FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: June 2015

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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

REVIEW | Microsoft Band

It feels weird reviewing a fitness tracker when to be quite frank, the most exercise I've done in two weeks is (alright, lots of) mountain biking around the many challenging and awesome trails of Afan Forest Park in Wales last weekend. (More on this later).

You see, I'm in full on Glasto mode - our annual pilgrimage to the Greatest Festival on Earth is upon us this week (leaving this morning at 5am, to be exact), and as such, all I can think about is sun, cider and psytrance. And mud; and glitter; and long drop toilets, flower crowns and giant spider stages that mercilessly pump out drum n bass, lasers and fireballs to a bouncing, grinning crowd of thousands.

But, this review has been a long time coming and I'm not sure just how 'writey' I'm gonna feel this time next week so let's get this done before I go. I promise that up until a week or so ago (I'm reducing it to 'week or so' to make me feel better), I did plenty of exercise with my trusty Microsoft Band by my side, so sit back and I'll tell you all about it.


REVIEW | Microsoft Band in box | FitBits

It's not an Apple Watch

No point beating around the bush on this one - as a fully fledged Apple Whore with just enough money to feed my fetish on credit but not in real life, the Microsoft Band offers an excellent value, albeit somewhat bulky stand in for the mighty Apple Watch. 

Retailing at a mere £169.99 and boasting a host of technology such as daily exercise tracking with built-in GPS (run and cycle), guided workouts, heart rate monitor, sleep tracker and stopwatch/alarm, the Band tries really hard to be your daily health and wellness companion. 

Syncing the Band to your phone via bluetooth enables you to preview incoming calls, texts, emails and social media notifications on your wrist; something which as a self-confessed tech addict, this pleased me no end. As far as I can tell, you can't reply to anything however, just preview it - so for example, the Band will vibrate and tell you when a call is coming in and who it is, and you have to answer on your phone.

If you've got a Windows phone though you can talk to your band to take notes and set reminders with Cortana, Microsoft's personal assistant version of Siri, but you might look like a bit of a pleb doing so.


REVIEW | Microsoft Band | FitBits
Yep, it's rather bulky on my tiny wrists, I'll admit... 

The Band interface is really simple to use - pretty much click and go for runs, cycles and workouts, and the app dashboard is also easy to navigate, with lots of useful data put into nice pretty graphs and charts (happy Tess), viewable when you sync your Band to your phone after your workout. You can also see the vitals on the Band's screen during and after your workout if you're a stats whore like me. 

It also shows you the zones you've worked in which is great if you're trying to lose fat and work in your anaerobic zone. Once I get back from Glasto I'll be doing lots of that to shift the excess happy fat that I'll no doubt be acquiring from five days of cider! 

Boxing




 

Running








 

Downloadable workouts



 

Sleep tracking


Pros

  • In-built HR monitor works great - no annoying chest strap like with older Garmin models.
  • Records runs and workouts with or without GPS tracking - great for treadmill workouts, exercise classes and weights sessions.
  • Finds GPS quickly most of the time - much faster than my Garmin 210. 
  • Variety of downloadable workouts straight to the Band. 
  • Sleep tracker!
  • Syncing notifications and calls means you don't have to get your phone out every five minutes. (Unless you want to reply, that is).
  • Syncs with MyFitnessPal, STRAVA and RunKeeper.
  • Easy-to-use app with various dashboards.
  • Discreet vibrating alarm clock - much better way to wake up than offensive iPhone alarm tone!
  • OK battery life - 1-3 workouts per charge, as long as it's not 2hour runs or cycles. 

Cons

  • Bulky design and annoying to wear all day (OK for short periods though).
  • You have to keep your phone's Bluetooth and internet activated for it to sync with the device - which drains battery and sometimes takes multiple attempts (not sure if this is just me being in poor connection areas). 
  • Bit buggy sometimes when trying to sync - either drops out or apparently works but doesn't update workout data.
  • Current/average pace when running not given. 
  • Can be quite difficult to see stats whilst running as screen quite small.

Overall, I'm a big fan of the Microsoft Band, it's a versatile, affordable and multifunctional wearable with plenty of tricks up its sleeve. Personally, I won't be swapping it for my Garmin for marathon training as it doesn't quite have the vitals for pace and custom intervals, but it'll be my (second) best friend throughout the summer for training. 

Once I get back from the biggest party in the world, that is... 

Peace out - see you on the other side!





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Do you have a Microsoft Band or other fitness tracker? What do you think, and what's important to you for your wearables?

