Thursday, September 10, 2009

Damn that Heart Rate Monitor!

Lately I have found myself engaged in a conversation with my heart rate monitor...

Monitor says, "Beep, beep...beep, beep..."
I reply, "Alright already! I'll pick up the pace!"

This sequence repeats itself every few minutes as I do my daily 5-mile trail loop.

For the first time in quite a while I have been setting my HR monitor to its audible alarm mode. My current zone setting is 112-142 (that's my MAP and MEP zones combined). For more on Phil Maffetone, Stu Mittleman and my heart rate zones, see my July 17, 2008 blog post. I'm trying to build endurance and aerobic capacity and don't care much for the anaerobic stuff right now. These two zones will keep me going easy and aerobic--perfect for ultra training. The audible alert will keep me from going too fast. That's a good thing--especially since I tend to push too hard on many of my "easy" days. I didn't expect to have problems on the other end of the zone.

I should have no problem staying within these zones on easy runs...unfortunately, I tend to slip BELOW the lowest setting rather often! I usually walk the longer hills on my normal trail run and the HR alarm will go off after just a few seconds. No chance to enjoy the down time. Heck, the darn alarm will even go off when I'm jogging easy on the downhill sections. I think this is a good sign--my cardio-vascular system recovers quickly and I end up with a heart rate of 110 or so very quickly. That's a sign of sound health and fitness. But it bothers me when that dang alarm goes off..."Alright already!" can be heard on the Lake of the Woods trails almost everyday now as I hear the alarm, curse, and pick up the pace.

Overall, it's annoying, but I like the extra prodding to "pick up the pace" and get back into a solid aerobic zone. Walking is OK, but it doesn't build much aerobic capacity. I want an easy workout, but I still want a workout. As I become fitter and fitter, my pace will be faster at the same low base heart rate. I dream of being so fit one day that the darn heart rate monitor will beep when my heart rate hits 112 and I'm "only" loping along at 7:00 pace. That would be sweet! And annoying at the same time. Gotta love technology.

PS: I have a feeling my heart rate monitor won't be beeping at me for going below my zone at the Canadian Death Race next year. It easily could be beeping for exceeding my HR limits.

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