What’s in Your Genes?

We have all heard people say that a newborn baby has his mother’s eyes, or that a young child gets all of that curly hair from her father’s side of the family, or that a rapidly growing teen gets his height from his grandfather’s side of the family. These simple observations are based on the fact that genetics play a major role in determining our physical features. As the mysteries of the human genome are unraveled, we can peer beyond physical traits and discover there are many variables to understanding the full impact that genetics plays. As a Fitdigits user, one question that may intrigue you is, “what degree does genetics play in the pursuit of improving overall health or increasing fitness levels?”

Fifty years ago the Sports Medicine community was satisfied with describing the human physique according to three categories of body types: endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. Later on, primary care physicians began to associate and describe the increased risk of developing heart disease in terms of body shape; i.e. apple shaped for men and pear shaped for women.

Today’s medical technology allows us to look further into the human body to the point where we can actually compare and contrast factors, such as quantity of fat cells, muscle fiber type, heart size, bone density, cardiac output, muscle mitochondria, and even the risk of contracting disease. The ability to measure these more specific variables and potential based upon genetics is important, because they give insight into the body’s ability to adapt and benefit from different interventions and treatment programs.

The key to designing an exercise program is to help the body adapt to a specific stimulus – in other words, to achieve a specific training effect.

Over the following weeks I’ll explore Cardiovascular Fitness, Body Composition (% body fat), and Disease Prevention, in ways that provide insight into the role genetics play. Your genetic profile can be an important guide in the successful pursuit of improving your overall health or increasing your level of fitness. First up, Cardiovascular Fitness.

CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS

An individual’s ability to perform aerobic exercises like running, cycling, swimming or cross country skiing is ultimately determined by the heart’s capacity to deliver oxygen to the specific muscle groups engaged in each sport, as well as the muscle’s ability to convert oxygen and available fuel (food) into energy. Cardiovascular fitness can be measured through an Oxygen Consumption or VO2 test. An athlete wears a facemask over his mouth and nose while running or cycling at increasing levels of intensity. The mask is connected to a computer that is able to compare the difference between the amount of oxygen inhaled and exhaled with each breath. The key finding behind VO2 testing is that VO2 scores are linear with performance. In other words, athletes with higher VO2 scores have been shown to run, swim, ski and bike faster and longer than athletes with lower scores.

Dan Zeman with Greg LeMond, three-time winner of the Tour de France, testing VO2 levels to monitor and maximize training effect.

Dan Zeman with Greg LeMond, three-time winner of the Tour de France, testing VO2 levels to monitor and maximize training effect.

VO2 scores in the general population range from 20 – 60 ml/kg/min, follow a bell shaped curve across the range of scores, are slightly higher in males, tend to decrease with aging, and increase when the subject maintains a structured exercise program. However, the most interesting observations are that people DO NOT respond the same way to the same training program, and world-class level endurance athletes’ VO2 scores are much higher, in the 80-95 ml/kg/min range.

Elite athletes DO NOT have higher maximal heart rates than those whose VO2 scores are lower, but they DO differ in how their hearts adapt to training, allowing more blood pumped per beat. They also differ in how the mitochondria in their muscles adapt, resulting in a higher capacity to convert oxygen and fuel into energy. These observations are valuable, because they indicate a genetic component is at work in the adaptation to cardiovascular exercise.

Consider the “sport of choice” of an Olympic Track and Field athlete. Each event has a gold medal winner who most likely realized at an early stage of training that he/she had a natural inclination to performing well in that particular event. One size does not fit all, and even Olympic athletes don’t adapt the same way to a specific training program. Some athletes are genetically gifted for short distances, while others are gifted for long distances. This doesn’t mean athletes can’t train for other events and do well; it just means they start off with a set of genetic gifts that may allow them to perform better in one event over another.

The general population can benefit from this concept. Let’s use an example. If you’re in reasonably good shape and contemplating running a marathon, but you find that you can only handle a slow pace when you train, this could be an insight into your genetic make-up. Genetically speaking, the best distance for you might be a 5-10k. You may actually enjoy a faster paced 5-10K over a long distance marathon, because your body is genetically built for shorter, faster distances. This is not to discourage anyone from running a marathon if that’s a personal goal. I’m just trying to point out that you may find that you actually enjoy one distance over another, discover that you perform better with certain distances, and perhaps experience fewer injuries with your “sport of choice.”

