Fit Challenge 2015 – April Challenge

steve

Fit Challenge 2015 kicks off April with a brand new challenge, burpees, from Steve Carmichael of RunBuzz.com.

Steve began road running in 1987 at Ft. Benning, Georgia while attending Infantry School for the U.S. Army National Guard. After returning from training, he continued running for about 3 years and ran many short distance road races up to a 20 mile run. In 1991, he gave up running and lived a sedimentary, fast food lifestyle until a health scare woke him up in 2006 when he took up running again to lose weight, lower cholesterol and to get back into shape. He has gone on to complete numerous 5k races and half and full marathons. Steve is a RRCA and USA Track and Field – Level 1 certified running coach and has coached runners locally through his running club as well as privately coached runners all across the United States and abroad.

Steve runs the RunBuzz Radio podcast, where he shares running tips, and interviews everyday runners and experts so that we can all learn more about the sport.

Steve’s own story has been featured on two podcasts Diz Runs With … Steve Carmichael as well as Concious Runner Episode 20: Steve Carmichael–From Overweight, Borderline Diabetic to Passionate Runner and More Part 1 and Episode 21: Steve Carmichael–From Overweight, Borderline Diabetic to Passionate Runner and More Part 2.

Please make sure that you check out the challenge page http://hamptonrunner.com/challenge to like the RunBuzz page and get directions for Final Surge so you can be eligible to win a monthly prize. Here is a burp demonstration:

Review: MilestonePod – Running Dynamics for $25

Not long ago, I saw a screenshot from Pete Larson of Runblogger showing results from a run that were collected from a device called MilestonePod. I immediately knew that I had to get my hands on one.

MilestonePod was initially introduced as a crowd funded Indiegogo project in early 2013. The initial devices were very straightforward. They automatically tracked the number of miles put on a pair of shoes. This was a valuable feature at the time because many running logs and sites were not tracking shoe mileage. Garmin for one just added this ability late in 2014 as an example.

While MilestonePod did not meet their funding goal, they were encouraged enough to release the product anyway. The original pods track shoe mileage and display the information in an app as shown below:

milestone-pod-version-one While the information is definitely useful and welcome, things have gotten really exciting in version 2. In this new version of the MilestonePod, the device tracks several valuable metrics. These include the following:

Distance: How far you ran
Pace: Average pace
Pace (peak): Fastest Pace
Duration: Total time of workout
Cadence: Average Number of steps per minute
Cadence (peak): Maximum steps per minute
Stance Time: Also known as ground contact time. Amount of time on average your foot remains in contact with the ground
Stance Time (peak): Average ground contact time taken from the fastest minute of the workout.
Stride Length: Average length of each step from the right foot and left foot touching the ground.
Footstrike: The percentage of time your foot contacts the ground first with the heel, midfoot, or heel.
Runficiency Score: A metric derived from cadence, stance time and stride length.

MilestonePod was kind enough to send me one of their version 2 pods and I excitedly put it on a pair of shoes to try out.

First Use

syncingWhen I received the MilestonePod, I immediately installed it on my pair of Skechers GoRun 4 and synced it with my iPhone. When it found the device, it started to update. I took a couple Facebook Messages and then went off to the gym and ran on the treadmill.

 

When I was finished, I tried to sync the data and there was nothing there. I popped the battery and replaced it and finally got the phone to see it. Unfortunately, it seemed like there was no data. I then reset the device to go with another pair of shoes, my Kinvara 5s and started to sync it. The app advised me again that it had to update the footpod and this time I was patient enough to see that it was asking me to not interrupt the process while it was happening. I didn’t and it updated successfully. It also gave me the option to set the number of miles that already existed on the shoes. This was a nice touch.

Second and Third Use

Now that I got the MilestonePod synced up and ready to go, I took it out on two long runs with my Kinvara 5s.

The first of these runs had the following results:

milestone_1st_run

 

I have been working on my foot strike for a while and increasing my cadence. I have been trying to hold a bit more of a mid-fore foot strike. Well, it appears that I may be missing the boat in the results.

