Tech Tuesday

Wheels

Wheeeeeeeeeels.  Help you go wheeeee!  You’re all set up with your helmet, frame, sizing and gears but don’t forget your wheels!  You might just go with your off-the-peg wheels, but you might want to think about a few things.

wooden wheels to match your bamboo frame?

Material

You mostly find your wheel rims made of aluminium, spokes can be stainless steel, but you can get carbon wheels for lightness.  You know you get what you pay for:

Keith Bontrager famously said of bicycle parts:

“Strong. Light. Cheap. Pick two.”

You pays your money and takes your choice – you could have a heavier frame and pay to upgrade to lighter wheels, that seems to make more sense than having a top of the range light frame & heavy wheels which counteract the benefit.

Size

It’s confusing.  However, generally adult road bike wheels are 700mm diameter.  There is a thought that smaller frames need smaller wheels (you can get “650”mm) to avoid your toes clipping the edge of the bike wheel as you turn a corner, but then you need different gearing to ensure you can go the same speed as everyone else.  You can see that in action on a Brompton bicycle with tiny wheel diameter but a huge great chain ring.

However, a smaller wheel is also lighter, which might suit a smaller rider.

Spokes

Just as you can vary wheel size you can vary the number of spokes.  There is all sorts of physics involved – from less resistance and lighter to better strength and you can read more (much more!) here, if you’re planning on building your own bike.

Rim depth

So, you can also spend your pennies on deep rims to reduce drag.  However, whilst that’s fine when you’re cycling forwards on the flat in a windless day, get a side wind up a hill and you may be over in seconds.  Get the feeling there’s a lot of money for old rope going on in wheel choices!?

Tyres

Road bike tyres are also an infinite discussion.  One of the worries beginners have is the narrowness and the lack of tread.  You can go for a mountain bike with fat tyres:

but the resistance of all that friction against the road might mean you can’t even move forwards -and look at the weight of it!  Skinny tyres (23mm) are light and no tread means less friction and it all means faster!  You can be reassured that bike tyres are too narrow to aquaplane at speeds below about 200mph.  However, they are vulnerable to skidding on gravel and sand on the road .  Also, you pump them up to 100PSi which means puncture-tasticness, especially if you end up hugging the kerb when a tractor overtakes you.

One option, now, is a slightly wider road tyre (25-27mm) with less pressure in it.  The theory being that it moulds over any potentially puncturing bits of gravel and where it’s wider the bit of tyre in road contact is shallower meaning the same of less overall rolling resistance.  I don’t know what the truth is, but that’s what I’ve gone because as a nervous beginner used to mountain bike tyres it makes me feel more stable!

Tech Tuesday

Bike frame materials

So, you’ve got your helmet and you’re researching what bike frame size you’ll need within your budget.  Your budget might determine what your bike frame is made of, but if you have a choice – how to decide!?

bamboo bike frame, anyone?

4 options

You’ve got 4 main options, and there is a LOT of controversy out there about the pros and cons of each.  In the end it probably just comes down to preference – but here are a few things to consider:

Aluminium “Alloy”

If you want a cheap bike aluminium’s your pick.  It’s a bit light, it’s a bit stiff it’s moderately long lasting.  It’s the compromise at the cheap end of the range, and it might mean you can get pricier components if you self-build.  (or get your friendly bike shop to do it!)

Carbon

Carbon frames were all the rage, until they were all the rage and now people want something that isn’t ubiquitous.  They are not cheap, but they are cheaper than they were and they are light (very light if you pay!), fast and strong in the right direction.  This is good for light, small people like hobbits who don’t need to be pushing a bike that weighs more than they do……however, they are brittle if you crash, but they don’t rust!

Steel

If you want a workhorse, steel might be your answer.  They are heavy, unless you pay squillions, but they last a long time and you can crash and they might dent but it’s repairable.  They “dampen” road bumps so they are good for commuting but also long-distance comfort.  If you’re a larger bloke with powerhouse quads from a winter of turbo training you can move a steel bike and this might be your pick.  (They look “retro” cool, too).  Just don’t forget to clean it properly after a bad weather ride.

