Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Falling off the Starbucks Wagon: HR Training - Day 9

A Double Day like yesterday, but will the outcome be better, worse, or about the same? Let's see...

This morning, I caved into my vices and got a Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte. For the coffee-drinking challenged, that's a large 20 ounce cup of coffee that has a decent amount of steamed non-fat milk and sweetened with sugar-free vanilla syrup. I also got another vice, a toasted Chonga bagel with Cream Cheese (yeah, that was REALLY bad). But we all fall off the wagon now and again. But this wagon I believe really messed with me with the workout. I have no doubt that it'll probably mess with me tonight with the second run as well.

As I was running on the treadmill, it seemed that my heart rate was all over the place. Really low at one moment, really high the next that was well outside of the zone that I was supposed to be running in. I tried to feel my way through the run, but my perceived exertion was not jiving either and I would rather err on the side of caution in this case. Towards the end, I was mostly walking. Not a "bad" run, but it wasn't the best either. Moral of the story: Gotta lay off the 'feine.

And the evening run:

Same pattern as yesterday's 10m-5m-10m-5m-10m-5m-10m, going from zone 1 to zone 2 and back. The exertion level that I was feeling felt not too different then yesterday. However, I really should try and run more in the middle or slightly below the limits than running to the limit for each zone...although I really don't want to move any slower than I already am. Damn my stubbornness!

Monday, December 29, 2008

...And it's screaming for Excedrine: HR Training - Day 8

Today's the start of my two-a-day runs. Light runs during my lunch hour (the old 15m-3m-15m pattern), evening runs based on whatever the schedule dictates. As my aerobic capacity increases, I will swap some of the lunch runs with strength training (possibly doing CrossFit workouts, but most likely maintaining the Gym Jones view of blending High-Intensity cross-training while maintaining the necessary workouts in the aerobic realm that are sports specific.

Anyhoo, here's a nice graphic for the first run:

Treadmill run, set at 1% incline. Speed was between 3.5-4.0 MPH, usually sticking around 3.7-3.8 MPH for the majority. I started the run with a mild headache, but as I was going - it stopped. When I finished, it slowly returned. I'm questioning on whether the lack of caffeine (I've been cutting back on Starbucks and Diet Pepsi as best I can to calm my heart down when I'm not working out) is giving me this feeling. It would make the most sense. Regarding the run itself, I could have controlled myself a bit more, but it was a better run than yesterday. Although, I should try and aim for keeping my HR even lower than the 135 bpm that I was trying for (the ceiling being 138 bpm). My hope is that I'll eventually be able to do long/easy runs at a good feelin' pace in the 125-130 bpm range.

And for the second run:

This run is a Base Builder run, consisting of running in zone 1 (79-138 bpm) for 10 minutes, then up to zone 2 (138-161 bpm) for 5, repeating once, then ending in zone 1 for 10 minutes (a total time of 40 minutes) However, I extended this out another 15 minutes, maintaining the pattern as 10m-5m-10m-5m-10m-5m-10m.

This run was kick-ass! I was able to run at a pace I felt like was genuine running! I got my speed up to 5.2 MPH! Funny thing is that I didn't really feel labored at all moving at that speed. I felt under good control, but felt like I was working a bit more. It's going to be awesome when I can run at 5.2 MPH or faster and not be in the zone 2 range.

Tomorrow: It's going to be a repeat of the same workout. Hope it goes even better!

HR Training - Week 1 Result

Not too bad! I wonder how this week will compare!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Squeeze: HR Training - Day 7

The Short: The same as yesterday, but replace the treadmill with actual road, trail, snow, ice, puddles, and ScrewShoes.

The Long: You know how they say that when you train at higher altitudes, your body works harder? Seems that even a small amount of altitude change can do this too. Today's run was at my in-laws place in North Bend, near the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Throughout the entire run, it was alot harder to maintain control of my HR. Every time my body would move out of the aerobic fat-burning zone (aka the Most Aerobic Pace or MAP zone) and shift into the moderate zone (what Stu Mittleman refers to as the Most Efficient Pace or MEP zone), I could actually sense it before my Suunto would go off, even if the HR rise would be only about 1-3 beats above 138 bpm! I could actually "taste" the odd shift from my MAP to MEP and let me tell ya, it isn't a sweet taste. I can't identify what it is exactly, but I'm sure I'll figure it out soon enough. I'm sure it's related to the bump from tapping into fat as the primary fuel source and dipping into that area where fat and sugar are both used (or as Stu's Book refers this as, "The Tightrope Walker").

