Friday, October 17, 2014

The Best Heart Rate Zones For Running ?

From around 2010 through most of 2013 the slightest bend of the knee in the wrong direction could result in painful swelling for days or weeks.

After much hard work I have recently, quite hesitantly started running again. It's slow, more like gentler jogging. As with the cycling I am trying to follow some sort of plan. With cycling I could use power zones along with heart rate zones, with running it's going to be pace zones.

I established my pace zones by putting my time for a given distance into a pace calculator.

Here is one from Runners World but there's one on Strava settings if you use that and they both give the same result.

So here's mine. Yes the pace is very slow, if you've had my trouble over the past few years you will appreciate my softly softly approach. Something else I needed was heart rate zones.

Now there's the easy way to get HR zones and then there's the better way ! You could work out you're max HR by going for a run and getting steadily faster until you eyes pop out of your head, then set up your zones as percentages of this. It's better than using 220 minus your age but it's still not right.
It does not factor in your resting pulse like this.

Look at the formula box to see that resting pulse is a factor of the zones, it's added on. I used this method up until last year when I started training on the bike. I then discovered the Coggan method of using your Lactic Threshold Heart Rate. I established this on the bike by doing my 20 minute power test to find my Functional Threshold Power. This is fully explained HERE. 

So what I did this time was find the last run I did for an event, which is where I ran as hard as I could for 40 minutes, my average HR was 178. This gave me the following zones.

What did I hope to gain from this BETTER method ? Hope fully a correlation between running pace zone and HR zone. Now I know from my cycling power zones and HR zones that there is always some overlap, and that this would probably be worse with running especially when there was any sort of gradient involved. Here is my first try at running in Pace and HR zone 2.

I'm pretty happy with the results. 85% in pace zone 2 and 96% in HR zone 2 ! You may have noticed that I have six pace zones and only five HR zones ? Well I'm going to wait and see if I need to adjust things. I am doing mostly zone two running with one of either tempo, VO2max or Threshold per week so it may take a few weeks for me to decide what to do, if anything.

Watch this space and hope I don't get a knee injury.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

One Year Gone

I have now past a year since returning to cycling.The last few months I have been doing a lot of standing up on the pedals for short periods when out cycling, something I could still not do without feeling a bit of knee pain.

Although I am Totally Metric, I also completed my first ever 100 mile cycle.

A great Highland Cycle, I took it easy and felt great at the end. Probably won't match this distance again until next summer. So far this year I have clocked up 3500 Km cycling.

You can see it's my best year yet.

My knees have been feeling so good I took an extraordinary step last week.  I went for a run !

Now during my years of unending knee pain and swelling I visited three different physiotherapist, all of them told me my running days were probably over. I may be pushing the boat out a little too far here but I want to give it a try.

I did get a bit carried away and went a wee bit too far and fast for someone with my knees.

So to set the record staright I went out again a few says later and went a bit shorter and slower !!

Both these runs were done in fields of stubble, as the weather gets worse or thses fields are ploughed I will have to do some running on the road. I was told about Hoka One One running shoes. After a bit of research I purchased these.

 I have made up a couple of workouts based on the pace guides from runners world I have from years ago. These pace zones tie in pretty well with the zones generated by Strava.

Yeah the pace zones are fairly lethargic, but bare with me. Proper specific training has helped me over the last year and I'm hoping it will help me with running too.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Why Are The Government Making You Fat ?

I'm going to cut straight to the answer for those of you who get bored with reading. It's very profitable for big business that's why. Yes it's all about making money. Still with me ? Want to know more ? Here's how it's happening. You are being told to eat far too many carbohydrates, mostly in the form of sugar. A recent critical analyses study into the treatment of Diabetes with a low carb diet was packed full of useful information.

The table explains that the obesity epidemic started after carbohydrate intake reached 43% of total daily calorific intake. For a man eating 2500 calories a day this is 269 grams per day.

So lets have a look at the government guidlines in the UK.

Well what do you know ? The UK guidelines say you can eat 300g a day. For a man that's 48%, way over the amount that causes obesity !

So why are the government advising you to eat far too many cabohydrates/sugars ? I told you, money.

There are eight advisers to the government on Nutrtion and 5 of them are in the pay of sugar and confectionery companies.

