Month: November 2012

ActiveLink Review

I have been meaning to write a post about the ActiveLink for AGES now, but it’s better late than never, right!? Full disclosure, as a Weight Watchers Leader, I did receive an ActiveLink for free to try out before they were out in meeting rooms, but that doesn’t influence how I feel about the thing.

activelink

So what is ActiveLink?

ActiveLink is an activity monitor that you wear all day long. It measures movement from side to side, front to back, and up and down, as well as acceleration, so it goes well beyond a pedometer. As you can see in the photo above, it’s a USB, so you plug it directly into your computer to import all the activity data. You can wear the monitor clipped to your chest, loose on a necklace (!?), clipped to your belt, or in your pocket. You wear it all day long except when you’re sleeping and it is waterproof so you can even wear it in the shower (which I have NOT done). I usually wear mine attached to my bra, or else clipped to my top if I’m working out.

workout

When you plug it into your computer to import the data, you get feedback on how many minutes of moderate activity and high intensity activity you’ve done that day (separately), as well as a bar graph showing how much you’ve moved each hour of the day.

So what do I think of it?

I absolutely LOVE, love, love the ActiveLink. One of the key ways that it works is that you have to hit your activity baseline before you earn any activity points, which the old system of tracking points doesn’t account for.  The idea is that the personalized daily target of points is based on doing a certain amount of activity we should be doing anyway without getting credit or extra ActivityPoints for. We’re supposed to be moving 5 minutes per hour while we’re awake WITHOUT earning any extra points, and then anything we do beyond that is where we earn extra points that we can then eat.

So basically, I have to hit this activity baseline before I earn any extra activitypoints to eat. As you probably know, I am pretty self motivated when it comes to working out, but it has really changed the way i go about the rest of my day and makes me move so much more.

A good example is that sometimes I’ll go on a run in the morning for 3 or 4 miles, and I won’t earn any points! At first, that was so annoying, but then I realized all those miles went towards hitting my baseline, and every single thing i did from then on out during the day would earn me points. It made me want to walk an extra loop around the block, take two trips from the car, get up often during the work day, and earn points just from walking to/from anywhere.

I’m lucky that I live in a city so I move a lot more just by virtue of walking everywhere, and now I feel like I get “credit” for everything, which I like. For example, sometimes I’ll opt to walk rather than drive/metro to somewhere that’s about 2 miles away, just to get in extra movement. Before, I wouldn’t have entered this as activity since I didn’t break a sweat, but now that I’m wearing the ActiveLink it accounts for that movement on top of everything else.

One other way it has changed the way I move throughout the day is that I am more aware of standing still. Like, if I’m microwaving my oatmeal at work, rather than standing there staring blankly at the microwave, I’ll walk around the kitchen or back to my desk. Same thing if I’m waiting for an elevator or doing something else where I am idle.

What are the downsides?

Honestly, not much. The device itself costs $39.95 which is a LOT cheaper than other similar things. You do have to agree to $5/month to keep it active and connected to your eTools, but that doesn’t seem like a lot to me considering how easily I can throw around $5. The one thing that is annoying but temporary is that when you first start wearing it, you have to do an 8 day assessment. During this time, you go about your regular activity and then at the end it gives you a summary of how active you are and sets a goal for you to work towards over the next 12 weeks in the form of an ActiveLink Challenge. During this 8 day assessment, you get no feedback on your movement and don’t “earn” any activity points! It was so annoying to not earn a single point that first week even though I was working out regularly, but that is only for the first 8 days so it’s not the end of the world.

Heather’s First 5k

“I want to start running. What do I need to do?”

I nearly squealed with excitement when I heard those opening words from my sister Heather. I’ve run many times with my sister Wendy (including The Broad Street 10 Miler and the ODDyssey Half Marathon this year), but my sister Heather has never been that into the idea of running for voluntary reasons.

Heather is a busy mom of two kids who works, takes care of her family, and has a million and one things to do every day. Running to her sounded like an efficient form of exercise that would take far less time away from her busy life than her beloved 1.5 hour yoga classes.

And I was delighted that she called on me for advice!

I told her to go to a running store to get fitted for a good pair of running shoes, look up the Couch to 5k Program, and get started right away before she could come up with excuses not to. And for one of the first times in my life, my older sister listened to me!

She downloaded the c25k app on her iPhone, went to a running store and bought a pair of shoes (Brooks Glycerine 10) and got started the very next day.

I somehow convinced her that we should sign up for a 5k together around Thanksgiving to keep her motivated and so that we could run together when she was gone with the program. Several times a week she would check in with me on her status with c25k, and her enthusiasm was infectious each time she crossed a new running threshold.

She went from running 90 seconds and wanting to die, to running 22 minutes straight over the course of 6 weeks, and while being delighted to be done, felt she could have run more if need be. She didn’t exactly finish the program in time for the 5k, but we had signed up for a Turkey Trot on the Friday after Thanksgiving and I may have twisted her arm about running it anyways.

