When I was a kid, I used my asthma an excuse to avoid running. I had no problem hiking for hours and miles on end, but running bedeviled me. Like most kids, I played soccer, but it was the free-substitution variety. Meaning that we substituted in and out for oranges and gatorade whenever we got tired or winded. The only seasons I played entire games were those seasons I played goalie. Free substitution and goalie: that’s how I managed to play soccer for 10 years and still avoid a ton of running.
In middle school, my PE coaches–having failed at recruiting me for football–tried to recruit me to try out for track. They saw me as a person who could throw the shotput and discus (which I was good at). But, I declined because, you guessed it: everyone on the track team had to run, even if you were not in a running event.
Just Try It
Years and years later, after squandering the hidden secret that I was actually a very fast runner in bursts when I was a kid, my asthma pretty much disappeared, and I was encouraged by some colleagues to give running a taste.
And so I did. And I liked it! I worked my way up to, first, an uninterrupted mile. And then, an uninterrupted 5k. And finally, a nearly-uninterrupted trail 10k. It was amazing, and I loved it. I ran two races: the Rodeo Run 5k and the Hog Hunt 10k. I got nowhere close to winning, but at least I wasn’t anywhere close to finishing dead last, either.
And Then it Ended
But, then, I had kids. And having very young kids means that you don’t have a ton of time to indulge yourself, nor do you have a ton of energy in reserve to expend it by pounding the pavement. I found other ways to stay in shape (HIIT and eating right, for example) but I’ve always missed the feeling of getting out and running.
Now that the kids are a little older, though, I’ve decided to take another stab at running. And using some gift cards I got from Amazon and by using Bing instead of Google (Bing Rewards points are good for more than free OneDrive storage, y’all), I bought myself a Garmin Forerunner 35.
Get Back at It
When I make the decision to get into shape, I become extremely focused on data. What am I eating? How many calories is that? What is the nutritional breakdown? What is my weight this morning? How many calories did I burn? What’s my max heart rate? How has it improved? How many steps did I take? Smart phones and wearables make a lot of this stuff easy to track.
When I was doing HIIT, I’d work out with the Polar FT7 heart rate monitor. It’s a watch that connects to an included strap-based heart rate monitor. It worked great, and gave me a lot of very specific data, and helped encourage me to work out harder.
It’s not a perfect all-around device, though. Wearing a chest strap all day to monitor my heart rate is a non-starter, regardless of whether the watch is attractive or not. (And it really isn’t.) It also didn’t sync data with My Fitness Pal seamlessly. Finally, the heart-strap that comes with the FT7 is proprietary and only works with that watch. (More on that later.)
After ending the HIIT program, but still wanting to keep an eye on my fitness data, I got a FitBit Charge. It was…fine. It had a week-long battery life. It measured steps. It counted flights of stairs. It (occasionally) sent phone call notices to my wrist. It told me that I took 26,425 steps on July 23, 2015. It synced with My Fitness Pal pretty well.
It also had a problem with falling apart, and I didn’t like that it didn’t have a heart rate monitor, that it didn’t have GPS, that it didn’t even have the capability of notifying me of anything other than phone calls (and, as I mentioned, that was spotty at best). The iOS App was very slow to sync with the device, and it didn’t have the ability to bug me about getting up and moving. I also felt that it might have been overcounting steps. In short, I wasn’t going to get another Charge.
What to Get, What to Get
Aside from being somewhat obsessed with tracking fitness data, I also rarely buy technology without researching the hell out of it first. For example, I’ve documented some of what went into buying my Miix 700 here. And when I bought the Charge, it was widely considered the best of those types of devices in that category at that price point. That is, roughly $100, with visual stats, and syncs with things like My Fitness Pal.
Since the Charge first came out a few years ago, wearable technology has improved and advanced considerably. Wrist-based heart-rate sensors, for example, are pretty common–there’s even a version of the Charge with a heart-rate sensor. Microsoft’s Band and Band 2.0 have tons of other sensors. So-called smart watches–like the Apple Watch, Moto360 Sport, LG Sport–are festooned with all sorts of sensors. In other words, in many respects, there are endless options for a fitness-oriented wearable.
How I went about my decision-making process is detailed in my next post. See you there.
Note: I have not received any promotional consideration from any company named in this posting.