Showing posts with label HRM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HRM. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

When it comes to pace, some things are obvious

Dare to believe
Some things are so obvious that we ignore what's right in front of us. I think I may have figured out something that could get me out of the performance stasis that I have struggled with for a very long time.

I've worked hard over the past 3.5 months to get back to my old running self. Since May, I've been consistently running six days a week. This has resulted in a 4X increase in mileage per month compared to what I was doing prior to May. My runs are peaceful, almost meditative. Compared to where I was, this all seems great. But it's not all great.

 According to Garmin Connect, almost every one of my performance metrics are at their lowest points in over a year. Speed, cadence and stride length are down compared to last summer and way down from where they were when I last competed (2014). I know I'm five years older, but I don't accept this level of decline. Some of it may relate to the medication I take, but I'm now rethinking that theory.

Back to the obvious. Most runners who focus on performance understand the basics. The harder the effort, the higher your heart rate. The higher your heart rate, the faster you go. Higher effort yields more steps per minute. A longer stride gets you there faster. So if your average heart rate on a run is 60% of max, your runs will be peaceful and meditative. But your cadence will be low and your pace will be awful.

I've always been a little suspicious of HR monitors because they occasionally give readings that would trigger a trip to the ER if they were real. It's a known issue across all brands, Garmin, Polar, Suunto, etc. I noticed that my heart rate on most runs was pretty low but I chose to believe the monitor wasn't accurate. If I thought about it more, I would have realized that I had fallen into cruise control running and I had no one but myself to blame for my poor pacing.

I decided to run 10 x 160 meter intervals to see if I could match my performance from years ago. I couldn't hit those numbers, but the times were faster than anything I've recorded since 2015. More importantly, my heart rate, cadence and stride length for those ten repeats were strongly correlated to the fast paces. One might say that was an obvious result, but I still didn't connect it to my daily runs.

It wasn't until I started tracking my all-day heart rate that I concluded that the HR monitor was fairly consistent from day to day. I realized that I should believe the readings I was seeing on my run. And if those readings were barely cracking 60% of max HR, I needed to ramp up my effort.

I look good in blue
So I did. Starting Monday, I focused solely on my HR on my runs with a goal of 70-85% max. The results have not been dramatic, but I'm running almost 2 mins per mile faster than I was a week ago. It's no piece of cake and I can feel the effort, but it's tolerable. Per Garmin Connect, my V0 max has moved from good to excellent for my age.

My challenge going forward will be to continue pushing on every run in hopes of making a higher HR my new normal. I don't think I'll be getting back to 9:00 paces too soon, but at least I know what I need to do to get there.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Garmin FR 35: I never saw it coming

Welcome back data
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

This afternoon the fine folks at UPS dropped off a package at my house. I opened the box and saw that it contained a Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS watch. I really wanted the FR35 to replace my FR210 that I lost on the Bethpage trail a couple of weeks ago. Interestingly, I never ordered the watch. It wasn't until my wife told me that my friend and fellow Runsketeer KWL had sent it. I couldn't believe it, but I was very excited.

One of the reasons KWL wanted me to have the watch was to encourage me to focus again on my performance when I run. The FR35 has a lot of tracking features including an optical heart rate monitor that obviates the need for a chest strap. I prefer to run by heart rate/zone rather than pace and I'll be able to do that easily. It also works as an activity monitor. I didn't realize that until it rudely beeped at me and said "Move!" on the display.

I wish I had this watch when I went out this morning on my run. Instead, I ran with my stopwatch. That was fine, but I missed being able to track time and distance. All the same, the stopwatch did give me some useful feedback. I generally run the same route every Friday and knew exactly where I'd hit the one mile mark. Although my stopwatch was securely attached to my SPIbelt, I was able to catch a glimpse of the elapsed time. I saw that I ran the first mile 30 seconds faster than my most recent (improving) pace.

Going forward, my challenge will be choosing to push performance rather than enjoying the experience of a free form run. Today's conditions were cool and fairly dry and my running felt easy. I ran faster than I have in many months but it didn't feel hard. It felt great. I can push even harder and run even faster, but I don't know how far to go with that. I'm going to target 85% max HR tomorrow and see how that feels. If it feels okay, maybe a little speed will be worth the extra effort.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Heart rate spikes and my HR monitor

Mystery spikes at the beginning of my runs
I started using my heart rate monitor again in late August and it's helped me understand how much (or how little) work I'm putting into a run. Instead of looking at my Garmin and checking my pace for that moment, I now display my heart rate and adjust my effort depending on what I see. I've learned that my default pace happens when I'm running in the zone 2 range, far below what I would have thought.

