Ditch the Distance – Go for Time

If you are training for a distance event, or just training in general, it is important that you work out properly and are prepared for any set of circumstances that come your way. So many things can affect your performance. The weather can be unpredictable, your body can respond differently; so many variables come into play on any given day, especially set race
days!

Prepare for anything and make your training Mother Nature-proof by training with duration and intensity instead of distance.

A recent blog post by noted endurance training expert Joe Friel argues that one of the more common endurance training mistakes is focusing on distance instead of duration. While most people use distance when training because that is the measurement races use (it’s called a “5k”, not a “30 Minute-er”), the best way to combat variability is training using duration. Friel went on to explain further:

“With rare exceptions, the workouts I suggest athletes do are based on duration, not distance. The reason is that the intensity of a workout is specific to its length in time, but not necessarily to its distance. For example, if there are two runners in a 10-km race and one finishes in 30 minutes while the other, also working as hard as he can, finishes in 60 minutes, their intensities were not the same. The 30-minute finisher was working at a much higher intensity as a percentage of VO2max. If they were to both run as hard as they could for 30 minutes they would likely use almost exactly the same intensity; one would simply cover more ground than the other”

Therefore, if there are adverse conditions on race day, you can use your intensity training to alter how hard you push it in order to make sure you complete the race. Friel continues:

“The bottom line here is that intensity is inversely related to time. This means that as one increases, the other decreases. As the time of a race or workout gets longer, the intensity at which you are working is reduced. It’s obvious. You can’t run a marathon at your 5-km pace. You run slower in the marathon because you have to run for a longer time. A 30-minute 10-km racer and a 60-minute 10-km racer are, essentially, not doing the same race, and they shouldn’t train the same way either. In the same way, if the bike race will take longer due to wind then you must race at a lower power.”

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Fitdigits on iOS has all of the tools you need to both create and track duration based workouts with a focus on intensity. Fitdigits Custom Workout Routines allows you to not only create workouts specialized to you, but also gives you in workout feedback if your intensity (i.e. Heart Rate) is too high or low.

Create a Structured Workout Based on Duration:
  1. On the Home page, choose the icon of the workout you wish to create the workout for (most likely Running)
  2. Tap Workout -> Workout Routines
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap New Time/Distance Routine
  4. Add a Name, Time and Zone. Longer workouts should be in lower zones, while shorter workouts should have a higher heart rate

 

You now are ready to start training! It is up to you whether you wish to add Auto End Routine and Auto Recovery to your workout.

–Read Joe Friel’s blog post Train for Duration or Distance?

Come race day, make sure you are prepared to monitor your race and make it to the end injury free. Use Fitdigits Fitness Assessments to set custom Heart Rate Zones, VO2 Max, and Lactate Threshold.

 

 

Scott lost 130 pounds with Fitdigits

Scott decided to change his lifestyle

Testimonial by Fitdigits user Scott B.

Last September my wife and I made a strong and ongoing commitment to get into and maintain healthier lifestyle. I was 41 and had been morbidly obese much of my adult life. At one point I weighted almost 300 pounds. I had also been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes seven years ago and severe sleep apnea too. I knew it was critical I make some significant lifestyle changes or face even worse health risks.

We started by eating healthy and incorporating a variety of exercises, including cardio and resistance-based activities, into our daily activities. I had owned several heart rate monitors in the past and found them helpful. Both my wife and I started to use them again to track workout intensity and caloric burns. In Mid-September of last year I discovered the Fitdigits app and was blown away by its features. It quickly proved to be one of the more essential tools I used to get down to 170 pounds by April of this year and see other health improvements: I no longer have sleep apnea or have to wear a CPAP mask every time I try to sleep. More importantly, my blood sugar/glucose levels are now within very healthy levels without the need for medication! My resting heart rate went from the low 80s to upper 50s now. For the first time as an adult I can both jog and run respectable distances.

The Fitdigits app stands out from the other heart rate monitor and running apps because of the broad feature set, level of customization, the Fitdigits website, partner integration, ease of use despite the large feature set, and great support.

After getting familiar with the app and features my wife and I did the Fitdigits fitness assessments. From that we had something to measure our progress, more accurate and personalized heart rate zones, and other information the Fitdigits app uses to more accurately measure and display your heart rate related data and calorie burn. I like that the heart rate zones the Fitdigits app created support more modern information regarding optimal fat burning, aerobic, and anaerobic heart rate zones and not the old 10% increments of your maximum heart rate that have been used in the past.

The next thing I did was setup custom dashboards to display different data based on the activity we were doing. The custom dashboards are capable of displaying up to 12 items per screen, and you can have multiple screens! As an example, when I am on the elliptical I want to see my heart rate, what zone I am in, total calories burned, current calories per minute I am burning, average calorie burn per minute, total workout time, etc. If I am doing a custom workout routine I want to see how long I have left in the current zone, and how much time is left in the routine. How is all that data useful? The data is like a coach telling you how hard you are working your body, and if your efforts are in align with what you are trying to accomplish with that workout; I can look at the screen and see if I need to keep my effort as is, push it harder, or slow down.

The ability to easily create custom routines is very nice. Sometimes I just want to burn a lot of calories, other times I am doing a structured high intensity interval training workout to boost my cardio, and other times and am focusing on cardio endurance. Routines help guide you so that you stay on track with the proper intensity levels throughout the workouts.

As mentioned, the Fitdigits app has the ability to display a lot of useful data during the workout but it also stands out from other similar apps in what you can do with the data post-workout. The app itself saves all the workouts locally and syncs them to your Fitdigits account online. I find it incredibly useful and motivating to compare past and present workouts to monitor my progress. I can see very clear improvements in my cardio and running speeds on a regular basis. Doing the fitness assessments regularly and comparing those is also very helpful to track progress and ensure the cardio related settings within the Fitdigits app update and maintain accuracy.

The web site allows you to setup different types of goals so that that you can better track, measure, and get reports on your progress. Both my wife and I have found the goal related features very helpful in staying committed. We both have weekly calorie burn and workout duration goals. Since I can now run, I also have a weekly distance running goal too.

One of the other great features about the Fitdigits Ecosystem is that they have partnered with some of the other popular fitness-related resources. My favorite is MyFitnessPal. Many people, including my wife and I, use that free site to plan our meals and track food consumption. We like that our workouts get synced to the site so we can track net calories (consumed calories minus burned calories).

I previously purchased two Garmin FR-620s ($450 each) for my wife and I before Fitdigits implemented the BLE stride sensor feature. I have to say, after using my Polar HR strap and stride sensor with the Fitdigits app—the Garmin watches will only be used on very long runs. Thankfully Fitdigits has made it very easy to import data from Garmin and other companies that use common exportable data logging formats.

Overall I feel the small cost of the Fitdigits app, compatible heart rate monitor, their optional MVP program features, and taking a little time to both understand how to use the features and setting up an obtainable action plan are an amazing value and a must have investment for anyone that wants to improve their fitness.