9 Running Apps You Didn’t Know You Needed

phone apps

There are a load of “running apps” around. Typically they tell you when to run, or when to stop, or will store your running playlist, or create a playlist for you based on your running cadence. Some will match the beat of the music to your current stride rate. Some will measure your distance, measure your speed, tell you your heart rate (with varying degrees of accuracy) tell you how many calories you’ve burned (again with varying degrees of accuracy). Some will tell your friends what a legend you are.

These are not the apps I want to talk about today. Today we’re going to look at some other apps which are useful for runners, which you won’t find in the “running apps” section of your play store.

Running apps for personal safety 

Road iD App

Friends and family can track you in real time using the GPS device on your phone. It’s the modern day version of telling your partner where you’re going and what time you’ll be back. With this app, you can change your route at the last minute, and someone will still know where you are.

It has an optional emergency alert, so that if you are stationary for more than 5 minutes, an alert will be sent to someone you have already nominated as an emergency contact. So that the alert is not sent in error, you receive an alert prior to the emergency alert being sent, so you have time to turn it off if all you’ve done is stop for a quick loo break and to get yourself together! Great if you fall over and can’t move, but not so great if someone clocks you on the head and picks you up and takes you away – after all, you’ll still be moving, even if not under your own steam. If you’re out on your own, a whistle or personal alarm could also be a good idea!

App Store   Google play

Find My Friends and Glympse also operate in a similar manner to Road iD.

As with any app which tracks your location; be careful of your privacy settings.

Most phones will also have a safety assistance, or personal alert/alarm function. You can nominate people to whom a message should be sent if you alert them. On my phone, I have to press the power button 3 times, and a message will be sent to my husband, along with sound recording and photos. I have activated it accidentally a couple of times and sent him some lovely shots of the inside of my pocket and handbag.  Good to know he checks up on me!

Go to the settings of your phone and look for an alarm icon, or some kind of red alert type icon.

Apps you might need in an emergency

Flush – Public Toilets

This is a fast and simple toilet finder, with over 200,000 publicly available toilets on its world wide database. Don’t leave home without it! Works offline – you don’t need an internet connection to find a toilet.

App Store    Google play

Flush-public toilet locator

Emergency + App  – gives 000 operators your GPS co-ordinates

This is a free app developed by the Triple Zero Awareness Network. Callers who use the Emergency + App to contact 000, are able to be located by GPS tracking.

The app is not only designed to help with locating the caller, it also helps a caller decide who they should actually call in an emergency: 000, the SES (132 500), or the Police Assist line (131 444).

If you do need to call 000 whilst you’re out on a run, you need to make your call through the app. You open the app and tap Triple Zero to make your call. You’ll then be asked to press the Emergency + icon, which will take you to your map coordinates. You can then read out your latitude and longitude.

There is an explanatory video on YouTube .

App Store    Google play

PulsePoint AED

This is app is designed to give you the location of your nearest defibrillator. Not much use if you’re on your own and you need a defibrillator yourself, but it could help you save someone else.

Pulse Point - find a defibrilatorThis is the best defib finder app I can find, but it is far from perfect. There are quite a few defibs that I’m aware of at sports fields etc that are not registered, but I did find out about a few that I wasbn’t aware of. It’s worthwhile having on your phone, but don’t assume there is not a defibrillator nearby if the app doesn’t show a one near your location.

App Store   Google play

Likely places to find a defibrillator include

  • Hospitals – In the hospital wings or at the closest nursing station
  • Community Centres – In the foyer
  • Schools – The school office or staff room
  • Business Centres – Ground level next to the evacuation plan
  • Golf, Football, Soccer, Swimming, Hockey and Cricket Clubs  – Behind the bar or in function rooms. These locations are often central to the club
  • Gymnasiums – Hinged and clearly signed on the walls surrounding the gym equipment. Try the wall closest to the treadmills
  • Shopping Malls/Centres – Central locations such as toilet isles, cinemas, or information desks/centres
  • Public Libraries – In the foyer

Access to defibrillators in most of these locations is time dependent. Most will be inaccessible if the facility is closed unfortunately.  Survival rates for cardiac arrest are as high as 90% if a defibrillator is used within the first minute of an arrest, and decrease by about 10% for every minute of delay. With no defibrillator, people who suffer cardiac arrest have a very low chance of survival, so this is definitely an app worthwhile putting on your phone.

On a brighter note…….

Running apps that reward you for running

Running Heroes

Download the running heroes app and earn points which you can use towards rewards. You can receive discounts on name brand items (and some not so name brand items) by redeeming your credit points. You can enter weekly challenges to enter into the draw to win larger prizes if you complete the challenge – which are not massive (eg 4* 5km runs in 2 weeks to go into the draw for a pair of Brooks shoes).

App Store   Google play

Charity Miles

Earn money for charity just by going for a run with your phone in your pocket – kind of.

But here’s the thing.

