Product Review: Apple Watch 3

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Ok, I finally have succumbed to the Apple gods or demons, depending on your point of view and purchased an Apple Watch 3 as a Christmas gift to myself. I’ve had a few weeks to play with the thing and learn what I love and hate about the watch. For the last couple of years, I have used Fitbit Surge as my fitness tracker, so the pros and cons will be more or less a compairison with the the Fitbit.

Things I like (in no particular order):

  • The ease of pairing the watch to the phone. I really enjoy that many of the things that I can do on my iPhone are the same things that I can do on my Apple Watch  –  controlling my music, texting, keeping track of important meetings, and having another remote for my Apple TV. Although I do not talk on the phone that much (or at all), it’s great for making a quick phone like if you are trying to find a friend in a subway station.
  • You can get all of your stats and information about your workouts for the entire day, without having to sync it to your phone.
  • Although I have not used this option (and I’m a little afraid to), the watch is supposed to be water resistant.
  • It’s great having all of my calendar events right on my wrist.
  • It definitely is lighter than the Fitbit Surge, I never feel it . . . which can be a good or bad thing. The watch may fall off of my wrist, and I would not notice.
  • There are plenty of exerise options that you can use. For the Fitbit Surge, you could have only 6 physical activities loaded on the watch at a time. If you wanted to change the types of activities, you had to do it through the website.
  • The display is better, because the Apple Watch is more responsive and the screen is brighter.
  • Oh, it tells you when to breathe, just in case you forget how to. 😉

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  • Aesthetically, it’s kind of cool. Also, there is a wide array of different watch faces that you can use (and you can even change the display color of the faces)

Things that I do not like or wish were better: *Keep in mind that some of these may be things that I just have not figured out how to do on the phone.

  • You cannot set specific goals. A user only can modify the move goal, which tracks how many calories you burn throughout the day. Being able to set specific goals was one of the things that I loved about the Fitbit Surge. For example, I set the following goals: walking 20, 000 steps/day, working out 5 times a week, having at least 45 minutes for a workout. With the Apple watch you have to rely on it’s preset goals for exercising. For example, the exercise goal is preset for 30 minutes, but it is a general tracking option. Just from regular commuting in NYC, I typically meet my “goal” before I get to work just by walking around the city. With the Fitbit, the exercise goals would only be counted if you started a workout on the Fitbit itself.
  • Although this is not an issue with the Apple Watch, per se, it broke within 36 hours of purchasing the damn thing. I had to take the watch back to an Apple Store, which was a whole ordeal and get another one.

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  • During daily wear, the band fits snuggly on my wrist, which is a good thing. When I exercise and get all sweaty, the watch moves up and down my wrist and it does not properly read my heart rate. After a few cardio exercises, the the average heart rate was not calculated but there was not enough data received by the watch. This is quite annoying if you are using the watch as a fitness tracker.
  • Since I did not go with the wireless version (thus, it only will work if my iPhone is near), I still utilize most of the apps on my iPhone. This issue is not a big deal for me, because I normally have my iPhone with me at all times . . . unless I drunkenly leave it in a cab.
  • For my recent runs, I do not think there is an option to have the phone vibrate after completing a certain number of miles. There has to be a way to do this.
  • It does not monitor sleep patterns, unless you download a third-party app on the iPhone.

All in all it is a cool device, but I would not recommend it if you want to use it primarily as fitness watch.

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Getting into the Tempo

Ok, I will completely honest and admit that I have never Incorporated tempo runs into any of my half- or full-marathon training programs. Bad, I know. While reading other folks’ blogs and comments, I have realized that the tempo run is an important component of any long-distance training plan. It funny that so many Internet sources say that tempo runs are a critical part of any training program, but I have out of the loop about them for so long. Let’s just call it plausible deniability. It seems that I have been training wrong, because I run my long runs as close to my half- or full-marathon pace as possible. Then, for the most part, I would keep that pace during a race because of my competitive nature. Now, I realize that I should not be training in this way, because of potential injury.

