In my last post I extolled the benefits of my new fitness watch – mainly in accurately measuring the distance and time of my runs, but a few other (less important) features as well.
But the data doesn’t have to stay on the watch. I can upload it to web-based applications and, Oh wow! What a plethora of fun and procrastination that opens.
For example, I can view pretty-coloured graphs that track my daily health and fitness, such as movement and heart rate and progress towards daily step goals.
I can see how well I slept – well, I could if I wore my watch overnight, which I tend not to do. I should add that I’m not sure that this tells me anything I can’t already work out from my level of tiredness when my morning alarm goes off.
I earn all sorts of badges as rewards for my endeavours.
I think that I could set myself personal challenges if I wanted to. I don’t want to; I’m not that keen an athlete.
The application compares my performance against my other activities. “This was consistent with your usual efforts” is the most common assessment. Hmm, isn’t that what the teacher writes on the report of the person at the bottom of the class?
All the above could be classed as “nice to haves”. Indeed, even the ability to keep a log of activity is OK, but something I’ve managed without for several years.
However, what is amazing is the ability to track where I’ve run. Remember how the watch uses GPS and the time to track my distance and speed? Well, with this information it is a matter of moments to produce a map – in this case, colour coded to make my relative speed.
I can share these routes with others, in a social-media kind of way. Seeing where others have run is a great way to work out new routes. I didn’t even know that Home Wood existed until I saw that someone had run through it – and I once lived just up the road! It runs from the allotments on Chestnut Avenue and curves round towards North Stoneham church.
To protect privacy, the application allows ‘privacy zones’ to be set; areas of 200 metres (or more) around selected points (around, but not centred on – that would be too easy to decipher!) where the route is not shown. I can start recording my run from outside my front door, without worrying that others might be able to see where my front door is!
I have sometimes thought how useful it would be to have a detailed breakdown of my time for different sections. I could then see where I need to improve my performance. I tried this once by glancing at my stopwatch at various points and trying to remember the times. It wasn’t very successful – I couldn’t remember more than a few times and forgot where some of the points were.
But now I don’t have to. Different sections have been identified and named by previous runners and I automatically get a timing for each of them. Here are some of my regular sections. If you know the areas, you can probably work out where each is:
- Lakeside Country Park: Race the Train; Through the Trees; Lakeside loop to jetty
- Fleming park: Golf course trail (clockwise and anticlockwise); bench to bench; up the hill; down the hill
- Itchen Way (Bishopstoke to Highbridge): Hub to Tunnel North; Between the Bridges; Tunnel to Tunnel North.
But it doesn’t stop there. Surely the best procrastination is Strava Flybys. No not the defunct airline; that was Flybe. I can replay (in speeded-up motion) my activity from the comfort of my home. How much fun is that? I can even see the terrain profile – look how much faster I go downhill!
And for extra enjoyment, I can add others who were running at the same time. Here are a couple of examples of Mrs Chippy’s and my regular runs (over the summer, the run through Fleming Park usually ended at the ice cream van!)