Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail

Featured Posts

.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Polar Loop in for Review

Thanks to Mr. UPS man I got in Polar's new Loop activity tracker to review!  The big feature I am looking forward to on the Loop is that it can pair to a Bluetooth heart rate monitor (I also got the Polar H7 heart rate monitor although any Bluetooth 4.0 monitor will work) to track your heart rate while running, cycling, or other activities.  To me this is a great way to deal with activities like cycling that most activity trackers fail to accurately track, because of that whole lack of moving your arms thing.  But also a great value adding feature to runners who might not need a full GPS watch but would like heart rate data.  The Loop retails for $120 which gives you both the activity tracking features and that heart rate data.

Activity tracker wise the Loop does all of the standard things activity trackers do, you know track your activity!  The Loop also tracks your sleep as well as the heart rate "activities".  Just to clarify the heart rate feature is meant for running or other activities and not for wearing the heart rate monitor all day but you can bet your butt I am going to wear that heart rate monitor all day at least once!!!  The Polar Loop is rated waterproof to swim with although I don't know how well it tracks swimming but again I will most definitely find out.  Battery wise it uses a rechargeable Lithium battery that according to Polar will deliver 5 continuous days of usage before needing a recharge.  On the positive side I can already vouch for how quickly it charges back up from 30%-70% in like 15 minutes when I got it out of the box.

The Loop's display is an LED one that allows you to scroll through to see your activity for the day, steps, calories burned, and time using the single button next to the screen.  The screen is quit clear and easy to read out of direct sun light but gets much harder to read with direct sunlight.  It doesn't glare or anything but the sun makes it exceptionally hard to see the red dots that make up the screen.  Data wise the Polar Loop syncs with the Polar Flow web interface using an included USB cable (also how you charge the device) or with the Polar Flow mobile app through Bluetooth 4.0.

Some Assembly Required
Probably the most unique part of the Loop is the sizing of the device.  Unlike some companies that have different sizes available or that have an adjustable clasp the Loop just comes in a size I like to call Ginormous!!!  I literally think I could have fit it around my bicep, granted I am a triathlete so my biceps aren't too massive but you get the point.  Sadly, I didn't think to attempt this until after I sized the device for my wrist.  So you must be wondering how do you size the device down from ginormous to fit my puny wrist...Scissors!  Yup, you got to cutting on that $120 device you just bought.  Will it work out? yes; will the process scare you? most definitely.  I will save the real details of the fitting process for my full review.

I will give the Polar Loop a good ol' run through the Jarred Gitz testing regime and get back to you all in a little while with what some might call an overly detailed review.  In the meantime visit www.polarloop.com or comment below if you have any exact questions and just can't quit make it till my review comes out.

Thanks!


Monday, April 21, 2014

My Week in Runs & Rides

Interval Run (Tuesday)

With this run I started a 4 week crash course for an indoor triathlon.  I am doing the AIM High Bryant Sprint Triathlon on May 10th which has a 400 meter swim (indoors), then a 13 mile bike (outside), and a 5k run (also outside).  So really just the swim is inside but I guess that still qualifies it as an "indoor" triathlon.  Either way Sunday and Monday I had rest days because it POORED rain on Sunday (I also had to work) and Monday is the rest day in this plan so lucky me it was a little vacay!!!

Back to training and the plan jumped right in with a 45 minute interval workout (this isn't a couch to triathlon plan sadly).  So I started with a 10 minute warm up between 9-10:00/mile pace followed by a slight pick up to 5 minutes between 8:30-9:30.  Then the fun, aka the hated intervals!  Each interval included 2 minutes at a 7:00-8:00/mile pace followed by 2 minutes at 9:30-10:30/mile pace.  My biggest issue actually was slowing down enough for the second part of the interval.  I did 5 set of the interval followed by another 10 minutes at 9:00-10:00/mile for a cool down.  As much as I hate intervals it really wasn't that bad and I know they help but I will never love doing them!

