Garmin Forerunner (FR) 35

I was recently lent a Garmin FR35 to test and give feedback. For a full, techy review read DC Rainmaker

fr35.jpg

Model Name: Garmin FR 35 Sn73

Current cheapest price: £149.99 from Decathlon

Rating (out of 5 stars): 4

Key features:

1.  Looks quite like an apple watch in shape
2.  Online Connectivity -Alerts flow through from your phone to the watch
3.  Heart rate monitor

 

Summary
Great looks - good enough to wear all the time and small enough for a girl!
Fulfils the fitness tracker, smart watch and proper running watch brief to a good level. Not really really powerful as a training tool if you want complicated intervals and loads of mid-run feedback but has a lot of good features and is very reliable and easy to use

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Review 
A lot more pleasing to the eye than Normal GPS watches. With a slight runners wrist it’s hard to find a watch to fit a lady but this was fine. Comfortable and not too plastic. It looks good enough to wear all day and doesn’t scream ‘running watch’. I'm slightly surprise 

Heartrate monitor is much more reliable than other wrist-based ones I’ve tried - even the most vigorous interval session. The GPS was also reliable.

Battery life was excellent - I only had to charge it once a week and it charged very quickly. I was surprised at the lack of instruction manual but it proved to be very easy to use.

Lap programming was good and I particularly liked the variable WU and CD option. However, you can only have the same rep each time so if you're alternating times it's no use.

Social media and online pairing was a great added bonus and again meant I wanted to wear the watch all day. However, this was one area where a manual would have helped. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t and I couldn’t work out how to read messages after they had initially flashed up.

A few areas for improvement

  • You can’t change setting once you’ve started a workout. Sometimes I’d begin running and then realise I wanted AutoLap on but I couldn’t change the setting without stopping the workout and starting again.
  • It seems that there's only 1k or 1mile autolap options available
  • Whilst the watch found the satellites fairly quickly I did miss the Assisted GPS option of my previous watch where you could use your phone to get it locked on before you left the building.
  • It would have been nice to be able to set different time / distance laps and recoveries rather than having to have the same thing for each lap. 
  • It seemed a waste to only have one field on the second screen

Would I recommend it?

Yes, it's a good watch, easy to use and nice to look at. There's room for improvement but it's above base level and give you everything you need for solid and varied training. I'm asking if I can buy the one I was sent.
However, if you're looking for a more powerful watch it's worth trying out the Garmin VivoActive HR. Mr Bland got one for Christmas and really likes it.

I'm interested to know what the recently announced New Balance IQ will have to offer.

Running Books, Running Pants, Running Breakfasts

Over the last month I’ve run 3 x 100mile weeks, 2 10k PBs, lots of runcommutes and a 30mile day on the NDW. I’m not sure if it’s even remotely interesting for you but I thought I’d mention a few things that I’ve particularly been enjoying recently. Something to read, something to wear, something to eat

The Art of Running Faster

This book was recommended to me by a running friend who I respect a lot. I borrowed it from the library and renewed it so many times I thought I should just buy it. Julian Goater talks about his experiences in cross country and track but it's completely accessible to a slightly geeky but "normal" runner. He looks at obstacles such as lack of focus, the need to customise your training, how to shift gears (still working on that), mental fortitude and whether to DNF, the key bases needed for training and how add the final touches. You can see the chapter headings here. He talks about how to train and how to race and whilst I don't agree with everything he writes, his enthusiasm for and love of running is infectious. 

His words helped me massively in two races recently. 
1. " Remember the basics of good technique...feel as if you are falling into your next step". I hardly ever manage this but having read it here and in Adharanand Finn's books it came to mind at around mile 24 of the Manchester Marathon. Just as form was failing me and fatigue was setting in it gave me something to think about. I didn't feel like I managed it but I'm told I looked strong at the end so I can only imagine it was partly due to this.

