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    Fitness, Reviews

    Running With A Garmin Forerunner 230 GPS Watch

    I got the Garmin Forerunner 230 last Christmas, and as we’re 6 months down the line, I guess it’s time to share my thoughts. Right? I actually intended to review it much sooner, but just never got round to it!

    Running With A Garmin Forerunner 230 GPS Watch

    Now when I got my first running watch (the Garmin Forerunner 10 way back in 2013!) I just chose the cheapest option that had the GPS tracking and things that I wanted. I’ve since had a Fitbit Flex and a Withings Activite, but I still used my Garmin for all running tracking because general activity trackers just don’t do that.

    Forerunner 230 Tracking Capabilities

    The Garmin Forerunner 230 is a good mixture of everything. It tracks my running distance/time/calories/pace etc (and also does indoor running without GPS, and cycling) and also tracks my steps for the day. You can actually turn this activity tracking option off, and it will save even more battery. One thing that I really like is that your daily step count changes. It basically sees what you’re doing, and sets a target that fits to your average but still giving a little push. In all honestly, my target has been horrendous lately, and staying around 5000 because I often struggle to even get over 3000! That’s something I’m trying to work on…

    Now the battery – I think it’s good. If you’re using the regular clock face, daily activity tracking and running 3x per week it can definitely last a few weeks before needing charging. I’ve recently changed clock face to one of the user downloads and I’ve noticed that the battery drains a lot quicker using this. This clock face includes a countdown timer (like you can see in the top photo), so it’s understandable that it uses more battery. I love it, so I can deal with that. Overall, the battery is way better than I imagined it would be on this kind of tracking watch.

    Running With A Garmin Forerunner 230 GPS Watch

    One of the cool things about it is the apps. There are a couple built in, like the weather and if your phone is linked up you can see a calendar and notifications too. You can’t actually do anything with them on the watch, but it’s still cool. I don’t generally use this function though. Through the Connect app, you can browse other widgets/apps to download, and I believe these are user generated and designed. I have a little kitty one that reacts to my step count, and I have a weather one that tells me how likely it is to rain in the next 30 minutes. Perfect for runners, right?!

    The Design And Feel

    As for the look and design, it is quite a big watch. I have small wrists, and the face pretty much covers them but honestly I don’t mind. At work I’ve had quite a few compliments from customers actually who’ve spotted it and said it was fancy! I chose the purple design pretty much for the white clock bit. I believe you can buy different straps, which I may look into soon. As it is that plastic-y kind of material, it has started to look a little grubby.

    Running With A Garmin Forerunner 230 GPS Watch

    At the time I couldn’t really afford the 235 which included a heart rate monitor on the watch itself, but the 230 can still be linked up with a heart rate monitor that you wear around your chest. I don’t have that so can’t comment on it’s reliability, but I’m sure it’s the same with any.

    Overall, I’m super happy with the Garmin Forerunner 230 and I’m glad I finally upgraded from the Forerunner 10! This one includes so much more than just GPS running, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this watch is a useful tool for tracking runs. I would recommend Garmin watches to anyone, as I’ve had good experiences myself, though I have never tried another brand of running watch.

    What do you use? GPS tracking or solely an activity tracker?

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    Setting A New Running Challenge

    My last ‘major’ challenge was the Wigan Half Marathon back in March. It was tough, but I finished it and was super proud of myself. First half marathon and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it! Now it’s time for another…

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    My next big challenge is another half marathon – the English Half Marathon in Warrington, September 17th. Not only that, but also the 5km race on Friday 15th, and (if I can walk) the mile that takes place after the half/10km races. Yep. Three races within one weekend. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a challenge… and medals. There’s a double medal if you do two races, and a special triple crown medal if you do three, as well as the usual race ones. So yeah, five medals in total, and they are all incredible. See for yourself.

    How I’m Preparing Myself For This Challenge

    I have 13 weeks to train for this. Plenty of time, right? Now I’d like to say I’d just run all the time, but I know realistically that won’t happen. I am of course going to be running, and my Mondays or Tuesdays (depending on work) will generally be the long run days to get my mileage back up.