Wednesday Swim (Wednesday...Kind of a Given)

Wednesday afternoon I made my back to the pool for my first swim of my new triathlon training plan.  It was a total of 1,400 yards but with numerous intervals.  For the life of me I can't remember them all starting now but the main body was a set of 2 x 100 yards then a set of 8 x 50 yards.  The warm up and cool down were each 400 yards a piece.  On a side note I am trying not to go on a complete rant about the old people hogging all of the lap lanes with their water aerobics.  I really don't even get why on Earth they need lanes period much less should they hog up all of the lanes so that I have to swim in the open section of the pool, where people are supposed to do their water aerobics.

It's Warming Back Up (Thursday)

For Thursday my training plan called for a 25 minute run at a medium effort.  I may have slightly confused the concept of "medium" effort because I got a little tired towards the end.  I used the pace alerts on my Garmin Forerunner 220 to keep my pace between 8:15 and 8:50, which worked out okay.  It seemed like I was constantly running too fast for the first mile and too slow for the last when I felt like my perceived effort was about the same.  Maybe I just can't perceive my own pace very well, who knows!

More important than were I ran was the weather as it was 70 degrees!  Hey I like warmer...ish weather as much as the next guy but it is still April and I don't want summer already.  In case you don't live in the Southern US in Arkansas it sits around 85-105 degrees in the summer which is MISERABLE.  And in case you are trying to be smart and say go run in the morning well hah Arkansas beat you there.  Yeah, assuming you can somehow drag my butt out of bed at 6 am the temperature will be in the 70s but the humidity will be like 85.5% which makes it feel like 100 degrees.  So your trapped in a 4 month period of crappy weather bordered by 6 weeks on each side of spring and fall then 4 more months of crappy winter weather.  (I don't think that adds up to 12 months but who cares?)

So moral of this little rant is that living in Arkansas is miserable and I am tired of everyone telling me it needs to warm up.  Enjoy our brief period of 60 degree weather and stop complaining.  70 degrees is already too hot in my book and it looks like it is here!

My Heaven!!!
Pic from: www.citypages.com

Hernando, MS Ride (Friday)

This Friday I was in Hernando, MS to visit my family that lives there.  If you are unfamiliar with Mississippi geography, as everyone should be who doesn't actually live in that god forsaken state, Hernando is a suburb of Memphis, TN.  For the record I don't actually think that badly of Mississippi, but it is fun to say and I do like to make Mississippi jokes because after all I do live in Arkansas.

For my ride I had meant to do a 12 mile Strava segment but somehow I wrote down the directions incorrectly so I ended up doing a 6 mile segment instead.  Which I am thrilled to report I am now 4th overall on the segment's leader boards; first person to look up that segment and see that only 4 people have completed it gets Thunder Punched in the throat!  Just let me bask in my not even podium worthy effort uninterrupted please.

I did learn one HUGE lesson about Mississippi:  that state is not entirely flat like we have all been led to believe.  It is actually the exact opposite!  There is almost nothing about it that is flat; the whole damn state (and yes I'm drawing conclusions about an entire state from one 16 mile ride) is nothing but short, steep rollers.  Like when you take a rubber band, stretch it too far, and it snaps back all wavy like; apparently that is what happened to Mississippi, god broke the rubber band that is that state and it snapped back all crinkly.

My actual ride was a short 16 mile out and back with a loop around that 6 mile Strava segment.  That took me 59:11 which comes out to 16.5 mph if you are too lazy to do the math on that one and I most definitely am.  Like I said it was SUPER hilly with 781 ft of elevation gain in just 16 miles!  On my Arkansas-Roubaix course last week I rode 42 miles and barely broke 200 ft of elevation gain.  Lesson for the week is don't take your bike to Mississippi instead just sit on your butt and eat Starburst Jellybeans (my mom always has these when I visit coincidentally and this time was no exception with a 5lb BAG!!!!!).

Easter Morning Brick Workout (Sunday)

For my Brick workout this morning I did a 16 mile bike around the River Trail followed by a 10 minute run.  One problem with doing a brick workout is that I live in a second story apartment downtown so there really isn't a great place to leave my stuff for a swift transition change.  So I ended up carrying my bike up the stairs to get to my T2.  I went the whole 10 yards with my workout today even starting with my shoes already clipped to my bike and jumping on to it for my start.  That must have looked completely ridicules if anyone happened to see me.  My start was kind of killed because I hit a stop light before I managed to get both feet into my shoes but hey I tried.

