Learning to Run Step One – Get the right tools for the job

As I said in my previous post How life changes – looking back and going forward, I have decided that in 2013, having mastered walking, I am now going to learn to run. I thought I would share the tools I have used to get me started – as having the right tools for the job definitely makes things easier.

My Smartphone

I have a Galaxy S2 smartphone – and I use it for EVERYTHING, so it was the first place I turned to when I was looking for help with my challenge.  I already used the sports tracking app Endomondo to track all of my walks and other exercise last year.  Endomondo has great challenges you can join, and that was how I logged my 100 miles every month – no messy spreadsheets to manage – just turn on your GPS – set Endomondo running – and the app does the rest.

Runkeeper

So I searched for an app which provides an easy-to-follow programme to get you running, and I settled on Runkeeper.  I was able to set my target as being able to run a 5k in early March – and then the app gave me a programme of walks and runs to follow leading up to this goal.  It suggests one workout every other day , which as I used to try and walk every day, seemed quite manageable.

However, Runkeeper did suggest I did short runs from quite early on, before I was really ready to – so I used it alongside my Endomondo, where I set up an interval training programme which would beep every minute or so, and I used this to do my burst of exercise with alternating walking and running segments.  This has really helped me to keep focused and spurred me on to run a little more than I would have done without these apps to tell me what to do.

Heart Monitor

For my birthday I was given a Zephyr heart monitor.  If you are exercising to lose weight, using a heart monitor makes the calorie burn estimates in Endomondo much more accurate – and you can see your fitness levels improving too by seeing how quickly your heart rate comes down after exercise.  This monitor attaches to a strap you wear round your chest, and links via Bluetooth to the Endomondo app on my phone.  I was very interested to see how my heart rate fluctuates during a Zumba class – we do a very high impact routine to a Rhianna song and that gives me my peak reading!

Supplements

I take several supplements which help keep my energy levels up.  For a start, I take Bee Pollen tablets each morning which helps with energy and stamina,  I take Arctic Sea  for the fish oils and Omega 3 and 6 which has really helped control my inherited high Cholesterol levels and also I take a vitamin C supplement called Absorbant C which helps maintain healthy connective tissues, skin joints and respiratory functions.

Products for Fitness

Products for Fitness

The new supplement I have been trying is a drink you make up from powder called ARGI + which maintains healthy blood pressure and cardiovascular health.  ARGI+ contains L-Argenine and vitamins and I take the drink just before I go out running – and I have noticed that I can catch my breath more easily  when I remember to take it just before my run. I have seen some excellent testimonials from Iron Man competitors about the Forever Living supplements I am taking and how they have helped others – I am not quite up to their activity levels, but every little helps!  You can learn more about these products on my website – clicking on the Order Forever Nutri-Lean button at the bottom right to get access to the web shop.

Progress So Far

So how am I doing with my challenge?  Well, on Sunday 27th January I took part in my first Just Racing 5k Cross country race.  I managed a time of 38:28 and although I walked up some of the hills, I am very proud of my achievement.   Weather and work have now meant I have missed out on a couple of weeks of running – but you may see me at a Park Run in Northamptonshire soon trying to improve my time!

Myself and Jo with our medals.

Myself and Jo with our medals.

Mobile Tweeting – don’t get caught out

Well, we had a nasty shock at Silicon Bullet yesterday. We moved phone contracts in August from O2 to Orange due to signal problems in our offices, and got lovely Samsung Galaxy S2 phones on contract.

We have a 800Mb monthly download limit, and over the first 3 months this has been more than adequate for our mobile download needs, as we use Wifi wherever available.

Then yesterday a bill for almost £400 plopped onto our mat. Normally the bill is around £70 per month and we are well within our limits.

So the first question is, if Orange monitor our usage (which they do in order to bill us) how can they not even have the courtesy to flag up a sudden jump in usage in a timely way so we don’t get hit with a huge bill? A simple text to flag there may be a problem is all it needs; it can’t be rocket science. Or is this how they make their money?

Secondly, how has our data usage changed in order to suddenly attract this huge bill? The first step was to look at the online data usage to see when the peak times were. They seem to be on occasions when I was driving and not actively using the phone – I can pick this up accurately as I know when the school run is. It must therefore be an app downloading data when the phone is not actively being used.

We have now installed a handy app on our phones which monitors downloads so we can pick out the culprits, and first indications are HootSuite (which I use to monitor my @SiliconBullet twitter account) and Tweetdeck (where I manage @weebly_one – my personal twitter account). These have downloaded huge amounts of data just in the 16 hours since we installed the new App. I fear I may have to give up mobile tweeting if this trend continues. surprisingly the Facebook and Foursquare apps I use have not got such heavy usage at all.

The fact remains though that I have been using Tweetdeck for ages, and it is only this month that we blew our limit out of the water – so we do need to investigate further – I will keep you updated.

The moral of this story is if you have a download limit, then monitor it – the apps for doing this are free, and you can record your monthly allowance in them so you can see what is going on and when you are nearing your limit. It is definitely worth the time and effort to prevent you being hit with a huge bill like we have. Also, encourage your mobile operator to take responsibility; they get enough of our money to be able to manage a system where sudden changes in usage should flag a warning to the end-user while they can still do something about it.