11K Steps a Day

Twas 11 nights before Christmas, when all through the land
Not a person was exercising, no workouts were planned.
The ham was carved, candy eaten without care,
10 pounds later we complain life isn’t fair.

This holiday season, before you snuggle into your bed,
Make sure to have a Holiday plan in your head.
Fitdigits is sharing the year’s best fitness tips,
To help you avoid adding winter weight to your hips.

11th Day- 11K Steps a Day

Fitdigits, Fitbit and a variety of other health and fitness outlets have long stressed the importance of getting 10,000 steps in each and everyday. We have posted 10 Tips to Walk 10,000 Steps Every Day in the past and in general stressed the importance of reaching that nice, round benchmark. Well, it might be time to rev things up a bit.

If you have been using an activity monitor for awhile and hit 10,000 steps regularly, really challenge yourself this holiday season and in 2014 to hit 11K each and every day. If you added an extra 1,000 steps everyday, that adds up to burning an additional 5 pounds a year!

Fitdigits is not only compatible with Fitbit. We now boast compatibility with a plethora of fitness sensors, such as the Withings Pulse, BodyMedia and Jawbone UP. To connect these trackers with your Fitdigits account, check out our partners page.

12 Tips to Survive the Holiday Season

Twas 12 nights before Christmas, when all through the land
Not a person was exercising, no workouts were planned.
The ham was carved, candy eaten without care,
10 pounds later we complain life isn’t fair.

This holiday season, before you snuggle into your bed,
Make sure to have a Holiday plan in your head.
Fitdigits is sharing the year’s best fitness tips,
To help you avoid adding winter weight to your hips.

12th Day- 12 Tips to Survive the Holiday Season

As Thanksgiving becomes a distance memory and we plunge headfirst into the holiday season, it becomes more and more difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle. Just because Mr. Claus has thrown up the white flag in the battle of the bulge does not mean you have to follow suit. Yes, tis season for parties that offer plenty of festive food and some heavy-duty Holiday *ahem* spirits, but if you follow the Fitdigits Holiday Survival guide you can make it through the sleigh bell season without adding a “winter coat”.

  1. Plan ahead. If you know that you will be going to a party or having an extravagant meal, skip the booze and eat extra healthy in the week leading up to the event. This is called having a “cheat” day, and is recommended by many health experts for those trying to lose weight.
  2. Exercise. It is easy to look at dreary weather and want to curl up by the fire, but nobody said staying healthy would be easy! Try out some interesting indoor workouts if mother nature keeps you indoors.
  3. Stay Hydrated. Making sure you drink enough water is more than a holiday tip, it is a way of life. The benefits of staying hydrated are too extensive to list, but on the most basic level water is the essence of life. A good way to make sure you are guzzling down enough H2O is to have a 32 oz water jug and carry it with you at all times. Whenever it is empty, immediately refill it. A good test to see if you are hydrated properly: your urine should be clear or only have a slight yellow tint.
  4. Swap Sugar for Stevia. When you are baking Christmas cookies for Kris Kringle and Co., ditch artificial sweetener and sugar for Stevia. Stevia is an all-natural sugar substitute with no calories, carbs, or glycemic index. Indulge yourself without the guilt with a great recipe for not Sugar Cookies, but Stevia Cookies .
  5. Drink Green Tea. When the weather outside is frightful, a cup of hot cocoa may sound delightful, but save those calories for your Christmas Ham! Instead, try drinking a hot cup of green tea. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and recent studies show that green tea can help battle cancer, reduce your risk of coronary disease, and battle obesity. Not only can caffeine help speed up your metabolism, but properties found in green tea can also lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
  6. Try A Winter Sport. Nothing is more apropos for the Holiday season than participating in a winter sport, and it is a perfect way to burn calories and have a great time. Even if you do not live near a mountain or have the necessary funds to go skiing or snowboarding, you can probably find a local Ice Skating Rink and channel your inner Apolo Ohno!
  7. Focus on Family and Friends, not Food. Often people make holiday plans around eating, be it going out to dinner or making a big meal. Instead, emphasize activities that take advantage of the time you get to spend with the people you love. Try out some fun games such as Loaded Questions or Apples to Apples, or stretch out the vocal cords with some Christmas Caroling! Remember, food is merely a way to fuel your body, not an activity.
  8. Take Your Vitamins. If it is cold outside, it sometimes is hard to muster up the energy necessary to work out. A great supplement is a B-Complex. If vitamins are not your style, try FRS.
  9. Give Healthy Stocking Stuffers. Usually stocking stuffers consist of chocolate and candy canes. Try to encourage a healthy lifestyle with your stocking stuffers. Instead of sweets, try giving a jump rope, Fitbit Zip, or a Heart Rate Monitor.
  10. Try Not to Stress Out. The Holidays can be a stressful time. Family and friends coming from out of town, big meals to cook, presents to buy, and the pressure to live up to the idealized version of Christmas we see in the media can make even the most laid back person tighten up. Stress can lead to heart disease, binge eating, and weight gain, so take a deep breath. The holidays should be a fun and happy time. Try some tips on how to manage stress during the holidays
  11. Check Out Some Christmas Lights. The Holidays offer plenty of opportunities to get moving. A great way to be active and feel the Holiday cheer is to go on a walking tour of an area that specializes in extravagant Christmas decorations. Make it a Christmas Eve tradition!
  12. Have a Merry Christmas! If you have been following all of our health and fitness tips, you deserve a day off. That does not mean you should waste all of the hard work you have done and eat until you feel sick, but don’t count calories. Enjoy your family, friends, and the feeling that comes with being fit and staying healthy!

