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  • Reply to: NC, a Hotbed of Olympic Speedskating   1 day 1 hour ago

    This is so good to see. Great article. Thanks for posting about it. I like these bits:

    "The transition to blades is difficult because of the different mechanics involved. Griffin said it’s taken him six years to feel good on ice.

    "This is a sport that’s so unorthodox and so unnatural as far as body position," he said. "The physics of the sport that allow you to go fast just aren’t things that the body naturally wants to do. I think it takes most people no less than 5-6 years to be like really good."

    I wonder if he means ice or inline? Perhaps he means speed skating in general. 

     

    I love this:

    "Thirteen inline skaters have won 11 of 18 individual Olympic long track medals for the U.S. since 2002."

    Although I'm trying to figure out what that means. 

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  • Reply to: Heart Rate Monitors, Fitness Trackers, Garmin Vivosmart HR & Fitbit Charge HR   1 day 16 hours ago

    Answering some of your questions... Both the Vivosmart HR and the Charge HR spec battery charge as 5 days and that seems realistic to me. I just charge them both on Sunday and Wednesday nights because that's the easiest way to remember when I did it last. I don't time it but it seems like one hour is enough to get them back to fully charged.

    Each device has a dedicated USB charging cable, which is OK for me since I always charge in the same place but might be problematic for folks who are on the road a lot, one more thing to remember to pack and not leave some place along the way. But I understand that standard USB socket designs aren't so great for minimal-size wearable devices or weather resistance.

    On both units, the power connections are on the back, so you have to take them off for charging. There's no avoiding it and no consequences other than not recording data during that interval. It makes sense to do it while you're taking a shower or doing anything where not much interesting will happen.

    The electrical energy cost of step tracking should be very low. The Nike+ Fuel band and the original Fitbit band device did that (and only that) with some pretty tiny batteries. I'm not sure, but the big power hit from GPS usage might come mostly from the heavy-duty math it takes to derive position and velocity from the raw radio data received from several satellites. Step tracking is a lot easier to do than that.

    You've asked me before about waterproof-ness of them. The Garmin is listed as waterproof while Fitbit only claims that the Charge HR is weather-resistant. The popular opinion is that Fitbit is being conservative there. The Vivosmart's touch-screen interface can be troublesome in wet conditions (as it was this morning when it was merely muggy, not raining yet) but that's the only issue I've noticed with either of them, having run in the rain with both many times.

    Both units pair with their matching phone app and need to be synced regularly to transfer data to the wider world. For the Vivosmart HR, the Garmin Connect app is used and data is immediately uploaded to the Garmin Connect website. For the Charge HR, the Fitbit app and website do the same. The Garmin Connect website has good facilities for exporting workout data to other tracking services. Fitbit is clumsier about that, but I was eventually able to export a .tcx file for a workout that Strava would read and accept. Strava accounts can also be linked to either device, though I haven't tried that yet. I see that both Garmin and Fitbit appear in the list of watches and sensors integrated with Endomondo.

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  • Reply to: Crowd-Sourced Color Names by XKCD   3 days 10 hours ago

    Yes among adults, but the young can often be embarrassed by the young they're photographed next to at the prom. But thanks for thinking "giddiness." I'll take it!

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  • Reply to: Heart Rate Monitors, Fitness Trackers, Garmin Vivosmart HR & Fitbit Charge HR   3 days 11 hours ago

    Wow. Great info where I can go look it up instead of asking every week (which I'll likely still do). Sounds like they're both worthy in their own ways. It's especially good since I know from regular dinners and some exercise that you've done a side-by-side wrist-by-wrist comparison.

    One question I had is when you tend to charge the units, how long that takes, and how that affects the data you're getting from them. 

    Another is if the Garmin Vivosmart HR and Fitbit Charge HR have ways to link up with Garmin Connect. Not homework if you don't already know. I can research it and I'm sure DCRainmaker deals with that and more. 

    I think you're using a phone when you want to track distance and time together, along with an online service. When I don't have my Garmin Forerunner 310xt, and sometimes when I do, I use my LG X Power android phone with Endomondo's free app. I kind of like it calling out each mile, especially since my laps automatically logged by the 310xt (a great feature!) are 1.64ish miles each. Endomondo seems OK and the workouts I miss by not having the 310xt can be "credited" this way by transferring to Garmin Connect. 

    It sounds like the fitbit sleep and activity tracking might really teach me something about my sleep and maybe even give me a good way to track issues with getting up to use the rest room and such, which can be good to track for various health reasons.

