Starting Some Heart-Rate Running

Finally, I got a run in. After three days of no running, three whole days!

Saturday was a scheduled day of rest, but I felt like crap and probably would not have run. Sunday was more of the same feeling like crap and I ended up taking another rest day – could I have run…probably but I have run a lot this year and the last couple weeks of a year are for recuperating and getting ready for a new year’s set of goals.

Monday I was still feeling pretty nasty, but it was snowing the the roads were nasty, so with all the snowblowing and stuff I decided to take one more day off from running. Probably a good choice, I was quite tired by the end of the day and if I had run, it would have been too much.

Which gets me to this morning…I wasn’t 100%, but felt good enough to Go For A Run after walking Bennie down-back for his long walk. Also I wanted to get to trying running by heart-rate. I not going to do MAF training at this point, but after talking with some people I trust and bouncing some ideas around, I decided to start by attempting keep my heart-rate under 135 bpm.

I have a chest strap heart-rate monitor that syncs to the treadmill, that I believe is a bit more accurate than my GPS watch’s based on things I have read, so I put that on. It is easier to see the heart-rate on the treadmill’s control panel.

I started the treadmill at 6.5 mph and kept reducing the speed, whenever my heart-rate hit 138 bpm. By the time I got to 3.0 miles I was down to 5.9 mph to maintain the 135 bpm goal.

Yeah, it was hard for me to run this slow on the treadmill, but it is something that I feel I have to do over the next few months to see if I can get a good base.

The big negative is that it takes so damn much longer to run a distance.

However, once I got done, I felt as though I still needed to run and that I needed to stretch the legs out a bit. So I did a set of 5 x .1 fast strides with .1 rests between. The speedy stuff felt good and the rests were faster than my fastest speed on the 3.0 mile heart-rate managed run.

Needless to say my average bpm for those strides was much higher than 135 bpm. 😉

One thing that I did learn today, that the first 3:00 minutes or so on the treadmill are garbage when it comes to my heart rate. My watch is all over the place to begin and then settles in and was very close to the heart rate chest strap readings that I was getting on the treadmill’s console.

While my primary workout might be slower, I still plan to run strides 2-3 times a week after to keep me sane. Hehehehe

Making the Choice to Be Healthier

At times you have to stop and think about where you are, where you have been and probably most importantly what direction you think is the best direction moving forward.

Since my physical exam at Togus and meeting my new doctor over a week ago, I have had a chance to digest some test results; his comments, thoughts and suggestions regarding my health. Also I have had a chance to do something I am pretty good at, researching the questions that I have and finding solutions that align with how I choose to live my life.

After all, I am an experiment of one and the mistakes I make and yes, the successes that I have are a result of my choices.

Before I go any further – I want to remind readers of the following:

Disclaimer: All opinions and experiences expressed on this website are based on my own personal research and experiences. Please consult your doctor with any medical issues, trainer, nutritionist or other licensed professional before beginning a training program or attempting to do anything that I write about here.

The information provided herein should not be construed as a health-care diagnosis, treatment regimen or any other prescribed health-care advice or instruction. The information is provided with the understanding that I am not engaged in the practice of medicine or any other health-care profession and do not enter into any health-care practitioner/patient relationship with its readers.

The rest of this post are simply my thoughts and experiences on my personal medical care, issues and the direction that seems to be the correct one for me.

I know things on this blog seem to revolve around running, but I tend to think that my running is a great metaphor for my life and if you read between the lines on many of the daily posts there are more things written about myself, than the literal writing might suggest.

Read on McDuff. Continue reading “Making the Choice to Be Healthier”

Long Run Down In Portland = Smiling

Finally, a run and a long run at that – outside!!!

Yeah, I had to take SD1 to Portland and I have been planning to run Back Cove since I found out that I would be going down there. I wasn’t sure whether to run 2 or 3 laps around Back Cove, so I figured that I would wait until finished the second one to decide how far I would be running.

It turned out to be the best day of December so far, when we got down to Portland it was 38*F with a steady breeze from out of the SW (I think). I could not decide if I needed my jacket and long running pants or not when I was changing up for the run by the Transit.

Once I stood outside while changing, I quickly decided to wear the Winter gear, although while out on the run, other runners were dressed in shorts and just a long sleeve top.

Me I was still glad that I had on the Winter gear, I just ain’t as tough as I used to be.

It felt like I started slow as all get out, but it was my fastest mile of the day. Actually, I just wanted to run comfortably and wasn’t really in any kind of rush. Once I got across the bridge, I got this bright-arse idea of running down to the Old Port and going by where I used to work down there. So I took the turn to go under the bridges and headed for the Old Port.

