Fit Recovery

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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Heart Rate App Review Update

I wrote about a new Heart Rate app that I downloaded for my iPhone a few days ago.  I should have clarified that the app I looked at is from Azumio…

In addition, I also included my heart rate zones for cardio that the program kicked out.  I had no idea if it was accurate or not and I surely doubt I’ll ever get tested to find out if it is…  But Elisariva just happened to have been tested recently so she checked out the app and reported back:

“Okay – I got the right app. I found it fairly accurate in reading my pulse and it set my AT at 160, the test I last took read 158. Close. My zones 1 and 2 were a bit high, but that is likely due to my over training that I am still fixing. The app had the zones where I should be, I am still repairing that damage. For people starting out or curious…it is a good app.”

So there you have it, from someone a whole lot more knowledgable than me about the mystical ways of the heart rate.

Thank you for checking that out.


A Good Night To Have Friends…

I had a great club ride last night in some conditions that can only be described as pleasant but miserable at the same time.  The weather had been fair but cloudy all day with a mild 8-10 mph breeze from a heading of south-southwest but the clouds broke and the breeze picked up as start time approached.  I did my warmup 5 miles with Mike again, only this time, we headed south for a mile to test the tailwind.  We rode along, pedaling easy and chatting for the first quarter of that mile when the conversation turned to how easy the first couple of miles were going to be – and how tough the next 15 would be…  As we started up a small roller I checked our speed, figuring somewhere around 21 as easy as we were pedaling.  We were at 25.5, uphill without breaking a sweat and holding a conversation.  We laughed about how brutal the middle stretch of the ride would be when we turned around to head back…  Oh how little did I know, we drastically underestimated the suckiness.

We’re starting a half an hour early now to make up for the shortening of the days so the group would be shrinking as it does at this time of year.  After Mike and I finished the warmup, we both dropped our leggings off at the car as the sun was warming us up nicely…  There’s no way they’d be necessary.  We mingled about for a bit before heading out with about 12 in our group (it’s normally around 30).  The first mile was easy waiting for everyone to catch up.  I took the first pull at 1-3/4’s of a mile so I could (hopefully) fall to the back and hide.  Recovering from a cold, I’d hoped I could spend plenty of time at the back.  As I peeled off and faded back, two of the guys slowed to let me in ahead of them – this was not a good sign.  We turned north, the wind at our backs, and took it up to 26-27 mph for the next four.  On the fourth headed north, it was already my turn to pull again – not a good sign.  Then we made a hard left into a hard cross-headwind…  Speeds dropped from 27 to 19-20 and pull length dropped in half.  The next 12 miles were brutal.  With every gust even the faster guys were laughing, and as it got harder, we had a couple of the same guys stay to the back, doing half or 1/3 duty.

Now I get it, if you can’t pull, you can’t pull, so you cling on the back and let everybody else do the work.  Unfortunately for me, I don’t possess the ability to shirk what I feel is my duty like that.  I just can’t do it.  I’d spoken to Mike about it (remember, this guy was a Nationally Ranked Triathlete in his day – he’s fast) who actually recommended I hide at the back to make it to the end…  I tried.  I really did.  I skipped one pull and felt like a complete ass for letting one of the other guys do the work that I should have been doing.  It just is what it is I guess.  In any event, with the remnants of my cold, I fell apart at 19 miles and took the shortcut that knocks 3 miles off of the 32 mile ride…  I’d hoped to rest for a few miles and then latch on with the group to help the rest of the way but I ended up beating the fast guys back by about two or three minutes.  I didn’t find out until afterwards that less than a mile after I dropped, the group splintered and about 5 of the remaining 8 guys formed a group and took it easy on the way back…with the wind at their backs.

All in all, it was a really good ride and I can tell you, for that first 18 miles, with the wind in our faces, it sure was nice to have friends.

When Losing Weight Isn’t 80/20 Diet to Exercise…

There are few things in life that drive me nuts more than someone misstating the obvious.  For instance, when the media says that the current economy is good and sites some obscure part of it that isn’t edging along at a snail’s pace as evidence…  In short, who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?  Right.  Next would be faulty science that’s meant to touch every aspect of human existence.  Global Cooling (and it’s red-headed step-child) would be a good example.  If we comb the internet for anything relating to diet and exercise, one of the first things you’ll find is the claim that it’s an 80/20 ratio, Diet to Exercise.  Meaning 80% of losing weight has to do with diet and 20% has to do with exercise.

