Sunday, January 25, 2015

Snowstorm Stomping – The Art of Running in Winter Weather



The first snowstorm of the year has hit Boston yesterday and with a Blizzard watch currently active it’s an excellent time to talk winter running tips!

There are plenty of useful articles out there but having survived a running streak all through January and February last year and with quite some winter running under my belt let me add my own observations on the topic.


Here are my top 5 tips how to enjoy running in Winter

  1. Winter running is all about planning. Conditions are going to be bad but they could get worse so be on the lookout for any storm or blizzard warnings, freezing rain or thawing and refreezing. Fresh snow can be quite slippery.
  2. If you can, go for a run during daytime – visibility is key! For those of us crazy enough to run in the dark on snowy surfaces, make sure you know which trails or roads will be cleared. Ideal is a relatively safe route with lotsWP_20150124_014 of lighting and without any puddles that could hide beneath the snow.
  3. Be conservative with your mileage until you are used to winter running. You may power out earlier than you think and get stuck somewhere with only the Uber of shame to rescue you. ;)
  4. Dressing appropriately is key. I usually dress in layers depending on temperature. My full-on winter outfit comprises running tights and woolen shorts on top to keep the core warm (but you can use normal running shorts as well – it looks dorky but you’ll thank me later, promise!), a wicking running shirt then long-sleeve (also wicking) and running jacket (it’s ultra thin but a great wind breaker and I spray it with water repellant to make it waterproof). If temperatures are well below zero Celsius (approaching 0 Fahrenheit) I also don my bright pink down vest with faux fur collar – it is the most hideous piece of clothing in my wardrobe but there’s nothing like it to maintain core temps even over long runs in winter weather. I also have a number of hats/headbands and gloves that I use depending on temperature, the warmest being fleece.
  5. Wear a reflective yellow shirt on top for added visibility and attach a high output pulsing red bike light to the back of your collar. This makes sure you can be seen even through snow flurries.



WP_20140707_21_05_10_ProWhat about shoes you may ask. Well, I wear the same shoes year round, my trusted New Balance W730s as seen on the pictures. They are on the more minimalist side as far as running shoes go. This is a personal preference to do with my relatively flat-arched feet but that makes them perfect for running in the snow I find. I like the fact they let me be in more direct contact with the ground I’m treading on. Lastly, a heart rate monitor is essential to understand what you’re putting your body through and how it reacts to these tricky conditions. I used the MIO Link on my run, a Bluetooth Low Energy monitor that pairs with my phone and works well in colder conditions.

All dressed and ready to go right? Not quite. I always make sure I have credit left on my trusted running companion, the (prepaid) Lumia 630, for emergencies. I also take my license and health insurance card with me just in case. If I am really concerned or it is late or especially slippery I use Track Runner’s live tracking feature so family/friends know where to find me if things go wrong.


During the run:

Start with stretches as long as you can stand it in the cold. (Of course you WP_20150124_17_33_57_Procan stretch inside as well but I find it useful to get a feel for what I’m up against to stretch outside).

I always run with music and get my vital run info via voice notifications so personally running without headphones is not an option. Then again, if ever there was a case to be made against running with headphones on it is in dangerous conditions like snow and darkness. Your call – just don’t have your eyes glued to your phone in those terrible conditions, either.

My first observation on running in the snow: it pays to have worked on stride rate and trained not to overstride. If your body is perfectly centered above the point your foot touches down, there is much less risk you will slip or land at awkward/painful angles. Smaller steps and lower jumps also preserve energy better which is good news as you may be initially underestimating the additional strain the cold has on your body. Mentioning jumps – there will be plenty especially if you are running on sidewalks and snow ploughs were active clearing the roads and leaving those lovely heaps at every street corner. I tend to suck it up and stomp into the heaps rather than risking to jump and overstride and have my feet taken out from underneath me but I admit it’s not the most pleasant sensation ever to dive deep into snow. I guess I just try to minimize injury risk best I can and if it comes at a cost of discomfort that’s fine with me.

WP_20150124_17_41_35_ProMuch as you might want to enjoy the beautiful white scenery, I’d personally not lift my eyes off the ground for too long. You need to know what’s ahead and prepare for what your feet are gelevation screenshotoing to encounter.

I’ve touched on this above when writing about the heart rate monitor but I will say it again. Running in those colder temperatures will exhaust you much more than you may be expecting so it is important to listen to your body as well as Track Runner voice notifications about your heart rate and react before things get out of hand. I ran up a very slippery snowy hill last night (look at the elevation profile!) which made my heart rate shoot into speed zone, so I deliberately walked a few steps to bring it down. You won’t beat your PR in those conditions anyway. It’s much more about keeping at it and practicing endurance so don’t overexert yourself.

