Category Archives: Equipment

Elevation Training Mask

training-mask-angle

Last month I added one of these to the repertoire and am currently using for my own training to test it out. It’s called an Elevation Training Mask and it mimics the effects of high altitude training by creating varied resistance to your breathing whilst training.

The concept behind it? When elite athletes want to improve their performance they go to high altitude levels to train. When they come back to sea level they perform much stronger, faster, and have increased endurance. So far I have been seen an increase in my caloric burn to around double the usual rate during a mixed resistance/light cardio session and a severe drop in my endurance whilst wearing the mask.

For more information from the source, click on their Australian site HERE

 

Icebreaker Merino Gear

I recently picked up a selection of Icebreaker 150 fine Merino baselayers and have been amazed at the comfort and warmth these thin and light natural layers provide. If you find the morning sessions a little crisp, but still want the freedom to move without wearing bulky top layers definitely give them a try! The staff at the Birkenhead Point Icebreaker outlet were very helpful and well informed on the product range. They also had a huge range of styles and sizes and it pays to try them on as the sizing is a little different. I normally wear a medium but the small was perfect for me.

Jawbone Up

The Jawbone company has recently bought out Bodymedia, who, for the last 10 years have been the world leaders in the area of fitness tracking devices. This is exciting news for the fit and healthy consumer as we should see a big jump in the quality and complexity of wearable fitness tracking devices in the coming years! They currently have a basic tracking device called the Jawbone Up. It integrates well with smartphones and bypasses the need for a computer to sync the data which is a plus. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the same caliber of sensors found in the Bodymedia Fit band. Watch this space!

Foam Rollers

These aren’t a new item but I’ve just discovered that Rebel Sport have started stocking a decent range of AOK equipment and Gaiam Premium Pilates Mats. They have Bosu’s, Fitness Balls, Physio Foam Rollers and Dura Discs too. This is great news because (although they are a little more expensive) These products are the high quality, professional versions that you would find in commercial gym or exercise studio. The level of enjoyment/ease of use between a standard retail product and a professional one is huge and now you can pick them up at a convenient chain store. Great news!

A Better Alarm Clock

Alarm clocks have improved dramatically in the last 20 years, they were once a combination of clanging bells, flashing lights and electronic beeps that would take you from 100% relaxed to 100% awake in less than a second! Hardly the best way to start your day 🙂

Thankfully, there are more options now and many of them are far more gentle while still being effective. One solution that works with your bodies’ natural rhythm and cues uses gradual light and then sound to wake you. In a nutshell – the human body responds to light by releasing a hormone called cortisol that causes your body to wake up. The light only needs to make contact with your skin to increase production of cortisol and as the level of the hormone builds, your body naturally starts to wake.

For those of you with iPhones you can test it out using a free app called Wake Up – Lite*. It has a half hour build up of light followed by tweeting birds at the end of the cycle. If you rely on an alarm and wake before sunrise, it is definitely worth a try!

*You’ll need to leave the app running and have your phone on charge during the night. I always set my phone to “Plane” mode so that any emails or texts do not come through disturbing my sleep.

Using less and getting more…

Hills – For amazing increases in aerobic fitness, fat loss and leg muscle tone – include hills in you run, jog or power walk! A jog uphill has the physical effect on your body as a full sprint on the flat. It works the quads, gluts, calves and hamstrings in a manner similar to resistance or weight training that tones your muscles and sheds extra body fat post exercise. It is tough going and your lungs and muscles will burn, but you only need to do small amounts at a time and you will feel amazing minutes later. Start by including small hills of short distance and increase the length and gradient as your fitness improves.

Skipping – A great way to maintain an elevated heart rate and build coordination and rhythm while toning your legs and calves. I have often said that skipping ropes could be used to replace nearly 75% of the machines on the gym cardio floor. They are portable, inexpensive and can be used for anything from a light warm up to an intense cardio session. The range of simple to complex skipping patterns makes it much more mentally stimulating and varied than a solid session on a treadmill or exercise bike.

Nike+ GPS Run App

I stumbled across this app in the iTunes store but dismissed it thinking it required the foot pod and specific Nike shoes, after closer inspection I discovered that it was a stand-alone application that only cost $2.49 with no other hardware required aside from your iPhone or iPod Touch. With the application running in my backpack and the headphones on I was able to listen to my own music and receive regular updates of my total distance and current speed. At the end of the run you get an accurate map of the course that has been plotted by GPS and your run is colour coded based on your speed throughout. (Green for your fastest for the day, red for the slowest and shades of yellow for everything in between.)

This application is amazing value and i would happily pay x10 the price. It is clear and simple, easy to use and very accurate*. I would sooner leave my shoes at home than run without this as it really pushes me to exceed my previous distance and times each and every time I run.

(*I have only used it on the lower north shore with an iPhone 4, different versions of the iPhone and different areas may effect the GPS reception)

Zippo Handwarmer

As the weather gets colder I’ve been using a trick I learned while living in Dublin. I keep a hard boiled egg that’s just been cooked in each of my jacket pockets during the early morning training sessions to keep my hands warm! I started thinking that there must be a more conventional method for keeping your hands warm, then I found this. It’s slightly larger than a cigarette lighter and it contains Zippo lighter fuel. After you light it and place it inside a woollen sleeve, it smolders for 12 hours keeping your hands all warm and toastie. It was made for hunters and people living in sub zero conditions but I think it would still handle Sydney’s bitter 19 degree winter mornings 😉

Bang and Olufsen A8 Headphones

I’ve had a pair of these headphones for more than 3 years now and I haven’t used anything else since. They are the most comfortable headphones I’ve worn, even after an extended period of using them. The over ear design means they are great for running and they come with a leather case to protect them while they aren’t being used.