Posts Tagged ‘heart rate’

The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.

Well, it’s official. 2012 has come to an end. Maybe not quite as dramatically as the Maya had allegedly predicted, but it’s over nonetheless.

As best as I can tell from my records I began my running experiment in late July, completing 5 runs between 1 and 1.5 miles each. Things started picking up quickly come August, and despite numerous injuries and setbacks early on, I’ve maintained a fairly respectable schedule (by my fairly lax standards as a former couch potato.)

August: 57 miles

September: 81 miles

October: 57 miles

November: 56 miles

December: 74 miles

561884_367390530006994_782436028_nSeptember’s significantly higher volume came as the result of never taking more than a single day off between runs, as well as running on quite a few consecutive days.  In addition, 13.2 miles of the 81 came on a run-walk effort on 9/11. It’s ironic that since my A goal is the ING Miami Half Marathon in January, that the 9/11 run is the only time I’ve ever covered the full distance.

September’s miles came with a high price however as I was constantly plagued by plantar fasciitis, bone spurs and Achilles tendonitis.  Eventually I was forced to receive a series of corticosteroid injections in my ankle and the sole of my foot. Fortunately I discovered that via aggressive stretching, primarily the heel-drop protocol, as well as daily rolling of a tennis ball under my arches, I could eliminate a majority of the issues.

2012 monthly totals

I participated in two official races: the ECO RUN 10k and the City Tour Race.  The Eco Run surprised me by taking us off road for a stint over the sand of the Pacific coast beach at Playa Herradura. Combined with some major late race elevation climbs and the heat and humidity, I was happy to survive and struggled through in roughly 68 minutes.  The City Tour Race was a 10k that wasn’t. The day before the race some logistical issues shortened the race to 6 miles, but along with an obstacle free and mostly flat course, the shortened route provided a great confidence boost as I felt like I was finally ‘running,’ crossing the finish line in 54 minutes.

I experimented with quite a few different training ideas and theories, everything from low heart rate training, run-by-feel, to more aggressive pace based plans. They all provided some benefit and unsurprisingly also had their distinct shortcomings (all as a result of my execution, not their design.) As I continue to grow in both practical experience, knowledge and theory I’m sure I will find or create the recipe that respects my limitations while still challenging me to progress.

2012-11-11 city tour race 10kMy strength training was more consistent but not necessarily any more effective because I mostly remained focused on the same, basic strength exercises that I’ve performed for general fitness. They certainly did not hurt or inhibit my progress in any way. But from the perspective of becoming a better runner, in 2013 I will fine tune my efforts to more closely match my specific running goals.

Diet and nutrition improved but were not consistent; a recurring theme in my year in review analysis. I made a concerted effort to implement a Paleo inspired diet, and lost about 20 lbs.  When asked, I describe my approach as 80% paleo, 80% of the time. I am carrying 170 lbs on a 5’10” frame, but am still a bit soft and know that my body fat percentage is higher than it should be or needs to be.

As far as shoes, apparel, gear and accessories are concerned I spent way too much money.  But on the other hand, the monetary commitment is a motivating factor in my desire to now reap dividends from properly utilizing my tools, toys and indulgences.

I have a high-end GPS watch with heart rate monitor, and enough shoes, shirts, shorts and tights to last until this time next year before considering any additions or replacements. The priority now (as it should have been all along) is on making it happen!

I will save my 2013 goals, plans and aspirations for another post. But I would be remiss if i failed to mention and thank some of the people who have made my running a positive and life enriching experience.

Let me conclude by offering my sincere wishes that everyone can look back on 2012 and if not necessarily happy with every race, result or effort, can at least recognize what happened, why and how to make adjustments that will improve your chances for continued and greater success in 2013!

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Running through Historic Downtown: San Jose, Costa Rica

The City Tour 10k was designed to take runners on a tour of San Jose’s historic points of interest, while providing the opportunity for fast finishing times due to a flat course with a slight downhill bias. I can confirm that one of the two claims is the absolute truth and the other is subject to debate.

Approximately 465 runners toed the line at 7:30 am on November 11, 2012 for the inaugural running of the City Tour 10k. We took off from the intersection of the University of Costa Rica and the commercial center, Mall San Pedro. The street was narrow and jammed with runners. My plan to pace mile #1 no faster than 10 minutes per mile was quickly abandoned as my concentration was focused on simply finding a clear path. My efforts to move around, rather than through, the crowd were rewarded for the most part. What I will never understand however is why runners line up at the rear of the starting line if they plan on running at a world record pace right from the sound of the starting gun. I was elbowed and jostled more than a couple of times as back of the pack runners decided that the fastest manner to reach the front was to blast directly through the crowd. Not cool.

The streets opened up after about three quarters of a mile and I was able to relax and focus at the same time. Relax because I was no longer concerned about being pushed or tripped by the running of the bulls. Focus because I finally settled into a breathing pattern (thanks Darren,) a cadence, and a rhythm that felt comfortable and sustainable.