He Said, We Said: How To Meet Your Fitness Goals

Meet Izzy Mandelbaum. Izzy, of Seinfeld fame, is definitely old school. He started as a personal trainer back when the only smart phone could be seen on Star Trek, and is still going strong today. Izzy means well, but his training regimen and advice are a bit… prehistoric. Regardless, he is opinionated and has a few tips on how to meet your fitness goals. We disagree with pretty much everything Izzy has to say, and wrote our opinions beneath his answers. Without further ado:

On Setting Goals

He said

Listen here jellybeans, you need to go big or go home. If you want to lose 5 pounds, double it and try to lose 10. Only some kind of Nancy would make a goal as low as 5 pounds. I except you to spend more time in the gym than a Hypochondriac spends in a CAT scan. If you can’t reach your goal, then your parents were right about you. You are a failure.

We said

Set realistic goals. Be true to yourself and set goals that can be attainable. The worst thing you can do is overextend yourself, and if you set a goal that is unrealistic, makes it that much easier to get discouraged and scrap it altogether. Start small, and if you reach your goal you can always set a new, more ambitious goal!

On Planning Your Workouts

He said

What do you mean “plan” a workout? Only thing you should plan on is me putting a size-10 boot directly to your rear end if you mention that sewage drain of an idea again. All you need is to go out there and work out until you feel like your body wil explode. Work out as hard as you can for about three hours and you should be fine.

We said

Create a detailed workout plan. You should plan ahead of time when you are going to work out, for how long, and what kind of workout (i.e. strength training, cardio, etc.). The worst thing to do is to go into a workout without a plan, because once the workout gets difficult it becomes that much easier to quit.

On Eating Habits

He said

Ignore all of those fancy-dancy nutritionists, I got the secret for you right here: eat protein and drink whiskey. The protein will help you build up your muscle mass and the whiskey will put some hair on your chest. I think Rosie O’Donnell has a more impressive chest-fro than those set of naked mole rats you call your pectorals.

We said

Get your eating habits under control. Without proper nutrition, your workouts might not see their full potential. Tailor your diet based on your health and fitness goals. We strongly suggest consulting a nutritionist or a (non-Mandelbaum) trainer to find out what kinds of food will best complement your workout regimen.

On Injuries

He said

Tell me this sailor, are you hurt or injured? Being hurt means a sore hammy after a hard run, while being injured means you snapped your femur in two like a wishbone. If you are hurt, rub some dirt on it and get back to working out. No pain, no gain. If you are injured, find yourself a wood plank to bite down on because I’m snapping that puppy back into place faster than you can say medical malpractice.

