Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Heart" Core

My blog title obligates me to discuss a "better life" every once in a while or it wouldn't be called, "Ye Fat Bastard's Guide to Better Living."  So, today we're going to pontificate on the one organ of the body that the "Tin Man" from the Movie, Wizard of Oz so desperately needed...a Heart.

The reality of the situation is I have a new toy that I recently acquired from that marvelous company known as Amazon.  Yes, I am the proud owner of a Heart Rate Monitor.  I'm not quite as obsessed with it yet as say, my Grandpa was about the weather, but it's close.  Speaking of which, as we all invariably get older and are in need of that one item or task in life that keeps us fulfilled, my grandfather, the resolute Laurie James Page, loved to talk about the weather.  I'm not sure if he checked his rain gauge every day but by God he could tell you down to the 1/4 inch how much rain his yard got and you could sit in his living room and not say a single word for hours; eventually, he'd pipe up and ask you, "did you get any rain in your neck of the woods?"  I do miss that from him and it's kinda funny, but I admit that I have my own rain gauge mounted on the fence outside.

Anyways, I have re-dedicated myself to running again.  This time though, I wanted to put forth a better effort.  Here's the thing:  I have had a hard time maintaining my focus to run; I haven't quit running but it hasn't been very consistent. It's one thing or's too hot...I haven't slept enough...not enough energy to finish...chaffing (sorry, I have my mother's thighs) and not enough hydration.  Then there are those things while running that irritate the living hell out of me such as walkers who hog the sidewalk, skateboarders, dodging foul balls and wondering if the pit bull dragging his owner around the park on a tire chain is going to bite me in the ass!!  More than anything though...I sometimes allow that doubt to creep into my mind.  You know what I'm talking about, where you hear this voice in your head asking you, "What the hell are you doing out here?  You should be propped up on the couch with a beer waiting for the game...come on, lets quit this nonsense!"  Eventually, he grinds away at your willpower and before you know it your done running.  Worse than that, is the effort you expend trying to fight off the "doubt monster." For me, I usually end up trying to jog at a faster pace to overcome this and what do you think happens?  Yup...I get too winded and can't breath normally.

That's where my new toy comes into play.  Heart Rate Monitors have been around for some time now and I was quite astounded at the price of some of the more expensive models, well upwards in the range of 300-400 dollars.  You don't start driving lessons leaving the parking lot in a Indy race car and I damn sure wasn't about to fork over that kinda coin for something I didn't quite understand in the first place.  Needless to say, I got your bare bones model that just keeps time and the heart rate and it ran me forty bucks with free shipping (Only the best for Ye Fat Bastard!!).

I've read several books lately, Running for Mortals and Born to Run to be exact, that have got me motivated and coincidentally, they both advocate the use of Heart Rate Monitors during training.  Now, this contraption comes with a Chest strap sensor, readout wristwatch and a workout guide that discusses these seemingly useless rates such as: Threshold Heart Rate, Max Aerobic Endurance Rate, Max Muscular Endurance Rate and Max Anaerobic Endurance Rate.  T-M-I.  I just want to keep tabs on the 'ole ticker while I'm running...not know my exact heart rate when it's about to burst as I summit K2. 

With that said, I did some research and came to the conclusion that I only need to focus on three particular numbers when wearing this thing:  Max Heart Rate, Resting Heart Rate and Training Heart Rate.  Obvisously, Max Heart Rate is the max that your heart can beat at a given extreme condition and yes, with most things about your body, it too will decrease with age.  I saw on the Internet at least 12 different ways to calculate this number.  The most exact way to obtain this is through a paid and controlled endurance test conducted by medical personnel where they have you run up a hill thirty times and then they record your MHR.  Sorry, I don't have time for that shit and for those hard working individuals like myself, who don't have the means to hire Dr. Kevorkian to measure this number, I found a simple formula:  205 minus1/2 your age.  BOO-YOW!!  Simple and straight to the point and for those keeping score at home that equals to 181.  I'm thinking my true rate is somewhere around 175...I don't really care at this point as I have yet to get the monitor to read past 168 and that was sprinting after a 2.4 mile run. I call it might call it agony in motion after witnessing it in person.

Then there is the Resting Heart Rate.  Pretty simple, when your at rest this is what the heart beats.  Now, from the information I've read a normal Resting Heart Rate is between 60-80 bpm.  They say if your RHR falls below this number then your probably an athlete in training; it's not uncommon and most athletes in top condition are in this range.  Lance Armstrong of the Tour De France fame, was reported to have a RHR of 30 bpm!!   Here's the caveat:  That's for athletes.  I don't want to rain on anyones parade but mine is sitting at 55 bpm and I doubt you've seen me on the medal stand accepting Gold during the last 25 Olympiads.  It's called Bradycardia and can be dangerous if you have low blood pressure. The same thing applies if your RHR is over 100 and is called Tachycardia.  Here's my disclaimer:  I'm not a medical professional. So, if your worried go get yourself checked out!  I don't have low blood pressure but it is something I'll bring up to my doctor the next time he anal probes me during my physical.

Finally, the Training Heart Rate.  I think the instructions stated that this range should be around 75% of your Max Heart Rate.  That would make mine around 135-145 bpm.  Here's the simplicity behind this:  This range is the rate at which your at an aerobic state but not overdoing it.  I'm finding out "Less is More."  At first I felt that this was too easy for me.  My first jog, a 2.4 mile circuit, was extremely easy and it was recommended that I continue this for 3 to 4 weeks.  It really wants me to focus on "time" in this rate and not to focus on my distance.  In my case, I'm not a new runner but decided to train for an upcoming 5k which they suggest that I train in this heart rate range for 30 minutes 3 to 4 times per week with a longer run on the weekend.  I ran a route of 3.2 miles this past Sunday which was just a hair over a traditional 5k.  It was like an epiphany.  There was no "doubt monster" telling me to stop, there was no "out of breath" feeling or "I'm dying out here!"  Having to focus on staying in this training range made me forget about all those things that always make me want to end my runs early.  I didn't labor and I felt as if I could have run a 10k.  The Heart Rate Monitor really makes you focus on your heart and not your running.  I have become such a geek about it that I even wore the monitor to bed and woke up to check my Resting Heart Rate...who does that shit?.  Yes, it's strange but I'm motivated.  Alright everybody, that's it in a nutshell and if you see me running at the Jack Marley Park(Bob's long lost Brother) in Angier, America...don't throw rocks at me!!

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