A Few Days with My New Apple Watch

The news of me having an Apple Watch might surprise some of you because I’ve been a big fan of Fitbit for almost five years now. I’ve owned five different models of Fitbit in that time. Well on Monday, my new Apple Watch Nike + Series 4 arrived. I still love the Fitbit app and will likely continue to use it for tracking water and body weight at least for the immediate future.

IMG_0099Why the switch? I am so ingrained to Apple products is the main reason. I have a MacBook Pro, iPad Pro and iPad, iPhone XS Max, there are three Apple TV’s in my house and I subscribe to Apple Music. Trying to upload music to my Fitbit Ionic was a slow painful process so I gave up on it. I could use Spotify or Deezer music streaming services and I did use Spotify for a while, but why pay another streaming service when Apple Music has everything I’d want to hear? Fitbit doesn’t support Apple Music (or the other way around).

Another reason is I’m tired of carrying my iPhone around with me on my runs. My Apple Watch has GPS and Cellular so I can still have my running route tracked, send and receive messages and make phone calls without having my phone with me. Very important for me, easy access to Apple Music, Apple Radio, and most of my most important apps are all available on my wrist plus Audible audiobooks and Podcasts. The downside of not carrying my phone is no camera is available. There will be times when I’ll still run with my iPhone but only because I intend to take photos along the way.

It’s still a little early for me to decide how I feel about the switch from Fitbit to the Apple Watch but I thought I’d at least share some of my early impressions. The paragraph above already mentions a few of my likes about the Apple Watch. I’m finding I’m already picking up my iPad or iPhone much less often now that I have the Watch. For certain, the Watch can’t replace them and you can’t even use the Watch without an iPhone but the need to grab my iPhone or iPad happens much less frequently.

So far my focus has been on activity tracking and health. The Nike + Apple Watch has Nike Run Club built in, then you have the Workout, Health, Activity, and the Breathe health related apps. Overall, they are OK. I still like the Fitbit app better. To me, Fitbit is better integrated. The sleep tracking in the new Apple Watch is OK but not as good as the Fitbit. I even bought a third party Apple Watch app called, “AutoSleep” and it still doesn’t compare to the Fitbit’s reporting of your sleep. I prefer “Calm”, a third party mindfulness app over Breathe. To take full advantage of “Calm” you need to buy an annual subscription though.

The Nike Run Club is pretty nice. The Guided Runs feature is something I will use fairly often. The “My Coach” feature that is a part of the iPhone app isn’t in the Watch version but I’m Ok with that. For the past six weeks or so I’ve been using the “My Coach” feature but for the couple of weeks I’ve just about stopped using it. Not that it’s necessarily a bad feature but for me personally, it’s too focused on running pace.

My biggest beef about the Nike Run Club app (iPhone & Watch) is not having the ability for manual split times or the ability to change auto splits to something other than one mile. Another aggravation is if your last split doesn’t equal one mile, your split time for the segment isn’t shown. I still want to know my pace even for distances shorter than one mile. A minor complaint I have with the NRC app is when you have music playing during a guided run its sometimes hard to hear the coaches guidance–especially when you have vehicles going by. There should be a way to adjust the coaches volume over the music.

I have the 44mm version and I find reading the display on the Watch is fine. My version of the Nike + Watch comes with the Nike Sport Loop. At first, I thought the band was a little too small and I had a hard time getting it on and off of my hand. It didn’t take long for me to realize the Sports Loop is elastic and stretches some. The Sports Loop is very comfortable, easy to adjust the wrist size and has reflective material woven into the band which is a plus too. It will be interesting to learn the duribility of the Sport Loop. Removing the Sport Loop is easy. Just press a small button on the back side of the Watch and slide the end of the band out. To replace just slide the band back in until it locks in.

Conclusion:

Overall, I’ve very happy with the Apple Watch. I do feel like I’ve had to make a few compromises compared to the features of the Fitbit and Fitbit app but for me the advantages of the Apple Watch outweigh the disadvantages.

