Archive for January, 2010

Cycling Computer Search

Here is what I want in a cycling computer:

  • Not too expensive (that should go without saying at this point)
  • Basics like mph miles etc.
  • Wired, I don’t want to have to deal with two batteries
  • Durable
  • Gives me cadence readings (do they even do that?)
  • Works for two bikes ( I want to switch it between my mountain and road bikes (when I get a road bike)

A swimming breakthrough?

Or perhaps a Festivus miracle.  I don’t know which, but I swam today with very few breathing issues.  A couple of nights ago I watched this video on youtube from Marc Evans.  Please ignore the disembodied head, Coach Evans, if you’re reading this don’t wear a shirt that matches the blue screen next time!

I also read through the comments to the video which were really good.  Coach Evans does a great job of answering all of the commentators’ questions.  The thing he said that struck me most was when he said you should breathe in swimming like you breathe on land.  Same in and out easy breathing.  At first I thought, yeah right, but later I kind of translated that to “stop thinking too much when you breathe.”  I took it easy, focused on my stroke, and let the breathing take care of itself.  It worked out really well!  I was even able to breath bilaterally (from either side every three strokes).  It felt amazing!

In my opinion, the key to breathing is rotating and positioning correctly.  I have heard two methods of positioning your head.  The first is to put your ear against the extended arm when you rotate, the other is to put your chin against the shoulder of your recovery arm (the one that is about to enter the water).  I use the chin on the shoulder technique.  Either way, the whole purpose seems to be to ground your head to something so that you aren’t so panicky.  It’s kind of like standing on a really high building.  You get less freaked out if you are holding the railing.  If you anchor your head to one of those spots, and you get the proper rotation, your mouth will come to the air on its own.

Another key is to not pull back your extended arm too early, and to not begin your recovery until the breath is done.  What I mean is, freeze your recovery arm on your hip and don’t move either arm until you have taken that breath.  Then you can rotate your head back and start your recovery.  It helps keep things smooth.  Once the pace picks up, it won’t look or feel like such a big pause, it will just flow.

So don’t freak out, think things through, have patient arms and mouth, get proper rotation, and anchor your head.  Seems like a lot, but take it one step at a time.


This is the first time I’ve been jealous of a piece of plastic. Ok, maybe the first time I’ve been jealous of a piece of plastic that isn’t battery operated.

Heart Rate Monitor Research

I need to buy a new heart rate monitor.  My current one works well but it is dead basic.  It doesn’t track average heart rate or really do anything other than just tell you your current heart rate.  Here is the criteria I’m looking for (I’ll build the list as I go on):

  • Stop watch with laps
  • Track heart rate and average heart rate at each lap and overall
  • a programmable timer that I can set to beep and remind me when I should do something, like eat during a long run/ride
  • I’d like to be able to extract the data easily to a computer
  • I don’t want to spend a ton of money on it
  • Needs to work for swimming


  • Warning beep if my heart rate moves above a set threshold

I’ll update this as my research progresses.

UPDATE (1/13/2010): I chose the Timex T5J031 it seems to have all the features I was looking for at the right price point.  It does need an additional component to record data, but I’ll wait to get that at a later date.  I’ll post a review once I get a chance to use it a little.

Campmor is cool

I ordered some polypropylene pants for running in the cold weather from  Like an idiot, I mistyped the house number on the order.  I only noticed it when I saw the tracking information on the UPS site indicating that I was an idiot.

Understandably, when I called UPS they told me that my only option was for them to hold the item and pick it up in person.  I could also call the shipper and have them update the address.  I called Campmor and spoke to Shawn.  He called UPS while I was on hold and said that the only option they gave him would require them charging campmor $11 to adjust the address.  It was off by one digit!  $11 is just silly, I mean the delivery person was right there!!!  Needless to say, Campmor shouldn’t eat the cost for my mistake, and I’m not spending another $11 to change the digit, so I think it is time for a short drive. Update: I’m not sure what happened exactly, but when I got home the package was here.  I wonder if the driver was contacted with the corrected address?  The tracking site says it was delivered about 20 minutes after my call.  Looks like today was a good day for customer service.

The reason I think Campmor is cool, is that first off he took care of the issue immediately.  Secondly, when I told him about a bad number and email address in the shipping confirmation email that I received from them, he took the initiative to fix it.  Most customer service people would shrug it off.  He actually cared enough about the company to want to fix it.  Any company that hires employees like that is great in my book.  I will certainly shop there again, though this time I’ll try to remember where it is that I live!

