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Garmin Connect online community March 31, 2010

Posted by shwaldman in Fitness, Technology.
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I recently wrote this Nike Sensor Review. In it, I discussed the downside of my other device, my Garmin Forerunner 305… the lack on community. Well, I recently met a fellow runner who works across the street. He sent me his running routes from the Garmin website.

In the back of my mind, I think I knew that one existed, but never really took the time to explore it. But when I went back and looked at that review, I realized I had not given Garmin a proper chance.

So over the weekend I added many of my recent activities to the site. And today, I went back to take a look. But this is what I found:

The site is down. This points to the problem of cloud computing. In the past, I was just off-loading my running data into my laptop software, Garmin’s Training Center. But this site offers a way to see it from any computer any time… well, maybe not anytime. Granted this could happen to my blessed Nike website, but it hasn’t yet. What is the line? In the past, Twitter used to be down all the time and it really prevented people from sharing. And now, Twitter is everywhere.

I suppose in this age of instant and global communications. The question is not about if cloud computing makes sense. The question is why or how large companies can allow their online communities to experience downtime. The Internet is 24/7. Come on, Garmin.


Gadget Review: Nike+ sensor March 5, 2010

Posted by shwaldman in Fitness, Technology.
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Let’s start by saying, running and walking are the simplest of all fitness activities. Absolutely no special equipment is necessary to participate and it can be done almost anywhere. Now, that being said, there are plenty of special equipment out there for sale to make the activities more productive, more interesting, more fun, more motivating, more informative. I started running as a kid to get in shape for other sports – soccer, basketball, and even baseball, but I never participated on a running/track team.

Now, I keep running to stay in and improve my fitness. I run to relax, to get away and to clear my mind. Six years ago I got a Garmin Forerunner 201 GPS watch. For five years, it was a motivational factor in getting me outside to run, including my second marathon. For me, working full time and having two young kids, I feel pretty good about putting over 1,000 miles on it. Then last year, I upgraded to a Forerunner 305 that has the same (though more accurate GPS, but it adds a heart rate monitor, foot pod, and cadence monitor as possible accessories.

It made it so much easier to track and monitor my runs indoors as well as out. It is also great to be see my heart rate as I ran and then be able to see it graphed alongside my pace and cadence in Garmin’s Training Center software. I even used it a couple of times to see what my heart rate looked like as I slept.
But is missing from Garmin’s system is a sense of community. It is all good to motivate yourself, but if you are up for a little friendly competition, you need to look elsewhere.

And when my wonderful wife won me a new Apple iPod Touch last fall, I decided I would get the Nike+ sensor. I finally picked one up (for $20) in January. The sensor is just a small disc about the top digit of your thumb. It can fit into specific Nike shoes or can be attached to the top of ANY shoe in a little pouch (another $7). Essentially, there is a iPhone/iPod application that works like a sophisticated pedometer. It can be digitally calibrated, it stores past runs, and displays pace, time elapsed and calories burned. But after all that, it uploads runs to the Nike.com website when you Sync your iPod.

The website provides a way to track and display runs. It provides suggesting training regimes, it allows you to set up goals and share your runs with other Nike+ users. However, what is the most inspirational here is the ability to create and join challenges. Who can run the most miles in the next month? Who can run the fastest 5K in the next year? And these can be done at the team level – my state or country against yours. I am in one for the most active blood types (A+ is in a distant second place to O+).

So far (I have only put 73 miles on the device since January 21st), I am enjoying this extra motivational tool. It keeps me wanting to get running and recording distances for my challenges. There some minor bugs in the iPod app and it could use a little more functionality – like I think it should download current challenge standings when the system syncs. It couldn’t be up to date unless they also sync’d over the network, but at least it would not tie you to your computer. And the challenges have some built in biases that are difficult to overcome. But they are still very motivational to anyone who is a little competitive. And the app does let you play playlists while you run and of course works fairly accurately to record distances. All in all, this is a cool product that is fairly inexpensive if you already have an iPod.

Not Sleeping Well And I Have Proof March 26, 2009

Posted by shwaldman in Family, Fitness, Society, Technology, Uncategorized.
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Heart Rate While Sleeping

Heart Rate While Sleeping

The above is the graph taken from my Garmin Training Center application. It details my heart rate throughout last night’s sleep. I have not slept well this week and out of pure curiousity wanted to see what a night would look like.

I have no idea if this is “normal” or acceptable in terms of regular night of sleep. I just know I have not felt rested or fully revived each morning. I hope to get in a better pattern of sleep soon and I will have to try this monitoring again to see what it looks like in comparison.

Forerunner 305 Training Center Graph February 26, 2009

Posted by shwaldman in Fitness.
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True to my goal, last night I got in a second run on the treadmill in as many nights. And as expected, my back feels a little better still. A little at a time and I will get back to where I want to be. With two little boys and lots going on at work, I am definitely tired at the end of the day, but glad I am finding the will power to keep moving.

Below is the graph from the Garmin Training Center software that works with my Forerunner 305. I just think this is so cool and helpful to track improvements in my running. What it is shows is speed and pace (in two blues) – I ran at 6.2 for 19 minutes and 6.5 for the last minute. I am not sure what cause the bumps other than I probably periodically change my stride length during the run. Also, in orange, you can see my cadence – about 80 steps per minute as well as my heart rate which is in red. I think this is the one I have to focus on getting better. It starts at 160 when I get up to speed and then gradually and consistently goes up until the end where it finishes at 175.

Graph of Treadmill Run from Garmin TC

Graph of Treadmill Run from Garmin TC

By no means is this my max heart rate, but I know 175 is a place where I start to feel the effort level getting high. I will be fun to watch this graph change over the coming months.
Thanks again to the in-laws for a great Christmas present!

New Forerunner 4 Christmas December 29, 2008

Posted by shwaldman in Family, Fitness, Technology.
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My other great gift I am grateful for this holiday season is a new Forerunner 305 GPS watch. I am very excited about this, what is an upgrade to my four year old Forerunner 201. I made great use of the 201, putting over 1,000 miles on it – many of which were training for my second marathon on May 2005.

However, this newer model has some awesome improvements and accessories that I plan to make use of. While it uses the same software, Garmin’s Training Center, these accessories should make that so much more useful.

First, the Heart Rate monitor will allow me to track and monitor that with the run. I had a separate monitor but having them incorporated should be very cool. Next, is the cycling cadence monitor. I have started biking more and I hope this will help me get into it even more.

But the accessory I am most excited about is the foot pod. The Training Center software does not have a place to add workouts not imported by GPS, so treadmill workouts have to be tracked separately – until now. I get many of workouts done on the treadmill, in front of my computer or TV while the kids are asleep – and it is too cold outside.

I have only taken it out of the box and charged it so far, but I look forward to making use of all the features and sharing my experiences here. Pictures to come!