A few months ago, the nice people at Swiftwick sent me three pairs of their running socks to test out and review. Because you can only get a good feel for workout clothes — and socks in particular — by wearing them during all kinds of workouts in all kinds of weather and conditions, I took my time putting each pair through their paces. Also, I’ve only been running once or twice a week, so I wanted to make sure I got a good feel for each pair as they are all a bit different in terms of material, cushioning and compression.
Yes, socks can be as custom as running shoes are these days! (more…)
I like to listen to fitness, health and business related podcasts when I’m on the treadmill and getting ready for work in the morning, and one name in particular kept coming up on several of my favourite podcasts that warranted an online search to see who this wise and influential person was. This person had clearly impacted and shaped the lives of the podcast hosts and guests, so I wanted to know what he was all about.
If you’re a basketball fan or participate in sports of any kind, you may have heard about John Wooden. Wooden was an English teacher, American basketball player and coach who, during his time as head coach of the basketball team at UCLA, won 10 NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, including a record seven in a row. No other team has won more than two in a row since.
It’s no wonder he was named national coach of the year six times and is one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports.
As a strength and conditioning coach, I’m always looking for tips and tools to not only help my clients reach their full potential in whatever health and fitness goal they want to achieve, but also to help develop myself to become a better coach and athlete.
During his years spent as an English teacher and coach, Wooden developed a guide to help his students and players become the best version of themselves that he called “The Pyramid of Success”. (more…)
About a month ago, my FitBit Charge HR got a random crack in the display so I contacted FitBit support to see if I could get a replacement as it was still under warranty. They offered to send me another one free of charge (which was awesome because I relied on it daily as a watch, silent alarm clock and easy way to track my workouts), but since the Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate Plus was coming out soon I asked if I could have a discount off a new purchase instead. They agreed, and I got my snazzy new FitBit several weeks later.
How the FitBit Charge 2 compares to the FitBit Charge
The display is bigger, but not too big. I love being able to see two activity stats (that you are able to choose) along with the time when I tilt my wrist up to check my FitBit. To see more stats, such as distance travelled, calories burner, steps taken and heart rate, you just have to tap the watch face to scroll through. I also love that it’s roughly the same size as the Charge, so it’s still very comfortable to sleep with.
There are more ways to track workouts. When you press the single button on the side of your FitBit Charge 2, you can scroll through to the workout function that gives you several kinds of workouts to track by tapping the watch face. You can select a run, treadmill, elliptical, bike, weights, workout or interval workout, which actually has a built in timer to vibrate every 30 seconds so you know when to go hard and when to rest. The run function shows your time and distance on the main display, or you can tap through to get your pace, heart rate, average pace, steps and calorie burn. The only workout functions I haven’t tried yet are bike and elliptical, so I’m not sure if those have any unique features to them. I wish it had a yoga function!
FitBit Charge 2 vs. a Garmin 235
You can see and do more things from your wrist. Since the display is bigger, you don’t have to tap through as much to see your stats. You are also able to set and turn off alarms from your wrist and check your pace, heart rate, resting heart rate and other stats while working out instead of relying on the FitBit phone app to see everything.
There’s a breathing tracker. The FitBit Charge 2 has a function that can track your breathing and guide you through a slow breathing exercise for two or five minutes. You can do it all from your wrist, which is handy.
The wrist bands are replaceable/interchangeable. I had to replace my previous FitBit Charge because the wrist band broke, so I was super happy to find out the FitBit Charge 2 bands are replaceable and interchangeable. Finally, no more plain boring black all the time!
Things I don’t like about the FitBit Charge 2
The breathing tracker isn’t very helpful. I tried the breathing exercise a few times but didn’t find it very relaxing to hold up my wrist to stare at it to follow along. What would be really helpful is an alert that tells you when you’re breathing too shallow and remind you to stop and take a deep breath. I feel like I need that!
It still doesn’t track runs as well as a Garmin, even when using the GPS on your phone. The FitBit Charge without the GPS is still slightly off when it comes to tracking runs. It’s good for a generally distance, but if you’re training for a race I’d suggest using something more accurate.
Verdict: Overall, I love the Fitbit Charge 2 even more than the original and it’s totally worth the $200 price tag if you’re a regular fitness tracker wearer.
At the starting line for the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon
You didn’t train enough. You didn’t run your tempo runs fast enough. You should have gone up to 36K in training. You should have focused more on running and cut back on strength training. You should have tried harder to be at your racing weight. You went out too fast.
These were all the things swirling around in my head at kilometre 33 of yesterday’s Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. I was having a good race up until that point, deciding to run by feel instead of constantly watching my pace. My quads were burning at about the 25K mark, but I was able to push through to find a comfortable pace again and feel confident about my race. It wasn’t raining, the sun came out, my head cold was almost gone, and I wasn’t injured going into the race. Conditions were seemingly perfect.
