Saturday, June 13, 2009

Better Late than Never (According to Some, at Least)

Sorry to the millions of you who flocked to this site yesterday, clinging desperately to the promise of more graphs. I have failed you. My deepest regrets.

Um, yeah. Moving on. In fact, I'll even suggest that most of you will probably want to quickly click away from this post before you get sucked into the vortex of pointless data. You have been warned.

Still here? Okiedokie. Good for you. So, I ran with my newest toy, the footpod, yesterday and today. Here's a picture of it on my newer and shinier running shoes.

If you look at the size, you might think that it would get annoying. The truth is that it attaches so securely, and is so light, that one forgets about it almost immediately. It virtually "disappears" as far as I'm concerned. It has two parts, one for underneath the laces, and they clip together very easily and eliminate any flopping. The ease of clipping and unclipping is important for me, as I rotate shoes. (That's one of those things I once heard "real" runners do, so I was quick to adopt it. The truth is that it really does seem to keep the shoes fresher, so don't sniff at the idea. Get it? Huh? Huh? Ah, well, sometimes the jokes really are just for me.)

So, what did the footpod tell me? Actually, I'm somewhat surprised. My cadence when running really isn't all that bad. Again, not great, but not awful. An ideal running cadence is 85-95, depending on whom you ask). When I'm running along, it's in the low eighties. Humph. Have I mentioned that I'm surprised? Well, I am.

Actually, I can't take credit for the cadence. I select music by BPM, and I've been slowly raising the BPM of my running music. So it's a bit of an artificial cadence. I'll have to run without music one day to see what I do without music to "march" to.

At long last, here are some graphs for your viewing pleasure:

This is my average cadence per split. I worked intervals today. The six highest cadence spots are me running hard work intervals. The slightly lower cadences are when I switched to a slower run. This is somewhat problematic because it shows that I'm using a higher cadence to speed up rather than a longer stride. Then again, I'm enough of a beginner that this should probably be at the bottom of the list of things to care about.

Higher on the list of things to care about is my heartrate, so here are two HR graphs. The first is average per split, and the second is by time.

I was working Lactate Threshold intervals (zone 5a). The weird thing is that, when looking at the average per split, I was almost never in my targeted HR zone for work intervals, and was frequently too low. When looking at the graph by time, you see that I quickly overshot zone 5a, and then had to work to get my HR slightly lower into the desired zone. Now, it may be worth noting that this HR zone has a range of four BPM, so I'm actually impressed by my control.

I think what's coolest about working with a heartrate monitor, and what many might find counterintuitive, is that it helps me get in touch with my body. You see, when I was running with the couch to 5k plan, I'd run when it said run and walk when it said walk. It didn't matter if it felt like I was going to pass out during the run intervals; I had to finish my running time. I pushed my body hard and I was going to survive even if it screamed for reprieve. And that's what running became: survival despite anything my body was telling me.

But now, I notice when I'm breathing slightly hard, very hard, or not hard enough. I frequently realize that I should slow down before my Garmin has a chance to tell me to slow down. I'm not quite as good at realizing when I should pick it back up, but maybe that's because I'm enjoying the easier work. Really, I'm finally learning to listen and respond to my body's signals.

I imagine the cadence sensor will do the same for me later; I'll recognize when I'm running at a proper cadence for the flats, uphill, or downhill. It'll get to a point where the footpod provides confirmation of what I already know rather than telling me anything new.

Funny, you'd think that a gadget would actually shut me off from body awareness, but the reverse is true. So, who cares if I don't really "need" these gadgets; they're helping make running so much more enjoyable for me. Really, isn't that the most important part?

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