    However, if the Wigan half taught me one thing, it’s that I need to work on my muscles to correct imbalances and weaknesses. My body felt awful afterwards, and especially my inner thighs. The massage I had afterwards was the most painful thing I’ve ever had done to me. Actually thought I was going to pass out…

    I’ve been going to the gym and doing strength training in the past few months, but it’s time to properly get back into a routine. The plan of action is to follow a 12 week plan that I found on BodyBuilding, which includes a fully rounded strength routine with two targeted cardio days. I’ll most likely be running as my warm up for each session too, so that’s more time on my feet. I may end up with 3/4 runs per week depending on how I feel, but the basic routine will be two targeted running days.

    The thing is, I don’t generally have problem with my breathing/stamina when running long distances. It’s usually the soreness and dead legs that stop me! I’m hoping that focusing on making my body stronger will help with the running, as well as give my body a better base for fitness.

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    Tracking The Fitness

    You’ll hopefully be getting monthly updates on here to see my progress and how I’m getting on. I don’t want to overload the blog with boring fitness updates, but I know that some of you do find this stuff interesting. Even better, let me know what kind of fitness things you’d like to see and I’ll try to add them!

    I’m using an app to track which workouts I complete, and I’ll probably tick them off on my calendar in my Filofax too – it’s an easier visual to see how I’m doing. The before photos have been taken, though I haven’t actually taken measurements yet so I will do that too. I just want to make it clear now that my goal is not to lose weight. Losing body fat and getting leaner would be great, but overall weight loss isn’t the goal. My goal is to get stronger and fitter, so I really am going to be using my body as a measurement, seeing how I feel and how I’m improving on weights. In all honesty, I could probably do with a bit of extra weight on anyway!

    I will be attempting to update daily on instagram over at my fitness account @runliftkt if you want to follow there. Shameless plug, I know. I only follow back fitness accounts on there, but if I love your feed you’ll likely get a follow from my main account instead ;)

    So what about you, any new challenges coming up?

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    Race For Life Pennington Flash Recap

    I’ve missed the last couple of Race For Life events thanks to university and just not being in the right place at the right time. I wanted to do a Pretty Muddy, but it just couldn’t happen. I’m glad I got to this one instead!

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    Why I Love The Race For Life

    Cancer is a big thing. They say that almost everyone will have been affected by cancer at some point in their life, whether that’s through themselves getting it, a loved one, a friend, or even just an acquaintance. It sucks, it really does.

    We’ve lost all four grandparents to some form of cancer. I’ve known a few people outside of the family to be touched with this awful disease. Most recently it was my mum. She knew something was up, went to the doctors and thankfully she was given scans quite quickly, and was having an operation to remove the tumour just weeks later. That probably all happened within a month. Luckily she’d caught it at the very early stage 1, and doesn’t need any further treatment. So many others don’t get that lucky.

    I’ve done the race 4 times now I think, and I’ve volunteered once (with my mum of course!) so I know what to expect when there. But even so, you do feel super emotional. Just reading everyone’s messages on their backs always has me! Research for this kind of thing is always important, and Cancer Research are one of the biggest Cancer charities out of many others. They’re all doing good work, and it’s great to come to an event like this and see how people are raising money, raising awareness and telling their stories.

    Finish

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    Completing the Race for Life 5k

    This time I made sure I was right at the front. I usually get stuck behind all the joggers/walkers, and whilst I know it isn’t a serious race, I just struggle to even walk slow so you know, not a great place to get stuck. We set off SO quickly, I don’t know how they all kept it up. I definitely couldn’t!

    It was a weird one actually because my race was quite quiet with me being more towards the front of the pack. I did run alongside a lovely lady at one point when we were definitely both struggling. She was telling me how she’d been swimming in the flash the day before! The weather couldn’t make it’s mind up and the sun appeared and disappeared constantly. It was hot out, and I’d have been grateful for a little bit of rain to be honest!

    Now it’s supposed to be a 5km run, but my Garmin only measured 4.6km. Did it lose signal or was it just short? Probably short but hey ho, it doesn’t matter does it? My time therefore was 27:13 and not really accurate of a 5km at all considering I haven’t managed under 29 yet! Oh and look at me being all nonchalant on the starting line haha. Furthest on the left if you couldn’t tell ;)

    You can see the full overview of my run stats on Strava here!

    Next up I’ve got a 5 mile bike ride. Something different! Ever done a race for life before?