The sun was high and bright, even at this early hour. But there was a slight, yet constant breeze that never allowed you to feel hot. In addition, the downtown streets with their tall buildings on either side provided ample long shadows that covered most of the road. If at any time I found myself running in the direct sunlight I could immediately angle my path into the cooler temperatures of the shade without any extra effort or concern.

I potentially made my first mistake of the day at approximately mile #2. I saw a line of runners jogging in place at the first aid station and I decided that I did not need water badly enough to interrupt my thus far, efficient progress. Later in the race I cursed this decision, though hindsight is always twenty twenty.

When I reached mile #3 I was happy, excited and concerned all at once. I was happy because I had not experienced any pain in my foot or knee. I was excited because I was on pace to at least match my 5k personal record time. And I was concerned when I began fretting about whether I could maintain that pace over an additional three miles. I can trend toward the neurotic and slightly pessimistic. And that is not where I wanted to let my mind go.

At approximately mile #4 my second mistake of the day reared its ugly head. Although to give myself the benefit of the doubt, this was a result of simple bad luck and not necessarily a bad decision or choice. I was focused on the long train of runners ahead of me, watching a large group about 100 yards ahead as they crossed from the two right hand lanes over the center median and began running on sidewalk on the left hand side of the avenue. Being a proactive, intelligent athlete I decided, “why wait to cross all the way up there?” I made my move across the lanes without having to dodge any traffic and was feeling pretty good about myself. You might even say smug. That all ended when I heard a voice calling out, “Agua! Agua aca!” Water! Water here! The problem was immediately obvious. The aid station was about 25 yards behind me and on the opposite side of the road. The side I had just abandoned. There was no way I was going to turn around and backtrack, so forward I charged. Into the dry and parched unknown.

I have to admit that I have tunnel vision while running. Rarely do I look around and enjoy the scenery. I’m still cutting my baby teeth on this running experiment and it’s all I can do to stay focused on my newly found mantra of ‘ball-heel-knee.’ There was no mistaking, however, when we reached the mercado central or central market. I didn’t recognize my surroundings so much via sight. But the smell was overwhelming. Urine, alcohol and rotten fish. Not necessarily in that order, but maybe so. It’s all a blur to me now. Literally, there was an audible, collective sigh from the runners as we raced past the unfortunate indigents, drug addicts and fish market workers, who were leaving greasy trails of rank fish oil and slime trailing behind them as they hauled out the putrid and replaced it with the fresh.

Perception and self awareness are highly suspect qualities, and I was amazed that when I reviewed my race data that it did not confirm my belief that there would be a marked increase in pace during the interval through the Avenida Central. In fact, it was during mile #4 that my pace slowed to 9:25. I don’t recall any specific physical challenge at that point and there was no elevation change worth noting  either.

The toughest moment of the race for me occurred at approximately the transition from mile #5 to mile #6. My legs were feeling heavy. The previously smooth cadence of 1-2-3, 1-2-3 was replaced by asymmetric strides and a breathing pattern that lacked, well, any pattern at all. My breathing more closely resembled the start and stop hiccups of a novice driver facing a manual transmission for the first time. And there’s no doubt that my oxygen exchange abilities were as equally inefficient as that driver’s clumsy stabs at the clutch, accelerator and brake.

What ‘saved’ me was an act of generosity, on my part no less. A few feet ahead of me a runner decided to start walking and as I came even with him I slapped him in the shoulder and told him, “follow me.” It took a few steps before he committed, but after I had had him locked in tow on my right hip I felt a strange sense of responsibility, as if I had no choice but to finish strong after encouraging a complete stranger not to follow the completely rational advice his brain was relaying at the moment.

Once I felt confident that my new, random run buddy was motivated to finish, (and I had recovered from my brain-lung disconnect) I decided that there was no other choice but to run hard and ugly for the remainder of the race. It turned out to be my fastest mile of the day, covering the distance in 8 minutes, 33 seconds.

The City Tour 10k will be a memorable race. The weather was great. The course was agreeable and I ran my best race and finish time to date. Some of my math is a little off, as I am drawing data from both the race organizer’s information as well as my own sports watch, leading to splits not adding up exactly to the second. But you’ll get the idea.

The male winner finished in 32:09 and the female winner finished in 43:34

My official chip time: 54:28

I finished 181 out of 281 total male runners and 227 out of 465 total runners.

Splits: 9:40, 8:57, 8:54, 9:25, 9:02, 8:33

Splits Average HR: 160, 169, 174, 179, 180, 182

Avg/Max HR: 174/185

Shoes: Inov-8 Road-X 233

 

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A detailed training log for the week is here.

Like many people who become involved in a new activity I love to research and read all the information I can get my hands on. Where I often fall short, however, is in translating my enthusiasm and new found knowledge into action.

From too many different sources to list, all respectable, qualified and accomplished in both endurance training theory and real world results, I have learned that my easy day runs must be just that: easy, slower than normal pace, and within roughly a 60% to 70% window of my maximum heart rate.

