Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Techno Spin and New Treadmill

When I spin at home, I haven't really been following a specific program, other than "ride for 30 minutes" (which, I know, isn't long enough). So usually what I do is put the iPod on shuffle, and go with what the music tells me.

I have a wide variety of music on that thing, but for some reason today's main feature was techno/ electronica. I usually skip the stuff (which is allowed), but today it just worked-- got me in a rhythm at about 80-85 rpm. I even shifted down a little for more resistance.

As great as the steady bass is for cadence/tempo, gotta have some rock to really grind and push. "Cherub Rock" by Smashing Pumpkins came on, and I really started to crank! It came on at the perfect time, around 25 minutes in for a strong finish.

Cooldown was a 5 minute slow spin, then 5 minutes on Nicole's new treadmill! (Plus about 7 mins ab work, 10 mins stretch)

Yep, Santa came yesterday. Thankfully, I was able to get some help getting it downstairs before she got home from work. I was even able to put it together, and make up an excuse to bring her downstairs.

Santa wants us both to get moving, apparently.

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Techno Spin


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Garmin Forerunner 310xt Review - part 1


Yes, I'm a little excited. I'm also excited about the fact that the pathways in Sage Hill have been cleared--thank you, whoever did it!

I figure maybe I should write a review of the Garmin, since it's my first one, and share some of the fun as I figure it out. So far, I've run twice and used it spinning once. Also got the Garmin Ant Agent going to transfer, and got started on Garmin Connect to look at what I've done.

What I've Got
My Garmin 310xt came with:
  • An Ant + USB stick, which allows wireless data transfer to my computer
  • A premium Heart Rate Monitor (apparently there are 2 you can get, mine was included)
  • Charging "Clip"
  • Software CD
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Safety Guide
You can also get a wireless cadence sensor-- it's the same one that works with any wireless Garmin bike GPS. It's about $60, but I think I'll wait until spring to spring for that. There's also a foot pod you can buy extra, which I think is for when you're out of view of the satellites, but it may also provide cadence?

So far, very cool. Takes less savvy than I thought it would-- a glance at the quick start guide, and some playing around with the watch, and I'm quite content with how it's performing. I now know how far and how fast I'm running, as well as my heart rate. (Perceived effort is fine, but it's nice to know where you're at). Even better, all this data is stored, and wirelessly transmitted to my computer! The connection software (Garmin Ant Agent) was easy to download an set up, and the web portal (Garmin Connect) that ultimately stores all my workout data was also easy to use, although I'm still exploring everything it can do.

About me
I think it's important to know where I'm coming from if you're reading this to figure out if it's worth shelling out for one of these. If you haven't been following my blog, I've been training for short distance triathlons for the last two years. I haven't always been super-diligent with my training, just struggling with consistency and getting the miles in every week. I'm a big guy (6'4'', 245lbs) and tend to break stuff (wear out shoes, rip clothes, bike tires, blown spokes, bent rims, smash watches, you name it). I do best training with a group like UCTC, but do run on my own, and lately I've been spinning in the basement of our new house.

It's important to me to have an easy way of keeping track of the training I'm doing, and I'd like to see my progress. It's one thing to feel like you're getting faster or fitter, it's another to see it. I've used Nike + in the past, but didn't feel it was very accurate-- Calgary's a very hilly place, and my stride tends to vary depending on distance, terrain, how full my belly is...

I'm a bit of a geek, and tend to be an "early adopter" of technology... but lately I've curbed that a bit, limiting myself to stuff that actually makes my life easier.

Setting Up My Garmin 310xt

Christmas morning, I was pretty excited to open the box. As soon as I turned it on, it asked me for my measurement preference (metric), my sex, age, weight, height, "activity class", and if I'm a "lifetime athlete". There's a little chart in the quick-start guide that helps you choose what activity class you're in, and the "lifetime athlete" thing means that you've trained intensely for many years. As much as I would have liked to call myself a lifetime athlete, I think I've enjoyed food and booze too much to qualify! Although if you took certain periods of my life and smooshed them together, took out some of the bad habits... but I don't think that counts.

You also have to estimate your max and resting heart rate-- I just used the suggested, which is the age-(x) formula. It uses this to calculate your heart rate "zones", which is useful when looking at the hr chart screen (shows what zone you're in), as a lot of training programs focus on this. You can also set alarms for min and max, so that the 310xt beeps and vibrate (yes, it vibrates!) when your hr gets too low or too high.

The only other things I had to do were to go to the website, download the Ant Agent (which interfaces between the USB key and Garmin Connect website), and sign up for a free account on Garmin Connect - both were pretty easy, simple instructions.

Running with the Garmin 310xt
Of course, once I had it all set up (and the pumpkin pies baked), I had to get out and give it a go. I still hadn't played with it very much, or customized any of the screens (more on that in Part 2), but it's pretty simple- touch start to start, and stop to stop. There's a lap button, but if you don't hit "lap", it will automatically divide by kilometer to break out your splits. To "finalize" or save your workout, you just hold the lap/reset button. Once you're

The default view for "Run" is Time, Lap Pace, and Distance, but you can easily add, delete, or change any of the fields to show pretty much any data that you want. I've added HR Zone, which just divides the screen into 4 (you have the choice of 1-4 data fields in the default view). You can customize a lot of the data that it shows you-- ie whether or not to show a map (good for those longer runs in unfamiliar territory, or maybe for hikes?), you can turn on or off a "Virtual Partner", (a separate screen).

In all, I think there are 4 screens that you can scroll through as you run-- or set it to AutoScroll through them for you. You can also turn some screens off. So far, I'm content with the main screen and what it shows me. I think most people won't really want to spend too much time customizing the data fields or screens-- unless you're following a very specific training program.

And I haven't even looked for the manual yet-- it wasn't included in the box (other than a quick-start), but I haven't needed to yet. I'm sure I could find it online (probably at Garmin Connect), but I'll worry about that another time.

More Reviews to Come!
Stay tuned for Part 2 - I'll cover spinning with the Garmin 310xt, and a little bit more about Garmin Connect. In Part 3, the plan is to try and connect with MapMyRide, so I can share some of my maps and workouts here. Part 4 might be about using it in the pool, but I'll have to look at the manual first. Future reviews will include some pics, too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First Early Morning Winter Run

... The first of many. Realizing that I'd been making too many excuses, I went out and bought some waterproof trail runners, and bundled up yesterday to get out early. Read an article in RW about runners vs. cars, so grabbed what I had to stay visible. Had a few realizations/ revelations on the short (25min) run:
  • While it's important to be visible to vehicles, maybe my mini-bike lights tied to my jacket at the hip, bouncing and swaying on strobe is not necessary on a well-lit street. It's also a little dizzying on the pathways and doesn't really help me see!
  • I need to get some gaiters.
  • Need to find my headlamp!
  • Cold air hurts the lungs! But feels so good...
  • I wonder if the neighbors really are growing drugs... (there's some speculation among the other neighbors, as these guys are renting, leave their garage door open 24/7, and have vehicles coming and going all the time. They just towed away a burnt-out SUV that was parked halfway on their lawn. Yes, burnt out-- the thing started on fire last Saturday night, which is a good reason not to leave it running...)
  • These new shoes are pretty great!
  • I need to do this more often.
Between moving (Oct 1), the New Job (technically it's been just over a year now, but still feeling a little lost) and the training for said job (which just wrapped up with twelve-18 hour days over the first two weeks of December), I've been knocked off my training and blogging.

Signed up for UCTC again, btw.