Running Slow, VO2 Max, HRV, Spinning, Strength, Weight, New Watch, Stretch

Quick update on a few things.

1) Running every day now. Keeping it short and slow, and doing it fasted first thing in the morning. So far feels pretty good. Average about 2.5 miles per AM for the last 5 days. Resting tomorrow and then back at it. Heart rate zones are more in the aerobic range. Last 2x compared with my last 5 miler:

5 Miler… too much orange zone!

2) VO2 Max as calculated by Garmin is hoovering at 41. Since I’ve had the Garmin I had been in the poor range for my 40ish age range. I moved in to Fair, dropped back a little, and now back up again. Excited that new watch will take heat/humidity in to account when calculating this score (more on that later)

3) HRV – Trying Hear Rate Variability to see if I can use that data point to predict how much volume I can reasonably handle on any given day given my baseline. As the person who suggested it said ‘takes some of the stupid out of training’ . I take a reading every morning, and won’t get my first baseline until tomorrow, and apparently the baseline becomes a moving target. It’s also more incentive to track all training activities I do.

4) Spinning – Been doing it less, but still doing it. Haven’t done anything since last week, and earliest I see myself doing this is Friday. Because of the knee issue, I’ve been more careful. I changed the cleat positioning some and that I think solved it. I need to mess with the bike a bit more to fix it up some. I’m not sure if the pedals are loose, or if it’s a bearing somewhere (which I have replacements for). Maybe just a chain adjustment…who knows. At any rate, I’m still annoyed that I can’t track power and speed at the same time. The good news though is that I should be able to get it all working right when the new watch comes (which has correctly working ANT+ connections).

5) Strength Training – non existent. Hurt my knee from either squats or spinning a few weeks ago. All is good now, but I still am cautious. Hoping to do a short routing today and see how that goes. Need to be careful with the squats, a little concerned though since I really had gained some mobility but now a bit concerned to perform the movement.

6) Weight. Stalled around 221 lbs. My original goal I think was 214. I’ve been as low as 218 (after sweating out water weight). I think the body changes are pretty good, but the last 5 will likely take some more diet modification (stop eating crap). To really improve body comp I think I need to keep up with the strength training

7) I bought the new Garmin 245 running watch. I liked running with just my watch. I started going with the phone, and I think that was contributing to some of my back pain hauling that thing around on one side. Last two runs I’ve done without the headphones. I like it somewhat, but I don’t get pumped up as much to run faster without the music.

8) Stretching. Every day I’ve been doing this routine…. really like this kid:
May try to mix it up some and do his 20 minute mobility.
I started doing the Peloton stretches, and those were good too, but I really liked this one.

More to come. Overall health is a big check plus… improving modestly. Fastest 10K time a month ago, continued cardio and mobility work. Weakest point is my strength, but as I’ve always said, that is the one that comes most naturally to me… I know 4 weeks of focused strength training sometime later this year and my strength pretty much comes back to baseline. More important to have the mobility right so I can continue more carefully down that road.

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The NPE Cable mostly worked


So still trying to get the Peloton Digital experience to an optimal place.   I got the ‘NPE Cable’ device and set it up borrowing a phone yesterday evening.   So at this point the only pieces of information I’m getting is Power + Cadence.

This is pretty good, but I need to tie it to heart rate for this really to work the way I want.  Also distance and speed would be nice (the computer does collect the distance and speed data).

So I’ll have to try a few more permutations of the pairing and see if I can get the data out of there.

The other part of was trying to get an app to connect to the NPE.   So for that I tried Strava first, but had no luck.  Then I tried the Wahoo app which work great except for the aforementioned missing data (speed and distance).

This is where it got kind of messy.   I was able to sync the workout directly to Strava…. great!   But I couldn’t to Garmin… boo!   I was able to manually download the .FIT file email it to myself and upload it on the garmin portal, and hence success (viewed in Garmin).


