Archive for April, 2011

miCoach app

April 21, 2011

I started using miCoach pacer a year ago. It looks like I need new excitement every year, iPod Nike+ gadget combination came March 2009.

With the GPS feature on most smartphone everyone in the market rushed to do an app for your workouts. Nike got one which I tested, I was very disappointed. There must have been updates on the app since last October but I have not yet tried it again.

My new toy Garmin arrived last December so miCoach pacer retired.

I haven’t really tested miCoach app for iPhone it’s now at version 1.0.15 so yesterday morning I gave it a go. First of all I linked the app with my miCoach account at their website. After that there isn’t much setting to do at the phone. At first use the app fetches data for your “working out history” and “achievement” etc. It tracks what shoes you are wearing for your runs a feature that both Nike+ and RunKeeper Pro don’t have at the moment. Other features are pretty standard stuff such as audio cues (select what to hear such as time/distance/calories/pace/target pace) and heart rate/pace based training. Since there is no HRM compatible with this app yet so heart rate based coaching is meaningless.

Its mapping is on par with RunKeeper Pro in terms of accuracy and usability. It’s better than Garmin as it’s Google map not Bing.

The social feature needs improvement. The app doesn’t let you share your run to Facebook or Twitter from your phone, you got to do it by logging into the miCoach website. miCoach doesn’t automatically post any stats of your run to facebook as well, you’ll see just a thumbnail of your run chart (heart rate or pace), so your friends have to do one more click to see details in a broswer (2nd image below). It seems that you can’t share the route yet. For social features RunKeeper is a lot better.

One design differentiates miCoach app from RunKeeper Pro, in my view, is that GPS doesn’t automatically turn on when the app is activated. Once you have selected which favorite workout you want to do, click Next, then it starts searching for GPS signal. You’ll hear positive feedback “GPS is found” at the “Ready, Set, Go” screen then you can tap “Start workout” to start your run.

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When you hear “GPS found” you’ll see this

Tap the icon on the left top corner you’ll see where you are on the go, that icon is a bit small to me. Icon on the top right hand corner is your music control.

I didn’t use RunKeeper Pro yesterday morning so I imported Garmin GPX file into RunKeeper Pro, now I have heart rate curve as well.

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Will I use miCoach GPS app to run, of course, as it’s easy to set up interval training like below. At the moment both Nike+ or RunKeeper Pro can’t do this yet. I need the audio cues to tell me when to speed up. Garmin 410 couldn’t do this, my music will not let me hear the beep anyway, I also doubt if I will upgrade to latest model 610 which has vibrating alert. I won’t consider unless Garmin goes back to Google map.

miCoach_interval

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Shing Mun Reservoir

April 18, 2011

Again we didn’t do what we have planned to do.

The reservoir loop along the catchment is around 7k so we thought may be we explore the catchment road on the left then come back for the loop. 7k isn’t normally enough for weekend run.

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It was a misty morning with high relative humidity, the reservoir looked like this

Flower and tree lined catchment road

View could be a lot nicer if the sun was at work

Originally we planned to go back from here, 900 steps down this staircase takes you to public road in Tsuen Wan

We decided to run to the end along that direction, we turned back from here

On the way back to the car, a photo-stop for this

If we ran the reservoir loop we would have passed through this dam

A dam much older than me

We’ll certainly return for another run. I should also have a dry T-shirt and brought water.

Garmin v miCoach

April 13, 2011

The HR spikes caused a research project and this goes on until I know my heart is not to blame for the scary spikes while I run.

During the Sunny Bay hikerun my friend used my Garmin HRM below shows no spikes, he wore the belt high up in the chest and used gal to wet the contacts.

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I used miCoach and there were no spikes. I did walk-run intervals (0.5k walk, 0.5k run) at the 2nd half of the run. It’s apparent that my heart needs 3~4 minutes to slow down and ramp up. I could have the entire run within yellow zone if I didn’t do intervals. The conclusion is that if HR spikes are of short duration, say 1~2 minutes, those must be signal spikes.

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In the Garmin’s manual

If the heart rate data is erratic … you may have to tighten the strap on the chest or warm up for 5-10 minutes.

Heart Rate Monitor Tips

  1. Make sure the HRM is snug against your body
  2. Reapply water, saliva, or electrode gel to the electrodes. Clean the electrodes, dirt and sweat residue can interfere with HR signals
  3. Wear a cotton shirt or wet your shirt if suitable for your activity. Sythetic fabrics that rub or flap against the HRM can create static electricity that interferes with HR signals
  4. Move away from sources of strong EM fields and some 2.5 GHz wireless sensors … sources of interference may include very high voltage power lines, electric motors, microwave ovens, 2.4 GHz cordless phones, and wireless LAN access points.

Putting their HRM together I can see (not that obvious from photo below) that miCoach’s strap has the plastic continuously built into the fabric from the left to the right electrodes (contacts). The Garmin HRM electrodes are two plastic contacts on both sides of your chest.

Nothing is better than side by side comparison so today I put both miCoach and Garmin HRM on during my morning run.

The miCoach chart looks fairly typical with HR max at 165, I walked home after 5k and left the miCoach on.

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The Garmin HR pattern looks the same with HR max at 164.

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I wore the Garmin HRM high up in the chest and adjusted the length of both to be the same such that their tightness is the same on my cylindrical chest.

So what’s my conclusion? I think the Garmin HRM could be too slag and it wasn’t a snug fit after 4 months use. I’m pretty sure I wear it correctly although Garmin manual doesn’t tell me how, the miCoach manual has a figure showing where the HRM should be worn.

I know by now the HRM works either way, e.g.


from this site.

or


from this site.

Read even if you don’t run

April 12, 2011

I heard you, can’t run right? You don’t have to move your legs just sit down and read this book.

I finished the paperback version and later discovered that even the hardcover copy doesn’t have any photos. I would have thought the places the author had been to must have breathtaking views, there are some images here at his site, now I can match faces to names in the book.