my HRM and other ATAMJCs (Acronyms That Are Mostly Just Confusing) (mm 27.3)

I understand why we use them—it’s a quicker, more efficient way to write/speak.  Who wants to say the National Collegiate Athletic Association every time they have to complain about NCAA college basketball on Twitter?  That’s a big on-going problem of mine (note: sarcasm). There’s also the feeling that you’re in the know; you’re hip and ‘with it’ (something I am rarely) because you know the latest BSSHJ.  Every NGO, GO, CO, OTCO and FB group has their own BSSHJ that’s impossible to decipher unless you’re in the know.  I try to avoid them, and technology.  I definitely relate more to the luddites than to the techies.  But as one of my BFFs—no, one of my LMFLs—Mr. Buddha stated a few thousand years ago: the only thing that is unchangeable is change.  Or was it: the only constant is change? I can’t remember, and being a luddite, I certainly won’t take the three seconds it might require to look it up on the WWW.  Either way, Buddha was probably right, except that he never saw the scene at the end of Super Size Me (SSM) where Morgan Spurlock encases an order of McDonald’s french fries to see how long it takes them to breakdown—or change at all (they don’t…even after a year).  Otherwise, yes, change…inevitable.

Without further diversion, I’ll state that my friend Mick (EMM…) has finally, after years of effort, partially converted me to the use of some technology, at least for running.  And with it, for efficiency’s sake, a new set of BSSHJ I use to describe my use of this technology. I’ve changed.  He sold me his old heart rate monitor (HRM) in the summer of 2012 under the assumption I’d use it to train more efficiently (there’s that word again) and smartly (…huh??) to become the super athlete I was born to be (super athlete of course meaning OWISMATAP).  It collected dust and dog hair for about a year, until I decided it was time to start training (efficiently…smartly…) for Leadville.  I am now a convert.  Unlike most technology, the HRM, along with the MAT theory, have been helpful—nay, very helpful…. nay, vital!—to my early success in both training, and most importantly, resting, to the best of my ability (there were 8 commas in that sentence, and could have been more had I not replaced them with dashes—brilliant! Well, I guess there were 10 commas if you count the two in parenthesis).  I ran two 50 milers in the last couple years.  The second one was a bit harder (more vertical gain), but I still improved my 50-mile time by about a half hour.  It had nothing to do with training, though.  I trained the same for both: a haphazard, go as fast as possible each day and view rest days with distain, as a waste of time. Oh, and get injured a couple times (mostly due to over-training).  What we did improve on was my aid station time.  My crew and I figured out a great system for the second 50-miler.  Kels and Andrew got me in, kicked me out, and stayed positive the whole day.  Couldn’t have done it without’m! With more efficiency at aid stations came a 30 minute improvement on finishing time.  Huge!  While aid station strategy is critical to a successful 100 miler, it is only one of the critical pieces—the other major piece being effective training and implementation on race day.  Combined these with a good crew strategy and I’ll finish Leadville. Oh, and luck.  Gotta have that!

To be sure, the HRM can be very frustrating.  It beeps (a very annoying noise) every time you go too hard, or too slow, and will continue doing so until you’re working in the right ‘zone’.  For some, myself included, this can often seem too contrived, too “ego-busting” (EB).  “I don’t need a machine to tell me how to run!”, you might say.  “I’m not running/walking/hiking hard enough to make this outing worth while!”, you might also say when getting beeped at.  Well, I’m sorry, but chances are—you’re wrong.  At least somewhat.  HRMs are not for everyone (they’re barely ‘right’ for me).  But unless you’ve been running for years and decades and centuries (?!), are a super-athlete (SA) who was eating Doritos on the couch while watching the TV and saw that the US Qualifiers for the Olympic Decathlon were next week and you started ‘training’ and then finished second (Rio 2016! Woo! USA! USA!) or know your body so well that you know exactly when to let up and when to hit the gas (I think there’s five of you in the world), using this little machine can help you know when to let off the gas and when to push it.

Why am I a convert? Well, in the course of the last two months, with the same effort, on the same course (6 mile route, +600’ vertical gain), I’ve dropped ten minutes off my overall time.  What does that mean? Well, without trying any harder, the HRM has helped me go faster–plain and simple.  The two biggest differences in training with the HRM, besides increased speed without increased effort, is that I haven’t been injured, and I haven’t felt tired—after any workout (with the exception of the two times I time-trialed the route, giving it an all-out effort).  I’ve tried to follow the HRM/MAT Mantra (HRMMATM) of: when you’re run is done, are you too tired to turn around and run it again? Usually the answer is ‘no’, which is good (if you’re training for 100 miles).