I wore the footpad again and had slightly different results as shown below:

milestone_2nd_run

Well, there at least was some sign of a midfoot strike. Also, this was a 20 mile run and I was impressed that it got as close as it did for the distance. This was with no calibration, and the cadenced match my Garmin for both runs. After contemplating my foot strike issues, I decided that I should check the placement of the pod on my shoes and discovered that there may be a problem.

MilestonePod-placement

It appears that I suffered a case of failure to follow directions (it has happened in the past). I placed my MilestonePod between the first and second eyelet of the shoe instead of between the second and third eyelet as recommended in their video below:

So, I corrected the issue and put the MilestonePod on my shoe in the manner prescribed by the company. I then went on another run with the results below:

milestone_3rd_run

Sadly, it appears that my foot strike issue wasn’t caused by the placement of the footpad, but it is nice having the information. And that is the bottom line about this product. For $25, you are able to not only track miles on a shoe but also get some running dynamics to see if your form is as good as you would like it to be.

Keep in mind that getting this kind of information on a Garmin watch requires at least a Forerunner 620 which costs $400. Just this fact alone makes the MilestonePod an incredible bargain. It is inexpensive enough that you can buy more than one and have them on multiple pairs of shoes. You can then just reset them as you replace the shoes over time.

The MilestonePod can be bought at Amazon with my affiliate link below:

It appears that Amazon has sold out but more are on the way. In the meantime, you can visit the MilestonePod site at http://milestonepod.com/product/milestonepod/. Use coupon code “hamptonrunner” to get $5 off until 06/30/2015.

Review: Motigo App

motigo-logo

Sometimes in a race, you can find yourself in a very dark place. You are having to dig very deep and facing your own inner demons. It’s times like these, that a word of cheer or support can really help you find the light. Unfortunately, your family likely can’t be at every point in a race, or may not be able to attend an event. That is where the Motigo App for iPhone (Android coming soon) can be invaluable.

Motigo is an app that enables loved ones and supporters to record messages of up to 30 seconds that are played back for runners at different points during a race. These points are selected by whomever is recording a cheer.

The runner just starts the app at the beginning of the race, and as they cross the selected mile markers during the race, the music will fade and the message will play.

I used it in two races on back to back weekends.

In the first race, a marathon, things were going great for the first, but then I started having problems. As the race continued, I got cheers from my wife and my nephew. These really helped give me something to focus on. They were a lifeline. Especially when I was hurting so badly that I was walking at many points. Hearing my wife cheer me helped give me the motivation to get it together and start running so I could see her sooner at the finish.

In the next race, things were going extremely well. This time, getting messages from my wife just made the day more complete. They really enhanced an already great run for me and helped me maintain my effort all the way to a personal record. I love how the app can be there for both good and bad runs.

Another use for the app that I haven’t seen advertised could be for coaching. By having the ability to record messages at specific points during a race, coaches could offer guidance and strategy throughout the race.

These cheers remain available for future listens and that may its greatest feature. I lost my parents recently and they were very thrilled about my races. Unfortunately, they were unable to attend the events. I would have loved the opportunity to not only have heard from them during the races, but also I wish I had them recorded to hear now. I don’t know how long the cheers will be available and hope that we will be able to download them at some point, but having them archived with the service is a great start.

The only option I would request is the ability to change how the cheers are delivered. Currently, the music fades and the cheer is played over it. I would like to have the option of setting the app to pause the music and play the message. I had trouble hearing my nephew because he spoke softly in his cheer. I also know that I would have definitely struggled hearing my mother because she had Parkinson’s disease and her voice was very faint.

I highly recommend this app. It is very inexpensive to buy some cheers – about the same as a greeting card. And while you can’t hand your loved ones a card on the course, you can put a cheer in their ear.

You can find more information about the app in iTunes, or at http://getmotigo.com/. It is currently iOS only, but an Android version will be announced soon. You can sign up to be notified at http://getmotigo.com/.

Review: Mio Fuse

What is it?  The Mio Fuse is an activity tracker and heart rate monitor.  It is a pretty nifty little device.  As an activity tracker, you can set goals, monitor your heart rate, and keep track of steps, calories and distance.  It will show you, via the app, how many steps you have taken, and how many you need to reach your goal. The heart rate monitor is an optical sensor.  Meaning it shines a little light on your skin and the sensor pick up heart rate.

