Running, Sole F63 Treadmill Review, and Follow-up

runningr

I don’t consider myself a “Runner”.  I’m not sure exactly what that means when people say it in a way where you can almost hear the quotes. 😉

But I do run regularly, so I’m a runner I guess.

For my last birthday (when I turned 46) I ran eight miles – the farthest I have run.  I decided that was maybe farther than I felt really comfortable running, but I wanted to be able to say I could do it if I wanted to.

But I was running six miles fairly regularly throughout the Spring and early- and mid-Summer.  And I even was doing a lot of hill running and interval running.  Hard stuff right there!

My medal for first place in my age group in 10K in Pillar Point

My medal for first place in my age group in 10K in Pillar Point

We also did a number of races during the Summer, I even got first place in my age group for a 10K (see medal to the right)!  I was quite proud of that, though the race didn’t have a huge number of people in it.  My wife later got first place for women in another 10K. I was really proud of her.  She went from losing over 225 pounds over the last few years to getting a women’s class winning time in a 10K.  Here’s her blog.

Unfortunately while running the races during the Summer I managed to tweak my knees and ankles a little, to the point where I completely stopped running.

That's me, in a run at Cape Vincent, NY

That’s me, in a run at Cape Vincent, NY

I continued with the rest of my exercise regiment as before – biking, cardio, core, weight training, yoga, stretching, hiking, etc.   But I had stopped running, and took up the slack with my other exercises.

During the competition runs I think I pushed myself too far, burned myself out, got sick of it, and I definitely hurt myself a bit.  I just didn’t enjoy it any more, in fact at one point after one race I said I was giving up running and I hated it and would not do another competition.  And while part of this attitude was the tweaks I did to myself; I think part of it was just running in such a way that I wasn’t enjoying it anymore.

But slowly over time I’ve gotten back into it, and enjoy doing it a few times a week again.  I started back at three miles, and now worked back – very, very VERY slowly, to four and five miles.  Eventually I’ll be back to the occasional six miles.  But no more than that.  And while I continue to push myself it will be on my terms – not other people’s who are running around me.

In fact during the Thanksgiving Day YMCA Turkey Run – just a 5K – I found that I immensely enjoyed myself!  More than any other competition run before that I did!  While I didn’t get near the top, even in my age group (there was about 777 people running in it!) – I was squarely above average in all categories – age, sex, and overall.  That made me feel real good because A) I had a great run and felt great doing it B) I was passing people right and left for the entire race C) had enough extra strength to speed up at the end and pass a bunch of people C) passed a seasoned ultra-marathon runner by a lot (though I certainly couldn’t run anywhere near his distance) and D) since I was above average for each category that means compared to the average American I did extraordinary!  Ha!  Made me feel good!

But unfortunately right now it’s slushy and snowy outside and even if I bundled up (see my previous blog entry) with the proper number of clothes I don’t want to run in slush and along the edge of a slushy road.  No way.

So it’s back to the treadmill.  We’ve had our treadmill, a Sole F63, for around three years now and it’s chugging away just fine.

We actually had another one before, but it but it started to deteriorate in no time and we ended up taking it back to Sears.  It was some off-brand made for Sears and was very, very low quality.

So after a lot of research, in person and on the Internet, we went with the Sole F63.  Unfortunately the control panel went out after we got it but the company sent us a new one, and it’s worked quite well since then.

In fact I just ran over five miles on it, listened to some music as I did so, ran a program on it that increases and decreases the speed and incline, and dumped a nice 667 calories while doing it and getting some great cardio and leg exercise at the same time.  In the comfort of our exercise room.  Though I find using the treadmill tremendously boring the alternative today was much worse.

Treadmill

Sole F63 Treadmill

I wrote a review of this particular treadmill when we got it and posted the review on Viewpoints.  I’ll repost the review here and then add some comments as follow-up after the review, since we’ve had it a few years since the I wrote that.  I gave it it 4 stars out of 5 in the review, BTW.  This has not changed.

**

This is our second treadmill, the first one was a relatively cheap one from Sears which broke almost immediately – and taught us to buy something with more quality.

