TICKR X & The 7 Minute Workout Accessibility

I am always looking for simple and effective ways to make workouts more accessible. It can often be difficult to monitor and track workouts so I was very excited when Wahoo sent along the TICKR X. The TICKR X is a very capable device that can track a whole multitude of stats, from HR, to body movement and more, but the data point I was most interested in was rep counting.

Utilising the TICKR X along with the Wahoo 7 minute workout app on my iPhone, all my reps could be automatically counted. No more writing it all down in an app afterwards, assuming I could remember how many reps I performed on each exercise.

What is the 7 minute workout

The 7 minute workout is a collection of 12 body weight exercises that you can complete anywhere with no equipment needed. It has been shown to give results comparable to longer running or weights sessions. It comprises of 12 work sets of 30 seconds each followed by a 10 second rest. It is a quick and highly effective HIIT workout.

The Device

The device itself is one of the rare devices a blind user can take out of the box and configure and use without sighted assistance. You click the device onto one side of the strap, wrap it around your chest and clip into the other side of the strap. Ensuring the TICKR X is positioned in the middle of your chest, do not worry if the device doesn’t touch your skin. Unlike other HR trackers the HR sensor are located in the strap, not the actual TICKR X device.

To turn the device on tap the TICKR X a couple of times and then you are ready to pair it with your phone. This is achieved inside the app.

The App

The 7 minute workout app is highly accessible, Wahoo have done a fantastic job of labelling all labels appropriately. It is simple to navigate the app and start an activity, as the reps are counted automatically that is all you ensentially have to do to use the app. Start a workout and read your results, no manual inputting its all taken care of.

The app also uses a lot of audio for feedback. For example, the different exercises and start and rest sections are read aloud. It makes for a nice accessible experience.

How Does it Perform

When I began my workout I was surprised it worked, it was a real wow moment as I heard the reps count up as I went about completing the workout. I was quickly put in my place on correct form as the TICKR X wouldn’t count reps with bad form. So no longer can I cheat and just do quick reps with poor form, I am now forced to go lower rep with correct form. While this affects my rep count it does mean I am actually performing the exercise correctly! This was evident in push up rotations, as the TICKR X wouldn’t count a rep if I didn’t perform the appropriate amount of rotation, which is coming when going for speed. This correction of form isn’t limited to simply not counting a rep, as when in plank position if you begin to wain the app notified you to watch form!

The other slightly confusing counting system is in exercises that have an up and down movement, for example, push ups, triceps dips etc. This is because the TICKR X counts the up and down as 2 reps, whereas typically I would count each up and down as one rep. In itself this isn’t actually an issue as it correctly counts the movements and you are able to compare your results and see improvement as the counting is consistent. If anything it just makes it look like you can do twice the number of push ups you used to be able to!

For me the real wow moment of the app was upon completing a full workout. When the workout is finished you are given a table with the rep results of each exercise along with the HR for each exercise. This granularity was a fantastic reporting decision. Typically average HR is used for workouts whereas Wahoo have chose to give you the HR breakdown of each exercise. This is important as you are quickly able to identify the exercises you should be pushing harder on. I was able to see that I was sandbagging it a little on what I consider to be the easier exercises, perhaps unconsciously I was using them as a little rest period.

Like the other sections of the app the reports are very accessible, Wahoo really have done a great job in regards to accessibility for the blind.

Any Bad Points?

Yes, the in app purchases. I was a little disappointed that with a premium priced piece of hardware like the TICKR X required multiple small in app purchases to get full app functionality. It must be noted that this is for the 7 minute workout challenge, there are other apps from Wahoo that work with the TICKR X, but I was focussed on utilising the TICKR X for rep counting.


The TICKR X is wonderfully accessible with the accompanying 7 minute workout challenge app. I would highly recommend it for a blind user. Its rep counting keeps you honest and the reports allow you to highlight where you should be pushing harder. It is a definite buy for any blind user looking for an accessible and quick cardio workout!

A great day out!

I arrived at the Buxton Adventure Film Festival shortly before Heather Dawe was due to speak. I snook into the theatre a little early (its amazing where a guide dog can get you!) and found a seat. I sat down a few seats away from Jez Bragg and was introduced to him.

Jez was at the event talking about his 3,054km run of the Te Araroa trail covering the entirety of New Zealand including multiple water crossings. After a quick chat and swapping our list of events for the following year it was time for the first talk.

Heather Dawe was talking about her amazing running and cycling career. She has achieved some wonderful things and returned from adversity after suffering what sounded like a terrible accident while riding her bike. A car hit her at 50mph and she was thrown over the car. Her talk was captivating and covered everything from running to painting! After the talk there was a little Q&A.

