FEEL THE HEAT!

Some LIKE it hot? NOT!

FEEL THE HEAT

Some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on
Some feel the heat and decide that they can’t go on
Some like it hot, but you can’t tell how hot ’til you try
Some like it hot, so let’s turn up the heat ’til we fry

Feel the heat pushing you to decide
Feel the heat burning you up, ready or not

(Lyrics from the song ‘Some Like It Hot’ by The Power Station – 1985

You may have heard it said about a person that they were ‘not worth their salt’. This phrase refers to the practice of paying Roman soldiers partially in salt. Salt was an expensive commodity because it was scarce in the ancient world. This salt money payment given to the Legionnaires was called ‘salarium’ and our modern English word salary is derived from that.

Roman soldiers used salt to help prevent muscle cramps from dehydration, and this is why ‘some’ people still think taking salt tablets is a good idea. Maybe if you were living back in the nineteenth century or earlier.

The chemical name for common table salt is ‘sodium chloride’ but when athletes sweat during extreme exertion and in high heat conditions, what they are really losing in their perspiration is electrolytes. Electrolytes are types of ‘salts’ which include not only sodium and chloride, but potassium and calcium as well. They are electrically charged minerals and compounds that produce energy in our bodies and allow our muscles to contract. Physical performance is affected by both the loss of electrolytes AND water! Low electrolyte levels will cause muscle cramping. Severe electrolyte imbalances can cause serious problems such as coma, seizures, and cardiac arrest.

Electrolyte pills should ONLY be used by athletes during extreme workouts and  long distance runs, especially during periods of high heat and humidity.  

Likewise severe loss of water (dehydration) can kill you! Water is one of the seven vital nutrients that our bodies NEED to survive. 

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There needs to be a balance of the electrolyte and water content in our bodies.  This is regulated by our kidneys. The kidneys remove wastes and extra fluid from the body, producing about 1 to 2 quarts (liters) of urine daily.  

Urine should be clear or a lightly tinted yellow color. The darker the color of your urine, the grater the level of dehydration.

Summer Running

Athletes need to train in order to improve their physical performance. Training schedules need to be strictly followed to get the most out of the training effect . Bad weather can delay training by a day or two AT MOST, but skipping entire weeks will undo everything you are trying to accomplish.  If you are training for a fall marathon, you will be running 3 to 4 days a week, all summer long, probably in high heat and high humidity. At least one of those weekly run days will be your long run. Yes, it’s going to be hot during the summer. So logically, you are going to be hot, sweaty, tired, and thirsty towards the end of your workouts, and especially during those long runs. The average person sweats between 0.8 to 1.4 liters, or 27.4 to 47.3 ounces per hour of exercise. (That’s equal to roughly one to three pounds of body weight.) You need to replace that fluid loss!

The general rule of thumb for fluid consumption during runs is: Take in 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. Runners running faster than 8-minute miles should drink 6 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes. You may need more, you may need less, but it is of the utmost importance that you listen to YOUR BODY! Everybody is different, and EVERY BODY is different.   

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Heat Exhaustion VS Heat Stroke

You may at some point experience some symptoms of HEAT EXHAUSTION, you DO NOT want it to become HEAT STOKE.  HYDRATION IS CRUCIAL!

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms

  • headache
  • dizzy or fainting
  • heavy sweating
  • cold, pale and clammy skin
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fast, weak pulse
  • weakness or muscle cramps
  • excessive thirst

What to do

  • Hydrate with water or sports drinks. No alcohol.
  • Move to a cooler, air-conditioned place.
  • Lie down.
  • If fully conscious, sip water.
  • Take a cool shower or use cold compresses.
  • If vomiting continues, seek medical attention.
  • Act quickly. Untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.
  • Remove tight fitting clothing or extra layers.