What’s your experience with running in the snow? Any questions or stories to share? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Intervals for Endurance


Winter has firmly taken a hold of Boston with temperatures sub freezing point. But as you know from my running streak earlier this year I can’t be deterred by a bit of cold or snow. In fact, I’ve been ramping up my run training since October, now running every other day with the pattern speed run, long run, recovery run. wp_ss_20141208_0001

To mix it up a bit for my speed run workout I built my own interval training to improve my VO₂max, or maximal aerobic capacity. Most of you will be familiar with the term and the reason behind wanting to increase the amount of oxygen (used to produce energy aerobically) transported to the muscles. If I have lost you, check out this short explanation. As I want to get more into longer distance/endurance running, I use my speed sessions mostly to try to improve my anaerobic threshold. My VO₂max interval training can be used for training the anaerobic threshold as well. Just make sure you set up your resting and maximum heart rate in Track Runner and use a heart rate monitor to control the heart rate zone you are training in (aim for hard heart rate zone).

You can have your VO₂max tested in a physiology lab for best results but as a handy shortcut, use a pace a bit faster than your 3k – 5k pace for short bursts followed by recovery intervals. Having recently run our Remote Turkey Trot 5k flat out, I know that my current max 5k pace is around the 5:50 min/km mark. So, I settled on 4 intervals of 1200 meters length at a 5:45 min/km pace for the hard intervals and a leisurely 7:45 min/km pace for the recovery intervals (3 minutes in length with a 2 minute warm-up).

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So, how did I do? First of all, it was agonizing like all good interval trainings ought to be. But I was pretty happy with the result of my hard work:

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As you can see I managed to finish the first two hard intervals at a higher pace than anticipated but slacked a bit in the last two. On my next attempt, I will be aiming for more consistency (listening more to that lady in my ear telling me to slow down) and keeping to hard heart rate zone. My current cut-off of hard heart rate zone is 175 bpm so on average, I have not exceeded the zone I wanted to train in. Still, the CardioMap shows quite a bit of speed heart rate zone (on the map in red) which I would like to bring down to hard heart rate zone. I’m also considering to increase the recovery periods to 4 minutes to give the heart rate more chance to drop.

I hope my training has inspired you to try and set up your own custom interval training. If you have a great training to share please do so in the comments or email us at with screenshots and we’ll feature it here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014



Today is #GivingTuesday, the national day of giving back ahead of the festivity-packed Christmas and holiday season. We want to take out a moment to thank those that have already supported us with their generous donations and contributed directly to making version 5.0 of Track Runner as epic as we imagine it can be. Thank you for valuing our app and investing in its future!

For those of you who just heard about our fundraiser for version 5.0 or haven’t had the chance to contribute yet, we appreciate donations in any amount via our convenient PayPal donating option. You can also support us by using an Amazon affiliate link from our product review page.

Make #GivingTuesday count for your favorite running app. Share the link to our donation page ( and spread some Track Runner love!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Remote Turkey Trot 5K

Thanksgiving weekend is coming up and with it a season best known for record times between the fridge and the sofa. There’s nothing like a little friendly competition amongst Track Runners to keep us all moving so we organized the first Remote Turkey Trot 5K race.

It’s super simple: All you do is go to your favorite 5k track/trail/route a few minutes before the official starting time (see table below), start a run (can be freestyle or pacer), get the live-tracking link for your active run and tweet it out using the #TrackRunnerApp tag – and bang, you’ve entered. Simply start running at your designated starting time and let the world watch in awe as you break your – and hopefully anybody else’s – record.

Well, it depends… We are so blessed to have Track Runner users from all over the world. We tried hard to find a time that would work with most time zones so as many as possible could participate. For most of us,the race will be on
Saturday, November 29, 2014
although our friends from India, Australia, and New Zealand will be running on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014. The table below shows some popular race times but you can always go by GMT to calculate your own. (Please check whether your country is currently observing daylight savings time as this will affect your calculations in relation to GMT).
10AM 11AM 1PM 2PM 7PM 8PM 12:30AM Sunday 8AM Sunday

When you are live-tracking a run it means that the app creates a link to a Google Maps website* on which watchers can follow your run if you share the link on Twitter or other social networks. Watchers can also cheer you on and you will be able to hear their comments via voice notifications if you are using headphones or have the volume turned up.
To turn live tracking on, start a run (or pacer run), then hit the back button to navigate to the “tracking paused” screen. Tap “live tracking” (bottom left) and choose a sharing option. For Windows Phone 8.1 users: Please note that direct Twitter sharing has not been made available as of yet so you will have to use the copy URL option and paste the link into your Twitter client (don’t forget to tag it with the #TrackRunnerApp hashtag so watchers will find you). Watchers please note that it can take up to a minute after the runner started his run for the map to show up. If you see Track Runner’s app store page keep hitting refresh until the Google Map appears.
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Great! Take this turkey trot as your first race. Aim for the finish line, don’t stress about timings. We’ve all started out at some point and are excited to share our hobby with all of you new to running so I am sure you will find the running community supportive and the experience energizing and rewarding!
In that spirit, have an awesome race on Saturday and make sure you share those live tracking links!

*Privacy advice: Since the point of the remote race is to share your run with Twitter (and Facebook) followers/friends and your route will be visible publicly, we recommend that you don’t start your race at your front door.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Help us make Track Runner v. 5.0 a reality!

