Saturday, January 23, 2010

Heart Rate Monitor

Since running the New Balance Pacesetters 30KM last Sunday, I've done 3 short runs this week. I did a 6km recovery run on Tuesday, a 10km speed-training run on Wednesday, and a 7km run yesterday.

For the first time in my life, I made these runs with the Heart Rate Monitor (HRM). Quite an experience running with the HRM. Actually, I don't fancy the idea of running with all these accessories, but well, in the name of pursuing a personal record (PR), I reckoned that I should at least give it a few months' try.

From my experience running at the park, I think I can safely say that only a very small percentage of the runners have HRM. That is quite logical because most runners at the park are not really running to achieve PR. They're doing it for a bit of exercise. Of course some boys and girls are also using the park as an excuse to meet and flirt with each other—we all know those creatures, don't we?

Anyway, while I was running, I met a doctor friend who said she did not know what the HRM is for. Her face seemed to say "HRM is a bunch of craps!", especially since the device cost quite a fortune! So I reckon it might be a good idea to share here my experience with the HRM so far.

The first thing that came to my mind when I arrived at the park to run on Tuesday was that I now know what women must be going through, having have to put on bras like 80% of the time. I felt a bit funny with something strapped on my chest. At first, I thought it's gonna be very uncomfortable when I run. But on the contrary, I got used to it quite quickly. Of course the kind of "strap" I have on is not for the purpose of "load-bearing" as the bras, so I suppose one may argue that the two are not exactly the same.

Attached to that chest strap is a small device known as the transmitter. This battery-powered device sends signals to the computer-wrist watch which in turn analyses those signals and then displays the heart rates. Before the run, the user sets the prescribed training parameters, such as ranges of heart rates, pace, distance etc.

During the run, if one runs faster than the upper limit of the range, the watch would beep. Likewise, if one runs slower than the lower limit of the range, the watch will also beep. So the runner is "forced" to maintain a certain pace throughout the run.

According to the manufacturer of the HRM, it has carried out long term research on what could be expected from training at the numerous heart rate zones. Hence the tagline "Listen to your heart." So that's exactly what I'm trying to do. And so far, I must say that the HRM seems to work well on me in that I can take better control of my pace now. But obviously it's still too early to tell if I can really improve on my time in the long run with the HRM. I hope it can help me, otherwise I'm really gonna kick myself in the butt for spending almost RM1,000 for the HRM! In fact, earlier I even entertained the idea of buying one that cost RM1,500!

Oh! and those of you who may have the same wavelength as mine—yes, the watch does tell the time too. In fact, it does most of the other functions of the ordinary digital watches, e.g. date, alarm clock etc.

Apart from monitoring the heart rate, there is an additional device known as the footpod, which is a small item meant to be attached to the shoelace. It is also battery-powered and sends signals to the watch. With it, the runner will be able to see the distances covered, and hence the pace of the run. And no, while I was running, I hardly noticed the footpod on my shoe, and I did not feel its weight.

Well, this better be good. Now it's just a matter of time to the Borneo International Marathon on 02 May. I would really like to dip below 04:30 for the full marathon (42.2km). But before that, it's time to find out if I can dip below 02:00 for the half marathon by now. In the previous 2 half marathons that I joined, I was only able to achieve 02:04 and then 02:03 after training so hard. I will have another chance to find out if I can do any better in the coming Energizer Night Marathon on 27 March. Keeping my fingers crossed...


3 comments:

Sarah Elizabeth said...

You have become a true runner I see, not just a guy who likes to run, but someone truly in training..

I look forward to reading about your upcoming marathons and if you can improve your time!

I was reading in my runners magazine that once we reach a certain age our times level out and it is hard to improve.

I hope you prove that theory wrong!

Happy training!

I am going out for a run right now. :)

Cornelius said...

Sarah,

I'm inclined to believe the information contained in the runners magazine, i.e. that "once we reach a certain age our times level out and it is hard to improve." I don't think I have it in me to "prove that theory wrong."

I have always said that I am a realistic person. The world record for the marathon is slightly more than 2 hours (I think around 02:05, give and take). I am not aiming for a 3-hour record; not even 4-hour. I'm merely trying to achieve 04:30. I think that is within reach for a person my age. In fact, I am aware that older runners have achieved better times. But of course if I can achieve a bit better than 04:30, I'd be even happier.

"Improvement" is after all a relative term. I probably have to struggle to improve by a meager 10 minutes to 04:30, which is a big thing for me. But others may think that is a very slow time.

So in the end, if you mean "improve" as in improving up to the level of the world record, let me tell you right now that you won't be seeing me achieving anywhere near that mark!... hehehe. Well, in my dreams, maybe. Improve by a few minutes? I think I can do it!

Anonymous said...

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