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.

Keeping a Flexible Schedule

IMG_0081Maybe you’ve noticed my workout routines vary every week. Sure, the activities don’t change much but the day, duration, intensity of each week varies. I’m a type A person and plan everything but I also try not to be a slave of my schedule. I guess you need discipline as well because without it blowing off an entire week of workouts would be pretty easy to do. What I’m saying is, have a plan, have the disipline to stick to it but be flexible enough change it up a bit. Especially, if you are tired, sore or ache. You have to listen to your body. Sometimes a workout day becomes a day of rest and a day of rest sometimes becomes a workout day.

The past two weeks have been very busy. I’m the president of our homeowners association and it’s been a bit overwhelming lately. Life forced me into changing my schedule a bit. I did get out at least three times both weeks to do some running but they were a little shorter than I had planned. I didn’t get to the gym much either. Hurricane Michael had a bit of an impact as well. By the time it got to us it was a tropical storm with sustained winds of around 30-35 mph with gusts close to 50 mph. No damage at my house thankfully. Walking and running around the neighborhood on Friday I did see several large limbs down in a few places. I played golf on Saturday–which meant no running or gym time that day either. I saw quite a few large limbs down throughout the golf course. Golf courses around here are full of southern pine trees so seeing a bunch of limbs or down trees after a storm isn’t unusal.

Next week will be kind of the beginning of a new phase of training. Since starting back at running I’ve been doing mostly intervals of running and walking. This week will begin the phase where walking will not be a part of my training. At least on run days anyway. Sure, at first the runs will still be short but now it’s time to start building up my endurance instead of focusing on just building up my cardio and muscular fitness. I’m really happy with my progress since the triple bypass surgery. The people who know me are amazed by my progress. I’m not a amazed, but I’m pretty happy about it. 🙂

The past two weeks of workouts haven’t been anything exciting and skipping a week of posting on the blog is making me think about what I’ve done lately. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t take long for my past workouts become a blur. Anyway, here’s what I’ve done the past two weeks. At least as well as I remember it!

Monday, October 1st:
Intervals: 3 minute run + 2 minute walk, 5 minute run + 2 minute walk x 2, 3 minute run + 2 minute walk
Run: 1.75 miles at a 12:26 per mile pace (those hills!)

Tuesday, October 2nd:
Weight Training

Wednesday, October 3rd:
Intervals: 5 minute run + 3 minute walk, 6 minute run + 3 minute walk, 5 minute run

Friday, October 5th:
Intervals: 5 minute run + 3 minute walk, 8 minute run + 5 minute walk, 5 minute run

Monday, October 8th:
Intervals: 8 minute run, 5 minute walk, 8 minute run
Walk: 2 miles

Wednesday, October 10th:
Intervals: 10 minute run, 5 minute walk, 10 minute run

Friday, October 12th:
Intervals: 10 minute run, 3 minute walk, 10 minute run

Saturday, October 13th:
Played in a charity golf tournament

 

 

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.

IMG_0013
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

Week Four is No More

My fourth week of 10K training is complete! I’m starting to feel like I’m getting my running legs back again. I’m very happy with my progress so far but this week was a disappointment. Read further and you’ll know why. I wish I’d drop a few more pounds but I guess with the weight training I’m staying in a holding pattern. No major gains, no major losses. I should have taken a few profile photos after my bypass surgery. I think my overall appearance looks slimmer and more fit than it did back in May but I’m really not sure. People ask me how much weight I’ve lost so I guess that means progress.

Monday’s workout was the most difficult so far. I ran 2.75 miles which is a post CABG milestone. My goal was to keep it an easy pace and stay relaxed. At the same time I was hoping my average pace would be close to 12:00 minutes per mile. I finished at a 12:08 average pace. The last mile and a quarter had alot of hill sections. I was breathing a little harder but tried to keep it relaxed and mostly did just that. I think if the run had been on all flats, I’d probably finished under a 12:00 mile pace. I managed to get a blister on the arch of my right foot! Haven’t had one there in quite a while. Eventually,  I’ll get a callus in this spot and it won’t happen as much. Oh well, that’s just part of a runner’s world. I sure could feel the blister during the next part of my workout. Intervals: 3 minute run + 2 minute walk, 4 minute run + 3 minute walk x 2, 3 minute run + 2 minute walk. After running almost three miles my splits were about a 12 minute per mile pace.