However, still no HR, distance and speed to tie all this together.   Will hopefully get there next week.    At that point,  I think I will be pretty happy with my setup.

I will mention that the NPE device I got appeared to be pretty scratched up (did I get a used one) and I am concerned that the battery life could get sucked out of the thing as it doesn’t seem to ever stop blinking.  Only time will tell.

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Follow-up to first Peloton Post

First follow-up to this post:

Another couple workouts down, and I’m still loving my Peloton digital experience.

I really can’t wait till I receive my NPE Cable device and see if I can start tracking my equipment in Garmin. For me, that’s the missing sauce. I am a data nut, and not tracking rpm/watts/heart rate/etc takes away from what I was getting.

My gym (LifeTime) was sending me a summary at the end of the Spin workout, and I really liked that I could track that in the Garmin portal made a motivating difference. This is what it looked like and you can zoom in on these in the Garmin portal.

So once I’ve got that, I should be able to get this in to Garmin, I should at least be able to track some additional metrics from the Bike, and combine it with my heart rate and get everything synced up nicely.

A bonus too… the NPE Cable device should allow me to also take rowing workouts and use that data. May get some more time on the rower knowing I can combine all this and analyze (again, I’m a data nut and these things motivate me).

One other piece. I may be able to go to the gym and use this pod and track treadmill workouts as well. Another bonus (actually might be able to receive Ant fitness profiles from the Woodway and sync them up with hear rate).

Tracking the data provides some amount of motivation.

What does all this mean. Effectively tracking my cardio performance over time. I may be in that 40+ range, but that doesn’t mean I can’t improve a ton…. running miles down to 8 minutes seems in the realm of possibility along with improving my power output on the bike. All good stuff.

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Spinning with Peloton Digital – Hacking it

Summary:  Giving my thoughts on buying a used Spinner bike and doing Peloton digital and some of the pros/cons of that decision.    Main Points:

  • You can buy a good quality used bike in the 400-600 range but it might take some work to get all the ‘metrics’ out of it.   
  • Peloton Instructors are great and will keep you motivated.   It’s a good value at 20 bucks a month and what really makes the platform awesome IMO.   
  • Lots of competition in the space
  • Hardest part is matching resistance with the instructor 

I did a couple spin classes at the gym recently and liked them well enough and wanted something to supplement my running that was a little less damaging on the joints.   I wanted to try the Peloton workouts since I could do them on my own time and wouldn’t need to schedule.  Peloton is the best of breed in this space right now (more on this later).    So I decided to go the ‘hack’ route first, and buy a used bike and see if I actually like it.  This post goes through my thoughts on buying a bike, and what I think of the classes so far.

So first off, the the Peloton bike is very expensive.    2300 dollars to get it shipped and setup.   I tried it out at the mall, and it appeared to be of good quality, but what really got me was the difference between the subscription for Peloton digital, vs if you buy their bike or treadmill.   They are basically charging double if you have the bike (19.50 vs 39 a month).  There are some benefits to the Peloton Bike experience.    You get a leader board, shout outs, and I think most importantly your in line with the resistance the instructor is advising.   You also get tracking of your wattage/cadence and other metrics over time directly from the bike.   I can see where this would be highly motivating and worth the extra 20 dollars a month.  If I do 6 months of Peloton Digital and truly love it, I will highly consider buying the bike and paying the additional money for the subscription.

On the flip side, my biggest concern with the bike purchase was that it locks you in to their program.   I am noticing a fair amount of competition in this space (guided fitness subscription workouts).   Echelon, NordicTrac , Spinning (Precor), Bkool and others have all entered the space.   It does appear the Peloton has the best offering right now, but in the long run I imagine all the competition will lead to some additional price and quality competitiveness ( both in the hardware of the bike, and the software class experience).    So having a non-connected bike allows me to experience several different programs and evaluate each before making a final decision.   I hope to run a few other classes on other spin bike sites and compare.