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    Great Manchester Run Recap; Standing Together

    The Great Manchester Run. An incredible event, and one I always love doing/watching. Thousands travel to Manchester for it, and of course we have the elites races to start the day off. This year was a little different. We weren’t 100% sure it would go on thanks to what happened on the 22nd, that awful tragedy. But it did, and oh boy did we turn out.

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    Arriving in Manchester

    I really didn’t know what to expect for the day if I’m honest. Would it be quiet, and eerie? Would I feel scared or unsafe? Would the atmosphere just be completely different to usual?

    Well, for one, not once did I feel safe in the streets of Manchester. We did have armed police dotted around everywhere and I don’t know what it was exactly, but it just felt good. Emotional, but for all the right reasons.

    It definitely wasn’t quiet, that’s for sure! When we first arrived the finish line area was pretty quiet as everyone was congregation near the charity village and starting line areas. The support as I was waiting in the starting pen was phenomenal. So many people around the edges cheering us on. By the time I got to the finish, everyone was there instead.

    Every wave had a minutes silence for those who sadly lost their lives in the bombing attack, and Tony Walsh read out a poem. I’ve never had a poem touch me so strongly, and I had tears in my eyes listening to this just before starting. It isn’t a new one, but it was definitely very fitting for this year’s race. I’ve embedded it below, please listen!

    Congestion and Trying to Run

    I don’t know whether it’s the wave I was in (I was in blue with the 3000 Manchester University purple wave…) but it was SO busy. I felt like I constantly had around 20 people super close to me, and had to keep weaving in and out. Like to be honest, it isn’t the end of the world. I was hoping for a PB in this race but I wasn’t taking it super seriously. I was just happy that it did go ahead and we all turned up.

    Thank God For Shower Tunnels

    But oh damn, it was tough. We didn’t have any sunshine, but I think it was around 17 degrees so you know, it was warm. The air was still pretty humid too so all that makes for a tougher run. Thankfully there were two shower tunnels on the route… Freezing cold water spraying down in a mist to cool you down. Genius idea.

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    Getting to the Finish

    One of the best things about the Great Manchester Run is the support you get on course. So many people turn out. The last kilometre just before you get to the corner of Deansgate has to be one of my favourite parts ever, I mean for one it’s downhill… Thanks to the named bibs though, you get random strangers calling out your name and cheering you on. Hearing that is such a good push. It’s crazy how different the support feels when they are personally calling you by name.

    Not gonna lie though, that finish was hard. I hadn’t run as well as I have in previous races, but I pushed myself to the end and thankfully still managed a sub-60. There are a few photographers right near the finish and I remember seeing them and thinking right, good finish photo, smile, smile. I really thought I was smiling – turns out I wasn’t and I look like I want to cry haha.

    The Results

    So yeah, I finished in 59:58. Not a PB, but the second fastest I’ve run a 10km so I am pleased. The day as a whole was just incredible and I’m amazed at just how many spectators turned up to watch and support us. Manchester is great, and this is a run that’ll always be high on my list. Ever done it?

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    You can see the full overview of my run stats on Strava here!

    Next challenge – a Race for Life 5k run. Tomorrow in fact!

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    5 Ways To Find Running Inspiration And Get Motivated

    They always say the hardest bit about getting fit or keeping to a new routine is finding the motivation, and keeping it up. Once you’re in a routine it’s easy, but yeah, just getting to the point can be difficult.

    5 Ways To Find Running Inspiration And Get Motivated

    Read Running Magazines

    One of the easiest ways to get inspiration I think. I have a subscription to Women’s Running, but I also buy Runner’s World on occasion. I think Women’s Running especially is getting better and better. There are so many stories from ‘real’ people, articles written by runners who are either just running for themselves or running to train for something. There’s tips and advice, with training plans and nutrition advice. The good thing about running magazines now is that they definitely don’t feel preachy or like they are advocating bad health decisions to get ‘beach ready’ or to ‘lose that tum’. It’s very much about your health, strength and just training to get better.

    Join In Twitter Chats – UKRunChat

    I’m sure there’s plenty more, but UKRunChat is the main one I know of and use. People of all ages, fitness and distance use this chat and it’s always great to get involved. Need a few questions answering? This is my go to. So many seasoned runners there to help, and it’s true, the running community really is a helpful one.

