Glasgow Half Marathon


I am just up to the computer now after doing the Glasgow Half Marathon 1:30:36  – having a massage (very nice too) and a spot of lunch.

the route

This morning cousin Benji came across to race as well – he did a 1:38 3 weeks ago and has a PB of 1:28 but both of us thought a 1:35 time was on the cards so we were probably going to run together.

Glasgow was mobbed – we must have been a good 100m from the front – luckily in the first group to go – so the off was more like a slow amble and then the first 2km were just weaving through people / runners I suspect not entirely truthful about their finish times and maybe a bit closer to the front than they should have been. Well actually maybe it was simply that i was too far back because in 21km only a handful of runners passed me and I must have overtaken a good 1000 others.

Perhaps the euphoria of always overtaking explains my time … I felt great and was feeling very fast and steady. Ran with cousin for the first 5km and then gradually edged forward and lost him about the 9km mark. Whenever there was a corner I looked back figuring he would reappear at some point but it wasn’t to be today. As I was crossing the bridge a few km from the finish i figured i was doing well and thought it may be possible to pass the 1H30 mark easily besting my PB of 1:31:27 …. well as it happens it wasnt to be. Still managed to leg the last section past a Mr Weavy – one of those runners doing the weave of fatigue we have seen in old marathon films. Then as i crossed the line felt great then looked ahead as a runner was emptying a bright orange stomach content a few foot away – I did not need to have seen that ….

The glasgow course is great – pretty flat and apart from my little moan about the crowded start was a fun event. Well marshalled good water points and managed to see a few faces i knew ….

At the end my gps (and cousin Benji’s said it was over HM distance … his said 13.3miles and mine said 21.3km – so only a bit over. If so I broke my record for the official HM distance. HUZZAH

Did you run Glasgow today? If so let me know

A slower run and a longer look


Sometimes it’s the simple things that we take for granted that would give us the most pleasure just back from a run around Glasgow Green and having to take it a lot easier than normal in order to keep my heart rate below a certain level I found myself looking around a lot more and sometimes are looking around in these slower runs – you see things which you don’t normally seen on a normal run birds rowers- the list is endless.

strava route

This was part of my half marathon training which dictated running at least an hour and keeping my HR below 75% …. It a lot harder than you think – luckily the polar RCX5 does my thinking for me and beeps if I stray.

level HR

Run time


Starting training for glasgow half marathon …..

Time for my run – no wonder I feel tired – you can see where I woke up loads last night ….

Stepped out and saw the sun and that always makes the morning runs a bit easier. Ran down to glasgow green then followed a loop someone had mapped on strava and did it twice as wasn’t sure where the start or finish was and wanted to make sure it registered.
Not the quickest run but it’s been a bit and need to start stepping up the game as the Glasgow half marathon is just over a month away now …..

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Angus half marathon – pants for me


Pants – for once I am first back at the finish line in a half marathon …. Problem is it was to hand my number back in after pulling out after 3 and a bit km’s.
Sitting in the car now waiting for my cousin-in-law to finish I know it was the right decision – another 19km would have probably done damage (I nursed that last km at 4:50 pace) and now as I sit drinking coffee the rain is just pissing down.

It got me thinking a bit about knowing when to quit …. Last weeks duathlon – my calf felt tight but I was nursing it a bit and think the ride between the runs must have helped. Will have to get home tonight and go on the turbo trainer and try get some exercise in today. Our friends we stayed with last night – Tom was heading out for a 70km ride – in retrospect I should have joined him …… Never mind.

Next marathon is a mtb one so time to refocus…. And retrain …..

Trouble shooting – weird Heart Rate spikes, dropouts and how to eliminate them


For those who train with heart rate monitors, you have probably encountered a session where your HR graph just doesn’t make sense. With my garmin it used to start fine then my HR would skyrocket up to the 180’s 190’s and I would be dead if I was there 200’s. With my Suunto – sometimes I would get no reading before it kicked into life …

Suunto no record then suddenly pop into life ...

After you finish your activity and get back to your computer, you’ll probably see something like this – a major HR spike a dropout or even a level no read situation, followed by more normal HR activity: Below is my reading from the Alloa Half Marathon on the weekend with flouro yellow highlights of bits that don’t make sense ….

Frustrated, you wonder if the battery needs changing but then the next time it is fine so you forget about it …but here is a reason why this might be happening.

I presume everyone can put their strap on correctly – that is the right way up and against the skin just under the ribcage …

So assuming that you’ve got it fitted right then let’s look at what typically causes the spike or dropout in HR

1) Are you wet yet?