Call me the black sheep, but I’ve never been anywhere near that ratio.  In fact, in my case it’s more like 30/70 – the other way.  As far as my diet goes, I really don’t follow one with a few exceptions.  I quit drinking pop on a daily basis years ago and for good reason.  I was swallowing over 4,000 calories a week in soda alone.  That’s more than a pound a week that either has to be worked off, or ends up as a spare tire.  This doesn’t mean I won’t have a Coke from time to time, because I still do – it’s just a rare thing.  As far as food goes though, I eat whatever I want (or whatever is available).  The only trick that I can boast is portion control.  When most of my running buddies are heading back for their second helping of chili, I’m wrapping up my first and I’m done.  This depends greatly on the length of my workout for the day of course – if I’m just running seven miles, then one bowl is the cutoff.  If I’m riding 30-40 and running six or seven then I might hit the crock pot for seconds, if I’m still hungry.

I also turn down deserts as often as I eat them.  If I’ve been lazy – or more to the point, if I haven’t been pushing as hard as I should, there’s an 95% chance I’m turning down desert.  As well, when I do succumb to the occasional piece of cake, you can bet it’s a small one…  A size that most people would turn their nose up at and quip, “why bother”.

I’m that guy.  I’m the one you look at and wonder, “why is he so lucky”.  I’m the guy that people look at and say, “that’s just not fair, how come he gets to look like that.  I haven’t looked like that since I was in high school for crying out loud”.  I’m that guy.

I don’t apologize for it, and it’s no skin off my back that people think it’s unfair.  I know better and that’s all that really matters to me; my ass is bought and paid for with lots and lots of blood, sweat and miles.  Now maybe it’s not fair that I get out of work early enough that I can go for an hour-long ride in the evening before dinner.  Of course, whoever would think that would shudder at the mere idea of waking up with me.  Getting into the office between 5&6 am (after a 45 minute commute) takes a little bit of discipline.  At least for the first two or three years, after that it’s fairly easy.

The truth is, luck and fairness have little to nothing to do with anything.  My gene pool is decent, but it’s not as good as you’d think either.  The reality is that I burn calories like they’re going out of style.  Since March, my easiest month, I’ve burned between 26,000 and 35,000 calories each and every month.  That’s 7-1/2 to 10 pounds worth of calories.  Many complain that they don’t have the time for that (I would argue that they’re not willing to make the time, but let’s not split hairs, eh?).  Well folks, that’s the discipline.  I don’t want to eat like a rabbit so I have to burn a bunch of calories so that I don’t have to.  It is what it is.  You don’t have to like the rules, but one way or another, we’re all playing by them and weight is one of those that you can’t really cheat.  So I say go ahead and have that hamburger.  Hell, have two.  Have some macaroni and cheese (Kraft of course) while you’re at it…  But if you want to keep that butt lean and mean, you’d better do something to knock that off your gut or you’ll be wondering what your shoes look like before long.

Either that, or we can do what my buddy Jim suggests…  We can all head down to the donut shop and tell each other lies about why we’re fat and have a grand old time.

***  For the sticklers:  My diet/exercise plan is not for everyone.  It does work for me though.

App Review – Asphalt 7

Ladies and gentlemen (I can include ladies in this for a reason – stay tuned), I bought a $0.99 racing game for my iPhone over the weekend called Asphalt 7.  The only other games on my phone are Where’s Perry (from Phineas and Ferb) and the Angry Birds smorgasbord and my daughters play the games more than I do.  Generally I deprive myself of games because I had a little bit of a solitaire problem about 12 years ago that needed to be rectified so I’ve stayed away for fear of developing new bad habits.

Solitaire notwithstanding, I am a Gran Turismo freak.  Maybe even a super-freak.  Well, after I downloaded iOS 6 for my iPhone 4s, I received several free apps (such as Find iPhone) so in checking them out I just happened to see Asphalt 7 as one of the featured apps on the app store main page, so I clicked on it…  And found that I could be test driving a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder on my phone.  For a dollar.  That’s a lotta car for a dollar.

Folks, in my world it just doesn’t get any better than that.  I plunked down that dollar faster than you say Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 Spyder.

Fortunately, I’ve been maintaining sanity with it so far, only playing during the evening hours when the wife is away – and I’ll have to maintain a constant vigil because that game is fun.  I won’t bother getting into the specifics of the game, but it’s a lot like GT only better – and for my phone!  The graphics are fantastic and it’s fairly easy to pick up but definitely challenging enough to be a lot of fun.  Oh, and you can win a Ford Mustang GT 500 too…  Oh my.

If you happen to be into race car video games, it’s well worth every penny.

So, for the bit about the ladies…  My daughter, a young lady, loves the game almost as much as I do – we now fight over my iPhone.  Kids…sheesh.

It’s amazing…

It’s amazing what a nice, easy ride on the bike and about 7-1/2 hours of sleep will do to a cold. I feel much, much better…

And this is why I do what I do. I was about 49% certain that I was phoning it when I got home yesterday. I was beat, miserable, a little achy and all around not well. Today, I’m a lot better and I have no doubts that it has a lot to do with the way that I plan workouts when I do get sick.  The trick is what I did with remaining 51%.

