30 November 2008

OK, let's think about this for a bit

Duration = 1:30:01
Distance = 5.68
Calories = 656
Max HR = 152
Avg HR = 129
Running Index = 41
Max Cadence = 81
Avg Cadence = 69

This started out as a "really bad" session. 36 minutes into the session, I was ready to forget the whole thing. I was trying to maintain a Zone 3, but this was putting into an area where I didn't feel good. I backed off and figured I would start a cool-down, but I then figured I would at least finish the 1.5 hours. I was walking at 3.0 and my heart rate dropped to around 120. I then decided that, if I was going to spend the time, I might was well keep it minimally worthwhile. Each minute, I would bump the speed 0.1 mph if the heart rate was below 120. Eventually, I was up to 3.5. As I was actually feeling much better, both physically and emotionally, I planned to take the remaining 25 minutes before the cool-down and bump the speed 0.1 at 5 minute intervals which would have me at 4.0 for the last 5 minutes. I did just that and finished with a normal 10 minute cool-down and stretches after.

Several things contributed to the problems at the start: we had been traveling and the house was still cold, I had been in a car nearly constantly for over 7 hours, I was still stiff from the stair session the night before, and I ramped up the speed much too fast. Most of these would be alleviated by a proper warm-up. I need to be better at getting to the target speed. I may start using a 10 minute warm-up and increase the intensity slowly. I will start tomorrow's session with an extended warm-up and slow increase as an experiment and see how I react to that and to get an idea of time I need to get "up to temperature".

[Posted 0200, 1 December 2008]
[Edited 1055, 1 December 2008 to add post timestamp]

29 November 2008

Where There's a Will...

Duration = 21:18
Distance = 5 laps of 5 floors up and down
Calories = 157
Max HR = 160
Avg HR = 131

I was traveling after Thanksgiving. I didn't find a training opportunity at the hotel and didn't want to run around a strange city in the dark (getting lost wouldn't necessarily help with my workout). I swapped my rest day to Friday, but I was running out of Saturday when I figured out what would work as an exercise session. I found an out of the way stairwell that went from the ground floor to the roof, a total of 5 floors worth of stairs.

I started by walking on my floor for 5 minutes to get the blood moving. I then started down the stairs (3 floors). At the bottom, I turned around and walked up to the roof (5 floors). At the door to the roof, I turned around and walked back down (2 floors), pushing the Lap button as I pass my floor. After 5 laps, I was getting some significant discomfort in my legs. I walked around on my floor for 5:30 as a cool-down.

I probably should find some stairs I can use to do this type of exercise periodically to improve my leg strength and endurance. I was only walking, but I was mostly in Zone 3 with brief entry to Zone 4 at the top of each lap. If I ever climb the stairs of the CN Tower, I will definitely want to wear my Heart Rate Monitor.

[Posted 0130, 1 December 2008]
[Edited 1054, 1 December 2008 to add post timestamp]

27 November 2008

Thanksgiving Easy Session

Duration = 45:01
Distance = 2.47
Calories = 285
Max HR = 132
Avg HR = 120
Running Index = 42
Max Cadence = 70
Avg Cadence = 63
OwnZone Target = 106-136

Happy Thanksgiving! I spent the day with friends and eat more than I should, but it was really good. I'm sure I will pay for that. When I got home, I did my Thursday easy session.

This is still a walk. Warm-up from 2.0 to 3.0. Training was started at 3.5. At 15:20, this was dropped to 3.0 for the remainder of the phase (to 40:00). Cool-down from 2.5 to 2.0.

26 November 2008

Treadmill Interval Session

Duration = 30:01
Distance = 2.16
Calories = 298
Max HR = 187
Avg HR = 153
Running Index = 32
Max Cadence = 92
Avg Cadence = 73

Warm-up for 5 minutes. Started at 2.0 mph and added .5 each minute to 4.0. Started stress phase at 5.0. Plan was for 2 minutes at 5.0 with a 1 minute burst to 7.0 for 5 repeats. After the second burst, I stayed at 5.0 for an extra minute then did the 1 minute burst. I ran the last sequence as 2.5 minutes, 1 minute burst, and 1.5 minutes to the end of the stress. Cool-down was 10 minutes starting at 4.0 and slowing to 2.0 for the last 3 minutes. Slow and deliberate stretching finished out the session.

Mechanically, I felt great. I was starting to get some fatigue ache in the muscles during the last two repeats, but nothing severe. Key is that I have no sharp pain indicating a problem needing attention. Near the end of the stress and through part of the cool-down, I didn't feel all that great, but, by the end and after the stretches, I was feeling pretty good again. Now, as I write this, I'm in that vaguely tired stage. Another good thing is that I don't feel discomfort sitting in this chair.

25 November 2008

Easy Session

Duration = 45:01
Distance = 2.60
Calories = 278
Max HR = 129
Avg HR = 119
Running Index = 45
Max Cadence = 77
Avg Cadence = 66
OwnZone Target = 109-139

This is my "easy" day. Mostly Zone 2. HRM didn't show anything higher. Mostly a brisk walk. Minimal warm-up as the HRM finds the OwnZone. Stress until 40:00 followed by a 5 minute cool-down. Quick recovery of heart rate to below 100 before end of cool-down.

24 November 2008

Good Hard Session

Duration = 32:01
Distance = 2.30
Calories = 320
Max HR = 190
Avg HR = 153
Running Index = 32
Max Cadence = 90
Avg Cadence = 71

Tonight was the most intense session to date. The best part is that I actually feel good. I did a series of high steps to get the blood flowing and then stretched the now warm muscles. I started with a slowly ramping 5 minute warm-up on the treadmill. The base pace for the stress phase was 5.0 mph (12:00/mile). I maintained this base throughout the stress phase. I did a 30 second and a 90 second burst to 7.0 (8:35/mile) and finishing burst to 8.0 (7:30/mile) for 30 seconds. I did a 12 minutes cool-down from 3.5 to 2.0. At that point, I stopped the HRM, but I continued to move for some time after the end of the exercise. I finished with some good stretches. Wednesday, I will do more regular intervals to 7.0.

This morning, I did both the fitness assessment and the Optimizer. The OwnIndex was 34. This is actually less than the 36 I've gotten the last couple of times, but it may have been influenced by the exercise yesterday. The OwnOptimizer registered as noting Training Effect which indicates that my cardio system is showing the effects of recent exertion. Considering the effort expended yesterday, I would have been a bit surprised if it hadn't shown anything.

The software included allows overlying the data from multiple sessions for comparison. (I wish they had native support for Linux or Mac). I've just been comparing this session with Friday. Today my heart rate increased at a slower rate through the warm-up and into the stress phase. In fact, it wasn't until 5 minutes into the stress at a higher speed that my heart rate matched Friday's session. It did cross higher until the first 7.0 burst.

I do these posts shortly after the session itself. I can't believe I feel this good. (I'm sure I will pay for it later.)

23 November 2008

Long "Run"

Duration = 1:52:48
Distance = 6.80
Calories = 929
Max HR = 152
Avg HR = 138
Running Index = 37
Max Cadence = 75
Avg Cadence = 67

Today was the long run. This is a Zone 3 exercise. This is still a brisk walk.

Today was an experiment. I set my laptop up to play "The Princess Bride" while I exercised. This was mostly a success. I do need to get a means to remotely control the laptop as I will not always find movies of the correct length. I would be able to queue a few things, then key them as each completes until the session is complete. Another possibility is some manner of audio book. Finally, I could play the long files of Morse Code I have. This last is attractive as all the extra exercising is coming out of time I could use for Code practice.

After the stress phase, I slowed to 3.0 and them 2.0 mph. At 10 minutes, I still had not recovered to Zone 1, so I did another 5 minutes at 1.5 and then 1.0 mph. Note for future reference: 1.0 mph is too slow. I was still in Zone 2 when I finished.

21 November 2008

Friday Short Hard (Mostly) Run

Duration = 30:00
Distance = 1.85
Calories = 281
Max HR = 171
Avg HR = 148
Running Index = 31
Max Cadence = 82
Avg Cadence = 68

Pre-run prep was limited and I felt it. For me, the stretch before the run really helps with the warm-up and early parts of any exercise.

