Data 24/7 | STRAVA RUN STATS | Training update

My ‘Going public with STRAVA RUN stats’ post published in early April, focused on my run stats up to the end of March, it concluded that I didn’t do enough runs and I really needed to build up gradually.

The aim was that by ‘going public’ would help me stick to a more structured training plan and ultimately do more runs and increase the miles? What happened throughout April?

Tableau helps me keep a track my activity…

STRAVA Run stats_APR.png

Check out the interactive STRAVA RUN STATS viz on Tableau Public to delve a little deeper into the weekly and monthly stats.

April Summary

I clocked 9 runs in Apr, 63 miles, 8 hours of running and maintained pace. My average distance was down (but i’ll explain why in a mo) and therefore average run length was shortened compared to March’s stats. However overall I felt the figures (at least) look a little more consistent, especially looking at average distance per run (7 miles) – interact with viz ‘select measure to view stats per week’.

How did April unfold?

I wrote the previous post in week 14 in the hope it would kick start some drive, and week 15 looked promising, bubbling with enthusiasm following ‘going public’ I popped in a solid three runs, followed by two in week 16, two in week 17 and in week 18 I managed  one standard run, plus an open water swim|run training session (not Strava logged – so does it count?). On paper/screen it looks good, in reality it wasn’t so successful, having developed pretty painful tendinitis in both knees – mainly caused by March madness! (check out the viz for details). Basically I put in some silly 12-15 mile runs in March without really building up gradually, subsequently my knees are shot and i’m in constant pain with them, Now under bi-weekly physio, i’m having to do band stretches morning and night. That said the physio said i can still continue my run plan of 2-3 runs per week if i shorten my runs, log my discomfort rating and most importantly do the stretches.

In April I appear to be balancing my runs more effectively and getting out in the week and overall the trajectory in terms of Km/Miles trodden is heading in the right direction

days of run_may so far

Run days as a proportion of the month.


Monthly figures for 2016 and 2017 (to date) show a pretty consistent increase in distance from September last year (when I became a little more structured in my efforts), and on the whole my pace (minute miles) has increased to an acceptable level (8 min mile-ing). The number of runs i manage per month is still a little erratic, however becoming more consistent.

Monthly overview dashboard_upto APR.png

Monthly distance | Min miles | no. runs

Key takeouts for April

  • Don’t over do it, build up gradually – Take note of your age Greeny, your not in your 20’s anymore, your late 30’s, knocking on the big four zero…..
  • Stretch – before and after exercise, plus morning and night regardless.
  • Multi sport – don’t rely on running only for fitness, mix it up. walk, cycle and swim.


Whilst the primary intentions of these STRAVA training posts are to allow me to work through my progress and mistakes training wise, ultimately leaving the breadcrumbs to be able look back next year and learn from mistakes encountered in 2017.

Please feel free to comment, i’m really interested in anyone’s feedback and thoughts on run training, and visualising training data in tableau, and of course please do comment on the vizzes them selves and how I could improve these to better show my activity.

Next post: a wider look at fitness in general, taking a peek at my FITBIT daily step averages and swim training (pool and open water) activity.


Data 9-5 | Just got help!

Data 9-5 just got help!

Whilst the ambition to viz and blog data 24-7, data 9-5 and makeovermonday is strong, time is not on my side…..

Therefore, having floated the concept of visualising higher education open data through Tableau with my good friend Dave Kirk (whom is the other half of the tableau darktwo blokes who found some interesting ways of doing things, and thought it would be good to share). A blog where we share our experiences of administering and launching a Tableau server environment. We decided that joining forces was the way to make this project on visualising HE happen. Dave also had some great contacts in HE based in the midlands (Elena and Stephen), so we hooked up at a TUG midlands meeting and formally launched VisualisingHE (twitter: #VisualisingHE)

If you would like to follow our explorations visualising HE using open data please follow our blog VisualisingHE.


Data 24-7 | Going public | STRAVA run stats

The issue

How to get run fit, and achieve your goals?


I fess up, I read some of those posts… you know… those posts……the ones about achieving your goals. To paraphrase the waffle:

“Write it down, you have a slightly better chance of achieving it, better still have a plan”

Right ok, so Make it real… Apparently people who don’t write down their goals tend to fail easier than the ones who have plans.

In Tableau English that’s:

If you have a goal, viz it up, if you don’t viz it up, you don’t have a goal – you have a wish!

Making it real – going public with the goal, plan and progress

The Goal

  • Get race fit by end of JUNE 2017

The Plan

  • Get off your ass
  • Run more miles
  • Track your progress (viz it up in Tableau via the information labs strava web data connector)
  • crowd source training tips (twitter)
  • Go public with it – this should help me stick to it. Announcing my goal to more than my wife and kids, might just spur me on to try a little bit harder.