It it kind of funny that I am a biomedical scientist, and I never really apply my molecular

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Lactate, the molecule.

biology knowledge to training. Basically, tempo runs improve your lactate production threshold i.e. reducing the amount of lactic acid produced and run longer without muscle fatigue. Obviously, I know about lactate production, glycolysis, aerobic respiration, Krebs Cycle and all of the that scientific “mumbo jumbo.”  I guess that I have been to lazy to apply my biomedical background to anything outside of cancer research.

Boring Science Stuff:

***Simply put, the breakdown of glucose (a six-carbon molecule) through glycolysis leads to the production of two pyruvate (a molecule with a three-carbon backbone) molecules. Under anaerobic conditions, the two pyruvate molecules are converted into lactate by lactate dehydrogenase.

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Pyruvate to lactate conversion.

Typically, when I think of anaerobic respiration, I do not think of muscle fatigue . . . I think of alcohol and cheese production. *Man, a gin martini sounds so nice right now.* In aerobic conditions, the pyruvate molecules are converted into acetyl CoA (a molecule with a two-carbon backone molecule) after the release of one carbon dioxide molecule, which goes through the Krebs cycle. Through a series of oxidation-reduction reactions and the electron transport chain, the mitochondria produces a large amount of energy molecules (aka adeninosine triphosphate, ATP).

cellular respiration

Per glucose molecule, the number of ATP molecules produced are: 36 (aerobic respiration) and 2 (anaerobic respiration). This process also applies to breaking down lipids/fats and proteins into energy molecules. ***

Tempo Runs:

According to an article published in Active.com (***), there are four types of tempo runs that can be incorporated into any training program. I am sure that there are more out there, but I will focus on these four to keep it simple.

  1. Traditional Tempo – Begin the run with a 1-mile warm-up and cool down. Run at a pace that’s 30-45 seconds slower than a 5K race pace.
  2. Tempo Intervals – Start and end with a 1-mile warm-up and cool-down. Alternate between 5-minute fast and 5-minute slow intervals. The fast intervals should be 25-30 seconds slower than a 5K race pace.
  3. Race-pace Tempo – Warm-up and cool-down for one mile, then run the designated miles at a marathon pace. I think, I was unknowingly doing this type of tempo run, in my previous training programs. But, I guess these tempo runs should not be done during all of your long runs, because of potential burnout and injury.
  4. Negative Split Tempo – Run out at easy pace for a few miles, then run the same distance at a tempo pace. This tempo actually sounds a little fun and extremely beneficial.

I am sure that there are plenty more (and more descriptive) types of tempo runs, but I think that I will start with these for now, especially with the Negative Split Tempo.  Matter of fact, I think that I will do a traditional tempo for today’s run.

Heart Rate Training:

On the other hand, there is a plethora of resources that suggest using your heart rate to

Team Incirlik running program

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Phelps/ Released)

improve your lactate threshold (***). You train by staying in a specific heart rate zone, based on your max rate (zone 1: 60-70%, zone 2: 71-80%, zone 3: 81-93%, and zone 4: 94-100%), which can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. However, we know that these one-fit-all type of calculations, (i.e. using BMI) can be very inaccurate, because everyone is different.  Although I am not an expert in this type of training, I do not think that I will use this method for my training goals. For one, I do not 100% trust my Fitbit heart rate monitor. Plus, there are so many other factors (fatigue, body and environment temperature, levels of hydration, etc.) that can affect your steady state heart rate. Perhaps, these factors are the reason why this method uses range values (i.e. 71-80% of max heart rate) rather than specific values. Finally, it would be too many numbers for me to remember during tiring runs. The heart rates for my zones:

  • Zone 1: 109 – 128
  • Zone 2: 128 – 146
  • Zone 3: 148 – 170
  • Zone 4: 172 – 183

For the Fibit Surge, I know that you can setup parameters so that you are notified when you are in a specific zone. It just seems easier, in my opinion, to use race pace conditions for the tempo runs.

