Nike Run Club Lost My Data

Nike-Run-Club-Lost-DataShortly before the release of the first Apple Watch, I was sitting on a 75% complete SubdueTheSloth iOS GPS running and biking application. The App Store market was already full of decent GPS apps, and with the release of the Apple Watch, that 75% complete was slashed to about 25%. The UI I had developed for the iPhone was built around quickly viewing statistics while cycling and wouldn’t have translated to the Apple Watch. Granted, I could have just punted and thrown a bunch of yellow numbers on the screen like some app developers, but that’s not terribly usable. Additionally, Nike Run Club and Strava both did almost everything I wanted, and carving out a profitable niche with Apple entering the fitness app market seemed daunting.

Due to the uninspiring iPhone-tethered Apple Watch 1 and 2 and my interest in triathlons, I moved over to a Garmin. Garmin’s software left a lot to be desired, but the battery life overcame just about every negative you could throw at the Garmin ecosystem. Having accumulated years of Nike+ data, I connected Garmin up to my Nike data and ran with it for a while.

Of course, Apple eventually released the Apple Watch 3. Though the battery life was borderline, the rest of the features more than made up for it. I could always use my Garmin for racing marathons, the only distance at which the Apple Watch 3 battery might not be enough for me.

So I returned to the renamed Nike Run Club app. While some of Nike’s system changes annoyed me (seriously, why kill off the web interface?), the app continued to do what I needed it to do, when I needed it, so I didn’t worry too much about the changes.

Fast forward to November 2018. I upgraded to iOS 12 and WatchOS 5, and along the way, some laggy behavior from Nike Run Club prompted me to upgrade their iPhone and Watch apps. The first time I attempted to use the apps after the upgrade, the Watch app said I needed to configure it on the iPhone, and the iPhone app forced me to login. That’s not too unusual in and of itself, but upon login, the most recent run showing in Nike Run Club was June 2018. I’ve run 2-3x per week on average from July through November so needless to say, I was concerned.

Nike seemed helpful…

Nike-Run-Club-Lost-Data-Support

…at first. If sync was the underlying issue, Nike has a lot of UI work to do on its app. I’m not your average user. I write apps. I’ve written an app with its own sync service. This is not my first rodeo on either side of the ball.

Nike-Run-Club-Lost-Data-Wrong-Account

Asking me if I had logged into the wrong account was amusing since I had been a frequent user of their web application where I was typing in the email address manually. I also use different email addresses for different purposes, and fitness apps were always Gmail. Nevertheless, I gave them some other accounts just to move to the next step of support.

Nike-Run-Club-Lost-Data-Apology

To my surprise, the next step of support was, “Sorry buddy, tough luck. You kept a written log, didn’t you? And all of that GPS data isn’t really useful after the fact, is it?”

The caution about manually added runs not counting for challenges cracks me up…like I give a damn about Nike’s challenges.

Needless to say, Nike Run Club and I broke off our relationship, and I’m testing the waters with other apps.

What this episode did remind me of, though, was one of the original reasons I had for developing SubdueTheSloth GPS: owning my own data. I might have to revisit my decision to discontinue development.

 

Apple Watch Series 3 Battery Life Update

Apple Watch Series 3Back in October 2017, I posted a quick review of the Apple Watch Series 3. The review was more hope than review as I hadn’t had a chance to put the device through its paces, and the biggest question hanging over the review was battery life.

After working on my 5K speed for a while, I finally had the opportunity and weather to go for a longer run outside. I left the house around 4:00 PM without having charged my watch since putting it on in the morning. I ran with my AirPods connected to and playing music from the watch. My phone was sitting at home in Airport Mode.

Unfortunately, I forgot to look at the battery life immediately after the 1 hour and 40 minute run as I stayed out to hike Turkey Mountain with my wife afterward. It wasn’t until about 8:30 PM that the Apple Watch informed me that its battery life was down to 10%.

To be completely candid, I am not a heavy Apple Watch user outside of running. I rarely use it for anything more than looking at the time and weather or reading incoming notifications. As I sit here writing this post, it’s 5:45 PM, and my watch shows 78% battery remaining so it was probably in the 80% range prior to my run.

On the run itself, I was using NikePlus to track both the normal running metrics and heart rate. The Apple Watch had cellular turned on, and I sent and received a few text messages during the 3 hours I was away from my phone. And like I said above, the watch was playing music through my AirPods for the duration of the run.

In my previous quick review, I said that 2 hours of battery life was the absolute minimum I needed for the Apple Watch to be a good standalone tracking device. Based on my experience yesterday, I believe 3 hours is a reasonable expectation, possibly significantly longer if you skip AirPods and music.

 

 

 

 

Outrunning Time: Sub-20 Minute 5K Done

19:48 5KA funny thing happened last Friday. The weather here in Tulsa finally coaxed me outside, away from my treadmill, and somehow, even with my training being horribly inconsistent, I knocked almost 30 seconds off of my PR and ran a 19:48 5K.

