October 15, 2007
I felt a bit melancholy this weekend because I did not return in triumph to the course where I ran my first race last fall. I didn’t return at all. I had a handy excuse in that we spent the afternoon and evening before the race socializing with family in mid-Michigan and didn’t get back home and in bed until very late, too late to get anything approaching a good night’s sleep if I’d had to get up and get myself to the start that morning. Still, I know if had entered, I wouldn’t have done as well as last year regardless of how much sleep I’d gotten the night before. I’m running less now than I was a year ago. That wasn’t supposed to be how it went.
But I haven’t given up. My latest plan is to do heart rate training, which is something I haven’t tried. The book I’ve adopted as my running bible (Galloway’s Book on Running 2nd Edition) isn’t too keen on heart rate monitors but does say they can be useful for helping some people from overdoing it when long slow runs are called for in the training program. I didn’t think I fell into that category, but got a monitor anyway since I do love data and maybe it would prove to be just the thing to get me going again.
As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, my initial impression of the HRM was not positive. I took it out of the box and got frustrated when I couldn’t figure it out without hunting through the three little booklets jammed full of fine print that came with it. But step by step I’m working it out. First I just got the chest strap working with the watch. That was pretty simple; the only tidbit I needed out of one of the wee booklets was to wet the pads on the strap before putting it on. (The booklet does not say why, nor does it reassure me that it’s perfectly normal to feel this process is a little weird.) Then I figured out how to enter my weight and maximum heart rate. Figuring out what to enter for my maximum heart rate was a bit confusing, but I don’t blame the HRM for that. I blame there being about seventeen ways to figure out what it is. 220 minus age? Age times .7 (or .67 or .85) subtracted from 208 (or 206.9 or 217)? Result of a stress test done in a medical lab? I tried a few different methods to calculate it and came up with a range from 175 to 180, settled on 178, and entered that into the watch. Based on that, the watch told me my aerobic zone was from 125 to 142 beats per minute. (I still need to decide if I trust it on that.)
My first run out after figuring this out, I quickly discovered that I’ve been doing most of my running way above my aerobic zone. The first 30 seconds or so of my three minute running interval, sure, I was in the zone, but after that, not even close. So during my last four workouts (after I learned how to zero out the chronometer and start it again and set the alarm to go off when I’m out of my target zone and stop the chronometer and review how many minutes I spent in my target zone and other information it calculates and collects while I run), I’ve tried to stay in the aerobic zone. This means I do really, really short running intervals a lot more often than I had been. My average pace per mile has risen by about a minute and a half, which doesn’t please me, but I’m not wiped out when I’m done, which does. I’ve also noticed that the nagging ache in the front of my right hip that I’ve had for months has pretty much gone away. I’ve ordered a book about heart rate training that I hope will help me set some good goals to build from here.
My legs do hurt more than usual today, but I think that has a lot more to do with walking a couple miles in 4-inch heels on Saturday night than yesterday’s run. Note to self: do not buy tickets for a show at a Big Ten school the same day as the Homecoming football game. Traffic will be awful and the wait for the buses to take people back to the remote parking will be so long that walking two miles in 4-inch heels will seem like a good choice. Don’t wear impractical shoes, you say? Pshaw, that’s no fun. The show was good—a Cirque du Soleil Mr. and I hadn’t seen before. We had great seats, too, probably because so many people stayed away due to the football game. The seats were better than I knew; row 7 was the best available when I bought them, but row 7 turned out to be the front row, right next to the stage. I could have reached out and touched the people operating the rigging for some of the acts without leaving my seat.