Do you factor in heart rate zones when doing tempo runs?

I’m man enough to Zumba . . . And like it

I am a HUGE fan of Zumba class (as I have posted a bit about it); I have been doing it pretty much once a week for about a year. I have noticed that I am usually the only XY individual in the class. Well … I do not know the genetic background of the other class participants; I’m just assuming. I’m writing about this topic because I mentioned that I wanted to try another Zumba class to mix up my routine a little bit, in a previous post (***).

*Random, is Zumba one of those words that can be used as a noun and a verb?*

Last night I checked out Zumba class at another Crunch fitness. Typically, I try to get to a Zumba class a little early because:

  1. I like to stretch and do some body weight exercises before class.
  2. I want a good spot – the first or second row and slightly to the right of the instructor.

Yesterday, right off of the bat, I was asked:

You know this is a Zumba class?

I took a slight internal breath (your boy can be a little sassy when he needs to be). I responded:

Yes, I know. I’m just mixing up my cardio routine.

Then, I thought to myself that she probably has never seen a dude in a Zumba class before. It’s not her fault. I mean it’s not as bad when someone assumes that I smoke menthol cigarettes, because I’m black. But cigarettes aside, she was really cool and mentioned that it is nice to see a guy in the class.

I searched the Internet to see if there were any topics, regarding men and Zumba.

It seems that the common consensus is Zumba is considered as “girl’s” workout –

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Beto Perez

even though a man, Beto Perez, came up with the concept. This feeling makes sense. If you are the only guy in a class of 34 women, then your gender makes up only 2.8% of the class, which can be a little scary. Also, we live in a somewhat “monkey see, monkey do society”. If males are not doing a particular, then other males probably will not do that activity. Also, Zumba typically is marketed to women. The gym that I went to last night actually has women-only Zumba classes, which seems a little repetitive.

Screwing up/ Feeling weird

When starting a new activity, most people do not like to screw up. Unless, you already have an extensive dance background, you will screw up in the first few Zumba classes. I know that I did. So, one can feel inferior to other class members, who have been attending a particular Zumba class for a while. You think to yourself, how/why are they getting the moves but I cannot. To be perfectly, I think that I get the moves faster than some of the other newer women in my class. BUT, the thing is NOBODY CARES!!! No one is going to talk about how bad you are [maybe unless they blog about the class ;)]. After class, I hang out to stretch, do planks, and ab work, and some folks hang out and chat with the instructor. Not once did I ever hear any of them say things like:

  • Did you see how bad person X’s cumbia was?
  • Person A is a rhythmless fool.

I will admit that some times I do feel a little weird with some of the over-sexualized booty shaking, Beyonce/Shakira moves. My hips just do not move like that . . . for the most part. I still cannot do the hip rotation while turning in a counterclockwise motion. For some odd reason, I can do it in a clockwise motion.

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I guess those moves are not too weird to me, as an African American, because a lot of our dances have some type of “sexy shaking/gyrating” component to it. I guess can feel a little strange when you are the only guy in a class of women doing those moves. I have noticed that there are not too many of those types of movements in classes taught by men. So maybe it’s a female instructor thing.

If you think about it, many of the moves that football players do in the end zone after scoring a touchdown are kind of zumba-esque moves 😉

I know that we have done the move in the middle panel in one of my Zumba classes.

Teaching an old dog new tricks

It’s tough starting something new, especially if you have not done it before. Actually, I was one of the those guys who originally thought that Zumba was a “girl’s” workout. Then, I had a really bad back injury and could not run, so I checked out a Zumba class. Yes, it was tough at first. . . actually, it was not that bad.

  • I think that my first class was tough because I got a spot in the back of the class (I was a little insecure about being the only male in a class full of women). So, it was hard to see the instructor do the moves. Also, I felt like I was a step or five behind because I was following the moves of people in front of me.

