Monthly Archives: February 2014

So Long, FitBit Force, and Thanks for All The Steps

Yesterday was something of a shocker in the fitness tracker world. FitBit announced a voluntary recall of the FitBit Force and the immediate halt of all sales of the device. Whoah.

FitBit’s CEO James Park cites the growing number of allergic reactions people are experiencing from the Force as the reason behind the recall, even though up until yesterday, FitBit was offering a full refund or exchange to any Force customer who was experiencing the skin issues.

I have been wearing my Force non-stop since it arrived in November 2013. I only take it off before I get in the shower. I clean it off with an alcohol swab about once a week. I have never had any sort of discomfort or reaction to it at all.

Goodbye, My Dear FitBit Force

All that being said, I am going to return my Force. Here are reasons why:

  • I’m an IT guy. I don’t like flying without support. The Force is now no longer supported. They stopped sales, they’ve recalled the product. If I keep it, I’m on my own. If something breaks or goes awry in the coming months or years, I get no help from FitBIt
  • If I do ever develop an allergy to it, I have no recourse. I can’t exchange it or return it. The recall won’t last forever.
  • I have a sinking feeling that there is some bigger issue lurking, and FitBit is using the already exposed allergy issue to flush the Force before it becomes more of a liability. I have no evidence of this, but hey, this is a blog and I can write about my hunches. 🙂

So with a heavy heart, I filled out the form requesting my return kit. We’ll see where it goes from there.

What to do in the meantime? Great question. The FitBit blog post hints that there is something else in the works, but really nothing more than a hint. For quantified nerds like me, going without a tracker seems about as silly as brushing my teeth without toothpaste. Instead of waiting for a maybe from FitBit, I’m going to make a jump somewhere else. My current front-runner is the Basis watch. It is bigger than the Force, but it does a LOT more. I’m going to take my time and pick very carefully from the alternatives out there, but if I was going to buy a replacement today, it would be the Basis.

Do you have a FitBit Force? How do you feel about the recall? Will you participate? Will you wait for another FitBit device, or switch to a different brand?

Gear Review: The HydraQuiver by @OrangeMud

Staying hydrated while on a long run is crucial. During races, it is typically easier because of the regular hydration stations, but when you’re out training on your own, how do you keep your much-needed liquids accessible? There are lots of ways, and every runner has their favorite.

Some people like to stash water bottles along the route ahead of time, which I have never tried. Some use a carry bottle in their hands, and there are lots of other types of water carriers you can strap to your waist. Each have their benefits and draw-backs. I decided to try something new, the HydraQuiver by OrangeMud. The HydraQuiver differs because it puts a water bottle up between your shoulder blades within easy reach.

This is the OrangeMud HydraQuiver I purchased. I dig the bright orange, but there are lots of other colors you can choose from.

This is the OrangeMud HydraQuiver I purchased. I dig the bright orange, but there are lots of other colors you can choose from.

Here is an actual pic of my HydraQuiver

Here is an actual pic of my HydraQuiver

 

Here is the pack with the water bottle out

Here is the pack with the water bottle out

I took mine out for a spin during my long run last week for the first time, and I have to say that I was impressed.

I tried my best to get a decent selfie here where you could see the pack. I need to stretch more I guess.

I tried my best to get a decent selfie here where you could see the pack. I need to stretch more I guess.

What I like:

  • After the first couple of steps, I don’t even notice the pack on my back. It sits in a really convenient spot between my shoulder blades and doesn’t bounce around like waist-level belts tend to
  • The bottle is easy to reach. Just like pulling an arrow out of a quiver I’d imagine, hence the name.
  • I really liked having one, full-sized bottle with me. It was way more liquid than I could put into my multiple waist belt bottles. I sweat a lot, so having lots of replacement fluid with me is a good thing.
  • The pack has extra storage up front for gels and such that are easy to reach and use while moving.
Here is a view of the front of the pack where you can see the gear/gel pouches on the shoulder straps. Very easy to reach.

Here is a view of the front of the pack where you can see the gear/gel pouches on the shoulder straps. Very easy to reach.