Right around the Sanitation District (Wall Mural/Graffitti area), I blew a snot rocket (there were several before that one) and the next thing I knew I had one of those annoying nose bleeds. Gotta hate that when it happens. Nope wasn’t dizzy or anything like that, just had copious amounts of blood draining down my face.

Lots of fun.

So I stopped and got things under control. Wiped the blood off my face the best I could with my mittens, stuffed them in a pocket and off I went again. I probably should have turned around and just finished the run off, but other than looking like a horror movie victim, I was feeling pretty good.

I did stop at the Port-a-pottie by the beach to loose some weight and take stock of how I was feeling and looking, cleaned up the face a little more, so that I wouldn’t scare people off if they saw me and trundled on down the path towards the Old Port.

No I did not attempt anymore snot rockets until I was almost back to the Transit – for some reason or other.

Once I got down on Commercial Street, I started seeing things that were familiar and not so familiar. The area has changed considerably since the 1990s when I was working down there, but there is enough that is still there that it did bring back more than a few memories.

I have gone through those doors more than a couple of times back in the day. It made me smile and think of Roger Putman (may you Rest In Peace – Roger), Dana Gray, JJ Anthony, Holly Bartlett and a bunch of other Coasties that I worked in that building with, while a part of RIO Bath. Lots of good memories and yeah, a few not so great ones as well.

On the way back, the wind was in my face and while it wasn’t that bad, it was just enough to be a pain in the butt. I didn’t want to put my mittens back on due to the amount of blood covering the outside, so my fingers did get pretty chilled and took a long time to unthaw after I got done running.

By the time I finished, I was ready to be done. I felt good and could have run further if I had a reason, but I didn’t, so I was happy when my watch said I had my 10 miles in. Yeah, 10 miles. Finally a long run, that wasn’t on the treadmill – a very good thing.

About 10 minutes after I finished, I got text message from SD1 as I was driving over to Fleet Feet to browse. Which meant that I it was time to meet at Trader Joe’s and I didn’t get to drool over any running shoes that I don’t need.

I did get some good stuff at Trader Joe’s and it should help me as I attempt to lower my sugar and carb intake. Although since it was Friday night, it is Homemade Pizza, a Sam Adams Beer, a few chips and a chocolate chip cookie Whoopie Pie. Yeah, I know it is not part of a lower carb diet, but I am not giving up enjoying my life and once a week I will get to splurge and overindulge in foods that I do love.

Then I will get back to eating better tomorrow. Although I have gone from 163 last Monday morning to 158 this morning, just by cutting back on sweets, chips and most carbs this week. It wasn’t hard, but it has forced me to look at what I do eat and make conscious decisions on what I put in the pie-hole and so far I am doing a lot better than I thought that I would.

Overall, a really good 10 mile run.

Choice, More Treadmill and Figuring out H/R Scales

Last week I got an invitation to go to my last place of employment’s Holiday Party today and after a lot of reflection and thinking about it, I decided not to go last night. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see most of the people that were going to be there, because I really, really wanted to see them, especially since I stay in contact with many of them through Facebook.

I loved working there and the people were for the most part really great. While I would have enjoyed talking and gabbing with them, I would have felt out of place. I am no longer a part of the “team”, as much as I was a part of the “team” over 18 months, I am now an outsider.

So I didn’t go and feel comfortable with my choice. Although it would have been nice to see some of the people that I really enjoyed being around.

Like they say, you can’t live in the past and you are not who you were, you are who you are now.

Memories are great and sometimes it is better for them to remain good memories.

So instead of going to the party, I went and ran 5.0 miles on the treadmill and saw another alumni of where we worked who retired from there this summer. He evidently decided to not go as well, which sort of validated my choice just a bit. I was on the treadmill and he was headed out the door, so we didn’t get to talk, it would have been nice to have talked about it with him, but it was not to be.

Now my run was a steady state run where I got on the treadmill, ran the same speed (7.1 mph) until I finished. No big deal and I felt strong the entire run and could have easily run much faster.

Although the Garmin 35 was WAY off with the distance (6.1 miles), compared to what I actually did according to the treadmill 5.0 miles. Which in this case was definitely more accurate. I need to calibrate the runs and now I remember how to calibrate them, so at least I get the correct (according to the treadmill at least) mileage.

One of the reasons that I wanted a new watch with a heart rate monitor was to give me an independent measure that would tell me how hard my body was working that was based on more than how I felt.

The heart rate scale gives me that and while my average heart rate at 146 bpm was in the “red line” or “very intense” range according to many of the sources I have been reading, it didn’t feel all that difficult.