It was at the dreaded 30K mark when things fell apart for me. The 3:30 pace group, which I’d been just in front of for the majority of the race, passed me and I couldn’t keep up. There’s a yucky, twisty incline after the 30K mark that goes on for about 5K that usually slows me down, and even though I pumped my arms and legs as hard as I could, I just couldn’t stick with the group. As the shiny, sparkly 3:30 pace sign bobbed out of sight, I started to beat myself about everything I thought I did wrong during training. “If I’m not going to make 3:30, why bother?” I told myself. That’s when my legs and mind threw in the towel and I starting plodding along, walking through aid stations and looking back behind me expecting to see the 3:35 group hot on my heels, ready to overtake me and crush my BQ dreams altogether. (more…)
I’ve been feeling off for the last week or so since my half marathon PR race, and have being taking it easy with lots of rest aside from my scheduled workouts to help prevent whatever I seemed to be fighting from turning into illness.
I felt like I was winning until late Wednesday when I got a headache after lunch that stuck around until the evening. I felt a bit stuffy and “off”, but nothing I didn’t think a good sleep might fix. I went to bed at 9 pm, and as soon as my head hit the pillow, one sinus plugged up 🙁
I felt like I had a head cold when I woke up but slightly better after a shower, so I went into work. My symptoms progressively got worse (sneezing, stuffy and runny nose, headache) as the day went on, so I went home. I felt bad for my coworkers since I was lecturing everybody for the past few weeks at work about how you should stay home when you’re sick so you don’t spread germs around the office and how I have a race coming up and don’t want to be sick… then I get sick and come in anyways. Sorry, everyone!
My plan for the rest of the week is to just rest, stay hydrated and get better for Sunday. If things improve by Saturday, I might attempt a short run, but honestly, at this point, running will do more harm than good. I’ve been here before (getting sick days before a race) and know that rest is best.
I need to stay healthy, injury free and well rested for at least the next nine days.
I always seem to have something come up just days before a goal race, which probably has something to do with the time of year I like to run marathons (fall, when flu season hits), how hard I run my last long run or if I do a tune-up race near the end of training at a tempo pace (my immune system gets knocked down a bit), and how much sleep I get in the two weeks leading up to the race.
Because I’ve been feeling yucky since Monday (headache, stomach ache, generally blah-ness), I’ve been taking it easy this week on workouts and runs. I usually like to do shorter duration, higher intensity runs in the last two weeks leading up to a marathon, but I think I’m good for speed since I nailed my half marathon race pace two weeks ago. This week and next I plan to focus on some easy runs with a few pick-ups near the end, yoga and foam rolling.
At this time last year, I was coming to terms with the fact that even though I qualified to run the 2016 Boston Marathon in 2015 with 1 minute and 3 seconds to spare, I did not make the cut off that was capped at runners who were 2 minutes and 28 seconds faster than their qualifying time. The cut-off times for the 2017 Boston Marathon have yet to be announced, but my fingers and toes are crossed for those who are in the 5-minute plus registration category and are eagerly awaiting to find out if they will be one of the lucky 30,000 runners toeing the line in Boston in 2017.
Worst email ever.
Even though qualifying is an accomplishment in itself, I know it sucks to hear the experience you worked so hard for and achieved does not pan out the way you planned. Since I had a horrible second BQ attempt at the Phoenix Marathon in February, I’m not one of those people eagerly checking my inbox this time around – but I hope to be at this time next year after my third BQ attempt in 11 days. (more…)
Even though I clearly have on my training plan that after the Beat the Blerch half marathon on September 16, I would run a 15 km and 10 km for my last long slow training runs, that technically puts me at a four week taper, not a three week taper as I generally like to do. Last time I did my longest run four weeks out I had a terrible marathon, so I’m keeping my volume relatively equal to the week before cutting back. What usually causes me to hit the wall in the marathon is not having enough long run time in ahead of the race – whether that’s a confidence thing or not I don’t know, but it’s always my legs that go before my cardio and energy levels.
So this weekend I plan to do a 24-26 km long run instead of a 15 km long run, followed by a 12 km run the following week, which is 7 days out from the marathon.
After a great long run last weekend and solid week of training this week, I’m feeling ready to run hard at the Beat The Blerch Half Marathon in Seattle this Saturday! Although I’m not sure how realistic running faster than my marathon race pace will be at this race, given that I’ll be fully amused and distracted by people chasing us in Blerch suits, Nutella and birthday cake aid stations, and Mr. The Oatmeal himself, Matthew Inman, who will be there running (hopefully in a Blerch suit?) and signing copies of his comics. I also read that there will be a KITTEN TENT. FOR CUDDLING AND ADOPTING KITTENS. The only thing that would make this race more amazing is free post-race wine and chocolate. Oh, and a puppy tent, too.
If you live under a rock and are unfamiliar with The Oatmeal and what this race is all about, you have some reading (and cry-laughing) to do:
Living on an island off the west coast of beautiful British Columbia definitely has its perks. The ocean surrounds us, the wilderness here is beautiful, there are plenty of places to explore for hours on end without seeing another human being, and the weather here is never too extreme. That means year-round outdoor adventures and not having to spend the winter cooped up in a gym to stay fit and healthy.
Even though we hardly get any snow here at sea level and the temperature rarely drops below -1°C, outdoor enthusiasts still have to consider the elements when exercising outside during the fall and winter months. Here are a few key pieces of apparel us northern west-coasters should add to our workout wardrobe for fall and winter: (more…)