During the winter months and in the case of Alloa on Sunday the air is often fairly cold, and fairly dry.  This means that you’re less likely to have moist perspiration on your skin (from heat) and even less likely to be generating any sweat right from the start of the workout.  This in turns lowers your belt’s conductivity ability to read your heart rate beats …..   Simply introducing any moisture at all will usually remedy the situation – at least until you begin sweating enough to let sweat do its job.

2) Synthetic quick dry shirts:

At Alloa I was wearing a synthetic shirt as opposed to my ‘normal’ nicer smelling Merino. An unfortunate side effect of synthetics is that they can dry out the body and the skin’s sweat making the belt so dry that it can’t ‘read’ the skin. Another issue is that synthetic material can build up static which can cause electrical interference with the HR belt.

3) Your mum is a gorilla:

I have heard some people of the hirsute variety have more errors ….. you need to be very hairy for this to affect the HR belt but if you are this way inclined … a) shave or groom b) stay swinging in the trees instead of running c) if female remain indoors and plait that hairy back …..

How to lick the problem:

It is pretty easy to fix

1) Sweat it: This first one is a bit obvious – but will explain why the problem often goes away after just a few minutes of activity.  Once you start sweating it improves conductivity.  This in turn makes the HR strap work …. but you still have the earlier misread ….

2) Lick it: This is the simplest option and what I do all the time. I just give the sensors a good gobbing – but hold onto your bogeys for the run.

HR gel

3) Heart Rate Gel: If you suck at licking, then you can instead use electrode gel to improve conductivity.  This is what’s typically used in medical environs for scans and using TENS machines …. it just ensures a good contact moisture seal between belt and skin. They are cheap as chips – about £5 for a big tube that will last years … If it is a dry very cold day and I remember then I use gel on the belt before heading out.

4) Shift the strap:

If you spot a dodgy reading then adjust the strap – a quick shift up and down normally gets the belt to rub against some sweat and the belt normal corrects pretty quickly. Some people shift the strap so it is half on back and front or even all on the back … i have not tried but it seems to work as an option.

5) Replace the batteries:

Finally, it could be as simple as old depleted batteries – most belts use CR2032 batteries so i always make sure I have a handful around ….

Alloa Half Marathon – race report


Woke up at 7am and looked out the window to the most glorious weather … Bright sunshine and hardly any wind. Temp slightly fresh at 4 degrees but bound to warm up.
Had my staple breakfast of raw porridge and banana and picked up Findlay at 8am for the drive to Alloa. We arrived early and had too much time on our hands for parking, registration and in findlays case, plenty of time to regret the curry he had the night before.
Temp was still hovering around 5 degrees but I learnt my lesson running the Jedburgh half marathon when my legs were sweating for most of the run, so shorts were donned but realised I only had a vest which might be a bit chilly. Borrowed findlays spare t shirt. Which was two sizes too big but had my vest on top to keep it snug.

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Course map – showing long straight where the wind was in our face.

This time I remembered to take plasters to tape over my nipples – one of the problems of being born with nipples which seem to come out under the side of my chest … Maybe I was born to breast feed small animals anchored under my armpit hair.
I have only done one run, 7 miles in the sweaty heat of Baghdad where the seam of the vest chafed away at me and I finished that run in agony. LESSON LEARNED.

Back to the run. Organisation at this event was flawless. Good start zone, electronic chips for the shoes, plenty of changing facilities and loos both on the leisure centre and portaloos near the start.

Start was massive – so many people that it took me about a minute to cross the start line. The first 2 km were spent weaving through slower traffic and over eager athletes that had pushed to front of start line. From 3km there was plenty of space to pass for those overtaking and for those being overtaken. The police did a great job of marshalling and the cars were either kept back or their speed was curtailed by the often passing police motor cycle.

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My legs post injury are still not up to speed so I kept my pace quite regular around the 4:30/km. I knew I wasn’t going to get my 1h31 PB in this this race but by the end was very chuffed to get a 1h36m as I was only hoping for sub 1h45

Alloa is a great race and I think I will do it again next year.

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Only one slight problem with the race was my polar HR belt had a slight wobble. I don’t use gel on the belt but think that maybe the wicking nature of the shirt meant I dried up on my chest. Suddenly my HR said it was 97 – if only – I only noticed this after 3 km of bad reading – I was only glancing down at monitor every time the watch auto lapped the km to make sure I was doing alright and not flagging too quickly. I can only think the belt was dry as soon as I shifted it it read accurately again.
Still love the RCX5 though …..