Speculate to innovate? Polar #V900, what will it be? My wish list.

I love the way the internet is great for people to throw out ideas and watch a seed germinate. So I’m going to try it with one of the most rumoured about products not on the market (and no whispered titbits about development either!) the Polar V900…
Continue reading “Speculate to innovate? Polar #V900, what will it be? My wish list.”

Stride Lab

It’s interesting that the people who brought us Stride-Rite shoes when we were kids are still looking after us as adults with running shoes made for each of us.
Continue reading “Stride Lab”

Time for a GPS & HRM Update…

A while ago I was asked on the Q&A with #RSP – What #running watch to go for? and my answer, based on the functions and price at that time, was unequivocally the Polar M400

I’m revising this opinion as there has been a change in how Garmin products are being brought into Ireland.

Without having to go into the history too much, the distribution model as well as currency changes and the higher Irish VAT level meant that in most cases it was cheaper to buy your Garmin overseas (not the handiest in terms of warranty claims – there was a unique setup for Irish bought units that added value) but this has now changed.

Today, you will find that we have most of the current Garmin range at prices LOWER than the equivalent from UK online retailers.

Garmin FR 220 with HRM – UK website €299 Our Price €255.00

Garmin FR220 Violet

Garmin Fenix 3 with HRM – UK website €556 Our Price €509.00

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Garmin Fenix 3 no HRM – UK website €515.00 Our Price €460.00

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(Garmin 920XT is the same price as the Fenix 3 bundles)

In the context of the article I wrote following the #RSP Q&A the price gap between the Polar M400 and the Garmin FR220 is much narrower.

The decision based on the value of the watches is tougher to make as while the Polar has more functions in relation to the activity monitor and multiple sport profiles; Garmin does have the legacy effect of dependable GPS and recognition of being the ‘running watch’.

The playing field has changed slightly and we are delighted with the changes in the price structure.

One final thought is in relation to the upcoming FR225 with optical HR. The feedback I’m hearing is that the wrist detector is 5% less accurate than that of the FR220 with chest strap. I would be reluctant to recommend the 225 for this reason, at this moment, as, if you are training to HR you need accuracy and dependability of readings.

What do you think of the new prices?

Are you ready for your first Orca #triathlon wetsuit?

As stockists of the Orca range , the 2015 Orca S5 has just arrived into our Galway store ready for you to check out the perfect wetsuit for tri-beginners and improvers. Orca’s generation S-series wetsuit continues its evolution with the S5. While retaining many of the great features of the S4, the new S5 introduces a 5mm front panel from neck to mid-leg, increasing flexibility and buoyancy.Orca S5The removal of a front seam ensures that it is the most flexible wetsuit to date in this range. Like its predecessor, the S5 promises hydrodynamics, flexibility, buoyancy and durability.2014-orca-wetsuit-s5-fullsleeve-women-frontIts full neoprene coverage includes SCS coated 3-4mm Yamamoto 39-cell neoprene across the full front. 2mm Yamamoto 39-cell coated neoprene underarm and shoulder panels provides superb range of motion.The back is made of 3mm Smooth Skin neoprene, offering buoyancy and thermal protection. Silicone-print Hydrostroke forearm catch panels increase power through the stroke, while Speed Transition calf panels make transitions a cinch.2014-orca-wetsuit-s5-fullsleeve-women-back

  • 2mm SCS Neoprene Arms & Shoulders – High stretch SCS coated upper torso and armsbecome-true-triathlete
  • Yamamoto Neoprene – Performance level durable Yamamoto neoprene provides excellent buoyancy, flexibility and thermal protection.
  • Speed Transition Calf Panels – Guaranteed easy removal of the wetsuit and faster transition times.2014-orca-wetsuit-s5-fullsleeve-men-back

Orca wetsuits are available in a wide range of sizes to suit everybody an we are on hand to help you select, size & we’ll show you how best to handle your wetsuit when fitting and removing to avoid unwanted pulls and tears.

If you are ready to know more we have a handy Appointment Maker on the website to help you get the most of one-on-one time with an advisor.
See you soon!!

When is Minimalism too much?

Lower and lower, sleeker and faster, lighter shoes is what we all want.

In my opinion, transitioning to a minimalist shoe for many may be a step too far.

When transitioning to a minimalist shoe ‘form’ should be the first consideration. Do you naturally run as a forefoot striker or a heel striker?

If you are a forefoot striker naturally, ie. without forcing it or thinking about it when you slip off your shoes and run, do you land on the front, outside of your foot as per the diagram below?