    Find Other Runners On Instagram

    If you didn’t know already, I have a separate account that focuses a lot more on fitness (@runliftkt sneaky promo haha) and that’s where I get all my inspiration. I follow quite a few runners on there, including @thisgirlcanrunfar, @shoulder_runner, @thewelshrunner and @emajoyc to name a few! But yeah, it’s always good to just see other people training, and the park run hashtag has a lot of inspirational people.

    5 Ways To Find Running Inspiration And Get Motivated

    Listen To Podcasts

    This is one that I don’t do a lot of admittedly, but it’s quite often my commute home entertainment. (Radio X with Chris Moyles is my go-to morning entertainment ha!) But yeah, these are a few I do listen to and they’re usually either sharing stories from races, personal journeys through interviews, running/health tips or just random chatter. I don’t listen to every podcast from the ones that I follow, but just look at the description and see what’s going on.

    Watch Fitness Vloggers

    I’m adding this in because I know it can be super helpful. I tend to just find random vlogs (like all the London Marathon ones!) and watch them rather than following anyone in particular. If you have any recommendations, let me know! As a general fitness vlogger, I do love NaturallyStefanie who really focuses on lifting! But yeah, search running and I’m sure you’ll find loads.

    Any other things for motivation or inspiration?

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    Whitley 10k Race Recap; Chasing The Sub-60

    Sometimes you just see a challenge and take it. That’s what I did with the Wigan Half Marathon. After that, I kind of fell back on my running and lost all motivation, so signing up for the Whitley 10k 5 days before the start without having run properly for a month… Well that brought another challenge.

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    Arriving at the Whitley 10k Starting Line

    I’d never driven to Whitley before, in fact I’d never even heard of the place until I discovered this 10k race, but it was actually a lot easier than expected. I used my satnav of course, but the race was sign posted from a few miles out so that was helpful. I’d seen in the instructions that we had to drive in through a different road to what the satnav may direct and this was easily found. The parking was also great too, and well directed by marshalls.

    We were really lucky over the weekend in that we got a couple more days of sunshine so arriving at such a pretty little village in the sunshine was lovely.

    Getting Past The First Few Miles

    Having not run for the past month, I did find the first couple of miles a little tough. It just felt like I took a little time to really settle in, but once I had it was all fine. Just before the halfway mark I settled into a good pace, and I was running alongside another women. We didn’t speak, but I felt like we were pacing each other. She may not have felt the same way, but hey, it sure helped me haha. I felt a little bad when I pulled away at around 5km, but I was feeling really good by that point and I’d been warned about a bit of a hill around the 6-7km mark and wanted to get a little speed in before possibly having to slow down for the climb.

    Struggling in Heat And Hills

    This sounds really arrogant as I write it, but the hill was actually no problem at all for me. I mean, it wasn’t great – I’m not a big fan of hills – but after the monstrous ones at the Wigan Half and the Blackburn 10k it was nothing really. Never did I think I’d say that! I dropped pace a little bit but I still managed to stay under 6:30 for that split so I was pleased enough with that. From then onwards it was go, go, go!

    The main problem I had was running in the heat. I’m just not used to it. I mean, we don’t really get many hot summery days do we?! Most of my race days have ended up being a little dreary or wet, so this was definitely different. I made a last minute decision to take a vest along and I’m so glad I did because if I’d attempted the run in the top I was originally wearing I would have been so uncomfortable. (And people were running in all black! How?!)

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    Do You Constantly Look At Your Garmin?

    Some people hate wearing watches and timing themselves when running. I am not one of those people. That said, I’ve learnt to just run and not constantly watch-check to see how I’m doing. Especially on Parkruns, I’ve just been running to how I feel. Sometimes it’s disappointing, like when I feel like I’ve been really pushing hard and then I don’t get a faster time, but honestly it’s made me enjoy the running so much more.

    Anyway, back onto the Whitley 10k… I checked my watch at 5km and I was just over 30 minutes. Not slow, but it meant I’d have to run the second half faster if I wanted that sub-60. I took on that challenge. After looking again around the 7-8km I realised I could do it if I just managed to keep under the 6min/km mark. I find looking at a watch constantly makes the run harder, because you’re aware of every little step, but I think if I hadn’t looked I might have just let my pace drop a little.