We said

If you just came back from a long layoff, take it easy if you are too sore or get a minor injury. Pushing through an early injury or soreness can lead to long term effects and ultimately become a roadblock in your quest for success. Don’t let short term gains get in the way of long term goals.

On Time Management

He said

So you are too busy for the Mandelbaum regimen. If that is the case, you must be some hot shot. Do you have to give God a memo before you go to sleep to make sure the world keeps spinning? If you can’t find 2 hours of your precious day to get your sweat on Mandelbaum style, then I better not see you in my gym.

We said

We understand you have a very busy life, but try to find any time you can to workout. Sometimes an intense 15 minute workout can be as good as an hour long workout. Tired? Then just try a nice, easy workout session for about 12-15 minutes. Something is better than nothing and keeps you in the habit of working out.

On Motivation

He said

Want some motivation? Take a look at me. I am 80 years old and have not missed a day of working out since J Edgar Hoover was prancing around Washington in a tube top and mini skirt. I can still curl twice my body weight at 80, and you are worried about finding ways to drag yourself into the gym? If you want more motivation, how about a knuckle sandwich with a side of your teeth?

I’m all the motivation you need!

We said

A great way to stay motivate is reward yourself for hitting milestones on the way to your goal. Had a personal best workout? Buy yourself a new outfit. Lost 3 pounds? Pamper yourself and get a massage. Too often we tend to bask in failure and ignore small victories. Remember to celebrate your success!

On Variety in Workouts

He said

I got three workouts and three workouts only. Squatting, Curling and Running. Anything else is just some new-age mumbo jumbo that is about as real as my fake hip. If you are getting bored with my workouts, then you can go take a long walk on a short pier.

We said

Mix things up! Doing the same thing over and over gets boring and your body will not adjust. This can lead to your body becoming stagnate and you will no longer find yourself making any progress. Try anything and everything, from kettle ball workouts to Boxing to Pilates.

On Being Perfect

He said

I do not tolerate anything less than perfection. If you fail once, I’m dropping you from my regimen. Your generation has gone soft. I once ran from France to Russia without having a single misstep. In the middle of winter. During WW2. I think even a butterfly-hunting toddler like you can make it through a year without messing up.

We said

You can’t be perfect! Try your best to do every workout and eat right, but if life gets in the way of your grand plan don’t get down in the dumps. Just make sure you make it to the next workout, or that the next meal is healthy. The worst thing you can do is let one misstep completely derail you from your goal.

On Recording Your Nutrition and Workouts

He said

What is with you people nowadays? What with your Face-googling and Twitts, you do not even rely on yourself to remember how many pounds you squat. If that wastebasket you call a brain is not smart enough to remember that you ate 12 raw eggs for breakfast, then I may have to grab a pillow, put it to your face, and put you out of your misery.

We said

The best way to make yourself accountable is to record your workouts and nutrition. You will find that if you make recording your nutrition and workouts a habit, it will always be in the back of your mind and you will be more aware of what good and bad meals and workouts are.

On Being Knowledgable

He said

The only information you need to know is what comes out of my two lips. I don’t want you polluting your head with all of that word-vomit people will spew at you. As far as training goes, I am the Shepard and you are my sheep. I am the sun and you are my planets.

We said

Arm yourself with as much information as possible. Consult a nutritionist, trainer, or anyone else who can help. It is liberating to not only know what you are doing, but why you are doing it. If you become educated about health and fitness, you can not only reach your goals but completely change your lifestyle!

Workout Tips for Holiday Travel

The holiday season is filled with distractions and temptations that derail even the most dedicated fitness enthusiast. Traveling can add even more challenge with packed schedules and limited access to fitness facilities. Even though you may not be able to exercise as much as you normally do, fitting in even a few small workouts is better than none at all.

Walk. According to Fitbit, walking 10,000 steps per day will keep you healthy and trim. So, look for opportunities to walk more during your travels. For instance, walk past moving walkways and take the stairs instead of the escalators at the airport. Park your rental car in the back of the lot when gift shopping or walk to the grocery store. Take your aunt’s dog for a lap around the block or plan a family stroll after dinner. Since walking can be done almost anywhere, it’s the easiest way to maintain your activity level when traveling.

