New treadmill: Signed, sealed, but not yet delivered

Emotion for FreeMotion

Today’s workout (elliptical): 50 minutes

The absence of a working treadmill prompted me to obsessively research replacements for our Sole F63. It’s always a good idea to look at the models around your price range and then find the best value based on your requirements. That doesn’t always guarantee success as evidenced by our Sole. Despite its high recommendation it didn’t live up to its hype.

My starting point was to consider every treadmill brand in the universe (except for Sole) and work backwards from there. I am fortunate to have resources for research that aren’t available to many people and quickly learned that most treadmills priced under $1,000 are really a crap-shoot. I was told that I should be willing to pay $2,000 or more for the quality that I’m expecting. I decided to reject that and focus on machines that are reasonably priced and structurally sound. I don’t need built in fitness programs because we never use them, so why pay for them?

After coming close to pulling the trigger on a LifeSpan TR2000e that I could get for the price of a 1200i, I decided to wait until I had a chance to try out a few in person. We went over to Sports Authority to see what they had to offer. Big box retailers tend to stock the same brands: Bowflex. NordicTrak, Pro-Form, Sole and HealthRider. We had a Pro-Form treadmill before the Sole and we currently have a Pro-Form elliptical. Pro-Form equipment can be a good, inexpensive choice, but they sometimes feel cheap and rickety.

Sports Authority sells FreeMotion treadmills, a brand whose commercial grade units are often found in fitness centers. After looking at the Pro-Forms, we concluded that we’d do better paying a little more for a middle-tier FreeMotion 850 model. The differences in construction between this unit and the similarly-priced Pro-Form were noticeable. For example, the salesperson pointed out how the FreeMotion has shock absorbers all along the tread bed, while the Pro-Form only had them in the middle. That could make a big difference in how long the rollers will last.

I liked that the 850 had a basic interface but was iFIT compatible for people who want fitness features and device connectivity. I also liked the feel of the bed when I ran on it and the fact that this unit can incline  up to 15% and decline 3%. There was free delivery for treadmills at that price and we opted to have them assemble it. A 20% off coupon that I got for buying a box of Girl Scout cookies outside the store made it a pretty good value.

I spent 50 minutes on the elliptical this morning. Although it’s a tedious workout, the session went by fast because my daughter kept me company the entire time. My wife and I are anxious get the new treadmill as we both view the elliptical as an occasional cross training tool rather than a primary means of working out. But until we take delivery, it’s going to be our only option.

Elite sale yields bargain Virrata

New running shoe day. Guess which ones are mine.

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

So far so good on the training front. This morning I went out with expectations of matching my recent pace range and I managed to do that. When I first entered time and distance into the pace calculator, I thought I’d missed the mark. I quickly realized I’d entered the time incorrectly, adding in an extra minute. It turned out that I’d actually exceeded my target and ran today’s distance four seconds per mile faster than yesterday’s.

I assign two factors to these recent gains: a constant focus on pace (via perceived effort, not watching the Garmin’s display) and the continued recruitment of fast twitch fibers in my leg muscles. In other words, I’m thinking about running fast and building fitness. Runners come closest to their potential when racing and an active focus on speed while training does the same thing, to a lesser degree. That’s why I’m not yet achieving sub-9 training runs, but I’m getting closer.

The family went out for a “Next to the last Friday before school starts” lunch and afterward we swung by the Gallery at Westbury Plaza. I wanted to check out Sports Authority’s new SA Elite store that only sells adult size sports apparel and running shoes. I had no intention of buying anything, but they were having a sale, so I checked out the deals.

I’ve been looking for a lightweight running raincoat for a while. My venerable ASICS rain jacket committed zippercide last year and I’ve been on a quest to replace it. SA Elite was light on raincoat options, but they had some genuine bargains in their shoe section.

The store was running a sale, and this was no bottom of the barrel clearance. I did a double-take when I saw a pair of Saucony Virratas priced at $79 with a label next to it saying 20% off as marked. The best price I’ve seen on the web for these shoes has been $78 plus shipping. I asked for a pair in hi-viz yellow, but they only had my size in black. I was disappointed, but I tried them on the treadmill and liked the way they fit.

At the same time, my wife found a pair of ASICS Nimbus-14’s that fit her well and were priced amazingly low with the included discount. I’ve been on her to replace her GEL-2160’s that probably have more than 2,000 running miles on them. I’m serious, you should see them.

I’m thinking about doing a long base run this weekend and a shorter speed workout on the other day. I’m pleased with my progress and excited to be runnning in shoes with less than 500 miles on them. I hope the Virratas feel as good on the road as they did on the treadmill today.

100% workout using 50% of the machine

Today’s workout (upper body elliptical): 21 minutes

Monday’s are normally a rest day for me so I skipped my morning run. I thought I might do a workout later, depending how the day went. When my wife started on her treadmill run I was inspired to join her on the elliptical. I wanted to focus only on my upper body so I needed to get creative.

Three years ago, when we first got the elliptical machine, I was much better at balancing my cross-training. I incorporated core exercises far more often than I do today and lifted hand weights once or twice a week. Today I revisited one of the techniques that would do using the elliptical, that involves standing in front and moving the poles using only my arms.

The action of pushing and pulling the poles, with moderate resistance, reminds me of my old karate workouts alternating punches and blocks. In that case, there was no resistance unless we were doing ippon kumite, that involved a partner blocking or punching back. Seven hours later I’m still feeling today’s upper body workout, and that tells me I need to do it more often.

Imagine this in black

Earlier in the day we stopped into Sports Authority and I bought an Alpine Design (a Sports Authority house brand) running half zip. It’s a mid-weight layer that promises to wick sweat and it looks (and feels) similar to a $40 half-zip in the new Balance section. Except that mine was discounted to $19.99. I can’t resist a bargain. Especially if it’s on an item that I actually need.

No power leads to unexpected power

Note to Sports Authority: sale items are supposed to cost less

Today’s run (street): 3.2 miles

I worked from home this morning which allowed me to sleep in a little later. Sort of. At around 4:00 AM our house alarm started bleeping, indicating a loss of battery power. I noticed that the digital clocks had no display and that we were having a power outage. I went back to sleep for an hour, but when I got up for good, I was suffering a bad headache. The power had come back on, so I had a couple of strong cups of coffee and headed out for a neighborhood run .

The humidity was low at 6:30 and the temperatures were in the 60’s, so my run was pleasant. I started slowly because my headache was sapping some energy. I picked up the pace and covered a little more than 5K. I was moving steadily but it didn’t feel especially fast. I lamented the fact that I hardly ever manage paces faster than mid-9:00 these days and I expected today’s to be even slower.

I finished my run and was surprised to see that I almost hit 9:00 overall. It may be that I’d had about an hour between getting up and running or that the weather helped me. Probably a little of both. Either way it was nice to break out of my normal metric and show some better performance.

I had much to do between 11:00 and 5:00 and, throughout the day, I had periods where my headache made me want to lie down and take a nap. Ibuprofen helped a little but, once again, it was Sudafed that did the trick. Pseudoephedrine is wonderful thing. I take it sparingly and I’m always happy when I do.

At one point this afternoon, we stopped into Sports Authority to get my son a new pair of water shoes. I’m very disappointed in their decision to drop brands in favor expanding their floor space for more Nike and Under Armor clothing. I guess people like that, but I don’t. My son and I were amused to see this great deal on Adidas running shoes in the kid’s section (above). I think their marketing people need to rethink both their merchandise lines and their pricing