Where Did We Go?

Last year we went away for a week near the town of Bakewell. We stayed in a lovely little cottage and went for walks, runs and even hired a tandem for a couple of hours to ride along the Monsal Trail. We also walked around Carsington Water, a large local reservoir. We also visited Chatsworth House, although as we had Nelly, our silly Pointer with us, we only walked around the gardens, which were absolutely stunning.

Me and Helen, my amazing wife, had a much needed break and totally relaxed. Our weekly exploration is excellently illustrated using Veloviewer.

A couple of months ago we went away for a week near the town of Cockermouth. Once again we had a much needed break, as well as walking and running all over the place, as can be seen in the map below.

I never blogged about our holiday near Bakewell. I was only two months into a new job, which was already proving to be stressful and time consuming. However, I managed to blog most days while we were in the northern lakes. I had dropped down to a four day week, which I would recommend to everyone. Currently I am three weeks with a different company, which again is proving to be stressful, but for different reasons. I accepted the job offer and then before I started they were bought by another company. We don’t become integrated until October, and it will take many months for everything to settle down, but here’s hoping the company we’ve been bought by prove to be good to work for. Fortunately, there are plenty of jobs out there for experienced air quality specialists, although I don’t want to become known for not being able to stick with a firm.

Anyway, this blog was supposed to be highlighting the excellent Strava add-on – Veloviewer, instead of a work related post.

Strava – Relative Effort

This makes a change. I’m not blogging about parkrun, a book I’ve read or a family adventure. Instead I’m writing about the fairly obscure ‘number’ you find for every Strava activity.

What is Relative Effort? Basically, it describes how hard or how much ‘effort’ you put into an activity. It takes into account the length of time and how high your heart rate was. It means you can compare different activities, and compare with other people. All things being equal, if we all ran a 5km as hard as we possibly could, we’d all have the same Relative Effort score, even if you ran five minutes quicker than me. It’s all quite clever.

When I first joined Strava I had an old Garmin with a heart rate strap, but after a couple of years the battery ran out on the strap, so I stopped measuring my heart rate. This time last year, my amazing wife bought me a flash smart watch, so once again I can look at my relative effort.

My highest score is a massive 760, at the Ullswater 20. There is a reason why it is so high. The day before I had my second Covid jab, and although the effects were no way near as bad as the first, within a couple of miles I knew it was going to be a long day. Added to this, it was incredibly hot and hilly, as well as being 22 miles not the advertised 20. In hindsight I should have done the 10 with my wife who had a great day out. Anyway, my Strava activity can be found here.

My second highest score was at last year’s Backyard Ultra, where I managed nine laps, or 61.6km. That was a much longer day than the Ullswater 20, but as my heart rate was lower, even over a much longer period, my Relative Effort was lower. Strava activity here. Backyard Ultra blogging can be found here.

Finally, my third highest Relative Effort was way back in 2013, and it was cycling. I completed the Bowland Badass, arguably the toughest sportive ever put on. 167 miles over every single climb around the Forest of Bowland, plus a few others for good measure. Also, as I didn’t have a car at the time, I cycled to and from the start, rounding my day up to 301.7 km. Oh, and there was over 5,000m of climbing. My Relative Effort score was a mighty 492. A measure of how Strava has changed in almost nine years, is that for this monster ride I only received 27 kudos. Anyway, Strava link here, Badass website here, and a photo of me just over half way at the top of Cross of Greet chatting to a random couple of cyclists who couldn’t believe what we doing.

Do you every look at your Relative Effort score?

1500 Strava Challenges

I’m still at it, completing as many random Strava challenges as I can. This morning saw me finish another two, taking me to the incredible 1500! Not a lot else to say really. I haven’t been completing as many cycling challenges recently due to changing jobs, but I’m enjoying my running as much now as I ever have, especially when my lovely Helen comes with me. We’re currently training for a half marathon in March in Anglesey. It will also be Helen’s birthday so we’re making a weekend of it. Really looking forward to it.

Anyway, you can find my blog about 1000 challenges here, which also includes links to my other numerical challenge blogs.

336 Metric Centuries

A few days ago I wrote about how I had run a half marathon 71 times since I’d joined Strava (read about it here). This got me thinking about various other statistics. I have completed 100 miles on 113 occasions, although the most recent 100 miler was a couple of years ago, but I was completely gobsmacked when I saw how many 100 km days I’d had. The title of this blog post is correct, on 336 days I have completed 100 km. That is on average 38 times a year. Most of those have been cycling, although on a few times I might have been out and cycled slightly less and then added in a few extra km with a walk or a run. Sadly there isn’t a single day where the 100 km target has been passed with running only, maybe one day.

As for elevation, I have climbed at least 1000 m on 350 days, and on 272 days I have completed at least 5 hours of activities. I’ve also been given Kudos 100 times on 266 occasions, although that is slightly more arbitrary because if you want more Kudos just follow thousands of people and many of them will follow you back, giving you extra Kudos.

I have to be honest and say that I’m surprised by these figures and had probably forgotten just how much training I used to do. I think the mix is a little better now a days, as I enjoy going out with Helen and our silly pooch for long walk/runs, or cycle touring with just Helen. Cafe stops is something we are definitely looking forward to once lockdown 3.0 is over, as well as exploring new areas again.

