Run for Food: 3-2-1 Swim-Run-Cycle

Last week was a packed week, as far as exercise is concerned. I had decided to do less swim now, and more on running and/or cycling. That said, it all depends on whether my recovering feet and knees can take the physical stress. Based on how my body reacted after a “3 swims, 2 runs and 1 cycle” week, I do have to make some adjustment to my exercise regiment as I feel my left ankle and right knee are not completely recovered yet.

Tired leg after 1 week of exercise

Fitness seems to have improved steadily. I hit a top speed of 30.3km/h momentarily on my 16″ wheeler, but more importantly, I could consistently kept my speed between 20km/h and 24km/h,  throughout the 30km cycling route.

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 26th October  2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  128  936.1
 Cycling  11  284.5
 Swimming  40  68.6

Run for Food: Milestone reached for 1000km goal

RunKeeper dropped me an email yesterday, and I realised I am inching closer to my 1000km goal. I am just 100km away from my goal, but unless I can resume my 3 times a week running regiment, it is unlikely I can hit the goal before end of this year.

 

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 18th October  2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  125  902.62
 Cycling  8  220.5
 Swimming  31  60.6

Run for food: 100 nickels more to offload

How much is 500g

That will be equivalent to 500g of my body mass. If only it’s that easy to offload. Actually, it should not be too difficult, considering that I have been exercising almost on a daily basis, except on Sunday. But given that we are in the Mid Autumn festive season, I should count myself lucky for not having any weight increase after dumping in dozen of moon cakes!

Me while my virtual race partner is far in front of me, out of sight.

This has been a rather intense week as far as exercising is concerned. I ran 60 minutes of steadfast pace (6.52min/km) in the mid-week, with daily 2 km swim daily in between. The virtual race partner feature in Garmin Forerunner 910xt is interesting. It gives me a sense of how far behind (or ahead) I am from my virtual running partner as I run. A good feature for people like me who runs alone but need some pacer to keep me from slacking away. The Garmin’s lap swimming feature went through a stress test last week, having swam a total of 320 laps over 4 swimming sessions. While it is not 100% accurate, with an average of 1-2.5% miscount rate, I can now concentrate fully on my swim, rather than getting distracted by the tracking of the rubber bands. My main gripe now is the device has problem identifying my breast strokes, as it frequently detects them as backstroke instead. No problem with freestyle swim though.

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 10th October  2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  124  892.68
 Cycling  8  220.5
 Swimming  26  51.6

I mentioned previously that I like RunKeeper for its dashboard reporting feature. While Garmin tracks and reports all the possible details at activity level, it does not summarize all the activities like what RunKeeper does, such as the one below. Thankfully, RunKeeper is more than just a activity logging website with its strong social networking capability, particularly its support for third party app. With GarminSync, I am able to sync and post my Garmin activities to RunKeeper automatically. To the sports enthusiasts, RunKeeper is the Facebook of fitness.

Total distance and calories spent so far

 

Run for Food: New Motivation Gadget

Rubber band as lap tracker

Having swim for almost a month, I am convinced that I must have swimming as part of my exercise regiment, even after my foot fully recovers from the ligament sprain. For the last few weeks, I have been doing 40-100 laps of swimming, almost on a daily basis. With so many laps covered in every session, I had to have a method to track the laps. So I rely on rubber bands, an almost zero cost solution. Obviously I did not bring 40 or 100 rubber bands to the pool. While the solution is effective, I think an automated one is in order.

Garmin Forerunner 910XT

For a while I have been tinkering with the idea of getting Garmin Forerunner 910XT. I like the fact that it can be quickly released for bike mounting, and that it has a comprehensive activity tracking mechanism, probably even better than with my RunKeeper app and Polar HRM watch combined. I did not act on my tinker because I thought it will be an overkill (no, I’m not gunning for triathlon) while  convinced that Polar will do a far more accurate heart rate monitoring than Garmin. However, the recent increase in swimming activities led me to tilt and fast track my buying decision.

I went ahead to purchase one with quick release belt from GPS-Are-Us. Having used the fitness watch thrice in the last 3 days, once during a 60 min run, and twice on a swim, I have mixed feeling about my new gadget.