I think that I have some natural rhythm. Plus, as a scientist, my mind kind of runs in a logical manner. So, if I know that I’m going to do something three times in one direction, I am already thinking about how I’m going to do it in the other direction.  The weird thing about me is that I do not freestyle dance that well, but I can pick up choreography (as long as it is not too intricate) pretty fast . . . IMO. I’m sure that dancers from the Alvin Ailey School of Dance would disagree.

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For me, Zumba seems more efficient than running on a treadmill. Obviously, I would not substitute training for a half- or full-marathon or lifting weights (many guys prefer to strength train over cardio) by doing Zumba, in lieu of running or strength training. But, I think that it is a great substitute (or rather, supplement) to a purely cardiovascular program. For example, my side by side comparison of a 45 minute treadmill run to a 47 min Zumba class:

  • Treadmill run for ~45 minutes – 5 miles with 0.75 miles at 9:05 min/mi and 0.25 miles at 8.15 min/mi
    • Ave Heart Rate: 149 bpm
    • Ave Calories Burned: 13 cals/min
  • Zumba class for 47 min
    • Ave Heart Rate: 158 bpm
    • Ave Calories Burned: 15 cals/min

Even with the Zumba class, I entered my peak cardio zone sooner than my treadmill workout. Keep in mind that those stats are based on the instructor’s class, because I have attended a couple of Zumba classes where I barely spent any time in my peak cardio zone.

An article by Anya Brodech posted on Caloriebee.com mentioned her top five reasons why guys should do Zumba. 

  1. Women L-O-V-E men who do Zumba. Ok, this is a dumb reason. NEXT!
  2. You learn how to move awesome. I can agree with this reason.
  3. You get a fun cardio workout. Very true, once you get over your initial insecurities and dance like no one is watching you.
  4. Improve your coordination. This is a good reason because improving coordination can translate into other types of sports/workouts.
  5. Improve your strength and flexibility. I do not know about flexibility but many of the classes do have a small strength component. No, you will not bulk up but the toning aspect is very relevant.

All in all, I fully support breaking the gender barrier in the Zumba movement. Show these women what you are made of. 😉

NYRR R-U-N 5K Race Report

DISTANCE: 5 kilometersIMG_0981 (1)

DATE/TIME: July 27, 2017, 7:00 PM

LOCATION: Central Park, Manhattan

WEATHER: 82 Degrees, 34% Humidity

FINISHERS: 5,110 – 2,262 Men; 2,848 Women

MY RESULT: 25:31, 8:13 min/mi

 

This run was pretty interesting no thanks to the MTA (see below for my rant), because the NYRR rarely has evening TCS NYC Marathon qualifying races. Plus, the humidity was not 10000% during this event.

PRE-RACE PHOTOS:

I really did not have a chance to have any pre-race feelings of excitement, because I arrived to Central Park way later than planned. The result? I had to line up at the very back of the pack, the L corral (I’m usually in the D corral). This delay meant a very quick and half-assed stretch session. Plus, my back was feeling kind of weird, so I was already in a somewhat defeatist zone. Also, I was so freaking thirsty, because I did not have time to pick up a bottle of water before the race. Basically, I was at three strikes, and really considered walking the race. However, I managed to power through and actually run the race. I figured that it would only be about 30 minute of annoyance and pain.

PRE-RACE PHOTOS II:

Plus, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Interestingly, I think that I ran faster because I was so far back, and I felt that I needed to play catch up – my first mile was 7’11”. Or, maybe I ran faster in order to get a cup of water from the first fluid station.

Mile two was a struggle because I had to fix my right shoe twice. First, it was too loose. Then, it was too tight. I felt a bit like Goldilocks when she was picking which porridge, chair, and bed to steal. My time for the second mile reflected my shoe issues. Let’s just say that it took me longer than 8’45” to run the second mile and leave it at that.

The third mile was pretty normal, in terms of pace. Overall, I did run this race a little faster than last week’s race – 8:26 min/mi versus 8:13 min/mi pace. Although I ran a bit faster for the Central Park race, my faster time could be attributed to the flatter course (compared to that of Prospect Park) and the lower humidity.