The best part for all you luddites: the HRM is way less complicated than I could have imagined.  I think I learned how to use it in about three minutes (the same amount of time it would’ve taken me to find the exact quotation I needed for the Buddhist wisdom).  There have been moments where Mick’s had to talk me through it (thanks pal), but overall, the only thing frustrating about using it for training is having to deal with my EB.  When I want to hit the gas, I don’t. I see our mailbox from a ¼ mile out and I want to ‘finish strong’.  I don’t.  The result? No injuries. No tiredness. Faster times. AND, I’m starting to see how ordinary Joe-one packs like me can actually run for 10…20…30 hours at a pace fast enough to make the cut-off times, without ever losing my breath (except on the steeper parts of Hope Pass, mile 47.  Man that looks tough).

If you simply want to get into good shape, feel better, have more energy, and sleep well, you can probably ignore the last ten minutes of your life that it took to read this BS (beet smoothie).  ‘Cause this crap ain’t for everybody.  There’s no ‘right’ answer on how to train, and not a lot of people have the time to do it anyway.  But if: a) you’re not a SA or already know your body like the back of your hand (?!) and b) you want to go long (real long), I recommend a basic, easy-to-use HRM.  Do some reading on HR zones, MATs and how to best use the damn thing.  Overwhelmed?  Start with this:

Then move on to this:


And this from Dr. Maffetone:

Then use it to try this:

Run on!



HRM = heart rate monitor

ATAMJC = acronyms that are mostly just confusing

NCAA = national collegiate athletic association

BSSHJ = bullshit shorthand jargon

NGO = non-governmental organization

GO = the opposite of a non-government organization

CO = company, or Colorado

OTCO = Oregon tilth certified organic

FB group = facebook, duh.

BFF = best friend forever

LMFL = life mentor…fo’ life

WWW = The Internet, see also: AG (Al Gore)

SSM = Super Size Me

EMM = ask Mick

OWISMATAP = one who is slightly more active than a potato

MAT = maximum aerobic threshold

EB = ego-busting

SA = super-athlete. Full-time couch potato, occasional athlete who can kick your ass no matter how hard/well/long you train.  We hate these people.  Well, hate’s a strong word.  Hmm…yeah, it fits.

BS: beet smoothies (yummm!), bullshit, becky story, Best Senior class ever! woo! Seniors 2014! we did it!


week of nov 11th thru nov 17th, 2013 (mm 25.4)

“I’m comin’ down the mountain–I’ve been comin’ for some time.  I’m comin’ down the mountain–and this whole. dark. valley. is mine!”  -Mason Jennings, The Mountain

Monday the 11th

lunes iguala el dia de descanso


perch #57, +600′ vert, :58.20, 6 miles. Fastest ever roundtrip to and from the Perch, and second (or third?) fastest ascent from the TH (18:24 to the top). Feels good. Wasn’t the smoothest, easiest-flowing run ever, and definitely grappled with The Beast toward the top of the ascent and at the very end of the run, but did my best to focus on form and quick leg-turnover. Actually spent about a minute or so at the top, and also did a medium-ish warm-up from the house to the TH (probably another minute or so there), so it’s encouraging and motivating to know there’s still a minute or two out there. Overall, a great outing. Definitely the type of jaunt that makes me believe…and I can use as many of these as I can get.


perch #58, 6 miles, +600′ vert, 1:26. Sllllloooowww recovery run–a must after yesterday’s effort, but still, these things are actually harder than going all out. the heart rate monitor helps a ton, though I want to destroy it for most of the run (it beeps every time I’m running too hard).


perch #s 59 and 60. 7 miles, +1150′ vert, 1:39. first time in a while where a run didn’t feel good (and I didn’t really enjoy it). The fact that it’s been months since a run like this is a good sign, but the legs and body feel tired. haven’t had a down week in about a month and, not planning on a rest week til Thxgiving, I knew this would be about the time I’d start getting tired. will continue monitoring things but ideally I will get my mileage in until next Thursday night when I pull back the reins a little bit. It’s still early, after all.




14 miles, +3500′ vert, 3:10. Towers Road Double. Long-ish morning outing with Jay-pop, Stubbs and Humphrey–first ascent up Towers was nice and slow, second one was a bit rough (though faster). Certainly no PRs or world records today. Windy and cold. Thanks H for the hot tea during halftime–hit the spot! Good to get a long jaunt in–been spending a lot (too much?) time in the 6-8 mile range. December will bring more consistent long runs I think. Legs feeling tired but not as bad as the other day. Definitely feeling the need for a break (starting next Friday!).


4 miles, 1:45, +800′ vert. Timber Trail at Lory State Park. Afternoon hike with Kels and Maya. Larry got his third Lory SP sticker (annual pass)–we definitely use it a ton…totally worth the $70. beautiful weather. legs felt a little heavy but energy was good. a few more days til the break!