Keep it Short. If your schedule is jam packed with flights, family dinner and gift shopping, you likely won’t find time for a long workout. The good news is that you can get the same benefits from shorter workouts. In fact, three 10-minute workouts are not only easier to accomplish throughout the day, they are more effective than one single 30-minute workout as reported in the New York Times. The trick is to find small pockets of time throughout the day. When you’re watching TV with the family, do 10 minutes of jumping jacks combined with mountain climbers. Go for a 10-minute jog in the morning before hopping in the shower and do 10 minutes of crunches and lunges before going to sleep at night.

Pack to Motivate. When preparing your luggage for your trip, pack your workout gear last. This trick will get you motivated to exercise when you reach your final destination because it will be the first thing you see and unpack. Also, consider gear and exercise clothing that is lightweight, thus easier to fit into even the most bulging bag. Nike Free Run sneakers, for instance, are light andpack easily. Tanks with built in sports bras eliminate the extra item and those with quick dry material can be washed in the sink for multiple use throughout the trip. Exercise bands and jump ropes are light and don’t take up much room, plus they’re perfect tools to use in the hotel or guest room.

Get Inspired Online. If you have internet connection, look for online workout tutorials. For example, BeFit offers tons of free workouts by popular personal trainers like Julian Michaels, Denise Austin and many others. If you don’t have WiFi, you can tune into your smartphone for exercise tips and moves to do anywhere. Apps like Daily Workouts will keep you moving and offers fresh fitness content to motivate you to work hard.

Be Social. Nothing beats the support and motivation of a dedicated exercise buddy. If you can’t find a partner while on vacation, use the power of the internet and social media to challenge a friend back home to daily workouts and goals. Apps like Fitdigits iCardio track your exercise and allow you to share workout stats with others by email, social media or a fitness partner. You can also challenge Facebook friends and Twitter followers to an exercise challenge to help boost your motivation.

Have a Drink with Wine. Staying hydrated will help you avoid fatigue, keep you looking good, and help keep the hangovers to a minimum (which trigger the desire to make poor eating choices and result in low activity levels). That’s why it’s recommended to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume. Add lemon juice to your H2O or try sparking water if the otherwise bland taste keeps you from hydrating.

Don’t Forget, Diet Matters. Many people throw their diet out the door during the holidays, but poor eating and drinking choices from Thanksgiving through New Years can do damage to your waistline. From wine and eggnog to stuffing and home-made cookies—there are so many favorite treats and high-calorie temptations that are hard to resist. If you are going to indulge, plan accordingly–do extra cardio in the morning and cut calories throughout the day or take smaller portions. Otherwise, look for low-calorie alternatives to favorite foods and drinks. A low-sugar hot chocolate has just a fifth of the calories of eggnog. Pinot Noir is also a better choice over a Cosmopolitan and pumpkin pie has 515 less calories than pecan pie. Read this post to help you make better diet choices without sacrificing your taste buds.

Plan Active Activities. When planning time with family and friends, look for opportunities to be active. Look for a hiking trail at a nearby park or go on a walking tour of the city. Even ice skating will burn calories while having fun. Otherwise, walk around town to window shop and take in all the decorations–it’s a great way to keep moving while enjoy the holiday season with loved ones.

Maximize Your Morning Run

Running early in the morning is not only satisfying, it’s also very rewarding. Besides feeling energized and confident, exercise can impact your mental power and creativity all day long. Morning exercise means that any last-minute social engagements or business meetings won’t get in the way with your quest to stay healthy and fit. Plus, overcoming the predictable early morning roadblocks like lack of sleep and low energy, will only help your effort to create healthy exercise habits.

Follow these tips to maximize your morning run to reap the most benefits and feel energized:

1. Power down early— According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to stay healthy, fit and energized. If you find yourself staying up late to catch up on the latest headlines or to play Words with Friends, it’s time to start powering down the gadgets to hit the hay earlier and get a restful night’s sleep. More sleep means better performance and mental clarity throughout the day and will help you get out of bed in the morning too.

2. Hydrate– Your body needs approximately 16 ounces of water in the morning, which you’ll need to fuel your run so set a glass of water by your bed to remind yourself to drink up before you hit the pavement. You may also consider drinking a glass of water before bed too to aid the replenishing of fluid loss from your day, which will jumpstart your morning hydration too.

