Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Intervals for Endurance

 

Winter has firmly taken a hold of Boston with temperatures sub freezing point. But as you know from my running streak earlier this year I can’t be deterred by a bit of cold or snow. In fact, I’ve been ramping up my run training since October, now running every other day with the pattern speed run, long run, recovery run. wp_ss_20141208_0001

To mix it up a bit for my speed run workout I built my own interval training to improve my VO₂max, or maximal aerobic capacity. Most of you will be familiar with the term and the reason behind wanting to increase the amount of oxygen (used to produce energy aerobically) transported to the muscles. If I have lost you, check out this short explanation. As I want to get more into longer distance/endurance running, I use my speed sessions mostly to try to improve my anaerobic threshold. My VO₂max interval training can be used for training the anaerobic threshold as well. Just make sure you set up your resting and maximum heart rate in Track Runner and use a heart rate monitor to control the heart rate zone you are training in (aim for hard heart rate zone).

You can have your VO₂max tested in a physiology lab for best results but as a handy shortcut, use a pace a bit faster than your 3k – 5k pace for short bursts followed by recovery intervals. Having recently run our Remote Turkey Trot 5k flat out, I know that my current max 5k pace is around the 5:50 min/km mark. So, I settled on 4 intervals of 1200 meters length at a 5:45 min/km pace for the hard intervals and a leisurely 7:45 min/km pace for the recovery intervals (3 minutes in length with a 2 minute warm-up).

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So, how did I do? First of all, it was agonizing like all good interval trainings ought to be. But I was pretty happy with the result of my hard work:

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As you can see I managed to finish the first two hard intervals at a higher pace than anticipated but slacked a bit in the last two. On my next attempt, I will be aiming for more consistency (listening more to that lady in my ear telling me to slow down) and keeping to hard heart rate zone. My current cut-off of hard heart rate zone is 175 bpm so on average, I have not exceeded the zone I wanted to train in. Still, the CardioMap shows quite a bit of speed heart rate zone (on the map in red) which I would like to bring down to hard heart rate zone. I’m also considering to increase the recovery periods to 4 minutes to give the heart rate more chance to drop.

I hope my training has inspired you to try and set up your own custom interval training. If you have a great training to share please do so in the comments or email us at workouts@theappcauldron.com with screenshots and we’ll feature it here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#GivingTuesday

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Today is #GivingTuesday, the national day of giving back ahead of the festivity-packed Christmas and holiday season. We want to take out a moment to thank those that have already supported us with their generous donations and contributed directly to making version 5.0 of Track Runner as epic as we imagine it can be. Thank you for valuing our app and investing in its future!

For those of you who just heard about our fundraiser for version 5.0 or haven’t had the chance to contribute yet, we appreciate donations in any amount via our convenient PayPal donating option. You can also support us by using an Amazon affiliate link from our product review page.

Make #GivingTuesday count for your favorite running app. Share the link to our donation page (https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=25LXU8J576B4L) and spread some Track Runner love!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Remote Turkey Trot 5K

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Thanksgiving weekend is coming up and with it a season best known for record times between the fridge and the sofa. There’s nothing like a little friendly competition amongst Track Runners to keep us all moving so we organized the first Remote Turkey Trot 5K race.

WHAT’S THAT?
It’s super simple: All you do is go to your favorite 5k track/trail/route a few minutes before the official starting time (see table below), start a run (can be freestyle or pacer), get the live-tracking link for your active run and tweet it out using the #TrackRunnerApp tag – and bang, you’ve entered. Simply start running at your designated starting time and let the world watch in awe as you break your – and hopefully anybody else’s – record.

WHEN’S THE SHOWDOWN?
Well, it depends… We are so blessed to have Track Runner users from all over the world. We tried hard to find a time that would work with most time zones so as many as possible could participate. For most of us,the race will be on
Saturday, November 29, 2014
although our friends from India, Australia, and New Zealand will be running on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014. The table below shows some popular race times but you can always go by GMT to calculate your own. (Please check whether your country is currently observing daylight savings time as this will affect your calculations in relation to GMT).
AK Time PST Central EST GMT CET IST NZ Time
10AM 11AM 1PM 2PM 7PM 8PM 12:30AM Sunday 8AM Sunday

HOW DO I GET LIVE TRACKING TO WORK (AND WHAT’S THAT ANYWAY)?
When you are live-tracking a run it means that the app creates a link to a Google Maps website* on which watchers can follow your run if you share the link on Twitter or other social networks. Watchers can also cheer you on and you will be able to hear their comments via voice notifications if you are using headphones or have the volume turned up.
To turn live tracking on, start a run (or pacer run), then hit the back button to navigate to the “tracking paused” screen. Tap “live tracking” (bottom left) and choose a sharing option. For Windows Phone 8.1 users: Please note that direct Twitter sharing has not been made available as of yet so you will have to use the copy URL option and paste the link into your Twitter client (don’t forget to tag it with the #TrackRunnerApp hashtag so watchers will find you). Watchers please note that it can take up to a minute after the runner started his run for the map to show up. If you see Track Runner’s app store page keep hitting refresh until the Google Map appears.
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BUT I JUST STARTED RUNNING…
Great! Take this turkey trot as your first race. Aim for the finish line, don’t stress about timings. We’ve all started out at some point and are excited to share our hobby with all of you new to running so I am sure you will find the running community supportive and the experience energizing and rewarding!
In that spirit, have an awesome race on Saturday and make sure you share those live tracking links!

*Privacy advice: Since the point of the remote race is to share your run with Twitter (and Facebook) followers/friends and your route will be visible publicly, we recommend that you don’t start your race at your front door.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Help us make Track Runner v. 5.0 a reality!