My Fitbit was a little off with regards to my time and the distance. My NYRR official time for this race was 25:31, not 25:40 (I know that it is only a nine second difference).

For the post race festivities, I think Brooklyn won. The location for the post race festivities was in an open space in Prospect Park, but Central Park’s post race festivities was on the 102nd Street Transverse. I think that the 102nd Street Transverse is far too narrow for post race activities. I wonder if NYRR is not permitted to use any of the open fields after a race. I can imagine that the clean up would be a pain.

POST-RACE PHOTOS:

So, I have another race in the books. Two races down, seven more to go for guaranteed entry into 2018 TCS NYC Marathon.

NEXT RACE:

NYRR Team Championships (5M) – Saturday, August 5th at 7:30 AM. Man, I will have to wake up and leave Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn super early for this one.

RACE JAMS:

MTA RANT:

According to Google Maps, the commute from my job to Central Park was supposed to be 1 hour and 6 minutes. I left work at 5:25 PM, so I would have ample time to check my bag, warm up, and stretch. Yeah that did not happen, because I arrived to the park around 6:50 PM – TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE. I do not understand why MTA’s subway service has gotten so bad, not that it was that great. Maybe the subway service seems worse, because I do not have to take the subway to work any longer and I do not have to deal with subway struggle.

Apps, Apps, Apps

I got this post idea from another blogger and it seemed like a cool idea, so I figured that I would do it too. Plus, it will make for an easy blog update, because I’m kind of lazy today.

Although this is supposed to be a running blog, it’s nice to talk about other things too.

Basically, this entry is about what’s on your phone. In today’s age, most of us are tethered to our phones, which has it’s pro and cons. Hell, I’m writing this blog on my phone right now. Although I love having instant access to a million things at my fingertips, I will say that life was a bit easier without smartphones (in my opinion). For example, it is so weird seeing children play on phone rather than playing outside.

Here goes.

The pup in the background is (well, was) Bacchus Simonsdale Beagle. He was a great dog, who provided great companionship for 11 years. (RIP)

Unlike many folks, I think that I am a folder kind of guy when it comes to organizing my apps. When ever I see a person’s phone with his/her apps uncategorized, it makes my brain hurt. Hey there is nothing wrong with that, because what may work for person A  may not work for person B.

My top 15 apps, in no order of importance. Or rather, the first 15 apps that I can think of without looking at my phone

  1. Facebook
  2. Bank of America/Chase
  3. Music
  4. Fitbit
  5. Runtastic
  6. Twitter ( I just started using Twitter, as a science type blog ***)
  7. New York Times
  8. Crunch Fitness (I gotta sign up for my Zumba classes with this app)
  9. LinkedIN
  10. FiercePharma (Where I get my science news)
  11. Chess
  12. Google maps (Without this app, I think that I would be better with directions. It seems now I do not think about directions anymore, even if I know how to get to a place.)
  13. Yelp (Yelp Elite in the house!!!)
  14. Uber (I have been doing better with not ordering Uber so much. I gave it up for Lent this past year).
  15. Netflix/Apple TV remote

What are some of your favorite apps?

What are some of your pros and cons of owning smartphone?

Random Wednesdays

I guess that my Wednesday posts will just be a combo of my random thoughts.

For the city that never sleeps, it sure moves as if it is sleeping

IMG_0623I received some bad news about an opportunity on Monday, so I did not do my Monday Recovery Run. Instead, I figured that I could combine my 5.5 mi run and do Zumba afterwards. WRONG!!!! It took me 55 minutes to travel from work to the gym . . . a trip that should only take about 20 minutes, tops. By the time I arrived to the gym I only had time to run three, instead of five miles. It’s so funny how the fares for the Metropolitan Transit Authority keep going up but the service and efficiency keeps going down. This organization should really change it’s name, because typically if someone is an “authority” on something, he/she is good at it. For example, the MTA is planning to spend $20M dollars for these directional floor maps, so people know how to enter and leave a subway . . . Yep, money well spent.