The progress

STRAVA run stats_MAR

View interactive viz on Tableau: Strava run stats

Current issues identified:

  • I don’t do enough runs per week (5 in March is not enough), i need to be running at least 3 x per week (see crowd sourced tips), therefore i need to get out during the week AND at the weekend (mainly Sundays it appears):

run days

Other key tips sourced:

  • Build up gradually – average distance per month is going up nicely – Tick,
  • As too is the average length of run (obviously) – Tick
  • Maintain pace – Tick

Follow my progress in a monthly update and see if my hypothesis holds true?

Does going public help me to achieve my goals






Data 24/7 | Norfolk TOP100 Companies in Norfolk and Suffolk

Simple and clean is sometimes all that is needed…..

I don’t really have a lot to say about this Tableau Viz to be honest. Its simple, clean and quite informative, it doesn’t really break any design boundaries or utilize any fancy Tableau tricks. Sometimes you don’t need to go all out, I was just looking to visualize the TOP100 companies in Norfolk and Suffolk published on the EDP (Eastern Daily Press) website to understand “who might just be worth approaching in little old Norfolk”… 

The original EDP publication is just a ranking table, useful I suppose, but i thought i could make it a little more useful and interactive using the power of Tableau.

The data set

  • Rank
  • Company
  • Sector
  • Turnover
  • Pre tax profit
  • Staff

I added the postcode of the company HQ to bring some mapping context, but little else to be honest, i don’t think it needs it. I could have compiled the company URLs so that you could click through to glean more insight, and that might be a nice touch at some point, but my intentions were to make a little more sense of the data used to compile the rankings with little extra leg work.

The Viz

This dashboard allows the user to filter what rankings are being shown, i thought this was useful to make sense of the locations and sectors appearing in the data set. you can then click on the sector in the headline summary bar chart to filter down the companies within the chosen sector.

Potentially useul tips on how the Viz was built

Colour pallet – Whilst the colour ways aren’t the most appealing, i decided to keep it in line with the original. To do this, make use of the ‘pick a screen colour’ option now available in the colour pallet, this way you can get the exact colours used in the original. Here’s a nice link to a dataschool post which shows you how.

URL links – Getting your viz to present an active URL, requires a few small workarounds. First i clipped an image of the header and URL text, then inserted it into the dashboard. Right click the image and ‘insert URL’. This way when you click the space where the URL resides it goes straight to the web link.

Dashboard Actions – Finally just a few dashboard actions help the viz hang together a bit better, by firstly making sure the individual worksheets on the viz are linked when applying filters (ranking and sector), but also a ‘highlight’ action, just so that it helps guide your eyes around the components a little better.

here’s the dashboard



To have a play with the interactive viz please take a look on Tableau Public here: Top100

Just a little fun and keeping it simple


Data 24/7 | Fitbit

Back in March 2016 I was chatting to Andy Kriebel of the information lab uk (twitter: @vizwizbi), and co-founder of the awarding winning social data project #makeovermonday. We were discussing what a pain it is to multi post to various platforms such as your blog platform, LinkedIn and twitter and he introduced me to IFTTT…. wow who new this existed?

IFTTT is a free web-based service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called “recipes” now called “applets”, which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogger and WordPress. IFTTT is an abbreviation of “If This Then That”. What a bloomin fantastic app this is. 

Having tried out a few of the “recipes” and used it to auto push blog posts onto Twitter and LinkedIn. I also stumbled accross a recipe for auto populating a google spreadsheet with daily Fitbit data. I must say this got me a little bit excited! So I kicked this off and thought… that data might come in handy at some point!!

Roll for forward a couple of months…

I’d been playing about with the new API functionality in tableau desktop 9.3 happily utilising some of Craig Bloodworths great work on web connectors . Whilst connecting Fitbit to tableau desktop is frankly brilliant, what I really wanted to do was monitor my Fitbit activity on my iphone using a dashboard I designed to my spec, showing the information I wanted to see. To do this automatically, I needed to host this dashboard on tableau public. But unfortunately you can’t get API’s to keep updated automatically on tableau public…..

Roll forward to life with tableau 10….

Tableau 10 now allows you to connect direct into google sheets. What Tableau hasn’t (to my knowledge) done a whole lot of shouting about is that when you upload a workbook with Google Sheets as a data source to Tableau Public, Tableau will offer to keep the data in your dashboard up to date with your Sheets (BIG smiley face). This way you can append/modify data and have it flow through automatically into your dashboard. Bonza!

How to:

Use Google Sheets as the data source(s) for your Tableau workbook – it works in the same way as using Excel, with the exception that you’ll need to sign in to your Google account.

Create an extract / extracts of your Google Sheets data sources. When you publish to Tableau Public, Tableau will offer to embed your Google credentials and keep your data refreshed for you.

IFTTT and V10, What did this mean for me?

Finding IFTTT and recent developments with tableau’s google sheet connectivity was just what I needed to achieve a dynamic link into my Fitbit data whilst hosting my own dashboard on tableau public.

The Fitbit monitoring brief:

  • Simple dashboard to be viewed specifically on my iPhone
  • Week by week monitoring of average daily excercise
  • Month by month monitoring of average daily excercise
  • Flexibility of alternating between steps, active minutes and distance traveled

Here it is:

 Fitbit dashboard

Hope you found this useful.