This week in fitness technology

I got my Wahoo TICKR X!  I took a long time deciding on which heart rate monitor to buy and there were some travails. I am very excited to train with heart rate.  I’m really bad at determining by Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Like many runners, I run my easy days too hard and my hard days too easy, I think.  I’ve been running off a pace chart based on how fit I was in January. This is totally inaccurate by now.

Today I ran a test workout meant to determine my heart rate zones. It was a Lactate Threshold Test, not a Max Heart Rate Test. It wasn’t hard and it wasn’t meant to be. A kinder, gentler Lactate test. The testing was based on RPE, which I’m very bad at attaching to a pace. The test gave me a Lactate Threshold of 147. Ok, sounds good.

Except on my run this weekend, my heart rate averaged 164 for three miles. I was going what I would call 10K race pace, which is supposed to be at about the Lactate Threshold. Notice I’m not talking about abstract speed here. Speed to heart rate mapping sucks when you are a multi-terrain athlete. The heart rate from running 12 min/ mile on smooth pavement is going to be massive different from the heart rate of 12 min/mile on trails or pushing a jogging stroller. If my Lactate Threshold was 147, my heart rate of 164 would be sprinting, super, ultra, absolutely as fast as I could run for 100 yards. Utterly unsustainable for 3 miles.

One of the aspects of my athletic self that I am trying to develop is the acceptance that going fast is going to be uncomfortable. That it’s gonna hurt sometimes. Like most beings, I’m not a fan of pain and I avoid it. Achieving more of my athletic potential is going to involve being willing to get into the pain cave. My RPE estimations are terrible because I’m supposed to guess if I could hold a particular pace for an hour and I have no idea!  I know the pace I want to hold, I know the paces I have held. I know how far apart those are.

I performed the test on a treadmill and I’m sure that affected the outcome. I was setting the speed at paces I have been using, rather than going by feel alone. Given that this got me going a touch under 12 min/mile it was still quite an easy day.  I’m thinking I will take part of that time and perform a second kind of test. This test is a lot harder. Conveniently, I’m schedule for a 30 min tempo run tomorrow (that is a fairly hard run), so this shouldn’t throw me off my training plan. I’ll report back after tomorrow with updated heart rate numbers and the result of my testing!

There has to be a why

I had a job and was playing the lottery regularly with my co-workers. We were pretty miserable and it was a nice piece of escapism.  We would “friv” or talk about the frivolous purchases we would make if we won the jackpot.  One friv topic was “what will you do with your time?” I said that I would spend a year with a triathlon coach to see how fast I could get.

Last month I had a chance to go to the Clif Bar Headquarters and attend a talk by four professional triathletes. I went down, I didn’t really know anybody. I didn’t have the courage to go up and talk to the athletes before their on stage time, which was silly because they were there to talk to people like me. I saw a guy there who looked very familiar but I decided he wasn’t who I thought he was.

Then at the start of the program they announced that Mark Allen was there, not on the program, to tell us about his new book. You probably don’t know who this guy is so let’s say it’s kind of like Joe Montana just showing up to talk about his book and shake hands.

The programmed athletes went on after Allen and they were all very cool. What was even cooler was they way they treated me when I went up to get autographs. Clif Bar had provided copies of Triathlete magazine with each of the athletes on the cover. I grabbed one of each and got in line, except there was no line. Triathlon isn’t a big sport and here were four pretty big names, not huge names, but known names, with nobody engaging with them.  I could barely look them in the face but I got my autographs and had a chat.

The big thing is that they chatted back. They were all really, really nice and seemed genuinely interested in talking to me as a person and a triathlete. Which is something to remember on the low days when I disown the things that I’ve done in favor of thinking less of myself.

Then I was shaking hands and Mark Allen jumped up on stage. So I reached out and taught him a handshake. He smiled and threw me a shaka. My face nearly broke in half with the smile I walked out of there with.

As I walked to my car I gave myself permission to stop waiting for a thing that was never gonna happen to go after what I want. I don’t need the lottery to get fast, to train hard, and put something I love high up on my priority list. I don’t know how fast I can get but I’m very excited to find out!

P.S. The lesser lights of the evening were Terenzo Bozzone, Tim O’Donnell, Linsey Corbin, and Ben Hoffman

Decisions are hard

In service of my goal of getting as fast as I can, I want to leverage some technology. I trained with a heart rate monitor a couple of years ago and really liked how it helped me target exactly how fast or slow I should be running. I fall into the very common trap of running my fast days too slow and my slow days too fast when I don’t have a reference point to keep me on target.  I am terrible at running by “feel.” I would love to get there! But for now I know that my best results come when I have an external prompt to track against.

I have shopped around and I am going to purchase a Wahoo HRM. Their monitors work on ANT+ and on BTLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). The short story there is that they will work with what I have now – my phone – and with whatever I buy later, be it a Garmin, a Polar or what have you (within limits but it is highly diverse in supported units and this market space is only getting larger). It’s taken me months to decide on this. I’ve been stalking this damn thing. They have three models! The TICKR, TICKR Run, and TICKR X. I thought I would get the X. It’s the big daddy, it does amazing stuff (stores your data in the monitor to load into your phone later – hello swim workout tracking!) and I like to make purchases for the long haul.

But it’s not available yet. There are pictures, there are reviews! But you can’t buy it yet and I’m ready to buy. I’ve got the money, I’ve got the will. I want the thing! I’ve picked out the speed and cadence sensor for my bike that I can use with a laptop to get virtual power readings to improve my bike workouts. I’m ready to do this. and now I’ve got this stumbling block and I’ve no idea what to do. Do I wait for it to come out with no definite timeline? Do I buy the TICKR (the run doesn’t do much for me) and then upgrade in a few years time?

I thought I was going to do this today and now I’m stuck. Poop.

 

-fh

Fascinating

My new thing when it comes to fitness is settling down.  I saw Tim O’Donnell speak a couple of weeks ago and his parting wisdom to the crowd was that the consistency was key.  I’m aiming for that. I’ve been dedicated to my yoga practice for almost a year and that has garnered great results. I’m adding in sustainable amounts of training. I’m up to running four days a week, consistently. Thursdays are a double header with a maintenance run at lunch and yoga in the evening.

Today I am wrecked, in a good way. My legs are tired but I feel a springiness in them. I could absolutely see going for a 15-20 minute easy run to just get the blood pumping. BUT this is a rest day and I’m respecting that, and the toddler was up at about four in the morning and never really went back to sleep. So it’s coffee at 5 in the evening and no work out today.