Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Testing my VO2max

"Are you claustrophobic?" was the first thing Scott White of Personal Power Training asked me before we started the test. I'm not so I didn't think I would have a problem. Sadly, I was wrong.

I noticed lots of high-tech gadgets when I walked in the room – my kind of place! Scott weighed me, took my blood pressure and entered some data into the computer. He then started to fit the apparatus on my head. This picture is NOT me but the apparatus was exactly the same.

Notice the blue mouthpiece that I was supposed to breathe through and the blue clips pinching the nose. Well, it wasn't the most comfortable (or the most fashionable!) but I dealt with it.

I started walking on the treadmill – a slow walk – and just about 30 seconds into it, I felt like I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was suffocating. I pulled the whole thing off my head and said I couldn't do it. Scott calmed me down until I was ready to try it again. We got everything all connected again and I started walking. I felt that same panicky feeling but I calmed myself and worked through it. I felt successful. I was going to be able to do this!

Every minute or so, Scott adjusted the speed and/or incline to make me work harder. About 7 minutes into the test, I felt panicky again and this time I seriously could not go on. I pulled everything off again and said I just couldn't finish the test. I hope to be able to work myself up to go do the test again (and finish it) sometime in the future.

Have you had your VO2 tested? What was your experience?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gadget Girl Is NOT Happy!

First, I had an appointment to have my VO2max measured this morning at 8am. I had to be fasting which is hard for me because I eat breakfast first thing out of bed. I’m also NOT a morning runner so I was a little concerned about my performance. I get there at 8am and wait until 8:30 but the guy stood me up! I was disappointed! He apologized later and we’ve rescheduled for next week.

Yesterday, my new heart rate monitor flipped out and the screen went blank. I had to return it to the store where luckily they had another one to replace it. So as I set out for my C25K W5D2 today (which includes two EIGHT minute runs!), my new new HRM was reading 92% after my first run. Well, it was tough, but not THAT tough! And it read in the nineties several times so I’m not sure I trust it. I’ve rechecked all the settings and everything seems right.

To top it all off, my iPhone was freaking out. It randomly stopped the music and went to Voice Control which I had to cancel in order to get the music playing again. Then the music started randomly fast forwarding. I finally gave up and turned it off. Luckily, I was done running and I just walked the rest of the way home.

I love my gadgets, but they make me INSANE when they don’t work right!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Another great gadget - my new Polar RS200sd

Part of me is ecstatic to see the calories burned on my new HRM - 650 in two hours of tennis and 450 for 3 miles - but I'm a little concerned that something's just not right. I've double checked all the settings for age, weight, etc. The only thing that's significantly different from my old HRM is that the new one "calculated" my VO2max and put me in an "elite" category, which I certainly AM NOT! I think I'm going to have to go have my VO2max measured before I believe it.

So the reason I chose the Polar RS200sd was because I am already familiar with the Polar models (I was using an F6) but I wanted to be able to time laps, or in my case, my walking and running segments. For that, I'm very pleased with this model. By reviewing these numbers from today's run, I can say that of the 39:40 minute run, 24:36 were actually running at an average pace of 11:32/mile and speed of 5.2 mph. This is the first time I've been able to see just how many minutes of my run I'm actually running and how many I'm walking.

While one of my goals is to speed up some, it's more important to me to decrease the overall walking time so that's what I hope to see in the coming weeks - more running, less walking.

C25K - Week 5, Day 1 was to alternate running for five minutes and walking for three minutes. I didn't quite do that, so I'll repeat.

What kind of HRM do you use? Do you know your VO2max?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Top 8+ Tricks To Use When You Can’t Go Another Step

So you’re out for a longer-than-usual run, or maybe you don’t have the energy you usually do and you just don’t feel like you can finish your run. What can you do?
  • Trick yourself to go “just three more houses” or “ten more trees” or "until six more cars go past you”
  • Slow down but keep running – thanks to @rondavis007
  • Think of how you’ll feel when you’re done with your run – thanks to @texastriathlete
  • Concentrate on the words of the music
  • Choose a mantra to repeat in your head (or out loud) – thanks to @dbigio
  • Think of ANYTHING else – thanks to @phatbob
  • Pump your arms (there really is a neurological reason this works)
  • Think of a new mental cue for the next 100 steps
  • Chest out to get the most volume on inhalation
  • Think of your feet moving the road (like a treadmill without the motor)
  • Increase your turnover rate (less time your feet are in contact with the road)
  • Feel like you’re floating on air
  • Look down on yourself and see yourself running well
What others can you add? I need two more to make it A Top Ten List!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Music To My Ears