All of these bike makers seem to lock you in to their system (so Peloton isn’t any different than the above mentioned).    It reminds me of many tech companies.  You buy Apple or Android, you get locked in to their platform.  This is fine, especially when the quality is good.   My biggest fear though is that I want to stop paying for a subscription at some point and then my bike becomes a brick, or I want to switch content providers and the bike becomes a lot less useful.   Even simple things like, I want to just watch TV while on the bike turns in to some hack of the system.  This is what gave me pause when I looked at buying the bike.

So at this time I didn’t want to outlay 2500 bucks to get going,   Instead I was going to do 1/5th of that and give it a try.     So to do this on the cheap I decided to purchase a used Spin Bike off craigslist.   I bought a Spinner Blade Ion.  It’s a studio quality, heavy fly wheel, chain drive bike.   My deciding factor for this bike was it had an on board computer that displayed watts, cadence, time, etc.    This bike took a little while to get it setup right (actually still working on that), but so far so good.   I really wanted a watts display from having used one at the gym because it gave me a sense of how ‘relatively’ hard I was working.   The one piece I haven’t gotten working yet is connecting the ANT+ heart rate to the bike computer, and receiving the bike workout metrics to the watch.   I think this is an issue with my Garmin more than anything as I’ve hooked up an ANT+ reader to the bike computer and I receive cadence, speed, distance and power

So in case you didn’t catch that, with this  ‘Blade ION Spinner’, I should be able to upload each indoor workout to my Garmin connect account and track my progress there.  I’ll update this post when I actually get that to work (which may involve me getting a new watch, which I wanted anyways).    This adds one of the key features that Peloton provides via there bike app combo… tracking of your workout metrics so you can see progress over time  .(UPDATE:   The issue here is that the Blade ION computer uses an ANT+ Fitness profile that nobody supports anymore.   Thanks to the DC Rainmaker I found the NPE CABLE device, and will be giving that a try soon to see if I can convert my metrics.   Bonus… this device will also work with my Concept2 Rower).

I also looked at several new bikes on Amazon.   There seemed to be some good options with magnetic resistance in the 400-600 dollar range, but in the end I went with the Spinner.  The bikes on Amazon (Suny Fitness and others), usually did not have a computer on board, and would require you to go the Wahoo route for a cadence metric.   You would still be lacking the power metric.    The one thing I would say though, some of these less expensive bikes did have magnetic resistance (my Spinner has a leather pad for resistance), and a belt drive as opposed to a chain drive.    So 500 bucks used for my Spinner, and I got a monster of a bike.  Heavy flywheel, chain drive with a computer.

I also should mention I bought some bike shoes and clips (about 60 bucks total) on clearance.   Shoes are Garneau mountain biking shoes that I found on clearance.   I would highly recommend this to anyone who is getting in to Spinning.   Clipping in is a much better experience.

A couple other bike’s that I considered new.     The Echelon, and the BKool both have really good price points, but also have some of the same issues that I looked at with Peloton (but at less than half the price).   Echelon had the same price for the classes as Peloton, but I’ve read some things about quality issues on both the bike and the classes (not to say that is really an issue, but some of the reviews bugged me).  Bkool I couldn’t figure out if you could ever control it on your own, or only with their app.   The other bike I really interested in was the Keiser M3i, but that one runs about 2000 dollars, so you mine as well buy the Peloton if your going to do that.

So now the classes.  So far great!   Really happy with the quality of what I am getting on Peloton digital for 20 bucks a month.  I’ve done several spin classes, and a few stretch and yoga classes.  Classes are of high quality, and I find the instructors personalities fantastic and motivating.    There is so much variety.   They even have strength, boot camp and treadmill workouts.  I  will likely try all of these over time.   20 bucks is a really great price point for this given the variety of classes that are being offered.

