Heart-Rate Training Forcing Me to Look At My Running

There was a bad accident over in Belgrade, where a tanker truck caught on fire and the smoke cloud came pretty much over the house most of the morning.

It shut down traffic heading out that way for a big part of the morning. From the news casts, it was a mess for a while.

Moving on. I know a couple of places had the temps in the 30’s when I drove past them this morning. Unfortunately, in the place where time forgot, AKA where I live the thermometers claimed that it never got above 18*F. Based on the temps I was feeling this morning first thing and then on Bennie’s longer walk – I tended to agree with my thermometer.

Needless to say temps this year are better than all those weeks of sub-zero temps that we experienced this time last year.

Even so, it was still cold enough that I decided pretty quickly that I was Treadmillin it again today. I am being very cognizant of my 20*F degree limitation on running outside this year and not running out there when it is below that temp. Have I, could I — of course, but I notice that my breathing outside when it is outside and cold is not the same and I am running this year, more to enjoy my running than to simply endure it.

I planned on a heart-rate run and attempting to keep the bpm below 135 for the run.

Let’s just say the run itself was nothing special. I started out at 6.5 mph and was able to maintain that pace until 2.9 miles, when I needed to reduce the speed to 6.3 mph to finish up the run at sub 135 bpm.

The big thing about this run was that my Garmin FR35 finally had a run that was close to what my chest strap heart-rate monitor read on the Treadmill’s console, which was nice.

I am learning that slight variations in how I run can make a 4-6 bpm difference very quickly, so I am attempting to incorporate the lower heart-rate running form to be the way I run more often. It does feel a little more efficient, so it might be a little better way for me to run. We will see.

Running slower is forcing me to take stock of “how” I run.

Overall, it was good run and I am learning more about me. Now if the FR35 would only stay this accurate I wouldn’t complain about it at all. 🙂

It is a New Year and Yes, I Did Run

I get to say this one last time:


Yes, it is late in the day and most everyone has had their hangovers ease, thought again about all those resolutions you were going to make, eaten their fill of celebratory lunches and suppers, maybe even imbibed in too many drinks – again, watched college football and maybe even gotten off your arse and exercised a little to make good that first day promise to yourself.

I hope that 2019 is a great year and that you are able to meet the goals that are really important to you.

Mine are very simple this year.

Run over 1,500 miles

Eat mindfully and reduce the amount of carbs in my diet. Not a Keto diet per se, but more cleaning up and getting back to eating “real” foods. If it comes from a box, bag or wrapper, it probably is going to be something I avoid eating this year.

Buy less running related “stuff”. I don’t need the newest, greatest technology, shoes or other gear. I need “stuff” that is going to work for me, not anyone else. My running shoe rotation is a good one, I have enough running clothes for a while (as long as the stench doesn’t get too bad) and once I get my heart rate monitoring stuff figured out so that it is fairly reliable, I really don’t need a bunch of other stuff. In other words stay away from eBay, unless I actually need something to replace what I have when it is worn out or doesn’t work for my purposes anymore. ;-).

Use the K.I.S.S. Principle whenever possible. Keep It Simple Stupid.

Those are my resolutions this year.

Yes, I did run today and no, I am not going to go for a running streak this year. I will run until the body tells me it needs a day off and then I will take it. Life usually gets in the way of me keeping a long running streak going in any case, so I am not going to even think about starting one.

We had a small snow storm overnight and it meant that the roads were a mess this morning and it was just enough that I had to snowblow the driveways – it was a wet/heavy snow so it just took a while to do it. Then Bennie needed his long walk, but I got to walk with SD2 and her dog, about halfway down the hill. It was amazing the difference between out in front of the house and the other side of the hill – which was clear.

However, the roads around the house and down-back were still a mess, so I headed to Augusta and thought I might get a run outside down there. Unfortunately, when I got into town the breeze had developed into gale force winds. Even though it was sunny and the temps near 40*F, I decided that I didn’t feel like dealing with heavy winds after trudging behind a snow blower for over two hours.

So I got on the treadmill, did my .5 mile warm-up and figured I would get 4-5 miles in while working on keeping my heart-rate between 125-135 bpm. I was going to completely ignore my watch heart-rate and go only by the chest strap monitor that was displayed on the treadmill’s console.

I started the treadmill at 6.5 mph and was able to keep it there for just over 2.0 miles before the bpm touched 137 bpm three times – my cue to reduce the speed. I really think that this was my best heart-rate based run since I started. I went from 6.5 mph to 5.8 while keeping it mostly under 135 bpm.