Barefoot Forefoot Strike

If this is you, then it should be no bother to you to effect a transition process to a minimal shoe. Depending on where you are starting from we would expect to see this transition period having different durations for each individual.

If, on the other hand, you are more of a midfoot striker or heel striker you have a lot more work to do to achieve a smooth, injury free transition to minimalist shoes.

Barefoot Heel Strike

Transitioning from this position is a much more gradual change as you are having to work on changing your natural form, re-mapping neuromuscular pathways and developing core strength to help stabilise the pelvic area which will become more active during the transitional phases.

Speak to us about this as invariably you will be best advised to rotate between your traditional shoe and minimal shoes more frequently to prevent tweaking connective tissues or causing injury.

The series of images below graphically represent and explain the differences in the loading of the feet during the landing phase and the effect on capturing and releasing kinetic energy on the propulsive phase.

Running Kinematics

Heel Striking

Forefoot Striking

Moment

of

Impact

Hip and knee are flexed.
Ankle is dorsiflexed (toes point up). Ankle is plantarflexed (toes point slightly down). Foot is usually slightly inverted (the sole is angled inwards).
Land on the middle to outside of the heel just below the ankle joint. Land on outside of the forefoot (the ball of the foot, just below the 4th and 5th metatarsal heads).
As you land, the ankle begins to plantarflex (toes move towards the ground). As you land, the ankle begins to dorsiflex (heel moves towards the groud).
Arch of the foot is not loaded. Arch of the foot is loaded and begins to stretch/flatten.
Impact  Foot Flat Barefoot Heel Strike

Barefoot Foot Flat
Barefoot Forefoot Strike

Barefoot Foot Flat
Knee and hip flex.
As the ankle plantarflexes, the forefoot comes down. As the ankle dorsiflexes, the heel comes down under the control of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, which are stretching.
Foot Flat Midstance Barefoot Foot Flat

Barefoot Midstance
Barefoot Foot Flat

Barefoot Midstance
Knee and hip continue to flex.
The ankle dorsiflexes as the lower leg moves forward relative to the foot and the foot everts (rolls inward).
Now that the whole foot is on the ground, the arch begins to stretch/flatten. The arch continues to stretch/flatten.
This combination of eversion, ankle dorsiflexion and arch flattening is called pronation. This combination of eversion, ankle dorsiflexion and arch flattening is called pronation, but occurs in the reverse direction compared to heel striking (from the forefoot to the rearfoot not heel to toe).
Midstance

Toe Off

Barefoot Midstance

Barefoot Toe Off
Barefoot Midstance

Barefoot Toe Off
Ankle plantarflexes bringing the heel off the ground (calf muscles and Achilles tendon now shorten).
Foot’s arch recoils, and the toes flex.
These actions push the body upwards and forwards for the next stride.

Images and table layout from http://barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/4BiomechanicsofFootStrike.html

In transitioning, a natural heel lander has to overcome the tendency to load the arch in a forward motion. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles the best way to naturally change your landing pattern is through a mixture of your ‘normal’ running and some focused efforts at re-teaching your body what natural (forefoot) running form is all about.

Any questions please fire them at me!

Happy running 🙂

Ready to be Vanquished?

On being demoed the Zone3 wetsuit range we were really impressed in Amphibian King with the quality of the materials and the manner in which they had been designed and put together.

I was so impressed that I put my wetsuit from last year up for sale and ordered a Vanquish for my 2013 season and beyond. I’ve still got my original wetsuit which I will continue to use for training and hopefully I will get the benefits of the technically advance Vanquish when racing. (Bit like the wetsuit equivalent of having a training shoe and a racing shoe).

Features include:

  • The Vanquish makes use of some of the World’s highest performance materials and combines these with a thoroughly researched panel design to ensure maximum flexibility and balanced buoyancy.
  • Aerodome neoprene designed with air bubbles built between the fabric layers producing up to 30% more buoyancy than conventional neoprene. Featured on the top of the chest to help aid the essential course sighting when swimming open water and also on the thighs to help support the core leg muscles
  • Buoyancy carefully balanced through the suit to ensure the optimum streamlined swimming position and maximum efficiency through the stroke.
  • Stylish graphite neoprene on the arms and gold and bronze tones for an exclusive look.

 

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Galway-20130503-00950

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You get a Zone3 wetsuit storage bag when you look under the suit. Perfect, ventilated bag for storing your suit between swims with a sturdy shoulder strap for carrying it around.