I’ll probably report back more thoughts about the Apple Watch and my switch from Fitbit in the months ahead. I’m sure my opinions will change some as I get more familiar with the Watch. Have any of you switched from Fitbit to Apple Watch? Have you upgraded from an older model of the Apple Watch to the Series 4? If you have done either, what do think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Week Five: A Slow Start

This is the week my new iPhone Xs Max was scheduled to arrive. When it shipped I had a delivery date of Friday but at the last-minute I got a notice it would arrive on Monday. That kept me in the house because I had to sign for it. It would be my luck that UPS would show up early and I’d miss them while I was out running. He didn’t show up until after 2 P.M. but I had no way to know. Tuesday was already planned as a rest day because I had a bunch of stuff to take care of and I needed to get an early start.

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I look like I’m in pain! LOL!

It was Wednesday before I got out to pound the pavement. I started out with intervals: 3 minute run + 2 minute walk, 5 minute run + 3 minute walk x 2, 3 minute run +2 minute walk. Once that was out-of-the-way I ran three miles. Another post CABG milestone making it to 3 miles. Add the intervals it was probably more like five miles. My goal was to run the three miles at a 12 minute per mile pace but with the hills along the way 13:43 pace was the best I could do. And, it was pretty warm out too.

Thursday was just a short 1.25 mile run at an 11:05 per mile pace. That’s pretty fast for me right now. I was just going for under a 12 minute per mile pace. You know, I typically don’t worry about my pace and just run the way I feel. Using the Nike app has got me keeping track of my pace more. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad–just an observation. After the short run I headed over to Anytime Fitness to do some strength training.

When I got up on Friday I was a bit sore and unsure if I’d workout or not. In the end I decided to take a rest day. I turned on the TV to watch the Ryder Cup and I didn’t move much after that!

Saturday was a short workout. Intervals again. Almost exactly like Wednesday except the 5 minute runs ended with a 2 minute walk instead of 3 minutes. My split times were very consistent. The first split was a 10:37 pace, the next two were 10:40 pace and the last split was a little slower at 11:08. The last split had a little more incline that the other three. More Ryder Cup and college football on the TV was the main goal for the day.

I’m writing this on Sunday while watching USA getting stomped by the Europeans in the Ryder Cup. It’s starting to get painful to watch. I plan to head over to Anytime Fitness to get on the rowing machine at some point today. I feel like I should be working out a little more often but I’m still making forward progress every week. Guess I shouldn’t complain.

Monday, September 24th
Rest

Tuesday, September 25th
Rest

Wednesday, September 26th
Intervals:
3 minute run + 2 minute walk
5 minute run + 3 minute walk x 2
3 minute run +2 minute walk

3 mile run: 13:43 per mile pace

Thursday, September 27th
1.25 mile run: 11:05 pace

Strength training

Friday, September 28th
Rest

Saturday, September 29th
Intervals:
3 minute run + 2 minute walk
5 minute run + 2 minute walk x 2
3 minute run +2 minute walk

10K Training and Almost a 5K Run

IMG_4493I did try to run a 5K race on Saturday but I came up short because the route wasn’t 5K. My Fitbit measured only 2.2 miles. It was a low-budget race. No bibs, no clocks, timing chips, etc. There was portion of the route you were supposed to run twice but very few understood that part. Oh well, I ran 2.2 miles and that’s the furthest I’ve gone since my bypass surgery and I got to run somewhere new. The route was hilly. My Fitbit showed 147 feet of elevation. I was hoping to average under a 12 minute per mile pace but with the terrain it ended up being a 13:22 pace.

Ok, that’s pretty much how the week ended so now let me tell you how it started. The week started with interval training. 1.5 minute run + 1.5 minute walk, 2.5 minute run + 2.5 minute walk x 2, 1.5 minute run + 1.5 minute walk. I’ve decided not to worry much about the split times. While I’m not running steep graded hills, they do have an impact on the times. Now I’m just focusing more on the level of effort. I finished with some weight training.

Tuesday was a benchmark run with the Nike Run Club app. After the run, I continued walking until I hit 5 miles.

Wednesday I started with a one mile warm-up before my intervals. The intervals were a repeat of Monday’s training. I had some things to take care of in the morning so I skipped by weight training. I took the day off on Thursday because I had a few appointments in the morning.