My interest in the Mio Fuse is primarily as a heart rate monitor.  As an athlete and coach who trains with heart rate based periodization, heart rate is an important piece of information.  Each athlete has their own individual heart rate zones.  No two people are alike.  Using a standard formula for everyone does not produce individual zones and is not useful for training (and in fact could be detrimental, as too much time in the wrong zone, or too high a zone can lead to burnout and injury).  I want to run in specific zones in my own training, and when I write workouts for athletes, they are assigned zones based on the intent of the workout (endurance, tempo, or recovery for example).  As a woman prone to chafing, I have some serious issues with the Garmin heart rate strap.  For me, it causes painful chafing under the sensor (for other people it can cause chafing anywhere under the strap itself).  Its not possible to put anti-chafe under the sensors, as that interferes with the signal.  The Fuse seemed to be the solution to this problem and I was excited to give it a try.

The Fuse comes in two sizes, depending on the size of your wrist.  I chose the small size and as you can see, even while wearing the Fuse high on the wrist (more on placement later), I have enough extra band.  The Fuse has 3 buttons, or touch points.  The two on the side scroll through time, calories, steps, distance and goal.  It will also display your heart rate.  The midde touch point is for finding your heart rate and starting, pausing, and ending an activity.  The Fuse finds heart rate pretty quickly.  Touch the middle point, it will say “find” then wait for heart rate to pop up.  To start a workout, touch the same point again.  It will read “go” as the timer starts.  Touch it again to pause, then hold it down, when paused, to end an and save an activity.

838eadc6ad9341a6b5438c539a70adaa

 

Pairing the Fuse with the Garmin was easy.   Put the Fuse on and find your heart rate.  Then set your watch to scan for the heart rate device.  It pairs quickly, and since the first pairing,  Garmin finds it right away (no scanning again required).  Heart rate will then show on your Garmin/watch screen.  The Fuse does not have an “always on” screen, which I would like, but I imagine this is a battery life issue.  You can customize your zones in the app (which “talks” to the Fuse via Bluetooth) and the Fuse will vibrate for a split second to let you know when you have changed zones.  It will display heart rate at that point, so in that way you can see on the display when you putting out too much heart rate effort, or not enough, and stay in your proper zones.

The first run I did with the Fuse, I experienced long dips (into the low 100s when I should have been in the high 140s), and conversely, spikes into the high 170s/180s when I should have been high 140s/low 150s).  This happened after about 3 miles of perfect heart rate numbers (compared to rate of perceived exertion, which I know quite well, having been a heart rate based athlete going on 5 years now).  This was disappointing.  I then did a run wearing two Garmin watches (910xt and 110).  The 110 was paired to the strap and the 910xt was paired to the Fuse.  Here are the results.  You can see the Garmin strap (top in both examples) is accurate, whereas the Fuse has dips and long surges.

cc3ae97b2b954677849a1adc0697f5c2

1a8b722bd65d45ea92f6b9ced0958625

I called Mio and left a message (there is an option for a call back, but if you just let customer service ring it will put you to voicemail).  Surprisingly I received a call back in a few minutes.  The rep made a couple suggestions.  One, put the Fuse on your wrist, with a little room on the strap. Then “snug” it up your wrist about 3-4 inches.  Let the strap conform to you, instead of putting it on tight.  The Fuse is meant to be worn high on the wrist, as it needs enough surface area to get an accurate reading.   Being female with small wrists, I need to wear it on the high side to get accuracy.  He also suggested wearing it on the inside on the wrist, although I did not find that in practice to be accurate.  The last suggestion was to wear it for a few minutes before pairing to the Garmin and starting a workout. On my next run, I did as suggested and the Fuse was accurate.  The take-away – wrist placement is key for accuracy.  I find I have to wear it high and a touch off center.  It does sometimes slip down and needs to be gently nudged back into proper position.  After wearing it for a few more runs, if it is place in the right spot, it is highly accurate.  When it deviates (either error in putting it on or it slides around), that is when the dips and spikes occur.