Heat stroke – a medical emergency

Symptoms

  • headache
  • confusion or delirium
  • may lose consciousness
  • no sweating/dry skin
  • hot, red skin
  • nausea or vomiting
  • rapid heart rate
  • body temperature above 104° F

What to do

  • Call 911. This is a medical emergency.
  • Move the person to a cooler place.
  • Use cold compresses to reduce body temperature.
  • Do not give fluids

The mind / body disconnect

It is very important to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! I cannot stress this enough.  YOUR BODY is YOUR BODY. You know what works for YOU. You know what YOU need. Sometimes athletes push past what their body is telling them and force themselves to continue on by sheer force of will.  This is a mind/body disconnect where you are ‘in the zone’. You refuse to give up because quitters never win, winners never quit, and YOU ARE A WINNER! You yelled! You cursed! You prayed to God for strength! And you pushed your way through to the end with blood, sweat and tears. And hopefully you got stronger from the experience. Believe me, I’ve let out a primal scream or two myself as I forced my exhausted body and tired muscles to  up the pace as I charged towards the finish line in a mad sprint of speed.

There are times that I’ve beaten myself up because I’ve run at a much slower pace than I know I am capable of. The problem is that heat changes pace! The hotter it gets, the worse your pace becomes because of the added stress of high heat and humidity. Training is Summer is tough! Optimal running temperature is between 50°F and 59°F. Average runners add 2–2.5 seconds to their pace for every degree F above 59° F. Once you get above 85°F your speed is about 20-25% (or more ) slower than normal, so you push harder because you can’t understand why you are suddenly running like a snail on a course made of peanut butter!  It’s okay to do that, but it’s not okay to ignore your thirst in high heat and humidity.  Dehydration if left untreated leads to HEAT STROKE. Twice this Summer, I ran out of water 2-3 miles before I ended my long run. Believe me, it sucked!

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It’s better to heave water you don’t need than to need water you don’t have. On long runs, you need to self carry water, or pre-stash personal water supplies along your route where you know the will be undisturbed if discovered by passers-by. I use both methods. Last week I ran 15 miles for my long run using the Hal Higdon Training plan for marathons. I ran out of water at mile 12 because it was 92°F but felt like 100°F with the humidity added. Today I will be running 16 miles on a different trail, and will bring a lot more with me. Hopefully It won’t be as hot as last Sunday!

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As always I wish you success and happiness!

ROAD DUST?

Pick yourself up after a setback!

ROAD DUST

Since the beginning of the year, I have been in training to run my first marathon. If the idea of months of training for one event does not make sense, allow me to explain. One does not simply decide to run a marathon on a whim. Running 26.2 miles in seven hours or less is a physically taxing task which is beyond the ability of most people.  It doesn’t matter what’s your motivation, if you do not put in the time and effort to condition your body to its best possible shape, you will risk injury and possibly even death.

Three years ago, running a marathon was the furthest thing from my mind. I weighed 325 lbs and was most likely on my way to an early grave. I considered myself both worthless and hopeless. My ‘wake-up’ call was having 3 of my co-workers ( 2 were good friends ) die from heart attacks. All of these men were in their 50’s and overweight. At that moment I knew that if I didn’t take immediate steps to reclaim my health while still in my 40’s, I would soon pass the point of no return. I began focusing on m diet until I found a plan that was right for me. Then I started exercising, and eventually stated running.  I’ve lost over 90 lbs since I began this journey of self discovery.  I am now back down to what I weighed in college and am in better physical shape than I was when I was 25 years old.

Last April, I ran my very first road race. It was the Beat Beethoven 5K at Alverina University held on Sunday April 28th, 2019. Slowly increasing my strength, stamina, and endurance I was eventually running half marathons by Autumn.  I ran eleven official races in 2019 and had planned on more than twice that number for 2020 as I built myself up for the November 2020 Philadelphia Marathon.

2020 started out looking very hopeful until COVID-19, the virus that shut down the world struck. Suddenly all the races from mid March through Summer and part of the Fall were cancelled. Undaunted, I pressed on in my training by signing up for dozens of virtual races. There were a couple of weeks were I ran in 5 days everything from a 5K up to a half-marathon tracking the times and distances with my professional runners smart-watch,  a Garmin 945 Forerunner. The Philadelphia Marathon was still slated as of two weeks ago, and I was greatly encouraged by  this fact. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed to pieces last week when the Philadelphia mayor arbitrarily decided to ban all large gathering though February 2021, and the Governor of Pennsylvania doubled-down on his draconian laws shutting down the state.  As of this moment, my path forward has been made unclear and uncertain due to this unexpected setback.

Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans

Hitting a stumbling block and getting knocked to the ground is the point at which most people give up. For them, their dream has died and they will forever be a failure. Successful people get up, dust themselves off and pick up where they left off. VERY successful people examine what knocked them down, formulate a plan to prevent similar setbacks, and take a moment to decide on their best course of action BEFORE dashing ahead blindly.

Living in ‘the pause’.

Pause powers performance! –Kevin Cashman

In his powerful book on success, The Pause Principal, Kevin Cashman uses the acronym VUCA two ways, first to describe our world, then to tell us how we must react to it.

Our would is:

  • Volatile
  • Unpredictable
  • Complex
  • Ambiguous

Life is not about what happens to us, but how we react to it! We need to pause, and take a step back to move forward.

Our reaction should be comprised of:

  • Vision
  • Understanding
  • Clarity
  • Agility

Failure is PART of success

Failure is a powerful tool if used wisely. IF a person succeeded at every task they attempted on the very first try, they would never have the impetus to improve themselves. They would never be forced to try harder. They would take for granted every accomplishment as an entitlement that they deserved matter-of-factually.  Failure is part of life! Failure is NOT the end. It only becomes the end IF you QUIT! Quitting IS the end! Quitting IS giving up! Quitting IS DEATH!

“I’m a big advocate of personal responsibility. You do whatever you feel is safe, within reason. You know what’s best for you.” – Ron Horn CEO Pretzel City Sports

On Thursday July 16th, 2020 races returned to Reading PA for the first time since the shut down. At Trooper Thorns,  98 fellow runners and myself gave it our all as we ran the first official 5K race in over four months. It was the most exciting and amazing race I have run thus far and I gave it 110%!  I was ahead of my friend Steve Capozello for an entire 5 seconds, but kept pace with him neck and neck for the next 30-45 seconds as we raced down the trail like two rabid Clydesdales intent on trampling anyone that got in our way. Unfortunately my pace began to slip as Steve is a much faster runner than I am, and he has been running for over 20 years. Slowly he kept pulling further away from me as I tried to keep up by sheer willpower alone!  By the end of our run, I was only 10 minutes behind my friend.  Iron sharpens iron. My blue shirt was drenched with sweat from the effort, and I changed into a dry green shirt that was in my gym bag.

At the awards ceremony, Ron Horn called out the various winners by divisions, ages, and genders.

When he called out my name for 5th place winner in the Male Clydesdales division, I was stunned and said “what?” in total shock. After a back and forth of “who?” and “ME?” pointing at myself,  he said “YOU!”  pointing at me as the third prompting to come get my medal. I had set a Personal Record and  I accepted my first ever medal for placing in the TOP 5 with tears in my eyes.   

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My friend Steve took 2nd place. Another friend Gina took first place in the Women’s 30-39 group.

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If I had quit running after everything got shut down by the coronavirus, I would not have signed up for a 12 week virtual running series. If I had quit training due to the unpredictable and ambiguous fate of my November 22 marathon, I would never have gotten faster, stronger, and  better. Quitters NEVER win, but winners NEVER QUIT! I have the understanding that The 2020 Philly Marathon is dead, but I also have the clarity of vision that there will be another marathon and I must keep training. I AM A WINNER! Hopefully my example will encourage and inspire you to overcome whatever setback you may be facing. As long as you don’t quit, you too will have your day, and you’ll be able to sit back and reflect upon your accomplishment with pride! As always I wish you success and happiness!

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REALITY IS VIRTUAL!

(At least for now…we hope!)

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As you well know by now,  in mid-March most of the USA, as well as nearly every nation on Earth began shutting down EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE that was deemed non-essential due to the world-wide pandemic COVID-19,  AKA the Wuhan coronavirus, sometimes shortened to just corona.

