Function = Fast :: Some exercises to make you faster

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Here’s the first of a nice series of videos of various functional stretches you can perform regularly.

Overcoming the more noticeable imbalances in your body will make you faster MUCH more easily than a little bit more training. Rather than the bit more training…do these kinds of exercises

New ithlete app – better insights into HRV

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We’ve just heard that the new ithlete app has been released/ ithlete pro. Presumably still based on the same underlying HRV engine from HRV Fit Ltd.

The following video tells you a bit more about it.

Having had a quick glance; the feature that stands out is the ability to start to discern the causes of your HRV. You can also import fitbit data as well which looks superficially nice as well. There’s also a ‘team’ app which I hadn’t looked at before either.

Garmin 920XT: Display Power Tip: Getting Power Data Without A Power Meter

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Source garmin.com

Source garmin.com

You have a Garmin 920XT or maybe you’ve seen my review of the Garmin 920XT and want one. You are aware of all the clever stats in the 920XT and yet you ‘only’ have a low- to mid-end turbo trainer/powermeter that won’t send data to your 920XT. You realise that this means that you may well miss out on several of the features of the Garmin 920XT.

Don’t despair. You can get CYCLING POWER data into your 920XT. Here’s how.

Well I’ve started off with the assumption that you have a turbo trainer that can DISPLAY power ON THE TRAINER. You just can’t get it to your watch (Maybe it is not ANT+). Well what if you have a turbo trainer with no power AT ALL? Don’t worry about that either, we shall soon have power coming from that too. Even from the most basic turbo trainer, it’s possible.

Unbelievable. Nope. Read on and expect to part with about £12. Considerably cheaper than a pair of Garmin Vector pedals (which are awesome BTW).

The potential solutions are based around: 1) trainerroad.com 2) sporttracks 3) Garmin CONNECT IQ Apps. So if you already know about those there’s no need to read on.

The Theory

The theory is that there is a direct link between speed on your turbo trainer and power. This is probably not a straight line relationship. So we are talking about a speed:power curve.

Your turbo trainer might have different resistance levels ON THE TRAINER. Each of those will have a different speed:power curve. Don’t change resistance during a session.

Your bike has different gears. Changing gears will NOT affect the speed:power curve.

Tyre pressure, ambient temperature and other factors will affect the resistance between your tyres and your trainer. You need to make these as consistent as possible and calibrate your trainer for each use (and/or during use) to increase the accuracy.

The Practice

The solutions below either WORK or have the potential to work. They are fairly accurate. Even a power meter may typically have 1-2% inaccuracy. So you are going to compound that level of that inaccuracy. But that’s OK as long as you get consistency from one training session until the next. You will be able to compare your performances to yourself…but not to others.

Of course, even though you can get power in training you won’t get in on the road or in races. So bear that in mind. (There are ways to work out your power on the road based on gear/speed and grade but I think that is a few levels of estimation too far and I’ve never tried it).

These methods will POTENTIALLY display POWER DATA on your 920XT… 3s smoothing, 10s smoothing, the LOT. They WILL therefore then enable VO2max to be calculated by the FIRSTBEAT algorithms as that calculation requires POWER data as well as HR data.

1) SPORTTRACKS

You need sporttracks (download the free trial version at the bottom of the page in the graphic, the free trial version is all you will ever need if you only use it for POWER. It supports the 2 required plugins below)

Click to go to the download page

Click to go to the download page

Then you need an ANT+ USB Stick and you need to install the following 2 plugins:

Trainer Power Track (free evaluation version for first 20 minutes per session $6 one-off cost for full version) and LiveRecording and HRV (free evaluation version, Euro10 one off cost thereafter).

2) TRAINERROAD

I haven’t tested this

You need a trainerroad account and a USB stick. Trainerroad is $10/month

Click to go to trainerroad.com

Click to go to trainerroad.com

Now I’m **not** 100% sure that trainerroad will broadcast the power back. I don’t use it myself. I have been told by some people that it does broadcast back and by others that it only displays the proxy power.

