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.

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

Your Stories: When Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

Often, I feel incredibly lucky working for Fitdigits. It’s very rewarding to be able to inspire and help people get healthy through fitness. I’m regularly moved by users who made difficult life-changing choices to exercise and improve diet to overcome health-related issues or to simply improve their quality of life. When ordinary people achieve extraordinary things.

It’s true that these changes help Fitdigits users live longer, more healthier lives but that’s not really why I enjoy it. For me, it’s seeing the excitement, confidence and pride that comes from the weeks/months/years of sweat and hard work. During that time, users push themselves to exercise harder, longer and keep it going despite the daily events of life. And the positive affects almost always carry over into other aspects of life.

One user, who lost 55 pounds, was so excited to tell me that she had completed the “Beachbody Insanity” program twice. I didn’t understand this accomplishment until I tried it for myself. Another user reported that she convinced her doctor to allow her to lower her blood pressure through exercise and diet instead of medicine. These stories and many more illustrate the extraordinary changes that Fitdigits users are accomplishing each day.

If you have been working hard to lose weight or trying to improve your overall health and fitness, send us an email. If you have tried out a new exercise program and love it, share it. If you just finished your first 5K or half marathon, share it. We want to use your story to inspire the 68% of overweight Americans and the 1/3 of overweight worldwide population to get healthy through fitness.

Email me at kelly.lazarus@fitdigits.com.

Sources: Worldwatch Institute, Voice of America, Center for Disease Control.

Heart Rate Recovery Improved My Fitness

User Testimonial, by Jeff A.

I purchased Fitdigits for the most unlikely of reasons. It wasn’t to track my fitness, but to have a discussion with my primary care physician. Even though I am an active cyclist there are some things that can really slow me down. I became especially concerned when climbing several flights of stairs caused my heart rate to zoom up to the point where I would have to stop and wait for it to come back down. Surely, I thought that there must be something wrong with me, but how would I show this to my doctor? Then I thought, what about a chart showing the minute-by-minute changes of my heart rate. This is when I first used Fitdigits.

Not much heart rate recovery. Dec 2011

By the way, my doctor’s reaction was: “Don’t worry. You’re fine.”

Since I had purchased this fancy heart monitor, I figured I might as well use it for its intended purpose. I began to track my heart rate during my weekly spin classes and I now have over a year’s worth of data available to review.

For the first year, the only number I really looked at was the number of total calories burned. I wondered, “how hard was I working?” I wanted to challenge myself to work a little harder during class.

Showing recovery improvement. Jan 2012

This year I have been paying more attention to my heart rate. Recently I started a set of cycling classes led by a certified triathlete coach. During the first session, she conducted a lactate threshold test to determine each rider’s limits (watts and heart rate) which she structured the entire class around. For the first time in my life, I now have reliable data about what my thresholds are and I am being challenged to excel past those limits in very well structured workouts. I never knew I could get my heart rate so high and still live.

Further improvement. Feb 2012

I have to admit, that when I signed up for these classes I did not know what to expect. I did not exactly know how the workouts would benefit me, but I knew that I had to work hard. Thanks to Fitdigits, I have my answer about the benefits.

Take a look at the four images I have attached. The earliest, from 12/14/2011 is pretty typical for my spin classes over the past year. My heart rate would go up and stay up for the entire class. Now, look at the other three pictures, which are more recent. You begin to see that for the first time my heart rate is beginning to recover during intervals (not just at the end). The amount of recovery has been improving weekly. This has been extremely encouraging.

Drastic improvement. NICE interval recovery!! Feb 2012

Thank you, Fitdigits. I now go into my training and spin classes determined to work even harder.

Oh, and about the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Each of those images is worth about a thousand calories.

I’m 75 and Still Riding Strong

Testimonial by Al B, cyclist.

Ah yes, it is a marriage made in technology heaven! Here I am a graphic designer with Macs as my central nervous system and the iPhone as my right hand gadget. Therefore, being a bicycle and fitness enthusiast, it all comes together using the Fitdigits Cycling Bundle.

Heart Rate Monitor – Most Valuable Training Tool
I regard the heart rate monitor as the most valuable training tool. I alternate between a road bike and a mountain bike from day to day. I like to see the differences in the metrics of my body’s effort between the two different bikes.

Fitdigits and the iPhone
I’ve owned and used other fitness monitors, but Fitdigits gives me all the conveniences of the iPhone AND all the data I could ever wish for while bicycling…cardio, speed, cadence, elevation, averages, my music, seeing where I’ve been on a Google map, and much more. The graphical interface on the screen is well laid out and manageable. On top of that, I like that I can email this data back to my computer.

My Data

I can view either the graph superimposed on my heart rate zones screen, or observe the actual HR number, or when my eyes are glued to the road, hear the voice prompts when entering or leaving a zone.

Motivation
Fitdigits beckons me everyday to get on my bike, get out there and explore my capabilities with certainty. My big favorite is that it guides me to stay in my proper heart rate zone. Riding in my “performance zone,” allows me to improve in strength and endurance. In addition, Fitdigits offers just the right incentive to keep me going and it’s that consistency of exercise that is the real payoff.