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Adapted from Scott Lynch / Gothamist

This annoyance really threw me off, because the timing was completely out of  my control and it messed up my training plans a bit.

Zumba was amazing!!!

I have blogged about my love for my Tuesday Zumba class at Crunch Fitness in Fort Greene. IMG_0621I’m telling you if you are a fan of Zumba, a member of Crunch Fitness, and live in New York City, you should definitely check out this class taught by LaShawn. *I know there are a lot of stipulations with what I just typed.* Yesterday’s class was so full of energy. Perhaps, people were extra turned up because we did not have class last week, due to The 4th of July. I really had a blast and the instructor even gave me a shout out by thanking me for constantly coming to her class. I mean, it’s one of my favorite Zumba classes sponsored by Crunch and I really hate missing her class. Now, that wack one on Monday, I can do without 😉

I’m probably behind the times, but I am really loving this song, “One Wine” by Machel Montano Ft. Major Lazer. As a matter of fact, I’m going to play this song right now. IMG_0620

It was my favorite song for the class. However, I may have to start wearing an athletic supporter because my man region was a little after all the gyrating, bouncing, and dancehall wining from this song.

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My 3 mile run may have affected my Zumba performance, because I did not burn as many calories or hit my cardio peak zone like I normally do. I felt like I was “Zumba’ing” pretty hard but FitBit reported otherwise. Usually, I spend about half of the class in my peak and regular cardio zones. Oh well . . . there is always next week.

I love my (somewhat) new running shoes

I have never been one to rave over running shoes but this pair is so amazing. Often I feel like I’m running and/or walking on air. I have to say these probably are the best pair of running shoes that I have EVER worn. That’s saying a lot, because I can be somewhat of a hater. Shoot, I may go back to the running store and buy another pair this weekend.

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That’s all for this issue of Random Wednesday. Happy running and training.

Back to my Favorite Zumba Class and DUH!!!

IMG_0459I finally had a chance to revisit one of my favorite Zumba classes at Crunch Fitness (Fort Green location, Tuesdays, 7pm with LaShawn). I have been MIA from this particular class for about 4 weeks. When I miss this class, I go to a good one on Wednesdays, so it’s not a big deal. After class, I was quite surprised that I remembered most of the moves AND I was able to reclaim my spot on the floor. I know that this class do not have reserved spaces, but some people feel like it’s their God given right to claim a particular space. You know, the kind who asks you to move to another bike in Spin class, because you are on “his/her” bike. *Ok, I’m getting off topic*

So the “DUH” part

For the longest time, I was trying to find some of the songs that are featured in this class. After reading another person’s blog entry about tips for Zumba, it was recommended that I use Shazam to get the playlist. Hell, I cannot believe that I did not even think about that. Hell #2, I had forgotten that Shazam was even on my iPhone. Hell #3, Shazam has an auto Shazam feature, so you can let it go and it will detect most of the songs without having to tell it to. Now, I finally have most of the playlist from the class and I already have purchased the majority of the songs. #Instant Gratification.

Even though I was able to get most of the playlist, the song that I really wanted was “unShazamable”. I guess I have to ask LaShawn in two weeks for that one.  My favorites from this selection are “Bouje” by J. Perry and “Sal a Bailar” by Victor Manuelle. Oh an maybe “MILF”, which I already had, but of the booty popping.

Relax, Relate, Release

tenorSince last Thursday, some personal crap has really gotten me down. I’m pretty much an upbeat kind of guy and things rarely get me down more that a day or two. So, today’s Zumba class helped me forget about about my person crap, at least for 45 minutes. However, I do not think that I was in my normal grove in today’s class.

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Normally, I have a 1:1 ratio of time spent in my cardio and peak zones during this particular class. Clearly, I was not going as hard as I normally do for maximum effect. Oh well, all of your efforts can’t be good ones.

That’s all folks. A simple post, for a simple man.