My whole bike ride took 53:06 for an average speed of 17.9 mph an average watts of 151.  I lapped my iBike Newton+ at the 13 mile mark, my next triathlon has a 13 mile bike ride, and I managed to do the first 13 miles including my bundled mount in 42:07 at 18.5 mph.  Which isn't super fast but in my book it is respectable so I'm getting there I still have 3 weeks.  When I got back to my apartment I pulled my feet out of my shoes while riding and swung off barefoot, yes I walked on the streets of Little Rock barefoot which is most definitely a dangerous thing.  I wheeled my bike in the front door of my building and then carried it up the stairs, I was proud of skipping the elevator.

Once inside I propped the bike up against my wall slid into my running shoes and headed out for my 10 minute run which covered 1.38 miles at a pace of 7:18/mile.  I actually set a new personal record for the mile on Garmin Connect at 7:13 which to me is pretty awesome as most people hate doing brick runs.  I actually felt pretty good after the first 500 meters or so and actually kept a relatively low heart rate for my perceived effort, I maxed out at 188 bpm when similar efforts have taken me up to 194-196 bpm before.  After I hit my ten minutes I walked another 5-10 minutes to get back home and enjoyed some delicious chocolate milk and leftover chicken Lo mein from dinner last night.  What an Easter!!!

Tuesday

Wednesday


Thursday


Friday


Sunday



Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

drpepperqueen86.blogspot.com
Happy Easter with the Easter Husky!!!  No that is not my Husky although I would imagine mine would suffer those ears with about the same amount of enthusiasm/dignity.  Easter Husky aside I hope you all are enjoying the holiday and my Week in Runs & Rides post will be postponed until tomorrow because I'm really just too lazy after gorging handfuls of Starburst Jellybeans to finish it right now.

I don't know about you all but I have been celebrating my Easter holiday like any good triathlete should with a Brick workout!  Details below.  I have also spent some time playing with the new features on the Misfit Shine so I can update my previously finished yet unpublished review, yes I am aware that was wonderful timing on my part.  As you'll see in my runs & rides post tomorrow I went and visited my family in Mississippi (numerous thank god for Mississippi jokes were made by me) so I got to go for a short bike ride on Friday which as it turns out Mississippi is a hell of a lot hillier than I had assumed.  They are those really crappy hills too that are short, steep, and extremely numerous.  I am okay with some climbing but I want to follow that climbing up with either a lot of downhill or at least something semi-flat.  But I jump ahead as I don't want to ruin the runs & rides post tomorrow.

On an unrelated note to Easter I finally got moved over to the "modern" aka new version of Garmin Connect online so I will make a post in the coming weeks about my thoughts on that.  Also, I have gotten so fed up with the tangle of USB cables to my computer from different products I'm testing along with my handy Forerunner 220 that I had to go buy a USB hub this last weekend.  If you don't know a USB hub basically turns one USB plugin into 4!  Which is pretty handy when you have a crap ton of devices that you want to plug in to your computer.  Luckily I found a sweet deal on one at Best Buy for ten bucks I think.  Lastly, I am having problems with Garmin Express, which I was really excited about when it was released.  But now it keeps saying it needs to restart to apply and update and fails to to do it.  Frustrating when there is an update out for my Forerunner 220.

My Easter Morning Brick Ride & Run

For my Brick workout this morning I did a 16 mile bike around the River Trail followed by a 10 minute run.  One problem with doing a brick workout is that I live in a second story apartment downtown so there really isn't a great place to leave my stuff for a swift transition change.  So I ended up carrying my bike up the stairs to get to my T2.  I went the whole 10 yards with my workout today even starting with my shoes already clipped to my bike and jumping on to it for my start.  That must have looked completely ridicules if anyone happened to see me.  My start was kind of killed because I hit a stop light before I managed to get both feet into my shoes but hey I tried.