Another thing that helped with the difficulty factor was the snow that was still on the ground. Tie that to also running on actual trails that are still mushy and wet and you can expect to use more muscles as you move across the land. More muscles working = more work. More work = more energy expenditure. More energy expenditure = higher heart rate.

But all in all, it wasn't too bad of a run. There were moments where I was moving long pretty well and feeling pretty free. I always enjoy myself the most during those times and look forward to those before hearing the beeps. However, it COULD have been better. But as the weeks progress, I'll also be making more trips to places of higher elevation to have my body adapt more and also do some hill training to prep for Cascade Crest.

Finding the sweet spot: HR Training - Day 6

Another run on the treadmill again yesterday, same pattern as I did on Christmas Day. I covered about the same distance as Day 4, but with the exception that when it came to the 3 minute rests, I actually sat down in a chair for a spell. Didn't make a lick of difference though in the HR drop, but I was able to get my shoes fixed. I had put on a different pair of running shoes in my supply and didn't put in my foodbed inserts. (Note: I can't run WITHOUT the SOLE heat-molded inserts in my shoes. If I do, expect discomfort!)

I did have more difficulty in trying to keep my HR below the 138 bpm threshold this time. I'm not sure whether it was my enthusiasm in moving faster or just having an odd day. I am learning more by re-adjusting my rate of perceived exertion to match my HR level and I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

One positive with the HR strap, I found a nice way to cover the plastic clasps with fabric tape. No more pinching or digging into my skin now! However, I'm still wondering why my HR went all wonky with spikes and dips towards the end. It was like that on Day 4, but it took longer. Maybe my electro-conductive cream called Buh-Bump! was wearing off? Meh, who knows?

Friday, December 26, 2008

The OMG moment: HR Training - Day 5

The short: Ran a light 15 min/3 min/15 min set. HR steady and speed max to 4.2 MPH.

The long: If I wouldn't have experienced it myself, I wouldn't even believe it. Seems that this aerobic training/low-HR training does indeed work. 5 days into it (well, technically 2 weeks since I started running at slower speeds before my VO2Max testing) and I'm seeing an improvement!

My HR had stabilized itself sooner and didn't have nearly as many drifts above the 138 bpm limit. I was bouncing between 130 and 136 bpm at my faster efforts. And the faster efforts were also FASTER!!! I was able to go at a speed of 4.2 MPH towards the end. 4.2 MPH!!! That's a 14:17 min/mile pace! I'm able to run closer to normal running speeds for a change! If this keeps up, I might be able to not only be back running with the group in 42 days, but I might be able to keep up with the pack with future race events! :-D

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A WTF X-Mas: HR Training - Day 4

The short: Run pattern as 15 min run-3 min rest, repeat 3 more times.

The long: Yesterday was Day 3 and a scheduled rest day. I was hoping to run, but opted not to due to feeling really rundown. Yesterday, I also decided to check my blood sugar levels and I was in for a shock. I had a glucose level of over 240 mg/dl and that's not good. I checked myself this morning, 348 mg/dl. My doctor said that my diabetes could come back if I slip up. Looking back, I've slowly slipped up. My weight has gone up from what I considered more healthy. I neglected my eating habits over a course of many months. My workout routines were being neglected and I was getting lazy. The results of the glucose tests does seem to match up with the VO2Max/Metabolic test that I took, since it showed that I'm using nothing but sugar while I'm at rest. This would explain it. Funny thing is that other than the rundown feeling that comes and goes, I'm not having any other symptoms that I experienced in the past. I'll be setting an appointment with my doctor's office to get an updated evaluation and a script for new diabetes testing supplies (the strips I used were expired, but even expired strips usually don't give off results that are this high.) I'll be damned if I have to go back to meds and feeling even weirder.

