Kolmapäev, 29. jaanuar 2014

Less is more - the Mio ALPHA

Since the introduction of smartphones, tablets and other little gadgets into our lives, training has never been that engaging, social and easy to monitor like before. My work as an iOS developer at Sportlyzer gets me in touch with a lot of new sports-gadgets, which are made to make training easier, more fun, social, exciting, adventurous, bla bla bla... Mobile apps that count your squats, wristbands that count your push-ups, watches that analyse your swimming technique, glasses that show you the best route to the next McDonalds - I've seen them all! I believe agegroupers have never had such a huge tech-support while going for their 8k Sunday run.




Polar F6
Let me show you what used to be my favourite sports-watch. I made the background myself - pretty neat! It has been my favourite watch for over 7 years, although I sometimes had to take it apart and put it on the radiator because it was soaking wet. Never the less it worked perfectly and still does. It measures heart rate and even has a alarm clock to wake me up in the morning (or drive my girlfriend nuts, because I've had the alarm for 7:15a.m. each day since 2009).

By the way, I also own a couple of other sport watches, like the Timex Ironman Global trainer and a Garmin and about 5 or 6 HR-chest straps from different companies. But I still love to keep it simple and I prefer the F6.

Let's compare my all-time favourite with today's most popular sport watches... you will spot some differences:

  • Watches seem to be able to track nearly everything I do (GPS, accelerometer, power-meter etc.)
  • Countless new features (customisable training zones, virtual trainer, workout templates, multipart workouts..)  
  • More options, more menus - limitless fun and adventures while studying a new watch
  • Bigger watches, bigger displays, more buttons, more sensors
  • Most watches come along with their own online training platform (garminconnect, polar personal trainer...)
  • Compatibility with smartphones, other sensors, mobile apps, facebook etc.
  • ... the chest strap? Well... nothing fancy there.
I guess the last point is something you have never really thought about. And yet, the chest strap is one of the key elements when using a sports-watch because otherwise how do you get to monitor your heart rate, right? We do have super-accurate GPS-watches, watches using gyroscope and accelerometer data to recognise our movements, even different swim styles. These super-watches all connect to your smartphones, communicate with a ton of mobile apps and upload our workouts even before we can get under the shower. Everybody can see your routes on Strava, Endomondo etc. Yet you still have to wear that silly and wet band around your chest... why? 

Because you are used to it! It is already programmed into your brain, that when you go for a run you start by looking for your chest strap. Otherwise there is no use of your sports-watch. I was also used to it to it until I got the order to make the Sportlyzer Sportstracker app compatible with a new gadget called Mio ALPHA. Mio ALPHA is the first continuous heart rate sport watch that measures your heart rate directly from your wrist. After implementing the code and testing the watch during training, I knew, that this was going to be "the next big thing" on the market, that I even put away my Polar F6.



Now I am really happy to be a proud owner of a Mio ALPHA watch and a Mio Brand Champion.

I'm not going to write a long review about how it works compared to my other sport watches - other bloggers have done that and there is a list of them at the end of this post. I've had the watch for a couple of weeks now and here is why I love it.

Here is why I love the Mio ALPHA:

  • It works - no matter what I do, no matter where I am
  • It is so simple to use
  • I don't have to worry any more about a thing
  • It helps me to focus on the important things
  • It is really comfortable and looks great (even my girlfriend likes it)
Mio Global is not the only company working on measuring heart rates directly from your wrist. There are a couple of other startups working on basically the same thing, but Mio ALPHA is the first one with a reliable watch designed for athletes. Unlike its competitors, who are working on all-day monitoring systems, Mio focuses on doing one thing really well and this is measuring your heart rate during training. Even at really high intensities (HR > 190bpm) the Mio ALPHA keeps its accuracy and that's something even some of my heart rate straps have problems with! Of corse you can argue, that it has no GPS, accelerometer or gyroscope, but how often do you need that stuff anyway? I choose my pace looking at my heart rate and not the latest Strava updates of my friends.
Sometimes less is more!




Here are some articles and reviews about the Mio ALPHA:

Kolmapäev, 1. jaanuar 2014

Sportlyzer Year in Review

Facebook offers everybody to see his/her last year's review - see the 20 most popular (or most embarrassing) Facebook posts of 2013. I also wanted to see my "TOP Facebook Moments of 2013", but all Facebook was able to show me, were pictures of me training or competing - not that impressive.

But let me share the numbers and statistics behind these pictures using Sportlyzer. Sportlyzer is an online training diary and management system. In my opinion it is really easy to use and has all functionality a normal endurance athlete might need. It won't give you an in-depth analysis of your SRM-bike sessions (however, you can still upload powermeter files into Sportlyzer), but it will do the most important work for you, which is storing, sharing and keeping your training plan in sync with your coach. 


One year in a single view

First I will show you the overview of my last year as it is shown in the yearplanner of the coach-view in Sportlyzer. You can see a week-per-week view of how much training was predicted (the line on top), how much was planned (dark-grey bar) and how much training was really done in that week (light-grey bar). You can also easily see where my A,B,C,D races where placed.  It is a great way to view the whole year in one view and it gives you a great overview while planning your season.





As you see, I trained really hard from February until May and than had my main season with many competitions before I started preparing for the Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote in October, which was my main goal last year. After my last race I basically rested one full month and started training again in November.

Summary


You can also find a nice table with the sum of all individual activities. I picked out the TOP 3. You can see, that I was quite busy on the bike but not that much on the run track and neither in the pool.



To show you some more of my biking Sportlyzer also offers also a table to show the amount of training per month.


And you can see a month-per-month total of training sessions.



You can open each month to see how you did in each discipline individually.



Training camps

That's enough about the summary of 2013. Now lets have a look at a training camp. I chose the 5 weeks on Fuerteventura, which I had the privilege to spend with Alexandr Latin and Kirill Kotśegarov. Here you can see the total of each day in the training camp and how it was divided between different diziplines. As the camp progressed, the bike session became longer and while I did hardly any running in the beginning of the camp because of an injury, I slowly started running more regularly at the end.




How about some more detail? Let's have a look at my busiest week of 2013. This time it was a training camp in Lloret De Mare in Spain. You can see how my training was divided between different weekdays and a peak on Sunday. At the bottom you see a weekly summary for each dizipline. 



Favourite sessions

Now last but not least I will show you my longest bike ride in 2013 and how my friends in Sportlyzer reacted after I posted this session.






If you would like to find out more about Sportlyzer you can visit www.sportlyzer.com . If you already are using Sportlyzer and you would like to see your own statistics of 2013, you can find a description on how to use the statistics page here:

http://blog.sportlyzer.com/how-to-design-a-statistics-page-for-training-data-analysis/