Saturday, August 28, 2010

Heart Rate Monitor, Training??

ORN:  7 miles total, w/ 5x1 Mile intervals, at 8:22/mile average

For some time, I've been intrigued, at a distance, of the concept of heart rate training.  The concept sure made sense...our physiological self-regulating system, links heart, lungs, blood, brain, conditioning, effort, weather, fatigue and the orbit of Pluto into a single parameter, the rate of the beating heart.  And it seems to make sense that factor could help guide training.

So, about three weeks ago, I popped for a simple HR monitor, the Polar FS2c, an entry-level device.  It finally arrived in the mail and I diddled with the chest strap to figure how tight to make it work but still allowing me to breathe.  The bigger issue, however, turned out to be resolving what on earth my Zone 2 rate range was.  As I dug into it, I found a lot of harping back and forth by various proponents.  All heat but little light, it seemed.  It was so confusing, I almost bagged it...people, please!!!

But then I found a triathlete who compared five different methods of measuring Z2, showing the final results just were not all that different from each other, ideologies notwithstanding.  Long story short, I settled on my Z2 at 113-123 bpm.  

So, I'm starting to use this routine somewhat, mostly to guide me to stay in that spot where I can keep going for a long time, allowing this remarkably efficient computer system to guide me to the pace that is right.  A lot to learn but I may write more about it as I move into the fall marathons.

Next Saturday is a fun shakedown for these marathons, at an unusual distance.  The Labor Day 30K will let me test a number of modified systems for the fall.  See the race report next weekend.  

Persevere.  And be grateful for your heart.  


Saturday, August 21, 2010

A long run success

ORN: 22.0 miles, R/W 3/1, 4:10:09, 11:23/mile

Last winter, I showed you some photos of my favorite running route in the midst of Indiana snow and cold. I also promised you a view of the same spots when it turned green.

Winter, near Morehouse Road

Summer, near Morehouse Road

Winter, near McCormick Road

Summer, near McCormick Road

Quite amazing how the same turf can seem so cold and dead, only to be vibrant and alive a few short months later. We have extremes here in Indiana...these photos capture both ends.

Two weeks ago, I ran past these spots on what turned out to be a really lousy 22 mile run. Post-run cramps were severe. You gave me some great counsel, though!! I re calibrated, got back on the horse, and went out for another 22 mile run this morning. And it went great.

A couple of things were different and contributed. I focused on hydration, starting the day BEFORE the run. I scrapped my usual Diet Cokes on Friday and focused on water and teas, hoping to get all my cells "plump" with water before I started. Then, I ate more before I ran, combining some proteins, cheese with a banana before I even headed out the door. During the run, I started drinking water earlier and kept up the pace, taking in over 80 oz of water during the 4 hours on the road. I also stashed four more bananas along my routed...they sat well. I'm really liking them, instead of just the sweetness of a Gu pack. Also, the weather was in the low 70s for the whole run. 90+% humidity but low, heavy cloud cover with drizzle for the last couple of hours. The lower temperature and lack of sun was a real plus.

I was able to hold the 3/1 run/walk for the whole distance and felt strong at the end. I could have clearly run 4.2 miles further today. I soaked in a cold tub of water afterwards with no cramps, no yelling, no pain and no hassles. A very good run.'s something from the "Gee, you don't see that every day" department.

To get all the miles in, I added a loop through the heart of Purdue's campus. Classes start Monday, so the place was lively with students moving in and the ones already there happy they had not flunked any tests yet.

As I ran down Waldron Street, I heard singing. Odd, at 9:00am on a Saturday morning. I noted it was coming from the Phi Mu Sorority house. Well, as I slowly got near the house, the front door swung open and out came a line of girls, gussied up in very nice summer dresses, walking in single file, while other girls, in the house, kept singing. Not only were they walking in single file, but each girl was in an identical "fashion model" type walk...left hand on her stomach, right hand out in the air. Out they walked, turned around at the end of the sidewalk and then back into the house, like a fashion runway.

I am not making this up.

I got laughing as I ran by. Shoot, it is 9am on a Saturday and these are college kids? Doing this, for some reason? It was a hoot. I started clapping as I ran by, it was so funny. A couple of girls saw me and I got this look from them: "Yeah, this probably does look dumb, doesn't it? Hope you don't know my Dad." And the singing continued.

I never did the fraternity this probably has deep meaning. But I didn't get it, though I did see it.

So, persevere. But do avoid the high-fashion walk...I don't think it helps a lot.


Saturday, August 07, 2010

A perplexing long run

ORN:  22.0 miles, 4:12:07, R3/W1, 11:28/mile

Help me figure this one out, folks.

In getting set for the Chicago Marathon, the long runs are now on the schedule.  Today's 22 miler was the first.  We got a break in the weather and the early morning temperatures were in the (gasp!) mid-60s.  It was a joy to be out at 6:30am in the relative cool weather.  

The first 10 miles of the run were a joy.  The next 12 were on my familiar out and back winding down to Purdue's campus.   I had stashed 4 bananas along the route for calories during the run and they worked wonderfully, sitting well on my stomach.  I was on my way back home, with 20 miles in the bank when I started to feel the length of the run.  But, I knew right where I was and continued the 3/1 run/walk ratio comfortably.  I went through about 60oz of water and had taken four salt tabs as well during the entire run.  

The last mile was tough.  The temperatures had climbed to the upper 70s by then under full sun and it was hot when not in the shade.   I altered the pace to a 1/1 and that seemed to help, but I was truly done, like "put a fork in him" done.  I certainly did not feel like doing another 4.2.  

I got home and then things got interesting.  I immediately ran a bath tub of cool water as I usually do after long runs, had more water and some iced tea and climbed into the bath.  While the legs felt good in the water, my upper body was still hot and sweating.  Then, the weirdest thing happened.  I got a set of cramps in both my calves that I have never experienced.  It was very painful; I yelled out involuntarily with the pain.  The calf muscles just seized up, shortening and causing both toes to point.  There was seemingly nothing I could do.  I pressed on the pointed toes and gradually got the cramp to ease but it happened about six times.  It was questionable just how I was going to get myself out of the tub!!!  Eventually, I did but it was an effort.  I limped to the shower, cleaned up and had no more incidents.  But, boy, were both calves (particularly the right) were very, very sore, as were my feet.   The shower helped, as did some varied, healthy lunch offerings and plenty more fluids.

But, man, what happened??  I'm stumped.  When I encountered cramps before, I have always found taking electrolytes to really help.  But I did this Salt Stick each hour of my run.  I drank quite a bit, near the 20 oz/hour target I shoot for.  So where did the cramps come from?  

One possibility is simply a training explanation.  I looked at my log for the past four weeks, which read 18 miles, 4 miles, 25 miles and then 37 miles this week.  The effort I had in umpiring baseball clearly lessened my miles.  So, I'm really wondering if I simply ramped things up too quickly and the endurance conditioning of the vital calf muscles is not there yet.  But I don't know.  

So, I welcome any input you might have.  

Persevere...cramps happen.