2. "Make your move at the last possible moment that suits your strengths and when you make your move, be decisive. Run hard and commit"
When I ran the Forest 5 recently it was a new experience. I was running for placing, not for time. I'd read the "all in your head" chapter of the book where it talked about knowing your strengths and running to them. I knew that offroad wasn't my strong point so when I got overtaken by another lady in a boggy section I remembered this and decided that when I got to firmer ground that was my time to go.  At that point I would put as much clear road between us as I possibly could. It was early in the race (Julian wouldn't like that) but I wasn't sure what was coming later. I did it and it worked, the lady was a brilliant trail runner and could easily have smashed me if it had all been on the grass but I managed to draw away enough of a lead to deal with it.


Runderwear

 Firstly, these ladies ran the length of the Netherlands in their underwear to raise money for breast cancer charity The Pink Ribbon Foundation. Madness or respect worthy? Who knows. Read about it here.


My thoughts on Runderwear:
Skeptical about the need for special pants. Bought some because I was grasping at straws pre-Manchester. Love them. The hipsters are a bit "bridget jones" in shape (they've since launched hot pants) but they are ridiculously comfortable due and non sweaty. They have this 'flatlock' edging which means there no raised areas. By no means an essential part of a running wardrobe but I would totally recommend investing in a couple of pairs, for long runs. If I'm racing, I'll be in Runderwear. Yes, that really is TMI. Sorry. They did send me a free pair to review, but I've since lost them and I bought the first ones before that. #dontruncommando

ps. I've just realised, I totally eschewed special socks for ages too but now I really love Stance Socks. Oh dear...such a sucker. They really are pretty and technically very good too though!

Beautiful Breakfasts and Weird Breakfasts

One for the Londoners. 26 grains make the most visually, texturally, tastily and stomach-ly satisfying breakfasts. They ain't cheap by any stretch but I've rewarded myself a couple of times over the summer and boy are they good. Almond porridge with cacao nibs and matcha icecream was a particularly happy moment after a very hot 20mile run. They've closed for the summer to move to a bigger space but I'll be there when they reopen.

At the other end of the spectrum is the weird breakfast which Tina Muir eats after a hard session. I've ended up with my own version of it and though it looks grim I totally rate it. It tastes really nice and definitely keeps me full up:

Put a sweet potato in the oven while go out on your long run or the night before.
Mash together: Sweet potato, avocado, 3tsp cocoa powder, 1 tbsp greek yoghurt, a splosh of coconut milk. Top with blueberries, coconut flakes and maybe some almond/peanut butter.

 

Why run? // Competition [closed]: Win a copy of Like The Wind magazine

Why bother running? It's just walking but a bit quicker after all. I've been pondering this on and off over the last few months but before I go off on a ramble, let's get to the juicy bit  - a competition to win a copy of the the running magazine with a difference, Like The Wind. [competition now closed. Congrats to the winners]

Like The Wind magazine focuses on why we run rather than how we run. They cover personal stories, a variety of outdoor adventures and have brilliant artwork. For example, they recently had an article about the Right to Movement's Palestine Marathon which I also wrote about for the Guardian.

Enter using the form below. T&Cs are at the bottom of the page

So, why do I run? When I started it was because I got out of breath running for a train, couldn't afford a gym membership and thought there was no way I should be unfit at the age of 20-something. I started in a pair of shorts that cost about a £5er and an old T-shirt and went round the block. Then I started going around a few times, now look what's happened!

Why do I love running? There's the people, the places and the feelings it evokes. Mostly though, it reminds me how carefully I've been made. I have a love-hate relationship with those aches because every ache highlights just how intricately everything is connected and how movements are a triumph of the way our bodies are constructed. I love how each run is different even if it's the same route at the same time (hello A5!). Some days I start out in a grump but by the end I've seen people and sights that lift my spirits. Sometimes I'm fired up to focus hard and hit some times and finish on an adrenaline fuelled high. Some days I pray and think about what I've said and done the previous day. I think about who I need to apologise to, what I should give thanks for. Some days I think of nothing. The seasons go by and my feet carry me forward. 

 

T&Cs

  • Only open to UK entries
  • 2 copies of the magazine are available to give away. 1 each to 2 winners
  • The magazine will be shipped directly by Like The Wind
  • By entering this giveaway you agree to let Like The Wind have your email address for their mailing list (I'm on it and I promise, it's good stuff and they don't spam you)
  • Competition closes at midnight on Saturday 23rd (GMT)
  • No monetary alternative is offered

Kit: Starting out

I suspect that if you've stumbled across Bland On The Run you're already interested in running and have more than likely begun putting one foot infront of the other and then doing it again a bit faster.