You can read the full article HERE

So how do you lose all that fat the government and big business have been feeding you. You eat fat, that's right, eat less carbs and more fat. Eating fat does not make you fat, carbs do.

Eating fat is healthy there is no link between fat ( whether saturated or not ) and heart disease. In fact it looks likely that Carbohydrate intake is linked to coronary disease.

Even our 'Fast Diet' friend Dr Michael Mosley has now been convinced that we had it all wrong.

A low carb. high fat diet is the way to a healthy life, I know I'm on one. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Carbohydrate Intake During Exercise

I'm sure you all know that in order to maintain your ability to run or cycle over 90 minutes you must intake carbohydrates. Certain companies who supply carbohydrate powders and gels would like you to take up to 90g per hour.

I'm no expert but I do like to experiment with my training and nutrition. Since October 27th 2013 I have been mostly on a Low Carb High Fat LCHF Diet.

It's great ! Initially on exercise days I ate more carbs especially on days with long and/or strenuous cycles. Lately I have been reducing the amount of carbohydrates consumed on exercise days.

For example, I would consume around 50g carbs on a non exercise days and up to the government guideline amount of 300g on a workout day. ( WARNING: If you follow the governments advice on Carbohydrate intake, you WILL get fat ! )

Now it's around 150g or less more when exercising. I don't even bother with the essential post workout carb intake. I just have protein.

Lets go straight in and look what I did at the weekend.

A 4 hours cycle over 100km

You can see average heart rate is 149 BPM, for me this is classed asTempo (Zone 3)as per my LTHR zones.

 My effort was averaged out as 139 watts which is Endurance ( Zone 2 ). There's always a wee bit of crossover here depending on other factors.

Anyway after 90min I really should have been tucking away up to 90g carbs to keep my muscles going right ? Well no.

What I had was one scoop of High 5 2:1 Energy Source in each 750ml drinks bottle which lasted me the whole four hours. Each serving ( which is two scoops ) provides 44g carbohydrate. So I only consumed 11g per hour. No cramp, no exhaustion.

Ah, maybe I just scraped home before my carb supply ran out. Well luckily I have been monitoring my blood glucose during this experimental period. If I have two Weetabix ( under 30g carbs ) for breakfast my blood glucose after two hours in around 5.5-5.8 m/mol. Immediately after this ride it was 5.8 m/mol.

Wait a minute, if I had consumed all those recommended carbs I would have done a much better job right ?

Let's see.

Trust me, that's the same ride from three weeks ago. Shows how accurate the Garmin is when you look at the Km. Anyway, I knocked 10 minutes off the ride time and with a lower heart rate and power output than in this one.

Food for thought, so long as you keep your carbs lo :)


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Using A Power Meter: Power Curve.

In my effort to combat the effects of arthritis I had managed to overcome the knee pain hurdle by slowly increasing my cycling distance and intensity. I also had a cortisone injection !

Having made some good gains cycling outdoors I could see myself losing this initial fitness during the winter so bought a turbo trainer and joined Trainer Road. Full details of this are HERE.

The decision to buy a power meter was made easier with the introduction of the Stages Power Meter, why ? Price. I did consider the Powertap G3 hub, but the hassle of having to get it built into my wheel put me off, it would have meant a week of missed training with me driving to our NOT LOCAL bike shop.

So now I've used power for training, what next.

The other thing Trainer Road does with my data is that it builds up a power curve. It uses the power I am able to produce over given time periods.

It builds a graph with this data. All the above data has been gathered during my training sessions which have been Sweetspot Intermediate Base 1. I won't show you the program, you'll have to join Trainer Road.

I also use Strava, and the premium version will also build a power curve for you. I upload my Trainer Road workouts to Strava but I can also include my outdoor rides.

Today I went out and did a 30 second all out sprint, and then a 5 minute paced effort, they were both on uphill Strava segments.

You can see three of my attempts on this segment. Position 3 and 2 were last year when I had started building my strength outdoors. In October I beat my September result by pushing the lap button and trying to beat my previous speed.
I achieved my fastest time yesterday by pushing the lap button and simply looking at the Watts I was producing. Time and speed were not an issue, I knew it would be 5 or so minutes and what wattage I hoped to produce.

