Sweat or Rain?

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Sometimes life sends you lemons and sometimes it sends you rain.
However, there is a reason there are weathermen...and running hats...and treadmills.

We got done with school early and I thought I'd snatch up the opportunity to run the trail; my most favorite place on earth to be.  There's something so refreshing about this place.  It was slightly misting when I dropped the kiddos off at the Y, but I didn't think it would be a big deal.  Boy was I wrong and by the time I reached 1 mile, I was drenched. 

This is definitely not the first picture I had imagined on posting, but I just had to document the craziness I got myself into.


It only got worse from here.
The rain got harder and harder and was pouring so hard that I couldn't see.  I thought it would get better once I was under the trees, but it didn't.  I have never been so soaked in my entire life; like puddles in my shoes and shorts and bra.

I kept thinking that I should be thinking, "This rain is an awesome reminder of Christ's love poured down on me and his provision of grace."

But I wasn't.  
I was thinking about was how not refreshing this supposed-to-be-refreshing run was.  I was thinking about how embarrassing it was going to be to traipse through the Y, dripping water everywhere, with squeaking shoes.  I was thinking about how those 4 wet miles better have made a difference somehow and most of all, I was thinking, "Note to self: always have a running hat and change of clothes in the car!"

When I picked the kids up, they asked with raised eyebrows, "Is that sweat or rain?"  I guess I should be thankful it wasn't all sweat or I would have STUNK!

Life sent me rain and what did I do?  I still ran.  Perhaps that run increased my speed a little or maybe it made me tougher.  Or maybe it was just something crazy that normal people would have opted for a dry treadmill.  Regardless, this is what fitness is to me...running when I don't want to; when the weather is not perfect and when I can't see the end of my 'to-do' list and when it would be easier to be sippin' that 3rd cup of coffee.  It's hard work and a sacrifice, but always worth it.




Background

Previously I had a Nike+ Sports Watch powered by TomTom. I really liked this watch even though it was pretty limited on features. It was reliable and served my needs quite well. Unfortunately it got moisture in the screen after 10 months of solid use. The screen became blank and it made the watch unusable. Since it was less than a year old Nike gave me a product voucher for the value of the watch. I had to use the product voucher on the Nike.com store and they only sell two watches there; the TomTom Cardio Runner and the Garmin Forerunner 225. I choose the Garmin Forerunner 225 due to the built in heart rate monitor and the way it looked, I know, that makes me sound like a girl, but meh, whatever. While the TomTom Cardio Runner is comfortable (Jen let me borrow hers for a race) I don't like the joystick thing on it.

Pretty simple box and easy enough to open

The connector on the left must be used to charge the watch.

Features 

This watch boasts an impressive amount of features for the price point ($299).
  • Wrist based heart rate monitor - Run without a strap - the Forerunner 225 uses a built-in sensor to measure heart rate at the wrist
  • Graphic interface - A colorful gauge shows your zone at a glance: warm-up (gray), easy (blue), aerobic (green), threshold (orange) or maximum (red).
  • GPS - GPS-enabled, Forerunner 225 provides accurate distance and pace data. You can also view your run on a map when you upload to Garmin Connect.
  • Accelerometer - A built-in accelerometer provides distance and pace data when you're running indoors, with no need for a separate foot pod
  • Activity tracking - It doubles as a watch and activity tracker. Count steps, calories and distance throughout the day. The move bar with vibration alert motivates you to move when you've been sitting too long, although this is annoying. It also has sleep monitoring because it's normal to wear your GPS watch to bed?

Two buttons on the right side. The red button is the 'start' run button. I promise my arm doesn't look that gross in real life.

Three buttons on the left side. One is the back light button. I'm really not as hairy as this makes me look.

Pros

  • The watch looks good. It's not overly large on my wrist and the colors are sporty (red highlight on black) without being obnoxious. 
  • Satellite acquisition is lightning fast. This is a huge upgrade from the Nike+ watch. Most of the time this watch is getting a GPS lock in under 5 seconds. 
  • Lots of data. Honestly I have more data than I know what to do with (see pictures below). From heart rate to cadence to elevation it is all included in this watch. 
  • Activity Tracking. This is not really something I wanted to have but it's a nice feature. It counts my steps and estimates how many calories I burned for the day. It will also remind you to 'move' if you have been sitting too long. Fortunately you can turn that reminder off. I don't want my watch telling me when to stop being lazy.
  • Lots of size holes available on the wrist strap. The Nike+ watch had less holes, at least they were more spaced out, for the the strap which meant if your wrist was an in-between size it was either a bit too loose or tight. The Forerunner 225 doesn't have this issue. You can adjust the wrist strap to your comfort level.
  • The Garmin Connect app on your phone can send your runs to your Nike+ account. If you are like me and still want to track runs in Nike+ you can easily connect the accounts. 
  • The watch can sync with just your phone. There is no need to connect the watch to your computer. Simply connect it via Bluetooth to your phone (with the Garmin app installed) and it will automatically sync your run. 
  • Multiple Data Screens. You can set up the watch to display any information you want while you are running. From cadence to pace to splits to elevation. You can setup two data screens and a graphic heart rate meter. These data screens can either automatically scroll during your run or be toggled by you pressing a button. This is very handy as it allows you access to lots more information on a run. 
  • Heavy Duty Construction. It feels sturdy and like it won't fall apart. It's hard to quantify this, but judging by the screws that hold the strap to the watch, it is built to last. 
This is the type of data the watch records. This is from the Garmin website showing info on my first run.

