Monday, October 22, 2012

Long Weeked

My latest test of my new health was the Rhinebeck fiber festival.

First came the 5 hour drive in hubby's slightly sporty car with uncomfortable sporty seats.  I struggled with some back pain at first, but after the first couple hours I found a combination of posture and stretching that seemed to do the trick, and the deep fog in the last hour of the trip became my only major problem.

Then I got to my cousin's house, and we stayed up late into the night trading crafts.  I decided if I was going to spend the next two days walking I should stop playing with her spinning wheel before I felt sore, but I probably spent an hour at it.  I fell into bed and slept lightly (as I usually do when traveling), but the mattress was nice and firm, and I'd brought my flat pillow-substitute towel, so I was pretty comfy and well rested for the amount of time I slept.

Off to the fiber festival, from about 10 AM to 3 PM we walked through all the vendor booths.  I got a couple sitting breaks, but the only long one was at lunch.  After lunch I did a little Tai Chi to align my hips and knees, which made walking a bit easier than it had been.

I was pretty beat a 3 PM, when we got back to my cousin's I actually took my meds for a change, we played with our new toys while supper cooked and then I fell into bed at 9 PM.

Sunday morning I woke up refreshed from my 9 hours of soundly drugged rest.  There was a little soreness in the muscles from the day before, but it was not as bad as I expected, and it felt good to keep moving and stretching those muscles.  I decided I was good to go for a second day of it.

My shoes had gotten damp and not quite dried by morning, so I threw on some wool socks to keep my feet toasty in the mild autumn morning chill.  I was starting to have issues with my feet, that immediately resolved when things warmed up and I took the thick socks off...  (I feel like the princess sleeping on the pea sometimes.)  We had more sitting time on the second day, as we watched a silly leaping lama show as well as finding a table for lunch.  I was spared having to be the wet blanket two days in a row by my cousin's husband who needed to get some sleep before his night shift, and I was in fine shape to do the drive home.

The drive home was much more pleasant than the drive out, with the exception of the political commentators beating a dead horse.  (I probably vote the same way they do, but for Pete's sake there are much more important things to discuss than the president's unwise echoing of the poor wording in a question.)

Sunday night I stayed up too late washing all my travel clothes and playing with my new toys, which left me tired today, but I have only mild soreness, and had no night cramps.  Perhaps tonight I can get hubby to take me to the track and hot tub...

Overall I'd call it a success, with room for further improvement.  Next year I'd like to be able to go from open to close without begging for a bit of sit-down time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Android HRMs

After I obtained my first heart rate monitor, and GPS I obtained an android phone.  With the GPS built in and lots of apps to go around, (plus being a developer I could, in theory, make my own apps) I immediately started wishing for a Bluetooth HRM, but didn't really have justification for the expense.  Then I started learning about HRV, and thought that would be a great way to calibrate my training zone that I use with the HRM, but I needed a fancier HRM to do that.  Looking around at fancy HRMs with integrated GPS, it seems that I'm a whole lot better off with my Android phone.

Here is my full listing of Android apps I found that support HRM (Compiled October 2012, I don't intend to keep updating it.)

If you are a developer, your best bet is Zephyr HxM™ BT Software Developer Kit. For $79 you get the hardware, and the developer's kit to get you well on your way to making your own software.  You can also download the developer kit free separately from the hardware.  While you're developing, there are several existing applications that can support your exercise or meditation needs, although I'm currently not aware of one that measures HRV.

If you're not a developer, you'll find many more applications available for Polar Wearlink®+ Transmitter With Bluetooth®.  It retails at $79.95, and is a well respected HRM company.  Beware though if you want to develop for it, I've only heard horror stories about contacting the company for an SDK.  The MyTracks application supports it and is open source, so you should be able to pull implementation details out of there, but I'd rather support the company that supports open development.  There is one app for it that I found that supports HRV.

There are a variety of little gizmos that plug into the audio jack of your android device that receive analog HRM data from your existing strap, but they generally only have one supporting application, and no SDK.

I'm planning on going for the Zephyr product myself...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Still Adapting

It's been about two years, you'd think my body would be done adjusting itself, but I did have a long way to go when I started.

Sunday morning when taking the dogs in, I turned while going up the stairs, and there was a loud pop in my left knee.  Ow!  Well, it stung for about 10 minutes, and then that knee felt more limber than it had in a long time.  It moved freely while my right knee still creaks when I bend it under load.  I found it interesting and forgot all about it until Monday morning.  Monday morning when taking the dogs in, I again turned while going up the stairs, and again heard the loud pop, and again felt fine in 10 minutes.  But for several days afterwards, I felt what I categorize as adaption pains.  Things stretching more than they used to, gait changing, putting stress in different places than where it was before.  I think it's a good thing, but only time will tell.