    I have an LG G Watch W100 that has Google Fit and tracks steps. I've not really used it because I have the perception that it reduces battery life.

    I have a great weather app that shows the current weather and the weather forecast on a 24 hour circular dial, so I don't tend to use other apps that track steps. The other reason I don't tend to use the LG G Watch W100 for tracking steps, etc., is that I don't wear it every day and it needs to be charged most days it is used. Not sure that makes sense, but it's my perception. Maybe I'll try it some, or look to see if it's been tracking!

    The link to my favorite Android Wear watch face is https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.marscity.sunlight&hl=en. The current weather is shown on the dial, and in the ring around that, the next 24 hours' forecast is visible. It shows sunrise/sunset, and if the ring is yellow for daytime, blue for night, it'll be clear; else grey/gray indicates cloudy. The thickness of the ring indicates how warm or cool it will be. Sweet! 

    There's an alarm clock app that I use for Android that tracks sleep. I use the free version. It's called Sleep as Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.urbandroid.sleep&hl=en. I think the paid version would be well worth it were I going to track sleep and interruptions without wearing a fitbit or Vivosmart or similar. 

    Thanks for the info! I bet this will help some people, including me and eebee as well. 

    Hopefully some of the Fenix fans on here will contribute at some point. They're seriously into that.

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  • Reply to: Crowd-Sourced Color Names by XKCD   4 days 11 hours ago
    Tux

    "Definitely-silly-non-tuxedo-looking-tuxedo" could have been one of the answers submitted in the xkcd color names survey.

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  • Reply to: Heart Rate Monitors, Fitness Trackers, Garmin Vivosmart HR & Fitbit Charge HR   4 days 11 hours ago

    Ok, ok, ... You've dropped a few suggestions that I should review the fitness monitors I bought at the end of last summer, and I hadn't taken the hint so far. The thing about it is that after six months with a Garmin Vivosmart HR on one wrist and a Fitbit Charge HR on the other, I'm still making up my mind about what I think about them. People who can wear one of them for a week or two and then write a 3000 word review must be a lot smarter than me.

    The backstory for why I'm wearing two very similar fitness monitors: Both were well recommended, and when I saw the prices I could get them for (under $60 for a refurbished Garmin, under $30 for a decent used Fitbit--less combined than the new retail price of either one alone) it wasn't worth spending more time deciding which one to pick. Besides, I figured I'd likely learn more if I had both of them to compare.

    Bottom line: As the reviewers say, both of them are very usable. Here is one comparison that I didn't write. Here is another one. Here is yet another. I have no big disagreements with any of them. Both work decently well as heart rate monitors although not as well as my (very old now) chest-strap HRM. Both are comfortable and yes the watch-style buckle on the band is definitely the way to go. And I can confirm what the reviewers say about them not doing well at tracking sudden heart rate changes, as in interval workouts, either while increasing during efforts or decreasing during recoveries. One or the other of them also might get confused and go walkabout for a minute or so at any time no matter what I'm doing. Realistically, they only work so well, but most of the time they work well enough.

    The best thing about the Fitbit Charge HR is automatic activity detection. The Garmin needs to be told when an activity starts and ends and what type of activity it is while the Fitbit does a respectable job figuring that out on its own. (It doesn't have a profile for skating though. It's usually recognized as walking and each skating stride is counted as a step, which isn't particularly useful be honest.) Garmin has something called Move IQ that detects activities in tracker data, but as it stands now Move IQ activities always remain as second-rate entities that can't be promoted to the main list of activities and that lack the heart rate and pace charts of logged activities.

    The Fitbit is also a better sleep tracker for me than the Garmin, as it recognizes sleep any time of the day while the Garmin only looks for sleep events that overlap the sleep hours it's been given. For those of us who sometimes take significant naps at odd hours, that's a very important feature. And I'll add that I learned from using these devices that I needed to focus on getting sleep a lot more than I had been doing. It's very easy to go around being sleep-deprived all the time and not know it, which doesn't help much with anything.

    The best things about the Garmin are the average resting heart rate display on the watch itself and the last-4-hours graphic heart rate display. I check these quite often. The websites for both Fitbit and Garmin have day-by-day resting heart rate charts (and they often show surprisingly different values, which I find curious) but that's a backwards-looking indicator. The on-watch Garmin resting heart rate value seems to be the best indicator of my current fitness and state of recovery from moment to moment.