Titanium

If you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket and you are an experienced rider so you know what size frame works for you then investing in titanium could be your bike for life.  Beautiful, uncorrodable, light, super-dampening of nasty road surfaces and comfortable it’s the best of all possible worlds!  They can be custom built for you and the lack of corrosion means they suit British winter riding!

doesn’t need painting!

Bamboo

and yes, you really can buy a bamboo bike – a sustainable material, this is light and handsome – perfect for the eco-warrior in your life.

Tech Tuesday

The bike helmet

Yesterday we had a look at ways to motivate yourself to get back on your bike after a sedentary period.  But what if you’ve not had a bike since you passed your cycling proficiency?  Where to start?  It might sound daft, but not with the bike!

In triathlon, you can’t get into the transition area without wearing your helmet and having the fit tested by a marshall.  So let’s start there.  Bike helmets should be less than 5 years old, or be replaced after any accident (because the foam, if dented, does not re-shape).  Which means you probably need a new one!

How to buy a bike helmet

There are a squillion different designs, makes and models.  A basic road bike model should be fine – but you can get all sorts of fancy aerodynamic designs.  They probably aren’t worth it, you’re not Bradley Wiggins.  (if you are Bradley Wiggins – please sponsor us)

You can spend a little or a lot.  But bear in mind, don’t spend too little – how much is your brain worth?  The basic premise is – try some on!  They should be comfortable.  I bought one without trying it & it left a dirty great welt in my forehead every time I rode and felt like it was twisting my skull.

When it fits properly it feels comfortable, as you tighten the band at the back it becomes snug so that you can bend in half with your head upside down and it won’t fall off.  The chin straps should tighten enough, but not too much – you should still be able to fit 2 fingers between the strap and your chin and the triangle of straps should allow your ear to sit comfortably & not be squished or chafed.

head fit correct, just above eyebrows
chin strap correct (but too high on the forehead)

Safety evidence?

A lot of people don’t wear a bike helmet.  It’s up to you, of course.  We always wear ours to get used to them.  In triathlon you’re not allowed to touch your bike in transition until you have your helmet on.  You must rack your bike before removing your helmet.  I found a statistic that says you will crash every 4500 miles of riding.  I plan to stop riding at 4499 miles ………….

The problem is, the evidence is conflicting, and flaky.  Read this for a full and sensible evaluation.  On the “helmets are safe” side is case-control evidence (not top tier) for reduction in minor head injury and anecdotal evidence (various individual stories) of “my helmet saved my life”.  In a way, it also might be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The sort of people who wear bike helmets are the sort of people who don’t take risks and ride less recklessly down steep hills and crash less often as a result.

However, on the “helmets are actually dangerous” side is some more modern evidence that bike helmet wearing increases severity of other injuries, does not protect in serious collisions with motor vehicles and increases the likelihood of head injuries full stop.  Is this because, far from being risk averse, helmet wearing cyclists feel they have a licence to ride more recklessly as they feel (falsely) better protected.  No bit of foam can protect your head from a juggernaut!  Also, countries where helmet wearing is compulsory have seen a drop in cycling – and less cycling means more heart attacks!

The bottom line?

If you’re racing or planning a sportive, you need a helmet “‘cos it’s the rules”.  You may as well wear it all the time to get used to it – like any other bit of race kit.  If you’re a pootler or a commuter you don’t have to wear one – think about your attitude to risk.  If you know you’re risk averse, paradoxically you probably shouldn’t wear a helmet!  

If you know you’re a risk taker you might want to wear one to prevent your frequent minor scrapes from becoming big ones.  But know that if you have a really serious collision nothing will save you – so let’s all campaign for safer roads and more safe cycle lanes!

