Over Reliance On Gadgets


These thoughts inspired by reading over an old blog and realising how easy it is to over rely on a gadget!

The old blog was titled “A non-programmed too scared to run week.” To cut a long blog short – I pulled out of a very cold and wet half marathon after about 4 miles because of a hugely increased heart rate that scared me rigid at the time and made me seek medical advice the following day. After a normal ECG and normal bloods my GP advised me to carry on running.

After about a month I was out on a HR zone 2 training run and looked at my heart rate and was shocked that it was showing over 200, shocked mainly because I was running down hill. As I started up the other side of the hill and started puffing, my heart rate dropped to 72 according to my Garmin, something was obviously amiss.

Ignoring my Garmin I trundled on and started thinking about the half that I had dropped out of. A couple of days later I was going to give the Garmin another chance. It would not start and had died. I placed it on charge and went for my run and on return, took the Garmin off charge – it was still dead.

Happy that it was the Garmin at fault and not my heart, happy that it was the Garmin that was dead and not me, it was confined to the back of a drawer.

Did it put me off gadgets? Did it put me off Garmin? No to both. The photo is my 310XT which I love. I think I might think twice about receiving a dodgy message from this monitor though. (note the photo is from the catalogue, I do not run 10 miles in 52 minutes)

One message I did get from my 310XT shook me a bit. I strapped it on for my first run in Cape Verde while on holiday (see below) and, after trying to find satellites for a minute or two a message appeared on the screen “Have you traveled hundreds of miles since your last run?”

I told it yes and all was well with the world.



First Run Back, First Run In Sunshine, First Run In New Reebok Jacket.

Since my last post on “too scared to run”, due to a race heartrate of 210, my general practitioner (Doc) and me decided together that I would run on a treadmill, in the gym, for a while, with lots of people around me and the ability to stop running if I wanted. She organised blood tests and an ECG and away we went.

The following day I was in the gym testing my max. heart rate on the treadmill (same as normal) and the day after that I had my tests.

Returning to Doc for the results we found all the blood tests normal and the ECG better than normal for my 61 years – so, back to normal for the running? Well not quite.

Pat is still concerned about me running off into the Brecon Beacon mountain range on a 42 miler with the possibility of my pulse reaching 210 again so we ( she, the boss) have decided to leave that one a while and concentrate on half marathons. If you think half marathons are not that much of a challenge for someone who has completed ten full marathons then I should say that the IAAF World Half Marathon Championship is coming to Cardiff, Wales in March 2016 and I am already entered. There is also an opportunity in September /October 2015 for me to complete four halves in four weeks and join the Half Fanatics Running Club.

To get back to my results Doc worked out my exercise zones using the old fashioned 220 minus your age and I told him that at that heart rate I would have to stop jogging and walk every now and again. He asked me what maximum I used and then he worked it back to tell me my heart was nineteen years younger than the rest of me, which, of course, is only possible in a philosophical argument. Doc insisted that my running and cross training were doing a lot more good than harm, to keep it going and, surprisingly we then discussed up-coming planned races, including the recently entered Swansea Half, in June, in the warm.

He said he couldn’t be sure but if he had to make a guess he would say that because of the extreme cold, I had some sort of peripheral shutdown making it harder for the heart to pump. With my pulse then sky rocketing it may have gone outside the normal parameters for my Garmin and chest strap and the 210 may not have been real.

So today was my first run outside for two and a half weeks, (7.26 miles in Zone 2) my first run in bright sunshine since last Autumn and my first run wearing my new Reebok running jacket. I had picked up a cheap replacement running jacket at the beginning of Winter which turned out to be a cycling jacket with a huge pocket in the lower back for sandwiches, maps, spare wheels etc., but which I used for phone and keys. It was waterproof but not breathable, so running vests were soaking wet at the end of a run. I saw this Reebok jacket in the window of Reebok shop in a discount Mal in Sarn, South Wales and the lightness of it really impressed me. It was discounted from £55 to £35 so it was mine.

It is called, I think, Reebok Playice or is from the Playice range. I assume the Playice refers to a cracked ice pattern, which I related to Spiderman webbing due to having a four year old grandson. It is extremely light to wear and only has one tiny pocket for a key, in the upper left arm, so not designed to carry food, phones etc. it is with my other running gear labelled “probably not waterproof but ideal to keep you warmer on one of those crisp spring mornings when the sun has only just come up.” My particular likes are;

Zip covers so that the zip tab is not bouncing about (main zip and pocket zip also.