Anyway, regarding the run today...it was like the 'generic version of trail running'. The snow and ice were half-melted, causing unusual footing and movement. Also, my HR was all over the place since I had to use different muscles to maintain my balance. But I did eventually maintain some decent control...until the fourth 15 minute run. My HR started to drop. I mean DROP! I was at 90 bpm! Eventually, it fixed itself, but I'm so confused on why this would have happened. I had tried my best to use exertion rate based on the previous runs, so I don't think I messed myself up too badly.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a scheduled rest day, but after the glucose readings - I think I'll be looking to having more activity on a daily basis and focus on my aerobic HR training even more. More activity. Burn fat. Get stronger. Run longer. My X-Mas gift to myself is another chance to kick some ass.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Taming the Ego: HR Training - Day 2

The short: 33 minutes during lunch on the treadmill. 1% incline. Speed between 3.5-3.7 MPH. Followed the plan as 15 min run, 3 min rest, 15 min run. HR was kept pretty well under the 138 bpm threshold.

The long: I thought I had an extra set of workout clothes, but I was without running shorts, so I had to wear the sweats I wore into work. Good thing the low-HR training doesn't make you sweat hard all over if it's under an hour!

I turned up the radio to C89.5 WorldWide and did my best to maintain my HR under the 138 bpm limit. I didn't do too badly. Over the limit for under 3 of the 33 minutes, so I can say I did a good job.

My biggest problem was that someone came into the gym after my first 15 minute set and powerwalked along side me on the other treadmill. I had to really do my best to focus and not think that it was a race or to maintain the pace they were! But I did it!

I have to say that the second 15 minutes felt better than the first 15. I was able to kick the speed up a bit more and had less HR increases than in the first 15. One thing that does suprise me is my EPOC value/Training Effect is at a 3.1, meaning it shows that I'm improving. Improvement on the second run already! Looking forward to the next run!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Putting the Screws To It: HR Training - Day 1

The short: 1:04:15 around the neighborhood. Icy/Snowy roads and paved trails. Workout Pattern was 8 minutes running in Zone 1 (79-138 bpm), 3 minute rest, repeat pattern 5 more times.

The long: After hitting Lowes on Saturday to get some sheet-metal screws to make my regular Brooks Adrenaline GTS 7 running shoes into ScrewShoes, I finished outfitting my shoes for the ice and snow yesterday. After finishing my work today (telecommuting does indeed rock), I set out for my run on my new training plan.

The same workout as I did on Friday, I extended the duration further. The pattern ended up being 8m-3m-8m-3m-8m-3m-8m-3m-8m-3m-8m-3m, 66 minutes total time.

I layered up and headed out. The streets were compacted down with snow and ice patches were very noticeable. My HR was a bit wonky in the beginning, but there are some areas where the powerlines have caused interference in the past when I had HR trained about two years ago. My HR did settle down a bit more and I had less rises above my 138 bpm limit, but I do need to exercise some more control to have less bumps above my limit. During the 3 minute breaks, I either walked EXTREMELY SLOWLY or just stood still in one place. As each moment when I was able to run for those 8 minutes, I was feeling better every time and running a bit faster each time. Nice and relaxed. Loose and free. The thing that I always have enjoyed about running. I finished up the 5k+ route well within the time I wanted and felt like I could have ran another 2-3 more hours for the fun of it. A most excellent feeling!

Bonus: NO SLIPS, TRIPS, OR FALLS!!!! The ScrewShoes are the best!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Listening to your body

My body yesterday decided not to participate in the 50k. I was seriously out of it and in retrospect, it was for the best.

I wasn't really ready to do that distance again and I should focus on my low HR training.

But I did stop by and dropped off the soup cans I promised. I know that it would go to the Maple Valley Food Bank if it wasn't used, but with how the temps were - I'm sure they were used to warm the bellies of those that finished the run.

Other nice things were that I finished the last of my X-Mas shopping and I bought my Brooks Cascadia 3 trail shoes finally. I look forward to using them on the trails.

In the meantime, tomorrow is Day 1 of my official low HR training. I'm going to definately do more duration (most runs to be 1 hour long or longer). Tomorrow's run, I'm going to kick it to a full hour and I'll even suck it up and freeze my butt off tomorrow in the snow.

Stay warm everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Old College Try: HR Training - Day 0

Yesterday night, I was not in the mood to get outside and attempt to run in the snow & ice. Plus, not having YakTrax or ScrewShoes setup on my shoes, I opted to run on the treadmill at home.