In addition, most of us can benefit from a seasonal approach to training. Even elite athletes train with awareness of their genetic predisposition, knowing that the risk of sustaining an overuse injury is higher when training for a world record. They realize their peak performance and condition can only last for a limited amount of time. Variables such as maintaining an ideal race body weight, adequate rest, meticulous control of calories, and limiting the number of race days allows them to stay in world record shape for race day, ready for show time.

The body also needs to rest. Without a legitimate off-season, the human body will begin to shows signs of muscular skeletal stress fractures, decrease in positive psychological mood states, poor sleep habits, weight gain, and finally a measurable drop in cardiovascular fitness or VO2 scores.

This brings us back to the best questions to ask first: why am I doing cardiovascular exercise, what particular exercise best suits me, and how much is best for me?

My best answer is also the simplest: choose a form of exercise that you find enjoyable, and choose a duration and intensity that allows you to speak a single sentence clearly and without hesitation during the exercise. It’s simply a “talk test.” See if you can talk easily while you’re walking, running, cycling or engaging in any cardiovascular exercise. I also encourage a variety of forms of cardiovascular exercise, and whenever possible, combine them with a social or personal agenda.

Click below for a short 30 second survey

genes

Vibrams, Hoka One One’s and the Path to Running Shoe Bliss

Author Christopher MeansI have fallen in love (a few times along the way). Meet my new love.

I fell in like with running many years ago now. That like turned to love, something I was forced to admit, like it does for so many, somewhere after my third marathon, which was 20+ years ago and almost as many marathons since.

But I’m older now. I can’t say wiser, but certainly older. I’ve seen the ups and downs of running. I’ve felt the pain – stinging, shooting pain, dull, sore pain, the pains that come emotionally as well as physically… But I digress – just wanted to give a little background I guess, before I share and introduce my new love! You see, now in my mid-forties, I have accepted the fact that I want to be a runner all my life. I’ve grown to just love the simplicity, the challenge, the peace and simplicity of running. But it is getting harder, as the knees, calfs, quads, and back all start to remind me more regularly that indeed, I am no longer a newbie to the sport.

Hoka One One

Hoka One One - 5 Stars!

hoka-one-one

With the goal of designing shoes for optimal performance, comfort, efficiency and fun, Hoka One One has pioneered a new philosophy in running by merging aspects of minimalism and maximalism.

Knowing this, I have been on a journey to learn as much as possible about how I might be able to keep running all my life. In all the conversations and reading, it really comes down to a few basics – equipment, form, and smart training.

This isn’t about smart training. That’s too big a subject, and really that isn’t my goal – for training seems to pre-suppose a goal, and really my goal is just to run bit, always.

This is more about equipment, the shoes that I LOVE! Which ties a bit to form too… You see, in all I’ve read and heard, if you want to run forever, and without continuous injuries, form is the key. That damned mid-foot strike. I had never realized I was running “wrong” for over 20 years, but come to find out, it takes its toll over time.

So a little less than two years ago I began to learn how to run again – the “natural” way. I read Chi Running (and Chi Walking, too) by Chi Riveria, I practiced for quite some time. I bought my first pair of Vibrams in November, and early Christmas present from my wife; the promise being, if you can feel your foot strike, and get back to the more basic feet on the ground feel, you’ll be better able to adjust your running form to the natural, less jarring foot strike of the mid-foot strike. Your body will just naturally want to do it, or so they say.

It was a bit of a painful start, with my calfs telling me in the beginning this was a VERY new way to be. But I was in love – I loved having my toes separated, I loved the feel of the ground, even when hiking on the trails. It just felt wonderful to be touching the ground again – it had been so long! And yes, I could absolutely feel my foot strike on the heal, or, conversely, on the mid-foot when I was doing it right. Instant feedback, even if it was very strange to change my stride and strike.

I loved my Vibram Five Fingers; even bought my wife a pair for Christmas too. I told friends, I told running partners, I told random people on the trails. Be free I told them! Be free, feel the love!

Then one day, as I was working for Fitdigits, the health and wellness company, a co-worker offered up an opportunity to try a new type of running shoe – the Hoka One One. I looked online, and everyone in the office agreed, these were some of the ugliest sneakers we’d ever seen… they looked downright orthopedic. (note: they have now updated their designs thank god, but they still are pretty, shall we say, “hefty looking”).