How did I do it? I think there are likely three potential contributing factors.

Health

I feel like I post way too much on the blog about my health, and I would rather avoid using my health as an excuse for missing my goals. That said, I have had a rough winter. Things went sideways in August, and then shortly after my last 5K PR, my health went further downhill to the point that a lot of days I was doing the absolute minimum to get by.

About 2 weeks ago, though, my body just kind of magically started working better again. I still have days where I experience severe fatigue, but I’m having the occasional day where my energy is back. Friday was one of those days.

Shoes

You may have seen that I wasted a bunch of money on a new pair of shoes. I even joked about the possibilities on Twitter:

 

Well, my first run in the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% led me to believe they wouldn’t do much for my 5K time, but after putting in a few miles with the 4%, I think my initial evaluation was wrong. From what I’ve observed, the 4% shifts some of the running load from the hamstrings to the quads, and it took some time for my quads to adjust. To be clear, I could not have run 19:48 in any other shoes I own right now. 20 minutes? Maybe…but not 19:48.

Training

I was getting pretty discouraged a couple of weeks ago when #runchat came around. I had tweaked my routine, but I wasn’t seeing a lot of improvement. At the end of #runchat, I asked for opinions on how to adjust my training and got some pretty good advice.

Following the advice from @srunsfitness, I increased my strength training from once to twice a week, adding more lower body work in the process.


As I wrote about previously, 200’s and 400’s weren’t getting the job done so I had moved to 800’s. @CraigWeich encouraged me to take it one or two laps further. Mile repeats made a huge difference in the difficulty of my workouts so I can only assume they contributed significantly to my ability to run sub-20.

The Run

6:23/mile

What was interesting about the run was that the conditions were almost identical to my previous attempt. The weather was unseasonably warm at about 60F, slightly warmer than my last attempt but not by much. A stiff southeast wind helped me in a couple of sections and slowed me in others, just like the previous attempt.

Almost as an afterthought, I decided to go out on a Friday afternoon and see how things felt. I had done strength training the day before, but I didn’t feel too terribly sore. After mulling over my potential route options, I settled on running the exact same route again so I would be comparing apples to apples.

Unlike previous attempts, I did not lay off the pace in the first mile. It’s not unusual for me to be in the high 5’s at the half mile mark, and when I see that on my watch, I let off the gas a bit. This time I just ignored my watch and kept pressing the pace. My quads were bothering me a bit so I struggled a bit, but t was still the fastest mile I’ve ever recorded at 5:58.

Mile 2 was more the kind of pace I should have been running. It was a little slow at 6:29, but it was in the ballpark. In some of my previous attempts, I’ve had to catch my breath in mile 2 so the pace gave me hope, but I was suffering more than I should have been.

Mile 3 was a disaster. I almost gave up, but I couldn’t quit thinking about the amount of time I had banked in mile 1. I know that’s not how you’re supposed to run, but it worked for me this time. I held on for dear life and managed to run 6:39.

Was this the best 5K I could run? I don’t think so. I think I could improve miles 2 and 3 dramatically, possibly approaching 18 minutes, but to be honest, I’m not enjoying 5K training much. Even though I plan to set my sights on something longer for the Spring, I do want to formalize a 5K training plan to help others like me. So stay tuned if you want a more formal training plan to help you improve your 5K time.

Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% First Impressions

Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%

This past week, a friend told me that Nike finally had the Zoom Vaporfly 4% in stock. It was good timing, too, as they sold out again within hours. I had previously gone to the trouble of qualifying for a pair through the Nike+ App by doing a Sunday run, but Nike had some technical difficulties, causing me to arrive late to the party for a size 12 shoe. If only I wore a size 5, then I’d never have to worry about shoes being in stock…

Anyway, my normal operating procedure with an overly hyped product like the Vaporfly 4% is to disbelieve the sales pitch. 4% reduction in energy expenditure? Ha! Nike even paid for the study in question. Just another company twisting the science to make more money, right?

Then came Boston, Chicago, and of course Flanagan in New York. Some of the runners winning races in the 4% weren’t expected to win. They were expected in the top 10 but not on the podium.

So I was curious, and as I completed my purchase at Nike, my absolute first impression was that this is the most money I’ve ever paid per ounce for a pair of shoes. We’re talking almost $40/ounce.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff, the shoes.

From the moment you put on the Vaporfly 4%, you can tell there is something different about them. They had a familiar squishiness and instability like some of the Hoka’s, but there’s more of a bounce to your step. You don’t sink into the foam the way you do with many of the Hoka One One models. For posterity, I’m a fan of Hoka so this isn’t me being critical of Hoka. I’m just trying to provide a familiar comparison since it’s hard to try out the 4% unless you have incredibly small feet.