To be specific, I’d be the last one who will tell you that going for just shy of an hour long, 16 mile bike ride in 20 mph winds on the second day of being sick is fun – it’s not.  The first several miles hurt.  On my first, even with a cross/tailwind, I was questioning my sanity.  On the second mile, into the brunt of a 20 mph breeze, I was certain that I was nuts, but I hung in there and just kept pedaling.  The next seven miles weren’t much better…  Then I hit the tailwind.  Now folks, I’m all about the speed – going as fast as I can.  I don’t know why, I just am, so when I hit a tailwind I’m just like one of Pavlov’s dogs (bet you didn’t know that Pavlov was quite the brutal fella…).  I put the hammer down every time – recovery ride, peaceful Sunday ride, it doesn’t matter – because I love the speed so much, I just gotta go!  Well, for once I did manage to temper that and soft pedaled with the wind.  Having the help was rather nice and it did quite a bit to change my attitude.  3-1/2 of the last 4-1/2 were into a ridiculous cross-wind coming across a mile of open fields.  With nothing to break it up the wind hit me dead on the side – in a few places I literally had to lean toward the breeze to stay straight in traffic.

On the bright side, it was decent weather wise.  Mid 60’s and sunny.  Even so, after I stopped – and after the little bit of sweat stopped, I froze.  My hands felt like blocks of ice.  I changed into some track pants and a heavy fleece jacket before sitting down to a chicken noodle soup dinner that warmed me back up.  After sending the girls off to bed, I crashed – sometime between 8:30 and 9:00…

And woke up a new man.  I’ve still got a few sniffles, but my head is clear for the most part and I’m no longer aching.

I’ve found that there is a trick to this getting over a cold with cardio though.  If I get out too soon or put forth too great an effort, I’ll wind up in worse shape than I was when I left.  It seems as though I can literally make myself sicker by overdoing it…  And on that note, I only fell to second place in the National Bike Challenge for Michigan after taking the weekend off.  Additionally, I had a big enough lead before the weekend that I’m only out of first by six points – and I’m about to throw a 34 miler at him this evening.  No rest for the wicked.  Woohoo!

Sick As A Dog 16

When I finally got home from work, I was not feeling well. I was ready for a nap. Instead, I pumped up the tires, slipped on a light fleece running shirt, shorts, tights, helmet and shades and hit the road for what was supposed to be a very easy 16 mile ride around the block.

It would have been too, had the wind not been blowing out of the west at better than 20 mph. I really did take it easy though. I rode in an easy gear into the wind and soft pedaled in the big ring with the wind (21.5 mph, no effort – good God, it was ugly).

In the end, I got a good solid 16 miles in and a nice sweat on, which should help with my cold. Up next, dinner and a nappy. I’m beat.

Ugh…Still Sick, Time to Go For A Ride…

I wrote yesterday about being under the weather…  I ended up going bowling and did decently for the first two games (197/184) but I ran out of juice on the third and ended up with a 142.  When I got home, I turned on the Tiger’s game and promptly fell asleep on the couch.  It happens.  I have no idea when I went into bed.  On waking this morning I still feel like I got hit in the melon by a boxer, but that’s a lot better than a semi so I’m calling it good.

Now, we’ve all heard that if the cold is in the head, exercise as normal (mine is), just moderate a bit.  If it’s in the chest, stay home.  I never follow that.  Ever.  I don’t care where I’m sick, after the day where your hair aches, I’m back on it.  That would be this afternoon.  We’ve got a full week of sunshine and upper 60’s so I won’t be missing out on any more days on the bike.  In fact, I’ll be taking it easy (16 miles in just under an hour) today, but I’m going on the group ride tomorrow and I’ll be battling the sunset to get back.  At least that’s the plan – I’ll have to see how I feel tomorrow.  The reason that I do this is because I feel that I recover faster if I get a decent sweat on.  I’m also not so rigid as to be stupid either.

That said, I was into the office early this morning and as soon as I get my work done, I’m outa here.  I probably should have stayed home.

For today I’ll be phoning it in for the blog, at least until later this evening.  Too much to juggle right now.


Sniffle… Huh? What Is…This?!

It’s 2:37 am and I can’t sleep any longer. I’ve read every new post from every blog I follow, read my favorite political blog and I’m just not sleepy.

I am, however, down with a cold. Cripes, I can’t remember the last time I was sick. I’ve decided I wouldn’t bother with a full life analysis, followed by a complete lifestyle overhaul because I caught a little bug. Funny how we tend to do that, eh? Well I’m no different.