Performance
Fitdigits helps me observe and measure my growth. I can assess all data as a total picture of my performance after a ride. I can compare from one day to the next my two most vital stats: the DURATION I’m in my HR target zone and my average MPH.

Over time, viewing the data each day on each bike, Fitdigits teaches me how my body will react with these bikes… or what I can expect riding them. It helps me translate my effort on each bike through evaluating real quantitative results. And, it’s just plain fun. It’s like looking at all the gauges of your race car’s engine. In other words, Fitdigits has helped improve my performance IQ…I’m smarter about my riding and avoid over training.

Endurance and Fitness Level
Lastly, I can track my recovery rate by how quickly my BPM drops in a minute after a ride. The more it drops in that minute, the better condition I’m in. That’s a real gauge of heart fitness.

In life, if we are not being smart about having fun, we are doing something wrong. Fitdigits is smart. Fitdigits is fun. Fitdigits is right. Take it from me, a seventy-five year old cyclist with a lot of miles in the saddle… and, now a lot of data to play with.

I lost Over 55 Pounds and Still Going with Fitdigits and Fitbit

Testimonial by Lisa B.

In January 2011, I decided that I really needed to do something about my weight. I didn’t want to admit it to myself, but I was 260 pounds and only 5 feet 2 inches. I was huge to say the least. So, started trying to watch what I ate and started walking on January 28, 2011. I had only lost 10 pounds by June. But I was trying…

I was talking with a co-worker about my struggles losing weight because his doctor had told him he had to lose weight. He had been searching the internet and told me about a site he found called Fitdigits.com. He was thinking about getting it for his iPhone. Well, I was already walking and trying to track my eating, I thought that Fitdigits would get me going in the right direction. I got the Fitdigits and off I went.

Little did I know how motivated Fitdigits would get me. With buying the Garmin Heart Rate Monitor and Fitdigits Connect ANT+ Dongle, I was seeing the calories I burned and it made me want to do even more. So I thought I should read more of what Fitdigits had on the site and I found my beloved Fitbit. Got my Fitbit on June 20th and I have not looked back. It lets me track my food calorie intake, steps I take each day, my sleep, calories I burned, weight, body fat, and more. This really got me motivated even more.

At the end of 2010 I had brought the INSANITY workout, but had not even tried to do it. Now with Fitdigits and Fitbit I could see the burn and see the calories I was eating and I had lost 10 pounds by July 4, 2011. The same amount I had worked so hard (or thought I had) over 5 months. I have completed INSANITY only twice and I am halfway done with my 3 third time.

The truth is that I have not been a wonderful dieter or change of food eater. I still have my hamburgers and fries, but I don’t drink soda anymore because Fitbit has a place to put the water you drink too! But because of Fitdigits and Fitbit, I have lost over 55 pounds so far and I have worked out over 195 times. This third time through INSANITY I am watching my food close on Fitbit and getting as many steps in as I can, so I can lose more for my upcoming trip to Walt Disney World in June.

The photo when I was in Walt Disney World from 2008 I think I may have actually been 10 pounds lighter then when I started Fitdigits and Fitbit. I always wear my Fitbit during my workouts. Scary, I already look like I might be half the size of my before picture and I am farther from the camera. By the way, my body fat when I started was 54%, I am about 41% now and still going.

As with my iPhone, I never leave home without my Fitbit. I’ve become so addicted to Fitdigits’s app and Fitbit I can’t believe it. Brandon was extremely helpful and responded very fast when my Fitbit went blank and I thought I would go crazy, but it was a very simple fix. Boy was I relieved when I found it was a quick fix, because I was already thinking about ordering another one so I would not have to wait. But I ordered a newer one anyway because it has the stair counter and guess what, now I try to do all the stairs I see too. I like too on the new Fitbit in the morning mine says: “Lisa…I’m ready…” It reminds me to start getting my steps and stairs in and that I need to work out with Fitdigits to get the most calorie burn. I did have an issue, but as Fitdigits has proven, they do reply in as timely a manner as possible and do care about its products as much as I do!

Keep at it, with the help of Fitdigits you can do it and you don’t need a gym!

10 Ways to Find Time for Exercise

There’s a lot of distractions that keep us from exercising. The number one excuse for not working out is lack of time. According to Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor, there’s always someone busier than you who is working out right now. Her SparkPeople article offers some good suggestions on how to prioritize exercise:

Practical Tips to Fit Fitness into Your Busy Life

1. Wake up earlier.
2. Mix socializing with exercising.
3. Find an activity you love.
4. Cut down on TV and Internet.
5. Stop making excuses.

Here’s a tips that’s not listed: Set a goal. Burn an average of 400 calories everyday for a month. Or challenge a friend to a caloric burn contest – who can burn more calories in a month. Track your exercise and share your results using Fitdigits. If you need some new workout routines, try Fitdigits custom workouts (also called interval training).

Do you have some tips on how to stay motivated? Share your tips.

Read the full article 10 Ways to Find Time for Exercise by Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor.