Sunday, February 28, 2010

One Month, 100+ Miles

Wow! whoda thunk! This last day of Feb I'm using as a rest day, Yesterday I did 11 miles on interurban which pushed me over the 100 mile mark for the month. I've also completed my first 6-day/week run week. I'm a bit sore today, but that's what this rest day is all about. I'll spend today in church, singing in teh choir and then helping run sound for the evening, I may be a bit slow moving around, but I don't mind. Back at the running tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Running and Tech

Gear that Gets You Going

Part 1

Everyone has seen my Garmin workout links - I love my Garmin, safe to say that without it I would not be as fit as I am and probably not have stuck with working out long enough to see the other side of 5 miles in a run. So what do I find so motivating? What do I find so addictive about my Garmin? Come on in. Lets take a closer look at this piece of genius that's equal parts awesome and win shall we?

The Garmin Forerunner 305

The device itself resembles an oversized wristwatch, and comes with an adjustable chest strap heart monitor. The watch itself has a very decently sized, legible display. The LCD panel is capable of displaying up to four fields on each display page simultaneously and you can cycle through three separate pages. The displays are easily stepped through while running by pressing the arrow keys on the right hand side of the watch. I myself sometimes use the second screen but most often will stay on the first screen. My normal mode is to have Distance, Time, Heart Rate and Speed displayed. The second page has 3 screens - Time of Day, Average Heart Rate and Average Speed. The last screen has Calories, Time of Day, Max Speed, Speed and Calories. Besides having the LCD monitor your work outs, you can set up alarms to tell you if you are crossing a threshold - either speed or heart rate. You can set high/low triggers that keep you in the particular zone you want to be in. I have my alarms set for heart rate - low alarm is 130, high is 135. This keeps me in the max aerobic function zone for fat burning and endurance. The display has a map mode as well, nothing spectacular, you can see your course layed out on the screen, but I have not used that very often due to the software and web content Garmin designed specifically for the sport watches.

Garmin's Web Interface

This is the landing page after you've logged into As you can see it provides a summary of your last 5 activities. The default google view is map, but satellite view is available. If you've visited my blog at all you are familiar with the public activity presentation and all the active content, if not here's my latest workout. I will address here some of the "behind the scenes" features of the website and just how useful this device can become.

This is a listing of all the activities recorded by the device, details are shown and individual runs can be selected via the activity name. but just from an initial glance I can see that my pace is increasing (w000t!) besides serving as a activity warehouse portal you can glean some data just by seeing changes over time.


This view shows all the activities chronologically in a calendar format, the workouts are still "clickable". I like this view as it shows the "holes" in my regime - you can tell at a glance if you need more exercise or conversely you can see that you are chalked full of workouts!


This page does basic data mining, if you want to know what you did last week, last 30 days, last year, etc this page adds it all up for you.

The Garmin 305 is a portable trainer that remembers everything you've done, can tell you how you are doing WHILE you are doing it and can show you the progress you've made over time. Personally I would not be where I am now without it, and I'm more confident moving forward with the 305 on my wrist.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Slow-mo a go go

A new tack for building up speed - running for a heart rate

I am now back on Interurban running on the flat and level. I came across a intense dissertation on target heart rate and exactly why running slow builds speed. It makes sense on a cellular level and since I have a marathon coming up in 4 months I thought it was worth 6 weeks of my time to note improvement. Maintaining a heart rate within 5 bpm (130-135) is not easy - for the first few minutes it is impossible as there is a certain hysteresis as your heart gets used to new demands. So far 130-135 is approx 4.4 mph = a very slow jog, more of a shuffle.

Pulse and breathing

At first the relationship between pulse and breathing seems rather elementary. When your pulse is fast you breathe harder and faster. This is a truth, but the corollary would be that if you breath hard your pulse should race. This is not true. which leads us to the reasons behind breath technique. Breath technique comes a close second to running technique. For a given pace if you focus on breathing more deeply and quickly your pulse will drop. When you think about it it makes sense - the reason why your heart beat increases is due to your muscles request for more oxygen. Your body does not care if your heart is beating fast or slow as long as it gets the oxygen it needs to metabolize nutrients to power the efforts of your muscles. Your heart rate can be an indicator of how efficient the process is. and that leads us to a discussion on the scale of the metaboli-meter...

The heart-o-meter

There have been various articles covering running and training and the opinions all focused on "target heart rate" which is established by the apparently arbitrary calculation available everywhere on the web.
While I took this number as the rate I was to shoot for, I did not know the reasoning behind it. After a modicum of research I believe I've found an answer that makes sense. When your exercise, you move your body by contracting and releasing muscles. To do this your muscles require oxygen and nutrients. Now we must talk metabolism and how your heart rate can be used as a meter to tell you how your body is doing

Cellular communications - your muscles saying "Can you hear me now?"

Mitochondria within the cells provides the cells with energy by metabolizing the oxygen and nutrients (glycogen). When you are exercising aerobically, the mitochondria can keep up with demand, and will actually increase in the cell. However when our muscle use exceeds the ability of the mitochondria to produce energy the cells will excrete lactic acid and shut down. This happens over a period of time and is commonly referred to as "THE WALL" as your cells shut down one by one, your body will slow down. and during that time your cells are shut down, they are not growing mitochondria. Lactic acid build up in the muscles is what causes the day after soreness - it is not all bad, and has it's place in the workout regime.

Intense Relationships

Mitochondria feed your cells, exercising at a rate that the mitochondria can keep up with increases the amount of mitochondria in the cells. With a higher level of mitochondria, your muscles can work harder. Are you picking up what I'm laying down???
Exercise at a higher rate than the mitochondria can keep up with is termed "Anaerobic" and has it's place in exercise - it strengthens the muscles and increases the amount of short term work a muscle can do. However maximizing your mitochondria has a much higher value for distance runners as it allows you to feed your muscles more efficiently and allows you to increase both pace and endurance.

Now, what about that heart-o-meter??

I'll quote the trainer's blog for this so as to capture the thought completely

"As a general guide, and in my experience, this is what I have found works best. Marathon HR will be approx 15-20 beats lower than HRmax (no better). And aerobic conditioning HR needs to be another 30 bpm below THAT (and hence ~50bpm below HRmax) "

That's the theory I'm working on now, maintaining 130-135 heart rate and hoping that over time my pace picks up ( before the marathon, June 5th!)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Back to Fenwick

Hills Suck

No, really they do. Fenwick is an awesome place to work out - getting there is 3/4s the job though when you run there and back from my place. It started Sunday AM, wait , no it started Saturday - I didn't run Saturday as I needed to take my wife to the dentist.
While we were at the dentist she says "How long has it been since you've had a checkup" I shrug my shoulders in a typical male response.
"Since we're here, you should set up an appointment"
"Ok..." I groan. At least its a busy office, I won't need to even think about it for a month.
"Let me check the calendar" the receptionist stares at the screen "Lets see looks like the second week in March is the earliest..." I resist the temptation to shout out "YUSS" and pump my fist.
"Oh wait, you want afternoons? How about Monday at 4:00pm?"
The smirk on my wife's face is not perceptible - but I know its there!

I normally run on Mondays and Saturdays, since my schedule is now trashed I decide to run Sunday between church services. Thinking that I've done enought hills, and I should stretch out a it I'm thinking about hitting interurban for some flat-land running.

Church service starts with setting up. as we were setting up I talked to John - the aviator and sax player in our group. He says he's missing doing the stairs at Fenwick.
"Have you thought about running down there, it might not be too muddy" he says
"I haven't we could check it out after church, I think its about 2-3 miles from my house. Sound like a plan?" He agrees and I immediately think "HILL!"

I have always driven to Fenwick, parked, did my workout, got back in the car and went home. This would be a new experience leaving my car at home. This may be a good thing - It's been a long time since I visited Fenwick - last August-September time frame.

The run starts easily enough, we walk until warmed up then ust into a jog. We discuss technique and run more on the balls of the feet to minimize knee impact. it's working really well, we mix up walking and running but it's running for the most part when we get to Fenwick it's not too bad, the trail is wet, but not soupy. The running is good, and I find that my fitness level has increased - running up the hill still does a number on me, but I can keep going and the stairs are still tough, but I can run the whole trail and only walk on the boardwalk, as it is far too slippery for running. on the way back we walk up the hill on 277th, it's an amazing grade and even walking keeps my heart rate over 150. the hill by my house did not stop me though - I asked John to kick my butt if I started walking on it. all in all 7 miles of exercise. A good day