The Misses and I took our eldest, at her request, to see Finding Nemo in 3D last night. Now folks, that was our go-to movie of choice for at least three months when the girls were young, which means I’ve sat through it a time or sixty… You parents know my pain.

That said, it was fantastic, all the same. I loved every minute of it. The sharks were obviously a big hit, but my favorite part, still to this day, is the sea turtles riding the EAC. It doesn’t get any better than that.

So here I am, I’ve got a touch of insomnia, the coffee’s brewin’, and I have a decision to make. If I don’t put in a 40 mile ride today, a first place finish in my State is all but impossible in my little Endomondo National Bike Challenge. I also have bowling this evening and I won’t be missing that… I love me some bowling.

Based on how I feel right now, it’ll be a day of couching it, coffee, football and bacon and eggs, a nap or two…and some orange juice. Daddy needs a rest.

Soul Searching

It all started with a decision to switch my workout tracking software from Endomondo to Map My Ride this morning. Then I downloaded a heart rate app (see the post beneath this one). The heart rate app gave me my aerobic exercise zones by heart rate, so I got to thinking I should maybe get a heart rate monitor. Then I thought it would be neat to pick up a Wahoo bluetooth cycle meter so I could keep track of my speed real time. Then I got to thinking it would be need to get a cadence meter, rather than relying on guesstimates. While I was at it, maybe I should look into a power meter…

Fortunately, being a recovering alcoholic, about to begin my third decade of continuous sobriety (one day at a time of course), I know a few things about myself. First, I can get overly obsessive about analysis, thereby completely ruining my enjoyment of being on the right side of the grass, pumping air. In other words, that obsessiveness with analysis gets in the way of my being a kid at heart. Anyone who knows anything about the Big-Big Book, knows that this is the test: To live as an adult with the exuberance of a kid. Every day I get a chance to get on my bike and be 42, going on 14 – not 42, trudging towards 43. In the end, do I want to be 90, looking back on my 40’s, and be able to quote my power stats to the young chicky at the old folks home, or do I simply want to remember enjoying every single ride I went on?

The second ability living a life in recovery has given me, is the ability to objectively look at myself. To strip away the bullshit that doesn’t matter and play with what does. What doesn’t matter is a power meter, a cadence monitor, a heart rate monitor and a speedometer… Because ultimately, the way I am, I’ll end up looking at every last detail, tweaking what can be tweaked and obsessing about what can’t, and I’ll lose site of that which matters most: the love of riding that I will leave on the side of the road in favor of endless minutiae. This is not a problem for everyone, it is a problem specific to me. I would never suggest that anyone else do without those items. They are not, however, for me because what is important to me is the fun. I already have a day job. I don’t need another one.

I got a better idea. How’s about I just stick to riding for the love of turning the pedals? I could blow a few hundred or up to a few thousand dollars on all of the meters – more than enough for a shiny new paint job for my Trek, or even a brand new bike. For what? So I can write about my power stats on my blog, written on my iPhone? Crime in Italy, Chuck!

No, I’ll stick with the sweat and the smile, and leave the electronics to someone else.

Heart Rate… App Review

I downloaded a new app this morning that goes by the name Heart Rate for my iPhone (iOS 6 is awesome btw) this morning.

Obviously an app on the iPhone could never replace an actual heart rate monitor, but the app is very cool. It uses the phone’s camera to measure your pulse.

How it works: Beats me, place your index finger over the camera lens, it takes a few seconds to pick up your pulse and then a few seconds to read and record your heart rate.

From there, the app uses a formula (based on age and resting heart rate (RHR) that you pre load:

Heart rate zones in this app are calculated from Karvonen Formula.

The Karvonen method factors in Resting Heart Rate (HRrest) to calculate Target Heart Rate (THR), using a range of 50%–85%:

THR = ((HRmax − HRrest) × %Intensity) + HRrest

Two weeks ago I measured my RHR with a stop watch after my morning coffee. I came up with 52. This morning under the same conditions, the app came up with 53. That’s close enough for government work.

The system is a little touchy with my life proof case but it works well enough.

The app has my zones figured as follows:

Warm Up (116bpm – 128bpm)
50-60% of your max heart rate.

Fat Burn (128bpm – 141bpm)
60%-70% of your max heart rate.

Cardio (141bpm – 153bpm)
70%-80% of your max heart rate.

Extreme (153bpm – 166bpm)
80%-90% of your max heart rate.

Max (166bpm – 179bpm)
90%-100% of your max heart rate.

Now, it remains to be seen how accurate that is. I don’t know and I don’t know if I’ll bother with getting the proper testing done to find out if that’s right or not. I’m not that concerned with the technical side – I ride and run for fun and I’ve found out through trial and stress that I’m in it for the fun, not the technical minutiae.

Check it out.