Monday, October 02, 2017

September 2017 Step Stats

I managed to hit the target every day for the whole month. Not too surprising given the coaching, training and playing that goes into a typical week. There some days when I wouldn't have made 10k had I not gone for a walk, and under other circumstances I probably wouldn't have done so had it not been for setting myself the challenge. I even walked from Kings Cross to Fenchurch Street one day to make sure I made my 10k steps when otherwise I would have taken the tube to Bank at the very least and walked from there.

This, for me, is what makes the challenge interesting. Not so much the target, but the commitment to doing to do it. Anyway, just for the record (and with some comparisons to come) here are my September stats.

Steps: 395643
 Aver: 13188
 Max: 24537
 Min: 10064
Miles: 198

Given that I started in August, I've managed 44 consecutive days of 10k or more. I've also passed 500k steps already.

My A360 has been recording too, and the data is as I'd expect with the exception of the "pushchair day" I blogged about recently! Heavy coaching days and days when I either play or train show up really clearly in any comparison. What was interesting was the day I pushed Tobias in his buggy. Because my arm wasn't moving very little data was recorded as activity. I wonder what would happen if you went running on a treadmill but held onto the bars. Would it record any data then?

Overall I'm pleased I've completed a whole month and especially pleased that on those days when I might have chosen to sit on the sofa and do nothing, I actually got out and did something. Let's see what October brings.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Don't wear a wrist-based activity monitor while pushing a buggy!

I was looking back over the data that accumulates from both my pedometer (I'm using it for the 100 day challenge) and my Polar A360 and I spotted something quite interesting. Occasionally my A360 records fewer steps than my pedometer, but there was one day in September when the difference was quite significant. I checked the data and I'd been wearing my watch all day, so it wasn't as if I'd had it on charge for a large part of the day.

So I thought about it for a while. Then I looked at the date. Thursday 7th September. The penny dropped. We were at Center Parcs and Anne and I had taken our Grandsons out for a walk in their buggy. I'd been given the responsibility for pushing (Anne might have been carrying Ben while I had Tobias in the pushchair).

While we walked around the site, up and down gradients, through trees and past lodges, my arms weren't doing much at all. My A360 assumed I was probably standing still most of the time and didn't record many steps at all. In fact, had I only been using the Polar to monitor my steps for the challenge, I would have failed miserably that day and would probably have found myself running around Center Parcs in the late evening trying to make up the difference!

Once again it just goes to show that you need to use a device that is most helpful given the way you do most of your activity. Either that or remember to strap your wrist-based device to your ankle when out pushing a buggy!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Extended SMART Targets

I mentioned a while ago that I'd come across a slightly wider definition of S-M-A-R-T while reading Achieve the Impossible, by Greg Whyte. Greg Whyte has been involved with Comic Relief trying the likes of David Walliams for their challenges. Here's his extended version of SMART.

S: Specific, Significant, Stretching
M: Measurable, Meaningful, Motivational
A: Agreed, Achievable, Action-orientated
R: Relevant, Results-orientated, Rewarding
T: Timely, Time-bound, Trackable

Clearly I'd remembered stretching and meaningful without realising it! Anyway, there you have it. Interestingly he doesn't use realistic, which I have heard used and always wondered how it differed significantly form achievable. Mind you, you might argue that results orientated and measurable or measurable and trackable are too similar to be differentiable in this context. In the end there's no real value in debating the semantics, especially if that means that you fail to set a target that's nothing more than wishful thinking.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Step comparison

As I've started my 100 day challenge, I thought I'd do a quick comparison of the data from my pedometer and from my activity monitor. I use a Polar A360. I've posted some stuff about it before, so I won't go into too much detail here.

The A360 takes all your activity and converts it into "equivalent steps". I'm guessing it uses some sort of algorithm to do this. So, when I play tennis for example, it will show a higher step count than when I go for a walk, not because I've necessarily taken more steps but because of the way it converts movement into steps. This shows up in the statistics. Interestingly, one day the A360 under-recorded steps compared to the pedometer rather than over-recording (although over and under recording aren't exactly the best way to describe what it does!).