At the end of the Q&A the organizers of the film festival mentioned I was in the audience and asked if I would give an impromptu talk on how I got into running. So with Ascot in hand I struggled to get on the stage as Ascot was doing his usual jumping around trying to play with everyone. I gave a quick overview of how I started running and why I was attracted to ultra running. It seemed to go down well and I think I did reasonably well considering I had no idea I would end up on stage.

After that was a brilliant little film about the Dragons Back. Thankfully the film was filled with enough dialogue so I could tell what was going on. The few details I did need to know where filled in by Julie who was sat next to me. Its a great film and if you get the chance well worth a watch. It certainly seems like an incredibly gruelling race, it would certainly be an incredibly challenge for anyone to guide me on that course!

Following that film was Jez Bragg’s talk. Its always great hearing little details of peoples adventures and Jez’s was certainly a massive adventure. The water crossings added a great element to an endurance run and maybe came as a great break from the constant running for Jez. It was also interesting to hear that even the elite atheletes end up crying while out running! Its not just us mere mortals that end up breaking down after the body has taken a beating. What really struck me about Jez’s talk was all the mud and the tree roots. When I run I have no idea what my feet are going to land on, I just have to trust that it wont be anything too bad. There is no way I could run a trail like that, well I could but it would probably take me a year rather than the 53 days it took Jez!

It did sound like a wonderful adventure and I really liked the idea of the water crossings. I would love to have a crack at an endurance event that involved a little more than running.

Jez’s talk was followed by two short films,the first “The Journey”

Paul Pritchard became disabled in 1998 during a climbing accident on a sea stack in Tasmania when a TV-sized boulder falling from 25 meters inflicted such terrible head injuries that doctors thought he might never walk or even speak again.
He is still making a remarkable recovery and longed to return to the Himalayan mountain range.  The hemiplegia which has robbed his right side of movement and played tricks with his speech and memory meant pedalling a specially built recumbent trike was the only way he could return to the mountains he loves and make the pilgrimage to Mount Everest.

The film was very humorous and the dialogue was enough to follow the story. Simon filled in a few od the details for me this time, such as the scenery and terrain.

The second film was “The road from Karakol”

In the summer of 2011, alpinist  Kyle Dempster  set out across Kyrgyzstan’s back roads on his bike. His goal – ride across the country via old Soviet roads while climbing as many of the region’s impressive peaks as possible. He was alone. He carried only a minimalist’s ration of climbing gear.  Ten Kyrgyz words rounded out his vocabulary. Part meditation on true spirit of adventure and part epic travelogue, The Road from Karakol is the story of a unique spirit who pedaled to the road’s end and decided to keep going

However the film was more about the adventure he seemed to have along the way discovering the abandoned ruins of a post soviet union. This film told a great story overall and explored the fear of the adventurer and highlighted how overcoming fears seemed to lead to a greater adventure.

The final talk was by Rosie Swale Pope. As earlier we had snook into the theatre a little early so Rosie was still setting up. She had decided to hide on stage inside a tent – so after everyone had filled the room she could just appear on stage. I had heard a little about Rosie on the way to the event. After a few brief conversations I had found out at the age of 60 she had decided to run around the world, making her the first person ever to achieve this unsupported. I was amazed, it seemed an adventure like that would be something a crazed 20 year old would undertake, but someone old enough to be a grandma? It seemed incredible.

Her talk simply did not disappoint. Hearing Rosie talk is energizing and its easy to see why she delivers motivational talks all over the world. Her tales of not only the run but her life are simply amazing, if there is ever an opportunity to hear her talk it should certainly be jumped upon!

Thankfully her book is available on Kindle so I grabbed that today. As soon as I have read the mountain of books for my extended essay and disseration I will get right on it!

Overall the event was fantastic, I got to hear some amazing people talk about their wonderful adventures. I came away inspired and with little tidbits of information that I will introduce into my own training. It was also great to hear that Jez ate junk and rice pudding on his Te Araroa trail run as that is pretty much what I survive on! (So I cant be doing it that wrong). The amount of incline everyone at the event seemed to have covered during events was another take home for me. Being very limited to running my one route inclines are things of nightmares. But I am determined to at least do a gair few thousand feet a week albeit on the treadmill. Rosie had some great tips on socks and something I will bare in mind if I ever do a multi day ultra.

So the event achieved exactly what I hoped it would, inspire me to reach further and train harder. I would highgly recommend people attend next year, I know I will be trying my hardest to!