I told her the excitement of the crowd and the adrenaline from running a race would carry her through, and if she could run 22 minutes, she could run 36 with me by her side. And, if she couldn’t? We could walk. No big deal.

Friday came and we woke up bright and early and set out the door at 7:30am to make the almost hour drive to the race site. I told everyone who would listen that it was her first 5k and she told me she was going to punch me. Sisterly love. Smile

Before we knew it, it was time to go to the starting area and I was being far too excited for her taste, but she had no choice. She was running her first 5k, and I was there by her side!

Heather and Beth

All of a sudden, the announcement was made and we were running a 5k! I told Heather to set the pace and that I would just go along with whatever she was comfortable with, and we started off FAST. She wasn’t sure what her exact pace would be, but was guessing 12 minute miles, and we were running sub 10s at the beginning. I told her to slow down and that we could pick it up if she feeling good for the second half of the race.

We lucked out with a GORGEOUS day for running.

Beautiful

I was so impressed with how she was doing and was trying to think of what I would want someone who was running with me to do for my first 5k, so I did what I do best and just talked and talked. I told her random stories, talked a lot about food/pancakes/post run eating, and updated her about how far we’d gone periodically. And before we knew it we were at the half way mark and she was doing awesome.

The course itself was fast and flat and and pretty scenic. We kept an even pace after that quick start at the beginning and I was surprised we were going closer to 10 minute miles than 12. Before either of us knew it, we rounded the corner and laid eyes on the finish line. Side by side, we picked it up for the last little bit and ran through the finish with arms held high! We’d done it!

Heather 5k

My nephew (her son) Ben had come with his dad to cheer us on (how CUTE is he!?!?) and was so impressed by his mom! As were the rest of us. Not only did we finish, but we finished in just under 32 minutes for her very first 5k!

Done!

Life has been a little on the hectic side lately, but I wanted to stop by quick to share with you all that I did run my fifth half marathon yesterday morning in Philadelphia, and spoiler alert, I finished despite being injured!

Half Marathon PR

And, not only did I finish, I PRed by almost 4 minutes, finishing in 2:05:08. Wahoo!!

Full recap to come soon!

A Different Kind of Long Run

Despite my injury, I still have my eyes set on running the Philadelphia Half Marathon, which is less than two weeks away. I haven’t done a long run since the one that triggered the injury, and I’ve been worried about not getting in enough mileage to be prepared.

On Thursday during my PT session, we talked about how I’ve been missing my long runs and I asked her if there was anything I could do. Since the onset of the injury, I’ve been able to comfortably run 4 or 4.5 miles, so she suggested I run 4, do 4 on the elliptical, and then get back to running for the last 2-3 and see how it felt.

So yesterday, I did just that!

Since the weather has been a lot cooler lately, I didn’t even set an alarm and just let myself wake up naturally. I had an English muffin with mashed banana for a pre-run breakfast:

photo 3

Got myself geared up:

photo 1

And out I went! I ended up wearing running crops, a running tank and sports bra, and then a running jacket over it. This way, I could do the first part of the run outside, take the jacket off when I got to the gym, and then put it back on for my walk home from the gym, and it worked out quite well.

Breaking up the run into 3 segments also worked really well because each of them felt manageable. The weather was a little chilly but perfect for running, and the first 4 miles outside went smoothly, except that I pressed reset mid-run on my running app…

photo 4

+

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= 4.01 in 34:43, or an 8:39 pace.

I ended the 4 miles right by my gym, and it actually was great because I got a drink and used the bathroom before hopping on the elliptical for the next segment.

I used this elliptical:

photo 3 (1)

Which I’d never used before, but this sign got me:

photo 2 (1)

The 4 miles on the elliptical were uneventful…

photo 1 (1)

And EXTREMELY fast. Too bad I can’t run at an 5:39 pace in real life…

After the elliptical portion, I got another drink of water and took an Espresso GU.

photo 2

I’d never tried that flavor before, and it was pretty good, but Vanilla Bean still has my heart.

After refueling, I hopped on the treadmill for the last part of this run to knock out 3 miles.

I started at 6.0 mph, and upped it by .1 every couple minutes, ending on 6.8 mph.

photo 4

In the end, I finished the 3.0 miles in 28:15, or a 9:25 average pace.

And then, at long last, I was done and super sweaty!

photo 5

I stretched a ton and foam rolled out my legs and IT band, and then called it a day.

After I was done, I kind of felt like I had cheated. Since 4 of the miles were on the elliptical and those miles went SO MUCH quicker, and were so much easier on my body, I just felt like I hadn’t actually done the mileage. But the truth is, I was doing the opposite of cheating – I was doing what’s good for my body right now. It took a little bit of a self pep talk (in my head, don’t worry), but I was able to walk out of the gym feeling proud.

As I should have been! I got 11 miles under my belt, no matter the method, plus 1 hour, 25 minutes, and 36 seconds of cardio, which is the farthest and longest I’ve gone in a LONG time. Here’s to hoping I feel this great in 2 weeks!