It is now nearly two months later, and most of the fun things in life remain shut down. You cannot go to a movie theater with your friends, dine in at your favorite restaurant or pub, and any large gathering if severely frowned upon by people who INSIST that the virus that shut down the world will wipe out all life on earth if you get within 6 feet (2 meters) of another person, or if you don’t wear a face mask, or if you don’t wear rubber gloves, or if you don’t bathe in hand sanitizer. When this began, we were told that these small sacrifices would be temporary, then the weeks turned into months,  the rules went from voluntary to mandatory, and still there is no end in sight.

People are so afraid of dying from Covid 19, that they remain locked-up at home and instead contract Covid-15! What is Covid-15 you may ask? Covid-15 is the new name for a health disorder contracted by first-year college students who would gain 15 lbs by eating unhealthy foods and not exercising. All joking aside, your best defense against the coronavirus is to have a healthy immune system. You get a healthy immune system by having a healthy active lifestyle, and eating healthy foods.  Sitting on the couch glued to the TV for hours a day, munching on Doritos and drinking Mountain Dew is probably the fastest way to wreck your health during this lock-down.  

For people who just go to the gym to exercise, this shutdown has cut off their only outlet for exercise. Unless they have fitness equipment at home, or can improvise make-shift weights, they are out of luck. Or are they?

I can make you a new man!

Charles Atlas  (October 30, 1892 – December 24, 1972) was a bodybuilder in the 1920’s  who developed a no-equipment exercise program called Dynamic Tension almost a hundred years ago. He began offering his free program by mail in 1929. In the Charles Atlas exercise program, you use your own body to provide resistance and are able to exercise weight-free. You can do these exercises virtually anywhere. These are far more effective than isometric exercises, another equipment-free exercise method.  No gym required. So if you’re determined to not step one foot outside until this ‘exaggerated’ crisis is over (probably five or six years from now), you can find all of these dynamic tension workouts online. There are countless YouTube videos . And best of all, they are still FREE! Like the late Charles Atlas proclaimed, give him 15 minutes a day, and he will make you a new man!

GET OUT AND RUN!

Forcing sick people to stay at home is called quarantine. Forcing healthy people to stay at home is not only wrong, it’s tyranny! Many healthy people are frustrated by this lock-down, and they are demanding that the various states in which they reside be re-opened. Again, the doomsayers proclaim that if the ban is lifted, death and all the miseries that plague humanity will come out just like opening Pandora’s Box. I say poppycock! A runner runs! Without access to a treadmill, either at a gym, or a home unit, a runner needs to hit the open road. Since the shutdown, all the remaining races of March, as well as every race in April and May have been cancelled. Now races in June and July, possibly even August may be cancelled as well. State parks have been officially shut down, as have some trails. Again I am thankful that this virus struck in 2020, not a year ago in Spring 2019. I was training at the gym in March and April last year as I prepared for my first ever official timed race, Beat Beethoven at Alvernia University on April 28th, 2019. My first race ever, and six weeks of training leading up to it would have been obliterated. I probably never would have run again.

Fast forward a year later, and now I have a group of amazing friends to hang out with every weekend.  Originally before COVID-19 struck, several of us were planning to run in the Gettysburg Half Marathon to celebrate my one year anniversary of running.  Since the fixed date moves, I now recognize the last Sunday in April as my anniversary date. I was then going to follow up with the Ocean City MD Island to Island Half Marathon.  But as I said, officially timed races are all on hiatus for the immediate future. I, like many runners MUST keep training for upcoming races, pandemic or not! I will be running my first ever FULL MARATHON in Philly on November 22nd,  just over six months from now.

The ONLY thing left for the professional runner to do is sign up for ‘virtual races’ and watch it themselves to clock the time and distance using their runner’s smart watches.  Virtual races are where you register for the race online, then you run that distance anywhere, alone or in groups, on the trails and streets, or even on a treadmill IF you have access to one during this insane quarantine.  Fortunately RunTheEdge.com     has been offering a FREE series of virtual races so my running friends ‘The Pack’ and I have been doing many of these either alone or on in smaller groups during the week, and in much larger groups of six to ten on the weekends. There are also pay-to-run virtual races that will provide you everything from a bib and T-shirt, right up to a finisher’s medal. I personally believe that every time I run a distance of 13.1 miles  or more, I DESERVE a medal.  If you are interested in swag, do a search to see what virtual races are out there and what they offer. Many of them donate a portion of their profits to charities, so you get to do some good for your fellow man.   