They were the exact opposite of the Vibrams I loved… But they said they were designed with the mid-foot strike at the top of mind, but with extra cushioning especially for older runners who loved to run distances. And they were American made in Hawaii. I’m an experimental guy, and the chance to get to try something new was worth the initial buy-in (full disclosure, they were subsidized so they only cost $60 to try this first pair through my work).

Wow. I couldn’t believe it. They were amazing! The cushioning – superb! Even when I wasn’t doing the best form, which happens often when I run with my two dogs, I could feel the extra support and cushioning they provided on the heavier heal strike. When I could practice better form, they were downright blissful. My back thanked me. My calfs thanked me (no adjustment necessary). My feet thanked me. My occasionally stubbed toes (running with dogs in Vibrams can be dicey at times) thanked me. I got a pair for the wife – she even thanked me. Hasn’t touched her Vibrams since.

Are there any negatives? Sure… they wear out a little quicker than a normal running shoe I’ve found – my heal on the inner side of my right shoe is the first to run out of the rubber sole, and begin wearing on the cushioning. It’s apparent I haven’t got my “style” quite right yet, they seem to tell me. They are also a bit more expensive, going for somewhere in the $170 range. The first ones I got were “sponsored”, but I’m on my third pair now, paying full price plus shipping, and my pockets that much lighter. But I just finished my first marathon in a couple years injury free, and with the best time in over a decade, and did it with comfort and style. A good chunk of credit for that goes to the Hoka One Ones. My retirement savings may not being growing as fast now, but the chance of having a happy, active retirement does.

They are a dream, and once again, I’m in love.

My dream, my goal, of running all my life, may just be helped by this wonderful shoe.

Aloha and Mahalo Hoka, Aloha and Mahalo.

Stronger and Smarter Workouts With Fitdigits

Susan has been Spinning® with Fitdigits Ambassador and Spinning Instructor Giovanni Masi for over a year.

Since Gio has started to help her in her running training using Fitdigits to track Heart Rate, Susan has recorded Personal Bests on runs on a near weekly basis! She never thought she could break the 12 min mile mark, but with the help of her trainer, the Fitdigits app and a Heart Rate Monitor, she has left that time in the dust. Also gathering dust is her old Garmin Watch.

Suffice to say, Susan thinks Fitdigits is pretty splendid:

“I have so far logged 88 running and Spinning workouts with Fitdigits. Fitdigits’s visual displays allow me to compare one workout to another, which has facilitated improvement in performance, recovery and endurance. Over the past four months Fitdigits has taught me to control my heart rate in such a way as to become more efficient in both running and Spinning®. For example, the first run I logged on Fitdigits was October 10, 2012 with a pace average of 12:04, which was pretty much the norm for me. Later on a similar run I logged a pace average of 10:34, which is a time I never thought I would see! This is a remarkable feat and attributable to the skills learned from using Fitdigits and Giovanni’s training advices/plans on a regular basis. Taking more than 1.5 minutes off my pace has inspired me to keep trying to run faster and stronger.

During spinning classes, Fitdigits has taught me to control my heart rate with resistance and breath. It has truly empowered me with the confidence and strength with which to challenge myself to become a stronger and smarter rider. It appears as though the strength gained from using Fitdigits regularly has spilled over into general fitness classes and personal training at the Y and at L.A. Fitness. Now, using Fitdigits in those classes will help me to improve my performance there as well.

Overall, I would say that the gains from using Fitdigits have been great. Just by monitoring my heart rate and learning how to control it, my level of fitness has improved remarkably. Since I spend an average of nine hours a week engaged in physical activity, this is a big deal. Thank you Fitdigits!”

Now that Susan has made such great gains, the next step is taking a Fitness Assessment so she can truly see her gains in her fitness level.

Type 2 Diabetes Won’t Stop Me From Running!

Testimonial by Fitdigits user Ron G.

I am 64, around 148 pounds, and a 20 year US Air Force retired Vietnam veteran. My journey to fitness really started many years ago, early adulthood to be exact. At that time I decided to live an active and healthy life and I began to run as a way to stay healthy. I ran anything from short 3 and 5 km runs to running 10 Ks in organized competitions. Because of my Air Force background, I had the opportunity to run in many states throughout the US, as well as throughout Germany where I was lucky to be stationed over two different assignments. While there I continued to run many organized events up to and including a marathon which was over the original route taken during the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Damn near killed me, but I survived! Everything changed when I turned 50 and was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic.