3. Layout your clothes– Don’t wait to round up your running clothes and gear until morning. Having it all ready to go in the morning makes it easier to get out of bed and dressed for a run before work. Whether your running gear is waiting for you in the bathroom or next to the front door, pick a spot you wont avoid. Sleeping in your running clothes sounds silly but it may provide that extra motivation to get up and go when the alarm buzzes!

4. Map out your route– Whether training for a race or simply enjoying the morning air, map out a route to ensure you’re putting in the time and mileage desired. If your regular running route starts feeling stale, switch it up with a trail or a different route altogether. Use GoogleMaps to determine a new route that meets your distance or timing needs, or check Strava’s Segment Explore feature to find challenging new segments to run based on other user’s feedback.

5. Pick a run buddy– Getting out for a run before the sun has risen is a lot easier and more fun when you have someone there with you. Even your dog can be the perfect running companion. However, if you don’t have any early risers or runners in your circle of friends, consider joining a local running group to get you motivated. Sites like ExerciseFriends.com can be helpful too as they connect community members who share similar activity interests which makes finding a running buddy a lot easier. Contact your local running store for information on other local resources.

6. Track it– You will find motivation to keep running by looking back on all the hard work you’ve done, and the time and distance you’ve put into get to where you are today. But, who has time to write all that stuff down? Apps like Fitdigits’s iRunner measure and report your effort, route, distance, pace, time, caloric burn and heart rate in real time to keep you motivated and help you analyze your progress over time. Your running stats automagically sync with a personalized profile at My.Fitdigits.com where it’s easy to compare, review, analyze and share each run and set new goals based on your progress.

7. Grab a small bite– Eating before a morning run comes down to personal preference but it also may depend on the type of run you are doing. According to Running Times Magazine, a run duration of 60 minutes or less may not require any fuel other than H2O. However, those taking on long runs or speed drills should consider waking up earlier to fuel their workout with a 300 to 500 calorie breakfast needed for the glycogen tougher runs demand. Don’t forget a small post-run recovery meal like oatmeal, banana with peanut butter and other such power foods to help restore muscles.

8. Wear the right gear– Some mornings may be chillier than others and your running gear will greatly impact how you feel and your overall performance. Consider loose shorts and sweat-wicking material on warm mornings, plus a pair of sunglasses to prevent the rising sun from blinding you. On colder mornings, you want to keep your body warm but avoid overheating by overdressing. Invest in a zip up and use layers to help regulate your body temperature. A running beanie is also a great option for some extra protection and comes with integrated speakers.

9. Talk yourself into it– Some days are harder than others to get out the door, especially on those cold, dark mornings. Talk yourself into getting out for a short one mile run even if it’s a slow pace. By the time you’ve got out the door and have gone that far, chances are you’ll keep going and feel more energized to push forward.

10. Reward yourself– Set weekly morning run goals and rewards to stay motivated. Rewards can be as simple as a latte from your favorite coffee shop or a new pair of running sneakers for reaching a certain weekly mileage goal.

Part II: Fitdigits CP30 Running Assessment Saved My Half Marathon

CP30 Results

In part I, I described my quest to beat a PR of 1:46 set in the previous year for the same half marathon. Unfortunately, as the race drew closer, there wasn’t enough time left to train normally.

Instead, I turned to the Fitdigits assessments to help streamline my training. I completed the Fitdigits CP30 Running Assessment to determine my maximum heart rate (maxHR)*, heart rate zones** and lactate threshold***. I knew if I could stay below my lactate threshold, I could definitely finish the race. If I went above my threshold, I might bonk, become too fatigued or worse, injure myself.

Taking the CP30 Running fitness assessment ten days before the half marathon was essential to my race strategy and ultimate success. The screen shot on the right is my CP30 results which calculated my lactate threshold (LTHR) of 159 beats per minute (BPM) which became my strategy for race day: keep my heart rate below 159 BPM during the race. View my 30 minute assessment heart chart.

