Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nike+ SportBand 2.0...

By Frank

The original Nike+ SportBand which was launched slightly more than a year ago was a nice and simple to use running watch and pedometer for those who didn't want to run while listening to music using the Nike+ Sports Kit (iPod). However, it was short lived as it was pulled off the shelves as it had quality issues with the display where moisture easily enters it thus causing a malfunction.

The Nike+ SportBand 2.0...

A year down the road, enter the Nike+ SportBand 2.0. Built and look exactly the same as it's predecessor except for the colour, Nike has claimed that the new version had the display issue rectified. Though sporting the same build which includes my suspicion on the edge of the dongle that connects the USB which appear to be "loose" which allowed moisture to enter the display on the previous model, it is proven here that Nike had really rectified the display issue. The internal moisture and water resistant sealing has been totally improved thus making sure it's totally dry in it. I have tested it myself drowning the SportBand in water, showering with it and also taking it out for a real cool morning run together with rain. After almost 2 weeks, it has no issues with it unlike the previous model where it will quickly show its defects within a matter of days. Therefore, the nightmare of the SportBand that most users experience with is now lifted! Kudos to Nike!

Let's see what some of the slight difference in terms of looks compared to the original. As mentioned, the colour has changed which now comes in gender specific colours although both function the same. The men's model is dark grayish on the outer and a dull yellow on the inner band which gives a slight LiveStrong feeling to it. However, from the Internet, it can be seen that there are few other colour option to the inner band like blue. Not too sure if those are available in Malaysia though. The women's model come with a pearl white outer with a pink inner band. Both the transmitter is still in black thus it might cause a little eye sore for some on the women's model. The display now has a white grayish background as oppose to the black in the previous. Though still without lights, it did made it easier to read. However, sadly to say that the display is only protected with a clear plastic cover. Though no issues on looking at the display with it, it is so prone to scratches even from a simple wipe from our fingers or even our apparels. This might cause issues in the future when it becomes difficult to read the display with scratches all over. So that's about it, as even the packing looks exactly the same coming in a small little plastic case with a simple manual in it.

What you'll find in the Nike+ SportBand 2.0...

The band itself. Note the yellow colour...

The SportBand detached from the band. Note the white grayish background on the display...

As with it's predecessor, the Nike+ software needs to be downloaded from the Nike+ website first before plugging in the SportBand into the USB drive. Once installed, plug the SportBand in and let it charge for at least 2 hours and it's ready to go, of course after popping in the sensor into a Nike+ enabled shoe. However, do not forget to setup a Nike+ account first and also setting up your details in it. It will be needed for future synchronisation.

In terms of software, I realised that the SportBand 2.0's firmware is now upgradeable. The first time I hook it up to the Internet for syncing, it detected a new version and prompt for an upgrade option. Clicking on the "Yes" button quickly upgrades it within a matter of minutes. That's a good move from Nike in ensuring the the SportBand is always up to date in features and functionality.

A few articles I read from the Internet, some claimed that Nike has upgraded the SportBand's accuracy. Personally speaking, I found no difference. It still offer about 92% accuracy out of the box and maybe up to 95% if calibrated. Calibration is done by running a known distance and then comparing it with the distance tracked by the SportBand, all done during the synchronisation process. Still a problem though, a sudden change in pace will send the SportBand recording inaccurate distances.

The Nike+ sensor...

With the main button next to the display for start, end and pause function, one just needs to pair the SportBand to the sensor by pressing and holding it for 3 seconds and then by walking a short distance. Then another push on it, and off you go. The button at the side is call a toggle button where you can toggle the display between distance, pace, chrono and calories. Pretty much the same. And as with it's predecessor, the split timing function is still missing and I find this kind of sad.

Overall, the Nike+ SportBand 2.0 is a very much improved gadget over it's predecessor. With the display issue now rectified, runners can now rely on it in getting readings about their run. It may not be as accurate as compared to GPS enabled systems, but it's an affordable solution for those who just want to refer to something. Retailing at the same recommended price of RM229, it is now available at your nearby Nike stores.

Many thanks to Mr. Wong Li-Zren and to Nike Malaysia for replacing my original Nike+ SportBand to this new version although it has been a year.

For the review on the original Nike+ SportBand, hit the link.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Need For Speed...

By Frank

I've signed off from my base training this morning with a real easy 30KM run. Easy on the pace, but not easy controlling it as my friends slowly disappeared into the distance. Was glad that I wasn't tempted to give chase.