Now, when I see that my heart rate is still in the "easy" zone, I'll pick up the pace to cross the threshold to the next level. I aim to reach zone 5 by the time I finish most of my runs and I usually get there.

I was looking at the readings from yesterday's run and noticed that my heart rate was holding close to 100% of Max through the first three minutes. From there it dropped precipitously down to 76% for no apparent reason. I had seen this happen before, my first few minutes of the Cow Harbor 10K show a spike to 100% of Max before dropping to 80% at the five minute point.

In the case of Cow Harbor, I was pumped up for the race and had consumed a 2nd Surge gel with caffeine right before the start. In contrast, yesterday's run was low key, with no gels or caffeine to influence my physiology. In both cases I felt no different between the high and normal readings. Since it doesn't correlate to my condition, I'm thinking the reason is completely benign.

In both cases the humidity was low and I had not wet the HRM sensor before I linked it to the Garmin. Without moisture from sweat, the readings were probably unreliable. After a few minutes of running (and sweating) they dropped to an expected level. I'll test this theory tomorrow by ensuring the contacts on the HRM are wet before I start my run. I'm pretty sure I'll see a smoother curve along the timeline.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ready to race again

A return to race driven workouts
Today's run (treadmill): 2.5 miles

It's interesting how your running focus can ebb and flow throughout the year. In the first few months of 2012, my mind was on racing and I was happy to attain PR's for my 4 mile and half marathon distances. The experience I had at the New Hyde Park 8K was a turning point for me, and not in a good way. After that race, I'd lost some of my competitive spirit. I did run in a corporate 5K in July, but I skipped the Dirty Sock in August, a race that I'd run the previous three years.

Cow Harbor restored my interest in competing and although I didn't break (or even approach) a personal record, I loved being back in the game. Now that Cow Harbor has come and gone, I'm looking ahead to my next race. I've targeted the town of Oyster Bay's Supervisor's run that takes place in mid-October. It's a 5K that features a long hill going up and another long hill coming down. Happily they put the uphill and the downhill in the right order.

With my interest in performance restored, I've approached my last two workout runs with the mindset that I'm training for a race. By using my HRM to shame me into running faster, I'm managing to get past my natural dislike of the treadmill. It's fun to blip up the speed control until I get my heart rate to my targeted level. This morning I had another invigorating run at a speed that I usually avoid on the treadmill. I hope to take this focus back on the road tomorrow, when I return to the street.

Friday, August 31, 2012

A surprisingly decent time for a low PE run

Today's run (street): 3.6 miles

My Labor Day weekend started this morning, so I had an opportunity do a weekday run longer than my usual, time-constrained 2.5 miles. It's actually 2.53 miles, but who's counting? Well, I am. An extra three hundredths of a mile drops my average pace by six seconds per mile at that distance.

I targeted about 3.5 miles for today because it's a nice bump up from the 2.53 on a weekday, but short enough to get it done quickly. Although I didn't need to rush out the door when I returned home, the rest of the day was booked and I wanted a chance to relax before I headed to my first appointment.

My run was interesting. It was hot by the time I got outside and I wasn't really in the mood to push hard. I used only my heart rate as a way to gauge my performance and adjusted my speed to get into my targeted zone. Even while my pulse increased, I didn't feel like I was working as hard as I did last week, when I broke 9:00 four mornings in a row.

I ended up completing this run in the mid-9:00 range. Going only by perceived effort (PE), I expected that number to be 20 secs/mile slower. I was pleased with that performance on a hot day when I wasn't really working that hard. My average HR for the run was at the lower end of the anaerobic range. That tells me I have more on tap than I've been using on most runs.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Finally using my HRM (with good results)

Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

I knew it would be rainy this morning so I planned to do a treadmill run. I finally got around to setting up my heart rate monitor on Sunday and linked it to the Garmin, so I had that to play with. With the rain outside, it was very humid in my guest room. I put the fan in a fixed position and aimed it directly at the front of the treadmill. This reduces the heat, but the forced air causes dryness in my sinuses and throat.