Large corporations often give a small percentage of their profits to charity. Some choose to do so via a charity app, instead of donating to the charity directly. So in using the app and nominating a charity you support, you have a say in where the money is directed, but not really whether it is donated in the first place. Your running kms don’t affect the total amount donated by a company, they will just impact the amount of the overall pie your chosen charity receives. So by directing the money to your charity, another charity misses out.

That’s not so say that using an app like Charity Miles definitely won’t give any extra benefit to charities. The corporate sponsor of the charity may spend money on advertising with the charity, and may also advertise the fact that they have a relationship with that  charity, which gives greater exposure to the charity, and boosts the company’s image.

Companies get “premium advertising” when they donate through charity miles. They are able to spend their advertising dollars on their target market – you’ll receive targeted ads from the Charity Miles corporate sponsors on your phone, based on your demographic and behaviour. So by donating their charity budget via Charity Miles, corporations are able to spend their advertising budget in a way which should yield them better results.

Charity Miles takes a 50% cut of the money directed from for-profit companies to not-for-profits. For every mile you run (1.6km), your nominated charity gets US 25 cents, and Charity Miles also gets US 25 cents

So, you’re not giving your own money to charity, but you are being enticed to open your own wallet to benefit  for-profit companies. What you are actually doing is donating your personal information to for-profit companies.

Charity Miles is definitely not a scam. Real charities do get money via the app, but the existence of the app doesn’t really increase the overall amount of charitable donations. If you want a charity to get more benefit from charitable donations, you might consider donating the money you save by redeeming rewards on Running Heroes to the charity of your choice

App Store   Google play

Running apps for motivation

Zombies Run Game

If you need a little motivation to keep going on your runs, this app might actually help! 

The basics of the game are pretty simple. You select an episode, adjust a few settings, and go for a run. The story is played out in clips, interspersed with your own music. You are one of the main characters in the story. The other characters interact with you, you go out on missions, collect supplies, and, speed up to avoid zombies.

People who use the app love it, others leave it. If you’re struggling for motivation, it might be worth a look. I used it during a bike workout the other day and …it was ok, but my wind trainer was so loud I had problems hearing, and I prefer to let my mind wander and eventually go blank when I exercise, so i can’t say I’m a fan.

App Store   Google play


If you find it hard to find time to run, this app may help. It’s designed to help you put your phone down and get stuff done. You start by planting a seed in a forest, which will gradually grow into a tree. But, if you can’t resist the temptation of using your phone, your tree will wither.

Forest - focus on what you're doing

You can unlock a paid version to plant real trees on the earth through “Trees for the Future”. One feature promoted by the app creator is the ability to share your forest and compete with friends, and you can also “unlock achievements and earn extra rewards” and yay… spend more time on your phone doing so!!

App Store    Google play

An old classic – find new running routes


Map my run has a heap of functionality, much of which you can get through other running apps such as Strava, or from a wearable GPS device. I’ve included it here because I like the ability to search for a running route. This can come in very handy if you’re on holidays or in an unfamiliar location and want to go for a run. You can search  you’ll also be able to see its elevation. Stops you from getting lost and running way further than you wanted to, or running round and round in circles trying to get your kms up. Strava has a similar function, but I don’t find it as user friendly. 

App Store   Google play

Your GPS Watch-How to get the most accurate data

Your GPS Watch-how to get the most accurate data

Everyone loves a good running app or GPS enabled running “watch” but they can be oh so frustrating when they don’t “work”!!!

Well, according to the Garmin support centre, when your Garmin device sees “degraded performance” this is “normal behaviour”. In most cases, when you’re ready to pull you hair out because your pace readout seems to be jumping around all over the pace, or your stats for a run just don’t seem to hold true with what happened in the real world, it’s not that your device is not working. It’s more likely that your expectations of what your device can do for you, are a little on the high side.

What Garmin Says About GPS Inaccuracy

“When using a Garmin GPS fitness device in an area such as a densely wooded path or in the middle of a city with tall buildings, you may experience a longer time for the device to acquire a satellite signal.   Once you’ve acquired a satellite signal you may also see a degraded performance with your GPS track as well as your running/walking pace. This is considered normal behavior since the signal being received by the device is in a weakened state.” (my emphasis)

Why Use a GPS Tracking Device At All?

Whilst I’m a fan of doing a lot of running device free, or at least running without any feedback from your device until the end of your run, there are definitely some good reasons to use a device to track your run.