My whole bike ride took 53:06 for an average speed of 17.9 mph an average watts of 151.  I lapped my iBike Newton+ at the 13 mile mark, my next triathlon has a 13 mile bike ride, and I managed to do the first 13 miles including my bundled mount in 42:07 at 18.5 mph.  Which isn't super fast but in my book it is respectable so I'm getting there I still have 3 weeks.  When I got back to my apartment I pulled my feet out of my shoes while riding and swung off barefoot, yes I walked on the streets of Little Rock barefoot which is most definitely a dangerous thing.  I wheeled my bike in the front door of my building and then carried it up the stairs, I was proud of skipping the elevator.

Once inside I propped the bike up against my wall slid into my running shoes and headed out for my 10 minute run which covered 1.38 miles at a pace of 7:18/mile.  I actually set a new personal record for the mile on Garmin Connect at 7:13 which to me is pretty awesome as most people hate doing brick runs.  I actually felt pretty good after the first 500 meters or so and actually kept a relatively low heart rate for my perceived effort, I maxed out at 188 bpm when similar efforts have taken me up to 194-196 bpm before.  After I hit my ten minutes I walked another 5-10 minutes to get back home and enjoyed some delicious chocolate milk and leftover chicken Lo mein from dinner last night.  What an Easter!!!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Misfit Shine App Update

So today I had been planning to FINALLY post my review of the Misfit Shine.  Luckily I was forewarned that some changes were coming so I held off and sure enough I woke up this morning with an updated Misfit App.  So although you readers don't get the opportunity to bask in the glory that is one of my reviews (extreme sarcasm by the way) but on a good note the app changes are definite steps towards redressing some of my biggest concerns with the Misfit platform.  Now don't misread that I still have some not insignificant issues with the Misfit platform, not the Shine device it is AWESOME in my book, but these app changes show some positive steps.  Now on to the big changes!

Sleep and Weight Screens & Goals

First off the navigation bar as been redone.  There is still the dashed circle icon for the home screen but now the social pages have all been consolidated into one icon and moved to the far right corner of the screen where the week view icon used to be, week view has been moved to right below the three dashed bar icon on the left for the settings.  Where the social icons used to be is now a dedicated sleep and a dedicated weight icon.


Yes, weight is a completely new feature to the Misfit platform and is a step towards a more cohesive system like Fitbit has; their app tracks caloric intake, weight, and water intake on top of the standard activity tracking.  The weight screen allows you to enter a goal weight and then log your weight each day.  Your progress towards your goal will be graphed along the bottom of the screen.  Just so you know there is no slide up for more details with weight, and sleep screens, like there is for the activity screen.

The sleep screen doesn't add anything per say but does bring your sleep data front and center which I think is a wonderful move.  When everyone asks me about the Shine and I explain what it does they always latch right on to sleep tracking so it is a great move to give it a more prominent spot in the app, this was one criticism from my review.  On the sleep screen it looks much like the activity screen in that your total sleep is inside the circle at the top measured against your goal.  just like with weight tracking you can now set a "goal" amount of sleep.  Below the total amount of sleep but still inside the circle is the amount of deep sleep you got.  At the bottom is the same graph showing how you slept and where your deep sleep was that you used to get by clicking on the sleep tile; it really just makes the data more prominent.  In this new layout it is definitely much easier to flip from day to day and see exactly how you have been sleeping over a period of time.

Smart Alarm

I haven't gotten a chance to even look at this feature yet but the App Store update info says that the smart alarm wakes you at your lightest stage of sleeping.  I am not exactly sure how Misfit has implemented this for the Shine (but definitely excited to see) because usually a smart alarm uses a vibrate feature in the device to wake you but the Shine has no vibrate motor.  Also, in case you are wondering a "smart" alarm works by you setting a rough window for when you need to wake up.  Then the device monitors your sleep and wakes you sometime within that window depending on your sleep stage.  The theory being that you will wake more refreshed and more easily if you are woken from light sleep, even if it is a slightly earlier time, than woken later directly from deep sleep.  To me it has always sounded like a great theory but I have never seen it implemented particularly well but hey maybe Misfit can!