What about swimming? Last year was a terrible year as I only went for a swim 30 times, and over half of those were before the first lockdown. Looking at my stats and I’ve swam 1 mile on 316 occasions, 2km 300 times and 1 hour 177 times.

71 Half Marathons

A bit of a random statistic for a sunny Tuesday afternoon. Since joining Strava I have run 71 half marathons, or to be more precise, according to Veloviewer, there have been 71 days where I have run at least 21km. I know that a half is 21.1km but knowing what I’m like if I made it to 21km I would definitely run that extra 100m. I’ve been a member of Strava for almost 9 years, so it works out at 8 half marathons a year, which isn’t too shabby.

Veloviewer also tells me that I’ve run 11 marathons and 456 10kms. That is one and a quarter marathons every year and a 10km every week. If I continue at my current rate then I will complete my 100th Strava half marathon approximately three years time.

I have also done a number of half marathons before I joined Strava, but my statistical record keeping does not allow me to know exactly how many I’ve completed, although I have done 8 half marathon races before Strava.

Anyway, I quite like 21.1km as a distance; long enough to be a challenge, but short enough that I am not in too much pain the next day.

Strava Freebies

At the start of the UK’s lockdown I reached the milestone of completing 900 Strava Challenges. Naturally I emailed Strava to ask for some free goodies. They said ‘yes’, but that it might take a while as no one is going into the offices at the moment. Well, last week I received a small package containing a t-shirt, socks, water bottle, cap and a couple of stickers, all branded with the Strava logo.

I have to say that the socks and t-shirt fit really well and are incredibly comfortable, so a big ‘thank you’ to Strava.

Since my initial email I have now completed over 1,000 challenges, but I think I’ll wait a bit longer before begging for more freebies.

Running Report Card

One of the good things about Strava is that they like to share the data with third party apps. The most famous is obviously Veloviewer, but City Strides is another site that I like to use. An ultra-running Strava friend recently shared a link to the Running Report Card.

It’s all very easy, just follow the link and connect with Strava. You then get your own personalised report card with a whole load of interesting stats.

As you can see with all of the climbing, Lancaster is fairly hilly.

A fun filled five minutes, but if you run on Strava you should check it out.

Strava Anomaly

I upload pretty much everything to Strava, even two mile walks with my lovely wife and our silly pooch. I used to add walks as a ‘run’ but now that there is a separate walking challenge each month, walks are uploaded as a walk.

However, my Garmin 920 doesn’t have a walk function, so I use the run function, and then when it comes to uploading the walk I change the sport from run to walk. This is where the anomaly occurs. Strava thinks that as this activity is now a walk, it must remove this distance from the monthly running challenge total. As of yesterday I had run 14 miles so far in November, but when I uploaded last night’s 2 miles walk, this total dropped down to 12 miles.

Fortunately there is an easy fix. Leave the challenge and then rejoin and it will display the correct total.

1000 Strava Challenges

I’ve completed 1,000 Strava Challenges. Actually I’m at 1,016 as I hit 1,000 a couple of weeks ago. I still enjoy the challenges, although I think that there might be too many of them. September was the biggest month for ever, completing 52 challenges in one month alone. It took me almost one year to complete that many all those years ago. However, with all these new challenges there are loads that I don’t manage to complete.

I had a thought that maybe I should call it quits and not do any more challenges; leave it at 1,000, but then I completed a few more without realising it. In the end it doesn’t really mean anything, although sometimes it does push me out of the door if I know it is the last day of a challenge and I’m nearly there. I’m definitely fitter for them.

I will keep on doing them, and then I will keep on blogging as I reach ever greater mile stones. Here’s to the next 1,000.

Anyway, you can read about my 300 milestone here, 500 here, and 750 here.

Do you do the Strava Challenges?

Strava Local Legends Challenge

The Strava Local Legends feature has been around for a couple of months, which is plenty of time for the excitement to have settled down and for people to have ‘found’ a few segments that they can or are Local Legends. (I first blogged about Local Legends here.) Currently I’m Local Legend on 12 cycling segments and 3 running segments, but that could all change each and every day.

To try and spice up the Local Legend I have come up with a trio of segment based challenges.

1000 Athletes.

Quite simply the challenge is to become the Local Legend on a segment that has been completed by at least 1,000 different athletes in the past 90 days. A couple of the segments where I am Local Legend have over 900 athletes, but they have been over 1,000 a few weeks ago. They probably will again if we have a week or two of nice weather.

100 Efforts

Sometimes it’s not enough to be just the Local Legend, you want to destroy everyone else. Therefore, the second challenge is to complete over 100 efforts of a segment in 90 days. One segment which I cycle along most days and I though that I might be close to the top, has been completed over 80 times by the leader. Breaking it down, you need to complete a segment every day for 80 days, and then twice a day on the other 10 days. Quite a challenge.

An Iconic Segment

Some segments are definitely more iconic than others. For me, this would be any hill segment from Simon Warren’s Toughest Hills books. We’re very lucky here in that climb 76, Jubilee Tower is only a couple of miles away. I’ve climbed it 52 times in the last 8 years. The Local Legend leader has climbed it 49 times in the last 90 days. It also looks like there is a bit of a rivalry, as the second place athlete is on 48. It’s a tough climb and I can’t imagine cycling it that many times, so this is probably the hardest of my three challenges.

Will you be able to manage any of them?