Vail Tech Bytes: Gadgets track mud-season workouts
VAIL, Colorado -Now that our Vail and Beaver Creel mountains are closed and the outdoor temperatures are slowly rising, many people in the valley have begun turning their attention to whatever activities they can in preparation for the summer months. For me, this means getting out and pounding the pavement to get in shape for hiking and climbing season.In this week’s Tech Bytes, I’m going to go over a few tech gadgets to help you make the most of your mud-season training.One of my favorite running companions is MapMyRun.com. It’s a Web site that helps me calculate my distance, elevation gain, calories burned and other neat workout statistics.To use MapMyRun, click “start mapping” from the homepage. Next, you’ll be presented with a map that looks very similar to Google maps. From here, you can type in a starting address or city to “jump to,” or you can navigate around the map to find the general area of your route. Use the tools on the right side of the screen to place markers and trace over your route, and watch as the site counts up the distance of your run. Be sure to check the “show elevation” button in the info & tools box to see your gain and loss.Once you’ve entered your route on the map, you can choose the workout calculator, under the tools menu, to calculate your average speed and pace, calories burned and other statistics just by entering a few pieces of data about yourself and your run. Finally, create a workout log by creating a free login and saving the route to your profile. That way you can go back and see the run at any time, and keep a record of your exercise progression. You can also share your runs with friends and search for local routes that other users have saved and recommended.If your preferred sport is cycling, walking or hiking, there’s also sites for each of those activities where you can track and share routes with yourself and others. Check out MapMyRide.com, MapMyHike.com, MapMyWalk.com and more (found at the bottom of any of those sites). They even have a new MapMyMountain.com you can use next winter to track your skiing and boarding adventures.If you’re looking for something a little less manual, and have a smartphone with GPS, consider checking out one of the many apps available to keep track of your outdoor exercise routes. An app that I’ve been experimenting with on my iPhone is RunKeeper. It allows me to put the phone in my pocket or on an armband and it automatically tracks my route using the built-in GPS.Run Keeper also keeps track of my overall time and outputs my average speed and pace in real time. With a free RunKeeper account, I can upload each run to their Web site to create a log and share my adventures with others over Twitter or Facebook. I especially like this app because I can also record my treadmill workouts on those rainy spring days I can’t go outside, and save them right alongside my outdoor activities for a complete record. This app works with running ,walking, cycling, skating or hiking. They have a free and a pro version, and the pro version gives you some extra, really handy features, such as reading your stats to you in real-time through your headphones, and the ability to input training workouts, so it will tell you when your intervals are up.Finally, if you don’t have a smartphone, consider checking out one of the any incredible training watches available on the market today. I know that Ptarmigan Sports has a wide variety of Suunto watches that will record all kinds of data like time, distance and monitor your heart rate.So don’t let mud season get you down, get outside and keep track of your adventures with one of these cool tech gadgets.Jessie Williams is the owner of Second October Media, http://secondoctober.com, a Web development and graphic design firm in Edwards. Follow her on Twitter at 2ndoctobermedia or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.