Actually I was in the 150s (all out intensity range), which doesn’t feel all out at all to me for most of the last part of the run. I haven’t got a clue what the spike up to 169 bpm was all about, but I have a feeling that might be one of the reasons that the Doc wanted me to get the heart rate monitor.

So I am either delusional or in better shape then I thought. I kind of hope that it is the latter. Hehehehe

As a part of all this I have updated my spreadsheet running log to include a lot of new fields that I want to keep track of.

It gives me a bit more data to crunch about my running and forces me to look at the data and take a look at the trends that will show up that I haven’t been tracking in the past.

The reality is that

I did miss not going to the Holiday party and seeing a lot of the people I still consider to be my friends, but it didn’t feel right for me at this point to go. So I didn’t.

Moving to more of the heart rate training versus training by feel is going to be an interesting and very long adjustment. More for the psychological side than the physical – it is an ego thing and something I have to figure out if it is for me or not.

However, I have a feeling that the changes I have made to my running log will help me identify things that I would not have noticed otherwise.

A good day and one where I get to learn more about running and how my body reacts to it.

This is Getting to be too Regular

You know something, I have a sneaking suspicion this might be the winter where I get to do way too much of my running on the treadmill. Based on how December has been so far and looking back at November, I have run more on the ‘mill this “winter” than I usually do.

Not really what I want to do.

My preference is to run outside as much as I can, but when the temps get below 20*F with or without the wind chill, running outside stops being enjoyable and becomes a chore.

I don’t want my running to be a chore at this point in my life, so I choose to run inside in my shorts and t-shirt when it is that cold outside.

So this morning when I was coming back from grocery shopping, the temp at the Bank on Western Ave said 12*F and the wind was starting to pick up, it made my mind up about where I would be running this morning. It turned out to be a moot point anyway, because I didn’t include my wind pants and in those temps I wasn’t going to run in shorts outside. 😉

I have had a couple of decent runs this week and decided that 4.0 miles would be as far as I would run today. That and the speed was going to be capped around 9:00 minute pace.

So I started the treadmill at 6.7 mph and kept it there until a quarter mile was left and picked it up for a good finishing kick. Something I purposely do for most of my runs. Just a part of who I am.

The hardest thing about this run, was just keeping going, the body didn’t have any issues running, it was the mental side and the boredom of yet another day on the treadmill. I think that is the hardest part of running on a treadmill is the idea that you have to keep going and you don’t get anywhere. Plus I didn’t put on my playlist or watch TV and just ran, which makes it a little tougher.

As a result of my physical Monday, I did order a GPS watch with a H/R monitor built in. I know at times it isn’t completely accurate, but it gives me an idea of where my heart rate is and how quickly I recover from a harder effort.

It came in tonight and since I had one last year, I was pretty familiar with how to setup my new Garmin Forerunner 35. There are somethings I love and somethings I dislike about it, but for the price and how close it is to Christmas, I was not going to go out and get an Apple Watch 4 or some other higher end Garmin, Suunto or Polar watch on such short notice. It just was not in the budget.

So I will see how this works for me and go from there.

The run was a run and since tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same, I have a feeling that 5.0 more miles will be accomplished on the treadmill tomorrow morning.

Another Treadmill Day But a Bit Longer

Yeah with that big Zero*F on the thermometer this morning for Bennie and my first walk of the day got our attention. It was and it felt damn cold outside.

Even so, when I drove the Transit in for a quick repair job this morning, I fully expected to Go For A Run up in Waterville.

Err No.

It was still only 4*F when I walked out of the Ford Dealership, so I just turned Clifford back towards the house and went home. Bennie and I did a short walk instead of a long one, it was just too cold and he decided when we got to the Upper Gate that it was time to go home.

At that point, I wasn’t going to run outside – even though it had warmed up to 11*F, it was still too cold for me.

So I packed up and headed to Augusta for an appointment with the treadmill.

I figured that I would get in a nice 4-5 miles at a comfortable pace. Yes, Tuesdays are normally a quality workout day or speed work, but after yesterday’s Physical Exam and talking with the Doc, I decided to take his advice and wait until I get my watch in to let me know when I am going too hard, instead of cranking it without realizing how hard I am going.

I got on and started out at 7.0 mph with a 1% incline. The 1% incline does make a difference in how hard running feels, so I did that through 3.0 miles then I got rid of the incline for the next 1.75 miles, but kept the speed at 7.0 mph. I only pushed the speed up a tick at that point and continued to the 5.0 mile mark.