So, since I was going to be inside, I decided to try out Day 1 of the training plan that was setup for me since my VO2Max test that I did on Tuesday. Since Eric said that I can extend the workout time as long as I wanted, I just had to make sure I maintained the pattern of the workout. In this case, the original workout called for:

- 8 minutes of running in my low HR zone (79-138 bpm)
- 3 minutes of rest (NO RUNNING)
- 8 minutes of running in my low HR zone (79-138 bpm)

A total of 19 minutes of actual time. Yeah, I decided to add another 8 more minutes to make it 8-3-8-3-8, 30 minutes total.

And here's how it turned out according to my Suunto Training Manager software:

I have to say, it wasn't bad at all. I was able to keep my HR hovering between 130-135 bpm (some mild spikes, but not too bad) and my speed was between 3.6-3.7 MPH (a 16:12-16:40/mile pace) for each of those 8 minutes. I felt very comfortable and loose. I didn't feel like I was forcing anything else but restraint and I eventually let go of that restraint as well. I have to say that I'm starting to embrace this slow burn.

I doubt that I'll employ the resting as much for tomorrow's run at the Pigtails Flat Ass, but I'm only going out there to enjoy myself as best as I can (yes, even with the chilly weather). Whatever comes, will come.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Numbers

Here are my results for the VO2Max/Metabolic test from Tuesday:

VO2Max: 36.4 (Fair, Male 30-39 age range)
Aerobic threshold limit: 138 bpm
Anaerobic threshold limit: 161 bpm
Max HR measured: 183 bpm (I think it could have been higher, but I was seriously tired and hungry due to fasting for 12+ hours and no breakfast).

Workout Zones calculated from the test:

Low Zone: 79-138 bpm
Moderate Zone: 138-161 bpm
High Zone: 161-178 bpm
Peak Zone: 178-183 bpm

Here's the interesting thing that I found when calculating my zones based on the Maffetone calculations and Stu Mittleman's MAP (Most Aerobic Pace), MEP (Most Efficient Pace), SAP (Speedy Anaerobic Pace):

MAP Zone: 120-140 bpm
MEP Zone: 140-150 bpm
SAP Zone: 150-170 bpm

The low zone and MAP zone are pretty close to each other. The SAP zone is alot smaller than the high zone, but I think it's simply due to the test being able to lock on at where my body gets into an anaerobic state. The moderate zone and high zone however seem to overlap with the MEP and SAP zones. I'm thinking that the moderate zone could be broken up as "moderate 1" (ranging from 138-150 bpm) and "moderate 2" (ranging from 150-161 bpm). I remember when I heart rate trained before and there was a point where there was a point called the "steady-state pace". The steady-state pace feels like you're not going too slow or too fast and you could hold your pace for a considerable distance. The steady-state pace is where most long distance races are done at when you get past the first 5-10 miles. My guess is that I'll be in the steady-state in moderate 1 and if I have to gently pour on the juice without totally ditching the fat-burning, I can shift to moderate 2 before having to go more balls-out in an event.

The 42 day schedule is something that is less than desired for running junkies. Here's the first week alone:

Day 1: Run 8 minutes in low zone, 3 minutes below low zone (which means I might have to just stand still), run 8 minutes in low zone. That's it.
Day 2: Run 15 minutes in low zone, 3 minutes below low zone (more standing still), run 15 minutes in low zone.
Day 3: Rest (yeah, rest after doing that itty-bitty work from day 1 and day 2)
Day 4: Repeat Day 2.
Day 5: Repeat Day 3. (Yep, another rest day!)
Day 6 & 7: Repeat Day 2.

But the following weeks do start to look a bit better. More mixing of zones, meaning moving a bit faster for some of the time. 10 minutes low, 5 minutes moderate, repeat. This is where everything looks more promising.

I'm so glad that I've already semi-started with the low-HR training and have gotten alot of the frustrations out of the way. Added bonus is that I can add more duration of the workouts provided I maintain the pattern of the workout. And my research does show that the more time you put in, the faster the adaption will occur.

I'm looking forward to the next 42 days after the Pigtails Flat Ass. Bring it!

VO2...Uh oh...

