Posts Tagged ‘Swimming’

12 days of sporty gifts — Day 6 — The gift to top all gifts

December 18, 2010

If you’re really looking to impress that sporty person on your gift list, look no further than the Garmin Forerunner 310xt.

At it’s core, the Forerunner 310xt is a heart rate monitor.  But oh is it so much more than that!

Garmin, as I’m sure you’re well aware is known for it’s GPS navigators.  And they’ve packed that GPS technology into the Forerunner.

No more mapping outdoor running or biking routes.  All you have to do is get outside and go, the Forerunner takes care of the rest, tracking your mileage as you travel.  Not only can you use it to track your runs and rides, but it’s also waterproof which means open water swimming practices are now completely accurate to the foot or meter.  (You can set it to standard or metric distance measurements means you can forget about converting that 10k into miles).  Also, you can set the Forerunner to beep or vibrate at whatever distance interval you prefer making it easy to be track and also (and this is huge for cyclists) allowing you to  keep your eyes on the road!

The battery life on this thing is long, lasting upwards of 20 hours on one charge which means you don’t have to worry about it dying during the middle of one of your long workouts or training sessions.

My absolute favorite feature is the virtual pacer.  Set it to the miles/km per hour you want to keep up with and the Forerunner will beep or vibrate to let you know if you’re keeping up.  I used the pacer during my last triathlon and it helped me turn in my best time ever.  It’s like having a trainer there with you yelling at you to pick it up.

Another noteworthy feature is the back to start map option which means you’ll never get lost.  If you get so into a run that you lose track of where you’re going and how to get back home, simply select “Back to Start” and the Forerunner will guide you back home via the way you came. — Awesome, right?

In the few months Garmin let me test out the Forerunner, I really only came up with one con.  The thing is huge…about the size of wearing two wristwatches next to each other.  That also means it’s a little heavier than most heart rate monitor watches, but the extra weight is hardly noticeable.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Check out this review from a marathoner friend of mine who used the Forerunner in the final months of his training for this year’s New York City Marathon.

One run with the Forerunner was all I needed to erase any concerns I had and convert me forever. It was supposed to be a post rest 4 miler, a brush up after two weeks of pool running, but quickly turned into a 6 miler. What impressed me right off the bat were the vibrating mileage alerts. Set at a beep every half mile, the alerts made the run feel quicker and broken in down into segments, so as opposed to a 6 mile run it was more like 12 half mile runs rolled into one. The real luxury of the Garmin turned out to be the heart monitor. I never knew what my heart rate was, let alone even cared, and felt any monitor was just another tool to bog a runner down. Yeah….I was wrong. The addition of a heart monitor in the final month of training, including three 14 plus milers, was invaluable. It felt like that 3 digit heart rate was a tiny digital coach. When my rate went to high, I knew I needed to slow down. When it dipped to low, I knew I could speed up. I was now running at my goal pace and removed any post run questioning, such as did I push too hard? Did I go to slow?

 An obvious attribute is the GPS. I don’t even need to spend much time here and can sum it up with one sentence. No more logging on to ‘Google Maps’ or ‘Map My Run’ and trying to remember what street I turned down when figuring out my day’s mileage.

As race day approached, I became more reliant on the Garmin and started to realize how foolish I was for questioning anyone who spent money on one. On race day, I wish I had spent it years ago. I didn’t try do anything different from my training runs, but as mile 21 approached and the inevitable wall loomed, I caught myself staring at it every few steps. Looking back on the race, I don’t even think I was staring at my pace, but my heart monitor and became lost in it, an ultimate distraction. And in a sport that can be full of external distractions, it really helped me focus.

 I finished 2 minutes under my goal pace.

 It’s been a month of running without the Garmin and its back to Google maps and choppy paces because I can’t target my heart rate on my own. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

 I’ll end with one quick note, the watch does not feel as big as it looks. I always thought people with Garmin’s looked like Inspector Gadgets niece, Penny. It fits like an Ironman and after a few miles you forget it’s even on your wrist.”

So as my friend alludes to, the Garmin Forerunner 310xt carries a weighty price tag, retailing for around $399.  But trust me, the athlete on your list will remember the gift for years to come.

Only 6 shopping days left until Christmas!


12 Days of Sporty gifts — things for a swimming

December 14, 2010

One of the few places you can workout without any distractions is in the pool.  I happen to love swimming, alone with my thoughts and only the sound of my breathing, but that extreme isolation keeps a lot of people out of the water.  

If you know someone like that, then give them the gift of underwater music this Christmas. 

Waterproof headphones come in a variety of styles (earbuds, wraparound) and colors with prices ranging between $19 and $50 dollars.  Waterproof MP3 players are also available, but they’ll set you back a hundred bucks or so.  One of the cooler ones, called the Nu Technology Dolphin Touch, actually has an FM tuner that let’s you listen to your favorite radio station as you rack up the laps.

If you’re not looking to spend that much and know someone’s who’s willing to take a risk with their iPod, then you  might want to buy them a waterproof case specifically designed for an iPod.  I’ve never actually used one, but they claim to be 100% waterproof up to a depth of 12-19 feet.  I’m assuming they do what they say because there are more armband/case options than MP3 players.

A great place to find all of these gifts is

What your belly button has to do with athletic skill

December 8, 2010

Here’s a story out of the “weird, but true” file.

A scientist at Duke University says the location of your belly button can either give you an advantage in the pool or on the track.

Apparently, your belly button marks your body’s center of gravity.

If you believe this guy, then you’re a better runner if your navel is higher on your torso; a better swimmer if your navel lies lower.

Whether you have an innie or an outie doesn’t matter.

Smile! (Or don’t)

September 30, 2009

MouthYou all know how much I love swimming, but something I read recently has me thinking twice about suiting up and diving off the deep end. 

Apparently logging a lot of time in chemically treated pools, aka most pools out there, can cause your front teeth to stain.  And I’m not talking about a slight yellow tinge…I’m talking a cringe-worthy-kiss-me-and-you-die dark brown.  Um, yuck. 

 The condition is called swimmer’s calculus (yet another reason to not like math) and it’s caused when the pool chemicals mix with saliva.  But there is something to smile about (ha): it usually affects those who swim more than six hours a week. 

So unless you’re trying out for the 2012 Olympics, your pearly whites will stay that way.  (Unless, of course, you’re a coffee drinking, chain smoking, lean, mean lap swimming machine!)