24 December 2011

Addidas Mi coach review

Not best known as a fan of faff I dubiously set up the Mi Coach on my laptop. Id say my computer knowledge is of an average standard, perhaps my patience is slightly lower than average….however this task in itself presented me a few difficulties. The instructions that come with the product are vauge and assumptive, but with the help of someone a little more patient and a couple of huffs later I managed to acomplish the synchronisation.
My first run with it was what Mi Coach calls a free run where i was able to specify what data from a list of about 8 variables i wanted to collect. The foot pod is based on a stride sensor rather than a GPS and although I didnt have to enter my stride length it seemed to record the overall distance impressively accurately when I checked it on google maps later.
I noticed whilst running was that even though I didnt have a narrative in my headphones I knew my run data was being collected which in itself somehow pushed me on pace wise! It inspired me to program the thing for a coaching run.

Navigating the Mi Coach site was testing and there didnt seem to be a comprehensive nor user friendly help section, what i decided to do was use on of the pre programed race plans to work on my 5k time. The structure of the plan was brilliant I really really liked it.

Mi Coach bases either or in combination (I havent sussed this yet) your heart rate and stride rate on coloured zones. You go from blue to green to yellow to red zones with incresing intensity. Each run has a variable proportion of colour in it depending on your program specifics. You choose the narrative voice from a list of about 10 (too cute for my liking) and plug your MP3 player into it and off you go.

The narrative fades your music to zero when you need to change your pace and commands “speed up to green zone” for example or “slow down to blue zone” and then your music continues. You get a notification at a quater, half, three quaters and 5 mins before the end of your run.
I thouroghly enjoyed running like this, I never once had to look at a watch on my wrist, which I often find distracting as it seems to break my concentration plus I have to make some sort of mental calculation with the data. Having a simple “speed up”, “slow down” or “maintain” command really worked for me.

Synching the unit with the laptop post run couldnt be easier…you just plug it into the USB on your computer and it engages automatically, and directs you to the Mi Coach site where the data you can view is presented either graphically or numerically. Although once again finding what you need on the site is challenging I thought. I managed to stick to the plan for 97% of the time which Mi Coach told me was excellent…I hope i dont let her down next time! 😉

In short its great having someone in your ear pacing you, Mi Coach is light, small, portable and im very much a fan of the coloured zones rather than the raw data being the parameters to work within. Where I would suggest this product could do with improvement is the site navigation and useability

3 August 2011

From a woman’s point of view, Kickboxing interview with British title contender Kirstin Ahmed

Q: You hit and kick people in the head for a living right?

A: I used to get a small payment (larger if I won) whilst I was fighting towards the end of my career. I hung my gloves up in 2004 when I was 30, these days I just teach. It was unfortunately no way near enough to live on and I always maintained a full time job. There isn’t a great deal of money in the sport, particularly for women in the UK. If you can get onto the world stage it is a slightly different story although even then there are still very few full time female athletes.

Q: What kept you going in what must have been a very male dominated sport?

A: Luckily for me I am the kind of person who doesn’t really mind what others think of me or what others are doing around me. Often as the only female training I generated interest, some was useful as it meant I couldn’t shrink into the back of the gym unnoticed and had to perform every single session. The more chauvinistic or amorous attention I generated only fuelled my training to a more intense level to prove what I felt I was worth.

Q: So what does it feel like?

A: Full body mastery is one of the best feelings in the world. Kickboxing is a gruelling sport you have to be ultra fit, walking around in real life with that kind of aerobic capacity and musculature made me feel powerful from the inside out. I felt in control of my life and stable, I felt that knocks in life couldn’t penetrate me, more importantly I felt calm and peaceful….without wanting to sound like a hippy I imagine it to be as close as ill ever experience to a zen like state of mind.

Q: You must have to detest your opponents?

A: It’s easy to see why everyone thinks this to be. Take a look at the sport, the fighters involved and the very nature of the competition. Yes of course it hurts when you get kicked or punched, more so in your mind than through your body’s pain receptors. You are vexed that your opponent managed to outwit you to land a scoring blow on you, or that she found a way through your defence, or caught you out with a trick combination that you fell for. But you absolutely mustn’t lose your cool calm composure or show pain flicker across your face or get mad, you must stay in control keep your poker face and work out a tactical counter to score winning points back. As soon as you get angry and bring hatred amongst other emotion into the ring you will have shown her your hand and lost technical control and it won’t be long before she unpicks you. It is a fundamental winning rule of the fight game.

Q: What happens next?

A: As with any athlete who has given their life over to a passion I found it hard to walk away from the ring. I teach a women’s kickboxing class and run a project called Skilled Company with my friend where we open the boxing gym up for free weekly for 90mins to local youths who have been causing anti social behaviour and are known to the police. It is immensely rewarding on so many levels and I feel blessed to have finally found such a productive and effective release for my passion.

Kirstin Ahmed is a fulltime personal trainer based in the Brighton area. To contact her or find out anything more about women’s boxing and kickboxing go to www.brightonfit.co.uk