Okay, I'm mildly exaggerating, but it's not a good thing either.

I fall in the "Fair" category for folks that are men, 30-39 years old for my VO2Max test I did yesterday. It was a bit stressful and awkward putting that mask on and sounding like Darth Vader while running on the treadmill. But I got my numbers and my results (I'll post those up later).

My new training plan requires me to train below a 138 bpm heart rate for a majority of my training for the next 42 days after the Pigtails Flat Ass (yes, I've decided that Pigtails will be my very last race for the year until I see how I do after the 42 days of training.)

I will be running solo for the entire time, no group runs.

I will be also trying to add as much base time as possible (mileage will not be the thing to focus on, but time in an HR zone and putting in ALOT of time as I can).

I'll put more up later on this. Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Zen of Moving Slow

For almost two weeks of training via HR, I had lost a great deal of patience for myself and going so slow. Today's run was different. I actually appreciated the slow pace and the restraint. I modified my HR training zones based off of the Maffetone Method of "180 minus age" to determine the MEP (Most Efficient Pace) and then calculating my MAP (Most Aerobic Pace). Without too much scrutiny, I ended up with a MAP zone of 140 bpm limit.

I decided to run alone. No group run. No one to have to catch-up to. Simply have to run with the guys that I neglected for sometime - me, myself, and I.

So after lunch, I headed out of the house at 2:30pm and figured 3 hours would be a good amount of time to be on my feet. I knew that I'd have to exercise some serious retraint and would have to walk alot, but since I was expecting this - it made things a bit easier to deal with.

To my suprise, I made it to my 6 mile point in under 90 minutes (1:29) and then coming back home to complete 12 miles was even better. I actually had a negative split! A 2:53 total time! I was able to maintain my HR and running pace for longer periods of time and enjoyed each moment when I did. So a 14:28 min/mile pace keeping my HR at 140 bpm for most of the time.

My hope for Tuesday's VO2Max test will set my MAP zone and MEP zone higher, which would allow me to run faster for the Pigtails Flat Ass run on Saturday. If I have to run at an even lower HR, I'll have no choice but to scratch every race for the next three months and simply focus on my HR and getting faster by starting slower. Man I hope this doesn't happen.

Friday, December 12, 2008

An Experiment of One

After the demoralizing run yesterday night, I went on my typical walk during my lunch...only it didn't end as a walk. A thing that Eric showed me yesterday was how his running and walking form don't really alter much. So I decided to try and run on the treadmill at a VERY SLOW SPEED (about 3.5 MPH) and keeping my HR further below the threshold that I had yesterday (yesterday's limit was 147 bpm, today's limit was set to 128 bpm.)

To my suprise, I was able to maintain my form and run while keeping my HR below 128 bpm! WTF? So if I run at a dictated speed and keep my stride short and light, I end up running at a lower effort. If I try and go faster, my heart rate goes nuts.

I hope the VO2Max test on Tuesday will give me an answer on where I am at, so I can take some of the guesswork out of doing this. As much as I appreciate the advice and info I've researched, I have to do my best to find what works for me. God, I hope that comes sooner than later.

One thing with the 30 minutes on the treadmill today...I felt more "in the moment" than I had yesterday and actually enjoyed myself for a change. That's the running I like and a reminder of why I do what I do and why I like doing it for hours on end.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I almost want to cry

Tonight's run left me unbelievably frustrated with myself.

It was a 6.4 mile run (although my footpod registered 6.07 miles, but it's not calibrated yet) and like last time, the group completely left me in the dust. I was fine with this. However, what I wasn't fine with was being completely alone while my Suunto HRM would scream at me every 5 steps I would take in a run. It was rare for me to be able to maintain a run at or below 147 bpm at a steady pace. Then the parts where the run stopped being remotely fun and turned into serious work was when out of nowhere, my HR would go to 180 bpm! I barely moved a step and it would do this a few times and with each spike, I'm forced into a walk and slowing down. My run took me 1:24:44 to complete and I was not happy about that one bit. A few people who were done well ahead of me were leaving and suprised to see me. One questioned whether I actually started with them. That pissed me off even though I knew they didn't mean anything by it.

