The Future of Fitness and Medicine? There’s an App For That.

For those just tuning in, I’m running my first marathon since 2002 in LA in March and raising money for Pablove. If you don’t mind, please head on over to my fundraising page and give a little something. Anything is appreciated. Thanks so much to David, Kether, Char, Liz, Mom, Alysha, and Gia for the donations thus far (sorry to make you cry, mom!). I made it over the first run ($250) thanks to you. If others can help me get over that $500 rung this week I’d be ecstatic. THANKS!

I’m currently 2 weeks into an 18-week Higdon program. You can follow along with my training at my RunKeeper page. If you’d like to train for the LA Marathon there is still time to sign up for one of the 16-week courses at RunKeeper.

And now for this week’s installment…

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Anyone who has had the misfortune of talking to me about either innovation or fitness recently knows I’m obsessed with how technology can help us move from reactive care to wellness care through feedback and incentives. For example, I use a few devices and Web sites to track my workout, what I’m eating, weight and heart rate. Through these I get a complete feedback loop: What I Ate + What I Did = Result. The Result might be weight fluctuations but it might be faster loops around the track or a long run without that hit-by-a-truck feeling. Also, since my friends and family can track my progress via both public and private Web pages I have a little built-in peer pressure to keep me honest. This feedback loop is inspiring and motivating for me and I thought I’d share my setup here in case it’s useful for anyone else who is looking for a little inspirado.

What I’m using:

    Fitbit

  1. Fitbit – Fitbit is a fancy pedometer attached to Fitbit.com. I keep it in my pocket all day, clipped to my shorts when I run, and clipped to a (Fitbit-provided) wrist band while I sleep. It tells me how many steps I’ve taken, calories burned, and quality of sleep. I doubt any of the three are 100% accurate but that’s not important in practice, what I find it most useful for is getting a sense of your relative activity.

    It’s eye-opening and inspiring to see that on a day I simply go to the office and home again I take around 4,000 steps whereas a Sunday like today where I run ~10 miles I’ll clock in more than 20,000 steps. Fitbit recommends we all have a daily goal of 10,000 steps and that’s pretty hard to hit without trying if you drive to work — you have to take a walk at least to get there, but a short walk will put you over 10K easy. In other words, it’s a do-able goal but unless you walk to work/class you’ve probably got to make a little time for exercise to get there.

    There’s much more to Fitbit.com than just the pedometer, though. You can input virtually any activity (I track my weight training as “active” time) as well as track what you eat. I don’t track the intake very often, but I try to track it now and again just to get a sense for how many calories I’m eating vs. burning on a typical day (it doesn’t take too many days to get a feel for how you’re doing, generally speaking). The sleep tracking is more interesting than I thought it would be. It doesn’t give you much data depth (for that you’d need something like the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach) but it is definitely interesting to look at the history and see how much sleep you’re getting on average. Looking at these trends can point to some patterns and habits that could use adjusting (such as staying up at night blogging and listening to music instead of going to bed and reading — whoops).

    At $99 the Fitbit is a no-brainer purchase relative to the data and motivation you can get from it (just don’t run it through your washing machine). Jawbone has a new entry in the space called “UP” but I haven’t tried it yet — if you have any thoughts on it please leave a comment.

  2. Withings Wifi Scale – This is just a weight scale you stand on, it measures your weight and takes a guess at body fat and uploads the results to the Web. The scale seems to be a little light in a flattering sort of way (it thinks I’m ~150, I’m really more around ~155) and who knows how accurate the body fat guess is but like the Fitbit the real value here is in the relative more than the absolute. I’m not trying to lose weight but taking weight measurements a couple times a week along with everything else is a great reality check. Stepping on the scale is the equals sign — I did this, I ate that, so then what? Oh, it equals this. You start to see the impact of little changes and fluctuations. Every lab needs a way to measure results. $150 on Amazon.
  3. A GPS-enabled Watch w/Heart Rate Monitor – I use a Garmin Forerunner 305 I picked up for less than $100 at my daughter’s preschool auction a couple years back. It’s not the state of the art but it’s a great watch: long battery life for long runs and an excellent interface interval training. Sure, it’s bulky, but you get used to that really quickly (I don’t even think about it anymore). There’s a fancier Garmin watch with the same features now but I can’t vouch for it personally, let me know if you have experience with any of the newer models.
  4. RunKeeper

