4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

HRM

with one comment

Yesterday I ran a 5k race in East River Park, finishing in 29:56.  I typically run 5k’s quite a bit faster, but I’ll take it, and am satisfied considering I’m still returning from injury.  Today I raced the War at the Shore triathlon at Long Branch, NJ.  It was a ton of fun, but really difficult because the ocean (swim) was roaring today, and I had to deal with rain and winds on the bike and run.  I finished in 2:20:26, which I’m satisfied with, and served as a great tune up for Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains, which is in 3 weeks.

As nice as these races were, I was more satisfied by what my watch told me my heart rate was during those efforts.  You see, ever since the Flying Pig Marathon on May 1, my watch / heart rate monitor was telling me that was heart rate was sometimes dangerously high.  I was seeing HR spikes during my workouts that were abnormally high.  It would spike at a high number and then go down to a normal number, for no obvious reason at all.  I was pretty sure it was on the fritz because sometimes the watch would report 200+ when I wasn’t even running, it would sometimes show a very high number when I ran at an easy conversational pace, and because my own personal test of my pulse during workouts did not agree with my watch was telling me.

It took me so long to confirm the non-issue because at first I was injured and stopped running, and second I was in a little bit of denial because when I started running again, I knew I was out of shape, and it was the summertime where my HR tends to be higher.  In the beginning, before it kept getting worse and worse, I thought that what the watch was telling me was reality.  Lastly, I balked at buying a replacement strap for my watch because it costs over $50, and I just didn’t want to spend the money.

In my first effort at debunking the watch, I ran on the treadmill at my gym, where the equipment contains HRM’s.  However, once your pace goes over 4 MPH, the machine stops telling you your HR – I guess a safety feature.  In my second attempt, I actually Read The Manual for my watch, and it said you should run the strap through the wash if it seemed it was not reporting accurate numbers.  So, I did that, and then it would report normal numbers for the first part of my workout, before spiking high again.

Finally, with a half ironman triathlon coming up in a few weeks, I knew I needed to bite the bullet and just buy a new one to confirm for once and for all if I had a problem that warranted seeing my doctor.  So I did buy a new one, and it arrived on Friday.  During my races on Sat and Sun, my heart rate showed very normal and consistent numbers with no high spikes at all, and so I am now satisfied in seeing that I have nothing at all to worry about.

In reflection, I think I figured out what happened here.  On April 10th, I participated in the Tough Mudder, and let’s just say that both my watch and heart rate strap got down and dirty and ended up with a lot of caked in mud that day.  I suppose I damaged it permanently, as in my workouts soon after, I can see these odd spikes that were not happening earlier.

Anyway, I’m happy that I have a clean bill of heart rate health, and while I will continue to keep a close eye on this possible issue, I think I’m fully in the clear.

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Written by SCL

September 11, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Reflections

One Response

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  1. Great post ! It was great meeting you and hope we meet again. I am glad you have it all figured out with your watch and the HRM thing. It can be scary when things doesn’t work. It can’t hurt to get a professional analysis just to make sure you are on the same page with your watch/HRM.

    Good Luck at the Poconos in a few weeks !

    Ted Rooy

    September 20, 2011 at 5:37 pm


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