A Call for A SmartTreadmill

I currently own a NordicTrack T14 treadmill. What makes this treadmill so special is its iFit Live system. The iFit live system allows a route to be plotted online through google maps that is then sent to the treadmill. So any inclines that appear on the plotted route are automatically changed by the treadmill. It basically allows you to practice running the inclines of any given route.

This really is a nice system, you can even hook up a TV and navigate to the iFit website and it will display the google street view of your current location. However after using this treadmill for a while I can see a number of areas it could be improved to make a truly great treadmill.

The Smart Treadmill as I envisage it would be controlled by an iPad this is for a number of reasons.

1. Reduced cost for developing the console. The consoles are usually terrible on low to mid level treadmills. With the high end treadmills simply gaining features such as television. Utilising an iPad for a console would give great access to technology.

2. Unique features of the iPad, there is already a music player built in, movies built in, web browser and a never ending list of applications.

3. Brilliant touch screen technology. Lets face it Apple’s touch screens are just beautiful compared to the competitors.

4. New revenue streams for the manufacturer. Currently the manufacturer creates the treadmill then sells it. Revenue stream over. However make the iPad the console and you have now created a market place. A market place where you can sell workout packs, map packs and a whole host of other products that could produce revenue years after the sale of the treadmill.

5. Accessibility. It is simply not financially viable for current manufacturers to create an accessible treadmill for the blind. Make a treadmill that has an iPad for a console and this problem is solved. With VoiceOver built into the iPad all information that is on the screen can be read out. How amazing would that be an accessible treadmill!

I would really love this treadmill to exist. The feature list could be huge, with an easy updateable system this feature list can be expanded over time.

Plotting routes via a mapping system would be incredibly easy with the iPad controlling the treadmill. Also utilising a system like google street view would also be easy. Hell without the need to create an embedded control system the development time would be far quicker.

So please treadmill manufactures make this treadmill! Oh and if you do please send me one for suggesting it in the first place!

A Reminder of What is Possible

With a fantastic diet of: 2 pancakes, a chicken sandwich, protein shake and a slice of toast, I was under fuelled and ready to run. After a quick conversation with my guide runner he was unable to make it. Dammit I wanted to hit the tarmac.

Near my house there is a small strip of tarmac around 1.6 miles long that is perfect. Wide path, no lampposts and more importantly no pedestrians. I decided without my guide runner this strip of asphalt may be possible. After persuading my wife I wouldn’t die she reluctantly dropped me at the far end.

With no assistance apart from the thumping beat of Jay-Z I began my run. The first mile I had to hug the curb to avoid a few trees, after a long curve to the right time to swap to the left of the path. Reaching the end of the first mile I had a rush of excitement, for the first time in over 2 years I was running on my own.

No guide runner, no cane, no GPS just me and my iPhone. The way it used to be. It was a fantastic feeling and I wish it had lasted. But the burning of my lungs began at the 3 mile marker and I took a little rest. The run wasnt over yet, I had to get to the pick up point another 1.5 miles away. I dug deep and completed the run.

Overall the run was a fantastic reminder of what is possible. It is far to easy to become over reliant on the assistance and aids provided. I will continue to push myself to see what is possible.

100 miles will be mine.

A Mile Too Far..

My return to running has been far more difficult than anticipated. The ankle pain has gone but taken my stamina alone too.

I figured a couple of runs and I would be back at full strength, instead nearing the 3 mile mark yesterday I felt my lungs collapsing. Where did it all go wrong? A month ago I was happy with my goal of a 100 mile run next year. Now the thought seems impossible; I can’t even run 3 miles!

My guide runner graciously stopped running during my injury in the hope we would stay at the same level. This didn’t pan out as hoped, as he seems to be coping with the return far better than I. As I struggle on the familiar home straights he stretches out and runs ahead.

Starting so far back in my training programme is incredibly demoralising, 2 months hard work wiped out by an awry foot strike. Damn you Bawtry Road and your crappy paving!

Slow Recovery, Slow Posting

While my ankle continues to heal I find my blog posts have dropped off. Until my injury I hadn’t realised how important and reliant I had become on my running. With my vision difficulties and my wife working through the week, I rarely leave the house. So my main outlet for fitness and socialising was my running.

My guide runner has been coming round to visit in the day times, but it simply isn’t the same. Venturing out and running the local streets gave me the freedom I strive for. The injury is having a serious impact. In an effort to hit the streets quicker I have ordered a Vulkan ankle brace. This should allow me to run through part of the recovery period.

