Garmin design failure no excuse for a new watch

Mis-connection

Today’s run (street): 3.25 miles

Having a day off on Wednesday certainly made my work week go by quickly. Before I knew it, Friday had arrived. Yesterday was an interesting day. Some organizational changes meant that I had a new team to manage. I was fine with that, although I only found out about it that morning. I was thrilled not to have to drive to my office today, and that allowed me to do my usual Friday morning, pre-weekend run.

I work from home most Fridays, and the lack of a commute gives me plenty of time for a run. I had an early meeting happening via Google Hangout that put pressure on me to run and get back in time to look presentable on camera. That meant getting my procrastinating butt out the door early. On the positive side, the recycling trucks had not yet made the scene. On the negative side, our quiet neighborhood was already being overrun by cars and buses speeding their way to the middle school.

It was 64° with a little more humidity than on Wednesday, but it felt cooler. This was likely due to wearing short sleeves this time. The middle school traffic eventually disappeared and I thought I’d caught a break. But right on cue, I saw a stream of cars and buses heading to the elementary school. I avoided those roads and finished up my run.

Later in the day, I took a break to download my Garmin data and discovered the charging-data connector had broken since its last use. The design of the FR210 is a step backward from my old (non-GPS) FR60 that connected to my PC wirelessly and downloaded data automatically. The FR210’s connector has a set of copper pins that match up with contacts on the watch. The connector is held in place by a spring driven clasp. It’s a terrible design and, now that it’s damaged, I’ll need to figure out a way to keep it connected for charging.

Although this would be a great excuse to upgrade to a more contemporary model, I really have no need for a newer GPS watch. A quick search on the web showed that I can replace the connector for $15 through Amazon – so that’s on order. I have my issues with the FR210, but after almost five years, it continues to be a very reliable unit.

Shallow bins and recovery progress

Usability testing anyone?

Today’s workout (elliptical): 40 minutes

I realize that there are many larger problems than this, but can someone please explain to me why the stuff holders on our elliptical and new treadmill are so shallow? I don’t get it. Do the designers ever think about the fact that an 8″ remote will probably fall out of a 4″ deep console bin? This are the sort of things that go through my mind these days as I do my workouts without outdoor distractions.

Yesterday’s treadmill run ended with an alarming jolt of pain as I pushed my pace beyond a moderate speed. Rather than signaling a new or deeper problem, I think this experience was a warning. Despite giving the injury plenty of rest, the root cause issue remains. If three weeks of no-impact workouts haven’t resolved it, it may be time to see an orthopedist.

Today’s workout was all about protecting the problem. Instead of running, I spent 40 minutes on the elliptical and followed that with ten minutes of (very) slow running on the treadmill with a 2.5% incline. It wasn’t a particularly challenging workout, but that was the point.

I’ll probably go back to a full treadmill workout tomorrow. The elliptical session seemed to reset whatever caused yesterday’s pain and I’m feeling better. Just the same, I’ll need to keep my speed in check tomorrow to prevent another cycle of pain.

Adidas and Reebok jump the shark

I find the look of this shoe disturbing

Today’s run (street): 3.75 miles

Earlier this week, I was walking up 7th Avenue when I noticed a guy wearing a strange looking pair of Reeboks. They looked like a chromosome-damaged version of Nike’s Shox, a shoe I’d disparaged in what has become my all-time most popular post. Amazingly, these shoes looked even weirder than the Nikes. It turns out the guy was wearing Reebok ATV19’s, ATV standing (I guess) for “All Terrain Vehicle.

It’s no secret that I despise Reebok’s line of running shoes because they significantly miss the mark in terms of both quality and style. I’m sure there are plenty of middle school-aged boys who would disagree with me on this. That’s my point. I’ve wondered how a respected company like Adidas, that makes some very good running shoes, would also have a brand (Reebok) that produces such gimmicky footwear. And then I got a PR mailing from Adidas that’s helping me understand that better.

A picture’s worth a thousand words

When I first saw the press release for the Adidas Springblade, I thought it was a parody. While the Springblade isn’t the first running shoe to use cantilevers to promote energy return, the design they came up with looks completely ridiculous. Or, in the words of those middle schoolers: Awesome! I’m curious to see if anyone ever shows up for a race wearing these monstrosities. The only thing worse would be if the wearer won the race.

Race shirts: The good, the bad & the very ugly

One of Brian’s ugly shirts that isn’t already in the rag bin

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles (9:05 pace)

The Snowflake Run race shirt

Recently my running buddy Brian mentioned ugly race t-shirts and he sent me a photo as an example. I’ve compiled well over a dozen race shirts in the last couple of years and many of them would clearly fit into the ugly category. This weekend I received my latest shirt for the Long Beach Snowflake Run and was pleased to see it was attractive enough to wear in public. My wife loves snowflakes and cozy long sleeved shirts so I expect that it will soon become hers. 

Good memories sometimes make up for wacky design

The other Long Beach race shirt I have is from last November’s Turkey Trot. It’s not a great looking shirt but it’s fun and also long sleeved. I PR’d in that race so I enjoy wearing it.

I guess flesh-colored was the new black in 2009

 I participated on a Cape Cod marathon relay team in October of 2009 and the race shirts were very close-fitting technical long sleeved shirts. The front is about as ugly a design as I’ve seen (plus Duncan Donuts and running are a strange combination) but the back has a cool lighthouse. It’s actually a good between-seasons running shirt and I especially like wearing it on trails.

Clean design and functional – I earned this one

The first race I ran in 2010 was in March, less than two months after my stay in the hospital for pneumonia. The race in Stillwell Woods was challenging and my successful run told me that I was back and fully recovered. We got technical racing shirts and I am proud to wear mine outside my home. As a wicking shirt it’s just okay, but it will certainly do in a pinch.