After a total of 335.62KM log in 5 weeks time which includes a 38KM run and a Powerman duathlon simulation, I'm glad that I am now almost to where I were during the fourth quarter of last year. Not much on the heart rate yet as mentioned in my previous entry, but I do feel good.

Cutting short my base training regime by 1 week, it's time now to enter speed training, a regime that I'm not looking forward too. I normally train for speed by running a 5KM distance on race pace. However, that is not going to be enough if I were to achieve my goal at Macau. Therefore, it's interval this time which is more demanding than what I usually practice on. I have never like to run intervals as I know I'm not build for speed but I know that I will really need to do this even if I have to force myself. I will still do my long runs on the weekend, but what differs now is the weekdays. 2 interval sessions will be done over 3 days each week with a recovery run in between. I have identified a 300M route at my residential area so it's pretty convenient for me. This regime should last me probably for 4 weeks.

The final test for speed will come on 24 October 2009 when I will race in the second edition of the Nike+ Human Race at Singapore. My current 10KM personal best was ran at least year's edition so it be nice if I can outrun it this year though I have doubts about it as I do not have a VIP pass like last year which will allowed me to start with the elites at the front row. This year, I will have to manoeuvre through the sea of runners from who knows maybe the rear. Hmmm...

The Nike+ Human Race 2009...

From there on, it will be fine tuning and preparing myself for tapering while I race in the Powerman duathlon and also Penang Bridge International Marathon. Yeap, these 2 races are not my priority and will just take it as experience, training and tapering. With 2 weeks separating Penang Bridge International Marathon and Macau Marathon, it will the perfect time to recover so that I can go all out at the latter. So that's about my whole plan leading up to the big day. For now, I just wish to get over with the speed training as soon as possible.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Every Beat Counts...

By Frank

How time flies! In about a few days time it will be my fifth week into my base training regime which will soon come to an end. Kilometers after kilometers, my running distance gets further and my speed increases though still not up to par. Longest distance ran so far was a 33KM on a single run. I did try a marathon distance though at the end of August but had to abandon it due to major bowel discomfort. Not too sure if I will like to hit the distance now as it may be a little too late and risky. Legs are doing well and in fact, I did a fast pace 30KM last weekend. I believe it was my fastest pace ever this year as I was wearing my 2XU elite compression tights which help me propel my every stride and I was in the mood to do so.

However, I'm still pretty disappointed with my heart rate. Training by calculating on my heart rate readings, I was hoping for a better result. But my resting heart rate has been hovering at an average of 48 beats per minute, still way above my expectation. Not too sure if it was due to my recent lack of sleep issue which may been resulted from overtraining, but it sure is a number I am not happy with. I once peak at an average of 39 beats per minute which was towards the fourth quarter of last year when I was at my peak of everything. However, I think it started rocketing when I went down with injuries that sidelined me for a couple of months.

Run with your heart (rate)...

Fingers and toes cross, I am still hoping to bring down and to maintain my resting heart rate to 39 beats per minute or even lower before the Macau Marathon 2009 which at the time of writing this, is 82 days away. Cause if 1 muscle that's going to power me to my marathon dream, it's going to be the largest one, my heart and every beat of it counts.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Important Running Tips...

By Frank

2 mornings ago, I had a 20KM run with Luc. Though it went well, I was really tired after that as I did not sleep before the run. In fact, I haven't been sleeping well this few days whenever there is a run the next day. In fact, I sleep better on a normal day, though with my stress level high nowadays, this hasn't come easy.

As I was chatting with Chee Kong over the messenger service, he told me that I may have overtrained. I have just started my base training a couple of weeks ago though I have already hit the 30KM distance. I did try to hit the 42KM distance last Saturday but it did not materialise as I went down with 2 visits to the toilet which left me too uncomfortable to carry on. I was suprised by Chee Kong's statement at first but through a link he sent me, it does really make sense. Though I do feel good, the question is have I started hitting high mileage too early before my body is ready for it? Hmmm...

But anyway, here's to share the content of the link Chee Kong sent me. A write up from Dr. George Sheehan.

Important Running Tips For Every Runner To Know.

01) Keep a record of your morning pulse. Lie in bed for a few minutes after you awaken and then take your pulse. As your training progresses, it will gradually become slower and after three months or so plateau out. From then on, if you awaken and find a rate of 10 or more beats higher, you have not recovered from your previous day's runs, races or stresses. Take the day or more off until the pulse returns to normal.