This also means I will miss my first ever competitive race. It was schedules for next week, I am confident I could complete the small distance, but the prospect of further injury and a slow time is not appealing. So regrettably I will miss the race in the hopes of coming back stronger later in the year.

Race For Life

On the hottest day of the year I began the long walk to the start line. My sister was running/walking in the Race For Life 5km. With the closest parking being just over a mile away it was the first test for my ankle. Pain free we arrived at the staging area.

My sister was already in the starting area so we were quickly trying to make our way to the front so her 2 boys could see the start. Hoisted above my head we caught a quick glimpse of my sister as the race began.

Knowing the competitive women would post great a time we made our way over to the finish line. 18 minutes had passed and not a runner in sight, I put this down to the heat and terrain as in local races the competitive women usually post around 16-17 mins.

Around the 23 minute mark the first competitor reached the home straight, with a rouse of applause they crossed the line. It would be another 1 minute 30 before second place. As the time ticked by many of the more athletic women began to collapse and vomit a mere 50m from the finish line. The heat and dehydration seemed to be affecting a number of the female competitors.

Watching the dehydrated women made me wonder how I will complete a 100m race. Will I be this ill? Rather than this being an off putting thought it inspired me to enter some competitive races. I want to push myself to the limit and beyond like these women were.

My sister completed the race with a final sprint and a time of 46 minutes, a great time for my sister as she only began running 2 weeks ago.

The injury is healing quickly thanks to compression and rest, so I am quietly hopeful I may make my race in a couple of weeks. I have revised my target time to a 25 minute for the 5k as this injury has meant no speed work for a month.


On my last run I was nursing a painful foot/ankle. After resting for over a week I was still unable to put my full body weight on my right ankle. Begrudgingly I headed to the Dr’s.

A quick diagnosis of an ankle sprain seemed simple. Thankfully nothing was broken I was happy and assumed I would be back on the road in a matter of days. Turns out I had no idea how serious ankle sprains can be, up to 3 months recovery. Upon hearing the news my heart sank, 18 weeks of training had come to an end. I would miss my first ever race and may even be out the entire summer.

On the way home from the Dr’s I bought a couple of ankle supports and sat down for some internet research. All the information I found confirmed what the Dr had told me, a long recovery time with little chance of a speedy recovery. I did manage to pickup a few tips, so hopefully with the use of the RICE method and a good 1-2 week rest I should be back.

For those interested the RICE method involves:

R- Rest
I – Ice
C – Compression
E – Elevation

My summer workout is going to take some modification as I would like to try and retain my fitness levels during the recovery period. So I will be hitting the weights hard over the next 2 weeks.

Performing as a Blind Runner

Increasing performance is something that you work on over time. Changing a few methods here, fiddling with the diet there, a change of equipment, a whole host of changes contribute towards increased performance.

For myself it works slightly differently, as my performance is not dictated by my own actions, but by the joint performance of me and my guide runner.

If I feel particularly fresh I cant simply sprint ahead and put in a faster mile or even do a sprint finish. I move along at my guide runners pace. Which of course in turn means my guide runners pace is also dictated by my performance.

This makes for a very interesting and unique relationship, we can only perform better as a unit. This is proving especially difficult as I am currently injured. This was highlighted in our last run where our pace was the slowest to date.

With our performance being so dependant on the other, failure is not an option. Stopping mid run means letting the other person down, not to mention a long walk home. So regardless of pain, exhaustion and dehydration the runs are completed.

Our last run was especially painful as I am currently sporting an ankle injury. For the last 2 miles it was simply a case of pain management, I completed the run with the thought, “Must not stop, I cannot let the team down!”.

Summer Schedule

With the summer in full swing its time to up my workout schedule. Not only will I be increasing the miles but introducing a number of CrossFit workouts and sprints. The schedule is as follows:

Monday – Pull-ups, CrossFit
Tuesday – Run
Wednesday – Pull-ups, CrossFit
Thursday – Run
Friday – Pull-ups, CrossFit
Saturday – Sprints, CrossFit
Sunday – Run

This schedule does seem a little packed but with a lot of sleep and great nutrition I am confident I will see gains.

I will be following a Hal Higdon schedule for my running and aiming to be at half marathon distance in around 6 weeks time.

I will be utilising CrossFit and also a CrossFit playing card deck for the strength training.

For pull-ups I will be following the 20 Pull-Up Challenge.

So thats the schedule I post mainly to open the doors to any friends, friends of friends, random readers of the blog that would like to team up during the summer months. Be it by training in person or simply keeping track of each others progress online.

I am flexible on the times for any of the workouts and will do an AM/PM split. So leave or comment or drop me a line to workout!