Rear split vent across shoulder blades with webbing inside for ventilation.

Thumb holds at the bottom of each sleeve, use them and the sleeve wraps around your knuckles keeping your hands warm

A means of pulling in the bottom seam (cord and toggle) so that it is tight in case the wind gets up.

Note;- I am not sponsored by Reebok in any way, this is a completely unbiased assessment.

Two things learnt over the last couple of weeks, both of which have surprised me.

I have always been of the belief, with cross training in the gym with weights, that smaller weights, higher reps and higher sets would increase power without increasing muscle bulk – ideal for running. To this end my eight exercises have all been 20 reps in 8 sets. I listened to a podcast recently where the guy interviewed said that this was a myth and the only way to increase strength was to up the weights and do maximum 5 reps in 5 sets. I am willing to give it a go and have done only one session of 5 and 5 as yet but will let you know on progress.

The other learning was a bit of a surprise. I have posted before about my love of coffee, first thing in the morning, containing butter made from cows that are grass fed. For me that meant either Kerrygold from Ireland (increasingly difficult to get as all being bought up by the Americans) or Anchor Butter from New Zealand where cows are also grass fed.

My surprise came when I found a sticker on my Anchor stating “Supporting British Farmers” I have researched this and found that in 2012, production of Anchor was switched from New Zealand to Wiltshire in England using English cream. This means all the anti-oxidants found in butter from grass fed cows are not there! Ah well, back to Kerrygold if I can find it.

Reebok Playice

A Non-programmed “Too Scared To Run” Week

I have read a lot, over the years, of runners who have injuries and are frustrated that they cannot run. Luckily for me this has only happened once to me and that was in 1987. But this week I developed a fear of running.

It all started at the Llanelli Waterside Half Marathon last Sunday. It had a 9am start, was held in rain, the rain was cold and the race was exposed to the sea. Meeting at the Llanelli Scarlets Rugby Ground I made a few fundamental mistakes. I decided, as did some other runners, that the weather may well improve later into the race and that I could well end up carrying wet and heavy clothing around the course. I therefore ditched my running tights in favour of shorts and then discarded my long sleeved top that I had under my running vest. Both decisions were big mistakes.

As the race of around 400 people started we headed the couple of miles down to the coast. I use a Garmin Forerunner which gives me time elapsed, miles run, present speed and, crucially, heart rate from my chest strap. For most of a race I ignore the first three readouts and concentrate only on heartrate. My zone 3 heartrate, at which I normally race, is around 155 bpm and this will rise very slowly over the 13.1 miles to 160-165 which is my zone 4. This means that I have lots of people overtaking me at the start of a race and that I jog past walkers towards the end of the race. Normally.

Except none of this happened at Llanelli. The first two miles were more or less 155 bpm and as we reached the coast I swore as my Garmin had obviously malfunctioned in the rain as it was showing 203 bpm. My breathing was sort of race day breathing and nothing was trying to burst out of my chest so I ignored the reading for around a mile. It got to the point where I could ignore no longer so I stopped and walked for a bit and got my pulse down to 190 as 186 is my max for working out training zones. As soon as I started to jog again, up went the rate to a maximum value of 210 and this time my breathing was heavy. Walking, I noticed my legs and arms a sort of bright red colour.

I made a decision and at 4 miles there was a water station run by four ladies who, luckily for me, were runners and understood everything that I told them about my pulse. Long story short, they sat me in their car, the St. John’s ambulance arrived, their HR monitor corresponded to mine, I went back to the first aid area, was well looked after, rang my wife who was at the venue and we left.

We had arranged Sunday dinner with friends so carried that through with me eventually taking my Garmin off after being told that I was getting obsessed about my pulse.

The following day my GP booked me in for bloods and an ECG and that night I was in the gym. I was going through my normal weights schedule and looking at everyone on the treadmills. I was too scared to run, but why? I was wearing my pulse monitor through my weights session as a precaution but couldn’t run.

I have decided that my fear of another 200 pulse is either a) it’s gone up again, it wasn’t a one off and I am ill or b) it’s gone up again and I am going to have to give up running – which I love doing.

It is the Friday after the half marathon and I do not discuss my ECG and blood results with my GP for another three days. I have decided to visit my gym tonight and go through my 2 hr schedule which is:-

Slow run treadmill 20 min

Upper body machine, leg machine

Medium speed run 10 minutes

Upper body machine, leg machine

Fast run 5 minutes

Upper body machine, leg machine

A sort of do or die attitude. Now, where is that Garmin?