Tech Tuesday

Freestyle training aids

We’ve already shown you some hilarious swimming snorkels and talked about swimming costumes that take 30 minutes to put on.  But getting your freestyle faster and more efficient is an industry and there is even more “kit” you can put in your bulging swimbag, these days……

…….although “finding Nemo” armbands ain’t one of them!

Pull Buoy

Sounds dodgy, looks dodgy – but don’t let that put you off!

You clamp it between your thighs or ankles and it raises your legs so you don’t have to think about them – just concentrate on breathing and stroke.  An advantage if you’ve been overdoing the kettlebell squats and your legs are tired?

Kick Board

Continuing the line of aids that do something else to what their name suggests, sadly, this is not a board to kick against when you feel a bit overwrought and need an outlet other than chocolate…

used to be called a “float” when I was learning but now has holes in it for your grip – so it’s got an upmarket name 😉  Isolates one or two arms so you can concentrate on perfecting your kick.

Fins

Flippers to you and me.  NEVER call them flippers when anyone vaguely properly sporty and professional is around – they get disproportionately cross.  The effect of putting fins on your feet is a joyful speed and ease in the water.  You will zoom along.  They do help your leg muscles develop and the feel of the kick, but you will have some VERY cross people in your lane at the pool as you are so much faster than them – not advised without robust sense of self-worth!  Save it for open water or a swim lesson.  (P.S. not allowed in triathlon: for practice only)

Hand Paddles

Yes, they do look like torture instruments

ADDS resistance to your stroke so you can build arm strength and “feel” the water better.  Careful you don’t hurt your shoulders – they are vulnerable joints when you’re over 40 – better to build them up with some yoga planks and downward dogs on land first.  

Tempo Trainer

It’s effectively a metronome.  You put it under your swimhat and it beeps at a set tempo (as in music) and each beep is a stroke.  Sound perfectly ghastly to me.  Trying to kick, stroke and breathe to a predetermined rhythm sounds like a fast-track to water inhalation and sinking – but if you’re any good at freestyle already, maybe setting the thing at increasingly fast tempos will improve your speed?  Let us know if you try any of these!

Tech Tuesday

Breathing underwater…

Last week we looked at what the well dressed swimmer is wearing, now we’ll consider how they’re breathing.  

going under

Thought you didn’t need to be taught how to breathe?!  Think again.  Thought you didn’t need any technology to help you breathe?!  You got it, think again. Even knowing all the inventive ways to earn money from athletes desperate for milliseconds we’ve already encountered, today’s tech really takes the top slot!

Technique

Firstly a bit of tech, as in technique.  It is important to breathe out when your head is underwater.  I was unaware of this & always simply held my breath.  The reason becomes clear when you turn your head to breathe in freestyle or rise up out of the water in breaststroke – if you’ve held your breath you can’t let it out and breathe in again quickly enough before you go back under.  

Also, breathing out slows your heart rate (breathing in quickens it – a phenomenon known as “sinus arrhythmia”, fact fans) and so you will feel much calmer with your head in the water as you perceive your pulse slowing with the out-breath.  This is also why yoga 4-7-8 breathing works to calm you down for sleeping.

If you are doing breaststroke you generally breathe every stroke and you are looking forwards.  So far so easy.  If you swim “front crawl” you have a number of breathing choices.  You can breathe every other stroke, every third stroke or any combination.  If you breathe every other stroke you’ll always be breathing to the same side, which could off balance you or veer you off course.  If you breathe every third stroke you may not be able to sustain a fast pace, but at least you get to turn your head side to side and avoid neckache.  You should look behind you and try to breathe in the lee of your arm, or you’ll be snorting water.  

In open water, however, every few breaths you’ll need to look ahead and sight the buoy you are heading for, or you’ll waste valuable time and energy plotting your own course.  (& upset the kayakers looking after you)

Technology

Well, maybe not technology, more “kit”.  If you are trying to perfect your stroke or your kick, you might want to eliminate the stress of concentrating on your breathing as well.  Many swimmers use a snorkel for this.  Not content with using a normal mask and snorkel from your last seaside holiday, “they” will sell you swimming specific snorkels!