My goal was to get to, and maintain, Zone 4 for 15 minutes. I met this, but I had to back down on the speed to keep out of Zone 5. Starting speed was a 5.0 mph (12:00/mile). I was doing a brisk walk at 4.0 (15:00/mile) by the end. Cool-down today was 10 minutes starting at 3.0 and finishing at 1.5. (The stride sensor drops out when walking slower than 2.0.)

A couple notes about the Polar HRM and stride sensor:
  • As noted, the stride sensor really isn't for walking (and this is so documented).
  • I get a Running Index for most of these sessions. This value is designed to let you know how you are progressing. It is calculated from data collected using the stride sensor and heart rate sensor. Again, this is most valid for a true running session.
The means that the 31 today and the 29 Wednesday are the more accurate running predictors. The other numbers (36, 39, and 42) are from sessions that were mostly accomplished in a walking gait. The interesting thing here is that I may actually be better able to cover distance faster with less energy usage walking fast than actually running. My best walking test was accomplished at 10:00/mile for 3 miles. I have yet to sustain a running pace of 10:00/mile for the shorter distance of 1.5 miles. I might take one of these "hard" sessions and see if I can walk fast enough to get to Zone 4 and then compare the speed vs heart rate curves.

20 November 2008

Finally settled on a training plan

Duration = 45:01
Distance = 2.37
Calories = 305
Max HR = 138
Avg HR = 124
Running Index = 42
Max Cadence = 76
Avg Cadence = 66
OwnZone Target = 108-138

I've finally decided on my training schedule. I will have exercises planned for 6 days/week with a full rest on Saturday. I will run the "hard" exercises on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with the "easy" sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. The week will conclude with a "long" run on Sunday. Currently, I am using time heart rate to determine the effort for each session. The "easy" sessions will be using the OwnZone feature of my HRM. This currently yields a mostly Zone 2 exercise. The "hard" sessions will be shorter Zone 4 runs. Finally, the "long" run will be 1.5 hours maintaining Zone 3.

After the Sunday run, I will have a sample of each of the planned sessions to use to monitor my progress. This will be in addition to the Heart Rate Variability (HRV) based assessment I will get from the HRM each Monday morning. I will also continue to use the training effectiveness assessment daily to monitor the impact of the effort I am expending. So far, this assessment has remained in the "Normal" state. I am still in the baselining phase, but I also think this is telling me that I can continue to increase the intensity.

The session today ended up being a quick walk. I will be happy when my fitness improves to the point this is a true run. I also tried something new. Today, I strapped the HRM to a bar on the treadmill directly in front of me. This means I don't have to change my arm swing and stride to watch the display.

19 November 2008

Well, that was supposed to be a Lactate Threshold Test

Duration = 30:05
Distance = 1.94
Calories = 261
Max HR = 189
Avg HR = 145
Running Index = 29
Max Cadence = 82
Avg Cadence = 69

The intent of this session was to determine my Lactate Threshold (LT). This is the point where lactic acid builds up in the muscles because the body cannot remove it faster than it is being created. This is actually a characteristic of capillary and cellular development in the muscles. This is actually separate from the Anaerobic Threshold which is the limit determined by your ability to provide oxygen to the muscles. I have more data, but I'm not quite sure what it is telling me.

I started with a good stretch and a longish warm-up. I started at 3.0 mph for 4 minutes. I then increased the speed to 3.5 and then to 4.0 for 4 minutes each. At 12:00 into the session, I increased the incline to 3%. I started the protocol at 14:00. I ran the first 90 seconds at 4.0. At each 90 second interval, I increased to 4.3, 4.6, 5.0, 5.3, and 5.6. I had intended to do a final interval at 6.0, but I pulled the cord out of the treadmill control box and it stopped. I decided to call it done and started a longish cool-down. I started the cool-down at 3.0 mph and finished it at 2.0.