However at about 4.5 miles, I got this crazy idea that I could probably complete 7.0 miles in a hour if I ticked the speed up to 7.2 mph at 5.0 miles. Yeah, I am a bit crazy, but since I wasn’t doing a speed workout, it wasn’t a bad idea to go a little longer.

The last 2.0 miles were at 7.2 mph and I finished the run in just under an hour.

I actually felt very strong during the entire run, although my legs were starting to get a bit tired towards the end.

Good Run.

A Good 10K and Annual Physical

The annual physical, something that I tend to dread, especially since I get to have a new doctor over at Togus again. Which always makes things that much more stressful.

All I know is that I stressed out pretty good because I hate having a new doc and going through the getting to know how he thinks versus how I think and how well we are going to work together. You get to worrying and stressing out about conversations that you never have…so I did a lot of that for nothing over the past couple of weeks.

Just me being me.

I can’t say that I hate change or am resistant to making changes when they are necessary, but I do dislike having to make choices that may or may not agree with what a new VA doc seems to think is best for me and how I plan to live my life going forward.

Enough blathering

I did get my run in before the appointment a nice 10K on the treadmill. I started out nice and easy and didn’t get all that much faster. So I was very happy with the run and how I felt during it.

Once I got done running and went into the locker room and saw this.

Not a good thing, going to a doctor’s appointment and not being able to take a shower, probably didn’t make things all that nice for others that were around me. Oh well, I apologized to the doc.

Getting back to the physical:

I like the staff over at Togus a lot. Every time I have been there over the years, all the ones that I have met have been super helpful and today was no exception. I wanted to get it so that I could use their website and see my records online. Everything went smoothly and I got to look at my labs before I went in to see the doc, which was nice. I didn’t get surprised, did a little research and got to ask some questions about the results that were not in the “normal” range.

I do not always think that what is good for someone else, is always good for me. But that is a whole different story. Let’s just say some recommendations were great and I am going to add them into my lifestyle:

Start eating a lower carb diet to help get some of the blood work a little better. I pretty much expected these results (I am pretty honest with myself sometimes) and have been looking into some of the low carbhydrate/paleo types of diets before the appointment, so I understood what and why he was recommending this and was able to discuss it somewhat intelligently, instead of giving one of those WTFO are you talking about looks.

Get back to using a watch with the heart rate monitor built in. After listening to my chest and looking in my record, we talked about my working out routine. The doc thought it might be a good idea not to go super hard: up hills, during track work or racing. It seems that I need to be a little more cognizant of how “hard” I go and need something to warn me when I am overdoing things.

I have noticed that going uphill hard is something that I do not do as well and haven’t pushed hard up them. Also I don’t usually go much beyond 90% effort anymore, he seemed to think that 80% effort or less might be a bit better.

We will see.

So, I did order a Garmin with a wrist heart rate built in tonight, just to give me a little more control or at least an idea how hard I am working versus, just what I feel, which I tend to ignore sometimes 🙂 .

It seems that he was a bit concerned about some of my kidney profiles, but when he got looking back at some of my old results from 1989, they were about the same and the doc moved on. Not a big deal if it has been that way for that long – I guess. 🙂

Hydrate more often, especially during the winter.

Reduce the amount of Vitamin D I am taking, from the old amount to about half that. He felt that I was taking too much, so I will try the reduced amount and see how I feel. If things begin to go South, I can always increase it back to where I am now.

Overall, for a first visit with a new doc, it was a very good visit and while he is not a runner, he isn’t a doc that is one of those do what I say, not what I do guys. He also made it very clear that he was there to make recommendations and that any choices or decisions that were made would come from me – not him.

Which gave me a much more warm and fuzzy feeling than some docs I have had in the past who thought their word was the way it was going to be. I don’t do well with docs who think their word carries the same weight as a God.

A very good first visit with my new doc.

So I had a good run, but I do have some things that I need to do better when it comes to my diet (too much sugar – I already knew that) and being more careful about my effort levels with some other things that are going on and are going to be a part of my life going forward (well they have been a part of it since 2007, but I tended to ignore things a little more than I probably should have).

What else is new. 🙂

To Cold For Me – I Went Inside – Not Tough Enough

Well Bennie and I headed out the door this morning for our first walk and Mary let me know that the temp was 0*F, with just a slight 5 mph breeze. Nice and warm out there! Needless to say that Bennie didn’t want to walk all that far. Also for his long walk, it was still a pretty short one. He can be a pretty smart dog.

I do want to take a moment to congratulate everyone who ran in the Millinocket Half and Full Marathons this morning. It was damned cold for those distances. Julie and Steph, along with everyone else should be very proud of your accomplishment in those conditions. You are all a LOT tougher than I am :-).