I’m surprised how few of us really know how fit we are. If you accurately identify your fitness level, it becomes incredibly easy to tailor your fitness program. For example, working out too hard or too easy can have a profound affect on your performance and overall enjoyment of your activity. To illustrate my point, the following two graphs show how my heart zones differ between the standard 220 – age and my CP30 assessment.

My maxHR improved by 5 BPM to 168 with CP30 Running Assessment.

Industry Standard: Fitdigits Industry standard 220-age (as used by Fitdigits and other heart rate monitors) calculated my maxHR at 163 beats BPM, Zone three at 113-129 BPM.

CP30  Assessment: Fitdigits CP30 Running Test determined my maxHR as 168 BPM with my lactate threshold at 159 BPM and Zone 3 at 142-149 BPM.

Notice the following:

  • My maxHR measured 5 BPM higher in the assessment vs standard 220-age. My lactic threshold previously calculated at 122 BPM (85% of maxHR) and improved by 21 BPM in the assessment to 159 BPM. For some, differences can be as high as 20 BPM.
  • My Zone 3 significantly changed. As it turns out, my Zone 3 (necessary for race day training) was off by 10 BPM using the industry standard. Standard 220-age calculated my Zone 3 at 113-129 BPM but I should have been training at 142-149 BPM thanks to the CP30 calculations. In fact, 113-129 is actually more like my zone 1 than Zone 3. Big difference.

So what does all this mean? Thanks to the CP30 Running Assessment, I was able to complete my half marathon injury free and very close to my target pace. Knowing my true maxHR, lactic threshold and proper zones made it possible for me to complete the race with minimal training.

I don’t recommend taking the assessment as a replacement for training but given that I’m relatively fit and healthy, it made all the difference. So, if you are training for a race, trying to lose weight or just exercising to stay in shape, take a Fitdigits Assessment to determine your actual maxHR, lactate threshold and proper zones. Exercising with accuracy affects your training, performance and general well-being.

Race Day

We arrived at the Santa Ynez marathon starting point at 6:30AM; 30 minutes before the start. The morning was cool, low 50s, and shrouded in a light fog. Just about ideal race conditions.

The racecourse weaves its way through scenic rolling hills, colored in peaceful green headed to light golden brown and spotted with oaks, cattle and horses. The area is building its appellation reputation due to the growing number of small up-and-coming boutique wineries — hence the name Wine Country Half Marathon.

About 3,000 entrants are milling around, hugging themselves and rubbing their arms up and down, slightly jogging in place, just keeping moving to stay warm. As common to many half marathons, about 70% of the runners are women.

With 5 minutes before the start, Sven and I worked our way forward through the crowd, estimating where the 7:30 – 8:30 pace groups were congregating. I started reminding myself to, “Stick with your race strategy. Watch your heart rate, not the clock, and not your pace. Don’t get swept up in a fast start.  And don’t try to stay with Sven.”

The gun sounded, the crowd slowly shuffled through the starting gate, the pace gradually quickened. I found myself dancing more than running as I avoided the hundreds of falling feet each establishing their footing and pace.

While I had started next to Sven, with less than 5 minutes into the run it was getting hard to spot him in amongst the racers headed off the front. I glanced down at my phone and sure enough, my heart rate had spiked, driven by the adrenalin of race start and chaos of the first half mile. “Okay Dean, settle down, run your race.”

The 13.1 course is split 60/40 as uphill and down hill.  The first leg is a gentle 200 ft uphill grade which ends in a short, steep 150 ft climb. The second half mirrors the first but descends 450ft to end with a 100 foot climb about a qtr mile from the finish.

I like running uphill. And I’ll admit, I like passing runners on uphill climbs. It’s a macho thing which as I age, I’m wisely letting go. The year before I kept a strong pace up the steep grade. But upon cresting I realized that I had spent a lot and didn’t have much kick going down the back side.  I remembered that mistake and promised myself I wouldn’t make it again.

The race was moving along well. I kept my Fitdigits screen on the heart chart and kept my heart in a +/- 3 heart beats around 156.  I was feeling good and strong as I approached the steep climb. As I started up the grade, I watched my hr climb so I slowed down my pace, holding back the horses that wanted to charge upwards.

At 60 min, my heart rate rose to 164 BPM. It was time to slow down and return to race pace (159 BPM).

