This afternoon the UPS delivery person dropped off my new geeky toy - a SpeedCoach SUP 2. It's a GPS with a high refresh rate designed to give accurate, by-the-second speedometer readings, and it has an internal accelerometer that can sense every paddle stroke you take. (It can display your strokes per minute and your distance traveled per stroke, the product of which is, of course, your speed.) Also, it uses bluetooth wireless communication to talk to a heart rate sensor that you wear around your chest. The bluetooth lets you extract the data from the unit to your PC for analysis, which I think is super cool. You can also use the wireless to download timed interval "workouts" to the SpeedCoach, which will then tell you when to go fast, when to rest, etc. There are five workout programs already in the machine when it comes out of the box, and you can tweak them and save them if you want to.
I had to rush to get on the water to try the toy today because the radar showed a thunderstorm coming in from the east. I did a 1.61 km (1 mile) paddle downstream in the Imperial River, then took a rest and did the same thing coming back upstream. Going downstream I didn't start the SpeedCoach data recording properly, so I didn't get any data for that section. Going upstream and upwind after I was already a little tired I didn't get the most impressive times, but the data was still useful. Here's what it looked like when I graphed it in Microsoft Excel:
Speed- It took me 20 seconds or so to get up to speed. Quicker acceleration is something I need to work on, since this could really hurt me in a race with lots of buoy turns where you have to stop and then accelerate again. I also notice that there are lots of little ups and downs in the speed, which might have to do with wind, current, and water depths changes as I was going up the bends of the river. I definitely noticed just by looking at the screen on the SpeedCoach that I was a lot slower in shallow water, and a lot faster when I could find an eddy in the downstream current. I'm sure there's a "human element" to the ups and downs, too, with my wavering will and focus. Strokes per minute- I take about 56 strokes per minute on average, but when I take more strokes per minute I'm faster. There are times that my stroke rate seems to suddenly dip really low, which may be when I'm switching paddling sides or may be when the accelerometer fails to pick up strokes. Heart rate- My resting heart rate (not shown) is 65-70 bpm. My "warmed up" heart rate (after paddling hard for a mile then taking a couple minutes to rest) is about 120. It took about a minute of paddling hard for my heart to go from 120 to 170ish, then it gradually got up to 180ish after about 10 minutes. I think around 180 is my hard-workout max.
Hopefully the data this gizmo delivers will give me some better insight into what works and what doesn't work for going faster. :)