The heart-rate chart for this session is almost a straight line from start to peak. I will have to repeat this test at some point to see where the top really is, and to look for improvement due to the training I will be doing. I did determine a new HRmax of 189. I will be adjusting my training zones to account for this.

I have until 14 December to get to a race pace of 9:30/mile. This assumes I also can improve my number of crunches and push-ups for the USAF Fit-to-Fight assessment. This is quite aggressive, but I will monitor the training effect to ensure I'm not over training. I will be adding interval training on Tuesday and Thursday. I will be targeting the "race" pace of 9:30/mile. This is currently faster than I have run recently, so I will be ramping up to that speed.

Most of my running has been in the evening not too long before I go to bed. This has had the effect of lowering my blood sugar. The effect seems to be that I burn fat at night instead of create it. I am losing weight at a respectable rate. I'm drinking plenty of water and eating a variety of food. I am watching my snacks. I've determined my base metabolism to be around 2200 kcal/day. I'm trying not to eat more than 1700-2000 kcal/day. I was expecting to lose about a pound a week, maybe a bit less. I'm currently dropping at twice that and I can't find all of that difference in the additional exercise. I hope this continues (though I don't expect it) as long as it doesn't interfere with my other development.

I will try this test again and a different test protocol at some time after the first of the year.

17 November 2008

First OwnZone session

Duration = 30:01
Distance = 1.79
Calories = 193
Max HR = 135
Avg HR = 123
Running Index = 39
Max Cadence = 72
Avg Cadence = 66
OwnZone Target = 105-135

I didn't do the "training effectiveness" test on Sunday for various reasons. This test was done this morning with a result of 2-Normal. The assessment is supposed to catch over- and under-training. Polar calls this rating OwnOptimizer. I also did my Fitness Test which yielded an OwnIndex (Polar name again, similar to VO2max) of 36 and an estimated HRmax (designated HRmax-p) of 176. I'm doing this Fitness Test weekly until December as a baseline, then I will do it monthly as I don't expect wild changes here.

This evening's exercise was a treadmill "run" (mostly walk) using the intensity suggested by another Polar feature on on the RS800 called OwnZone. During the warm-up you work through a defined set of HR zones until the RS800 determines a target zone. While exercising, there is a display that shows your exercise time, this zone as a range with a heart-shaped symbol showing where you are in the range, and the distance (provided by my foot sensor). The stats are above. This is a bit less intensive than I had been doing. From some reading I've been doing (Thanks, Ilana!), this may be for the better. I may up the number of sessions per week (currently 4), but I will finish November and see how things progress. Re-reading the notes on this exercise, I will up the time to the recommended 45 minutes.

In weight-loss news, I am making progress that I am happy with and have even lost an half-inch around the waist. Many more to go, but it is a start.

[Edit 0811181000: fixed font sizing and minor edit]

15 November 2008

OK, that was...interesting

Duration = 60:01
Distance = 3.3 (from foot sensor)
Calories = 382 (lower of two values associated with this exercise)
Max HR = 150
Avg HR = 125
Running Index = 36
Max Cadence = 81
Avg Cadence = 65

Today's plan was a Long Slow Distance (LSD) run. I now know that Slow is followed by "but not too slow". I had this as a Zone 2 one hour long run. I very quickly realized that I was not going to be able to run on Zone 2. That was just too slow. So I went with a Zone 3 run. Next problem, I can't stay in Zone 3 and run either. When I hit Zone 4, I backed off the run to a fast walk. For the rest of the session, I kept adjusting the speed to stay in Zone 3. At 50:00, I did the cool-off at a slow walk. I actually had to slow a bit further than I had planned to keep my heart rate dropping.

Now, I have done some additional research on the Long Slow Distance run. The target is actually near the Zone3/4 border, so I had actually backed into the right idea. I find it easier to stay in a zone than near a border. For the next while, I will do this run as a steady Zone 3. Now, I hope that I progress to the point that it is an actual run.

Finally, I had some stiffness at the beginning of the run. It was then that I remembered that I hadn't had much to drink yet today. Luckily, I was on the treadmill (it's trying to decide if it wants to snow or rain outside; currently doing both). This meant that I could ask my lovely wife for a bottle of water. This made a significant difference.