  • GPS training devices such as those made by Garmin, Suunto, Polar, TomTom and others can mostly give you a reasonably accurate picture of the pace and distance you ran, particularly when looking at an average pace over a longer run.
  • Phone apps such as Strava, Runkeeper, Mapmyrun and Runner Up have free versions which you can download to your phone. (but the accuracy of these depend on your smartphone, and occasionally, smart phones can be pretty dumb!)
  • Feedback whilst you’re running can help if you’re trying to hit a set pace for longer intervals (say 1.5-5km).
  • You can learn what an “easy” pace feels like. “Easy” is often a lot slower than you realise (think 20-35% slower than your 5k race pace). Using a device to teach yourself what an easy pace feels like can be very handy.
  • They are great for keeping an historical record of your training, and keeping track of your weekly mileage which you can use for future reference. If you upload data from your watch to a training log and make comments on how you felt, what the weather was like, sickness, stress etc, this info can be amazingly helpful when planning training for your next race. Over time the inaccuracies even themselves out somewhat, so you can still get a good overall picture of what’s what.
  • They are a great way to quickly (and reasonably accurately) give your coach information about your training
  • Having a record of your running data can be very motivating – even if all you do is record your data and keep it to yourself, for many people, this can get them out the door when they otherwise might not have. And the sharing options on most devices and apps are seemingly endless.

How Does Your GPS Device Know Where You Are?

Whether you’re using watch or phone, your device uses as its main source of location data the Global Positioning System (GPS)- a collection of 27 satellites orbiting the earth. There are 24 satellites in operation at any one time. They make two complete rotations of the earth every day

The satellites send out signals, broadcasting their location as well as the time. If a GPS receiver, like the one in your device, can locate 4 of these satellites, it can use these signals to work out your relative position to those satellites. The better your device is at picking up these signals, the more accurate the data will be. With seven or more signals, the device can know your position to within a 10 meter area.

Phones Have Additional Ways to Track You

If you have your settings right, your phone will use the GPS to track you, but it will also have a few more tricks up its sleeve. It can use WiFi location data (so if your device can see a particular hotspot, it knows you’re near that hotspot) and it also accesses Assisted GPS, (A-GPS) which uses mobile towers to keep track of GPS data so that devices don’t have to wait as long or search as hard for signals.

So What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The GPS signals are extremely fast, and require precision detection, so any disturbance to the signal, or slight problem with reception can be magnified when it translates to your reported position.

The speed of the signal that your device sends to the satellite can be interfered with by things such as the earth’s atmosphere, buildings, trees and clouds.

  • GPS signals can bounce off tall buildings. Your device assumes the signal went in a straight line, but the bounce added by the building adds some distance. This changes where your device thinks you are. Buildings can also physically block the signal from getting to your device.
  • Tree cover has similar problems in that it can block the satellite signals from reaching the device. The moisture in the leaves can also cause the signals to bounce in different directions. The bounce will depend on the type of trees, how thick the cover is, and the time of year.
  • Clouds: Whilst Garmin say clouds don’t impact accuracy, I’m not sure that I agree. Perhaps the clouds themselves don’t interfere, but the moisture in the air and the changes in atmospheric pressure and electrical activity often associated with cloudy days may well do so. Many runners report problems with their GPS on overcast days.
  • If your phone uses ONLY Assisted-GPS to track you, the data may be less accurate. The towers and hotspots the phones connect to are in fixed positions that continuously receive data from satellites above. A smart phone’s sensor receives data from these towers. Your phone gets periodic position updates which are then averaged out, which preserves the battery of your phone, but doesn’t give you as accurate data as a tracking-dedicated device. To fix this, make sure your phone’s location setting is switched to “high accuracy” which will use GPS, Wi-Fi and local data networks to report the most accurate data.

How to Get the Most Accurate Data

There are a few tips you can follow to make your run data as accurate as possible, regardless of which app or smartphone you’re using.

  • First, try to choose outdoor routes along open, relatively flat areas whenever possible. Dense, overhead foliage, tall buildings and other types of satellite or cellular interference make for greater inaccuracies.
  • Avoid turns, especially tight ones, particularly if you are using a phone’s Assisted-GPS tracking capability. Because your phone is averaging location signals from cell towers; every time you change course, there’s a chance the device might miss it.
  • Out-and-back routes are fine, as long as you’re only turning around once or twice, but going backwards and forwards over the same short distance is likely to cause problems.
  • If you’re using a phone, have it positioned as high on your body as possible. On your arm rather than in your pocket is better. Often, cheaper arm pockets are better, as the material they are made of is thinner and might cause less interference than a thicker more robust model. Apparently issues can also arise if your phone pocket carries a lot of sweat around with it!
  • Make sure your phone is set to “high accuracy so that GPS, WiFi and local mobile networks are all working for you. Go to settings in your phone. Mostly, the GPS settings can be found under “location”. Sometimes “location” is hidden in the privacy settings.
  • Make sure your battery is well charged

The Stava blog has some trouble shooting advice for Android and iPhone users when it comes to GPS accuracy. A quick read is worthwhile if you’re having trouble with tracking apps on your phone.

Trouble Shooting for Androids

Trouble Shouting for iPhones

When is a GPS device not going to cut it?

A GPS device (either one you wear on your wrist or one you use to power an app on your phone, is not going to cut it when you need to have accurate data for either training or racing.