Surprise. Surprise. After almost 3 months of training, I really have not been applying this to my own running.  I made a concerted effort last week to make this happen and as a result I ran my first half marathon distance.

While you really don’t need to hear it from me, her goes: most people run too hard on their easy days and too easily on their hard days.

Make your training count! Have a goal and purpose for every run that you do, and recite that goal aloud before taking your first step.

Reward your efforts with quality food and your body will thank you.

 

Sometimes an unexpected event can provide you with a beat down, or in this case, a fortuitous boost in motivation and focus.  I was under strict orders from one of my unofficial running coaches, Camille Herron, to lower my average heart rate.  As a beginning runner, my fitness level doesn’t allow a tremendous range in paces or heart rate zones compared with a much fitter person.  And as a result, I’ve been running almost all of my training runs at close to my actual race pace.

My longest run prior to yesterday was 7.35 miles.  When I headed out the door I made the decision to run as slowly as necessary to keep my heart rate from reaching previous levels.  If it did, I would make a single attempt to slow may pace, or alter my cadence or breathing in order to lower it.  If that wasn’t successful then I would just walk until my heart rate had recovered sufficiently.

To my surprise, focusing on running much slower and maintaining a more relaxed heart rate gave me a tremendous boost in energy and enjoyment. I didn’t feel like I was running myself into the ground.  I decided to take it one step further, and after each mile I walked for 2 minutes in order to get my heart rate back to approximately 100 – 115 beats per minute.

2 hours and 55 minutes later I had covered 13.16 miles.  What the hell?  How did that happen?  The consequences of this revelation are not insignificant for me.  I now have 4.5 months to become a smarter, stronger and fitter runner without having to stress over the uncertainty of my capacity to cover the half marathon distance before my race in January.

If I can maintain that pace until I am 90 years old, I will take over the title as world record holder for the half marathon!  😉

Lower HR equals higher mileage

My wife rocking her Inov-8 F-Lite 195s

A detailed training log for the week is here.

What can I say?  Running is proving to be quite the motivating and contagious activity.  About 4 months ago my wife started walking on the treadmill 5 days per week after watching me catch the running bug.  She claimed outright, “I don’t like running, but walking is ok.”  So fast forward to last weekend and my wife decides to steal a bit of my daughter’s well earned thunder by running a 5k after my little girl took 2nd place in her 75 meter sprint event.

This weekend we celebrated my wife’s birthday and I purchased a weekend trip for two to the Marriott, Los Sueños Ocean & Golf Resort, in Playa Herradura, Costa Rica.  I decided to up the ante however, by timing the trip with the resort’s annual 10k event, the ECO RUN.  My plan is to run this event like any other training day, maybe even a little slower, to enjoy the scenery and atmosphere.  I also wanted to give my wife a new goal to shoot for.  It doesn’t matter to me if she walk/runs the event or whatever other method she might choose, as I don’t want her to feel pressured to run farther than she is prepared to.  But I did want to dangle a new carrot out in front to see how she responded.

Game on!

My training is progressing nicely thus far, knock on wood.  I am four weeks on my feet post injury and seem to be gaining a little clearer insight into my body’s likes and dislikes after each run.  It’s becoming easier to know when I can go for it, when I need to back off, and when following the schedule exactly is what’s called for.

I got off of the treadmill and ran a 10k on the road last week.  It was slow, but the pace proved to me that finishing was never in question as I long as I was honest about my fitness level.  I’ve been running many of my runs too quickly, and eventually burning the speed and distance candles at both ends will catch up with me.  Finally getting a grasp on reality (and my ego) my road runs are ultra slow, and I’m feeling much more confident in my ability to extend them in distance, towards my goal of 13.1 miles.

Tracie over at Run Inspired has a timely post on running at the proper pace and within a specific percentage of your heart rate max on longer runs.

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Running is cheaper than therapy

photo: onemoremilerunning.com

Today was supposed to be a cross training day. I knocked out a 30 minute stationary bike ride and 200 pushups in the early morning with my wife. But by mid afternoon I was furious after getting sucked into a pointless political “discussion” with someone, and also getting a sharp smack in the face on a bad trading decision in the currency market.

Headed back out in search of my best friend, the treadmill, and decided to try out some Jeff Galloway style run/walk intervals. Today was an extra and unscheduled run so I wasn’t interested in pace and I ran the entire session at my recovery pace.

Started with 5/1 minute intervals until my heart rate would not drop below 130 on the 1 minute recovery. Then switched to 5/2, and when the heart rate would not recover from those I finished off the day with a few 3/2 intervals.

Mentally I feel much better after getting that bad energy out of my system. But I can also feel a dull throbbing deep in my heel where the bone spurs are lurking.

Tomorrow will be a rest day. I promise.

2.77 miles in 43 minutes @ 15:30 pace

2.77 miles of mental detox