Since the last Sunday in April got rained out, a large number of The Pack got to together and ran various distances up to our abilities on May 3rd, 2020. Felicia, Steve, Lacey, me, and Gina ran Virtual Half Marathons (VHMs) together.

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I will caution people that running long distances solo and unsupported is a bad idea. IF you are going to run a VHM or further distance, run with a buddy of equal ability and try to set up water stashes along your route. 13.1 miles is a long distance to run without water, and although we all made it,  we won’t make that mistake again. I was the ONLY one to carry a personal sport bottle, and I ran out after ten miles.  I am the slowest member of the group so my run took an extra hour. Fortunately the faster runners were able to bike out to me with a water bottle by the last mile of my run.

For my first VHM I chose one that offered a medal I craved, TheCrushCorona, a depiction of the dread virus being stomped beneath a runner’s sneaker made me very happy. This was my third half marathon, and my best time yet.  

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As for the rest of The Pack, Allison who suffers from exercise-induced asthma  ran an 8K. Two of the Spartans, Justin and Steph ran a virtual endurance challenge called the  Yeti Ultra 24 Hour Challenge. They had to run or walk 5 miles every 4 hours for 24 hours.  It was a real party, a total celebration with good friends and pizza! We had a blast!

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Unfortunately, a few members of The Pack got backlash from germophobes who felt the need to scold and insult us for our reckless behavior, and for partying while ‘people are dying’. Newsflash– life is for living! No one in the group is sick! Even the two weakest members of The Pack are stronger than the ‘Iowa Couch Potato’.  We support each other, and the strength of  The Pack IS The Pack! We are healthy BECAUSE we LIVE HEALTHY. Your best defense against COVID-19 is a strong body and a healthy immune system.

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This weekend, The Pack decided to mix things up. We drove to a new trail, planned to run 7 miles, followed immediately by what I thought was supposed to be a 14 mile bike ride. At least that was the plan. First, it was an unseasonably cold day. As we were unfamiliar with the terrain, we overshot the bike part by 5 miles, extending the journey to a total of 24 miles. 

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My biking ability is not YET up to a 24 mile trek, especially after running 7 miles in under 90 minutes. 14 miles MIGHT have been doable for me, but the extra mileage did me in so I had to wait a few minutes for rescue once I could pinpoint my location to an intersection at a road crossing. Again, this stresses the importance of the buddy system (and carrying a cellphone) when running or biking long distances.  You do NOT want to be injured and alone in an unsupported race.  

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So if you TRULY desire to live your life to the fullest, get out there and run and enjoy yourself! If people feel the need to tell you how to live YOUR LIFE, ignore them! Haters gotta hate! It’s who THEY are, and what THEY do. YOU are better than THEY ever will be, YOU are amazing! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

WATCH IT!

Another record broken!

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‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.’ —Henry Ford

Stopwatches in one form or another have been around since before the USA was even a country.  The very first stopwatch was called a “physician’s pulse watch” invented by Samuel Watson 1695 as a custom project for surgeon John Floyer. It was able to measure an accuracy of 1/5 of a second.

In 1816 Louis Moinet  created the “compteur de tierces” (1/60 second counter), which looked remarkably like a modern stopwatch, and could be reset at the touch of a button.  This personal scientific instrument was way ahead of its time (no pun intended). It would take another century before a more precise stopwatch would be produced. In 1916 the Heuer watch company produced a  stopwatch accurate to 1/100 of a second.

Since the nineteenth century stopwatches have been an essential tool in  the racing circuit. By 1881 they were joined by the ‘photo finish’ invented by photographer Ernest Marks at a track in Plainfield, N.J to determine winners of  horse races that were ‘too close to call’. These instances where the outcome was to ambiguous to be determined by the naked eye used to be referred to as ‘dead-heats’. In the result of a dead-heat, officials had no choice but to declare the result a tie. Now in the current day improvements in technology, including digital super-slow motion replay, computer tracking,  pressure-sensitive digital timers,  and chip timers have rendered dead-heats all but extinct.