Find out more about the Microsoft Band and get yours at microsoft.com




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Friday, 12 June 2015

Tess tri's - journey to my first triathlon

Right then.

I've been talking about it enough on and off for the last two years, but marathon training kept taking priority so it was put on the back burner. However,
not doing Fort William Marathon in July means I've got the whole summer to get my head down and finally get ready for my first triathlon.

YAYYYYYY :)

Last night was a big night for me. I did something I've never done in all of my 29 years - I donned a wetsuit and swam out of my depth in the sea. I say swam, it was more 40 minutes of panicked flapping and snorting sea water with occasional bursts of swimming against the current (which, by the way, was bloody hard work).

I was pretty terrified and had to keep stopping to catch my breath but really enjoyed the realisation that it's actually really hard to drown in a wetsuit!




I went out with the lovely BTRS family, in the Swimming for Softies session - one of two weekly sea swims designed to build water confidence, practice swimming and for me, get over this fear I have of being out of my depth.

I learnt to swim last year and got to the point where I could do one length without stopping, have a break, and maybe get back for another one, but no more than that, and it wasn't pretty - lots of work to do to improve technique and stamina.



Sea swimming though - that's a whole different ball game. I've been looking at more swimming lessons in Brighton and pool membership fees as have just changed gyms with no pool, but am really tight for cash at the moment.

And anyway, with a rather large (and free) pool of water spanning the entire coastline, it makes sense to get over it and learn in the sea.

If I can swim in the sea, I can do anything.








Tri hard

So, boys and girls, here we go. Over the next few weeks, expect lots of Tweets and Instagram posts on my training in the lead up to the Human Race Diamond Tri, at Dorney Lake in Eton, 6th September.

Human Race put on a whole series of triathlons and duathlons at Dorney, and having done a duathlon there before, I'm keen to go back for the full shebang. I was actually invited to take part in the Shock Absorber Women Only Challenge on 12th July, but with Glastonbury in the middle and not a lot of time left to train I decided to go for the Diamond Tri to give myself a good shot.



Plus, my hubs wants to do it with me so we do our first tri together, and I don't think he'll pass for a woman next month, so I'm thinking the Novice distance will be a good start: 400m swim, 10.6km bike, 2.5km run. Depending on how training goes, I might see if they'll let me change my entry to the Sprint (750m, 21.2km, 5km), but I don't wanna bite off more than I can chew just yet so we'll see...

12 weeks to get race ready - bring it on!

Want to do it with me? Or any other remaining 2015 Human Race event? Visit the website and use the code KISDISCOUNT at the checkout for £5 off your entry! 




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Are you training for your first (or second, third, 100th) tri? Any tips for a scared newbie?  



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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Women: know your place - don't push your limits

I've just seen something that's made me more angry than you'll ever know. In fact I'm finding it hard to understand how stuff like this is actually allowed to be published at all, quite frankly.

I was gonna have a short lunch break today but this needs to be said so I might just take the full hour and treat you to a proper rant.

Thanks to Kat at Run My Own Way for sharing this appalling piece of tripe on Twitter from the Superior Bikes' website - ladies, just take a look at this:























Have you ever read something more unashamedly sexist and preposterous in all your life?! It's Women's Sport Week this week, raising the profile of women's sport and celebrating all the amazing and wonderful sportswomen in our world, professional and recreational, standing together at the start line of something big - it's called equality.

Yes, we have vaginas... 


Just because we have vaginas doesn't mean we can't push our limits, relish adrenaline and ride, run, swim, climb, fight as hard and fast as we can.

Having a vagina doesn't make our requirements for a mountain bike 'completely different than men's'.

I do not look for 'mainly safe, easy and, of course, stylish bikes'.

I look for quality, performance, style and durability. Not to mention cost. I want a bike that'll handle the biggest, steepest downhill trails I can find to throw myself down to test myself and get my adrenaline hit. There might be some trails that I'm not ready to ride just yet but give me a few days' practice and I'll take you on, Superior Bikes.

You and your penis.

I might have a vagina but I am fierce, and fearless, and furious, and you can do one with your everyday sexism bullshit. This Girl CAN etc. etc.

Ooh, I swore too. How unladylike. I best get back to the washing up...



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What do you think about Superior Bikes' use of language and gender stereotypes here? 

We're celebrating Women's Sport Week on UKRunChat, UKCycleChat and UKTriChat all of this week - come and get involved over on Twitter! 




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