Just prior to the crest I was smiling as I had stayed my course … but I was feeling a bit too good.  I decided to up my speed down the back side passing a few dozen runners. My heart rate rose to 164 while I wasn’t watching and I found myself breathing hard and noticeably tiring.  I looked at my chart, saw my errant ways and slowed it down. But by then my legs were heavy.  I’d spent too much time in zone 5 and the lactic acid had taken its toll. Even though I was now running a gentle down hill, my pace was noticeably slower and I was working to keep my heart rate at 152. It took me almost 30 minutes to recover in preparation to crank it up for the last 2 miles.

Crossing the finish line.At mile eleven I picked up my pace. I was feeling tired but still had the will and power to press on. When I hit the last short climb, I slowed it down, watching my hr, and made my way up. At the top I started pushing again with just a mile to the finish line. The end of the course takes a sharp left turn into the middle of the town. The turn is about an 1/8th of a mile to the finish. With the turn in sight I let the horses run finishing with a sub 6:00 pace.

I passed through the banners, hit slide to pause and end workout button, finishing with a 1:50:51 Fitdigits time.  Just 4 minutes shy of my personal best.  I was feeling great and a little smug.  For the most part, I kept to my plan, cutting myself some slack for my downhill splurge.

Sven was there to greet me with his big broad smile. He had crossed the finish line 10 minutes earlier.

 

Sven and my family at the finish line.

 

*maximum heart rate (maxHR) is the highest number of times your heart can contract in one minute. Max HR is the most useful tool to be used in determining training intensities, because it can be individually measured or predicted.

**heart rate zones are a range of heart beats. Recent research has shown powerful benefits from exercising in several different zones to get maximum benefit.

***lactate threshold or lactate inflection point is when your body starts producing more lactic acid than the blood can remove from your muscles which accelerates fatigue and can lead to injury. Read more )

Using the Cooper Running Test Assessment

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

The Cooper Running Test assessment is very similar to the Military Physical Tests used around the world. It’s original purpose is to measure VO2 Max, however we have adapted it to extrapolate Heart and Pace Zones as well.

The most accurate assessment for Zones is the CP30 assessments, but the Cooper offers a good approximation when done correctly.

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones as well as Pace Zones. To calculate a VO2 Max and FitRank (age adjusted ranking based on VO2 Max) for this assessment, you must have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate.

The Cooper Running Test is for those who are used to physical exercise. This test requires you to run for 12 minutes as far (and fast) as possible (race pace).

How to Complete the Cooper Running Test Assessment:

  • Make sure your profile in the app is correct (Gender, age, etc).
  • Find a track or very flat area you can run unobstructed for 12 minutes (approximately 2 miles). A treadmill is acceptable if you have a foot pod to measure distance.
  • Warm up for 10 minutes (light walking, stretching, etc)
  • Start the assessment on the App, and start running – Choose Run > Workout > Cooper Running Test
  • After 12 minutes, the workout will end
  • The Recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness)
  • Stand still and relax for the 2-minute recovery time
  • You will be shown your results on the final screen, as well as online and in your results listing

The Cooper Running Test will help determine Pace Zones applicable to running, which can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones and Pace Zones are determined using the formulas provided for this type of test. One of the best write-ups of these calculations is the Joel Friel post here, though since the Cooper is a much shorter test, we set your average pace/heart rate to 90% of your Max and calculate the zones from there. For VO2 Max, we use the formula (Kilne 1987) VO2max = (Distance covered in metres – 504.9) ÷ 44.73.

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

Using the Advanced Cardio Assessment

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

The Advanced Cardio Assessment is designed for people who are in good shape and are exercising on a regular basis (4 hours or more per week). It requires maximum-effort output, which should not be attempted by those who aren’t used to high levels of activity.

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones. With GPS and/or Foot pod in Running, it can be used to develop Pace Zones.

It can be completed on just about any workout type, and to develop specific custom zones for any given workout type, it should be done using that type of exercise. Fitdigits offers users the ability to use different heart rate zones depending on their activity selection.

To calculate a more accurate VO2 Max, you should have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate. Otherwise, we will use an approximation of your Resting Heart Rate based on the measured value from the assessment.