After reading many reviews and looking over what was available locally at a sporting goods store called Dicks, we bought this unit.

It was fairly easy to assemble and we gave it a try right away. Unfortunately the stop button didn’t work and the sporting goods store told us that we’d have to pack it up and take it back to them, as it’s large and heavy it seemed like a lot of trouble just for something that likely only needed one part replaced – the control panel.

But we made a call to Sole and they happily sent us another control panel with a shipping label for a free shipping on the return.

After another call to the computer to calibrate the control board everything was fine and in working shape.

Both my wife and I enjoy it, both using the built-in programs as well as adjusting speed and incline on the fly.  Both of which is easy and quick using the controls on the arms, as well as the control panel.

The tread itself is tight but soft, and seems to be durable.  Safety is high, as everything is quite well protected from accidentally catching your foot or loose clothes.

Both of our Boxer dogs run and walk on it also, and it would seem like it would be easy for humans as well as dogs to use, and kids also.

The heart rate monitor works well, though it’s a bit unsteady – from what I’ve seen this is fairly standard and you have to use this as just a general guideline.

An optional band and sensor from Sole that attaches to your chest can be used with this treadmill.  Interestingly enough I bought my wife a Polar heart rate watch with this sensor band for Christmas and we were surprised and happy that this band immediately started sending her heart rate to the display on the treadmill without any set up.  We of course didn’t know that the two were compatible but it works very well.

The incline goes up to 15 degrees, which is more than you want to run at but it good for real aerobic walking.  It doesn’t take long to get up to the full incline either.

Speed is up to 15 miles per hour, but with my long legs I am not able to get much past 8 miles per hour comfortably, as my stride begins to approach the front and rear of the tread.  Whether it’s psychological or physical whether I could run full-out on this I’m not sure, but I’m only comfortable up to 7 miles per hour when running.

The safety cord could be slightly longer but I understand why it keeps you centered on the tread.  Pulling it quickly slows it, but doesn’t abruptly stop it, which is good.

The motor is smooth and quiet and the flywheel gets up to speed within a reasonable time.  Warranty on the parts is hard to beat, and while I think the whole unit is very durable and long-lasting it’s nice to have that nice warranty as a fall-back.

Controls are easy and straight-forward to use, and the screen is a great, bright and nicely animated display of everything you need and want to know.  Dual fans and speakers and a plug-in for an MP3 player round out the options, as well as the ability to quickly fold up and latch, and a hydraulic cylinder to slowly and safely lower it again, protected by a latch and hand release.

**

Archer on treadmill

Archer on treadmill

So that’s the review and I’d have to say that my thoughts haven’t changed about it.  It works well, and we’ve put a hell of a lot of miles on it.  Not only us but the dogs too (see my blog entry about this, and the Youtube video).

I’ve had to lubricate the track once using the included lube.  No big deal, just took a few minutes.

I’ve also found that the heart rate monitor receiver on the machine picks up my Schwinn GPS/Heart Rate Monitor Watch‘s heart rate band and also picked up the heart rate band from my last heart rate monitor watch.  Real nice.

Which brings me to the only issue I really have with it – for some reason the heart rate receiver on it picks up some sort of ‘ghost’ GPS Watch and Heart Rate Monitor Strapsignal that it thinks is a legit heart rate monitor signal.  We’re not sure what’s causing it and when it occurs seems to be totally random.  When we are using our heart rate monitor chest straps there’s no problem with it, and grabbing onto the heart rate monitor handles works fine too.  Just once in a while it seems to pick up a signal that it is interpreting as a heart rate monitor strap signal.  Weird.  Some sort of interference or spurious signal from some of our electronics more than likely. It’s a slight annoyance, nothing huge.

Otherwise it works beautifully, here’s the stats on it, from the website:

  • 2.5-horsepower continuous-duty motor
  • Vibrant 6.5-inch LCD display with integrated speakers and audio cable
  • 6 standard workouts and 2 custom workouts; built-in cooling fans
  • Easy Assist folding deck design; phenolic shock-absorption system
  • 325-pound capacity; measures 33 x 75 inches (W x D); weighs 245 pounds