Anyway, using the 14 days from August, here's what the comparative data looks like:


Total Steps: 192525
Average per day: 13751
Highest: 24750
Lowest: 10458


Total Steps: 233407
Average per day: 16672
Highest: 28693
Lowest: 10686

Interestingly, the day the A360 recorded fewer steps than the pedometer was the day I intentionally went for a walk and set my wristband to monitor that activity (i.e. to log the walk as a training event). It's also partly why I'm undecided about how best to monitor myself during the 100 days. At the moment I simply use my pedometer and make sure it hits 10k each day.

I guess in the end the data just underlines that you need to decide what you want to measure and then choose the appropriate method and equipment to do that job.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Aug 2017 stats

Each time I've done my 100 day challenge I've kept a record of steps in a simple spreadsheet. So here are the stats for August.

Total Steps: 192525
Average per day: 13751
Highest: 24750
Lowest: 10458
No. of consecutive days: 14

I was intending to start on September 1st, but having stuck the pedometer in my pocket and managed to hit my target, I decided just to keep going.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Counting steps again

Having fixed my old pedometer, I stuck it in my pocket and have let it count my steps for the past week. Apart from Saturday, when I went for a walk intentionally, I've just let it measure the steps I do as part of my daily routine. Given that I've done quite a bit of coaching, it's not surprising at all that I've passed 10k every day. In fact I've averaged around 13,500.

So I'm trying to think about what my goal ought to be when we start the challenge in September. Given what I currently do, I can't see any value in simply adding more steps, but maybe I could try targetting "aerobic" steps. When I first suggested doing the challenge again, I thought that maybe I could set a target around what proportion of steps come from simply walking. That would mean I would have to go out each day for a walk rather than just relying on being active enough to do my 10k.

Of course this is me just musing about things, knowing that I'm in quite a fortunate position by being as active as I am. It's not the case for everyone. It's also about these pesky "smart" targets too. You know the routine: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. But maybe smart needs a little more, a little extra. I'm trying to think about what other words to use. So far I've come up with "Stretching" and "Meaningful".

I think a target needs to stretch you. It's not really a target if it's easy to do. If it's easy for me to do 10k steps then it needs to be higher or simply different in some way. Not sure how meaningful fits in except that it begins with "m"! Perhaps it's about it having some purpose. Weight loss, heart health, part of a training programme to trek the coastal paths of the UK or the Great Wall of China. Motivational might another m-word. It has to be something you want to achieve, something that will drive you forward when it's raining and cold and you don't "feel" like going out or when things simply try to get in the way of achieving your goal.

I guess "a" could be ambitious or even audacious, but that moving beyond something objective which is the fundamental principle of smart. Sometimes it's "agreed upon", which might mean sharing your goal with someone to you can be accountable-which also starts with "a"!

That's it, I'm out of ideas. Time to stop typing and go for a walk instead!

PS Greg Whyte's book "Achieve the Impossible" is all about taking on a  challenge and he has a wider definition of SMART. I'll try and find it and post it.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Pedometer update!

So, I had a quick look at new pedometers and discovered that many now have a reset button on the front. Why? Why would you want to reset it? I have a feeling that mine would continually be resetting itself as it bumped around in my pocket.

Anyway, I got out my screwdrivers and dismantled my old pedometer and cleaned up the contacts and now, with a bit of fiddling, I've been able to set the time and other parameters and I'm all set to get recording.

As a matter of interest, I did a quick check. It was 2014/15 that I last did the challenge. I managed 183 consecutive before a calf injury ended the run. That was in March 2015 and for some reason I stopped recording the data too afterwards. I think it might be because I got my new Polar A360. That and the battery might have run out!

I think my plan will be the record the data over the next couple of weeks to see what's currently normal/typical and then plan to get out walking in September. I haven't yet decided whether I'll use tennis as part of the 10k or not. It would be interesting but possibly impractical to try and do 10k walking steps in addition to all the stuff I do on court. I will have to think about that carefully.

One solution would be to set a minimum walking target, say 6.5k steps. At a guess that's around 3 miles or 5Km and might be achievable even on heavy tennis days. I could work out a simple route that would hit that goal.

If I start on September 1st, 100 days takes me to December 9th, but I might be a bit later starting this year because of other commitments. Still, it would be nice to hit the target by Christmas. In 2014 I even did my 10k on Christmas Day.