If this doesn’t make you laugh, you’re an olympic swimmer.  Luckily they don’t cost very much, if you do feel the need to try one.  On a serious note, if you’re swimming for pleasure or leisure and have always struggled with the breathing, since they don’t cost much (<£30) maybe it’s a good investment to get you in the pool.  Also, solves any neck pain issues as you can keep your head inline.

But, there is a gold-plated version of this.  (of course!)  For between 3 and 4 times the price you can get a swimmer specific training snorkel that has two tubes, one for “air in” and one for “air out”.  I haven’t quite worked out the benefits but it looked so hilarious I had to show you one:

So there you have it – how to breathe!  An essential superhero technique 😉 

Tech Tuesday

Sleep Technology

As much as your superhero team were surprised that swimming had “got technical” we are equally surprised there is tech to help you sleep.  Sleep is a major determinant of health and waistline, but usually we tell you to improve it by ditching the tech, hours before bedtime.  Well, we eat humble pie & bring you the “skinny” on sleep tech.

For Free

Do this stuff right now! (well, tonight…..)

#1 set up your phone and tablet to have a warmer screen setting at night – so you can still consider using it before bed. (on iphone this is “nightshift” in display settings, androids have apps like “twilight”).  Set your computer to have a warmer screen at night by downloading f.lux.

morning screen
evening screen

#2 THEN download the free “sleepfulness” mindful meditation app (10 tracks free) for your bedtime routine

#3 AND the “sleep cycle” app to wake you within a half hour window set by you at your lightest sleep point (so you feel less “yanked” awake & as if you’ve had more restful sleep)

For a few of your English pounds

If you want a bit more 

#1 place a physical blue light filter on your TV, as well, from “sleepshield”

#2 download the cheap “sleep genius” app – “pink” noise is better than “white noise!”

#3 (my favourite) rose tinted glasses – (actually) amber tinted glasses (I knew there was a reason Clare’s accessories existed) can be used after sunset to watch TV without a blue filter and warm the hue to avoid the blue screen suppressing your melatonin and thus keeping you awake.

#4 (most hilarious option) – “sound asleep pillow“: the pillow which plays your music or an audiobook as you drift off to sleep (OK, don’t believe the hype, insomniacs).  Has an inbuilt speaker & a jack for your iphone – cannot be washed bleurgh!

A savings project?

#1 “Lark in the dark” – if you are ONLY interested in sleep, this is the wristband for you.  It links with your smartphone alarm and it monitors your sleep then works out what you should do about it & nags you to do it!

#2 “Good night” LED light bulb.  $70!!!???? must have been designed by NASA for that price……oh, it was.  LIFX lightbulb – $99 but very pretty :-).  Phillips Hue lightbulbs – £149 a set, links with f.lux to control them.

#3 “Sleep rate” app – records your sleep and the cost is in the inbuilt CBT for sleep course (!)

#4  a variety of special alarm clocks with dusk and dawn gently increasing lights and sounds.

Serious dosh

#1 Withings Aura – just under £200.  An alarm clock that combines all of the above: red nightlight that changes colour slowly deepening whilst emitting soothing wave noises to help you drift off.  An under-mattress sensor to wake you at your lightest point of sleep (near to your planned wake time!) with a blue light and nice noise.

#2 Sleep number 360 smart bed – absolutely eye-wateringly expensive (thousands) but will apparently adjust each side of the double bed to each sleeper’s micro movements to keep them comfy, decide if they are snoring and raise the head of the bed to stop them, work with a thermostat to keep the room the correct sleep temperature and (obvs) connect with your smartphone to give you the detail of your night’s sleep.

one sheep….two sheep…..