However, if you are looking to start out it can seem that there's an awful lot of kit that you  could  buy. The beauty of running is that it's simple, so don't be fooled. Here's what I used at the start and what I think you need.

I'll do another post on what I use now at a later date.

Good places for kit online are:

Wiggle, MandMDirect, Millets Sport, Start Fitness, Sweatshop, GoOutdoors,  SportsShoes

Shoes:

One reasonably priced pair will get you started nicely. Don't let the cost of trainers put you off. In the future I would say that it's worth thinking  about alternating between two (or more, it's a slippery slope) pairs as it helps guard against injury.

Which kind? My favourite workhorse trainers are Nike Pegasus. They are at the slightly less expensive end of the spectrum and you can pick up old colourways at good prices. They look pretty nice too. They're cushioned but not so cushioned that they'll get you into bad habits. I have two old pairs - a 30 and 31 (like the one above) which have done at least 400miles each and are still going strong.  I'd recommend the 30 over the 31 if you're getting an old model. 

It's also worth trying Karimoor and own brands. Just try them on and see how they feel.

I'm on the fence about gait analysis. I think sometimes it's just a way of selling expensive shoes. That said, I do have stability shoes now. Once you've started you can get advice from other runners and maybe find a good running shop to check you out. In London RunningWorks and RunandBecome have good reputations, though I've not been myself. For the record, I run in a mixture of Asics, Nike and Adidas at the moment but I've been impressed when trying some Saucony and Brookes.

Bottoms:

 

I would recommend  3/4 length Karimoor 'tights' (aka leggings to normal people) with some shorts over the top if you're not comfortable with the skin-tightness. They'll cost £10-£20. Gents -  I'm not sure what the lycra / short shorts etiquette is, sorry!

You could run in tracksuit bottoms but they'll be heavier so it's harder work and hotter. I'm also a big fan of 2-in-1 shorts where there's cycling shorts underneath loose shorts. They take a little of the fear away from the whole short-shorts thing.

Tops:

You can run in any old T-shirt or vest top, but a sports-specific wicking one will be more comfortable, is less likely to chafe and dry quicker. You should know that running ups your laundry load a LOT. Again, there's no need to spend a fortune. Most large supermarkets and Sports Direct do some great value ones. 

 

For colder weather I love the Helly Hansen base layer tops. This is one area where I splurged right from the start and I've not regretted it.

Socks:

Normal socks are fine but you'll wear through them quicker if you're running in them. Running specific socks will be comfier but not essential. I know I've got some Karimoor socks which have kept going and going and they are really comfy. I use some other ones as well now (ASICSSole and Stance) because they are prettier and still do a good job. 

Other:

Gloves - Buy cheap touch screen gloves from the pound store. Your chapped hands will thank you.

Sports Bra  - Ladies, don't miss this one out. You can't beat Shock Absorber's Run Sport bra (even if you're on the petite side like moi) but USA Pro and Forever 21 also do some great value ones.

 

Arm Band -  if you're starting running it's great idea to carry a phone with you in case of any problems. Be careful if you're running with headphones, but if you do then The Friendly Swede and Grantwood Technology armbands have served me well. They are especially good if you have scarecrow-esque arms - some of the other armbands are a bit loose. Top tip: wrap your phone in clingfilm if it's raining and the armband doesn't have a cover.

Watch  / Apps:

Run first, track later. Once you get into the habit of post-run analysis it's hard to get out of it. It's great to be able to see your progress but don't forget to just enjoy it too!

If tracking your progress and maps is a helpful thing  then there's loads of apps out there and of course lots of GPS watches. I'd say start off using an app on your phone and then buy a watch if you want more accuracy. I have only tried the following three:

Runkeeper is great for setting up interval sessions.

Strava is the king of running apps and full of people who will make you want to weep at their speeds. It's fun though.

Nike+ has a nice UX but it's hard to  move data across to other platforms if you change your mind

It's also worth checking out some of the rewards apps that link up with your activities to give you discounts and prizes e.g. Running Heroes, Endomondo, Earthmiles