Any day they hang a medallion around your neck is a good day

After working at Fitdigits for a couple months, I ran a half-marathon this past Sunday, June 5th, 2011. The Ojai 2 Ocean, though it started and ended at the Ventura Pier in Ventura, California, which means it was a hometown run for me. I’ve been running for many years now, so it wasn’t a first, but it was certainly a beautiful and fun one. After passing my 30s my marathons have become fewer and my half-marathons much more fun! My goal this time was a 2 hour 10 minute run, on the low end, 2 hours.

chris means

Chris Means from Fitdigits runs the Ojai 2 Ocean

In the interest of testing, I brought my iPhone and my latest version of Fitdigits with me, as well as my Garmin 305, thinking I’d compare results. Of course, as does happen occasionally, I got to the starting line and turned on the Garmin only to find out it was already on reserve battery power (I had only used it for one small run after charging it last! I think maybe it got turned on while in my gym bag by accident). Thank god for backup, especially backup that included my tunes!

It was a beautiful morning, and the race started promptly at 6am. It was great having my iRunner going – I was able to pay close attention to my heart rate, and make sure I didn’t make the mistake I’ve made so many times before – going out waayyy to fast. I tried to keep my pace down to zone 3, my endurance zone, for at least the first 8 miles. I wanted to make sure there was gas in the tank at the end. I was glad I did – it was fairly often, caught up in the vibe of the run, that my heart started pounding harder, even though my perceived effort was still just having fun and moving along. I knew to cut it back.

New Fitdigits Heart Rate Chart

New Fitdigits Heart Rate Chart - Ojai 2 Ocean run

By mile 8 I was ready to “push the engine” a little more, though I knew I still had a ways to go. I picked up the pace to zone 4, allowed myself to cross the line. From there, I tried to hold it steady for the next couple miles, until at least mile 10 or 11, when it was time to crank up the afterburners (well, ok, time to push myself – not exactly a jet engine these days, but it sure felt like my legs were on fire).

When all was said and done, I had just crossed into the “over max effort” zone as I crossed the finish line in 1:56, crushing (yes, I do believe 4 minutes better than your goal time is crushing 😉 my goal). I knew I had given it all I had, maximum overdrive. Whether it was the best run race or not, I can’t say; I’m not a trainer, just an old(er) runner, but it felt good and just being out there keeps me young. The effort was all mine, with a special shout-out to the wife, who of course I couldn’t do it without her support, but Fitdigits was certainly a key companion and partner throughout – and it let me rock out along the way too!

When all is said and done, any day they hang a ribbon and medallion around your neck is a good day. Any day you finish a hard workout by 8am AND get a medal, that’s a great day!

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
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.

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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Rehab It with Fitdigits

Testimonial from Fitdigits User – Allen N.

My story may be similar to many other people that are looking for ways to increase their cardiovascular health or general physical condition. This story has been many years in the making and has many chapters that cover a multiple of activities that have produced many different levels of physical conditioning. However, the latest chapter is the most significant. One often regains important focus when life is threatened, as mine was.

The day before Christmas 2009, a scant three months after turning 60 years old, I was in my driveway shoveling fresh snow. This is something I always did as quickly as I could. I always took pride at the fact that my driveway was normally cleared before any of my neighbors. This morning was going to be different. Five minutes into the task at hand, I started feeling some tightness in my chest and throat and was a bit short of breath. I stopped shoveling and rested for a bit and continued. This feeling reoccurred several times before I went in the house, leaving the driveway only partly cleared of snow. With encouragement from my wife, I remained in the house and didn’t have any more problems. The next day was Christmas, family was scheduled to come by and the driveway was cleared by two of my son-in-laws.

Mid January found me in the doctor’s office getting checked out. Through a series of tests, that spanned several weeks, my doctor rendered his report. First on his list was my weight, 219 pounds. Now, I will be the first to admit that I was too heavy. However, my rational was that because of my history of weight lifting and strength training, I had maintained my body weight at 210 to 215 for the last twenty years, so 219 was fine. At 5’ 10” and 60 years old, 219 is not fine, it was part of the recipe for disaster that was just around the corner of my life. Had all the rest of my indicators been fine, the weight may not have been that big of a deal. Here’s the rest of the story: a history of high blood pressure and on medication since 1998. Blood chemistry test bore additional bad news: LDL cholesterol at 133, not all that bad, HDL was too low at 34 and the total cholesterol was over the top at 241. Triglycerides were way out of line at 371, which put my CHD risk factor at 7.1, 2.6 points above desirable levels. My glucose came in at 122, which indicated impaired fasting glucose. Needless to say, my doctor was rather firm with me regarding my diet.

Because of these numbers and my recent chest discomfort, he scheduled an EKG followed by a stress test. These tests and an additional stress test concluded the need for a Coronary Angioplasty. As I was being prepared for this procedure, I was told that if any blockages were found, they would be taken care of with a stent and anything more serious would be taken care of in another hospital in their system. The angioplasty did find two blockages, one 90% in a major artery and the other 80% in a minor artery. A clot was also found which was destroyed with a drug that was interesting. Two stents were inserted to open the blockage and the problem was solved.

Now the hard work started. I determined that I would do my own rehab work and purchased a treadmill. I received my personal training certification in 1991 and have been in many different training environments over the years. My focus has always been upon strength training so I was never concerned with my weight or diet. I also did a short tour of duty at a rehab facility in Texas where I worked with many folks with heart conditions like mine. Why I didn’t do more cardiovascular fitness training will also be a good question. However, I put together a progressive program but needed to monitor my heart rate in a very positive manner. I went to the local sporting goods store and picked up what I thought was a good monitoring system, and for what I paid, it should have done the job. I wasn’t satisfied and began an online search for something better. I came upon the Fitdigits System that was designed to be used by the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. After talking to a very knowledgeable person on their sales staff, I bought it. I started using Fitdigits Connect and iRunner immediately and quickly determined that this tool was exactly what I needed to make sure that I could meet my training goals and do it within the limits of my cardiac health.

Now the good news. Sixty days later I’m back in the doctor’s office, the scales read 185 pounds. My blood pressure is near normal, where it was high and lowered with medications. Another blood sample was taken and the results blew me away. LDL is now 96, HDL at 36, total cholesterol was 147, my CHD risk factor is now 4.1 which is .4 points to the good side of desirable. The big gain was the triglycerides, 77 as opposed to 371. Finally, my glucose dropped from 122 to 88, well into the normal range.

I’m still working hard to improve my overall level of fitness. I’m doing my treadmill work every other day and working on my strength training on my non cardio days. My goal is to get totally off my blood pressure meds, reduce my body fat to as close at 10% as I can get it and increase my cardio endurance steadily using the Fitdigits system to monitor and track my progress.

I want to thank the staff at Fitdigits for their commitment to developing a wonderful and useful tool for people like me. My thanks also to Kelly Lazarus, who convinced me that I needed the Fitdigits heart rate monitor, she was right. I can now look forward to many more years of healthy living and for that I will always be grateful.

-Allen N., Fitdigits User
(Kansas City, MO)

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