I am off to count sheep now.  Sleep well 😉

Tech Tuesday

Swimming Tech

Well, here we are.  We’ve got our goal in mind, we’re working towards it.  We’ve got the I.T. sorted.  We can weigh in and monitor everything and we have motivator apps and buddies to cheer us on and top toons in our ears while we go. Now we just have to do it.

The quadrathlon is swim-kayak-bike-run so we’ll tackle them in that order. Except we won’t: the kayak is new to us so we’ll explore it together when the weather gets better!  Let’s have a look at swimming tech:

Boggle at the goggles

Do you need technology in order to swim!?  What a concept!  Well, so far we’ve got the swimtag, the waterproof bluetooth earphones and iPod shuffle.  Probably a swimsuit would be helpful, some goggles and a wetsuit for open water.

Swimsuits have gone and got technical.  You can still buy one in Marks and sparks, but if you’re a good swimmer (we’re not!) a technical swimsuit can make you faster.  With compression, hydrophobic fabric, engineering and even copper in the material and stroke specific designs you can pay a lot of money to shave seconds off your swimtime.  If you want to read a review here you can, but our view is that the swim being the smallest portion and our weakest discipline we’ll carry on with speedo!

But goggles – how we boggled at the change in swimming goggles since we were nippers.  When we started triathlon neither of us put our heads in the water.  We swam along having a nice chat and annoying everyone else (sorry!).  Then the multitasker got goggles.  Amazing goggles.  Instead of sitting inside your eye socket misting up and letting in water they are like scuba masks and use clever silicon to make a seal around your face and some amazing “no misting” inside coating so you don’t even have to spit in them!  Read more reviews here.  Your choice is your budget and whether to go for a simple pool goggle with a clear lens or whether you might need a tint for open water sunny days.  Even the shortsighted are catered for – for a small amount extra you can add prescription lenses.  The multitasker doesn’t want to see the sharks coming at her though so that might be a step too far…..

Wiggle in the wetsuit

A lot of people fear the wetsuit.  They have good reason – mine nearly killed me, but that is another story, for a theory Thursday.  But actually, if you’re going to swim in open water you will feel more buoyant and secure and you can also swim faster.  Also, you will be warmer – which in the UK is a “good thing”.

Triathlon has it’s own wetsuits.  Like the technical swimsuits they have compression and they have different neoprene thicknesses depending on where you need to be flexible or warm.  Finally, they have a lovely sheeny smooth coating that makes you look like a rubber seal, but apparently makes you cleave through the water like a porpoise.

You can even get a custom-made wetsuit to fit you perfectly, if you’ve got the wherewithal, but whatever you decide, it’s time to “dive-in”***

 

***so sorry, Hobbits can resist a terrible pun.

 

 

Tech Tuesday

Motivator tech

Have you found your health and fitness motivation yet?  Or have you found it and it’s a fluctuating beast – sometimes on fire, sometimes a flickering candle, or sometimes even a canary in a mineshaft imminently and unpredictably snuffed out?  How do you get around that? – your brain theoretically wants to carry on your health journey, but your brain isn’t making your body do anything about it……

What are our motivators?

#1 carrot or stick (or both?)

The classics are the carrot and the stick.  Someone bets you £50 you can’t do a 10k race in 12 weeks time, you run after that carrot like it’s dangling in front of your nose on the race course.  Only 30% of us are motivated by the carrot.  70% of us prefer a good beating if we don’t do well.  

There are two American websites/apps that give you the carrot and the stick (and the accountability buddy):

Stickk

Which, helpfully, does what it says on the tin.  You sign up, set a goal and pledge a painful amount of money to a charity of your choice if you don’t achieve it.  You ask an “accountability buddy” to be the arbiter of success or failure.  You get the money back if you achieve.

Flaw in the plan – you might subconsciously WANT the charity to have your money…..