Since the temps were well below my self-imposed safety limit of 20*F (including wind chills), I was not going to be brave like those up in Millinocket and headed to Planet Fitness for a treadmill workout.

In those conditions I prefer the short and t-shirt workout on the treadmill, over the bundled-up clothing required for being outside for more than an hour and half at least for most runners.

After yesterday’s longer run, I wasn’t planning on anything all that hard, more of a 4-5 mile comfortable run. I started out at 7.2 mph and kept it there for 3.5 miles. I was feeling really good and decided to pick-up the pace a little. By the time I got to the last quarter, I did pick it up to what I would love to be my race pace and felt good running at that speed to finish up a 5.0 mile run.

I was fairly surprised at how well the FitBit tracked my treadmill mileage. Through 4.0 miles it had me at 3.9 miles. Pretty close. However, that accuracy went away when I began to up the pace and it read 4.94 for the 5.0 miles that the treadmill showed. Which is a helluva lot closer than my Garmin gets for 1.0 mile, much less 5.0.

So that part of the FitBit is better than the Garmin. Unfortunately, it does not give a chart of the run, so you can compare the heart rate to the pace, which to be honest is something that I would like.

Overall, I was very happy with how I felt during the run and while I am not all that crazy about the FitBit Blaze, I am finding that I do like the heart rate monitor. It gives me a piece of data that I didn’t realize how much I like to have.

The next GPS device I get will have the heart rate monitor built in.

Good run.

Two for the Price of One

I wasn’t sure about what kind of a run I would end up doing this morning. It snowed just enough last night to leave a little white layer on the road around the house that I wasn’t too keen about running out heah.

When I can’t see what is under the surface of the roads out where I live, well it isn’t always nice and after walking Bennie on it there wasn’t any doubt in my mind I was heading to Augusta for either a Treadmill session or a run outside, if the roads were fairly clear.

The temps were supposedly in the 30’s and the wind was picking up from that cold front that is coming in. In other years would be called a Polar Clipper or some other nonsense, lately they have just called them cold fronts, which is exactly what it will bring. Single digits and colder with the wind chills overnight. I even dug out my LL Bean winter parka and faux fur hat – yeah January cold in December, just f-ing wonderful.

But getting back to today’s run, with the “breeze”, it certainly felt a LOT chillier than 30’s. However, the roads were clear and with the temps tomorrow going to be even colder, I figured that if I could I might as well run outside, since this cold spell is supposed to last through next Wednesday. Which probably means way too much time on the treadmill…something I am not really looking forward to, but will make it work.

So I headed out the gym’s door and ran straight into that wonderful breeze. Yeah, just wonderful, I contemplated turning around and getting on the treadmill. However, I was already geared up and outside, so I figured that I would survive just fine. Cold and chilly really isn’t all serious if you are dressed properly – I was.

The first mile was slow, which is what I wanted and then I just ran comfortably for the next couple of miles. I had planned on going to run over by the Commerce Center after finishing up off Leighton Road, unfortunately that wonderful feeling of gotta find a place reared it ugly feeling and I decided to turn back to Planet Fitness and spend a few minutes contemplating the errors of my way.

I finished with 4.62 miles and other than that wonderful feeling, felt really good. I did use Mary’s FitBit Blaze as an experiment and found out that I really am not that crazy about it. I hate that you cannot keep the screen on while running – it is a pain in the arse to frig, fart around to see it. I do like the heart rate sensor, it seemed to work better than my old Garmin 35, but I have no doubt that it is not something that I would run out and buy for myself.

Once I pondered the fate of my running, I decided that I wasn’t finished yet and decided to get on the treadmill for another 2-3 miles – well just because I felt like, not because I needed to. Also I just didn’t feel like getting back outside and playing with the breeze and temps again.

The treadmill pace was a little quicker and the last mile I did pick it up a little to finish up and I wanted to see what running faster would give me for a heart rate…166 – not too shabby and that wasn’t an all out effort, just a hard effort.

Even when I was running comfortably, I was still in the high range for my heart rate and would have to slow down a lot to get into the cardio range. However, I found it pretty interesting that I had 142 average bpm for both runs. Two completely different type of runs.

Oh well, at some point I will need to replace my Garmin 230 and I have a feeling that I will be looking for one with the wrist HR monitor, just to have the data if I want it. However, the FitBit Blaze would not be one that I would consider after using for a couple of days as an experiment. It just doesn’t seem as intuitive and I have to use work-arounds or do things differently than I would like. The Blaze is a few generations back so maybe their newer offerings are better. I do like their website and app a lot better than Garmin’s though.

Two very good runs.