The above method(s) will probably work with other Garmins too that are able to receive ANT+ power data. Anything that is able to find a VIRTUAL/PROXY power meter (which is what we created by BROADCASTING FROM THE ANT+ STICK)

The following one is limited to certain models.

3) CONNECT IQ

I haven’t tested this

The 920XT, FENIX3, (VIVOACTIVE) and EPIX all support CONNECT IQ Apps (and widgets etc.).

This is free. However it only CURRENTLY sort-of work for one specific trainer. They will need to make one for YOUR specific trainer model and for each specific resistance setting on your specific model. I haven’t tested this one however I am told that although power IS displayed in a CONNECT IQ datafield it is NOT saved in the fit file or used for VO2max and other calculations.

BikePower

Thanks to DARINLETZRING on the GARMIN 920XT Forum for the inspiration for this post.

Garmin 920XT – firmware updates for 2015?


IMG_3235Predicting firmware updates for the 920T for 2015 is tricky. Probably trickier than predicting what was going to be in the first release of the 920XT itself. I had a shot at that in my 920XT Fantasy Review and did OK. (The real review is at the top of your screen in the menus of <here is a review of the Garmin 920XT>)

The reason why predicting new firmware is tricky is as follows

  1. It’s the future and Garmin won’t tell me anything even if I ask politely :-). Uness you are subject to a NDA then you can’t get market sensitive info before investors. And even if you get it you can’t publish it.
  2. There is CONNECT IQ – much new specialist functionality has been effectively outsourced to be provided free by developers (some of it will require a fee) in the form for apps, widgets and other fancy stuff.
  3. The new EPIX and FENIX3 may take up internal resources.

With predicting what would initially be in the 920XT is was just a case really of adding up all the bits of functionality that were already there in different watches.

So here is what I think will be in the 920XT by GARMIN later in 2015 (not apps)

  1. I have a sneaky feeling we will see a TICKR-X type HRM-SWIM heart rate band. It won’t be wrist based and it won’t be optical. It will store data. Suunto do this as well. This is based on a rumour on a Garmin forum by someone else and sheer hope by me.
  2. FOOTPOD speed – deriving footpod speed is what many of us liked in the 910XT for a variety of reasons. The re-inclusion of this has been much-requested and I would imagine is not so difficult to add back in. Not trivial thought.
  3. Cycling Dynamics – as per the Edge 1000 expect something here in Q1. It’s already been announced.
  4. Swimming Workouts – this is different to the existing DRILL mode. It’s in the EPIX/FENIX3 already and just needs to be in the 920XT.
  5. We already have HR in OWS via3rd party wrist based optical HRMs (MIO Link). HR will be turned on for POOL swimming as well.
  6. Improved algorithms for GPS fix, current speed and elevation.
  7. Segments? Maybe.

So my guess on major announcements is

1. FIRSTLY and IMMINENTLY: Sort out integration with the VECTOR cycling dynamics across 920XT, EPIX and FENIX3.

2. SECONDLY Announce a whole new raft of swim stuff as we approach the northern Hemisphere spring. eg SWIM WORKOUTS and a new SWIM HR BAND allowing HR in pool/ows.

3. Ongoing bug fixes and minor enhancements and maybe an all-black 920XT.

For non-GARMIN stuff expect to see more devices coming to the fore. Most noteworthy that I have seen is the MOXY Muscle Oxygen Sensor. I’ve used such a device…clever.

Also expect more people to use ANT+/BLE (Bluetooth) Bridging Devices to enable watches to use signals from other vendor’s accessories. eg a Bluetooth Power Meter might well be made to work with your 920XT (eg MIO Velo)

I’ve seen Heads-Up Displays that beam swim data into your goggles (not Garmin).

So it will be interesting.

Garmin Forerunner 920XT Review for Triathlon Duathlon Watch

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Garmin Forerunner 920XT Triathlon Watch Red White Review

Garmin Forerunner 920XT Triathlon Watch Red White Review

I just put up the first draft of my review of the Garmin 920XT Triathlon Watch. Comments much appreciated, especially errors and omissions.