At this point, I only have 12 miles on the 4% so I don’t want to jump the gun by writing a full review.  Instead, I’ll just leave a few brief first impressions:

  • The Zoom Vaporfly 4% size 12 is slightly bigger than my Nike Flyknit 4′s. If stock weren’t a problem, I might have traded down to the 11.5.
  • Running in shoes that are so lightweight but so well cushioned is incredible.
  • My 20 minute 5K attempt in the Zoom Vaporfly 4% failed, but I had fallen off my training plan several weeks prior. So they weren’t magic, but I managed to match my previous PR without proper training.
  • I am a forefoot striker. I get the impression from walking in the shoes that mid foot strikers and heel strikers would see much greater improvements in running economy.
  • Nike did not sacrifice comfort for weight. The upper is a bit odd due to all of the weight trimming, but I’ve found it extremely comfortable so far, especially around the back of the foot.

I’ll have more after a few more weeks and some more mileage, but my first impression is that the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% is much more than hype.

Outrunning Time: 5K Test Run, a New PR

5K PR 12/16/2017 After 4 weeks of adhering fairly closely to the Hal Higdon Advanced 5K training plan, I ran my 5K test on Saturday morning. Instead of running in an organized race, I went out to one of my favorite routes along the Arkansas River here in Tulsa and ran solo, relying on my Apple Watch to track my pace.

To be honest, I really thought I could break 20 minutes in this run. My old PR came from running 30 miles per week in 3 runs, all of which were in the 8:00 – 9:30 pace range. I would occasionally dial my pace down into the mid-7’s, but I never spent any significant time below 7. So when I started doing a real 5K training plan, working at speeds faster than my goal pace, I thought breaking 20 would be easy.

I was wrong.

Saturday was almost perfect for my 5K test run. Although I’m no fan of cool weather, it does allow me to push the pace a bit longer so sunny and low 50’s seemed about right. The only problem was a fairly stiff wind out of the Southwest. That meant a couple of 1/4 mile sections with a headwind, less tailwind than I expected, and another 1/2 mile with a crosswind. The wind also kept me a little chillier than I would like, and at my age, running without a decent sweat means I’m a bit less flexible.

After a brief warmup, Mile 1 started off too fast as usual. I thought with it not being an organized race that I could dial it back a bit, but my early pace was in the 5’s. I didn’t settle into my goal pace until around the 3/4 mile mark. On top of that, I saw my first headwind in that last 1/4 mile, leaving me slipping below goal pace as the mile ended. With a 6:14 1st mile, though, I was still in good position to break 20 minutes.

Fortunately, I caught the tailwind near the start of Mile 2. I hoped it would help me latch onto 6:25 pace and hold it, but it was short-lived and bracketed by a couple of small hills. Mile 2 also included a busy bridge with an unusual transition between the connecting trails where I may have lost a couple of seconds dealing with sharp corners and cyclists. During Mile 2, my pace gradually drifted from 6:25 down to 6:40 for a time of 6:37.

Mile 3 did not start well as the first 1/4 mile was into the wind, and once the trail turned back North, I was catching a nasty crosswind. I don’t know about most runners, but I hate crosswinds only slightly less than headwinds. I knew I needed to pick up the pace, but my body wasn’t having it. I managed to hold on for dear life with a mile 3 time of 6:41.

When the run ended, I was pretty annoyed with the time I saw on my watch. I thought I had run just a second slower than my previous PR (20:27), but my run brain had failed to remember that Nike Plus just keeps on tracking after you finish a distance run. I had to get back to my phone before I would see my PR time of 20:12 (or 20:13 on the website…seriously Nike, what’s up with that…seconds matter).

Needless to say, most runners would view a 14 second improvement in their 5K PR as a success, but I have mixed feelings. Like I said, I went out there expecting to break 20. Conditions weren’t quite perfect, but they were close. I’m now left wondering if 4 more weeks on this plan will get the job done, or if I need to change it up a bit.

One change I will definitely make is wearing the Elevation Training Mask for the Monday 3 mile easy runs. My legs were getting the job done Saturday, but my heart and lungs were struggling. Instead of trying to change up speed or distance, I’m going to use the breathing restriction to add some intensity and hopefully fix up the cardiovascular side of the equation.

Another change I’m considering is substituting 800’s for 400’s and 400’s for 200’s. I think the 400’s are beneficial, but the 200’s just feel too short to be useful. If I was struggling with raw foot-speed, I can see where the 200′s would help, but I’m not so I think the time could be better spent on speed and endurance.

Last but not least, I already changed my cross-training heavy lower-body strength training in Week 4. My legs are only accustomed to 3 runs per week, regardless of distance, so I wasn’t adding strength training for fear of injury or fatigue. I think that was a mistake so I’m adding back in heavy calf and hamstring work and doing the best I can with quads (back and ankle issues make squats a challenge).

If my training is interrupted by Christmas too much, I’ll rewind a week or two on the training plan and continue forward. Hopefully I can find a flat, fast 5K sometime in mid-January for my next, and hopefully final, attempt.