910XT mounted on my Brompton

The plus

I love the fact that now the watch can automatically count my swimming laps. When in lap swimming mode, the watch makes use of accelerometer to count the lap, determine and measure the swimming strokes (up to 4 different types of swimming stroke). There were inaccuracies in my first swim, where some laps  were miscounted but a firmware upgrade (from 2.5 to 2.6) seemed to have corrected the bugs. Coming from a GPS company, the Forerunner is also far more accurate than RunKeeper in measuring the running distance. With 5 different switch-able display screens (each capable of displaying up to 4 data fields), there are plenty of information for reference as I run. There is even a virtual pacer mode although I have not tried the feature yet. I love the quick release feature and it works just as expected. Having said that, I have not tried the watch on a cycling session yet, but I am looking forward to its rich data capturing and analysis just as I have experienced for running and swimming.

Watch needs frequent charging

The minus

Firstly, huge disappointment creep in when I discovered that the device will not track heartbeat during swimming. I was hoping that I had misinterpreted, or a firmware upgrade could fix it. Unfortunately, the reality set in when I learnt that the inability to track heartbeat is due to the frequency used by Garmin. In contrast, Polar uses dual frequency (one for land use and one for submerging in water) and therefore I have no problem using it to track my heartbeat in the last few weeks. Forerunner 910xt is also not a watch for daily wear; The watch gets too bulky when fitted with the quick release catch and belt system. The watch also needs to be recharged, as frequent as daily especially if I do not turn off the GPS. Last but not least, it can only display time of the day, no date.

Data sync or firmware upgrade are done via the USB ANT.

From a data synchronisation and analysis standpoint, the device synchronizes seamlessly via my laptop to the cloud managed by Garmin. There are plenty of data for analysis, so I think that is one of Garmin’s biggest strength. The activities summary dashboard reports however are left much to be desired, given its lack of proper graph charting feature. There are some workaround though, as I have researched a few app (e.g. GarminSync, Fit2App) that could sync Garmin data to RunKeeper, which still offers the best health reports and charts in my opinion.

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 28th September 2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  122  879.02
 Cycling  8  220.5
 Swimming  21  42.6

 

Run for Food: Swimming as effective weight loss exercise?

Ever since I had started swimming 3 weeks ago, I had observed my body is responding to the exercise much better than before. This is despite after reading about swimming burns less calories, or how it is less effective than running in achieving weight loss.

Apart from feeling the ache of my body muscles all round after a swim,  versus the feeling of ligament strains after a run, I thought I have become leaner after 3 weeks if daily swim, at least psychologically.

Here’s my reasoning; It is an established fact that exercising burns different source of our body “fuel” (fat, carbohydrates, protein, etc), depending on the zone that our heart is exercising. At aerobic zone, our body burns more calories than exercising at fitness zone, while consuming a more balance percentage of energy source between fat and carbohydrates.  Unless I am on low carbohydrates diet, aerobic zone is the most effective weight loss zone.  Having run for 9 months, I know it is not an easy to keep to aerobic zone throughout the one hour of running, probably due to the loss of body fluid. On the other hand, I noticed that I can keep to the aerobic zone consistently regardless of whether I stick to a 30 mins or 1 hour swimming session.

Back on swimming, I am never been a natural swimmer from the onset. I do not feel comfortable when in the water, even when I could stay a float or swim. For a long while, I would have struggled to complete a 100m  freestyle, let alone a long distance freestyle swim. In the last 3 weeks of swimming, I have been doing one lap of  freestyle with one lap of  breast stroke routine for my swim. The breast stroke is more like a rest stroke for me to catch my breathing before doing the next freestyle lap. But 2.5 weeks of consecutive swimming seems to have paid off.

Me Swimming

On 12th September, I managed to stretch my swimming distance to 2.5km, albeit with the alternate strokes method. Despite four consecutive days of 2km (with one of them being 2.5km) swims, I did not feel any more fatigue, unlike a week ago. While I only completed a 1.5km distance on the 5th swim day (I had originally planned for a 1km swim) I actually completed a 40 continuous laps (or 1km) of freestyle swim. It is simply amazing that after 40 years, I have finally achieved this feat.

With all said, I figure that I should try and improve my strokes so that I can breathe on the alternate sides. That would probably be my next goal while continuing to stretch my freestyle swimming distance. In the meantime, I am looking forward for my next run (target to be a week later), as I am confident that 4 weeks of daily swimming should bring some positive impact to my running sessions.

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 14th September 2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  120  862.12
 Cycling  8  220.5
 Swimming  11  26.1