I don't know what I was so worried about last week. It's Week 8 and I've been running three times a week - with no walking breaks - for the past couple of weeks. I'm running faster and I'm running further. Week 9 and the end of this challenge are in sight - they're still fuzzy and I have to squint to see them but they're there all right, no question.
Wareable guide: Using wearable tech to get up and running
I'm pretty sure we can do it
I'm going to keep things short and sweet this week. Because we're so close, we don't want to get too bogged down in the tech, the apps and the stats, we just need to keep going.
That was addressed to those of you who are running alongside me, so to speak, and have been doing week by week since January. I hope that like me you feel fitter, you look forward to the running days and you miss them when you're too busy to get out. That when you stick the Jabra Sport Pulse in your ears or strap on the Garmin Forerunner 620 and get pelted in the face by surprise hailstones mixed in with the rain, as I have this week, it's exhilarating not frustrating. Hey, it beats one more hour on the sofa.
Fitness apps are frenemies
A quick note on the apps and services I've been using, last week I had a closer look at some of my stats over the weeks - daily steps, heart rate, running pace - without much mention of apps working together. That's because they don't much, at least on Android.
I have the Google Fit app on my phone but since every fitness app wants you to be part of its community, there's no real love for it yet. I updated our list of compatible Google Fit apps this week and there's only been two new ones since the launch and none of the big ones we're waiting for.
For now, iPhone users get better functionality out of Apple Health which pulls in data from all sorts of apps including Garmin Connect, MyFitnessPal, Endomondo, Withings, Strava and more. Definitely worth considering if you're due an upgrade even if you're not interested in the Apple Watch.
One thing I have been able to do with my shiny new Forerunner 620 is hook up the Garmin Connect mobile app to MyFitnessPal, the food tracking app I've been using on and off. That's handy but considering I'm still wearing the Fitbit Charge HR every day imagine how much more powerful all my Couch to 5K info would be if every single tracker and app had been feeding this into Google Fit? OK that rant is over for now.
Graduating to a Garmin
One reason I wanted to graduate to a running watch was to easily see my pace as I run - you'll remember that last week I got all in a tizz that I'm too slow. I had my distance measurement on the wrong setting when I set out on first run but this was easily switched to km. And well, as the running time has creeped up to 28 minutes I've actually been doing around 4.7K including the five minute walk (OK saunter) at the start to warm up. Worryingly, the Garmin has me slightly slower than the Couch to 5K app itself at 8.47 min/km and there was a 0.3K difference in total distance. I'll keep an eye on it.
Though fairly pricey at ¬£330, the Forerunner 620 is just lovely to use. I didn't want anything too big and chunky so it's perfect. Light, comfortable, waterproof plus the physical buttons are handy and the GPS is quick and accurate. The circular touchscreen works well too, though it's not the best when rain-soaked. I haven't had to charge it yet so I'll confirm battery life next week but it's also neat that you can disable GPS to keep it going for up to six weeks as a regular watch.
There's no heart rate monitoring on the 620 itself - there's a bundled chest strap though which I'll try out for Week 9, for now I've continued to use the Jabra Sport Pulse. They're a great pair of wireless sports headphones so the heart rate tracking is a bonus - just be wary of setting the Jabra app to warn you when you're below or above the heart rate zone you want to be in as one day I ended up running ve-ery slowly to try to get it to shut up.
Garmin Connect, particularly the website rather than the app, is known at Wareable for being one of the best resources for runners looking to improve their time, distance or form. I'm only a beginner, sure, but everything is so well organised and accessible that it didn't feel too overwhelming. Extras such as cadence, which you might not care about at this stage, are easy to ignore.
Anyone for a 10K?
Even the Couch to 5K app knows I'm close, not just in the number of weeks I've completed but in distance too. Today it prompted me to download its 5K to 10K app. Maybe I'm delirious from the endorphins and maybe my next run will be terribly slow again. But I'm considering it.