  5. RunKeeper.comRunKeeper.com rules. You might know it as the running app for iPhone but it’s so much more than that, it’s awesome even if you don’t run or run with a watch like mine instead of an iPhone. All of the things I mention above, the Garmin watch, Withings Scale, and Fitbit all feed into RunKeeper.com and give me a place to collect all my workouts and data. They support apps and I use a RunKeeper app called Stronger to track my strength-training and stretching, too. I can easily look at trends in weekly mileage, see that I tend to be most active at 6am (yikes!), or a bunch of other stats. Plus I can see what my friends are up to — Facebook for fitness nerds of all levels.
  6. TrainingPeaks.com – I thought the old Nike+ Flash site was the worst site ever made but TrainingPeaks.com gives it a serious run for its money. The site is basically unusable but has one saving grace: it will send you a nightly email with your training prescription for the next two days from some of the top coaches in the world. I’m using it now for one of (fellow Hoosier) Hal Higdon’s programs. The emails are great but I’m not getting any value from the site. I can’t figure out why I would pay $20/month for TrainingPeaks.com when RunKeeper.com gives me so much more and more easily, too. But I’m thankful for the Higdon training program.

Yes, I’ve transferred my nerd-ness to personal telemetry. I suppose there are worse things to do with it. But I really do find each of these things valuable. Recommended. I hope that’s helpful.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about where the technology + health space goes from here. Check out Daniel Kraft’s incredible TED talk below for a peek at the future of medicine, personal telemetry, and stage-zero care and prevention. It’s incredibly inspiring.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

Must sleep, get up early, strap on, and hit the road…

ian

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ps – this past weekend my five year-old ran her first race, the kids half-mile at the Long Beach Turkey Trot. After I attempted pushing her in the stroller for the 5K. Crowded field on a boardwalk pushing a stroller — it was frustrating going trying to weave through the crowd and run a reasonable pace. After my daughter said, “You hit everybody.” I pleaded innocence, saying, “Not everybody!” She responded, “Well, most people.” So, apologies to anyone (everyone?) I ran into during that 5K. On Saturday Nicole, Miranda, and I ran the Santa Monica version of the Thanksgiving weekend run, The Gobble Wobble. I broke 20 minutes in the 5K but was 30 seconds slower than I’d hoped. It was a fun race, though, Nic and Miranda killed it!

LA Marathon Training: Week 2

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I love running for the same reason I love skateboarding and biking. There’s something about being in the street, connected to the concrete, unprotected that feels like home to me. Houses, cars, and belongings are nice and all, but I love escaping them and just being human alone in the big scary world. It does feel like we were built/born to run/move but we spend our days sitting instead. Wack sabbath.

Also, I love the consistency of it. Life is crazy. What would you do if your world changed overnight? My answer is simple: I’d get up and run, just like I did today.

I’m training for the LA Marathon. Though I’ve been running pretty consistently since my youngest daughter was born five years ago I haven’t run a marathon since my first in 2002. I’ve really enjoyed just running, building a base, then training for 5 and 10Ks using Daniel’s Running Formula. Running the shorter runs fit my available time much better and the “quality runs” not only mix things up but help you notice the little improvements. Improving is fun. I’ve been digging running more than skateboarding recently for exactly that reason: I’m getting better at it. I’ve been getting steadily WORSE at skateboarding for, oh, about 20 years so it feels AWESUM to be improving at something.

It was the Pablove fundraiser that kicked me into gear for this year’s LA Marathon. Thanks to David, Kether, and Charlene for being the first donors to my training page. And you, dear reader, I’d really appreciate it if you could pop on over there and contribute a little something. Pablove does great work and is worth your charity and generosity.

If you’d like to run the LA Marathon yourself it’s not too late! We’re 17 weeks out from the marathon now and RunKeeper has great 16 week programs that will help you finish with relative ease. Just sign up for one of the programs that starts on November 27th and you’ll be good to go.

I’ve been meaning to write an article about all the gear I’ve been nerding out on (Garmin+RunKeeper, Fitbit, Withings scale, etc) but haven’t had time yet. Hopefully soon! If you have any questions about running, marathon training, or anything at all just ask in the comments and I’ll try to pull a post together in response. I’ll try to blog regularly about the training process.

