This week’s running – 6th to 12th of June 2016


Can you see me yet? Photo by Brian Smith

Week 5 of the 22 week marathon schedule, which meant a taper week to prepare for the Aldridge 10k.

Garmin Fenix 3 initial thoughts

I’ve had the Fenix 3 for a week or so, trialling out the various functions whilst on simple recovery runs, long runs to intervals. Below is a summary of what I like and dislike compared to the 910XT:


  • Looks and behaves like a normal watch (910XT didn’t have a low power watch mode and needed a kinda-sorta hack!!!)
  • Colour screen is very easy to view outdoors without backlighting
  • GPS accuracy (Arrow Valley Parkrun was 5.00km, and Aldridge 10k was 10.00km)
  • Very fast GPS/GLONAS satellite lock-on via pre-caching
  • Ability to calculate VO2max and lactate threshold from heart rate variability when aligned with pace
  • Auto WiFi upload/Bluetooth upload (frees up a USB port on my Mac)
  • Loads of data fields and configuration options
  • TracBack functionality actually works (crippling bug was never fixed on 910XT)

No likey

  • Some functions are slow/can crash the Fenix 3
  • Data heavy workout uploads can crash the Fenix 3
  • Virtual Partner implementation renders it near useless

I shan’t delve into the positives because they’re self-explanatory, but I will shed some light on what I don’t get on with.

Clicking in and out of menu items is on the whole pretty nippy, which makes the occasions where lag does occur all the more jarring. The lag tends to take place when trying to recall data, such as past workouts, but I’ve also observed lag when trying to generate an elevation chart or when simply bringing up a battery charge meter.

I already mentioned the recall of data heavy workouts crashing the Fenix 3. Well, I also managed to crash it whilst uploading the previous week’s 16 mile run. Upon reboot, the Fenix 3 said there was a workout to upload to Garmin Connect, so I allowed it to do its thing once more. After a generous 10 minutes, it was still in the process of transferring and showed no signs of finishing any time soon; a peek at Garmin Connect showed it had already been uploaded from the original attempt before it crashed and was trying to overwrite its own data. Thankfully, rebooting it once more cleared the upload queue and it’s been pretty happy ever since.

The Virtual Partner on my Garmin 910XT was one of my most used features and kept me company on many races. Changing the pace was easy as navigating to the top-level data page and changing the intended target. Not so on the Fenix 3! One has to navigate to the Virtual Partner setting with no fewer than 10 button presses to dive down 6 menu levels before you’re able to change the target pace. Once you’re finally there, only 5 second increments are available, so you’re probably going to end up running a touch too fast unless your target pace happens to end with a “0” or a “5”. I realise this is a by-product of Garmin introducing more aggressive pace smoothing into all of their watches from the last 2-3 years, but I’ll be sticking with lap pace moving forward, which does allow for 1 second increments to be displayed.

Above niggles aside and on the whole, I’m very pleased with the Fenix 3 where it does everything I need, and almost everything I want.

4 x 1600m at 10k pace

Bar the Aldridge 10k that took place at the end of the week, this was my only other effort-focused run to allow for sufficient recovery and a short taper.

Whilst Aldridge 10k is by no means a PB course due to its elevation profile, I didn’t want to turn up and embarrass myself, so I had a pace of 6:15 or so in mind for the session along the canal towpath to reacquaint me with 10k requirements.

Conditions were expectedly warm and humid; I already had a sweat on from just jogging to Bournville train station and, thankfully, I’d chugged down loads of water throughout the day (with the odd electrolyte tablet for good measure).

Besides the first rep, the remaining three felt very consistent in terms of effort, though sadly my heart rate monitor slipped and flaked out from me being too sweaty.

The splits were as follows:

  1. 6:08
  2. 6:09
  3. 6:12
  4. 6:11

Contrast this with three weeks ago when the splits (albeit on different terrain and different conditions) were:

  1. 6:18
  2. 6:16
  3. 6:12
  4. 6:25

Improvements ahoy! Here’s the Strava data for this session.

5 miles from city centre

Thursday was a simple easy run from Birmingham city centre with some strides thrown in to keep my legs turning over ahead of Sunday’s race. Conditions were very warm with temperatures hitting low 20s on the thermometer and enough humidity in the air to render sweating next to useless.

I don’t function well in the heat at all, so what I want is a block of consistently warm weather to initiate some adaptations, which I’m simply not getting right now with the constantly disturbed conditions from one day to the next.

One positive from the warmer, sunnier days is that people are genuinely in a better mood and I’ve had the privilege of being sincerely cheered on a number of times of late by random strangers I pass out on the streets.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

With the Aldridge 10k the next day, I opted to volunteer at Cannon Hill in a bid to remain fresh. Joined by Dave, I’m happy to report nobody was sent in the wrong direction on our watch!

Reportedly, there is some chance that Cannon Hill Parkrun may be called off for a few weeks in July due to the conflicting “In the Night Garden” event due to take place elsewhere in the park. Not the end of the world and it introduces some opportunities to get some more Parkrun tourism in. I’ve yet to visit Kingsbury Water Parkrun and am not against revisiting Walsall Arboretum Parkrun since they’ve moved back to their permanent course (2013 was the last time I was there). And of course, Arrow Valley needs another bash before it fades into distant memory.

Aldridge 10k 2016 review

For the full race review, please click here.

The road to the Yorkshire Marathon

I’ve decided to create this small section as a marathon specific summary of each week towards October’s Yorkshire Marathon.

The Aldridge 10k hasn’t left me too badly beaten up, so I should be able to jump back into normal training as per the plan. Last week was also incredibly light with only 21 miles covered for a touch of recovery.

5 weeks into the 23 week schedule and I’m feeling positive, both in terms of training plan achievability and also the outcomes beginning to manifest. Mileage for the next couple of weeks (excluding Wythall Hollywood 10k race week) will hold steady between 42 and 44 miles, though the intensity will ratchet up a notch or two with continued focus on marathon pace work.

So far, so good!



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