We have some innovative new features planned for Track Runner and are working tirelessly to make them happen. Track Runner’s hallmark are its intuitive, highly customizable training options and we are gearing up to take them to another level. This is exciting and fun but also expensive. We’d love to spend most of our time working on Track Runner v. 5.0 and the good news is you can help us achieve just that! 

 
There is no doubt you love Track Runner based on the awesome feedback and reviews we are getting. And we have received many requests to add a donate button to the app so you can show your appreciation in actions rather than words.


Here are ways to help us get you running with Track Runner v. 5.0:

  • Click here to donate or use the PayPal Donate button in the top right corner of this page. PayPal accepts credit cards, too, so you won’t even need an account to send us your gift. Pro tip: For some extra love, make it recurring with a simple tick of a box! 
  • Product reviews: Browse our new section “product reviews” for our take on BTLE heart rate monitors and other gear and gadgets. If you feel inspired and are ready to get the product, simply use our Amazon Affiliate links to buy them on Amazon. Do us a big favor and complete your Amazon holiday shopping including the linked product while you’re there and you will have given us a Christmas gift as well. :)
  • Share, share, share: use social media to let your family and friends know about our app and our fundraiser. Like Track Runner on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and spread the donate link to show us you care!

 

We are determined to keep Track Runner free of charge and without annoying banner ads while cranking out those sweet updates. The App Cauldron is invested in the Windows Phone running community – now it’s your turn to invest in us!


In that sense: Ready, Set, DONATE!


Sarah & The App Cauldron Team

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Friday, August 22, 2014

A sneak peek at Track Runner’s next updates – Uber me Home?

Track Runner is a product of our passion for running. We developed, tweaked, listened, iterated, but never compromised to deliver the best rated Windows Phone running app. And we are always thinking ahead to further enhance the training experience for our users. With our next update to Track Runner v4, we’re adding custom distances to the pacer and improved sharing on Facebook. We also put additional heart rate sensors through their paces and will be adding these to our list soon. This update will be out in the next few days.
So – how can we improve on this? What are the problems typically faced by runners? And how can we solve them? Like every self-respecting startup, we analyzed our data and this is what we found:
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13% of runs end more than 1 km (.6 miles) away from their starting location. Typically, these runs follow some of the most beautiful trails in the country, like the Boston Charles River path. So – instead of carefully planning a loop (hello, 53%) that will be either too short or too long, wouldn’t it be great if you could just run? And at the end, an Uber car will magically appear, maybe even hand you a towel, and take you home.
Remember that Track Runner is Master of Maps? “Any app with a map is a potential Uber API partner”, says Uber. So we had a go… Our experimental Uber integration comes with the following features:
pacer screen surrender popup improved start screen
  • “Uber @ finish line”: Thanks to our track recognition and the pacer, an Uber car is dispatched automatically to your projected finishing location, waiting to take you home after your run.
  • “Surrender to Uber”: If your pacer training is not going as expected, soften the blow with a royal trip home.
  • Uber me home: Just run and order an Uber with one tap whenever you’re ready.
We usually do not share our experimental features publicly. However, we are making an exception here and want to hear from you! What do you think about the utility and convenience of these features? If you would like to be one of the first to try Uber integration, why not join our beta program by emailing betatester@theappcauldron.com?
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Time for “Surrender to Uber?”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How to improve your PR: Improve your race strategy with the Pacer (and learn how to use pacing in your training)

Success can be measured in many ways. Success can mean even making it to the track, it can be managing a mile without stitches, 5k without walking or maximizing the kcal burned over a long sustained run. But for many of us success is measured in breaking our personal records. One clever tool that helps many of our users to improve upon their PR is the Pacer. wp_ss_20140817_0001

For those who aren’t familiar with Track Runner’s Pacer: This feature helps you stick to a predetermined pace by guiding you through the run with voice notifications. If you want to run 5k in 30 minutes for example, the pacer keeps you running at a constant speed by telling you to slow down if you steam ahead in the beginning or speed up if you’re not quite on track to finish in your chosen time. It’s super simple to set up and gives your training the extra edge. 

But the Pacer isn’t just for pros, it doesn’t judge, it just gives us the extra kick we may need to keep on target.I have been working on technique as of lately as my goal is to improve my stride rate and aerobic fitness and have used the pacer to discipline myself more so than to achieve new PRs. My new routine is running every other day with the following pattern: 5k, 10k, recovery (anything between 3k and 7k) and I use the pacer most of the time. The 5k is about pushing and shaving off seconds of my personal best but the other two distances are really about managing my resources, staying in a moderate heart rate zone and being consistent. These are the runs where I hone my stride rate (up to 176 steps per minute now!) and try to maintain a relatively low heartbeat while still moving forward (harder than it sounds ;)

As you can see on the pictures, the pacer has (mostly) kept me in check and even made recovery runs still feel like a fun challenge.

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Pushing hard to improve my PR

Time for a recovery run! Cardio Map below in large.

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What do you use the pacer for?  Let us know on Facebook (http://facebook.com/trackrunnerapp), Twitter (@trackrunnerapp) or in the comments!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

OneDrive integration? Pace heat map? Additional language? Music Player? Vote for your favorite feature request!

Just over a week ago we launched our new user voice site at http://trackrunner.uservoice.com for you to suggest new ideas, report bugs and browse our knowledge base to find out more about some common questions – for example Which heart rate monitors does Track Runner support or How to fix voice notification issues. Already there are some great ideas and if you have an idea of your own, don’t be shy and post it here or vote for your favorite idea! You can also use the user voice site to submit bug reports (click on “Contact Support” on the right side of the page). We love to hear from you!