Thursday, 28 February 2008

Fooled by Garmin

The Fat Runner was running around a park in Paris this morning in the drizzle.

There is something about Paris that simply doesn't exist in any other city I've been to - it's hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.

There is a sense of style almost everywhere you look - in the buildings, the parks, the way people dress. But above all, there is a sense of harmony, and of calm purposefulness. Something I only really feel in London very early in the morning before about 6am...

So Paris was a very nice place for TFR to run - he managed to fit in 30 minutes between his morning meeting and the cab to take him back to Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar.

For those who have read this blog a few times, you'll know that TFR's pace is around the 9-10 mins a mile area. So when his garmin forerunner (set to autolap every half mile - I recommend this strongly) started showing I was getting through half miles in around 4 mins he was feeling rather chuffed!

Until he got back and looked at the map on the garmin. It was very spikey and not like the clean ovals he ran in the park, so it was clearly over-counting the distance he ran...

Oh well, at least he ran twice this week!!

Monday, 18 February 2008

Win some, lose some

As you know, The Fat Runner had a surprise last week - that his heart rate when running was able to get up to 196bpm - much higher than predicted by the many maximum heart rate formulae. This appears to prove one thing - that the maximum heart rate formulae are entirely useless when trying to understand the level at which you should be exercising.

So armed with this new information, as well as a quick look at the Runners World website to understand the ranges he should be working in, TFR headed out for the weekly Wimbledon Common Time Trial.

The Runners World website suggested that someone with a resting heart rate of 60bpm, and a maximum of 196bpm, should be running a 10k at 176-182bpm.

This seemed rather rapid, so TFR backed off a little from these figures, aiming for a heart rate of around 170-175bpm on the first lap and 175-180bpm on the second lap.

Well it seems to have gone rather well! He ran what felt like a very comfortable first lap and then was able to push a bit harder in the second lap (instead of hanging on desperately which is what he normally does).

He'll definitely be following these heart rate guides into his next race.

Now, the final sprint....

Again, his heart rate peaked in the mid 190s (so proving that the result last week was not spurious), but unfortunately when he tried to put in a second kick for the line, one of the muscles in his hamstring gave way (an obvious rip) so we'll have to see if he turns out next week or not.

Next time you hear from TFR, he'll tell you all about hamstring strain repair!!!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Maximum heart rate research

I've oone a little research into maximum heart rates (given TFR's recent run), but the overall conclusion is that these maximum heart rate calculators are entirely useless.

So let's go through them:

Basic formula: 200-age
Londeree and Moeschberger (1982): 206.3-(0.711 x age)
Miller et al (1993): 217-(0.85 x age)
USA researchers (2007): 206.9-(0.67 x age)
UK reseachers (2007): 202-(0.55 x age) for male athletes

Now applying each of these formulae for maximum heart rate to TFR's age gives a maximum heart rate of 182 (Londeree and Moeschberger) to 188 (Miller et al). Nothing like the 196 that TFR recorded on his latest run.

By the way, TFR has downloaded his heart rate from his Garmin Forerunner 305 to check whether this was a spike reading or not. The sad reading is that it wasn't a spike - his heart rate gradually crept up to this level as he sprinted for the finish...

In some ways, however, this is good news!

Now that TFR knows that his maximum heart rate is very different to that predicted by a formula, he can work out what his real heart rate training areas should be! More on that in the next post

Can his heart rate really be so high?

TFR ran again last Saturday for the ever-excellent Wimbledon Common time trial.

He also took a friend along with him - a friend who is much fitter than TFR and runs marathons in 3hrs 15, so he wanted to put on a good show, and hopefully beat his previous record of 29mins 40 seconds.

He had been running relatively hard throughout most of the race - running between 170 and 180 beats per minute, which is rather high against most of the normal criteria using the calculated maximum heart rate for a 34 year old of 186 beats per minute (the normal calculation is 220 minus age).

For the last 200-300 metres, however, TFR sprinted as hard as he could. When he got to look at his Garmin Forerunner after the race, he was surprised to see that his heart rate had reached 196bpm - way above his theoretical maximum.

This is going to have implications on how he trains - more on this in the next post!