How to Complete the Advanced Cardio Assessment:

  • You will need to be on a treadmill, spin bike, elliptical machine, or a flat surface you can run or ride on for more than 10 minutes.
  • Bring your heart rate down to a low, resting rate by staying still for a moment and just relaxing.
  • Start the assessment on the App – Choose the Activity Type you are doing > Workout > Advanced Cardio Assessment
  • You will be coached through a series of effort levels, starting with resting and moving up through to maximum effort over a 10 minute period (for a sub-maximal assessment see the ‘Beginner Cardio Assessment’)
  • The Recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness)
  • Be still and relax for the 2-minute recovery time
  • You will be shown your results on the final screen, as well as online and in your results listing

The Advanced Cardio Assessment helps determine Heart and Pace Zones, which can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones are determined using the measurements from the assessment. For Heart Rate zones, the Karvonen method is applied to the readings (recorded Resting Heart Rate trumps the in-assessment measured Resting Heart Rate). For VO2 Max, we take your Resting Heart Rate and your calculated Max HR, and apply the Heart Rate Ratio Method. (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004).

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

Using the Beginner Cardio Assessment

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

The Beginner Cardio Assessment is a very entry level test, mostly helpful for determining your lower Heart Rate Zones. It is not designed for people who are in great shape and are exercising on a regular basis (4 hours or more per week).

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones. With GPS and/or Foot pod in Running, it can be used to develop Pace Zones too.

It can be completed on just about any workout type, and to develop specific custom zones for any given workout type, it should be done using that type of exercise. Fitdigits offers users the ability to use different heart rate zones depending on their activity selection.

To calculate a more accurate VO2 Max, you should have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate. Otherwise, we will use an approximation of your Resting Heart Rate based on the measured value from the assessment.

How to Complete the Beginner Cardio Assessment:

  • You will need to be on a treadmill, spin bike, elliptical machine, or a flat surface you can run or ride on for more than 7.5 minutes. DON’T GO TOO FAST!
  • Bring your heart rate down to a low, resting rate by staying still for a moment and just relaxing.
  • Start the assessment on the App – Choose the Activity Type you are doing > Workout > Beginner Cardio Assessment
  • You will be coached through a series of effort levels, starting with resting and moving up through to approximately a 65-75% effort level over a 7.5 minute period
  • The Recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness)
  • Be still and relax for the 2-minute recovery time
  • You will be shown your results on the final screen, as well as online and in your results listing

The Beginner Cardio Assessment helps determine Heart and Pace Zones, which can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones are determined using the measurements from the assessment, assuming that max effort reached 75% of the true maximum achievable (for saftey). For Heart Rate zones, the Karvonen method is applied to the readings (recorded Resting Heart Rate trumps the in-assessment measured Resting Heart Rate). For VO2 Max, we take your Resting Heart Rate and your calculated Max HR, and apply the Heart Rate Ratio Method. (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004).

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

The 10-Minute Workout, Times Three by Gretchen Reynolds

There is plenty of research that proves exercise is good for lowering blood pressure but for some people, exercising the full 30 minutes consecutively is not so easy. If you have little time to exercise, try this alternative.

The New York Times is reporting that new research shows three 10 minute sessions at 75% of your maxHR is actually more effective at lowering your blood pressure and keeping you healthy than one 30 minute session per day. It’s not only more effective physiologically, exercisers seem more willing to stick to 3 sessions per day vs 1.

Does it Really Work?
Recently, between work schedules and the hectic summer camp schedule (moms, you know exactly what I’m talking about!), it’s become harder than ever to exercise. So, each morning before camps and work, I take a quick run/walk around my block. It takes me about 10 minutes to complete the loop. When I finish, I’m warmed up but not sweaty. I feel great, too. I do the same at lunch and one more time around 3pm. When the kids are back in school, I look forward to having more time for exercise. Until then, breaking it up into multiple sessions per day has been a great back-up and motivates me to keep it going. And my blood pressure is a healthy 109/67. Try it. Let us know if it works for you.

Don’t forget to track your heart rate with Fitdigits. iPhone | Android