One Hour Runner begins. And a new toy!

Nov 16 2009

Today I started the One Hour Runner program. For the next three weeks, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Basically I’ll be running for 30 minutes three times a week. After that, the time starts to creep up on the 2nd and 3rd days of each week, til you hit an hour. But stabilizing at 30 minutes is just what I need right now.

In related news, on Saturday, I picked up a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch.
This is such a great device. Better than I even expected. I’ve been running with my iPhone and using the Runkeeper app to mark my progress. A fantastic app. But the 305 takes it to the next level.

The Garmin 305 not only has GPS and timing functions, but also a wireless heart rate monitor that you strap around your chest while exercising. I spent a bunch of the weekend learning the functionality of this device. It has three customizable screens you can scroll through when in use. You can choose what data fields you want to show on each screen. Up to 4 (or more?) data fields per screen. So for my main screen I have set up total time, current pace, distance, and heart rate. There are a whole bunch of different fields to choose from, so whatever you are concentrating on, you can set up a screen that shows you just what you need.

After you run, you hook up the watch to your computer and download the workout into the Garmin Training Center app. This app is ok. Pretty basic – shows you a map of where you ran, and graphs of speed, elevation, heart rate. Even better though is the online Garmin Connect app: This works with a custom Garmin Communicator plugin to access your device and upload the data to the app. This is what a Rich Internet App should be. Here’s my run from today: I love the player tab, where you can play back your run and see all the stats changing in real time. Well… real playback time… you know what I mean. You keep track of all your activities, plus see them on a calendar, get reports, track your weight, set goals, etc. Really nice experience.

Another great part of it is searching other people’s activities. You can search by area, time, keywords, distance, etc. In fact, that’s how I found today’s route, by seeing that someone nearby me had run down Quinobequin Road along the river. That road is kind of hidden away, so even though it’s right around the corner, I never knew it was there. A great route! Also, up til now I’ve been running single line routes, which is to say I run til I hit my half way time, then turn around and go back the way I came. This was the first time I tried running a loop like that. Much more interesting.

I found that the loop route plus the device made for a very different experience. Prior to today I was always very focused on the time, the halfway point, and the end point. But today I was focusing primarily on my heart rate, trying to stay in my target heart zone, and my pace. After that was distance, with total time almost an afterthought.

As for target heart rate, there are a bunch of formulas for figuring that out. The simplest one is that your max heart rate is 220 – your age. That gives 175 beats per minute for my max. All the other formulas fall within a beat or two of that for me. Then you have various zones based on the percentage of your max heart rate. I was attempting to stay in zone 4, which is 80-90%. This would be 140-157 for me. But my average for the whole run was 157, which means I’m probably running too hard. My peak was 169, which is almost 97% max. Not good. But even during the run I was trying to keep it below 157. Whenever it went above that, I’d try to slow down. I think it was the hills that kicked it into high gear. Anyway, monitoring that gave the run a whole new feel. It wasn’t so much psychological, trying to push through the tiredness and feeling bad about slowing down. It was more analytical – “OK, heart rate is over 157, gotta slow down. I’m not being a wimp, just reading the numbers. I’m hoping that as I build some endurance and lose some more weight, I can keep a better pace with a lower heart rate.

Other than that, my ankle is sore. Actually started acting up last friday. But today a couple of times on hills, it really hurt. Today I’m applying RICE – rest, ice, compression, elevation – and hoping it doesn’t keep me from running on Wednesday.

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