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

Run for Food: 9 months of “labour”

Counting back, it has been almost 9 months since I started taking the first step to re-exercise my heart. The momentum to stay fit continues with new addition forms of exercising, including the recent swimming regiment. Statistically, I have shaved to a near 15kg and trimmed 7 inches of waistline. I have thought I would achieve more than that, but I guess my passion for sinful food has kept me honest. I have no complains though, because I think its such foods that have kept me going, ironically. Incidentally, I have started another blog, irun4food recently, to blog about the yummy calories hoggers that I cannot resist to.

Beyond statistics, I do feel much healthier. I have hardly fallen sick since I started my exercise regiment, and when I did, I recovered within a day or two. It could also be attributed to the adoption of a more sane working hours, as I recently moved from a worldwide to region role. Beside feeling healthier, I do feel more confident with a leaner body. It has been an amazing journey, to say the least.

For two weeks I have not been running due to the recent foot injury. The daily swimming not only helps to tone my body muscles, it also serves as a physiotherapy to my strained feet and knees. As a matter of fact, i thought swimming is a good fat burning exercisr but only if you have achieved a certain level of fitness and maintain the needex discipline.

Yesterday I decided to try a light run to see how my legs respond to the therapy. There was less strain felt on both feet, probably even lesser than before my foot injury. I did feel a sense of tightness on my right knee cap. While my feet and knees looked like they had lubricated after 1.5km, I was still uneasy for every foot landing, and could anticipate a relapse if I mis-step again. I had started with just a 60 min light jog in mind, but ended with a 10km jog with a comfortable time of 1 hr 14 min. That said, I thought the “swim-o-therapy” will need to continue, and would probably go easy with running, perhaps with just a 5km run a week.

Till now, I have completed 862.12km, 120 running activities, together with 11 swimming activities covering a distance of 16.1km. I do need to reinstate my cycling regiment though, so that’ll be something to work on next.

Run for Food: No running for a week but …

Ever since I injured my foot a couple of weeks ago, I have been struggling in my recovery. In trying to avoid putting too much physical stress on the foot, I have decided to go for a swim routine instead. The fact is I am not a natural swimmer. If not for the latest injury, I would have chosen running over swimming any time. Plus, it has been years since I did a leisure swimming, let alone a more regimental swimming exercise.

New gear for new exercise. A TYR corrective optical goggle

As this was my first swim, I decided to keep the swim to just a 30 minutes routine. With the short pool facility in my apartment, I had to swim 40 laps, for the distance of 1km swim. I did feel good after the swim; As  long as I can recall, I have never swim more than 500m. What was even more amazing (at least to myself) is I continued the swimming exercise consecutively for the next 5 days. In fact, on Friday I decided to stretch for a 2km swim, after swimming 1.5km the day before.

With all said, it is still a boring exercise (as compared to running or cycling), especially given the short pool lap. I am not sure if I will continue a daily swim routine on a longer basis, and am already looking forward for a full recovery of my foot so that I can reinstate my running session. But the last 6 days of swimming did a great deal to my body, probably because the swimming activities train nearly all major muscle groups in the entire body. There is a significant difference in how my body reacts after a week of swimming, vis-a-vis a week of running. Perhaps I should do a more balance exercising involving running, cycling and swimming (no I’m not doing a tri). For now, as long as the food is motivating to move my butt, I’m happy.

First swimming week

As of now, I have completed 119 running activities with a distance coverage of 852.12km, and 6 swimming activities with a distance of 7.5km in total.

Run for Food: First injury

I have thought I would be too tired for a run today, after going through a 7km TreeTop trail walk at Venus drive yesterday. But I feel my muscles are relaxed, and I can go for my routine 10km interval workout, instead of just having a short one. The run starts very well, for the first time I no longer feels my calf muscles being too tight (especially my left calf), and the ankles (again specifically my left ankle) do not act up as I finish my 5 minutes warm up run, and complete the first leg of the interval training (which is 2km steady pace run and 500m of brisk walk).

image

All is well until I am at my last leg of the training. I trip over as I am running along Joo Chiat Road, fumble and almost fall flat on the ground. But I still end up with some abrasions on my legs and palms, and soreness on my left ankle as I finish the route. If not for my knee guard, it might be more than just abrasion though.

The pain on the ankle does not go away on second day, despite some “DIY” medical ointment rub I have earlier. Someone recommends me to see a “跌打” master at Haig road, and with the help of Google, I manage to locate the place and go on to seek treatment. As suspected, the inner ankle ligament is sprained. The master commented that my exterior ligaments are not in good condition as well, which explains the constant swellness on the left outer ankle area. With a cold ice pack treatment, then follow by some herbal medical plastering and casting, I hope I can be up and running again in 3 days time.

116 running activities to date and 826.69km running distance covered. Still no cycling activities yet this month, and perhaps I would reinstate it given my foot injury.

Run/Cycle for Food: 1000km milestone

It’s been a while since I last blogged about my running ritual. I am still running regularly, averaging about 25km a week. However, I have stopped cycling for exercise, mostly because of my new job. Having moved from a worldwide to a region role, I have lost the time flexibility as a result. As I would usually cycle for 2 hours in the evening before dusk sets, I will always end up running instead. Nevertheless, I still cycle, albeit to train station en-route to my workplace, occasionally.

All Exercise 1000km milestone

Today, I carry on with my usual run routine. I have planned for a light 60 minutes running, after running 10km two days ago. But it turns out to be a disaster run, with my left calf muscle remains tight throughout the run. It usually loosens up by the time I run 20 minutes or 2-3km, but not today. I have to slow down, or even stop for a few minutes just to stretch my muscle. By the time I completed the 60 minutes running session, I have only covered 7.66km.

But the surprising news is, I have achieved 1000km milestone. Specifically, I have run 776.48km (over 111 running activities), cycled 220.5km (over 8 cycling activities) and walked 5.5km. What I like is how RunKeeper put the accomplishment in perspective; That it’s equivalent to 2487 laps round a track, 10,000 soccer field lengths, or 20,000 Olympic pool lengths. It’s amazing how the number can be inspiring when you contextualise it.

My next milestone is 1000km of running coverage. With 224km more to go, and based on my current weekly running mileage, it means I am just 9 weeks away from my next goal.

I need to start thinking what I shall feast when that day come. Run for Food at its best!

Run for Food: 10km and 15km milestones recapped

I mentioned before Runkeeper has the feature to set and track goals. So far I have set and accomplished two goals, 10km and 15km respectively, over the past 3 months. Here’s some reports from Runkeeper on how the goals were accomplished.

10 km goal attainment

15km goal attainment

Now, I have just set a new goal, which is to complete 20km by end of the year. It’ll be a challenging one as I would need to strengthen my injury-prone feet to endure through the run. My last run over such long distance was easily two decades ago. Probably shedding off another 3-4 kg would help too, to reduce the (weight) stress on the feet and knees. For now, it’s aerobic running for another 2 months I think.

New goal