Tracking your workouts using your smartphone

For a long time, I was tracking my workouts (which was just plain walking and jogging) using an iPod Nano which had a simple pedometer. It could track how many steps you take and how many long runs you do and a very simple calorie calculation.

From Wikipedia
From Wikipedia

It worked great as I can listen to podcasts and also silently tracked my workouts. But it doesn’t work for cycling. There are however a few options where you could buy a cheap cyclocomputer which can measure your average speed, max speed, workout time, distance travelled in a trip, etc.

If you want to track more info about the route you take, you can use some of the costlier GPS solutions which track the elevation gradient, draw your route on a map, etc.

Or if you want to just start tracking your workouts today, there is however a device which you already have in your pockets – your smartphone. There are apps for both Android and iPhone which allow you to track the speed, distance, route, etc., all using the built-in GPS.

There are two apps that seem popular among the community. Best part is, both these apps work for running/jogging/cycling.

Strava: This is a free app for both iPhone and Android. It does have a monthly subscription for premium features. It looks very polished and seem to work really great for me. Can track your average/max speed, elevation gain, calories, routes, etc. It also has social features where you can follow the activity of your friends and even compete on segments for the fastest time. It also works with some of the other GPS devices you may have.

Endomondo: It is also very similar and has the same functionality of tracking speed, elevation, route, etc. Can work on both iPhone and Android or any GPS enabled device. Free, though there are membership plans for some advanced features.

You can choose either of these and start tracking your workout easily. The only problem is having a heavy smartphone in your pocket, which is easily solved if you can get an armband for you phone.

Once you are into serious training and want to track really long distances, you can choose to get a GPS device which does its job well and integrate with your account on either of these two sites. Till then, I will be using my smartphone app to track my workouts.

Cycling after 9 years

Today’s post isn’t about money or investments. Instead it is cycling. It was something I used to enjoy when I was a kid, which was the primary mode of transport from home to school. But soon, I got my license and stopped cycling.

After 9 years, I was looking back at cycling and found that there is a good community around bicycles. Even though cycles form a very small percentage of vehicles on the road in India, young people have started cycling – both as a hobby and also competing amongst others.

I wanted to start cycling again after a 9 year break for various reasons:

  • I am not so badly out of shape, that I need some form of exercise. Running and jogging? Nah, I wasn’t motivated enough because all I could run around was the neighbourhood. Gyms? I don’t want to pay the money and let the membership go waste.
  • I do need some time out of my home office as I was getting bored and irritated sitting behind the desk all day long.
  • I want a new hobby and also to meet some people who are passionate about it. And Chennai does have a lot of groups who are interested in cycling.

I read through various forums, articles and learnt a lot about the various types of bikes and finally last week I went and got a very simple bicycle.

montra-jazza-blue-new

I did cycle for 4 days getting up early in the morning – not very long distances, but enough to make me go out of breath (given that I weigh quite a bit more than 9 years back). I couldn’t get up early then because of my cold and a painful sore throat.

But I am determined to cycle regularly and I find it is fun. I seemed to have forgotten all the fun I had cycling so many years back. I don’t cycle because it is green and saves the planet and is faster to commute in traffic or other reasons. I cycle because I need a hobby and I find it is fun.

You should also try it too. A quick search would get you lot of information about cycling, maintenance, etc. But I would suggest starting out with this thread which discusses about the various types of bikes and which is best suited, especially for Indian readers.

P.S.: Check out my stats in my Strava Profile.