RunforFood: Report card after 18 months

Reportcard-June13

Back to mix of run, swim and cycle in June 2013.

 

It has been awhile since I blog about my #RunforFood regiment. The ritual to run for food is still going strong, and in fact, I do find myself improving in my fitness over the last few weeks. In May, I managed to catch a few runs while I was on business trip to Geneva, Switzerland. It was a fantastic weather (under 15 deg C!) to run! In June, I continue my running regiment, and augment with cycling and swimming to combat the hazy weather.

Runningreportcard-June13

4 mins more to achieve 200 hours of running time!

 

Running pace vs Distance

Running pace vs Distance – Increase speed trend is a good sign of progression

 

record-june13

A couple of under 30 min 5km run in June proves that the timings are not a fluke.

 

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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