who probably has the best run leg of the whole field.

Top 5 Men – Finish

1 3:50:13 16 Bevan Docherty Santa Cruz CA NZL
2 3:50:55 0:42 24 Lance Armstron Austin TX USA
3 3:52:59 2:46 5 Richie Cunningh Boulder CO AUS
4 3:53:38 3:25 4 Rasmus Henning Tuineje DOM
5 3:54:44 4:31 12 Romain Guillaum Montmorot FRA


This next video is interesting … ran his own race but is going to digest the info and stats … HR and watts to see where he can improve. I think he might see a few top 5’s this year for sure ….

Took the Plunge and went for a new Polar HRM

The RCX5 with GPS. The truth is I love Polar HRM and like their analysing software. The things I used to hate was their lack of ANT+ and the fact that using a MAC used to be a no go.

They have changed slowly and although the RCX5 is not as good as the RS800 – it has a look I prefer. I was umping and aching over the new Garmin 910xt and the 610 but I find them ugly (although this is a completely subjective fashionista statement)… I guess I am a square (fan).

Anyway review to come I am sure.