Click on the above link or go through the menus at the top under 2015.

Firstbeat Athlete – Software mini-review

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This is an overview of some of the more interesting functionality you can find in FIRSTBEAT ATHLETE software. Polar and Suunto users can get some additional insights into their training over an above their watch-vendor’s standard software offerings. Garmin users too will benefit and understanding FIRSTBEAT’s software offering might shed some new insight onto the FIRSTBEAT-inside technology in their devices.

Firstbeat Athlete has links to Polar, Suunto, Garmin, PuleOn and other companies watches. So with that pedigree they must be doing something right?

If you have one of the ‘better’ HR monitors then it will send a special form of HR data to whatever device wants to receive and record it. So, the Polar H7, the Suunto Memory Belt and the Garmin HRM-RUN, amongst others, fall into that category.

Usually the special HR data is used to help determine the stress of your sessions and the subsequent suggested recovery time. So, that’s great as it gives actionable information.

You can turn on ‘Inter beat’ or R-R data or HRV data (as it’s sometimes called) on your 620, 910XT or 920XT and boom! the Training Effect of each of your sessions will start to work provided you also have per second recording turned on. In the case of Garmin and PulseOn this algorithm is built by Firstbeat.

HRV data ‘knows’ when you are breathing as the nervous system that powers the heart subtly changes on each breath. With that in mind, FIRSTBEAT build-in algorithms to work out your VO2max – which it CAN do as it know how many times you breathe. clever.

ATHLETE uses some metrics that might be new to you. METmax is essentially FIRSTBEAT’s take on VO2max and is shown in ATHLETE after each session to tracks your METmax (VO2) from your session and track that against your baseline METmax. All very interesting stuff.

Despite using HRV data, FB Athlete does not contain any recovery analysis – that is done in the SPORTS version of the software. Instead FB athlete is focused primarily on training analysis and training planning – best suited in the base and build periods of your training.

Using Training Effect (TE) & VO2max calculations it gives you a forward-looking plan based on the TE scores required fro each day. The plan is adjusted after each session based on the actual effort/effect of your session.

FB Athlete therefore includes a dynamic forward-looking training planning system. Cool.

That doesn’t sound much but actually is quite neat. If you are self-training it makes it a lot easier and if you are following someone else’s plan it gives you more insight into whether you can or should raise/lower your efforts on specific days.

Source: FIRSTBEAT KUVA6

Source: FIRSTBEAT KUVA6

Here is an example from the FIRSTBEAT website. It shows the GREEN day as today. It recommends a rest day today as yesterday’s session was fairly hard (TE=3.4/5.0). We can assume that the algorithms determine that it is best to rest today to allow adaptation to the exercise to occur ie to maximise the benefit to the athlete.

Whilst it does not recommend future specific exercises on this chart you can easily see that it recommends a fairly easy session tomorrow and a harder one the following day culminating in a TE=3.8 session next week. Athletes training more and more intensively will see much harder and more frequent sessions specified. As you adjust your activity class (the horizontal red bars) then so the exercise gets appropriately easier or harder. ATHLETE also automatically adjusts your activity level based on, err, your activity level.!

You will also see the grey training ‘range’. You aim to keep the blue line of your cumulative training effect within this range. If you do that you WILL improve. As you can see the training range adapts over time. This uses the PERIODIZED TRAINING that many of us follow, if you don’t understand what that is then you should! IF you don’t want to know you could just follow what FB ATHLETE tells you to do!

Partly linked to this is TAPERING functionality which is NOT part of the training coach – so you still have to handle the taper delicately.

So. This view within FIRSTBEAT ATHLETE IS useful. Especially for the self-training athlete and even for coaches.

FIRSTBEAT ATHLETE also looks at the athletic AFTERBURN that is more scientifically known EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). Essentially both anaerobic and aerobic exercise have a positive effect after the exercise has finished. You might consider it a measure of recovery activity. IE Measuring a GOOD and important thing for athletes.