Note for reference as there may be different definitions of HR Zones:
I use a 5 zone breakdown (based on % of HRmax):
90-100% = Zone 5
80-90% = Zone 4
70-80% = Zone 3
60-70% = Zone 2
50-60% = Zone 1

14 November 2008

New Heart Rate Monitor and some planning

Duration = 23:52
Distance = 1.25
Calories = 136

I may need to change the template now that I have way too much data available.

Boring stuff first, I did a fitness test associated with the software that came with the new HRM. This took long enough that I decided to call it today's exercise.

The UKK Walk Test is, as you would expect, a walking fitness test. You walk at a brisk and steady rate for 2km. You record the ending heart rate and the time for the 2km. This generates a score that is an indication of fitness. The software barked at me for not walking fast enough and another site provided a form that generated a negative number (-3).

I've posted details about the new HRM on my LJ.

Using the Fitness Test option resulted in a value called OwnIndex, documented as similar to VO2 max. Currently, mine is 36. This is moderate for my age. The HRM also estimated a HRmax of 178 which matches one of the general ballpark estimates, 220 - age, so it may only have just used that. Time will tell. Now we have a measured starting point for aerobic fitness.

I plan to rerun this test in the morning every Monday until December, then the first Monday thereafter. There is a training effectiveness test that I will be running on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings as long as it seems useful.

Immediate planning

My most immediate goal is passing the USAF Fitness Assessment (Fit-to-Fight). The part of this I am having issues with is the run. My current effort as described in this blog is targeted at this element. (The longer term goals build on this for improved fitness.) With no other improvement on the rest of the assessment, I need a time of 13:12 for the 1.5 miles (8:48/mile) to meet the minimum for my age. 12:00 will give a nice round 8:00/mile. 10:24 will max this section for my age at 6:56/mile (in line with another of my stated goals). Finally, 9:36 is max for any age group. This leaves the last goal at 6:24/mile. Definitely long term but worth monitoring.

The plan for now is three 30 minute sessions (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) with a one hour slow run on Saturday. This will be done until the peak pace is 8:00/mile. Then we will either go for speed or distance. I expect that by the time I get here, the full assessment will be passed quite comfortably.

12 November 2008

That will teach me (yeah, right)

Duration = 40:00
Distance = 2.19
Calories = 269

I dropped the Monday session because I wanted to give myself a break after the FtF assessment. That was probably okay. But I should have done something on Tuesday.

Standard treadmill session. 5 minute warm-up, 30 minutes run/walk, and 5 minutes cool-down. Stretch before and after. I had more discomfort in my shins, knee, and ankles than normal. I did a short run, but decided to finish with a fast walk with another short run near the end.

Tomorrow, I get a Heart Rate Monitor with a foot pod. Then, I will have more data to dig through. It might even help with the training. It will definitely help with the timed runs as I will be able to run a set pace.

09 November 2008

Fit-to-Fight, November 2008

The Fit-to-Fight assessment was Sunday afternoon. The conditions were bad, but at least the rain and snow held off. Temperature was around 36F, with a stiff breeze into your face on the outbound leg of the run.

There are four parts to the assessment: waist measurement, crunches, push-ups, and the run. The run is worth half of the points in the assessment. You need 75% to pass. The assessment is accomplished in the same order as the above list. I didn't do as well on the crunches (20) as I had planned, but I was able to make up for that by doing better than I had planned on the push-ups (26). Going into the run, I knew I needed a time of 13:12 to pass. While I didn't make that mark, the time of 16:27 for the 1.5-mile run was the best I have done since we started the new assessment process. I was able to run the whole distance at a steady pace for the first time.

Passing this assessment is an even shorter term goal than any of those mentioned at the beginning of this blog. To meet this immediate goal, I need to find another 11.5 points during the assessment. I hope the waist will respond to the other efforts I'm making, but I'm not going to plan on it in the short term. If I can get two more crunches, I get another point, leaving 10.5 to go. This would require a time of 13:36 or better.