What do you listen to while you're running? I've discovered, through trial and error, that the ideal beat of the music I'm listening to while I run is about 180 beats per minute. That's the beat where I can run most easily. If it's faster, I can't keep up and get tired more quickly; and if it's slower, I feel like I'm trudging along which takes more effort too.

I haven't found a great way to actually FIND the music with the right tempo for me - in other words, a way to search for songs with 180 beats per minute. So I've come up with the next best method to build my running playlist. First, as I'm listening to the radio or a CD or even when I hear a song in a movie or on TV, I whip out my stopwatch on my iPhone and clock the time it takes for 16 beats of the music. For my desired tempo, if it takes 5.2 seconds to 5.5 seconds to hear 16 beats, then the song qualifies to be on my playlist. The next step is to identify the song (if you don't already know the name of it) and for that I use the miraculous, free iPhone app called Shazam. The app returns the name of the song and then I can purchase it on iTunes and add it to my running playlist.

Now all that is great if you like the same tempo I do. But if you find that a slower or faster tempo is easier for you to run with, you need to figure out your ideal tempo/pace. Find a song you like to run to and use a stopwatch to see how many seconds elapse during 16 beats of your song. Now here's a little math, but don't let it scare you off:

16beats X 60seconds/minute = 960beats/minute
Now take 960 and divide by the number of seconds you got with your song.
This will be the number of beats per minute that you like to run to (your preferred tempo).

Now to keep you running at a fairly steady pace, you'll want to find more songs with a similar tempo to add to your playlist. So what DO you run to? Add your favorite songs to the comments.

Happy Running!

Addendum: check out for pace-specific music! Thanks John at Hella Sound!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

One of My Favorite Gadgets

I have an iPhone app called Trail Guru. It's one of my necessities for running. As I'm running, it tracks and maps my run. Then I upload it to the Trail Guru website where it is stored. I can add notes about my run, view the map, see my pace vs. time and lots of other cool information. I'm posting the link to today's run.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It Was Only 92 Degrees When I Set Out!

I sure hope the heat plays a factor in how far and fast I can run because I felt like a sloth out there today. It was 92 degrees when I started out (according to my iPhone app) and 99 degrees when I came in. What's so amazing about that to me is that when I'm in the shade (even for a moment), I feel like I can keep running, but when I'm in the beating-down-sun, I feel like I just can't go another step.
Today I ran 3.5 miles but it felt like FIVE! I'm going to break each of these posts down into how I ran each mile so I can eventually look back and hopefully see some improvement over time. Mile #1 - I ran 90 seconds and walked 30 seconds; Mile #2 and #3 - I ran 60 seconds and walked 30 seconds (although there were a couple of times that I walked a little longer); and the part of Mile #4 that I did, I ran for 60 seconds and then walked until my heartrate was back down to 75% of my max.

My mental cues today:

I concentrated on keeping my head upright and my chest out for a larger breathing capacity. I used my breathing cadence that I talked about before, exhaling on every fifth step. As I mentioned before, Bernadette felt dizzy when trying to do this and I said that you have to concentrate just on the exhalation rather than on the inhalation. An asthmatic might understand this because you have to get to the completion of an exhalation in order to have the capacity for a complete inhalation, and this is what is difficult for asthmatics since they have an obstructive component to their ventilation which prevents them from completely exhaling, leading to their diminished capacity for a complete inhalation.

Proper breathing technique can better be illustrated if you examine the breathing of a singer (or an instrument player.) Have you ever seen a little "comma" marked in music?

It indicates the place in the music that the composer wants you to take a breath. If you know anything about music at all, you can see that there isn’t a rest or any actual break in the tempo so it has to be a very rapid inhalation in order to be ready for the next note on time. If this breath mark comes after a long phrase, you will have “used up” all your reserve at this point and you’ll be able to inhale more deeply.