ATHLETE can automatically load your existing MOVESCOUNT or GARMN data. So for the sake of a 5 minutes install and initial build you can have a new, neat insight into your training (on a trial basis of course!). I’d say if you are a bit more analytical than others you might want to do this and, at least, have a look.

The two main downsides for me were that the software is a bit buggy from time to time; errors appear but are usually able to be bypassed so no big deal. Secondly, as I alluded to earlier, I would have liked to look a bit more at other aspects of recovery.

I intend to use FB ATHLETE on an ongoing basis as a post-exercise analysis tool. The main use I will use it for is to provide a sense check on the activity I plan for tomorrow. I will use FB ATHLETE for that as well as other tools. Those tools include TRAINNGLOAD, waking-HRV and some of FB’s measures built-in to my Garmin watches.

 

Its definitely worth a FREE 14 day trial.

 

 

 

 

 

Garmin 920XT/620/Fenix Recovery advisor: what is the warm-up readiness.

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FIRSTBEAT Athlete's Dynamic Training Program

FIRSTBEAT Athlete’s Dynamic Training Program

The warmup readiness check is displayed 12 minutes (on the 920XT) into an exercise. Usually you will still be warming up then. The readiness check will display a message something like “Fair”, “Good”, “Excellent” indicating how the watch thinks your readiness for the session might be.

FIRSTBEAT write this recovery algorithm. They use Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and TRAINING EFFECT (TE) to calculate Training Load (TL).

VO2max estimates are used in these calculations.

I haven’t seen the full calculation. HRV measurement is used to work out the number of breaths. (Different from resting/waking HRV measurements). The CURRENT session’s Training Load and EPOC is used to work out the current VO2max and then compared to your last session’s VO2max.  The closeness of the two indicates your READINESS.

Other factors are brought in, such as the amount of time remaining from your previous session’s estimated recovery time.

The algorithm calculates a value; let’s say 568 and then that numeric value is set against a scale to give you the FAIR or EXCELLENT readiness.

Cool! Certainly very clever Mr Firstbeat.

You can probably see many possible flaws such as: if your previous session was a bike session then power data is required by the 920XT to calculate VO2max. And such as; what if your last session was a swim session? (A: no HR data at all). Maybe other factors too.

However I’m sure it is easy to criticise many measures. This is a simple to interpret measure that IS potentially useful. I think we can take it that FIRSTBEAT do base it on sound science.

Don’t treat the brevity of the information provided with this check on your watch with disdain or scorn. It’s useful !! There is science behind it !

Combine this useful information with a waking/resting HRV reading and you have a very good steer on your readiness for the session ahead.

Garmin 920XT Fenix3 Epix Vivoactive apps live

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Source: Garmin

Source: Garmin

The Garmin APP Store is now open a and working for apps fro the 920XT, Fenix 3,, Epix and Vivoactive. Whilst all those watches look great I admit to being somewhat underwhelmed by the apps on offer at present. Early days of course.

If you want to request app to Garmin then add app requests here.

 

Should I train today? How to decide? using Firstbeat + Sporttracks + BIOFORCEHRV Garmin 920XT

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This morning, when faced with the decision of “Should I train? or not” I have several bits of kit that tell me different things. Being a grown-up I don’t listen to them slavishly but I DO take into account the information I am being presented with.

Here are some thoughts:

1. After yesterday’s session my Garmin 920XT told me that my recovery time was 72 hours…eesh Saturday ! Well, firstly, that only means how long to wait until the next HARD session (VO2). So I CAN still train today, just easily/aerobically.

2. The Garmin device also shows RECOVERY HEART RATE too immediately after yesterday’s session. You have to wait 2 minutes for it to be calculated before pressing ‘SAVE’. Also true on 910 and other models. That info is put in a FIT file and so the likes of sporttracks pick it up. Here it is

sporttracks-device

Well, to be honest, I don’t know what to do with that info :-) Maybe someone will let me know. It is surely VERY dependent on when you precisely STOP the session. So, I ignore this.