Our setup uses an old Samsung Galaxy phone mirrored to a Chromecast on the TV (I had to get a new Chromecast so that was another 35 dollars).    Works perfectly, and I get a huge 55″  screen with a great speaker to crank the music if I like.   I turn down the lights, and my Blade Ion lights up and even feels like a spin class at the gym.

I love the variety of music play lists I am getting on the Peloton Digital classes.   Variety of music themes (90s, 80s, classic rock and even a bit of hip hop for me), and also love the variety of instructors.   I’m starting to gravitate to a few instructors, but love that I can do anyone anytime, and I am not repeating classes.   Their library is HUGE, and this is a huge selling point.     Quality really matters when your evaluating these classes, and that is what will keep people coming back over and over again.   Just writing about it, makes me want to run downstairs and put a quick work out in.

Now my biggest con on the Peloton Spin digital experience is finding the right resistance on the bike and trying to match that up with my instructors.   It really becomes a game of feel.   I do know that when I hit 200-300 on my watts I’m working pretty darn hard… even over 150 watts can feel absolutely draining over a long stretch.   Matching cadence is a bit easier, but I think having a better exact measure on the resistance would help quite a bit.    I can only imagine without the watts figure and only cadence how hard dialing in this might be.     Tracking between workouts via an ANT+ upload would help me dial this in further too.  Time will tell if I can overcome this, or if I feel like I really need the Peloton bike.

What I really love so far too is just like the classes at my gym, I walk out covered in sweat and breathing hard.   I’ve done 30 and 45 minute classes, and both have been fun.  I am getting a great low impact workout on my own time.    I’ve seen improvement in my running as well.   My times are down since I’ve started spinning, and I think this is due to the extra cardio workouts I can get in at home.    What I’d really like to know (and haven’t been able to really measure), is am I getting better at spinning, and is my fitness improving along that metric (again, if I get the Garmin working that should mitigate this).

Also worth mentioning I’ve tried direct upload from the Spinner computer to my phone, and no app seems to do this correctly.  I seem to get cadence, but not power (although I can use an ANT+ plugin app to view all metrics, and see that I am reporting everything at least every second from the blade spinner computer, I just don’t have a way to save this information…. I’ve tried like 10 apps).   I’ll

Will be updating above soon with info from NPE Cable.


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I ran 10 miles

Yes!   10 miles, average 11 minute pace.   Felt pretty good, although I was exhausted at the end of it.  Here were my splits:


Splits Time
1 10:33
2 10:58
3 11:08
4 10:56
5 10:57
6 10:58
7 11:09
8 11:07
9 10:57
10 11:00


10K is the weekend.   I just did a 2 mile run, and it didn’t feel great.   I have trouble when I first get out.   My splits were 9:17, and 9:32 with rest in between each mile.   I can not keep that pace up for 6 miles (to get under an hour).  I’m going to push it and try to run with the 1 hour 2 minute pacer (10 min mile).    If I get halfway through and feel okay, I could pick it up a bit.   That seems unlikely, and if anything I would fade some from here down to a 1:02-1:05 time.    I suppose I should be happy with anything better than what I did on my own  1:05:36, which is still a 2:20 improvement over any previous time.

Part of me is hoping some massive amount of adrenaline and then to be able to kill it at the end and get in just under an hour… but that is a bit of a dream.   Maybe with a true 10 minute pacer I can save myself some… I only seem to know how to go about 9:30 and 11.   Hard to dial it in between.     Will do another very slow light run on Thurs/Fri

Also of note, I’m averaging about 221 pounds these days.   Down about 10 on average.   I am hoping for another push after this race with some more weight training.   Adding the weight lifting sessions tends to be good for about another 5 pounds.   That would get me to my goal of around 215.   I’d like to get a little lower than that, so when I inevitably gain a bit it’s all good.