Gympact

Cruel and unusual but fixes the flaw in Stickk.  You set your goal, you pay money to OTHER USERS of the app if you fail and they succeed, and vice versa.  The flaw is the accountability – it verifies your activities on GPS data and photos, so you could cheat and get your mate to take your garmin watch running with them, as well as theirs……..

#2 competition

meg getting age-group trophy
winner!!! (trophies motivate)

Are you competitive?  The superbad-multitasker is.  I simply have to tell her I’ve been for a run for her to be lacing up her shoes & zipping off down the lane.  I had to promise I wouldn’t overtake her in a race (hahahahaha as if……..).  Well there are hundreds of apps for this.  The one that gets a lot of people going is

Strava

You can run or cycle.  You log in to the app, beetle off on your exercise and it logs and posts what you’ve done so you can compare with others, and with your previous efforts.  But the canniest thing they did was “strava segments” and “K/Q.O.M.”  Strava segments are defined routes and distances (often quite short) that anyone can go and race down as fast as possible.  You get ranked.  And it rankles if you don’t rank well!  King or Queen of the mountain paraphrases the tour de france.  Its a strava segment with a hill.

multi-tasker vs. hobbit – no contest

Trying to get up the rankings with these is a BIG motivator for some people – but careful it doesn’t take over your life…..!

#3 challenge

hobbit with the elves at norwich tri
Finished!

This is firmly where I sit.  I’m not going to bother competing (mainly ‘cos my legs are so short I’ll lose!), but I will compete with my past self to improve and see just what I might be capable of.  At the beginning of last year I couldn’t run, I hadn’t cycled more than 2 miles in years and I swam with my head out of water.  But nonetheless I completed 6 triathlons (not in any great style or at speed, but I did it).  This year already I have managed to run (once) non-stop for 8km, which may not sound much but its the best I’ve ever done.  What tech can help you?  Well whatever fitness tracker you use and it’s app and also, if you go for a charity challenge they usually have amazing online resources.

Obviously you get added challenge if you have to raise money for a cause, and there are numerous websites to help you do that, including virgin money giving & our sponsorship page (plug!)

#3a Bling!

superhobbit's medals from 2016
bling! (medals motivate)

#4 intrinsic pleasure

Finally, you will keep doing something when you get the intrinsic joy of it.  So that’s why you need to spend time working out what will be on your personal healthy roadmap.  Once you do, I can tell you, there’s an app for that! (favourites include Zombies, run!)

#5 accountability buddy

what are friends for? looking stupid together

And if all of the above goes wrong, you don’t care about the money, the fame, the glory and it sure hurts more that it pleases, then you can always rely on your accountability buddy.  With huge thanks to YOU, to the superbad-multitasker and to wonder woman, I am still running.  If I didn’t have to blog here every Sunday and tell you what I’ve been doing,  if the superbad-multitasker didn’t keep running farther and expecting me to catch up and if wonder woman didn’t “like” my runs and send me exhortations to get muddy I would be sitting on the sofa. The tech to help you?

myfitnesspal

But most of the other apps let you link up with your friends and see what they’re doing and they can send you encouragement.  And that’s what friends are for 🙂 

Tech Tuesday

Toons on Tuesday

Not Newcastle United FC, that’s a different website.  In the midst of all this hard work and reality checking and reflecting and changing we all need some “top tunes” to listen to.  Sometimes we want to listen to them while we workout.  The tech. for getting your toons on the move has made great strides (geddit!?) since the humble walkman.

Now you’ve got an app on your phone with thousands of toons and hours of music stored on it, organised into playlists.  You’ve got wireless earphones and it’s all light and small.  Even your workout gear has got special pockets or bits or attachments for stowing your tiny toon machine.  Your gloves have got smartphone compatible index finger-tips!  (If you haven’t got any of this, sorry if I just made you have a shopping frenzy!)

Me, I like the “sound of silence” (translation – the sound of increasingly laboured breathing…..).  Earphones & toons are banned in triathlon so I’ve got used to running without.  Cycling is probably dangerous with toons, although lots of people do it.  I’m a bit of a chicken & I like to hear what’s monstering up behind me….. and I’ve never considered going swimming with music, it didn’t seem compatible.