To avoid getting inaccurate data whilst you’re racing, use the stopwatch function on your device, and manually check your pace at each km marker. This is much easier if you have a lap timer so your increasingly fatigued brain does not have to figure out your pace all on its own (possibly more inaccurate than a dodgy GPS signal- particularly in the latter stages of the race). Using your brain to figure it out is, however a spectacular way to pass the time!

In all seriousness, you shouldn’t rely on your device in a race. I’ve had too many runners come unstuck relying on inaccurate GPS devices to set their pace for them in a race. Get used to running more on feel, so you know if you are running at a pace you think you can maintain.

Yes, use your device, particularly at the start of a race when adrenalin can overtake reason and send you out way too fast, but do check in at the km markers that what your device is telling you makes sense. After the first few kms, my advice is to switch your device to a stop watch screen and run on how you’re feeling. Use the lap timer to record your splits. If you can run the GPS tracking in the background do so. Use both the GPS data and the manual km splits to analyse your race after the event.

A GPS device is also not a great idea for short speed intervals of 800m or less. You’re better off doing your speed work on a track, oval or stretch of footpath where the distance has been measured with a wheel. Time yourself with a stop watch for each effort.

Understanding the limits of your tracking device can take a whole lot of stress out of using it. Be guided by the data, but don’t be a slave to it!

Do Compression Tights Really Work

do compression tights work

A lot has been said about the benefits of compression garments (largely by the manufacturers). For example Asics compression gear will make your “run further” and “recover faster”, and Under Armor gear is “not just for looks. These things make you better”

If you’ve ever pulled on a pair of compression tights, you’ll know they do make you feel kind of “good”. They seem to get your muscles ready for action. Perhaps that has something to do with the amount of effort it takes to actually get the things on!

Compression gear amounts to more than just an ordinary pair of lycra tights. They are made with tighter elastic, which for starters, mean they hold their shape better over time. Most compression tights will also deliver graduated pressure – they are tighter around the ankles and the knee, which helps to improve circulation from the calf.

What started the compression trend?

It’s probable the idea of wearing compression gear for improved sporting performance started in 2001. NBA player, Allen Iverson had a big game when he was wearing a compression sleeve which was being used to treat bursitis in his elbow.  There’s no evidence that the sleeve made any physical contribution to the player’s performance, but as often happens in these situations, other players followed suit, and the compression garment industry was born.

Will compression gear actually make you run faster?

The theory is that compression garments increase blood circulation which helps to deliver more oxygen to your muscles whilst improving the removal of metabolic wastes which are the by-product of physical activity. This then enables you to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or at the very least run a bit faster, and recover from exercise more quickly.

Most studies agree that athletes experience improved blood flow through their muscles when wearing compression gear. But when it comes to improvements in performance, the results are a bit more ambiguous.

There are some studies which suggest lower limb compression garments “may” be of benefit in improving performance in more explosive events which require movements such as jumping, and may be of less benefit in endurance events.

Interestingly, recent research is showing this improved blood flow may have an effect on your cognitive ability, so in sports where decision make plays a big role such as cycling, soccer, rugby, hockey), compression gear may make a real difference, however more research needs to be done in this area.

The placebo effect

It’s very difficult to account for the placebo effect with compression garments. Anyone who has ever worn a true compression garment will know there’s no fooling yourself into thinking you’re wearing the real McCoy, if what you’re actually wearing is the latest lycra tight from Big W. So, having a control group who actually believe they may be wearing compression gear is highly unlikely. In the real world however, it doesn’t really matter if improved performance is a result of a placebo effect does it?

Effect of compression gear on recovery

One area where compression tights do appear to come into their own is during recovery. One study on rugby players found a reduction in muscle soreness when the players wore the compression garments for a full 24 hours immediately following their exercise bout. Another study amongst weight lifters found similar results when full body compression garments were worn for more than a day following a bout of exercise. (It all sound decidedly lacking in hygiene!)

The Verdict

When it comes to recovery, compression gear can have a real benefit, if worn for 24 hours post event, but if you’re looking to boost your performance substantially, you’re better off relying on a smart training plan than on a pair of compression tights. You’re unlikely to see an improvement in performance simply as a result of the physiological effects the tights have on your performance whilst running.

Given you have to wear something when you’re running, why not go for compression? They hold their shape better than your common everyday garden variety lycra, and are more likely to hold bits in which you’d rather didn’t hang out.

(And gentlemen… please realise tights leave absolutely nothing to the imagination and can be extremely un-nerving)

Getting the Most out of Treadmill Workouts

getting the most out of treadmill workouts

Ask anyone who does a bit of running, and they’ll have an opinion on treadmill running. Many runners feel running on a treadmill is easier than running outside-if you can stand the boredom. And I have to say, I was firmly in that camp, until I started looking a bit more closely at the research.

Treadmill Running vs Running Outside: which is harder?