Then, like an idiot - I began whining to Eric at the store about it all. In a way, he did and didn't have sympathy for my situation. He understood my frustrations fully, but it all (and always does) comes down to me and my willingness to change and be patient with the training. I also found out that he bought his own VO2Max testing machine and has been doing testing in-house. (That would have been nice to know before I had tried to find out whether my own health insurance was going to cover the testing from a different company that was more expensive and less helpful with the information. But that's time I won't get back now. Anyway...)

It seems that everyone at the store has gone through VO2Max testing, has gone through the same training struggles (one girl had to only walk for several months before she could run), and eventually everyone is able to run at a faster pace with lower efforts. I have the potential to be able to work like this again, but how much do I want it?

We'll see on Tuesday. I have my VO2Max test scheduled at 8am.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Taking a beating from Dr. Cooper

Ever hear of the Cooper Test?

It's a sick way of trying to figure out your own VO2Max without having to shell out almost $200 to get one professionally done. Consider it the 'poor man's VO2Max test' along side the many other ones like the Rockport Walk Test. But it does have some science behind it and for those that have done the actual Cooper Test and a VO2Max/Metabolic test, they come pretty close to the same result - only off by at best 2-3 points.

So, since I botched the Balke Treadmill Test yesterday (hey, is it really my fault that the treadmill could only go to 12% incline and the test demanded for you to walk until exhaustion - expecting you to fall apart after 15 minutes?), I decided that today would be a no-excuses day to do a Cooper Test on the treadmill. Now, the treadmill isn't an ideal place since you're better off going to a 400 meter track and running on the inside lane. However, since tracks are a place I don't want to go during the winter - treadmill would have to do.

So, down to the workout room where the treadmill is and my wife and daughter agree to play safety monitor for me. In the event I fall apart on the 'dreadmill' and someone has to get 911 fast, they were at the ready. I warmed up for 15 minutes, walking and easy running to get my muscles ready and then took off as hard and controlled as I could. Unfortunately, my goal to try and run a hard 8-9 MPH was out of my grasp for fear I'd fall apart too soon and literally fall while the treadmill was moving (see why doing this on a track is better?)

After 12 minutes of torture at my best fast speed on that thing (7.5 MPH - yeah, I'm a bit embarassed), I got the mileage off of the device as 1.471 miles (2367 meters). I couldn't use the footpod since its still not 100% calibrated, it read off only 2,000 meters! My wife said that at the last two minutes, I looked like I was making a face that read, "If I have to run another minute after 12, I'll kill myself." I completely agreed.

So, with my new data in hand, I'm listed as "Above Average" for a 30 year old male. The VO2Max conversion comes out to be 41.63 (although the Suunto device read off 49 for the oxygen consumption). So, I'm not nearly as out of shape as I thought I was and I do have an added advantage now that I know where I'm at approximately, I should be able to adjust my training accordingly and run at better paces and at lower heart rate efforts. I don't think I worked as hard as I could have though since my HR went no higher than 189 BPM and I've gone to 210 just two weeks ago.

So, I took a 12 minute beating on the treadmill to attempt to better my performance from this point forward. My legs feel like jello now.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Non-Fast and The Furious: Cardiac Drift

The long run this morning went well. I was able to maintain the same HR (better actually) that I did during that 4+ mile run on Thursday, with something that I'm very happy about. I was able to go faster (YAY FASTER) than I did on Thursday, an average speed of 12:32 min/mile. That's WAY BETTER than that 14:01 min/mile that I did on Thursday obviously. This also means that I could potentially finish the Pigtails Flat Ass 50k run in 6.5 hours (5.5 hours if I opt to do the marathon distance instead).

I didn't want a repeat of Thursday's wonky HR going all over the place in the first mile, so I walked 1.5 miles to warm-up before the run and it helped greatly. My HR gradually increased instead of going nutzoid. The majority of the group was going to run 10 miles, but since they got away from me - I had to decide which way to go after I lost them. I ended up running over 12.5 miles (12.71 mi according to the foot pod) as a result of this. As I said, this run was better than Thursday. I was able to maintain my HR in the zone I wanted more and could hold my pace longer before I had to walk to bring my HR down. However, after the 10 mile point, my HR was turning seriously unstable. This wasn't the electronic interference that is typical on the Interurban Trail (my HR spiked to 180 bpm!!! Boo interference!!!), but the unstable thing known as Cardiac Drift. Cardiac Drift can happen for a variety of reasons (although sports scientists still say that it's a mystery still). One major thing is when the body's fluid level is depleting and the blood in the body is trying to pump through and since the blood is "thicker", it pumps through harder - jacking up your HR. This is one reason why hydration is so freakin' important. Nutrition on the run is also important as well since that can also cause the same effect as well (you need liquid to help with digestion and if you don't have any liquids to drink, your body will use its own to help).

