Thursday, June 23, 2011

Numbers Don't Lie

Numbers don't lie.
People lie.
People also use numbers to deceive.

I'm tracking lots of running numbers now that I have my new Garmin GPS watch with heart rate monitor. It's neat having time, distance, elevation, heart rate, and pace/speed all automatically tracked, stored and easily loaded to the computer.  Did you know my heart rate goes up when elevation goes up?  And my pace goes down at the same time!  Pretty insightful, eh?  I need more data before I get any useful information that might guide my training.  The best part of the new watch is that it does all of this stuff automatically...and downloads to my computer right when I connect the USB cable...then uploads to several web sites with one click of a button.  It's quite a change going from logging nothing to logging everything...but it takes almost no extra time thanks to the watch interface with the computer.

While I track all of these numbers, hopefully I won't myself, fellow runners, or my blog readers.  It was interesting to see my numbers from yesterday's run.  I felt kinda crappy.  After loading my run data, it turns out my heart rate was higher than normal and my pace was slower than usual.  That's a bad combination...especially when the weather was OK (cool morning).  Something was definitely going on to cause these poor numbers.  I was probably tired from a trip to Chicago on Tuesday--lots of driving, poor eating, and I didn't drink enough fluids.  I skipped running on Tuesday, yet still felt tired and dehydrated on Wednesday...and it showed in how I felt and what numbers were on my watch.  I suppose that's some validation for heart rate training.  With more consistent data, I should start to see useable trends.  How many hard days per week can I tolerate?  How hard can those days be?  Do I tolerate tempo runs better than interval workouts?  How many easy miles can I run before becoming truly fatigued?  What happens when I take a day completely off?  These are all good training questions...but I need data to answer them honestly.  Numbers don't lie.


Ragfield said...

Another interesting factor is temperature (for me, at least). My heart rate is significantly lower running a certain pace at 60˚F than it is running the exact same pace at 80˚F. The difference is sometimes as high as 1 beat/degree!

Chris said...

Absolutely true! Weather (temperature and humidity/dew point) make a HUGE difference. I can see +1 beat/degree being about right.

Aussie BareFootRed said...

G'day Chris,

I have been using a Garmin HRM for the last 6mths or so and have found it both motivating and frustrating reviewing the data on the run or post workout. It has helped me keep on track with my aerobic HR based training and to evaluate each run. The thing with the numbers is, that without context they're not really telling the whole truth. I mean, a lot of things can affect those numbers, like you said, weather conditions, diet, sleep, stress levels, etc etc can all impact on your post run data. I've been keeping a run log/diary which helps in extracting relevant info form my data but I have so much to learn. Good luck with it and I hope you enjoy your Garmin as much as I have...most of the time.

Chris said...


If nothing else, the GPS/HRM should motivate me tom run more...if nothing else, just to get more data! It'll be hard to accurately interpret the numbers for improvement and training purposes. I'll give it a go.