 

 

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V-shape neck design with built-in moulding which keeps the suit in position at the sides but allows a lower and more comfortable ‘T-shirt’ fit on the front keeping the suit away from the adams-apple

Galway-20130503-00953

Speed Channels on the chest to divert water flow and direct more water on to the legs to increase natural buoyancy and to give a boost with each leg kick.

Galway-20130503-00954

Sensory Catch Panel: Aeroforce fabric is used on the forearms to give an improved feeling and catch in the water. Rather than a traditional rubber fabric, the Vanquish uses a double layer of high performance, water-repellent lycra fabric. This firstly reduces arm fatigue as there is not as much buoyancy resistance during the catch phases of the stroke but also allows the swimmer to improve their efficiency in the water. No water can enter the suit but you will feel the coldness of the water on the forearm panel which helps to align your hand and forearm during the stroke to give more propulsion and also a more natural feeling swim.

Galway-20130503-00955

Designed with an ultra thin one-piece shoulder panel stretching from elbow to elbow. As soon as you put this suit on you can feel the difference! Maximum flexibility meaning you can increase your distance per stroke, conserve energy and minimize any shoulder pain.

Upwards breakaway zip design for even quicker transitions and protection from having your zip pulled down during a race.

Galway-20130503-00956

Pro Speed CuffsTM on the arms and the legs for rapid removal after the swim to ensure the quickest transitions, saving you vital time on any course.

 

I’ve been in for a swim since I got the suit. The fit is brilliant, the quality neoprene ensures that the fit follows your body shape with no gaping and hugs you like a second skin without being constrictive. The first swim was a bit short to actually check out all the benefits of the features, however, the buoyancy was just perfect! Not too much and not too little allowing me to swim through and under breakers without having to fight the buoyancy and having enough to allow me to lift my legs high and ‘body surf’ back into shore.

A more in-depth review will follow as I venture more into the open water.

Stay tuned!!

 

Smokin’ Joe – Ride Fit

This past winter, out of necessity, I became good friends with my turbo trainer.

I’ve found it hard to get time firstly, to get out on the bike and second, the one day you have a chance it’s miserable and just not enjoyable out in the West of Ireland winter.

Searching around and asking pals advice there was a mixture of box sets, movies, Sufferfest, Spinervals, Carmichael Training videos and all sorts of things to do on the turbo to while away time. Initially I found it hard enough to simply motivate myself to get on the darn thing but with a little bit of focus and planning of training sessions it started to come together and I started to ‘enjoy’ a bike session.

Recently I made contact with a company www.ride-fit.com about their training films.

Ride Fit

On first impressions they look good, plenty of information on how to push yourself, good guide on gearing, cadence, effort and turbo settings.

Have a look at the sample video here:

 

I’ve ordered Smokin’ Joe and the plan is to download the file and do a decent workout on Monday evening.

Stay tuned for updates. 

 

 

Progressive Polar

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The beautiful new RC3 Watch with integrated GPS from Polar.

Heart Rate Mentoring – getting fitter.

My trusted Polar RCX5 (with GPS)

One of the things I’ve been wondering about is the actual measure of my fitness improvement over the past season.

I know I’m fitter, but how can I measure this or have it quantified? 

There are a couple of ways of looking at this. The most accurate way of measuring fitness is compare results from Functional Threshold Performance tests (FTP- link goes to Training Peaks) completed on a regular basis.

Joe Friel defines FTP as:  

“Functional threshold power or pace (FTP) is the highest mean average power or pace you can maintain for one hour.”

Power being for cyclists, Pace for runners.

There are a number of ways of determining your Functional Threshold Pace as a runner but in general the advice for a simple, repeatable, non-invasive method is:

“Your Functional Threshold Pace will be the average pace from a recent race or very hard training run of 45-60 minutes in duration.” Again, from Training Peaks. So, just measure / record your pace in a hard training session over 1 hour and average it.

Its easy to do, I just haven’t done it!

This winter I will do regular checks on my measurable fitness by using these recommended tests for both the bike (I have the LOOK Kao Polar Power pedals) and my run. I have a nice 12k route on a quiet road which I’m currently using quite regularly so improvements can be measured. I will also be doing FTP tests for my swimming, possibly with the added benefit of a Garmin Swim watch to help track data (at least until Polar do swim technology!)

