Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Am Not A Seal: Breaking Through Your Own Sound Barrier

I swam today in the ocean – 49 degrees Fahrenheit water, 55 degrees air (in the sun), equaling a personal no-wetsuit record of sorts. I went in twice and this time I actually took swim strokes for 15 to 20 seconds. I've been swimming a lot in temperatures of from 57 to 62 F., and the difference between the latter range and 49 degrees is the voice in your head that realizes "I am not a seal." I'm a warm-blooded creature with inadequate blubber layers.

Whether I can claim to be the "fitter" for today's plunge is questionable, given the short duration of immersion. The longterm effects, of which I've accrued, are healthy. I did have to break through a mental barrier, however; the swim was more Felix Baumgartner than Dr. Oz. Put it this way; 17 more degrees in one direction equals 66, and most of the people I encounter won't even swim in waters that are 66. 17 degrees in the other direction is 32, when water freezes.

I'll be back at it tomorrow, and plan to continue in November. I like using these pages as a kind of diary.

The Hazards Of Coach Potato-ism

BTW, two links you might be interested in, both topics of which FFG covered extensively: two more studies indicating that failure to move throughout the day is both a prosaic subject and deadly; and a study that found that multivitamins had a small but significant cancer prevention effect.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Looking At Strava And Its Fun Wattage Stats

I've been looking at Strava Cycling and making a comparison with Endomondo, in terms of cycling/running and crunching all the stats afterwards.

The apps are similar: your ride is automatically uploaded to your own web dashboard, where you have a nice map to look at. Endomondo's is better (but I've only used the free Strava app), in that each of the miles are marked on the map. I like looking at the mile splits. Almost everyone does. Nothing beats the Garmin Connection player feature however, where you get to replay your ride with Flash, and watch the MPH and elevation change on the route (now that's a killer app).

Strava has an interesting feature in which it estimates your watts for the ride. A power meter on your bike does this much more accurately, but I appreciated this theoretical parameter anyways.

Watts are a measure of how much power you apply to the pedals, in terms of energy output. What if your bike was cranking out electricity, and not just chewing up calories? So if I average 93 watts for a ride (pretty pedestrian...) then my pedaling could have lit about one and a half 60-watt bulbs for an hour. It's another stat that you can keep trying to beat on your routes. Gotta light up more bulbs!

How do they calculate watts in the Strava software? I could only guess. They have an algorithm that includes your weight, an estimate of the weight of your bike (which widely varies; I was on a 30ish pound mountainbike, while someone else could be on a 18-pound road bike), the distance you covered, and the elevation you climbed. And of course the time you took to cycle the course.

I ran both apps together on my Android phone, just to see what the different calculations of distance would be. Strava estimated 12.2 miles, 401 feet of elevation (you can tell I'm not in the mountains), and 386 calories. Endomondo came up with 12.12 miles, about 423 feet of climbing, and 675 calories.

Pretty similar, but you can see how setting Endomondo for different modes of cycling alters their calorie estimate.