The Fuse will record distance a bit low.  For example, an 11.2 mile run on the Garmin read as 9.69 miles on the Fuse. The Garmin had another at 11.01 mi. with the Fuse reading 8.92 mi.  But not always.  A different time, Garmin had 10.22 mi. to the Fuse at 10.8 mi., and my 10k (with mile warm up) came up as Garmin 7.34 mi. and Fuse 7.35 mi.  Again, not a big deal for a runner using the Fuse paired with a GPS watch.

I also used the Fuse on the bike for trainer rides.  The weather hasn’t been conducive to outdoor riding so I have tested it indoors only.  The accuracy is 100% on the bike, most likely because your arms are in a more fixed position than when running.  The accuracy is the same whether the ride is recovery (low HR), endurance (Zone 2) or tempo and intervals (pushing into Zone 4 and beyond).  This is very encouraging and the Fuse getting very sweaty did not affect accuracy.  Again it paired easily with Trainer Road via Ant+.

TRMio

The Fuse was a pleasant surprise on the swim.  Unfortunately, the Garmin 910xt does not have an available heart rate data field under the swim function.  So there was no way to to pair it for a swim, and no way to get a heart rate graph from Garmin Connect.  I wore the Fuse by itself in the pool.  It stayed in place pretty well, and the heart rate readings were accurate as compared to perceived exertion.  The distance is not correct, but that doesn’t really matter, as athletes are typically following a written swim workout.  One swim I did was 2500 yards, it recorded .91 miles.  The next at 2600 yards recorded .89 miles.  Not quite right, but again, not an issue.

Mioswim

The Fuse needs to be synced via Bluetooth to the Mio app on your smartphone.   Cloud/web capability is currently in the testing phase (according to Mio).  Implementation with 3rd parties such as Garmin require business agreements and such.  This is good news, as hopefully a few months down the road (from publication of this review) there will be a way to export Fuse data.  It has a limited amount of storage, and if you don’t sync it frequently it won’t be able to record an activity.  This is no problem, syncing is fast and easy.  The app is easy to use.  You can set up your profile and customize heart rate zones, or set daily goals.  All very straightforward.  Where the app lacks currently, for me, is data analysis.  Select an activity (it asks you to confirm, you can choose from running, road biking, walking, mountain biking, climbing, swimming, rowing and hiking) and click on it.  Then you can see the stats (avg HR, time, distance, calories, most frequent zone, time, speed and pace) but for Android users, no heart rate graph.  It is shown only on the iOS app.   According to Mio they are testing this and it should be available for update for Android in the upcoming weeks (from publication of this review). A heart rate graph will be very nice to see, particularly for the swims (as there is no heart rate data field option on the Garmin 910xt, you can pair Mio to the 920xt in open water swim mode, not as a data field but it will show up in analysis on Connect). It sounds like Mio is very aware of what consumers want in terms of functionality and data analysis, and are in the process of making that happen.

All told, I am impressed with the Fuse and would recommend it to any athlete who is interested in an alternative to the chest strap, or to any active person interested in activity tracking.

Compatibility of the Mio Fuse to other devices and apps can be found on its product page. It can be purchased directly from Mio or at Amazon with the affiliate link below:
Save 20% on Mio heart rate monitor watches with promo code Mio-Bucks at checkout! Valid through 3/31/15 11:59PM

Fit Challenge 2015 – March Challenge

Fit Challenge 2015 continues with a new challenge for March, Lunges conducted by the amazing athlete and coach, Rebecca Adamson of KR Endurance.

As one of the head coaches and founders of KR Endurance, Rebecca has numerous certifications along with a B.A., including International Triathlon Coaching Association (ITCA), National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) Sports Injury Specialist and Lifestyle Weight Management Specialist, and is a US Masters Swimming certified Level 1&2 Coach.

In addition to helping many athletes find their own personal best, Rebecca has massive racing experience herself, having run the Boston Marathon in 2010, 2011, and 2012, New York in 2014, and has completed two Ironmans – Lake Tahoe 2013 and Coeur d’Alene 2014. Her race history can be seen on Athlinks.

Rebecca demonstrates proper form for the lunges below. Please make sure that you check out the challenge page http://hamptonrunner.com/challenge to like the KR Endurance page and get directions for Final Surge so you can be eligible to win a monthly prize.