First week was easy given my current base. I’m using one of the Hal Higdon programs which specifies: Monday and Wednesday are shorter recovery runs, Tuesday is a longer mid-week run, Thursday is a quality workout (speed or hill training), Saturday is a mid-length run at marathon pace, and Sunday is the long run. Friday is the only non-running day. Last week I put in 33.1 miles over about 4 hours and 42 minutes, according to RunKeeper. You can follow along with my training via RunKeeper here.

In bigger news, I started eating a little meat after more than 20 years as a non-meat-eater. I started with turkey and have had chicken twice since. Why? I am pretty sure our bodies were made to process mostly vegetables and fruit along with some lean protein. Meat isn’t the enemy, processed sugars and grains are. Dairy isn’t really needed, either, but I’m keeping that around in small doses. My goal at the moment is to cut out alcohol and processed sugars and grains for the most part, aiming to get most of my carbs (needed for the running regimen) from fruits and veggies. Curious how I feel after a few weeks on this plan while cranking up the mileage and still keeping up with my regular weight-lifting workout. The meat eating isn’t really coming easily. It’s been so long it just doesn’t look appetizing and feels pretty strange. I’ve only managed it three times in the past two weeks. It didn’t upset my stomach or anything, though.

I’ve been pushing my now-five year-old in the stroller since she was five months old. She’s patient, even on the long runs, though in the past we’ve topped out at twelve miles. We’ll see how she’ll tolerate all the way up to 18 as part of this training program. She’s anxious to run herself. After seeing the kids race at the Santa Monica 5000 she asked when she gets to run. So I signed her up for the kids half-miler at the Long Beach Turkey Trot on Thursday (thanks to fellow runner Bret Banta for the tip). She’ll run her half-miler at 9am then I’ll push her in the stroller for the 5K at 10am. Should be fun. Wanna come? Also, Nicole, Miranda, and I are going to hit the Wobble Gobble 5K in Santa Monica on Saturday. Come on down and run that one with us, too, if you’re so-inclined.

Happy running,
ian

Sonos CEO John MacFarlane on This Week In Music

You need Sonos. Sonos + your iPhone or iPad + the subscription service of your choice = LOVE. If you haven’t experienced this first-hand yet you’re missing out. It will change your music listening habits. Don’t front. Grab one of the great-sounding new Sonos Play:3s or go crazy with a full Sonos system for your house. If you really want to give the gift of music this holiday, give someone a Sonos and a year’s subscription to one of MOG, Spotify, Rdio, or Rhapsody. No, I don’t work for Sonos, I’m not an investor or an advisor. I just love the product. I’m listening to Red House Painters via MOG/Sonos as I type this now.

When I went to Santa Barabara for the New Noise conference I dropped by the Sonos offices to get a look at the newest of the new. Sonos CEO John MacFarlane was kind enough to sit down and talk about the history and business of Sonos with us for a bit. Click above to watch.

Be sure to visit the This Week In Music page on ThisWeekIn.com to subscribe on iTunes, follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, all that good stuff.

This week we have a special Black Friday show when Jim Donio, the president of the music industry’s retail trade group, NARM joins the show! Tune in live at 4pm PT Friday at http://thisweekin.com/live.

ian

LA Marathon Training Starts today

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If my calendar math is correct we’re 18 weeks out from LA Marathon right now, so if you’re planning on joining us in running across LA, now is the time to start training.

I’m a huge fan of RunKeeper so I signed up for one of their marathon training plans just to see how they work. They have 16-week training plans for all levels — if you want to nail the LA Marathon date go here and sign up for the appropriate plan starting on November 27th. Follow along with my training on my RunKeeper page here.

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Personally, I am planning to follow one of Hal Higdon’s classic 18-week marathon training plans (I started today with a nice easy 3 miles after running a 10 mile race in TN this past Saturday). You can see all of his plans at his site, here. You can get detailed day-by-day training plans direct from Hal on TrainingPeaks.com. This is another great route if you’re looking for smart plans and daily motivation. My first “here’s what you need to run tomorrow” email just came in (see above) and I’m sold already. Great motivation.

pablove

I started a page to raise funds for Pablove throughout my training, too. Pablove does incredible work with children living with cancer and any money you give goes to fund that work and pediatric cancer research, too. So what are you waiting for, get over there and give a little something in honor of my self-abuse. THANK YOU.

If you have any questions about getting up and running with your marathon training program, feel free to reach out either in the comments or @iancr on Twitter. I’d be happy to help if I can.

See you out there.

ian