It's hard to capture in these images just how much data is available to see. The trick, I suppose, is knowing what to do with all the data.

Another huge improvement over Nike+, the watch captures your splits. You can easily change your splits to any distance.

Cons

  • Out of the box issues. On my first run as I was heading out the door the watch froze up on me. I had to do a soft reset on it by holding the power button for 10 seconds to get it to work, not a great start! I've had to do this one other time since. If it happens again I will contact Garmin about it.  Also on my first run I was a bit annoyed and surprised when it showed my pace as 4:45. And I realized it was set on kilometers....fail again. Apparently I got a UK version because it was set on the metric system when it arrived. I prefer Freedom Units for my runs. 


  • Then when I got home I looked at the watch after dinner and saw that my calories burned for the day was 4300! I started to rummage through the not-intuitive menu system when I saw in my profile I was listed as a 386 lbs male....this was odd because when I first turned on the watch it had me set my height and weight. After changing it back to my weight (163) it showed a more accurate calorie estimate. 
  •  The wrist strap rubber is very sticky. This isn't a bad thing because it keeps the watch from moving around, probably to help the heart rate monitor work better, but it sometimes pulls my arm hair. I am not a hairy guy (I promise) but this is the first watch I've owned that has made me actually consider shaving part of my arm hair. 
  • Charging the watch is not as easy as the Nike+ watch. It requires the Garmin Connect holder that plugs into your computer (USB). The Nike+ watch had a built in USB connector in the strap. This means when I travel I must take the Garmin Connect holder with me. It's not a huge deal but it is one more thing to keep track of. 
  • It's not a smart watch. Garmin just came out with the Forerunner 235 which has features like reading text messages, ect. Honestly those features are not something I want. I am not even allowed to wear smart watches in my work place due to security. However, it does seem strange that the Forerunner 225 came out in July and an upgraded version was released just 3 months later.  
  • If you don't make it pretty tight the heart rate monitor will pick up your cadence instead of your actual heart rate. This isn't really a big deal but if you are use to wearing a watch more loose you will run into problems. 
 
The green lights str the heart rate sensor. The two pairs of metal dots are the charging locations. There is also a rubber gasket around the bottom of the watch to help ensure a good 'light' seal so the heart rate monitor can function properly.

Bottom Line 

Right now, I would recommend this watch. It's a HUGE upgrade from the Nike+ Sports Watch. I've run 25 miles with it so far and had no more issues after the first run. If you are looking for a dedicated running watch that provides more data than pace and distance this watch is a great option. A $299 it fits solidly in the middle of the cost range. Not a bargain watch and not a top end watch. For a runner like me, it seems to be a perfect fit. 

I'm Just Going To Start

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Thursday, October 29, 2015


Just like a run the hardest part often is beginning. I had some grandiose ideas for a first post for this new blog but I realized I should just begin. One of the things Jen and I want to accomplish with this blog is honest writing about fitness. Running is hard. Eating healthy is difficult. Being disciplined is not something that comes easily to most of us me. There are too many blogs/articles out there about how my 'sweat sparkles' or how much fun 'couples workouts' are. That's great for you but my sweat stinks and I have no desire to kiss while holding plank. 


When I first decided to lose weight and exercise it was hard. I couldn't run a mile without walking and a I considered a $5 Little Caesar's pizza a single serving lunch.  The decision to exercise itself wasn't really hard but actually starting was. I suppose this is where I should post a sappy quote like "starting is the hardest part" or "every journey beings with a single step". I'll just settle for "actually starting is hard and always will be." Making the decision every day to go on a run, or skip the donuts is not easy, but it is worth it.

This is me right before I decided to start running and Jen just had baby #2.



So this is the start for us in A Sweaty Life. If you haven't 'started' yet my advice to you is simple; just begin. There's no simple three step process that will make it easy. You don't need more advice on what protein shake is the best or which shoes are right for you. You just need to start.