I had testing done back in 2007 in Trinity College in the Sport Science department. This was the ‘invasive’ type of testing mentioned above. Pin pricks whilst running increasingly faster tempos on a treadmill wearing a face mask meant that blood lactate levels (lactic acid that appears in the blood as a result of anaerobic metabolism when oxygen delivery to the tissues is insufficient to support normal metabolic demands) were constantly monitored until I went redlining in the anaerobic zone. Results were 14km/hr or HR above 174bpm meant I was ‘redlining’ and a VO2Max of 54ml/kg/min (VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen in millilitres, one can use in one minute per kilogram of body weight. Those who are fit have higher VO2max values and can exercise more intensely than those who are not as well conditioned.)

This test is far too old for me to use as a measure anyway.

Unfortunately, all I can give as a measure of fitness improvement is anecdotal evidence of comparing last years ‘apples’ with this year’s ‘apples’.

This year has been a consistent year of training and as you may know, I’m now in a build phase for targeting Dublin City Marathon in 6 weeks.

What have I done?

Polar Personal Trainer has a built in training program which synchronises with my Polar RCX5 watch. Every session I complete of the plan is measured by the website and based on training load and results I am assessed as:

Green
You are recovered and ready to train more. If you’re continuously in green, increase your cumulative training load. You can either add more training sessions to your weekly plan or make the training sessions more intensive. This will help you improve your performance faster. Intensive training sessions and races should preferably be done when you are “in green”.

Yellow
You are not fully recovered from your previous training sessions. Your cumulative training load is on a high level. You can still train but should avoid high intensity training and/or races.

Red
You have not recovered. Your cumulative training load is on a very high level. If you continue training when “in red”, it may lead to a state of overreaching.

These little flags are shown above each days activity and taking my activity from this time last year you can see based on cumulative from pre 19th Sept by the end of my session on 20th Sept I am ‘red flagged’. I skip the session on 21st and by the weekend I’m recovered and run the LSR (Long Slow Run) on 25th, again end of day I’m ‘red flagged’

This pattern continued through Dublin Marathon 2011 and I suffered some niggling injuries through this period (over training) which threatened my race.

2012 I focused fully on working with the endurance training plans set by Polar Personal Trainer and every now and then the program would increase the intensity of the plan based on the previous set of results. Just once this year, in the middle of racing season, it moved me down a level as I wasn’t hitting the targets. Program reckoned it was pushing me too hard!!

Sticking with the program (in the absence of further scientific proof) I am now comparing  roughly the same period this year with last year.

See the difference?

No ‘red flags’. That’s the first indicator to me.

Now you’re missing the distances from the 15th ‘Long Pr…’ but that is the Long Progression Run from Saturday just gone (link to Blog post). Despite a jump in volume way outside the recommended 10%  per week, my aerobic improvements over the year mean my training load is more evenly balanced & placing less stress on my recovery process.

Just to give comparison I’ve pulled the data on the LSR run from 25th September 2011 and setting the summary lines next to each other the comparative differences are quite apparent:

25th September 2011

15th September 2012

Distance of both runs is roughly the same. To my mind the glaring indication of hugely improved fitness it the efficiency of the running. 

  • My average pace has improved 1:11 mins/km
  • I can sustain a higher HR Average for longer.
  • I now consume less calories in a higher intensity effort (HR) over the same distance.

Happy Days!!




LOOK Polar Power !

It’s been a while.


I’ve been busy with work, family and getting fitter since I last updated this. Part of my getting fitter plan has been to train smarter and make proper use of the tools that are available to me.

Last season I made great progress in my swim, this year the plan is to make a significant dent in my bike weaknesses. To do this I have to first work out what my strengths and weaknesses are. I don’t think there is a point in just knowing what these are; I know I’m not a good climber, I know I’m not a great sprinter, I’m OK at time trialling, I’m OK at long events; I want to clearly identify where? what? and why? I’m strong or weak and to work on how to make changes.


Enter the Look Keo Power.

Why not SRAM, Powertap, Garmin Vector? 

I’m a Polar man. Polar has never let me down. Everything they have done, is done right. Yes, they had a Power Meter a few years ago that didn’t get great reviews. (It worked on harmonics from chain vibrations, I believe) but I think people mis-understand the purpose, it was an attainable power meter to help ‘casual’ cyclists become better cyclists. It wasn’t a Pro piece of kit and wasn’t priced as such.


Anyway, I’ve ordered and received the first Look Keo power pedals in Ireland despite all the naysayers (Garmin fans). Next is to fit them and start working with them.


Can’t wait!!