Intuitively, it would seem that running on a treadmill has to be easier than running outside. After all, running on a treadmill, the ground moves for you. In theory you could just jump up and down, and not propel yourself forward, and the treadmill speedo would show you running at whatever pace the belt is moving.

However, if you base your workouts on exertion level rather than speed, you can get just as good a workout on the treadmill. A treadmill workout at 7/10 on the Rating of Perceived Exertion is the same exertion level as running 7/10 on the road. You might run a bit faster on the treadmill at the same level of exertion, but you’re still going to get the same training benefit if you’re running at 7/10.

When you’re running outside, you have to work against wind resistance, and you’re also constantly working smaller stabiliser muscles. Unless you’re running on a track, the surface you’re running on won’t be completely flat and level, unlike on a treadmill. You do miss out on that subtle strengthening of the smaller stabiliser muscles running on a treadmill. When you’re running outside, you’re constantly challenging the neural pathways which help you to cope with the constant changes in terrain and surface level.

Set the Treadmill At a 1% Gradient

There is research that shows setting the treadmill at a 1% gradient will compensate for the lack of wind resistance, and the resulting smaller energy cost of running on a treadmill. And setting the treadmill on a steeper gradient is comparable to an outside hill of the same gradient, in terms of energy costs.

So, if you want to run on a treadmill at the same speed and the same level of exertion as an outside flat run, you just need to set the treadmill at a 1% gradient. You will, however, miss out on some of the more subtle effects of running on the less predictable outside surface.

Why run on a treadmill?

If you’re like most people, you find running on a treadmill dead boring. So why would you do it?

Keeping your training consistent

The main advantage of treadmill running is that it’s inside, away from poor weather conditions. If it’s too cold, too wet, too dark, or too hot and humid, treadmill running can keep you consistent. And when it comes to fitness, consistency is super important.

No matter what you’re training for, you’ll only get results if you’re consistent with your training, across time. For example, if you’re training for a marathon or half marathon, consistency with your training over a six month period is far more important than belting out one or two big workouts. In fact, unless you’ve been consistent with your training across time, you’re unlikely to be able to complete your longer training runs, without risking overload and injury.

Keeping your easy days easy

Treadmill running is great if you’re having trouble keeping your easy days easy. Depending what you’re training for, your easy runs might need to be 30-40% slower than your 3km pace, and some people find that pretty hard to do. If you’re doing a treadmill workout, you can set the treadmill to the appropriate pace and forget. You’re pace won’t get faster over time. The one disadvantage of this is that having a set pace to run at doesn’t take into account the way you’re feeling on that particular day. You might have had a harder than normal workout the day before and need to take it a bit easier than your planned pace, so you do still need to be in tune with how you feel, and be prepared to slow the treadmill down if you need to.

If you’re looking for a really easy day, but you still want to run at a good pace, you can set the treadmill to a negative incline. Not too much: -0.5%-1% is enough to make a real difference.

Mental Toughness

Treadmill workouts can toughen you up mentally. If you’re reasonably serious about your training, you’ll get to a point where it starts to hurt in some of your sessions. The temptation here is to slow down. If you’ve got your treadmill set to a particular pace, then you can’t slow down without falling off the back! All you need to do is resist the temptation to change the setting on the treadmill.

Having said that, the set and forget method of treadmill running might not be so great for harder efforts such as interval training, tempo or race pace runs. You’re relying on the treadmill to keep you honest, and it will. Doing these harder runs outside can definitely be a bit more mentally taxing.

With a treadmill keeping pace for you, you’re free to drift off and let your mind wander. Outside, there’s nothing to keep you running fast except your mental focus and strength. Your mind needs to be trained, just as your body does, so if you’re always running on a treadmill, you’re not likely to develop the mental strength needed to push hard in a race.

Train on a Simulated Race Course

You can use a treadmill to simulate the course of your goal race. You can get a topography map of your race by using sites such as maypmyrun. Map the course out on map my run, then print out the topography chart. If your treadmill has the facility, you can program the inclines and declines in before you start. Otherwise, you can keep the printout on the dashboard of the treadmill, and manually adjust your treadmill for hills.

You can even have water and gels or other nutrition handy, to simulate when you’ll be taking your nutrition on board. If you’re planning on carrying your nutrition with you on race day, carry it in the same way you’ll be carrying it in a race, in a pocket, on a belt or in a Camelbak.

How to Counteract the Boredom Factor!!

There’s no doubt that running on a treadmill can get monotonous and boring. Try these tips to help overcome the boredom factor:

  • Watch TV whilst you’re running
  • Alternatively, watch nothing. Get into a good rhythm and get into your head space. Take this opportunity to meditate
  • If you’re at a gym, change treadmills part way through your run to change your surroundings a bit.
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Make friends with the people next to you. You’ll probably find they’ll be perfectly happy to talk to you. If you’re the shy type, have a few standard opening lines in your back pocket. “Are you training for anything in particular?” or “A bit boring running on the treadmill, isn’t it?” are reasonable conversation starters. Or you could try “love your running shoes, where did you get them?” or possibly “do you come here often???”
  • Take a friend to the gym with you
  • Skype your mother

Starting and Finishing Intervals on a Treadmill

Do you jump on a treadmill which is already moving at the pace you want to run your effort at? Or do you take the more sensible approach and work your way up to the pace of your effort?

