Life, Running, & Medicine.
Notes on life as I see it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bad Blogger Bad!

My last post was some 17 days ago.  Since then I've worked two straight weekends (got Memorial Day off though) and several nights of call.  Got in this morning at 5:30 and left tonight at 7, which unfortunately has been par for the month.  On top of it all I gave a "Grand Rounds" this morning (about an hour long scientific talk) to my peers which took a lot of preparation.
Somehow on Memorial Day I squeezed in a half marathon training run.  I set out to do only about 8 or 9 miles but popped a Gel and was feeling too good to stop.  I made it to 13.1 on the Garmin and then walked the mile or so home for cooldown.
During the week I have been using the elliptical some, though not as much as I'd like.  Not enough miles worth logging.
My June will be equally busy then a slight improved schedule for July through Oct (I think).
OH and the other good news is I got a number for the Peachtree Roadrace 10K.  It should be a lot of fun - Hope to see you there.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sole E35 Elliptical Review (early)

So here' s my first review of the Sole E35 Elliptical Trainer.  I will plan to give another review after a few months of use and of course will append as necessary if there are any issues.
Ordering & Delivery
Ordering directly from saved me the sales tax over going to Dick' Sporting Goods.  Also included in the price was free freight delivery to the doorstep.  Ordering could not have been easier online.  I got a confirmation that night in email and a shipment confirmation with a tracking number the next day.  They said it would take 10-14 days but got a call from the freight company saying they had it in Atlanta just 6 business days later.  It was delivered to the sidewalk in a large heavy box, undamaged.
All in all it took about 1 hour to move the parts upstairs and assemble.  Hardest part is the flywheel unit which must've weighed 100 pounds.  Would definitely recommend some help with moving it.  Assembly is pretty clearly laid out and easy to follow.  I bought some Locktite thread glue to put on the bolts to keep them from loosening but forgot to use it.  Oh well.
First off this machine is very impressive in its durability.  It seems like it is made very heavy-duty with big heavy steel parts and tightly fastening bolts.  I don't see how normal use could hurt the frame components.  It has the look of a stripped-down industrial machine.  Operation, thus far, has been very quiet.  I worked out this morning just one thin wall away from my light-sleeping wife who did not notice.  I was careful to really tighten all the bolts and make sure of no cross-threads when assembling.  If any do work loose I will locktite the threads to keep it from happening again.  I bought some 3/8" thick interlocking floors pads from Wal-Mart for the mat over my wood floor.  The base sits only about 20" wide and 82" long.  Seems very strong.  The machine weighs some 220 lbs and has a 30-lb flywheel.
The console is appears to be no-frills.  Only a few buttons, no crazy displays, no crazy stickers.  A lot of cheaper treadmills seem like they put a lot or colors and lights on the console to sell them.  This is not the case with this machine.  It has a fan that does almost nothing (don't even notice when it is on).  It has simple speakers for your iPod and interestingly also has a headphone output that I can't figure out what it is for (if you had an iPod why plug it in to the machine just to plug your headphones in to the machine?).  The workouts seem adequate (hills, intervals, fat burn, manual and a user-programmable one) as is the 16 levels of resistance.  Weirdly there is also a heart-rate control program, but the Sole website says this machine does not have that setting.  Interestingly the console will record you running in "reverse" mode but doesn't have any programs that take advantage of this like the gym models.
One point of interest is that it seems like the console reports about half the calories burned as the LifeFitness models I use at the gym.  On the LifeFitness, a comfortably hard workout for me burns 15cal/min.  A similarly "comfortably hard" workout on the Sole burns me only about 8cal/min.  There is obviously wide variability in these calculations and it may change after the machine is more broken-in.
Pedals and Smoothness
Very smooth.  No jerks, very comfortable and natural.  The 20-inch stride is the same as the commercial LifeFitness models I have used.  Trying out the cheaper shorter stride ellipticals at Dick's was useful to really see the difference.  The shorter the stride the less like running and the more like bicycling. Also practically no swaying or rocking.  The pedals have a 2-degree rotation on them to take pressure off your knees, so it is more like running.  Also they have adjustments to add up to 10-degrees of forward tilt which they claim helps with the problem of some people's toes/feet going numb after a long workout.
Heart-rate Monitor
The chest strap seems to only work when I am really sweaty and it is pretty tight.  The palm grips work best after your palms are sweaty but is much more reliable.  After reading some other sites out there it seems those chest straps are universally notorious for unreliable monitoring.  So far have not been able to get the heart-rate controller to work because can't get the chest strap to pick up my heart for long enough.
First two workouts
No complaints.  Pedals are comfortable enough for barefoot (though maybe not recommended).  The heart rate strap reliability is not quite there yet.  There could be more frills with the console, like saving workout/user data, etc; but the simplicity is nice too.  The calorie counter being "different" from the other machines I use is a little disappointing, but I don't know which is more accurate anyway.  All-in-all it felt like I was on a commercial-quality machine, and so far would recommend to anyone wanting a "home gym".

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Intervals Anyone?

This morning I did a 2 1/2 mile run to the local high school track (the school interestingly has a "green roof" with about a 1/3 mile running path on top of it, in addition to the track).  I took to the track and did some intervals - basically going from my usual 9:30 pace to a sub-7:00 for 1/4 mile at a time, then back to a slow cool down 1/4 mile.  I did five of these intervals total, the last one running at about a 5:30 pace.  I then ran back home for about 8 miles total.
This is the first time I've done real intervals.  My workout time was overall shorter, and my overall pace quicker.  I will have to continue these on a weekly basis; I especially like today where I got in a longish run in addition to the intervals.