But I do like a playlist (see below) if “rain stops play” and I’m on the cross-trainer. So what to use?

App

Well there are more apps for your music than you can think of.  You probably use iTunes – since it was out at the start and if you’ve got apple products, or maybe google play – both have the biggest stores available.  But if you want a review try this

Apparatus

Astonishingly, it’s all gone waterproof.  I’m still a bit nervous but this review tells you everything you need to know.  Suffice to say you can choose big budget/small budget, with radio, cordless and even a smartwatch/fitness tracker with your music on it.  The tech is so far removed from what I could have imagined when I got my first walkman and listened obsessively to “free Nelson Mandela” by the special AKA (yes, old!) whilst walking around moodily worrying about the state of the world.  Now I just run around cheerily worrying about the state of the world.  Endorphins make the difference.

Earphones

This is a review from runner’s world that gives you a good choice – there’s in-ear, on-ear, wired, wireless, sweatproof, waterproof.  Lots of ways to spend your money this week!!

But when you’ve spent your money, what are you going to listen to?  Well, here’s our top 10:

Top 10 workout toons (official!)

  superbad-multitasker superhobbit
#1 We are your friends (justice vs. simian) – Makes me run fast.  Nutbush city limits (Tina Turner) – all time top fitness toon, first heard in 1990 Birmingham Uni aerobics classes, NEVER fails to get hobbit arse in motion
#2 Foundations (Kate Nash) Die another day (Madonna) – Not a fan of Madonna’s music in general this has absolutely the correct running cadence beat, first heard running in the dark with a running club circa 2001, enabled short little fat hairy legs to keep up……
#3 Mr. Bright Side (The Killers) – So cliched. But hey, I never claimed I was original. Rapture (Iio) – Don’t like “disco”, but first heard on the cross-trainer in 2003, absolutely the perfect cadence to keep a cracking pace on the machine
#4 Bulletproof (La Roux) Crackity Jones (Pixies) – just because. But also, you can’t stop moving to this.
#5 Nineteen (Tegan and Sarah) Are you gonna be my girl? (Jet) – fast fast faster
#6 Send them kids to war (the Burns Unit) Psychokiller (Talking Heads) – good subversive cross-trainer warm-up
#7 Blood, ice and ashes (the Burns Unit) Barracuda (Heart) – not what you expect from Heart
#8 What is life? (the Burns Unit) 225 (New Model Army) – speed and substance
#9 The district sleeps alone tonight (the Postal Service) I can dream (Skunk Anansie) – if Skin can dream, I can go faster
#10 There are ten songs in the world??  Probably something by Taylor Swift. I have the musical taste of an eight year old unless I’ve been directed towards something by husband one  Flashdance (Irene Cara) – leg warmers, high kicks, high 80’s camp nostalgia – I’ll have some

What are your top toons??? (…Alan Shearer does not count……)

 

Tech Tuesday

Wearable tech

Happy Valentine’s Day!  If you’ve left it too late to buy something, this is not the post for you.  Not very romantic to buy your loved one a “digital minder”.  Get some flowers and grovel, instead.  But, if you want to buy yourself a present you’ve come to the right place.

Wearable activity trackers (usually wristbands) have been around for awhile now.  Chances are, if you haven’t got one already, you know someone who has.  In itself it’s becoming the norm, so that’s a very persuasive psychological argument.  They look good and you want one.  But, as a superhero, first of all, just ask yourself 

Why do I want a digital minder?

There is now some evidence that says wearable activity trackers do not help you lose weight.  If weight loss alone is your goal, get an accountability buddy, read this blog and save your pennies.  But activity trackers do all sorts of other things:

Steps

most track your steps.  If you want a wake up call as to just how sedentary you are, tracking your steps and being nudged to move every hour can help with activity levels and thus longevity (if you get your 8000 plus steps per day).  However, it’s a lot of expense for what is essentially a pedometer – you can get apps on your phone for that, or at least a cheap pedometer.  