Summary

So these changes are not insubstantial but not to jump the gun on my review (will be out Monday now...probably)  there are still some big holes in the Misfit platform.  Yes, the new sleep screen does make it easier to view your sleep across a period of time but why not just go ahead and make it a slam dunk by making all of that data available on the screen at one time?  I want a month view feature that bar or line graphs my sleep over the period of a month.  The addition of the weight goal and screen is good and comparable to other activity tracking platforms, aka Fitbit, but still falls short of the additional features in that platform.  I will say I am excited for the potential of the smart alarm but it will really come down to how it has been implemented on the Shine.  Well that is where the app is at now and like I said I hope to have my review out next week updated to account for the new features.

Oh and a side not in case you haven't figured out I stopped using the Misfit Shine after I completed my review so that is why some of 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cycling Apparel Basics

            One of the first things a beginner cyclist wonders is what do I wear to cycle?  Do I really have to wear the Lycra shorts and the jerseys and such?  Well the truth is no you don’t have to but you should want to.  Cycling apparel has evolved to help (or at least not hinder) a rider on a bike ride.  All of the pieces serve a purpose, yes especially the shorts.  So with that said today I am going to talk about basic cycling apparel.

Cycling Shorts

Yes those very revealing shorts serve a few very important purposes.  One they are tight to reduce friction and rubbing with between your body and the saddle preventing rashes and soreness.  Being skin tight also helps the shorts wick away moisture and keep your body cool.  The key component of bike shorts is the Chamois (pronounced shammy) which is a pad that helps to cushion your butt for long rides on the saddle; which is the reason you never see road cyclists using a seat pad that you can buy at Wal-Mart as their shorts have them built in.  The big thing that surprises new cyclists about cycling shorts, other than the cost, is that you do NOT wear anything between the shorts and your body; period no exceptions.  Putting clothing between you and your bike shorts completely undercuts their purpose so just accept it even if it sounds weird you’ll be way more comfortable.

Cycling Jersey 

Now this is probably the most flexible piece of cycling clothing when it comes to choices.  The standard cycling jersey has t-shirt like sleeves, is pretty close to skin tight, has a full length zipper in the front, and three pockets on the back.  There are also sleeveless jerseys and full length jerseys; other types of athletic tops are also pretty common but do not wear a cotton t-shirt please.  Again, like shorts jerseys are made the way they are for a reason; short sleeves give you a pretty wide range of temperature wear options, being tight allows the fabric to wick moisture and it also does not flap in the wind, the full zip allows the jersey to be partially unzipped on climbs giving your body more air when your not moving quickly, and the pockets in the back are awesome places to store snacks and other goodies for your rides.

Sunglasses

This is commonly an overlooked piece of gear at the beginning of a cyclist’s journey and it most definitely should not.  Not only do sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun and reduce glare improving vision which really does matter on a multiple hour ride; but they also protect your eyes from dirt and debris that can be thrown up at you.  Most cyclists wear traditional athletic sunglasses yet this is one area you can save money by going with a cheaper pair as long as they are UV protected and instead not just really dark so they seem to work but fail to protect your eyes.

Cycling Gloves

Are usually half fingered and have a padded palm to dampen road vibrations and reduce soreness in the hands and palms from riding for an extended period.  Cycling gloves don’t vary a huge amount, mostly in the amount of padding, so this is a good area to save some money when you first start by going with some cheaper but still decent Pearl Izumi gloves for around $20.

Cycling Shoes

Now this is actually a pretty expensive piece of equipment that is combined with cycling pedals (pedals will be a whole other article).  Cycling shoes have a hard sole so as to transfer all of the energy from pedaling through to the pedal and not lose energy in the bending of the sole.  They usually have vents on the bottom to allow air into the shoe to keep your foot cool.  Most importantly of all they have holes in the bottom where the cleat that goes to your pedals can be attached with bolts to them.  Needless to say this doesn’t make sense to you right now but it becomes extremely important as you progress as a cyclist and can be one of your biggest early upgrades to your bike (Clipless Pedals).


I am not going to cover helmets because that is an article in and of itself yet it is the most important part of your cycling attire and NEVER EVER ride without it!!!!