No prizes for guessing which option I prefer.

Jumping on a treadmill moving at a rapid pace can be pretty tricky. If you’re doing an interval training session on a treadmill, you’re better off dropping the pace down to a walking pace for your recovery (unless you specifically want a standing recovery). Spend the first 5-10 seconds of your effort working up to the pace you want to run at. Even if you’re running outside it’ll take you a few seconds to reach your effort pace, so you’re not going to lose too much time at target pace by taking the safe option!

Try This Treadmill Training Session

Warm up at an easy pace for 10 mins or so. Make sure it feels pretty easy. You should be able to hold a conversation with no problems at all.

Pick the pace up a bit for the next 5 mins or so, until you’re running at about 5/10 on the Rating of Perceived Exertion

Once you’ve established the 5/10 effort pace, maintain that pace for 1km.

Run your next kilometer at 10 seconds faster than the previous.

Run each kilometer 10 seconds faster than the last.

Cool down with 5-10 minutes at a slow pace.

You can do this for as long as you like, (generally up to about 10km is good).  For the first time, aim for 4kms, not including your warm up and cool down.  As you get fitter, you can gradually increase the distance of this workout.

The Verdict

Treadmill workouts can be a great way to keep your training consistent and help you to develop a good sense of pace as it relates to increases and decreases in effort. You can use treadmill workouts to vary up your training a bit, but for me, there’s nothing like running in the great outdoors.

Free Yourself From Your Running Watch

Free yourself from your running watch

Back in the day, it used to be if you wanted to know how far you ran, or if you were planning to run a certain distance, you’d jump in your car, and measure the planned route.

When I say, “back in the day”, it wasn’t that far back. I remember taking the opportunity to measure my running routes whilst my kids were asleep in the back of the car. Killing two birds with the one stone – measuring my running distances, and getting a few more precious minutes of down time! My youngest is only nine, so we’re not talking more than nine years ago here! 

If you were really advanced, you’d use mapmyrun and geodistance to map your route out before your ran.

And then came GPS watches!

GPS Devices Have Changed the Way We Train

In some respects, GPS devices, running watches in particular, have made coaching runners a lot easier, particularly if you’re wanting your runner to do tempo runs, cutbacks, or long intervals where pace is important.

On the down side is the fact that runners can become completely dependent on their watches, which can sometimes hinder their ability to “feel” the pace, and really know what their own body is capable of.

 As a coach, it’s important to be mindful that setting specific paces for runners to train at will not take into account how they are feeling on the day. I always try to prescribe pace as a range, and also give a rating of perceived exertion (RPE) I want the runner to be training at. Using the two will usually give a better outcome than just training pace alone.

Sometimes, I map whole training plans using only RPE.  It can take the pressure off, and allow the athlete to enjoy their running more. Most of us start off running because we think we might enjoy it, not because we think we’ve got a chance of beating our friends on Strava, so I see keeping the enjoyment in running as a super important part of coaching. Of course, beating your friends can add a whole new level of enjoyment.

Drawbacks of Becoming Too Reliant on Your GPS Watch

1. Getting too hung up on your current pace

Readouts for your current pace on your device are rarely your actual current pace. Garmins and similar devices receive signals via satellite every 1-2 seconds (that’s when conditions and signal strength are good). The device is constantly making calculations about your speed.

If you lose your satellite connection (and it might only be for a second or two at a time), the GPS measures the distance you ran in that downtime, and calculates the time it took you to get where you are now, which gives you a pace.

During this time where the signal is lost however, the current running pace will slow quite a lot. The device thinks you’ve stopped running. Over one kilometer, the device will measure pace and distance fairly precisely, but if you look at your current pace at around about the time you may have momentarily lost the GPS signal, you’ll think you’re travelling much more slowly than you actually are.

Constantly looking at your current pace may cause you to adjust your pace frequently. You won’t be developing a steady rhythmical feel for your running.

2. Not developing a good sense of pace and rhythm

If you’re training to race (and not all of you will be), you need to learn how to pace yourself. You need to learn what you are capable of at any given time. You might wake up on race day and feel fantastic. It might be your day. And if you’re planning on running the race based on some preconceived idea of pace, with no thought to what sort of effort level that might entail, you could be robbing yourself of an opportunity of a PB.

Conversely, you could wake up feeling like you shouldn’t get out of bed, or it might be 10 degrees hotter than expected. In those cases, you’re going to need to listen to your body, and slow down a bit, not stick to your planned race pace.

And if you never practice running on feel in training, you’re not going to be able to do it in a race.