Subtlety was not the theme in 2009

The 2010 New Hyde Park 8K shirt was a decent design, but the year before it was an explosion of red, white, blue and yellow. The back was no cleaner though it wasn’t as garish as the front. Kudos to the organizers for making a change for the better last year.

The Dirty Sock design – not all that it’s quacked up to be

In my opinion the Ugly Duckling Award goes to the race shirt that actually has a duck on it. The Dirty Sock Run is a great event and the organizers always give out both a t-shirt and a pair of socks printed with the words “Dirty Sock Run.” I love the socks (although my son immediately commandeers them) but the shirts are not attractive.  The shirt color from the last Dirty Sock 10K is a strange blend of muddy brown and magenta. The front is blank and the back has a graphic of the event’s logo — a duck on the water. The prior year’s shirt was not much better – pea soup green instead of muddy brown with the logo on the front. 

Actually, I love all my race tees no matter how they look. Each one reminds me of a special time and the accomplishment of participation.  Still, if a race organizer has the choice of making a shirt more attractive, it would be time well spent to do that!

First impression: Skecher’s Resistance Runners

Today’s run (street): 3 miles at 9:30

I’m working from home today and I thought I’d take a few extra minutes for my morning run. It was dry and clear with no rain in sight so I took the opportunity to wear the Skecher’s Resistance Runners (SRRs) for the first time on a run. I walked around with them for about 30 minutes prior to heading out to make sure they felt sufficiently stable. The last thing I need is an injury caused by footwear.  I’ll do a full writeup of the shoes on Runner’s Tech Review but I’ll relate my first impressions below.

When running with shoes of this design it is important to set expectations. The things I’d expect from a conventional running shoe just don’t apply. It is as unfair to ask a dog to turn vegetarian as it would be to ask the SSRs to move with the foot like Brooks Adrenalins or Saucouny Kinvaras. The SRRs are designed to purposely introduce unstable movement into the running process. I understood that as I stood in the driveway and felt the gentle rock of the shoes that is caused by the asymmetrical mid-sole. The SRRs are not comfortable but they aren’t made to be. They also run a bit narrow and short for their size. It was an odd sensation when I took off on my run. I’m used to the Kinvara’s flat, minimal presence and the SSRs made me feel like I was running with half a tennis ball baked into the bottoms. The SSRs are far heavier than the Kinvaras, or any of my other running shoes for that matter. I kept telling myself “It’s okay, they’re a special training device, think of them that way.”

I can’t say I enjoyed the ride but I did feel like I was getting a workout. It may have been the design or merely the extra weight but I felt it in my legs. I couldn’t tell where my foot was landing but I tried to focus on the mid to front range. I did notice that when I allowed the shoe to heel strike the energy return was pretty good. Too bad I’m trying not to run that way. My pace began to suffer noticeably after the first mile and I’m sure it was due to the extra work the shoes required. I finished after three miles feeling like I’d given my legs a good workout but not feeling like I’d exerted myself too much overall. I can’t see ever switching to this shoe as a regular trainer but it may yet provide some training benefit. I’m going to put them in the rotation for a while to see how they feel after a few more workouts. In the meantime, I’m still questioning whether they fall into the category of training resource or gimmick.

If the Emerging Runner developed products

It was great to do an outside run yesterday but it was back to the treadmill this morning. I’m still struggling a little with soreness around my right hip and it took a few minutes of warm-up for that to dissipate. Once I felt more comfortable I increased my speed and ended up running about 2 miles at 8:52/mile. I want to get these shorter runs closer to 8:30/mile but I’ll take some pleasure in knowing that an 8:52 pace is a full minute faster than what I was doing four months ago.

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While I ran today I thought about treadmill running vs. street, track and trail running. I am a fan of the treadmill but I’m not a fan of its limitations. If I created my own treadmill I’d do the following:

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– Build the tread wide enough to move laterally. I don’t know if there are limits to how wide the tread can be relative to factors such as power and weight capacity but most treadmills are narrow to the point of claustrophobia. I like when I get to run in hotel fitness centers because some high end units provide a wider track.

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– Speed sensing. I know from tracking my performance with Garmin Connect that my running speed varies from minute to minute. On the road it’s no problem as the speed of the runner is relative to a static surface. On a treadmill you are running variable paces and the treadmill is running at a steady pace. This translates into constant subconscious adjustment by the runner to regulate to the speed of the moving tread. Plus the constant concern that you’ll either overrun the unit or fall back so far as to pull the safety cord. It would be great if the treadmill could detect subtle changes in cadence or pace and adjust the tread speed accordingly. If the runner wanted to sprint the treadmill would follow. Sure you can accomplish the same by constantly adjusting the speed control but that’s tedious and imprecise.

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– Use an electric eye or motion detector to control emergency shut off. Running with a cord attached to your shirt or shorts is another contributor to treadmill claustrophobia. Plus, based upon conversations I’ve had with people, many don’t use the cord for this very reason. It’s like seatbelts vs. airbags: active versus passive protection.

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– It’s not the first time I’m mentioning it but how about a virtual reality screen to simulate outdoor running? The video can interact with the treadmill so that it automatically goes to inclines on hills, etc. I don’t know how to simulate different surfaces (muddy trails, dirt, macadam) but I’m confident the Emerging Runner Laboratories would figure that out.

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It’s possible that some of this technology already exists in the higher end units. To do what I’m suggesting above would likely add thousands of dollars to the cost. With advances in screen display and sensing technologies it’s not unrealistic to think these features could be offered at a reasonable cost. Call now, operators are standing by!