    The most immediately obvious difference between them is the large e-ink display of the Garmin versus the small OLED readout on the Fitbit. Because e-ink doesn't need power to display a static image, the Garmin shows something on its screen all the time while the Fitbit blanks its screen after a few seconds to conserve battery charge. In principle, you can just glance down at the Garmin to check the current reading whenever you want. In practice though, you often need to swipe between data screens to get to the one that shows the information you want. The Fitbit activates its display when it detects the stereotypical twist-of-the-wrist checking-your-watch movement, and data items (time, steps, heart rate, distance, etc) are stepped through by just tapping on the watch. In rainy or hot sweaty weather, swiping the Garmin's capacitive-touch screen with a wet finger can be frustrating and sometimes has no effect while tapping on the Fitbit is always reliable. Also, a wet jacket sleeve rubbing on the Garmin screen occasionally "feels" enough like a finger to trigger spurious touch events, which can cause a variety of kinds of mayhem.

    There are big differences between the phone apps and websites for each brand of device, a subject that's covered well by the many online reviews. I don't have much to say except that it all works well enough for me in its own way and for me none of that business would be a deciding factor.

    Overall, I find them at least as valuable for round-the-clock fitness monitoring as for workout tracking. Neither one lets me take manual time splits, something I care a lot about during workouts, so I'll end up bring along a trusty Timex Ironman too during any serious activities. Both brands offer similar models that also include a GPS receiver, and I don't know how much it would change things if that was part of the package. If I had to choose between them now, I'd probably pick the Fitbit Charge HR, mainly because as a discontinued model the used-market price is crazy low. But I still wear both of them and each one has features that I use and like.

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  • Reply to: Crowd-Sourced Color Names by XKCD   6 days 12 hours ago

    ...Is the name of the emotional support peacock who was banned from a flight recently. 

    I'm sure your prom date would have been blushing with giddiness. The young can pretty much get away with wearing anything.

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  • Reply to: Crowd-Sourced Color Names by XKCD   1 week 16 hours ago

    In the late 70s, were a male either brave or stupid enough, and not wanting to wear a definitely-silly-non-tuxedo-looking-tuxedo, one could wear a peach-hued (three-piece, even) Stanley Blacker suit to a high school prom. I ain't namin' names, but even if the suit brought out the color in the young lady's dress, it may have also brought out a rosy color in her face from embarrassment to stand next to this peacock. We'll never really know. :o)

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  • Reply to: Sound Doll/Bran Doll   1 week 18 hours ago

    Oh yeah, I meant North Carolina licence tags. Oops. There were some Eagles and Rolling Stones albums that were pretty disco, to my chagrin. Though some came out OK. Yes I think ABBA is popular today for their not being stuck in one groove, for attempting and succeeding at lyrics, for their quirky composition of personalities and looks, and of course because some people associate them with the good young carefree days. Dunno. They seemed to have fun and were serious about writing and performing, but not so serious that they thought they were to good to be poked fun at or to poke fun at themselves.

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  • Reply to: 2018 USA Olympic Long Track Speed Skaters and Social Media Links   1 week 18 hours ago

    Good stuff. Always interesting to hear theories of performance. 

    The paragraph from scienceofrunning.com on David Krummenacker is interesting. He had changed coaches and the focus went from endurance/aerobic to high intensity :

    When he improved by so much, the assumption was that it was entirely the new training, which obviously played a large role. However, it was probably the combination of the larger aerobic base combined with a decrease in mileage and increase in intensity that did the trick. After several years, his aerobic base was gone, and performances declined.

    This fits with my experience. One year, eebee and I actually did scheduled intervals through the summer. We didn't necessarily enjoy it, of course, and we were not so sure we were doing it "right." In fact, eebee would probably say she never felt she could do those really short intervals. But my memory of that year is that we did much better on all the hilly 30 to 87 mile events we did. We used the interval schemes put forth in Barry Publow's Speed on Skates, page 167. This book is old by now (published in 1999, and it'd be great to get an update on the science part of the book), but still has a lot of information and drills and a good discussion of training, heart rate, vo2max, anaerobic threshold, and more. 

    Data from my year where I make these vague claims of how much it helped? No. But I recall we were strong on the hills and I credit that with adding intervals, plus lots of training rides on skates in the company of recreational cyclists. I think intervals also helped reduce my tendency to cramp. I always say the cure for cramping is training. I don't know if it needs to be intervals, aerobic endurance, or both. I lean toward the latter.

    But if anyone wants other people's data, this is far better...the source material for the excellent scienceofrunning.com post.

    https://beaconhillstriders.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Renato-Canova-Development-of-Strengthy-Endurance.pdf

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