This blog has moved!

Please note: this blog has moved

I've recently moved this blog to a new Wordpress platform, and you can find this at

This gives me greater control over the blog and I hope you see it as an improvement. Since I can't find away to seamlessly redirect everyone from the Google platform, please follow the link and update your bookmarks.

All the old blog posts are on the new site.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Strava 100 Mile Trail Challenge

I've been using Strava to log my runs for about a month now, after having previously used a combination of Fetch Everyone and Garmin Connect for a number of years. About 4 years ago when I first got into running, I bought a Garmin Forerunner 405, which despite its downfalls (dodgy bezel, poor batter life, quirks picking up satellites) has probably been the most motivational piece of running hardware I've ever used.

The Garmin allows me to just stick on a pair of shoes and run out the door, recording where I go and then when I get back I can download all the data and store online, building up a profile over time and allowing me to see how well I'm doing.

But all that data is no good unless you can analyse it in a meaningful way. Being a bit of a geek, I love to see how far and fast I've run, and how much effort it has taken. Garmin Connect always allowed me to do this, but the interface was clunky and it was often very slow.

Facebook for Atheletes?

Strava does most of what Garmin Connect and Fetch Everyone does, but has more of a focus on the social and competition side of things. Its quite easy to find friends and link it via Facebook to build a profile and follow like-minded athletes.

Where it really comes into its own though, is its ability to crunch your run (or bike) data into segments, and allow you to name these so that when you run the same portion of the run again (or somebody else does) you can compare times.

My run mapped out, including elevation profile, split into named segments.

The app is pretty good at determining segments from geographical data, but you're also free to crop and change them yourself, which is quite handy as in some of the places I run there is not much on the Google map to really help Strava work out what is useful or not.

This is especially useful for me, since almost all of my running is on hilly trails, and I rarely run the exact same route twice. However I regularly do route segments, such as the hill sprint back into the village, or a particularly fast riverside forest run, and it adds a bit of extra motivation to know that I can go for a record or at least a good time on that section.

The athlete profile page on Strava gives you a running total of your activities, and flags any achievements you've earned by beating previous times on course segments.

Strava Challenges

I run alone (well, with my border collie) and there aren't many other people in my area so I tend to have the trails to myself. Its easy to get into a routine and not push yourself too much, but this is where the Strava challenges come in.

For the first 16 days of September, Trail Runner magazine hosted the Strava 100 Mile Trail Challenge, where they invited as many people as possible to log 100 miles of trail running between September 1st-16th.

I entered this, and managed to log 102 miles before the challenge ended, and it turned out to be a great motivational tool. So far I've logged over 200km and we still have 9 days of the month left - by having the motivation to go out and run decent mileage every day I think I've managed to push myself that little bit further and discover that I'm actually OK with that level of effort - I'm definitely looking forward to the next challenge.


I love Strava, and have now stopped using my other sites as I think on balance this is the way to go. Although not perfect, Strava seems to have the right balance right now - what especially appeals is that unlike the hardware manufacturers (Garmin etc) who really are only interested in selling you a device, Strava is device-neutral, and they seem to be continuously driving development and rolling out new features.

  • Clean and quick user interface
  • Social element and challenges
  • Phone apps
  • Because it started as a bike-app, there are far few runners on there
  • Difficult to see monthly subtotals in tabular form

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Home Made Energy Bars

Energy bars are expensive, and generally not full of anything special. I also live miles from anywhere so its useful to be able to rustle some up out of store cupboard ingredients. You need:

240grams of  peanut butter
240 grams of clear honey
175 grams of sugar-free mueseli
200 grams dried fruit (I use 50 grams each of pineapple, apricot, raisins & sultanas)
100 grams of seed mix, chopped nuts etc

Put the honey and peanut butter into a saucepan and slowly melt it together over a low heat. Simply chuck in the muesli and stir, and then stir in the other ingredients until fully mixed.

Grease a baking tin, and pour the mix into it, flattening it down. Put in the oven on 200ºC for about 12 minutes. They should go golden brown but still be fairly soft.

When you bring them about, score with a spatula and allow to cool, when it will harden. Then you can take it out the tin, and break it into pieces along the score lines.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Pic de l'Aigle Morning Run

I was feeling like a more challenging outing so I ran Pic de l'Aigle this morning and got a few nice pictures since the weather was fine.

Down in the valley at the start of the climb, crossing the river Büech

Eric, the border collie, waiting for me as the gradient gets steeper

The view back down into the La Jarjatte valley, with the ski pistes in the background

The summit of Montagne de Claret - now its all downhill