My final total was 6.3 miles in 1:01:06, not very fast, but done without undue stress on the old body either.

I am seeing some progress using the heart-rate training methods and while I am not doing MAF training heart-rate guidelines, I am taking a lot from his Big Book on Endurance. It does have a LOT of good stuff in there, that I can incorporate into my running life and beyond.

A good start to a new year and one where I already have over 31,000 steps for the day, errr year. 😉

Yeah, a very good start, now to keep it going.

Last Run of 2018 and Final Stats

So 2018 ends, not quite a chilly as when it began. It has been a pretty decent year and one that I needed. I learned a lot about myself and running, which ended up with one of the most consistent running years I have had in a long time. I may not have gotten as many miles as some years, but I did run with less down time due to injury than I have in a while.

All very good things.

Total Miles Run: 1,665

Total number of runs: 330

Starting weight: 166

Ending weight: 157

Favorite running shoe: adidas Tempo 9

What did I do for my last run in 2018?

It actually was a nice day outside, mid 20’s, bright sunshine, very light breeze, so I had to get outside for this run to end the year.

However, down-back just was not runnable once you got down past the lower gate – too much ice, so that meant either doing laps or heading down to Pepin. Mary walked down there yesterday and said it was still pretty badly iced over. So I figured that doing laps was goin to be the way it would work out.

I started out pretty slow and even though I was picking up the pace to my old (before H/R training started) pace, although I kept getting the low heart-rate warning – meaning my heart-rate was below 120 bpm even though I was going a little faster than I have been lately. Which are a very good sign that the heart-rate training is starting to work, that I have something going on that I need to look at or the watch is screwed up.

I have a feeling it is the last one, after the last few runs on the treadmill and getting similar readings previously.

I didn’t really look at the watch all that much during the run. I focused more on running comfortably and wasn’t too worried about the heart-rate today.

Unfortunately, I don’t really think that my Garmin Forerunner 35 is all that accurate when it comes to running and getting a good heart-rate. I am going to do a search tonight to see if there are ways to improve the accuracy and if not I will do a complete reset of the watch.

Start over kind of thing.

The thing is I do believe that the heart-rate training is starting to work for me, but not quite as good as the results that are being shown on the last few runs. I am getting in decent shape, losing a bit of weight and eating a lot better, but dropping the heart-rate and increasing the paces this much in about 2-3 weeks over the holidays – well that just ain’t reality.

Now to do some Sherlock Holmes and figure out how to get fairly accurate heart-rate readings from my watch while running (not fast or intervals) at my 120-135 bpm range that I am looking to stay within.

Happy New Year’s!!!

Frustration, Mirroring, Settling In and Strides

Damn that 1.0 mile walk down-back with Bennie with Bennie felt more like 10.0 miles between the ice and frozen snow. The temps were in the mid teens and while there was just a little breeze, it wasn’t anything crazy. I am not sure what it was, but it felt freaking cold! Colder than the thermometer read at least.

When my face hurts after walking only a mile, it ain’t a good thing. Which meant that a treadmill run was going to happen.

It was just a question of what and how many miles.

Well the what was going be heart-rate training and keeping it under my self-imposed 140 bpm, not the MAF recommended 124 bpm. Yeah, I know…but it is where I am comfortable.

I did my usual warm-up and then the 10:00 minute warm-up on the treadmill. I am getting so that I like that too. It gets the body/mind get ready to do something versus my usual get on the treadmill and hammer away. A much easier transition to the run.

While I was warming-up, I thought it might be a good day to do a MAF test and see about where I am.

So I did and the result were mixed my actual speeds for the 4.0 miles were a little different than the watch and the heart-rate well, let’s just say I probably need to add 15-20 bpm to each one.

What to hell happened?

My heart-rate was ALL over the place for the first 20 minutes of the run according to the chest strap I was 164 bpm or better, err right around my cadence, but my Garmin had me way low??? So the first and probably most of the second miles were suspect at best. Then the mileage per mile variance for the first mile was over .11 – when I got to 3.0 miles then it was “only” a total of .23 off.

I am not sure what happened between miles 2 and 3, but things seemed to calm down on the chest strap and it was reading in the 130-135 bpm very consistently. Also about that same time another guy got on the treadmill beside me and he was wearing a heart-rate monitor as well.

When I looked over after a couple of minutes I noticed that his heart-rate was just about mirroring mine. By this time I was running 6.2 mph and he was walking about 3.4 mph. He didn’t look to be completely out of shape or anything and he was walking flat, so I kind of thought that his treadmill was picking up my signal, not his.