IMG_4506Tuesday I made a rest day. Wednesday was suppose to be a more intervals and some short distance running but… the blister on my right foot is much worse than I thought. Since I’m retired now and yesterday was a rest day I didn’t have any reason to put on shoes. When I finally put on my running shoes Wednesday morning I realized the blister was “big time”. In March, I had a nice callus in the area of this blister. Not so much now. I’ve drained the blister several times with a sterilized needle but I guess I need to take a blade to lance the blister a little larger so it continues to drain. With shoes, I can barely walk. On the plus side I did go to the gym to do some weight training.

Thursday morning the blister was filled with fluid again. This time I made the drain hole a little bit bigger. Hopefully, it will drain freely now. Still sore on Thursday so no running on this day either.

On Friday morning I hit the road to visit my mother and my sister in Kentucky. We planned a surprise birthday celebration for my Mom who will turn 80 next week. Normally, I would take workout clothes to do some running while I’m there but with the blister I decided to not bother. I hated it cause running in Kentucky horse country is so beautiful.

I just returned home a few hours ago. My blister is much better now so it looks like I’ll be back on track starting tomorrow. Yeah! Actually, my back, hips and feet ache a bit from not doing anything most of this week. Spending 18+ hours in a car in just three days is a bit much for me. I’m ready to get out and hit the pavement.

 

Monday, September 17
Run 2.75 miles. 12:08 per mile pace.
Intervals: 3 minute run + 2 minute walk, 4 minute run + 3 minute walk x 2, 3 minute run + 2 minute walk.

Today’s Music to Push Me Through:
Nothing Better – Chris Lake & Chris Lorenzo
Ten Feet Tall – Afrojack featuring Wrabel
High on Life – Martin Garrix featuring Bonn

Tuesday, September 18
Rest day.

Wednesday, September 19
Weight training.

Thursday, September 20 Sunday, September 23:
Rest, recovery and travel.

 

The End Game

Since April the University Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute in Augusta, Georgia has been my home away from home. On Monday my cardiologist told me I’m doing great and he wants to see me in a year. Today, I graduated from Cardiac Rehab! God willing, no more visits to the hospital for quite a while now.

Dealing with knowing I needed a triple bypass and then waiting several weeks before I actually had it wasn’t easy. The surgery definitely wasn’t easy. Recovery after CABG surgery wasn’t easy. Rehab has had its ups and downs but thankfully, mostly ups. Everyone I’ve worked with at University Hospital has been great. The doctors, nurses, specialists, therapists, and admin staff have all been professional, helpful and caring. I don’t think you could ask for better care than what I received in the past few months. Just awesome.

I want to thank my surgeon Dr. Beecher, my cardiologist, Dr. Rahman, my primary care doctor, Dr. Fischer and of course their support staff. They have been great. I want to especially thank the Cardiac Rehab Team at University: Norma, Joy, Bob, Kit, Lauren, Jeff, Mary Kay, and Lorraine. I’m really going to miss them all. That group is a perfect example of teamwork. Their guidance, encouragement, and smiles really helped making the rehabilitation process so much easier.

Ok then, rehab is officially over. I retired on the 1st of August and honestly with all the rehab and doctors appointments I haven’t felt like I was retired. It’s just felt like a continuation of the convalescence. Now it’s time to start another chapter of my life and I’m looking forward to it. Time to get into retirment mode and I’m excited I can start running again. I really miss it. It’s going to be kinda like starting all over again but that’s OK. In time, I know this will pass and I’m hoping the end game will be I’m a better runner than before my bypass.

14 Days of Retirement

IMG_4287The day after my 62nd birthday, I officially retired. Has it really been 14 days since my first day of retirement? Where has all the time gone? Honestly, with cardio rehab three times a week and at least one doctors appointment every week I really don’t feel like I’m retired yet.