In 1962 science fiction author John D. MacDonald wrote the novel The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything. In the novel Kirby Winter inherits a remarkable stopwatch that can literally stop time for everyone and everything, except for the person holding the watch. Kirby uses this incredible watch to change his life for the better.   

Last month I brought an incredible watch to change my life for the better too, although it’s not as awesome as the watch Kirby Winter had in the aforementioned novel. It was an anniversary gift to myself was I was coming up to the one-year as a runner date.

Just over a year ago I started training for my first  ever race. The event was called Beat Beethoven and held at Alvernia University in Reading PA on Sunday April 28th, 2019.

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The event was timed by Pretzel City Sports, a local race-timing company owned by Ron Horn. I was both excited and terrified. I finished the race and made by goal. I vividly remember being told I did great by a woman who I later found out was Helene, Ron’s wife. My second race was a 15K the Chobert Challenge, also timed by Pretzel City Sports (PCS). My first half Marathon was the Bird-in-Hand Half on September 7, 2019. Although PCS was not timing the event, Ron and Helene were in attendance and again gave great encouragement.  All in all I ran nearly a dozen races last year, picking up tips and making many friends along the way.

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Two things I noticed about my fellow runners, besides the encouragement.

  1. Many of them wore these long socks.
  2.  Many of them had special runner’s watches.

In 2020 I planned to run two dozen races and compete in my first ever full marathon. Then  COVID-19 struck and the virus that shut down the world closed all the gyms and then began cancelling one race after another.  To date all my official timed races that had been slated for April and May have been cancelled or postponed, and June is now looking iffy too. As I had been relying upon timing results and marked distances from these races to chart my progress, this became problematic.  You don’t know how far you’ve come unless you keep accurate records to chart your progress. I don’t even have the treadmill at the gym right now due to this stupid virus!  A runner runs and I refuse to let some  virus  derail my marathon goal!         

Fortunately I have good friends to run with, marked trails to run on, and I was using my smart-phone to keep time, more or less. If you’re going to do any job well, you need the proper tools. Most of my running friends have runner’s watches. So I bit the bullet and made the purchase. (This watch cost more than any of my first 3 used cars!)

I decided to purchase the top-of-the-line tri-athlete Garmin Forerunner 945. Garmin makes one other even more expensive ‘total’ sports watch, the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro, but as far as runners are concerned it’s the Forerunner line, and the 945 is the top!

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There are many players in the sport-watch field, but Garmin is widely believed to be the industry leader.

Most runners have the discontinued Forerunner 235 that came out years ago. This is Gina’s 235:

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My 945 has many features that earlier models do not have, as well as all the common features that  runners have come to rely upon. After using my watch for just one month, I have seen a definite improvement in my performance.  For a more detailed list of feature specs on the watch, this is from the Amazon listing:

  • Premium GPS running/triathlon smartwatch with music
  • Download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer (may require premium subscription with a third party music provider)
  • Performance monitoring features include Vo2 Max and training status with adjustments for heat, altitude Acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects
  • Garmin Pay contactless payment solution (available for supported cards from participating banks) lets you make convenient payments with your watch so you can leave your cash and cards at home
  • Full color, onboard maps guide you on your run so you never get lost during your workout
  • Safety and tracking Features include incident detection (during select activities) which sends your real time location to emergency contacts through your paired compatible smartphone
  • Battery life: Up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS mode with music or up to 60 hours in UltraTrac mode. Display resolution – 240 x 240 pixels

I haven’t  yet mastered all the features as I am still in the learning phase, but this is definitely the king of sport watches, and I have never been more happier with a purchase of a wearable tech product.

The watch tracks and records  all my runs via GPS. It lets me know when I make a new personal record!

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It monitors my heart rate and oxygen levels.

It has a coaching function.

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It makes predictions based on my performance.

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I can download maps!

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It  has a compass!

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Oh, and it can tell time.

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Because of the expense of this item, I highly recommend purchasing an extended warranty, and investing in a screen protector like I did to keep the watch face from getting scratched.  If you are a serious runner, you want to protect this invaluable tool for as long as you own it. As always, I wish you success and happiness!