I just kept using my console heart-rate and ignored my watch’s read-out.

When the guy beside stopped his treadmill, I noticed that my console continued to read the same as it had been. So his treadmill was mirroring my heart-rate not his. Good thing that I stayed with mine. I hope that I didn’t screw up his workout too much.

Looking back I am not going to use this run as a MAF test, there was just too much variability on the part of the heart-rate monitor even though I felt like I started at the right speeds and reduced the speed whenever my console hit 140 bpm (well after the heart-rate monitor got settled in).

I went from 6.4 mph to 5.9 mph and felt comfortable through out the run. If the Garmin’s bpm was accurate (it wasn’t), then I am in a LOT better shape than I thought. 😉

Comfortable enough that I really felt like I wanted to run a little faster.

So I did 5 x .1 strides to finish up. Yeah, I know that when doing MAF training that this early in the base phase I ain’t supposed to be doing this stuff. However, I also believe that if you do zero speed work, that when you do start the body takes longer to get back to it. In my un-expert opinion and based on being an old fart who loves to run faster than he should, once a week doing a set of 5 strides ain’t gonna hurt too many things.

Oh yeah, the bpm that shows up on the Strava/Garmin graphs – yeah right at the end of each of those strides, the console was showing my heart-rate was between 160-168 bpm just a bit of thumping going on.

Overall, a very good workout and one of these days I will get the heart-rate crap straightened out to where it doesn’t frustrate me as much or some figure out how to avoid my h/r monitors from picking up my cadence. Right now I am just focusing on keeping things under 140 bpm and establishing a decent base.

Goals for 2018 – How Did I Do?

2018 has been quite a good year for me.

One thing I believe that every runner should do between Christmas and New Year’s is go back and read their running log. It has gems, treasures and a trove of information regarding how you actually ran during the year, versus the one that you tend to play in your head. I know when I went back and read my log this year, it brought back a lot of memories and the why I did things the way I did. Plus with that great 20/20 hindsight that I have I saw several things that if I could do them over, I would do them differently.

How Did I Do?

I really think this photo from Quarry Road says a LOT about 2018.

In 2018 I did update my 40 Years Of Running series an if you interested in reading more about an old fart’s memories you can click on the link.

Needless to say my running has gone better than it has in a long time, especially once I finally figured out that racing is more stress than it was worth. While I ran in way too many running shoes, I learned a lot about what works for me and what does not. Also I read a lot of books on running, tried more than a few philosophies, methods or programs, all in the name of attempting to improve my running. Continue reading

Making Progress and Catching Up

It has been a few days since I have gotten around to logging my runs on the blog.

So I am going to short cut Wednesday and Thursday’s post by doing a screen shot of my spreadsheet. Yes, it is cheating, but that’s okay, its my blog so I get to make the rules. 🙂

After thinking about it, I added in today’s synopsis from the spreadsheet as well.

Doing okay with the heart-rate based training. I can’t really call it strict MAF training, but it is loosely based on it and so far I am happy with the progress I am making. Yeah, I know doesn’t that defeat saying I am doing MAF…probably. However, I am not all that good at following rules completely by the book anymore.

Actually, I have a feeling that if anything, not specifically using his heart-rate computation would simply slow down the aerobic adaptation process, but not completely stop it. So while I might not be maximizing my aerobic response, I am still making progress.

Which I am noticing.

One of the difficulties that I am having that when running on the treadmill and both using my watch and my chest strap heart-rate monitors, while they got close a few times, but are usually about 10 bpm difference between the two. So today I just focused on using the chest strap and ignored the watch’s which I believe is less accurate. Even though that is what I get to look at after everything is done.

All I know was that it was a lot less frustrating and after today’s experience I am going to turn-off the heart-rate zone warning for running indoor.

Unfortunately, this also means that I will not have the same heart-rate data that I used during the run, to evaluate later and will have to rely on what I already know is less accurate data to see how I was doing. I have a feeling that I will not look at the numbers so much as as the trending of the graph line. Well as long as it doesn’t keep catching my cadence at some point during the run.

Which just means that I do not have an accurate record of the run to compare with more recent runs. Oh well, first-world runner problems.

Today’s run is a good example of that. I was able to maintain 140 bpm or under for 5.2 miles at 6.2 mph which is a lot better than I have been doing. I ended up keeping under 140 bpm at 6.0 mph, so I know that I am making aerobic progress.