We have some innovative new features planned for Track Runner and are working tirelessly to make them happen. Track Runner’s hallmark are its intuitive, highly customizable training options and we are gearing up to take them to another level. This is exciting and fun but also expensive. We’d love to spend most of our time working on Track Runner v. 5.0 and the good news is you can help us achieve just that! 

There is no doubt you love Track Runner based on the awesome feedback and reviews we are getting. And we have received many requests to add a donate button to the app so you can show your appreciation in actions rather than words.

Here are ways to help us get you running with Track Runner v. 5.0:

  • Click here to donate or use the PayPal Donate button in the top right corner of this page. PayPal accepts credit cards, too, so you won’t even need an account to send us your gift. Pro tip: For some extra love, make it recurring with a simple tick of a box! 
  • Product reviews: Browse our new section “product reviews” for our take on BTLE heart rate monitors and other gear and gadgets. If you feel inspired and are ready to get the product, simply use our Amazon Affiliate links to buy them on Amazon. Do us a big favor and complete your Amazon holiday shopping including the linked product while you’re there and you will have given us a Christmas gift as well. :)
  • Share, share, share: use social media to let your family and friends know about our app and our fundraiser. Like Track Runner on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and spread the donate link to show us you care!


We are determined to keep Track Runner free of charge and without annoying banner ads while cranking out those sweet updates. The App Cauldron is invested in the Windows Phone running community – now it’s your turn to invest in us!

In that sense: Ready, Set, DONATE!

Sarah & The App Cauldron Team

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Friday, August 22, 2014

A sneak peek at Track Runner’s next updates – Uber me Home?

Track Runner is a product of our passion for running. We developed, tweaked, listened, iterated, but never compromised to deliver the best rated Windows Phone running app. And we are always thinking ahead to further enhance the training experience for our users. With our next update to Track Runner v4, we’re adding custom distances to the pacer and improved sharing on Facebook. We also put additional heart rate sensors through their paces and will be adding these to our list soon. This update will be out in the next few days.
So – how can we improve on this? What are the problems typically faced by runners? And how can we solve them? Like every self-respecting startup, we analyzed our data and this is what we found:
13% of runs end more than 1 km (.6 miles) away from their starting location. Typically, these runs follow some of the most beautiful trails in the country, like the Boston Charles River path. So – instead of carefully planning a loop (hello, 53%) that will be either too short or too long, wouldn’t it be great if you could just run? And at the end, an Uber car will magically appear, maybe even hand you a towel, and take you home.
Remember that Track Runner is Master of Maps? “Any app with a map is a potential Uber API partner”, says Uber. So we had a go… Our experimental Uber integration comes with the following features:
pacer screen surrender popup improved start screen
  • “Uber @ finish line”: Thanks to our track recognition and the pacer, an Uber car is dispatched automatically to your projected finishing location, waiting to take you home after your run.
  • “Surrender to Uber”: If your pacer training is not going as expected, soften the blow with a royal trip home.
  • Uber me home: Just run and order an Uber with one tap whenever you’re ready.
We usually do not share our experimental features publicly. However, we are making an exception here and want to hear from you! What do you think about the utility and convenience of these features? If you would like to be one of the first to try Uber integration, why not join our beta program by emailing
Time for “Surrender to Uber?”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How to improve your PR: Improve your race strategy with the Pacer (and learn how to use pacing in your training)

Success can be measured in many ways. Success can mean even making it to the track, it can be managing a mile without stitches, 5k without walking or maximizing the kcal burned over a long sustained run. But for many of us success is measured in breaking our personal records. One clever tool that helps many of our users to improve upon their PR is the Pacer. wp_ss_20140817_0001

For those who aren’t familiar with Track Runner’s Pacer: This feature helps you stick to a predetermined pace by guiding you through the run with voice notifications. If you want to run 5k in 30 minutes for example, the pacer keeps you running at a constant speed by telling you to slow down if you steam ahead in the beginning or speed up if you’re not quite on track to finish in your chosen time. It’s super simple to set up and gives your training the extra edge. 

But the Pacer isn’t just for pros, it doesn’t judge, it just gives us the extra kick we may need to keep on target.I have been working on technique as of lately as my goal is to improve my stride rate and aerobic fitness and have used the pacer to discipline myself more so than to achieve new PRs. My new routine is running every other day with the following pattern: 5k, 10k, recovery (anything between 3k and 7k) and I use the pacer most of the time. The 5k is about pushing and shaving off seconds of my personal best but the other two distances are really about managing my resources, staying in a moderate heart rate zone and being consistent. These are the runs where I hone my stride rate (up to 176 steps per minute now!) and try to maintain a relatively low heartbeat while still moving forward (harder than it sounds ;)

As you can see on the pictures, the pacer has (mostly) kept me in check and even made recovery runs still feel like a fun challenge.

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Pushing hard to improve my PR

Time for a recovery run! Cardio Map below in large.











What do you use the pacer for?  Let us know on Facebook (, Twitter (@trackrunnerapp) or in the comments!