It's been a long time since I've used an HRM. The treadmill has grips that allow you to capture your current heart rate, but read time takes a while and it's awkward to run that way at speed. The Garmin is much more convenient and it monitors in real time, providing important information as you run.

One important thing I learned was that my usual routine on the treadmill did not tax my heart as much as I'd thought. Since I despise this method of running it always feels hard, at any speed. What I thought was a good workout pace turned out to be on the threshold between the recovery and aerobic zones. To really get benefit I needed to push myself into the anaerobic zone (between 80-90% max HR).

I watched my heart rate as I increased the treadmill's speed and was surprised how hard it was to bump my HR higher on the aerobic zone. It may have been psychological, but I found it easier to sustain paces below 9:00 after seeing that my heart rate was still below 80% of max. I ended up running faster than I usually do on the treadmill without feeling much fatigue during or afterward. I'll be curious to see what kind of numbers I see when I take it to the streets tomorrow.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The performance thing I'm actually going to do

There's nothing like the feel of hard plastic against your chest
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 25 minutes
Today's run (street ): 2.5 miles

If I were running the Dirty Sock 10K this Sunday, I'd probably have pushed much harder on this morning's run than I did. Training for a race involves a different approach to daily running, where every workout counts. The Cow Harbor 10K is coming up, but I have over four weeks to get my conditioning right. This morning I moved at my default speed,which gets me around my route about 10% slower than 10K race pace.

In terms of performance, I have a long list of things "I'm going to do." More interval sessions. More core workouts. Increase leg lift when running. Strength training. Like I said it's a long list. While I'm good at getting out every day to do my runs, I'm much less apt to do the things that will move the needle on performance.

One easy thing that may make a difference is going back to running with a heart rate monitor. I'm reluctant to look at my Garmin during a training run because I don't like seeing how slow I'm running. That undercuts my enjoyment of the experience and I'd rather be disappointed at the end. But I have no issues looking at my heart rate while I run and that correlates well with performance. 

I'll make it project for this weekend to put a new battery into the HRM and sync it with my FR210. I don't love wearing the thing, but I will. Perhaps that's the reason I stopped using it in the first place.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Heart of the matter

I ran a half mile calibration run this morning and was disappointed to see that my Garmin 50 is still off in recording actual distance. I set the unit back to neutral (no compensation) since that gave me a constant variance that I can correct when recording into MapMyRun. The Garmin Connect site doesn't allow the user to modify uploaded data so my distances (and therefore speed and pace times) will continue to be under reported by about 3%.

I wasn't too energized during this short run, probably because I knew it would be over quickly. I want to do an extended run in the next few days but it didn't seem like the right time to try that. Instead I decided to train on the elliptical machine. I find that to be a good workout but I never feel like it's an equivalent effort to running. As an experiment I used the Garmin to see how it tracked distance and to monitor my pulse rate since the elliptical's readings are practically random. I started out at low resistance and after a minute or so I discovered that the Garmin was not recording distance at all. I think that's because the foot pod relies on foot strikes and the elliptical does not mimic the impact of running. The HRM was working fine and I watched the numbers increase as I added levels of resistance.

The interesting thing was that when I reached my normal level of resistance (5) my pulse rate was almost 15% lower than my average pulse rate when I'm running. It wasn't until I increased to level 10 that I came within a few points of my running pulse rate. I stayed at that level for a while and was really sweating by the time I reached the 40-minute mark. According to the display I was producing 102 watts of energy on the elliptical compared to the 58-62 watts I'm used to seeing when I use the machine at level 5.

So, knowing this, I will double my usual resistance to maintain the level of conditioning that I follow during my weekday runs. I used to think of the elliptical was my easy workout and a break from my intense daily runs. Going forward it will be a different form of hard work. I welcome the challenge!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vacation running progress

I took this week off because my kids are on vacation. It's great to have additional time for running and I'm running ahead of my daily average of about 2. 2 miles. So far this week I'm averaging about 3 miles per day, today I ran 3.42 at a 9:14 pace. Looking back at my late fall 2008 paces I'm doing pretty well, my average pace in November was over 10:00 min/mi and now it's less than 9:30/mi. This morning's run started fast (for me) and I very quickly realized I couldn't maintain the 8:30 pace I was running. After adjusting my speed I settled in aiming for about 2.25 miles that would put me a little ahead of my usual M-F run distance. Once I did my usual halfway loop I chose a few streets that ran away from my house to extend my total distance.