Simply saying you’re going to run 10 seconds slower per km than planned, or 5 seconds faster, isn’t really going to cut it. Unless you know what 10 seconds slower per km feels like, or 5 seconds per km faster, these figures are just random numbers plucked out of the air, and may not be do-able.

At some point in your training, you need to put away the GPS and really take notice of how you’re feeling. Know what it feels like to be running easy, know what it feels like to be pushing hard, and know what it feels like to be somewhere in between.

Your GPS is not going to tell you if you have it in you to surge up the next hill and overtake your arch rival, or if you have it in you to push for the last 2kms of a half mararthon. Only being in tune with your body and how you’re feeling, and knowing your capabilities and limitaions, can do that for you.

3. Being a slave to your running watch might cause you to over-train

If you’re hell bent on running at a certain pace ALL of the time, you’re not likely to listen to your body and slow down when you need to. If you’re recording your data daily, it’s easy to get caught up with comparisons between your current run and previous runs. Back before I knew better (even before the days I was driving my kids round and round the neighbourhood putting them to sleep), every time I went out for a run, I was trying to beat some kind of previous best. And I wasn’t even training as a runner-running was just a bit of cross training at the time!

If you’re running hard speed workouts, and/or running lots of mileage, you need to do some running at an easy pace, to let your body recover. If you’re always looking at your GPS to make sure you’re running at the “right” pace on these easier runs, you’re not listening to your body. And if you’re not listening to your body, then you’re far more likely to be heading for an injury. (Back before I admitted this to myself, I ended up with two bulging intervertebral discs).

There’ll be days when your body just won’t feel energetic and “with it”. On these days, you need to give yourself permission to take it easy, and that’s much harder to do if you’re data obsessed.

How to Use Your GPS Device to Your Advantage

  • During a long run, check your pace after the first few minutes, then every 20 minutes or so after that, if at all. Be aware of how you feel. Get a sense of what a particular pace feels like. Learn from each training sessions by being aware of how you feel, rather than knowing what your watch tells you. You can download our eBooklet on pacing for your long run, if you want to get a sense of just how easy your long run should be. 
  • Include workouts which have you changing paces frequently, such as tempo runs, cut backs and fartlek. You can check your pace infrequently, or leave it till after the run to take a look at how you went. 
  • If you’re an experienced runner, add some fast finishing long runs to your program, to get a sense of how much you can push towards the end of a race.
  • Don’t look at your GPS on your recovery runs. Easy rounds and recovery runs have very little to do with pace (unless your coach is telling you you’re likely going too fast). Their effectiveness lies in their ability to help your body recover, build strength in your legs and your mind, teach your body to spare glycogen, and improve your body’s aerobic capacity. 

You can get a sense of just how easy your long run can be by downloading our eBooklet here

You need to develop an innate sense of pacing in training. By implementing some of the above strategies, you’ll become less dependent on your GPS running watch, and more able to assess your level of running intensity by feel, and whether that level of intensity is sustainable over time.

Some training sessions are best done at a particular pace, or percentage of your maximum capacity.  GPS devices are awesome for these kinds of workouts. Just know when and how to use them.

Running, UV Index, Sun Damage, and Skin Cancer

Truck drivers face damaged by sun

Think the sun doesn’t really do too much to your skin?

Think again! This picture of a 60 year old truckie from the US tells the story of years of exposure to the sun. Note his left side (exposed to the sun through the side window of his truck – they drive on a funny side of the road over there) is far more wrinkled than the right? That’s what years of sun exposure is doing to your skin!

None of us would willingly sign up for the wrinkles on the left side of this guy’s face, yet many of us (myself included) are taking less than fantastic care of our skin.

Here in Australia, we are all familiar with the Slip, Slop, Slap sun protection message, and with global warming, it’s even more important to heed the message.

The Cancer Council is thinking about using this photo to bring home the sun protection message. Incredible to think that we might be more likely to slip slop slap if we think it’s going to preserve our youthful good looks for longer, than if we thought it might help to prevent us from developing a melanoma!

This image is taken from the BoM website. It’s the UV index forecast  for noon on Dec 8th in Sydney. An overcast day, of a fairly average temperature. The bits in purple indicate an extreme ultra violet index! So pretty much, if you’re anywhere in Australia, you need to be sure to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays!

UV index map

If you’re a runner, walker, or a lover of outdoor exercise, it’s hard to escape the sun! Here are a few tips from the Cancer Council. You can find more info here.