My new schedule after the race will be Run 2x (slip back to 6-9 miles a week, with a 5-6 and a 2-3 mile focusing more on faster miles).   Bike 2x a week (2x peloton sessions), and 2x weight lifting sessions.   If I am able to , would like to be able to weight lift about 1/2 hour, and do the bike 1/2 hour.  I think 1 month of that and I’ll definitely hit some more of my fitness goals.

Gotta keep getting up early on Sunday’s for a longish run though.   As this weather gets warmer that will be even more key.

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10K Time

As predicted, I hit my pace almost exactly where I thought I would.

1:01:45 9:57

9:57 pace is good. I would have loved to have taken the 20 seconds off the pace and hit an hour, but I know my body wasn’t quite ready for it. I think if I kept training I would probably hit it in the next few weeks, but I am switching gears hear a little bit.

First, a little analysis. What worked? Exactly 1 minute per mile faster, and over 6 minutes faster overall (previous pr was 1:07:56 vs 1:01:56).

Couple things I can see that helped. 1) Consistency. I ran ever week, usually 3 times a week or more. 2) Long runs. The 7, 8 and 10 mile runs helped make running 6 a lot easier. 3) Weight loss, dropping about 10 pounds means less to drag around. 4) Intervals. I mixed training up with some faster intervals. Sometimes those were really hard… especially at the start. I don’t know how much of this had an effect. 5) Cooler weather. I run much better in sub 65 degree weather.
Okay, so now for switching gears. A little less running, but more training overall. I’ve belt an okay cardio base (yea, I’m still slow, but comparatively much much much better). I’ll keep the 2-3 mile runs once a week. Focus on speed. One long run on the weekend 6-10.

Other days, bike and weights. Weight workouts are the usual suspects (Push, pull , squat, lift, carry, etc). 30 minutes on the bike or so. The one last piece. The days I’m feeling good, between these I think adding another bike in is a good idea. Oh, and of course not as an after though, but lots and lots and lots of stretching, mobility work.

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Good runs, bad runs, weight up and down

My last 2 runs have been struggles, but the run before that was absolutely awesome (PR’ed my 10K at 1 hour 5 minutes). Weather is a big factor, I do poorly in sun and warmth, and humidity slows me down a ton. Hoping my body adjusts some to the new warmer weather.

My weight has been up and down. Below 220, to around 225. I know a lot of it is water weight, but it would be nice to have that number more like 215 to 220. I plan to run less, and bike and lift more in May (I think run 2x a week, bike 2x a week, and lift 2x a week). I believe throwing the weight training (deadlifts, squats, etc) will have the most effect on my weight.

I bought a used spinner bike, and doing some Peloton classes. Those are great. I need some shoes to clip in. I also think I need to replace several parts on the bike. It’s not as smooth as I would like (I had a wow factor after riding on the Peloton bike).

So the goal after next weekends race is 2x a week run. One long run on the weekend, one short run during the week focusing on speed. 2x a week spin. Should be 45 minute sessions. High intensity training with the Peloton app. 2x a week weight training with focus on squat, deadlift, heavy carries, push ups, pull ups, lunges, ab work, standing presses, swings … .basically the usual big compound movements. Would be good to get to the gym and do some of the workouts there (the only thing that I really can’t seem to do is heavy weighted dumbell presses and rows that I can get done at the gym.

I think if I can stay consistent, I will hit my weight goal and some of my cardio goals by the end of may. A weight on average below 220. Average of 10 minute miles on my runs.

Last thing…10K in 10 days. I have about 2 training runs to go. I won’t be able to get under an hour and I know this. I do think I can get to about 1:02 (ie, 10 minute pace). They have a pacer running the race at this, and this will be my goal for this run. For prep next week, I will take 2 full days off before the run , and the thursday before I will do a very short slow 20 minute run. Tuesday of next week will be my last opprunity for a ‘real’ training run, and hopefully the weather will cooperate. I will do a run probably on Sunday to see where I’m at (hopefully another rough 10K in cooler weather).

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