Gap analysis time. I need two more crunches. The current assessment rate is ~11:00/miles. The target rate is ~9:00/mile. The gap here is 2:00/mile. I should be able to make most of this up by improving my stride as it was rather short for this run. I did open it out near the end and was able to maintain that and ultimately ended with a sprint to the finish (3 seconds would have garnered 3 more points).

Going forward, I plan to spend some time on push-up, crunches, and intervals to develop a good stride. I will have to see if I can find a sensor that will actually measure the stride along with the rate so I can measure my progress.

[posted 2015, 10 November 2008]

06 November 2008

Light pre-assessment session

Duration = 40:00
Distance = 2.24
Calories = 264

This was the last session before my USAF assessment this weekend. I went fairly light with a 5-minute warm-up, single short interval at 5.0 mph followed with 3.5 mph walking, and a 5-minute cool-down.

[posted 2010, 10 November 2008]

05 November 2008

Interrupted (briefly) treadmill session

Duration = 40:00
Distance = >2.28
Calories = >343

I managed to reset the treadmill early in the session which explains the unusual values. I will have to review the safety strap arrangement to reduce the likelihood of another repeat of this event.

Otherwise, this was a good day. I had a good stretch before the run. Warm-up was the currently standard 5 minutes at 3.0 to 3.5 mph walk. 30-minute conditioning session was composed of a 12-minute interval at 5.0, a 5-minute rest at 3.0, and a final 13-minute interval at 5.0. The cool-down was 5 minutes at 2.5 reducing to 2.0 mph. This was followed with another good stretch.

I have one more training session (tomorrow) before my timed run this weekend.

03 November 2008

Rough Monday Run

Duration = 40:00
Distance = 2.60
Calories = 364

Schedule called for a run today, off tomorrow, run Wednesday and Thursday, off Friday. Timed run on the weekend. I really wanted to get three runs in and I knew I couldn't run on Friday (and I wanted Friday off as I may have to run for the assessment on Saturday).

I did finish the run, but I may have been too aggressive. I had planned a constant speed run at 5.0 mph (12:00/mile) which feels better over time than trying to actually use a running gait at a slower rate. I can't afford an injury, so I'm listening very hard to what my body is telling me.

I did a good series of stretches, but I could probably try a few different ones to see how they help and maybe do a second run through the stretches. I could also figure out how to get a bit of a warm-up before the stretching. Warm-up was 5:00 of walking at 2.5 pushing quickly to 3.5. Conditioning phase started at 5.0 for 10 minutes. Had a bit of an ache in my legs that wasn't improving, so I slowed to a 3.0 walk for 5 minutes, ran at 5.0 for 5 minutes, walked at 3.0 for 5 minutes, ran at 5.0 for the last 5 minutes. Cool-down was from 3.0 to 2.0 for 5 minutes. I did a series of stretches after the cool-down and currently (couple hours later) don't have any significant stiffness.

Tomorrow is off. I plan to do an interval approach until I can run the full session at 5.0. There are times when I'm paying particular attention to my stride and form that everything feels good without heavy pounding that I tend to get into. Overall, I think I'll try to ensure I have rest day after the long run.

02 November 2008

First run outside since...

Duration = 50:00
Distance = 3.4 (estimate, haven't found GPS yet)
Calories = ?

...I have no idea. I did find a GPS log from 2006 for parts of this run.

I have found a series of stretches to use. I need to work on my form. I started with a 5 minute walk. I ran for 10 minutes. No sharp pain, but I decided to walk for a bit which turned out to be 5 minutes. I ran for another 10 minutes. I then walked for 5 minutes. I did a run at a significantly faster pace than the rest of the runs in this session for 1 minute which also took me to the edge of the park where I was running. I then walked for the remainder of the time (14 minutes).

Pace was quite slow, but I'm okay with that for a first run. I plan to find my GPS so I can track my outdoor sessions. The current plan is to build up to running the whole session without having to walk parts of it. Once I get to that point, I will work on my stride to improve my speed. Once my speed improves some, I will add distance.

Next week looks like three more treadmill sessions followed by a timed 1.5 mile run next on the weekend as part of my USAF Fit-to-Fight assessment.