The only bad thing about the Polar chest strap heart-rate monitor is that my Garmin doesn’t play with it at all and as a result I don’t have a graph of my heart-rate to look at after the run.

I do feel as though I am making some progress on getting my aerobic base put in place, but I do miss doing repeats and strides a few times a week. However, I am sort of attempting to be good and do most of the MAF training stuff, well except on Friday nights (when it comes to food – it is my Pizza and Beer night) through the end of March.

This is my experiment to see if running slower now will help me run faster down the road.

At least I am learning what a recovery run is supposed to feel like versus my sort of recovery runs that were my staple before I started using the heart-rate monitor.

A good run today.

Merry Christmas and a Late Run

Running in the dark without a light – not too smart sometimes Harold – are you?

It is called misjudging how much light was left.

I hope your Christmas was as good as mine. It was a rather low-key, small family gathering and reflects my life very well. Quiet and peaceful, even the dogs got along quite nicely, which was a huge relief.

Yes, my presents were running and cold-weather gear…I can’t imagine why.

Running shoes – check

New running tops – check

Wool socks – check

Winter mittens – check

Thank you everyone for getting the things that I needed to stay warm and comfortable outside this coming winter.

Our Christmas dinner was not the traditional turkey/ham and we had a lasagna, rolls and of course desserts. All stuff that of course I am supposed to avoid since I have gone to more of a lower carb diet. However, I am not feeling too guilty about it, after all it is only one day and tomorrow I will get back to eating the way that I want going forward.

Okay enough about today, how was my run

I didn’t get out to run until after 4:00 PM, I did need to bond, err nap with Bennie for a while to sleep off the lunch and desserts.

The run itself was not anything special, just trying to stay within my heart-rate range and get back to the house before it got too dark. Coming back up Stevens Hill it got a bit dusky faster than I thought it was going when I left.

When I got to the neighbor’s house, I heard a little scratching noise behind me and when I looked two of their Golden Retrievers were stalking up behind me. As soon as I saw them I stopped and faced them. At that point they started barking and got very aggressive. Luckily when I started yelling the owner who was outside working down by his barn yelled and the dogs backed off. I waved and started running again.

I really figured that the heart rate monitor was going to go bonkers. Instead, my heart-rate went much lower and even after I started running again it stayed a bit lower than I expected for a ways. It was strange, even though the dogs startled me, I wasn’t scared or anything, I was very focused and ready to attack them if they had come at me.

Strange how that works sometimes.

The rest of the run, it was pretty hard to see without the flashlight I had left in the house, but I finished the 4.0 miles that I wanted to do today.

I know that I felt a lot better once I got done running – I was glad that I had gone out, especially since I came pretty close to just not doing it and saying Christmas got in the way.

I did pretty good on staying within my heart-rate range, so I was happy with how I felt.

Merry Christmas everyone and now to get to the end of 2018.

Getting the Theory and a Better Run

Happy Christmas Eve to everyone who celebrates Christmas and I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas tomorrow. I plan to Go For A Run in the morning and then eat way too much, followed by a nap and then a LONG walk. 🙂

Let’s get back to today.

After walking down-back with Bennie and Mary this morning, I decided to head into the gym for a treadmill run. No it was not stoopidly cold or anything like that, it was more that I just didn’t feel like dealing with the cold during my run.

However, I didn’t attempt to get anywhere near any shopping kind of place. I could see the road to the Market Place in Augusta was absolutely bonkers and had no wish to subject myself to that kind of stress.

I have been reading Phil Maffetone’s Big Book of Endurance on the Kindle App and getting a lot of the “why” behind MAF training after getting the eBook yesterday and blog post/articles that I have found online.

No, I am not completely convinced that MAF heart-rate training is going to be the cure to all my running ills, but something inside of me feels that at least parts of what Maffetone suggests are a part of the solution that I have been searching.

We will see. Continue reading

Finally A Decent Heart-Rate Based Run

Well that run was the first MAF or heart-rate training that I didn’t feel completely frustrated. My Garmin FR35’s heart-rate monitor worked like I expected it to, I wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere and I was able to keep moving ahead without the negativity going on in my head about going so slow.

Down-back was finally runnable again and I really prefer to run outside when the conditions favor it. Today the roads were dry, the sun was out and while there was a 10mph or so breeze and 23*F when I left the house – close enough. I have run in colder and worse conditions. I was dressed correctly and had no issues with the weather.

I started out with what I felt was going to end up being a 135 bpm run and tried to maintain a steady pace throughout the run. It took a mile or so to get up to that 135 bpm range and I worked hard to stay below the max. Continue reading