  • There is a large storage pouch in the back with a key hook that is secured by a zipper. ID, wallet, cell phone, keys, etc. can all go back there and stay out of my pockets.
Here you can see the rear storage pouch. The key hook/lanyard is visible in there. The pouch really is large, nearly the whole back surface of the pack.

Here you can see the rear storage pouch. The key hook/lanyard is visible in there. The pouch really is large, nearly the whole back surface of the pack.

  • The rear pouch also has a hole for headphones, so if you want to stash your iPod in there and run your headphones through, go for it.
The headphone slot is the black circle on the left, just above the zipper for the storage pouch.

The headphone slot is the black circle on the left, just above the zipper for the storage pouch.

  • It adds a little more contrast to my outfit. The logo on the back is reflective, and with the bright orange color I chose, I continue to keep the neon revolution alive.

What I didn’t like:

  • Even though I sealed the bottle as tightly as I could, it still leaked some while I was running. It was so cold during my run that I had a little icicle on the back of my pack.
  • While it is comfortable to wear, it acts a bit like another layer of clothing. I found it interfered with the back vents in my running jacket a bit, and I found myself getting hot faster than I normally do. I’ll have to see if this is a problem once the weather gets warmer and I can run wearing less.

The Verdict:

With the price at $84.95, it isn’t exactly cheap, but is definitely competitively priced for a running hydration pack. It is different enough from everything else on the market currently that it is worth the try. With the horrible winter weather here, I haven’t been outside much to give it another try, so I’m looking forward to see how it will hold up under the stress of continued use. But overall, it is a really nice pack, well made (in the U.S.A.). OrangeMud processed my order quickly and shipped my pack the same day. This one is a keeper.

 

Winter Blues

This has been a rough Winter so far for the North Eastern United States. We’ve had lots of snow and ice storms on a pretty regular tempo throughout the season (actually it started early this year) and we are not in sight of the finish line just yet.

Yuck!

Yuck!

So how does a runner keep up with training during weather like this? Short answer: I’m not really sure. I’m only in my second year of calling myself a runner, and last Winter we barely had any snow at all so I was able to run outside for nearly the entire season. So I am far from an expert, but I can share how I am trying to keep up with everything.

1. Just get out and do it. When there is not snow covering the roads and sidewalks, I force myself to go outside and run. I invested in a couple sets of good running thermals, which I talked about in detail last Winter, and put on another layer or two depending on the temperature and just go do it. I’m typically chilly for the first mile, but after that, it usually isn’t bad at all. In fact, I rather like running in the cold. It is easier for me than running in the hot, humid Summers we usually have around here. I don’t get overheated, the air is crisp and clean, and there is usually no one else crazy enough to be outside running, so I have the sidewalks and paths to myself.

2. Sign up for a race! This is one of my favorite tricks. If I put money down on a race entry fee, I’m going to get up and go to the race. The Winter races around where I live are always a lot of fun and have really good numbers of people show up. Go and get your run on with some fellow running nuts!

The Frosty Finish Line!

The Frosty Finish Line!

3. Either find a gym nearby or invest in a treadmill for your home. I bit the bullet this year and bought a treadmill. I plan on doing a Tech Review post on it soon, so I won’t belabor the details of which one and what it does just yet, but I have it in the basement and it has been a savior to my training plan (my wife’s, too!) This Winter has just been so bad that running outside has regularly been impossible. There are some really great treadmill training programs out there, and pointers on how to make sure your treadmill workout is as effective as going outside is.  Yes the treadmill can get monotonous. Yes the treadmill can get boring. The trick for me is finding something to occupy my mind other than staring at the progress statistics on the treadmill screen. My best trick is putting my iPad up on the treadmill console and streaming a Netflix movie or TV show to watch while I run. I find that I get absorbed into the story and forget (to an extent) about my progress.

So that’s it. No magic tricks, nothing exceptionally out of the ordinary here. I’m keeping my head down and getting in as much training as I can, still keeping my eye on that April Half-Marathon I’ve signed up for (see? money is a powerful motivator!) I’m just as sick of Winter as the next person, and am looking forward to Spring and more sunshine just like everyone else.

How are you making it through the Winter? Do you train? Or Hibernate? Do you have any tricks to share on staying motivated during the cold months? I’d love to hear from you.