Weekly Totals

37 foot miles, ~9 hours, +6650 feet of vertical gain (180’/mile…good)

Overall a great week highlighted by Tuesday’s Perch PR (breaking the previous PR which had been around for far too long) and enjoyable outings up Towers and at Lory.  Legs started feeling a little heavy toward the end of the week, which is to be expected since I haven’t had a real rest week since early October.  Next official rest week starts this coming Friday as we head SSW to Phoenix for a fun-filled Thanksgiving with the Fam.  Only body parts I’ll be working is my beer-ceps and beer elbows.  

week of nov 4th thru nov 10th, 2013 (mm 23.5)

“Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. It’s target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.”  Steven Pressfield, The War of Art   (courtesy of Jay Bowers)

Monday the 4th



6 miles, +600’vert. perch #53. 1:09 (MAT PR). blustery fall day. PR on the MAT-perch run (previously, a lot of these runs were between 1:12 and 1:15–so dropping 3 minutes seems a little crazy). My goal (by next summer) is a PR under an hour and consistent runs around 1:02 or so. Days like today make that feel possible.


6 miles, +600′ vert. 1:11. perch #54. another windy day. stayed in MAT and, although I felt a bit tired and uncoordinated, still put out a good time (makes yesterday’s run not seem like a fluke).


nada mucho


6 miles, perch #55, +600′ vert. 1:10. MAT again today, felt good. all three MAT runs this week were under my previous MAT-Perch PR (understand that code??). Gotta be happy with that.


7 miles, +1800′ vert. 1:22. Towers Road (PR again).  nice saturday morning jaunt with jay-pop and stubbs. body felt shot and legs were sluggish. stomach felt heavy (gluten…pizza…last night…ugh). Jay and i were both pretty shocked that we PR’d the ascent by about 2 minutes and 3 minutes overall. huh. HR didn’t get above 160-165, which was good considering the vertical gain.


6 miles, perch #56, +600′ vert. 1:11. first night run in a while (I need new headlamp batteries) on a perfect, warm fall evening. stayed in MAT and probably lost a minute or two because i could only go as fast as my light. Felt great.

Weekly Totals:

31 foot miles, ~6 hours, +4200′ vert (135’/mile…a little low)

Four great Perch runs–all under last week’s PR.  Huge.  Besides Towers jaunt I didn’t have much in the vert department.  Gotta get that vert’/mile number up a bit.  Though a little low as well in the mileage, still very happy with the Perch runs.  MAT seems to be makin’ me a bit faster without much extra effort.

october wrap (mm 21.7)

Despite being in Philly for over a week (extended rest week) I was happy to put in just over 100 miles for the month, with a fair amount of vertical gain. Dialing in the nutrition side of things–protein, fat and good oils for breakfast, protein smoothies and misc stuff for lunch, lightish dinner.  Avoiding gluten, soy, dairy (not all dairy) and sugar.  Training is coming along well, though I’ve noticed a little more soreness in the legs during the week.  Right knee is still somewhat cranky but has not gotten worse despite weekly mileage rising.  Going to get it looked-at soon (acupuncture!).  Definitely looking to add Towers Road as a weekly outing, maybe twice if possible.  Shooting for November to be in the 120 mile range which will require a solid three week push before the down week in Utah/AZ for Thxgiving week.  Feeling motivated and stronger.

week of oct 28th thru nov 3rd, 2013 (mm 21.6)

Monday the 28th

6 miles, +600′ vert,  1:13. perch #51. MAT. felt pretty good considering last Saturday’s effort. Cold and rainy today, Perch shrouded in a thick fog, which made for a fun run. Despite the mud, my efforts to make this a recovery outing, and the minute or so at the top observing the good Lord’s glory, I still put in a good time. Glad to be inside and warm. Put the kettle on.


rest and stretching


4 miles, +300 vert. :43. Perch was closed due to muddy conditions so I jaunted around the neighborhood for a bit.


7 miles, +1800′ vert, 1:26.  Towers Road PR.  Ascent :52.07, descent in :33.45 (scorched my previous PR by about 9 minutes). cold and windy evening with Jay-pop, ATK and Humphrey. I was under prepared (lack of hat and headlight)–maybe because I was under the impression the sun went down later than it is right now. Either way, the way up felt great, the descent was dark and cautious, but in the end a great PR on the up, down and round trip. Hopefully this becomes a Thursday tradition–I need the climbing!




8.75 miles, +2500′ vert. 3:18. Great early morning outing with AK (alaska?). good stretch of the legs and a great view–not too far from home either. knee held-up pretty well til the end, HRM never got above 150 bpm. Finished it off with a pile of sweet potato hashbrowns, eggs, coffee and bacon (sweet, sweet bacon).


perch #52. +600′ vert. 1:21. early morning recovery run, kept it slow and under 140 bpm. felt a bit sluggish and sore–in need of a rest day–but overall went well.

Weekly Totals:

~32 foot miles, 8 hours, +5800′ vertical (181’/mile)

Good mix of runs/hikes this week–glad to get back to Towers Rd as it is probably the best chance I have at emulating Hope Pass (half as long, half as much vert as Hope).  Solid week overall.