  • One of the best barriers between skin and sun
  • Long pants, long-sleeved collared shirts, covering as much of the body as possible.
  • It absorbs and reflects the radiation that strikes the fabric.
  • UPF ratings based on how much radiation passes through non-stretched, dry material
  • UPF (the Ultra Violet Protection Factor) represents the factor by which UV exposure is reduced – eg UPF of 20 allows one twentieth of the UV radiation to pass through.
  • UPF rating of 40 or higher offer good levels of protection – they block out at least 97.5% of UV radiation
  • Clothing does not need to have a UPF rating to protect from UV.
  • Ligthweight, closely woven, dark colours offer the best protection for non UPF-rated clothing

UPF ratings for clothing are based on how much radiation passed through

non-stretched, dry material


  • Go for SPF 30 or higher, broad spectrum, water resistant
  • Sunscreens work by filtering UV radiation which are either inorganic or physical, or organic or chemical
  • Inorganic filters are composed of minerals most commonly metal oxides titanium dioxide or zinc oxide – they screen both UVA and UVB
  • Organic or chemical filters are composed of various compounds such as cinnamates (UVB filter), oxybenzone (UVA) and terephtalylidenedicamphor sulfonic acid (a UVA and UVB filter).
  • Sunscreens based on inorganic or chemical filters don’t penetrate as deeply into the skin
  • Sunscreen should be stored below 30C and not used past expiry date.
  • Sunscreen should be used in conjunction with other sun protection such as staying in the shade, wearing covering clothing, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

SPF is only a measure of protection under idealised laboratory conditions and against UVB radiation.  SPF does not take into account UVA 

How To Apply  Sunscreen

  • The SPF of a sunscreen is determined as the ratio of time taken for a perceptible reddening of the skin to be seen., when 2mg/cm2 sunscreen is applied, in comparison to the time it takes the skin to redden without sunscreen.
  • Properly applied, ie  2mg/cm2  of skin, SPF30 sunscreens filter out 96.7% of UVB, while SPF50 filters out 98%.

Most people apply far less sunscreen than is recommended by manufacturers.  As a result, sunscreen users achieve an SPF of between 50-80% less than that specified on the product label. 

  • You should apply 2mg sunscreen to each square centimetre of exposed skin – about 35 ml per application for an adult, to reach the specified SPF.
  • The Cancer Council recommends you apply a bit more than this (45mls) or the equivalent of a shot glass or golf ball. 9 teaspoons to the head face and neck, two teaspoons to the torso, on teaspoon to each arm/forearm and two teaspoons to each leg
  • Apply 20 mins before going into the sun, then every 2 hours.

There’s no way I use that much sunscreen on my face, but having seen the truckie’s photo, I fully intend to now!!

Vitamin D

Although in theory suncreens could block the sun-induced production of pre-Vitamin D3,
in practice this is unlikely to happen, due to the inadequate application of sunscreen,
and incidental exposure when outdoors for only short periods unprotected


  • Shade does not provide 100% protection. Some UV can be reflected off the surrounding surfaces
  • Rule of thumb is if you can see the sky, you’re not fully protected.
  • Combine with sunscreen, a broad brimmed hat and sunglasses

I clearly remember the whole family getting burnt last summer when we were high up in the stand at the cricket, and seemingly protected.


  • Use sunglasses year round
  •  The amount of UV reaching the eyes does not correlate well with UV levels, which measure UV reaching an unobstructed horizontal plane, and is instead highly dependent on unique geometry of the ocular region.
  • Overexposure to UV radiation can cause short-term eye damage in the form of mild irritation, sunburn of the cornea, inflammation and excessive blinking
  • Long term over exposure may lead to permanent damage such as squamous cell cancers on the conjunctiva, skin cancer around the eyes and eyelids, cataracts, macular degeneration, pterytium and cloudiness of the cornea. 
  • Wearing both a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses that meet Australian Standard can reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98%.
  • Were close fitting wrap around sunglasses, as 40% of UV gets to the eyes via peripheral light



The Right Sports Bra For Runnning

How to find the right running bra

Many of us will spend literally hundreds of dollars, and many hours getting the right running shoes, but when it comes to a running bra, we sometimes go for the “home brand” option.

Whilst you don’t have to pay a fortune to get hold of a good sports bra, (nor to get hold of a good running shoe for the that matter), you do need to spend some time making sure you get a good fit.

Watch this video from Moving Comfort for some great tips on what’s important in a sports bra for running.

Tips For A Perfectly Fitting Sports Bra for Running

Cup Size

  • Scoop your breasts into the cups. They should be completely held within the cup, not bulging out over the top or at the sides under your arms.
  • Wrinkling or puckering of the fabric in the cup indicates the cup is too big

The band is the foundation for support, so it’s important to get the band fitting correctly. It should be quite snug, and should not ride up at the back. If it rides up, it might be that it is too loose, or the straps need adjusting. Make sure you can take a deep breath, comfortably.

The underwire should sit on the ribcage, underneath the breast. It should sit flat against your breastbone, and not poke or pinch.

It seems obvious, but straps should not slide up or dig into your shoulders. If they need to be so tight that they dig into your shoulders, to be able to offer the support you want, it may be that you have an ill fitting band. They should have very little stretch, so as to help prevent up and down movement of the breasts.

Reference: http://movingcomfort.com.au/help/fitfinder