So after mile 10, every running step I would do moved my HR by 10-20 bpm from the top of my HR zone (jumping from 147 bpm to 157-167 bpm). So I ended up moving very similar to the way I did on Thursday. But I thankfully didn't feel gassed and I caused my drift from what I believe. Why? I didn't bother bringing any water or food with me on this long run. Yeah, I did a rookie mistake that I shouldn't have since I knew better.

But I did good. On zero carried water, I'm able to maintain an easy pace for 10+ miles before the drift effect takes its hold and I can now fend it off a bit more with some hydration on the run the next time.

I think the only thing I could have a genuine gripe about that isn't related to my efforts was that the HRM chest strap actually gave me a chaffing rash and a piece of it was sticking into me that hurt bad and forced me to adjust it quite a bit on the run. It was one of the things (other than my HR spiking so much) that made this run full of cussing (despite how well I did). I think this is why Suunto changed their HRM chest strap design. Others must have had similar problems. It couldn't have been just me. Oh well, looks like I'm going to have to tape up more now for the run to stop chest strap chaffing.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I hate it when they're right...

Just finished a 4.23 mile walk at my in-laws neighborhood with my Suunto t6 HRM.

I had an average HR of 126 BPM and was only about 4 minutes slower than my actual run on Thursday, covering the same distance! My HR on Thursday was struggling to stay down after it went all crazy to 149 BPM average. There IS a method to this HR training madness.

Looks like I'll be sticking to the 1st and 2nd HR zones and making sure my EPOC numbers stay below 3.0 for the next several weeks. If this progresses, as I hope it will, I might just get my groove back.

Lots of walking and very slow running to come. Guess I better enjoy the beeps of the HRM more.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Walk This Way

3 miles according to the treadmill (although the foot pod registered 2.86 mi, go figure).

Average speed: About 3.5 to 3.7 MPH.

Time: 50 min + 90 second cooldown

The awesome: Kept myself in my zone of < 128 bpm, average at 124 bpm. I was able to keep myself in zone for about 43 minutes.

The suck: Should have packed my workout clothes when I did this instead of my street clothes. Sweaty jeans are not cool!

Turtles and Boomerangs

Yesterday's run...sucked. Well, sucked in that I got another reality check/slap in the face. Geared up with the Suunto t6 that Arthur sold me awhile back, I decided to play into the rules of the heart rate monitor training. I would hold back and make sure my body stayed in the aerobic zone, in my case - I calculated it to 126-147 BPM based on what happened on Tuesday with my HR spiking to 210 BPM when I was finishing up.

So, 4.23 miles later (yeah, I wore the footpod too - seems gmap-pedometer overshoots the distance a little bit), I struggled to keep my wonky heart rate down in the zone. Average HR was 149, I kept it in the zone for under 20 minutes. The rest of the time, I was over 147 BPM. My body was shuffling at best at a rate of 14 minutes per mile. I've been able to crawl faster than that!

So, moving like a turtle, I did finish my run and didn't feel beaten up like I had in the previous runs. I must have done something right then. Eric Sachs told me that my internal perceptions are messed up, which I agree with. The pace that I feel comfortable running at doesn't match up to my body's actual effort in running it. If it feels easy, my heart should be working easy. Everything that I learned about heart rate training has come back to bite me in the butt. I toss out the HRM, only for it to return back to me.

Dr. Maffetone's methods. Lydiard's training. Daniels' training. All of them pimping on the need to build your aerobic base, finally has sunk in. This is why my performance two years ago was so much better than my performance lately. Atleast now, I know what I have to do and Eric gave me the okay to add on as much mileage as I'd like as long as I keep it in the zones and don't feel beaten up by the extra mileage.