That diagnosis blew me away. As I stated earlier I always tried to maintain my health, was never overweight, and generally maintained a good diet. At that point, in order to help control my blood sugar at a near normal level, I continued to run. However, I started to lose even more weight and my doctor told me I should stop running, as it was becoming unhealthy for me to continue. So then I started walking to help control my blood sugar pretty much after every meal.

To make a long story short, two years ago I was put on Insulin and from that point on my weight stabilized. I have even been able to put on some weight! Diabetes is a disease that predisposes you to a host of other problems, namely high cholesterol and blood pressure, to name a few. With my weight under control, I decided to take my health into my own hands and started running again. I went on my first run in May of 2012, and I was excited to regain some control of my health, which had been in downward spiral since not being able to exercise because of my low weight.

Owning an iPad and iPod I could see all the apps that were available to help people take control of their health. I tried many running apps but they just seemed unable to do what I wanted. I did not see any that combined everything I needed all wrapped up into one app. With the purchase of an iPhone I gave Fitdigits iRunner a try and found that it did everything I wanted and more! The addition of a Wahoo Blue HR monitor completed the package. Now I was ready to go out and get serious about my training. I got voice and visual updates throughout my run that keep an eye on how my heart was responding to the stress level I was working out at.

Initially I just plugged in standard figures for heart rate based on age and it seemed like I was continually exceeding the top heart rate zone. That is when I contacted customer support and they had an answer for exactly what I was looking for. It was suggested I try some of the fitness assessments built into the app to see how my heart was responding to stress. I did the Beginner Cardio and Cooper running fitness assessments. Based on those results I was able to input different figures to my max heart rate and heart rate zones, and I have not looked back.

My doctor is happy I am exercising again and my blood pressure, which was starting to enter the mid to high hypertension range, has dropped back to near normal levels over the past two months. No other app includes fitness assessments, and I think that is what distinguishes this app from the competition. Initially I did not give them a go as I thought I had built up a base over the years with another tracking option, and even though I had not worked out for several years I could not switch now. Big mistake. Running and how to properly work out has changed over the years, and I found out that I did not keep pace with the advancements in the science that go into exercise. With this app I have complete peace of mind, completely aware of exactly how much intensity I can add to my workout and remain safe by not overdoing it.

I have Fitdigits to thank for the peace of mind I enjoy while exercising. The excellent customer service is second to none and I do not hesitate in recommending this app for use by anyone serious about their health. I do not go out for a run without first strapping up and activating Fitdigits iRunner. There is no other app that can do what this app does and provide the customer support to back it up. No hesitation whatsoever in giving this app my strongest recommendation!

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 )

3 Tips to Stay Safe While Running in the Dark

I came across this article and with the time change this past weekend, the content is timely. If you are running outdoors in the dark, Coach Jenny Hadfield offers some great tips on safety. Even if you are an experienced runner in the dark, it’s still a good idea to brush up on these tips. Coach Jenny advises that runners should take along a cell phone – we of course recommend taking your iPhone and Fitdigits with you, too.

Taken from Active.com
By Coach Jenny Hadfield

Whether you’re an early morning runner or you hit the pavement after work, this time of year can play havoc on your running routine as the light hours diminish and the long, dark days of winter set in. Although running in the dark is a challenge, it is not impossible. It all starts with a bright idea and a solid game plan.

Be seen. It’s important to remember that just because you can see a car doesn’t mean its driver can see you. Being seen is the first step to running in the dark safely. Wear light colored, high-visibility clothing with 360 degrees of retroreflective properties such as the Brooks Nightlife apparel line, the Nathan Safety Reflective Vest or any 3M products. These clothing items reflect light back to its source (car headlight) with minimal scattering, allowing you to be seen more visibly in dark or lowlight conditions. Wear a brimmed hat to shield your eyes from the oncoming lights.

Be smart. You may outwit the traffic only to get caught up in a pothole while running down a dark street. It pays to do your homework and create a few “dark” loop courses in your neighborhood. Run them by day to evaluate the conditions of the roads and seek out routes that offer wide roads for plenty of room to run, street lamps to light your way and sidewalks. Make mental notes on where potholes and other obstacles are located. Run shorter loops on harsh weather days when visibility is poor and footing is risky. Light your path with a hand held light or headlamp. Doing so will allow you to run more relaxed and with better quality.