I’ll post what I think of the pants once I give them a try.  Update: The fit is nice, and they feel great.  I still have to give them a run to see how they are in action.  I just assumed that polypropylene was going to be kind of like Styrofoam,  they actually wear like cloth and seem pretty durable.

One Step Forward, and Two steps back.

I have been practicing here and there, and I was feeling much better.  Other than the Tuesday swim clinics, I have been doing all of my training so far in a short pool that is only about 4′ deep.  Today I tried the lap pool, and I struggled to make it even one length without gasping for air.  I was there about an hour, and I never even made a single length without having to flip on my back, or break form to get air.

I spent a lot of time today watching other swimmers.  They looked like they were fish.  Even though a lot of them had what looked to me like inefficient strokes, they were swimming effortlessly.  Clearly I am doing a lot wrong.  It is so frustrating to not be able to do this.  I know that I will get it, and I can’t wait until the day that I look back at these entries and kind of snicker, but that just seems so far away after today.  I’ve decided I will keep going back to swim every day until I get this right.  Hopefully it won’t take long.  Practice makes perfect right?

Gimme Data

I have been reading Triathlon Training Blog and various other sites and see how much these athletes depend on data in order to improve performance.  I feel like I am way  too early for most of the data to be useful.  I am still at a point where I have little technique, and even less endurance.  However, I think that it will be fun later to be able to look at early data.  That way when I get down about how little progress I’m making I can look back and see how far I’ve come.  And they say I’m not proactive!

Now I need to figure out what data is the most important so that I can make sure to track that.  What?  I’m a computer programming geek, what do you expect?

Oh, and my Pose Running book should be arriving today!  Yay!

Photography on the road

I really love photography.  Unfortunately it is usually hard to find time to just go out and snap some pics.  I’m thinking that if I am going to be bike riding, why not bring my camera and snap some pics?!

I have a digital SLR, the Canon Digital Rebel.  I really love the camera, and even though it isn’t hugely expensive, I really don’t want to break it.  In addition, the lenses can get pretty expensive to replace.  So a safe and secure means for carrying the camera will be critical.  I did some searching today and found this article on carrying your camera for a ride.   I like how it seems to fit, I’ll have to give it a try.

Knee injury

This Sunday I planned to do a mini-mini-triathlon to prepare for my upcoming mini-triathlon.  I think that’s right, you know what I mean.  Anyway, the plan was to do my normal spin routine, get off and run 2 miles on the treadmill, and then do some swimming.  No real target on the swimming, I just wanted to have my sister-in-law watch my form to make sure I was keeping it correctly while I was breathing.  I just figured out how to breath while swimming, and I wanted to make sure I was as close as I could be to the correct form.

Well, 3/4 of the way through the spin session my knee started to hurt.  I’m not sure why, I think maybe I wasn’t tight enough into the pedals, or maybe my seat was in the wrong place.  Anyway, the pain wasn’t too bad so I kept going.  I got off and did my run, did the swim, and by the time I got home my knee was in pretty bad shape.  The pain is in the back of my knee, so I’m not too worried that it is serious, but I’ll have to give it some time to heal before killing it again.

In terms of the workout, however, I think I did fairly well.  I did about 17 miles during a particularly brutal spinning session.  Did the 2 miles at 5.5 MPH with just one break in the middle, and did about 380 yards of swimming.   Turns out my swimming form wasn’t too bad as I took each breath, now I need to work on bilateral breathing.

I was proud of my performance today.  Considering how new I am to this.  If my knee hadn’t of gotten injured, it would have been just about perfect.

My goal for next time is to do the full two mile run without stopping, and to build my swim endurance.  I am still mostly doing one length at a time.

Breathing While Swimming

Happy New Year!  I’m still working on my swimming drills.  As I’ve started to transition into other drills I have been trying really hard to practice breathing while swimming.  It has been surprisingly difficult.  I was so frustrated with my lack of progress today that I stood against the wall of the pool and just thought about what I could do to help.  I decided that I should try to get my pull stroke to provide more momentum for my body roll which would allow me to make it around enough to get that breath.

I tried that and it actually worked.  I could get to the air.  Hopefully I will make some progress now.  I did feel like I may have been over rotating when I breathe, but my sister-in-law watched me swim for a bit, and she thinks I was doing ok.  Now I just have to plug away!

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