Sleep

Quite a few track your sleep.  Honestly, how helpful is that?  If you’ve got insomnia, you know it.  Labouring the point with a nagging device is likely to make you worry more about it.  We’ll blog on a theory Thursday about good sleep and technology does NOT help.  If you sleep well, unless you want to brag about it (not cool!) why check?  

Link with your phone

You get texts on your wrists and an alert if you have a call coming in.  Useful, if your phone is buried in a bag and you need to decide whether to dive for it or not, but hardly worth the asking price.   We’re chained to the constant information stream enough as it is.

Training motivation and progress 

stats on the garmin app

OK.  This is what wearable tech can do for you.  This is the geek-tastic power of what you wear on your wrist.  If you’re training, or want to get better.  That means going farther or faster, or both.  When you tell your wearable you’re going for a run it will happily chirp at you every kilometre.  If you’re a glass half full person this will speed you on your way as you knock off the distance.  If you look at your wrist you can also see how fast you ran that kilometre.  You might try to run the next one faster.  When you get home, you can upload into an app and compare your stats with last time.  You can track yourself on the map.  You can brag about it on Facebook.  In short, you are a very happy superhero indeed.

If you are a glass half empty person, it could be demotivating to have “only” done that one kilometre.  You probably need an accountability buddy, too.  😉

Which one?

So, if you’re decided it is the right thing for you, how do you decide which one?  First decide what your activity and budget is.  Decide if you need a watch or just a tracker.  Decide if you just want to track steps and sleep or if you might cycle, run, swim or (!) play golf.  Think about connectivity with gadgets you already have and decide if you could cope with taking your phone with you to get the full range of your tracker’s features or whether you need built-in GPS.  You can visit this website for a geekily satisfactory full list, with comparisons, or you can read my totally unscientific, biased rant below:

Fitbit

Fitbits are almost ubiquitous.  But Fitbits don’t like water.  The cats of the wearable tech world, even the new one is only “showerproof”.  They do look gorgeous, but when has that ever swayed the superhero geek???  Plus, the wristband comes undone: Wonder Woman lost hers in a particularly devastating municipal dump related tragedy.  (Devastating because usually a tip trip makes hobbits happy)

Misfit

Bought for poppa hobbit and hobbitMum annoyingly does not give steps but converts to some units of its own.  Has not been successful in removing hobbit bottoms from hobbit chairs (but this blog has, so well done those hobbits!).  No display, just a circle of LEDs that will all light up when you’ve moved sufficiently to satisfy it.

Moov

Small and affordable but no display.  You have to set it up before you exercise and wait to sync with your phone to find out what you did.  But a very comprehensive “app” when you do.

Apple Watch (series 2)

A thing of beauty.  If you’ve got the money and other apple products you will be considering this.  Series 1 was a waste of time for superheroes – no GPS.  But series 2 is waterproof with GPS and inbuilt HR monitor.  If you can afford it, you want a watch not just a tracker and you already like and use Apple then it’s probably a no-brainer.  Yes, I am a bit jealous of the super-badmultitasker…

Garmin

Confessions time again.  I am a garmin girl.  It’s big and ugly but it tells me the truth (accurate GPS and steps) and it has all the triathlon disciplines, plus the ability to download a triathlon app for races (which works for open water.). The technology works across the range so you can spend more or less depending on your gadget budget, but still get the relevant info for your training needs.  The battery life is excellent and it’s quick to recharge.  I have never been a fan of heart rate monitoring, but if that’s your thing then you can get that included, or as a compatible extra.  It can link with “the sufferfest” and if you get lost on a run you can press the Star Trek button and get teleported home.  (Well, maybe the GPS guides you home……..but a hobbit can dream…..)

Do you still want one??  Of course you do!!! 😀