3. In sporttracks I import my data and prefer to use that rather than Garmin Connect (which is now pretty good – but wasn’t years ago). And then in Sporttracks I use the TRAININGLOAD plugin. I’ve used this for years and it is VERY useful. It shows me a very complex graph. I’ll just explain the pertinent parts that are circled below

Sporttracks

The vertical red line is today.

The red graph reflects my tiredness from all that training. So I’ve been on a downwards cycle for the last few months BUT I’ve been ramping it up over the last few days. This shows my entire TRIATHLON tiredness (I can also view it by discipline should I so wish). So this would tell me that I’ve been more tired historically (cumulatively at the time). Might be a time for a little rest or maybe I could do a little more. Inconclusive.

As the green line approaches zero it shows less readiness to train. It’s currently at 2. (See the circled box at the bottom). This to me indicates that I can still train. It could be much lower.

4. I could trust my coach and do what s/he says I should do today and/or give him/her all this info. Personally I think you SHOULD do that. I’m not on a particular plan at present though. Free training !

5. Then I use a waking HRV test every day by BIOFORCE. Garmin or Sporttracks need to incororate this info in their product offerings. But they don’t. Roll-on Connect IQ apps. Here is what the excellent BIOFORCE shows. (Also consider Elite HRV and ithlete which have additional functionality)

bioforce

I won’t go into this too much right now. But it says I’m good to train. Although I have had a chequered past over the last week or so. (Which agrees to the falling green line and rising red line in Sporttracks – as it should). The Garmin RECOVERY TIME of 72 hours also takes into account the hangover from recent hard training. I often use BIOFORCE as my guide for any particular day – based on this I would NORMALLY train.

6. I have also been looking at FIRSTBEAT ATHLETE quite a bit. It has a COACHING FEATURE that is inbuilt and tells you what sort of future training loads you should put yourself under. I understand it uses EPOC calculations and is based on HRV from my Garmin. FYI: Firstbeat produce some of the recovery calculations used by Garmin.

firstbeat

This is pretty clear. REST. But work hard tomorrow and VERY hard the next day. Kinda what I’d planned. Good.

Note IT plans the future NOT ME.

You can see from the graph that I have circled my current load. It’s well within the grey limits of acceptable training range based on my fitness and number of weekly training hours. And yes it knows I have been slacking :-) Christmas…c’mon give me a break !

FIRSTBEAT ATHLETE does not take into account my swimming load as I currently cannot easily get HRV HR data into ATHLETE. So it is missing a vital component of my training load. So I cannot trust it totally. Then again, it is saying REST based on my cycling and running – so swimming would make it more likely to say rest.

7. How do I intuitively FEEL ?

I feel a bit tired. I could quite easily go for a run. It would probably have to be a Z2. My bike legs for sure need a rest. I could quite easily feel like a rest as well.

8. Start a session anyway?

A great feature of the 920XT and, from memory, the 620 & Fenix2 is the message that pops up 12 or so minutes into a session telling you how your recovery is. Similar to the Bioforce waking HRV I imagine. However once you’ve already started a session you will most likely either finish it or tone it down a bit. So this is useful info. But training when it suggests otherwise might impact recovery benefits.

ANSWER: So what did I do? Well I had an evening swim. Well I’m going to. Relatively short session. I listened to all the above markers and made my call. If you train more than 5 days a week, say more than 6/7 hours a week then I think you need some tools long these lines if you want to get better a little more smartly. The reason being that we improve/adapt as we rest from exercise – not AS WE DO IT. So training more and more STOP the improvement. We need to rest. These tools help us decide WHEN to REST.

You will rarely need more than one day of complete rest. You will usually need two clear days between hard sessions (which can include activity).

There you go. You could just use that last paragraph/sentence to guide you. It’s a good rule of thumb.

What do you do?

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