Friday started with a 1.5 mile run. My goal was to finish at an 11:48 per mile pace. I was close. I finished at a 11:49 per mile pace. Also, this makes the longest continuous run since before my bypass surgery. Next, interval training again but this time the intervals were: 2 minute run + 2 minute walk, 3 minute run + 3 minute walk x 2; 2 minute run + 2 minute walk.

Saturday was the 5K run that wasn’t but after the run I went to the gym to do some weight training.

Sunday isn’t over yet but I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Either take the day off or go to the gym for 30 minutes on the rowing machine.

Training Recap

Monday, September 10:
1.5 minute run + 1.5 minute walk, 2.5 minute run + 2.5 minute walk x 2, 1.5 minute run + 1.5 minute walk

Strength training at Anytime Fitness.

Tuesday, September 11:
15 minute benchmark run using the Nike Run + app.

Walk for 5 miles (counting run).

Wednesday, September 12:
One mile warm-up run at 11:21 per mile pace.

1.5 minute run + 1.5 minute walk, 2.5 minute run + 2.5 minute walk x 2, 1.5 minute run + 1.5 minute walk

Thursday, September 13:
Rest day.

Friday, September 14:
1.5 mile warm-up run at a 11:49 per mile pace.

2 minute run + 2 minute walk, 3 minute run + 3 minute walk x 2; 2 minute run + 2 minute walk.

Saturday, September 15:
5K Race

Weight training at the gym.

Sunday, September 16:
? I haven’t decided what to do. Maybe go to the gym for 30 minutes on the rowing machine or just call it a rest day. I’m leaning towards calling it a rest day. What do you think?

Week Two: 10K Training

IMG_4483Monday started with a .75 mile tempo run. The goal was to finish in 10:05 but I came up a little short. My finish time was 10:13. Still pretty good especially considering the last quarter of a mile was slightly uphill. After the tempo run it was intervals. 1.5 minute run + 2 minute walk x 4 and 1 minute run + 1 minute walk x 2. Then I finished the workout at the gym lifting lighter weight than last week but did 20 reps x 3 instead of 10 reps.

Tuesday was a nice 3.97 mile walk and then some bodyweight core strengthing exercises.

Wednesday started with a half mile warmup at about a 10:55 per mile pace then the interval set from Monday was repeated. My split times are becoming a little more consistent but I still need some work in that area. I had intended to go to the gym after my run but I couldn’t work it into my schedule.

Thursday I did my first speed work session. I’ve never liked speed work and I can honestly say that hasn’t changed. I did 4 x 400 meters. The goal was to average a 9:25 per mile pace. I did it with a 9:18 pace. My split times were very inconsistent. Each split got a little slower and the last 400 meters came in at over 10 minutes per mile pace. I was sucking wind on that last one! After this short but intense workout I headed to the gym for the weight training I missed yesterday.

Friday was intervals using the Fitness22 10K Runner app. 1.5 minute run + 2 minute walk x 6. While not perfect, my split times for were a even more consistent than on Wednesday. I’m starting to feel a little more like a runner now. Not quite there yet, but I’m making progress. Afterwards, I should have done some core strengthing but I blew it off.

Saturday was a rest day. It’s college football season so my focus on Saturday is watching football. The Dawgs of Georgia beat South Carolina 41-17 so it was a good day for me. Drank too much beer and ate too much food but hey, once in a while you gotta let loose a little.

Sunday was a Nike+ Run Club app benchmark run. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong or its just the way the app works but once I’m done, I don’t have the split time to know how fast I ran during the 3 minute benchmark. Anyone out there have any advice? After the benchmark run I went to Anytime Fitness and rode a stationary bike for 40 minutes. I haven’t been on a bike in a while and my butt hurt a little once I finished. I may have to wear my cycling shorts the next time.

Training Recap

Monday, September 3:
Tempo run at 10:12 per mile pace.

1.5 minute run + 2 minute walk x 4 and 1 minute run + 1 minute walk x 2.

Strength training at Anytime Fitness.

Tuesday, September 4:
Walk 3.97 miles and bodyweight core strength training.

Wednesday, September 5:
Half mile warmup at a 10:55 per mile pace.