It doesn't help the experiment that I'm wearing new shoes.  The ghillies gave up the ghost last week, so I accelerated the almost done pair and started wearing them soon after the first popping.  (In fact, I was grabbing them out of the glue press and bringing them inside when the popping occurred.)  So I don't really know if any of these adaptation pains are my feet feeling muffled by the new thinner rubber I'm trying.  (I usually only wear leather, but leather just wears out too quickly.)

Only time will tell what's going on here.  I'll keep an eye on it.  If the pain moves into the left hip I'll have to make another pair of moccasins with no rubber to try again.  If things settle out and I'm a bit stronger by the end of it, then it was just adaption pain and a good thing after all.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Modified MAF Test

I'm doing low HR training, as it is easy on my joints and muscles, allowing me to circumvent the potential fibromyalgia flare-up after a workout that is too hard.

My Zone

My preferred training zone is slightly under my calculated MAF zone.  I had not actually heard about the Maffletone Method when I bought my HRM, and developed my training zone by testing various zones and deciding if how I felt during and in the 24 hours after my workout was acceptable.  My goal was to pick an intensity that I could do every day.  I started with some formulas I poorly understood, and quickly realized I was not going to cut it at that intensity.  The bottom of my search zone was my heart rate while walking.

If you have to determine any number experimentally, it is worth learning the binary search algorithm.  It's commonly known among programmers, but there's a kids version that works just as well.  Try to guess a number I'm thinking of between 1 and 10, and I'll tell you if you're too high or too low.  If you're trying to make the fewest guesses, you're going to start by guessing the middle number, in this case 5.  I say "higher", then the middle number between 6 and 10 is 8, so that's your next guess.  Now no matter what my answer, you've narrowed it down to 1 or 2 numbers.  I say "lower", and you know the answer is 7 or 8.  Now in a guessing game you'd have to ask one more question to get your answer, but when determining my heart rate training zone, the lack of precision in my ability to stick to a zone, and the variability in my body's responses keeps us from getting a perfect final answer, and a zone will do.

145 was too hard, 125, too easy, so I try to train in the low 30s.  I hope to improve this over time as I get more fit, but I feel I am still in a recovery period where my muscles, joints, and tendons are still re-aligning and strengthening, and this nice easy pace works well for me.

According to the Maffletone 180 formula, my training zone should be close to but not over 180-34(my age)-10(recovering from a major illness  or are on regular medication) = 136.  That's just a bit over what I train at.  (Before I learned about the correction factor system, the calculated 180-34 was way too high for me.)

Ideally for maximum fat burning, I'd get a respiratory quotient test on a treadmill with a specialist to tell me what HR to train at, but formulas and experimentation by feel are reasonable methods to get reasonable (if not quite perfect) training zones.

The MAF Test

I've heard a lot about the MAF test, but everything I've heard previously focused on a five mile plus warm-up run, which is not yet very practical at my level of fitness.  This discouraged me from bothering to make any measurements other than the maximum number of laps I could do in a session.  But as I read the full article on the matter, I realize that any exercise and any standardized measurement will do, that relative progress is all that is measured, unless you're contemplating a 5k race and want to use those tables to estimate a good race pace for you.  So I'm thinking of creating a modified MAF test for myself.

The Couch Potato MAF Test

Start with an indoor track 200m, or a outdoor track (400m).  If running the outdoor track, divide the track in half.  Start with a warm-up, which for me is a little Tai Chi and a 200m walk.  Use the same lane every time you take the test as the curves are significant part of this short test.  Move up to the heart rate training zone as you approach your start mark, and start your lap timer when you cross it.  Time 5 200 m laps, or as many as you can do if that's less.  Try to stay in target HR zone.  Record the times and actual HR, they should be considerably lower than standard MAF test times, but show similar progression of slowing down with each lap.  If the pace does not slow down at that heart rate over time, then either the training zone is too low, the warm-up too short, or the distance is too short.

I think this could be adjusted for anyone at any level.  Maybe you run 20 miles a day, maybe your MAF test should be 5 2 mile segments instead of 5 1 mile segments?  Maybe you're still moving up to couch potato levels of fitness (like I was) and laps of the driveway is all you measure.

The only downside to this flexible standard is that when my fitness level improves to the point where I should be doing longer MAF tests, then all my old data will be fairly useless.  Even the five segments together of the short test are not up to a mile, so I can't even average the paces and compare them to mile 1 pace later.  However, I think some data at this point is better than waiting until I can regularly churn out the required 5 miles.