Push the city limits with Suunto Spartan Trainer

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Some people love running on trails, and others in the mountains.  Unfortunately, if you live in a big city, such as London, there typically aren't many of either to explore.  Runners just need to think outside the box and see where their feet take them.  Who needs the same old boring route when there are so many places to explore?

Suunto Spartan Trainer wrist heart rate monitor watch in Ocean

For example, if you prefer to run in the mountains, check out Box Hill in Surrey.  Normally, I only think of using this hill for cycling but I took part in the Salomon Sunset Series over the summer here and it was one of the toughest races I have ever done.  Everybody walked during this race at some point.  The views were spectacular each time you reached a crest and the unpredictable tree roots along the paths kept us on our toes. For hill reps a little bit closer to London, Primrose Hill, Greenwich Park, and the stairs near the Duke of York Column (off of The Mall) are all places to work your body to the max.  For those who don't know, hill reps are just like they sound- you run up a hill several times.  These are great for building speed and/or strength depending on how long each repetition is.  Hills force your form to change (get those knees up!) and the intensity is affected by the gradient.  If you are a beginner and want to give hill reps a try, start with a comfortable 20 minute warm up run to the bottom of a hill.  Run up the hill for one minute and remember where you stop.  Walk back down the hill to your starting point as a recovery.  Run back up to your finish point five more times with a walking recovery back to the start.  Finish with a five minute cool down run to help bring the heart rate down.

Headed to the track in Victoria Park

If you prefer something flat and fast but outdoors, there is an outdoor track in Victoria Park that is free.  You can also try The Mall when the roads are closed (to avoid tourists on the pavement) or the north side of the Thames along Victoria Embankment. These will give you the chance to work on your speed without having to dodge too many traffic lights. If you prefer a traditional track, here is a list of London's Athletics tracks.




London is a concrete city, meaning proper trails are hard to come by.  If you hit the outskirts of town, such as Epping Forest or Richmond Park, you might find something with trees and dirt paths to satiate you for a while.  I would also suggest the Regent's Canal tow path as a substitute for trails because the surface often changes and you will forever have to be dodging others along the way.  It can get quite crowded when the weather is nice or during commuting time.

Note that Ocean matches OPI polish in 'This cost me a mint'
How are you going to track of all of these expeditions?  The new Suunto Spartan Trainer watch is the perfect tool for heart rate monitoring, and not just while running.  There are 80 different sport modes pre-installed and will last for 10 hours of continuous activity on one battery charge.  It has GPS too, which will measure your speed, pace, distance, and altitude in real time while running, cycling and swimming. The coolest thing is a 'breadcrumb view' which makes it easy to discover new routes but also find your way home again.  A new software upgrade that is now available will also monitor your sleep patterns to ensure you are getting your recovery right.

Monitoring your heart rate and logging training sessions on Strava will help you push your training in the right direction to succeed at your goals.  You can see your abilities improve over time with an increase in pace and reduction of heart rate over similar routes.   The GPS data can be used to create a heat map on Strava to see where you run the most and how much space you have left to explore in London.  Greater London encompasses 1572 square kilmeters (607 square miles).  I bet there are a few streets and alleyways left for you to discover so get out there and push the city limits.  If you find an amazing hidden gem, leave a comment below.

This post is in collaboration with Suunto.

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