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: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/minimalist-heart-rate-monitor-training/
Then move on to this:
And this from Dr. Maffetone:
Then use it to try this:
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!