So no anaerobic workouts for me. No weight training (body weight stuff is fine - pushups, pullups, crunches). No going balls-out on things for awhile until I get this aerobic capacity nailed down. This also means no CrossFit or HIT for awhile too.

Off for a walk now (one of the things that a fellow runner in my group told me can help with dropping my HR). Thinking about the next event, at a rate of 14 minutes a mile to keep my HR in check, I should be able to finish the Pigtails Flat Ass 50k in...a little over 7 hours. Oh boy. My HR better learn to adapt soon!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Today = WIN

I finally did something right and was able to get up early enough to commute via bike. WIN! May there be many more of those.

Also, my quad strain is getting better. Lots of heat applied. Lots of deep massage. Gotta love the Sports Injury Clinic.

Reviewing my training plan right now, figuring out what months could be used for periodization as base, what weeks for hills, and maybe what days to use as speed sessions. Checking out Dr. Maffetone's HR training and looking at the training from guys like Landy, Van Aaken, Cerutty, Lydiard, Sumster, and Daniels. However, from what I've been told - Daniels probably will work best versus everyone else when it comes to training for ultras, just have to add more miles/time for long run days.

And I'll still try and use some kind of regular cross-training to fight back the effects of the typical beating that we get from many miles. So far, retro-running/retro-walking is helping me out to fight back the quad-strain discomfort, but it gets a bit disorienting to move backwards for so long.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Redlining and Rantings

Yesterday evenings run showed me that I am truly out of shape compared to the way I was a year ago (and even two years ago).

I could blame the dying batteries in the chest strap, the watch, and the footpod, but no. This was all me. My perception of what I feel is easy vs moderate vs hard for exertion effort does not match to what my heart rate is.

A run that is approximately 4 miles (almost 4.4 according to gmap-pedometer.com) took me about 45 minutes to run. Not good, not bad. But here's the kicker. My exertion level for what is supposed to have felt like an "easy" run was showing my HR at an average of 170 BPM. Totally unacceptable! But my HR didn't calm down when I tried to catch up to the group and I didn't let it fall enough when I did catch them. It's the one thing that sucks about group runs, if the main part of the pack is too fast for what you're training for, you might as well have ran alone.

When I was training for my first half-marathon, I was able to keep my HR at 154-157 BPM and run at a 9:30 min/mile pace. My tempo speed was around 8:00 min/mile with my HR at 168-170 BPM. My hard speed doing intervals on the track was around 6:30-7:30 min/mile with my HR going to 185-195 BPM usually. But I put the HRM away after I moved away from triathlons and shifted to ultrarunning. I think a big part of my problem was that I didn't know how to use the data very well. I had a general idea when I was doing tris, but I wasn't able to fine-tune things.

After a very annoying morning of not waking up soon enough and just stressing out WAY TOO SOON for the workday, this is what I know:

- I need to take my health more seriously.
- I need to take my training more seriously.

For the health part:

- I need to get back to my original weight that I was at when I was triathlon training. I was around 180-190. I'm at 220 at the moment.
- I need to modify my eating habits again and go back to a combo of calorie counting, portion control, and having my meals better balanced (more veggies & fruits, less refined carbs, leaner protein)
- I need to get better sleep and have better sleeping patterns, even if it means to go to bed before everyone else in the house.

For the training part:

- I need to have a bigger aerobic base. By the results of the HRM, my aerobic base has tanked and I need MORE cardio. This also means that I need to cross-train as well. (God, I miss cycling in the mornings for my work commute.)
- I need to run more, even if it means to be slower and alone in my runs. I have to heart rate train now and only heart rate train until I can maintain a better aerobic base.
- I need to fix my injuries. Get the deep-tissue massage. Do better stretches. Cross-Train right.
- I need to force myself to find time to train and have balance. Even if it means to come off as selfish at times. I'm no good to anyone if I'm not taking care of myself.

And something that goes beyond training and health: I need to not have lofty goals and be more specific with what I want in my running and the races I do. I have my heart set on the next Cascade Crest 100, but I need to have all of my training focused on doing that race and that race alone. I have to use other races as ways to get my aerobic base up and not as a way to get more marathons and/or ultras under my belt.

I have to run with a better purpose. I have to light a fire under my ass and get moving!