Be aware. Run with a buddy or in groups when possible. There is safety in numbers and cars will more easily see a group of reflective runners. Always run against traffic and avoid busy roads with narrow streets and no sidewalks. Vary your routes, wear an ID, and bring a cell phone in case of emergency. Leave a note at home with the route you are taking or consider using a free phone application such as Glypmse which allows your family and friends to track where you are on the run. Avoid listening to music when running alone and be in tune with your surroundings, especially when running alone. Use the weather card in extreme weather conditions and hit the treadmill. You’ll get in a better quality workout and be back on the roads safely when the weather subsides.

With these tips, you can enjoy a safe run–and peace of mind–the next time you run in the dark.

Read the original article.

Pedal to Run Fast

By Doug Katona, Spinning Master Instructor

Me run? Are you nuts? I am a cyclist—cyclists pedal. Runners run. It’s that simple—at least that’s what I used to think several years ago. But now that I have taken up running, I think to myself, “how can I get my 5K time under 18 minutes?” The cross-training benefits from cycling to running are great and the Spinning program has been the “X factor” in reducing my run times. If you’re a runner, you may even benefit more from the Spinning program than might a cyclist. Want to run faster? Spinning classes will do the trick.

There are more similarities than differences between running and the Spinning program. Cadences are similar. The training approach is mirrored. Power output is a major indicator of performance. And both are extremely functional in their fitness application.

“There is no question the Spinning program makes you stronger without the impact,” says Thomas Miller, multi-sport coach and nine-time Ironman competitor. “I did three TransRockies (a sort of Tour de France on foot) with 30 percent less mileage than the other top-level competitors and I was still climbing with the best of them. The Spinning program has been my secret weapon.”
Recent studies have shown that cycling can improve 10K race times by nine percent and 5K times by three percent. Do the math. That’s often the difference in securing podium placement or not (kind of like cycling).

And what about injuries? Injuries seem to limit runners’ performance potential much more than cyclists. Studies show that for every 1,000 hours of each sport, cycling sees about half the amount of injuries compared to running. Fewer injuries leads to a longer career.

One of the most significant points is the functional component that the Spinning program provides the pavement pounder. Just like in Spinning classes, the more resistance you can handle, the stronger you are. When you run at higher volumes or higher intensities, it often means more impact or more recovery needed. The Spinning program provides structured interval training to increase training loads with shorter recovery windows. Plus, Spinning classes will strengthen muscles needed for running without the compression impact of running.

I wrote a blog on the Spinning Community site in March and talked about the effect cadence has in relationship to foot strikes. The more efficient you are with pedal cadence, the more powerful you will be in cycling. Running is very similar. The less time your feet spend on the ground, the better. Studies have shown a correlation between pedaling at a high cadence and running at a high cadence. The results show that the shorter your contact time with the ground, the less chance you have for injury.

Spinning classes also provide additional base-building opportunities for runners. You can ride for 45–60 minutes while maintaining a stable heart rate without the obstacles of outdoor terrain change, climate or other non-stabilizing forces. Just like cyclists, runners benefit from time trial efforts and Spinning classes give the runner a stable, consistent training environment.

One of the most undervalued benefits might be the fact that you can improve as a runner without running! You get to enjoy some music, see some different faces and still get a heck of a training session.

Spinning classes just may be the key to unlocking the secret of running faster without running—5K anyone?

Read the original post.

Fitdigits Alarms Helped Regulate My Heart Rate

Testimonial from Fitdigits User – Dorothy C.

I am 61-years old and went to my doctor because of heart palpitations. My blood pressure was up and my doctor scheduled a treadmill stress test. Everything checked out OK but my doctor insisted I use medication to lower my blood pressure. I convinced her to let me try to control my blood pressure and heart rate with diet and exercise first instead of using medication. She agreed to give me a few weeks.

I started running the next day but whenever I ran my heart rate would go up very fast and very high and I was concerned it was too high. Then, Fitdigits Connect and iRunner confirmed that my heart rate was spiking very quickly. I started using the audible alarms to warn me when it was happening instead of viewing it after my workout. Whenever the little cowbell would ring, I would slow it down slightly. Eventually, my endurance got better and I heard the alarm less and less. I’m able to run longer and faster as a result of my training and next month I plan to participate in my first race: relay marathon.

iRunner stores all my data so I am able to look back and see my progress from the beginning. When I go for my next check-up which will be in a few weeks, I plan to take iRunner with me to show my doctor the results of my workouts. The graphs that are provided show a quick visual of my data. Fitdigits has made my workouts fun, I look forward to exercising and I’m so excited about my progress.

-Dorothy C., Fitdigits User
(Palmyra, WI)

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