1.5 minute run + 2 minute walk x 4 and 1 minute run + 1 minute walk x 2

Thursday, September 6:
Speed work: 4 x 400 meters. Averaged a 9:18 per mile pace but each 400 meters got slower and slower.

Weight training at the gym.

Friday, September 7:
1.5 minute run + 2 minute walk x 6. Running split times were: 9:56, 8:28, 10:02, 9:22, 8:51, 10:01. The splits times over ten minutes per mile pace had hills.

Saturday, September 8:
Rest day.

Sunday, September 9:
3 minute benchmark run and then 40 minutes on the stationary bike.

The First Week Back to Running

IMG_4421My first official week of training for a race since the first of the year. I had to scratch my training and running in the Indy Mini Marathon because of the heart issues but now I’m no longer on the mend and looking forward to running again.

I know it will be a slow start. Not quite, but almost like starting all over. I realize the importance of including strength training into my workout routines now so the time and effort is going to increase as well. That’s Ok. I’ve got the time now that I don’t have to go to a real job anymore!

By Wednesday I was so stinking sore! Sitting down or getting up really hurt. It could be from the running but I think it’s mostly from the weight training and the bodyweight core workouts. I haven’t done any core workouts in a long time and I’m going from one set of each weight machine to three sets. That third set is sometimes a struggle. For someone that has no butt, I sure can feel mine now!

On Thursday I ran my first full mile since March 18th of this year. It was supposed to be an easy 12 minute a mile pace but it ended up as a 11:42 pace and none of it was easy. But I did it! My first running milestone after triple bypass surgery so I’m very happy about that.

Friday was an easy four mile walk day.

On Saturday I woke up really early–3:30 in the morning. I tried going back to sleep but after over an hour of tossing and turning I went ahead and got up. Decided to surf the net for a while and then I realized it was the first day of registration for the Jingle Jam 10K on December 1st. So… I just signed up for my first race after bypass surgery!

Training was pretty much a repeat of Wednesday except I flip flopped the half mile recovery run and changed it to a half mile warmup run.

All in all I think it was a pretty good start.

Training Recap

Monday, August 27:
Three minute benchmark run using the Nike+ Run Club app.

1 minute run/1.5 minute walk x 6 using the Fitness22 10K Runner app.

Strength training at Anytime Fitness.

Tuesday, August 28:
Walk 2.67 miles and bodyweight core strength training.

Wednesday, August 29:
1 Minute Run + 1.5 Minute Walk x 8

I got the split times today!

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The odd number splits are the runs, the even numbers the walks. The first split was slower I’m sure because of the soreness in my legs and it took some time to loosen up. Split 11 was slow because it was all uphill. Split 15 was mostly uphill. I have to say I’m very surprised about the split times. Much faster than I expected for sure.

Half Mile Recovery Run
I tried to keep the pace at about 11:45 per mile pace. It ended up being a 11:34 pace.

Strength training at the gym.

Thursday, August 30:
Ran 1 mile and bodyweight core strength training. Milestone: 1st mile running since before triple bypass. Pace for the mile was 11:42.

Bodyweight core strength training.

Friday, August 31:
Easy four mile walk.

Saturday, September 1:
Half Mile Warmup Run

1 Minute Run + 1.5 Minute Walk x 8

Split times were:

IMG_4477

Split 11 kicked my butt. Split 13 and 15 were both slightly uphill and after split 11 I never really fully recovered.

Sunday, September 2:
Rest day.

10K Training Starts Now!

Just 94 days ago I had my chest ripped apart and had three arteries added to bypass blockages to my heart using a vein in my right leg. Kinda gross when you think about it that way but that’s the real truth of coronary artery bypass surgery.

IMG_4419Today I probably did my last 5 mile walk for a while. Now its time to starting training for a 10K race in early December. During my walk today I mixed in a half mile run with an average pace of 11:34 per mile. The walk was a little over five miles so once I hit five miles I ran to the finish. I ran .29 miles at a 9:28 per mile pace. I think I’m ready to get serious about running now.

On Friday I joined the Anytime Fitness gym located in Riverwood Plantation in Evans, GA. The recovery from triple bypass made me realize I’ve got to pay attention to strength training and not just running. I’ve neglected my strength, especially my upper body for far too long. Using the weight machines at Cardiac Rehab have made a huge improvement in my recovery. Quite a bit of the aches and pains from surgery are gone now. I still have a few quirky pains and some nerve endings that are a bit touchy but I’ve come a long way in the past four weeks. So yes, the focus will be on more than just running.