02) Weigh yourself regularly. Initially you will not lose much weight. What you lose in fat you will put on in muscle. Running consumes 100 calories a mile and there are 3,500 calories to a pound so you can see weight loss will be slow unless you do heavy mileage.

03) Do your exercises daily. The more you run, the more muscle imbalance occurs. The calf, hamstrings (back thigh) and low back muscles become short, tight and inflexible. They have to be stretched. On the other hand the shins, the quads (front thigh) and the belly muscles become relatively weak. They must be strengthened. Learn the Magic Six: Three strengthening exercises, three stretching exercises.

04) Eat to run. Eat a good high-protein breakfast, then have a light lunch. Run on an empty stomach at least two, preferably three hours after your last meal. Save the carbohydrates for the meal after the run to replenish the muscle sugar.

05) Drink plenty of fluids. Take sugar-free drinks up to 15 minutes before running. Then take 12 to 16 ounces of easily tolerated juices, tea with honey or sugar, defizzed Coke, etc. before setting out. In winter that should be all you need.

06) Run on an empty colon. Running causes increased peristalsis, cramps and even diarrhea. Having a bowel movement before running and particularly before racing prevents these abdominal symptoms.

07) Wear the right clothes. In winter this means a base of thermal underwear followed by several layers of cotton or wool shirts with at least one being a turtleneck. Wear a ski mask and mittens. Use nylon if necessary to protect against wind and wet. In summer the main enemy is radiant heat. Remember to wear white clothes and use some kind of head covering.

08) Find your shoes and stick to them. High-arch feet do better with narrow heels. Morton's Foot (short big toe, long second toe) may need an arch support in the shoe. If a shoe works, train in it, and wear it to work.

09) The fitness equation is 30 minutes at a comfortable pace four times a week. Your body should be able to tell you that "comfortable" pace. If in doubt use the "talk test". Run at a speed at which you can carry on a conversation with a companion.

10) Run economically. Do not bounce or overstride. You should lengthen your stride by pushing off, not by reaching out. Do not let your foot get ahead of your knee. This means your knee will be slightly bent at footstrike. Run from the hips down with the upper body straight up and used only for balance. Relax.

11) Belly breathe. This is not easy and must be practiced and consciously done just prior to a run or a race. Take air into your belly and exhale against a slight resistance either through pursed lips or by a grunt or a groan. This uses the diaphragm correctly and prevents the "stitch."

12) Wait for your second wind. It takes six to 10 minutes and one degree in body temperature to shunt the blood to the working muscles. When that happens you will experience a light warm sweat and know what the "second wind" means. You must run quite slowly until this occurs. Then you can dial yourself to "comfortable," put yourself on automatic pilot, and enjoy.

13) Run against traffic. Two heads are better than one in preventing an accident. Turn your back on a driver and you are giving up control of your life. At night wear some reflective material or carry a small flashlight.

14) Give dogs their territory. Cross to the other side of the road and pick up some object you can brandish at them. Never try to outrun a dog. Face the dog and keep talking until it appears to be safe to go on.

15) Learn to read your body. Be aware of signs of overtraining. If the second wind brings a cold clammy sweat, head for home. Establish a DEW line that alerts you to impending trouble. Loss of zest, high morning pulse, lightheadedness on standing, scratchy throat, swollen glands, insomnia, palpitation, are some of the frequent harbingers of trouble.

16) Do not run with a cold. A cold means you are overtrained. You have already run too much. Wait at least three days, preferably longer. Take a nap the hour you would usually spend running.

17) Do not cheat on your sleep. Add an extra hour when in heavy training. Also arrange for at least one or two naps a week and take a long one after your weekend run.

18) When injured find a substitute activity to maintain fitness. Swim, cycle or walk for the same time you would normally jog.

19) Most injuries result from a change in your training. A change in shoes, an increase in mileage (25 miles per week is the dividing line; at 50 miles per week the injury rate is doubled), hill or speed work, or a change in surface. Almost always there is some associated weakness of the foot, muscle strength/flexibility imbalance, or one leg shorter than the other. Use of heel lifts, arch supports, modification of shoes and corrective exercises may be necessary before you are able to return to pain-free running.

20) Training is a practical application of Hans Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome. Stress is applied, the organism reacts, a suitable time is given to reestablish equilibrium. Then stress is applied again. Each of us can stand different loads and need different amounts of time to adapt. You are an experiment of one. Establish your own schedule, do not follow anyone else's.

* From Dr. George Sheehan Essay 10.