Yoga, Tracking, and a Bridge Too Far.

After a week of being injured but actually not really dealing with the fact that I was injured correctly – as in I wasn’t actually resting – I finally convinced myself to stand down for a few days. Which is theoretically unhelpful when comes to my weekly running post but in reality not running is as much a part of running as actually running is. Is that complete nonsense? Perhaps, but I’ve never met a runner who has managed to avoid injuries throughout their experiences pursuing the sport. We all have to deal with time off, either through choice or through our bodies forcing our hands. Every now and then we have to sit on the side-lines and cool our heels. Despite wanting to run, we can’t. So what? What do we do to stop going crazy or losing too much fitness? The answer is probably different for everyone, but I was looking for something super low-impact, and really for something that would help me get that deep-focus that running allows me to find.

My solution was yoga. Internet yoga. I cleared a space in my room, popped a window, and let a YouTube video be my yogi for twenty minutes. I did it once. Then I did it again. And again. And again. I’m a relatively flexible guy so there was nothing in the routines which was too difficult for me to do, but some of the stretches were surprisingly challenging, and were appropriately rewarding. By the end of each of my four follow along sessions that I have done I felt good and strong and…calm. It is a calmness which is in line with the general peace of mind I have following a run, and as such has been very useful in keeping myself convinced that not running is the best option for me right now. Every now and again I get the urge to lace up and hit the road and cross my fingers, hoping that the pain in my hip will just dematerialise. The comfortable state of being that the yoga leaves me in chucks those urges out of the window.

For the next few days yoga will be my main source of exercise, but even when I can get back on the road I have a feeling it may remain an important part of my regime. So far it is providing an excellent way to stretch and strengthen my core, and perhaps more importantly it is keeping my restless running mind at ease.

How useful are Fitness Trackers?

Something that I’m not doing right now is feverishly tracking my activities. When fitness bands and watches first started getting really popular a few years ago I was convinced that I didn’t need one. I wore a watch with a stopwatch function and that was all that I needed, what did I need to know about elevation and heart rate and stride rate? Sometimes I’m still not sure, but I relented. I do now wear a GPS watch with multi-sport function and yada yada yada, and you know what? I do enjoy linking up with my phone and checking out my running stats, I do get a bit of a kick over thinking slightly too hard about the minute details of a 5-mile tempo. But do fitness trackers really work as intended? Do they help us lose weight and meet our goals? New research conducted by the American Journal of Medicine suggests…maybe.

In the article, titled:Is there a benefit to patients using wearable devices such as Fitbit or Health Apps on Mobiles?: A systematic review’ researchers set out to find evidence amongst previously published studies which would suggest that wearable fitness devices and apps have any distinct effect on user’s health.

They did not find that evidence. Amongst the studies which met their criteria they found significant weight loss in only one case and did not find any further evidence to suggest lower cholesterol levels or blood pressure in users wearing fitness trackers.

So does that mean wearable tech isn’t working how it’s sold as working?

Basically, no.

It comes down to the user, not the tech. As pointed out in the article on Runners World which brought my attention to this study, wearable tech is best seen as a source of motivation. It is exactly how it works for me. It is the easiest way to clock my mileage in a week, or make sure my speed is increasing at a satisfactory pace on my higher tempo runs. Does wearing a watch actually make me quicker? No. I could do the same sessions, albeit in a less precise manner, but I could certainly do them and make progress towards my goals whether I wore it or not. But the knowledge of what I have already ran, what I have already achieved, and how that compares with what I want to achieve, serves up an extra slice of motivation to make me stay out on the road that little bit longer than maybe I would without a tracker. Plus, like I said…it’s kind of fun racking up the miles and filling up those little bars and circles and such, it’s just another little hit of dopamine to keep us hooked into a demanding hobby which can threaten to separate itself from you if the grind gets too much.  

Hell on the Humber

Speaking of grind, this week’s race focus is a real killer. Hell On The Humber is a unique endurance event which asks it’s competitors to run/walk/crawl, as many 4-mile laps of the bridge as they can in 6, 12, 24, or 36 hours of competition.

The bridge, near Kingston-upon-Hull, was the longest in the world until 1998 and remains the tenth longest in the world to this day.

Teams of 3 are welcome to tackle the event in relay form, and younger runners and familes can take part in the shorter format Tower Run which ranges between 1 and 5 miles.

If you’re just nutty enough to want to take on the challenge, find more information here.

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