    The Finish Line

    With 1km to go, I didn’t have many people around me. I’d been picking off people as I ran, pushing myself that little bit faster each time. There was one lad, a few years younger than me I’m guessing and when I pulled up alongside him he definitely sped up a little. I managed to stay with him for a couple of minutes and then he pulled away and was into the distance! It pushed me though, and I knew I was super close to the end by now.

    Which brings me to the finish line. We headed back up a country lane and into the main area where everyone was waiting at the little community hall. The finish line was in sight, but oh, we had to run all the way around the parked cars first to get to that line?! This was pretty devastating, not going to lie haha. I’d just done almost 6 miles and this last 100 metres seemed SO far. But I pushed and pushed, and as I crossed the line the timer said 01:00:29. I knew my chip timing would be a little off from that, but I just didn’t know how much, and I only remembered to stop my Garmin after I’d had my chip taken off my shoe so that was out too.

    The Results

    It was a long few hours waiting for that result! I spent the next few hours watching the rugby (and seeing this amazing stadium entrance by the Red Devils Parachute Team!) and constantly checking my phone. Must have been around 4pm when I spotted the results online and did a little dance in the female toilets when I saw 00:59:53!! New PB and finally under the sub-60 10km. So, so pleased with myself. Winning the rugby match too was just a great end to a great day.

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    You can see the full overview of my run stats on Strava here!

    My next race is the Great Manchester Run 10k… sub-59 maybe?

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    What Do You Listen To When Running?

    Some people run with music, some audiobooks, some podcasts, some nothing. I’d say I’m a mixture of all, but mostly audiobooks or nothing at the moment… So what do you listen to when running?

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    Can You Concentrate on an Audiobook During a Run?

    Audiobooks have me in two minds. Currently my long runs are spent listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks, and it’s great. As I’ve read the actual books so many times, I find it super easy listening material and I can always keep up with what’s happening. I mean I can pretty much recite them. Is that something to be proud of? (Well I am) Now I’ve tried another fiction audiobook and I just kept getting completely lost. Granted I tried this whilst commuting and not running, but it completely put me off fiction. Besides Harry Potter of course, for the above reasons…

    Non-fiction books are completely different though. You don’t really have to listen to intently and keep up with a storyline, which makes it a lot easier in my opinion. I listened to Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley at some point last year and absolutely loved it. As a book based on personal experiences, it felt like I was just listening to a friend chatting. Would recommend that book actually as it had me laughing out loud many times!

    Audiobooks are a definite no-no if you’re doing intervals or a tempo run or something other than easy and slow and I think most if not all runners would agree with that. How would you keep track?!

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    So What About Podcasts When Running?

    I’d definitely put these in the same category as non-fiction books. Perfect for those long or easy runs. You could literally search for anything and there will be a podcast for it. I’ve got plenty of running related ones on the app I use (Podcast Addict) but I’ve also got TV series discussion ones (AfterBuzz), Serial, Stuff Mom Never Told You, Ted Radio Hour, The Black Tapes, Welcome to Nightvale and a few more. A good mixture!

    The thing is, I do sometimes zone out whilst on my long runs. The audio is great as background noise and a distraction, but I guess it’s not a time where I want to be putting all my focus into listening. This makes podcasts perfect because honestly it’s mostly just chatter depending on what you’re listening to and it doesn’t matter if you miss a few sentences here and there. As above, I wouldn’t choose a podcast for any fast training run!

    Use Music to Get Your Body Moving

    This is where music comes in. If I’m honest, I can’t remember the last time I listened to music when running. (Shows how much I do intervals/tempos – that needs to change!) I don’t have music on my phone and I cancelled my Spotify premium so you know, I’ve just managed without. I actually headed out for a run on Tuesday after work. I was a kilometre in when I realised I hadn’t put any music or podcasts or audiobooks on. So used to running without now at Park Run each week!

    So yes, I have a severe lack of interval/tempo/sprints and whatever else in my running training, but if I did motivational music has to be the way to go. All too often I’ve just put a random playlist on and then I’ll get a really slow song come on, and it just ruins your flow. You can find playlists on programs such as Spotify, or workout CDs that have music with a very specific tempo time. These are perfect for keeping you running at the pace your aiming for and I need to utilise them more.

    What do you listen to whilst running? Any favourites?

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