As a triathlete and runner who utilizes heart rate based periodization training, I was very interested in reviewing the LifeBEAM Smart Hat. As workouts are prescribed based on training zones, athletes need a reliable source of gathering heart rate data during the session. For years I used a Garmin chest strap, which is generally considered to be the best measure of heart rate data. However, the downside of a chest strap is that it can chafe the skin, causing redness, soreness, pain, and broken skin. Fortunately for those of us who battle with chafing, products with optical sensors are becoming increasingly popular and there is a fair variety to choose from. The downside of optical sensors has always been their tendency to be inaccurate at times, when compared to a chest strap. Dips, surges in heart rate, and high or low readings tend to happen occasionally, which can be frustrating when the numbers don’t match your rate of perceived exertion.
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.
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.
Heart rate is an important part of training for many athletes. It is an invaluable governor using biofeedback to keep them from trying to do too much at a time. Until recently, this training was accomplished using a strap worn around the chest. For many however, this strap was both inconvenient and aggravating. Worse, it causes chafing for some. As an alternative, optical heart rate monitors that can be worn around the wrist were created. Sadly, these are notoriously inaccurate. That is until Mio came onto the market first with the LINK, and now the VELO.
I received a Mio VELO and have really tried to put it though its paces. Surprisingly, it has met the challenge with aplomb.
Not long ago, I wrote a review on the Fitbit Charge. I opened it by saying that it might be the quickest review that I have ever written. Well, this one won’t be too far behind. The Fitbit Charge HR is the same device with one addition – an optical heart rate monitor. But that is a big addition. Since the rest of the tracker features are identical to the basic Charge, I will focus on the Heart Rate monitor in this post and encourage you to read about the basic Charge in my earlier review.
As activity trackers start to become more popular and more and more people are getting into running, there is a bit of convergence happening. Full-blown GPS watches from major manufacturers are starting to add step tracking and at the same time, companies who are making activity trackers are coming out with more advanced products. This is a traditional path of disruption. You have cheaper single function items start to get more and more advanced and they eat up the marketshare from the bottom. By the time the larger established players see what is happening, they have become an also ran. This theory taught by Clayton Christenson is described in Wikipedia’s article Disruptive innovation.
The Fitbit Surge bills itself as a Super Watch. Does it deliver on its promise? Let’s break it down.
I like to run and bike while listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks. This allows me to multitask and either get pumped up by my tunes, or catch up on some reading. I love to do this with Bluetooth headphones so I don’t have to deal with wires, but I am concerned about safety when I am am listening. Especially when I am on my bike. That’s where Aftershokz Bluez 2 bone conduction headphones come in.
It has been a trend over the last couple years for everyone to have a double-take about Skechers making running shoes. Then the shoes test well and they are shocked. These were fun to read and I was definitely cheering to see the underdog American Meb Keflezighi, sponsored by the underdog shoe company Skechers, win the 2014 Boston Marathon. But it’s time for that to end. I think that Skechers is a serious competitor releasing shoes on an equal standing of more well known companies like Brooks or Saucony.
There is an old trope, “jack of all trades, master of none.” Polar may just have proven this untrue.
I purchased the M400 with few expectations. I have used Garmin watches for a while, and wanted to see what another manufacturer was doing with GPS watches. I was especially interested in Polar since they invented the first wireless heart rate monitor and I am a believer in heart rate training.
The M400 is Polar’s latest running watch that doubles as an activity and sleep tracker. And honestly, it does a good job with both. This is quite an acheivement for a device that costs less than $180 ($230 with a heart rate monitor).
This has been a terrible training season for me. It started out well, then a cascade of injuries occurred and I have had to cancel all my races this fall. Sadly, I have been injured enough that I have begun to learn the names of muscles, tendons and fascia that I never new about before.
Truthfully, I wish I were oblivious. But, this experience allows me to share information about recovery products. Two of my mainstay products are foam rollers and The Stick. I have one of these at both home and work. But there is a third device that I don’t always talk about. It has been out for a couple years, but surprisingly not everyone has heard of it. Even my chiropractor wasn’t familiar with it. It being the Moji 360 Mini Massager.