So if you’re practicing my “breathing cadence” method, concentrate on exhaling for most of the five steps and then take a quick, deep breath for your inhalation. I think you’ll notice a more efficient, fuller inhalation without feeling dizzy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

800 calories with Tennis and 200 with running

I thought I was playing tennis first thing in the morning but Gabi was sick. So I decided I'd run OUTSIDE since it was only 85 degrees at 8am. I'm not a morning runner though - never have been, much as I'd like to be. But I did go ahead and get dressed in my running clothes and get all my paraphernalia ready and as I was sitting on the bottom step of my stairs putting on my shoes I decided I just didn't have it in me to go running. So as I sat there, I dialed the tennis court and reserved a ball machine for about an hour later. I don't know what it is, but I can play tennis first thing in the morning, even though I just can't quite make myself run in the morning.

Luckily, after an hour and a half on the ball machine (800 calories burned), I was able to hop on the treadmill for just a couple of miles (another 200 calories burned)!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Running At a Higher Altitude

I ran 3 miles in Pinetop, AZ on Sunday. Mark warned me that the altitude might make it harder so I purposefully kept it a little slower. Most of my repetitions were to run for one minute and then walk just long enough to recover. Overall, my time was no slower than usual.

I continued to concentrate on my breathing cadence. I exhale on every fifth step which means it's on the opposite foot every time. I read that the most impact, and therefore the most opportunity for injury, occurs with the exhale, so by alternating the foot that is striking at the time of each exhale, I'm limiting the potential for injury to any particular side.

The other thing that cadence helps me with is keeping track of how long I'm running each cycle. I don't have to keep track with my watch because I know that if I'm exhaling every fifth step, I will exhale about 30 times each minute, so I just count the exhales. That is dependent on the music and tempo I have set which is about 160-180 beats per minute.

When I explained this breathing-cadence to Bernadette and she tried it, she said she got dizzy. I think the key is to ONLY concentrate on the exhale. If you concentrate on exhaling every fifth step, but then you also inhale for a few steps, I think you will get dizzy and the overall ventilation will be all wrong. By only concentrating on the exhale, the natural reflex will be to quickly recover with an inhalation.

The thing I did notice in Pinetop was that the temperature makes a HUGE difference. I thought it made a difference, but didn't know how much. My run on Sunday was MUCH easier than any three miles I've done in Phoenix in a very long time.

Hopefully soon, I'll be able to work on improving speed!

Here's the link for Sunday's run.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Training for a Half Marathon

So I signed up to train and run with Team Diabetes in the PF Chang 2010 Rock and Roll Arizona. It will be January 17th. Here I am - never run a race and I can barely run a mile all at once - though when I combine walking and running, I can go much farther. I thought I would chronicle my training and progress here for the "rest of us" who aren't natural-born-runners.

Today I used a combination of Couch to 5K (week 3, day 2) and my own methods on the treadmill. W3D2 was scheduled to be run 90 seconds, walk 90 seconds, run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes and repeat for a total of 18 minutes plus a five minute warm up and cool down - total 28 minutes. I did that but then I continued on for a total of 3 1/2 miles.

On the 90 second runs, I set the pace at 6miles/hr (10 minute mile) and on the three minute runs, I did the first minute at 6mi/hr, the second minute at 5.5mi/hr and the third minute at 5mi/hr. I ran/walked the 18 minutes but then continued on to complete 3 1/2 miles.

Hopefully, someday I'll be able to run longer than three minutes without having to stop and walk!

Click here to donate to my Team Diabetes!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When do you actually qualify as "a runner"?

Is it when you buy "running shoes"? Is it when you run the first mile? Are you a runner only if you run a certain number of miles per week? Maybe it's only if you run in races.

I've been running now for over two years. While I don't consider myself a good runner and I'm certainly not a fast runner, I think I qualify as a runner because I truly enjoy running. I look forward to it. I feel good when I finish running and I feel good about the acccomplishment of becoming a runner.

I haven't run any races yet (though I plan to); I don't run the whole time, although I have run three miles without stopping before; I run slow (about a 12 minute mile so far). And yet, I consider myself a runner and I'm proud of that.