I’m looking at my 10K training as if I’ve never ran in my life. For the first few weeks I’m going to use the 10K Runner app from Fitness22 and the Nike+ Run Club app. I’m going to try to merge the two programs together at least for a few weeks, maybe a few months. Once the mileage goes up I’ll have to decide which app to let go. I’ve used several of the fitness apps from Fitness22 and I really like them but, I think they are little overpriced.

I plan to visit the gym three times a week for strength training and on my own at home work on a series of exercises to strengthen my abs and core. My my non-running days I still plan to do a 2-3 mile walk on those days. I hope I’m not overdoing it here. I think I can manage it. Now that I’m retired I have more free time.

I’d say the first thing I need to start doing is to get busy and focused on working out just as soon as I wake up. I’m a morning person for sure. Since surgery I’ve been getting up leisurely, not worrying about the time too much. Drink coffee, eat, read some, surf the net, whatever. The problem is the next thing I know its going on 9 a.m. and I really haven’t done much. Today for example, it was 69 degrees out when I got up at 6 a.m. By the time I got out for my walk it was around 9:45 and the temperature was 75 degrees. For Georgia at this time of year that’s still pretty nice but by the time I finished it was 88 degrees. Honestly, there was no reason I couldn’t have had my five-mile walk out-of-the-way before 9 a.m. Gotta work on that one.

Ok Jingle Jam 10K, registration starts around Labor Day and I plan to be one of the first to sign up. I just hope I’m ready for you in December!

14,741,053 Steps Ago…

14,732,406 steps ago was June 21st, 2013. That’s the day I wore my Fitbit activity tracker for the first time. All those steps add up to a distance of over 8,295 miles or an average of 7.5 miles per day.

The three years prior to 2013 I was busy prepping a house to sell. Selling that house. Building a new house and then moving in and settling in to the new house. I gained weight, stopped exercising and by June of 2013 I was taking two blood pressure medications and weighed about 245 pounds. I knew something had to be done and putting on my Fitbit Flex was the start.

It began by just walking. On most days I walked at least five miles. Once I worked my way up to walking 60-90 minutes each session I started thinking if I can walk six or seven miles surely I can run one mile.

So that’s what I did, I went out on my usual walk but somewhere along the way I would start running and run for approximately one mile. I was very slow and yet I still felt like I was going to die. But I stuck with it. One mile became two miles then two miles became 5K. By December I could run 10K. Barely! But I could do it and I ran in my first 10K race in about twenty years. My finish time was around and hour and fifteen minutes but I finished and I felt like that was quite an accomplishment.

Since then I’ve ran in quite a few 10K races, a few 5K races and in April of this year I ran in a half marathon. Since June of 2013 I’ve lost about 30 pounds and no longer take any blood pressure meds. My resting heart rate is well below 60 beats per minute. I still would like to lose about twenty more pounds. Not sure if I’ll ever get there but I’m working on it. My running progress is slow and steady. I’m getting faster and running further. This too is a work in progress.

I’m about six weeks away from the 60th birthday and feel better then ever. Let me tell you something. If I can make this kind of progress so can you. It just takes a little discipline, dedication and a whole lot of determination. And patience! You have to be patient.

Take it one day at a time. Take it slow and continue to make steady progress. I see it all the time and on occasion I’ve been guilty of it myself. Trying to push your progress too quickly will only result in burnout or worse yet injury. The key for me is to go out with a duration of activity in mind. Let speed and distance take care of themselves. Somedays are better than others. My mile splits can vary more than two minute per mile from one day to the next. I just accept it. Three years and I’m injury free. Yes, I’ve had a few aches and pains but nothing serious. Nothing that stopped me from continuing on. For me, by just going out for a specific duration has taken a lot of pressure off. If my goal is a 45 minutes and I run at least 45 minutes then it’s a successful workout.

Who knows where I’ll be by this time next year but that’s part of the adventure. I know if I stay determined I will make progress. I’m not special. If I can do it–so can you.