The first five days all the family celebrated by going to a cabin in the North Georgia Mountains. It was great to have the kids and grandkids all together for a few days. The cabin was awesome. And the view! Oh my, it was gorgeous. It rained a lot the first day and a half but by the weekend we had enough sun to sit out at the infinty pool to soak up the sun and enjoy the view.

Next week is my final week of rehab so things will change a bit once that is off my plate. I believe after next week the frequency of my doctors appointments will reduce too. Yeah!

I haven’t felt the need to post much right now because it’s the same old, same old. Three rehab sessions each week and on non-rehab days I walk five miles. I will say I’m feeling better and stronger. The use of the rowing machine and weight machines at rehab have been a big help. Oh! and NO FEVERS in over two weeks now! The doctors never could figure out the cause but they are gone so I don’t really care anymore.

In the past week I have added a little bit of running to my walks. Just short 30 second sprints and each day I add one or two more. I’m up to six sprints now. Once I get up to twelve I’ll probably start trying one minute sprints. On my last walk I placed all six sprints within the same one mile split. My split time for the mile was 14:39. Just before I found out I needed a triple bypass, at times I was logging running mile splits slower than this. How did I not know something was wrong back then? Well… I guess I did realize it but never would have guessed it was a heart problem. A mile split of 14:39 with only three minutes of running included is pretty impressive to me right now.

On Labor Day weekend I plan to consider rehab officially over and will begin training to run a 10K in December. Registration for the local Jingle Jam 10K opens right after Labor Day and I plan to sign up. It’s a course with quite a few hills so I’m not sure how ready I will be, but it’s a goal. Hey, if I can’t run the whole thing–so what! At least I’ll plan to be there.

I’m considering a gym membership too. We have a small gym in the clubhouse of my neighborhood but the equipment is somewhat limited. I’m really going to miss the Concept 2 rowing machine and the muscle specific weight machines available at rehab. We have an Anytime Fitness gym within walking distance of my house so I plan to go check it out next week and then decide.

So far, retirement has been great. Super busy right now and so far I’m not really getting much done that I thought I would. Where does all the time go and how did I get anything done before? Crazy! Unless there is a drastic change of some sort this will likely be my last post concerning my recovery from open heart surgery. The next time you see something from me it will be about my preparation for my next 10K!

 

I Was So Wrong!

compare

Just take a moment and compare the results of a run I had just before I found out I needed triple bypass heart surgery and a walk about two and a half weeks after my surgery. Notice there isn’t that much difference between the walking and running pace.

SPOILER ALERT: Just this morning, I went on a brisk walk of about 2.5 miles and my pace was 15:29 per mile. Not running–walking!

I’m trying to figure out when the signs of heart disease first appeared and honestly, I’m starting to think I never will figure it out. I’ll take a stab at it and say it was maybe the fall of 2015 but I really can’t explain to you why that might be the case. Maybe after a few more months or years even things will become clearer. Until recently, I attributed any slowdown in my running performace as just a sign of old age.

Backing off my mileage last summer and then pretty much coming to a complete halt to my running while I fought off a three month respiratory ailment spell certainly confused things. I blamed the layoff, respiratory ailments and some weight gain for the poor performance this year. Now that I’ve had some time to evaluate things with some passage of time it seems to me I WAS SO WRONG!

Yes, all the above contributed to my poorer performance but I can see clearly now it was much more than that. Hindsight is truly 20/20! I should have gone to the doctor much sooner than I did. Thankfully, nothing serious happened before I finally went to the doctor. I wish I had some sage advice for anyone wondering if they are having heart ailments but I can’t. Because of my active lifestyle my body created collateral arteries around my heart to supply blood so the symptoms just were not the same as someone with a sedentary lifestyle. I’m blessed that those extra arteries helped me continue to live a normal active life. The other side of this is had I continued to run without some sort of medical attention I might not be here today posting on this blog.

I’m a survivor! My progress after just three weeks post surgery has really been amazing. The active lifestyle before surgery and after have both allowed me to achieve great results so far. I’m not 100% yet and will be many more weeks from now before I am. People ask me if I feel better now but honestly, I feel about the same as before. I’m not sure when I can run again but I’m expecting some speed boost once I get 8-12 weeks of running behind me. This is when I’ll know if the bypass surgery made a difference. I’m expecting it will!