The heart rate monitor is great to have because it provides instant feedback in terms of how hard I'm working and how hard I should be running. I used it on the elliptical yesterday and it was interesting to compare those rates with rates when running. I know, based upon my pulse rate, that I need to push myself harder. I did accelerate a few times near the end but I still didn't get to 80% of max rate that is recommended for progress. I always think about the phrase "Train, not pain" and I live by it making good progress by pushing incrementally without making training a negative experience. That's probably why I look forward to my workouts instead of dreading the work.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fitness Showrooms: Deal or bad deal?

The latest episode in the ongoing saga of our BH Fitness elliptical machine played out yesterday when the Fitness Showrooms tech replaced the X1 display and logic board for the third time since November.

Unfortunately this didn't solve the problem with the inaccurate heart rate monitor (HRM) nor did it fix the problem with the angle of the display. So the net result of all of this is that we're back to the starting point with a unit that doesn't provide a key capability. We are actually worse off than when we started because the original display was properly centered but the last two displays have sat off center.

What's frustrating is that the Fitness Showrooms tech told my wife that the HRMs don't work on these machines and that includes the one in their showroom. While Fitness Showrooms was happy to use the HRM as a selling feature they've refused to rebate the cost to buy an accurate, wearable HRM. Although I like the design and feel of the X1 I am tempted to send it back and buy another brand that has more features and that works as promised.

If I do decide to buy another elliptical I won't be getting it from Fitness Showrooms. Their position is that we should address our problems with the unit directly with the manufacturer, BH Fitness. Fitness Showrooms represented the HRM as a key feature in order to make the sale. But, to date, they have not stood behind what they sold.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rage against the machines

I got a note from a reader who asked me about my experience with the Brookstone Heart Rate Ring. She had a similar issue and wanted to understand my specific problems with the unit. My experience with this device was similar to my experience with the HRM on my elliptical machine: inaccurate and inconsistent readings. It makes me wonder if any HRMs on the market are capable of performing their simple but important task of accurately reporting a pulse rate in real time. I have been frustrated lately by an astonishing number of technology failures running the gamut of high and low tech. A few examples are shade pulls so over engineered that breaking the cord requires a home visit by a company service rep. Other technology frustrations include my long term search for a programmable switch for my outside house lights that doesn't fail within eight months of installation and flush mounted clothing hooks that require the use of specialized Allen wrenches when a simple screw would do.

Bringing this back to running, I've found that my frustration with the technologies that quantify performance comes as a result of a need to measure progress. I've had the experience where I failed to trigger the start of a run on my Sportband (it requires about 1,000 lbs. of pressure to activate the button) only to discover the problem ten minutes into my run. My irrational response to this is that I wasted my time. If that part of my run wasn't recorded then it didn't happen. So the key issue is I subconsciously value the metrics of running more than the workout itself. When the technology fails to capture the experience or records it incorrectly, irrational or not, it diminishes the way I value the effort.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Problem with my elliptical machine

We looked at a number of elliptical machines before buying ours. After much discussion with friends and lots of online research we ended up buying an X1 from BH Fitness. It's a quality unit and we bought it from a company called Fitness Showrooms that sells high end equipment. Our unit was reasonably priced and it seemed to be built better than the units they sell at Dick's Sporting Goods. Overall we are happy with the unit and the service (we had some small installation problems and a tech from Fitness Showrooms came by and addressed most of them). One problem that remains is that the heart rate monitor is completely inaccurate. I wonder if it was installed backward because my starting point is usually a HR of 170 and after a fairly intense session it drops below 100. The Fitness Showrooms tech told my wife that the HRM won't work if there is a computer in the same room or even on the same floor as the elliptical unit. I know enough about wireless networks to debate that. First, although it isn't listed in the manual I'm assuming that the the elliptical's control panel operates on a different frequency as my home network. Second, the HRM doesn't work even when when the computer is off. I'm going to ask the dealer to fix it or rebate me the value of the HRM so I can buy one like the Polar RS100 watch.

blogger templates | Webtalks