Overall on the segment this gave me a pretty good result.

I did well, segment wise and I also gleaned valuable power information. I actually paced the 5 minute effort, based on recent efforts so that I didn't blow up halfway into the 5 minutes.

I now know that I should be able to maintain 267 watts over 5 minutes.

The Strava curve also gives you Watts/Kg.

Now for comparison. My 4 w/Kg would make me CAT4. The pro riders are pushing out 6-7 w/Kg !

So to stand a chance I would have to increase my 5 minute power from 267 watts to 462 watts !!

After my training is done I'm going to be doing an FTP test, more about that later.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What Do I Eat ?

I got back into cycling at the end of last year. Read the full story about my arthritis HERE and the motivational tools and training aids HERE

There is still a missing parameter in the fitness and health equation, my diet.

The word diet has all sorts of connotations and people have tried to get around this by saying, this is not a diet is a lifestyle ! Well, this is just the stuff I eat after a lot of research, several attempts at similar eating regimes and a little give and take I arrived at this.

It is to a large extent Low Carb High Fat. Yes, I'm a cyclist and I'm saying LCHF ! Also see bottom of page for info.

That may sound crazy, Carbs are your easy fuel, to cycle you need to eat as much as possible right ? Well not really. Take a look at what I have eaten over the past few days. Now I don't usually track my food all the time, However I was away from home last week and ate the food in the Hotel so I'm just checking I'm back on track again.

Normal day with no planned workout would be something like this:

The food tracker is Fatsecret and I have set a RDI of 2200 calories. You can see the small amount of carbs consumed and fat eaten in it's place. What about the Protein I hear you ask ?

Well a recent article in Cycling Fitness by an Olympic Nutritionist suggests that over 35 years of age should consume 2g of Protein per Kg of body weight. (Dr Sharon Madigan )
At 66kg - 67 Kg that's 132g. Having eaten that regularly over the last few months I'm pretty sure that most over 35's are NOT getting enough !
Anyway, onto a workout day. This was a 60 minute turbo session workout around the Sweetspot, see my Trainer Road blog.

Aye the good old Weetabix for breakfast, two hours before the training session, also there's the PhD ISO 7 drink post workout. I never even managed to get near the set RDI. I'm actually just eating to hunger, as I said I don't usually even track what I eat. Last Fridays 2225 calories may have been related to the fact that I ate quite a lot of carbs at the Hotel the day before. I have discovered that when you eat carbs it actually makes you hungrier throughout the day and the next day !

Tuesday and we are having a day off again. Few carbs and lots of lovely fat.

So what's eating all that fat done to my body and my fitness ? Well I have beaten all my Strava segment times from the past few years so I'm a lot fitter and have MORE muscle mass.

My cycling performance has increased. Here are my results for a local hill climb.

I had been back cycling since August and only started my exercise and diet program at the end of October. I thought my September time was fast and that I would not easily beat it !

As for my weight and body fat, well here is the graph. I was 71Kg in October 2013 and 22.1% body fat.

Today I'm 66.4Kg and 18.4% body fat, the main thing is I feel great aswell ! Another great benefit is NO heartburn/indigestion. Over a year ago I was taking Ibuprofen and Paracetemol for my knee pain. I stopped because of an upset stomach but the indigestion continued all year until I started my new way of eating !

When I first started doing this along with cycling I had a lot more carbs before, during and after excercise. I have been cutting this back recently with no negative effects. As I continue to experiment I will take food or a gel out with me just in case I need it :)

I would just like to say a big thanks to Andreas Eenfeldt   
It's nice to see some sense in a sea of diet confusion and stupidity !

If you want an excellent example of a self inflicted scientific study with proper control and all the data ( even more than me ) have a look at this. Peter Attia, experiment.

Another cycling and triathlon specific story can be found here Bob Seebohar

Get fit and lose weight, there's no excuse. LCHF !

Monday, March 03, 2014

Stages Power Problems Timeline.

This is a more concise version of events for those who don't want all the data, tests and pictures.

Full Report Here.

 8th February. Used for indoor turbo trainer sessions. First battery lasted 7 hours. Replacement battery lasted around 5.5 hours.

With the third battery I did tests to make sure the ANT+ and Bluetooth were 'going to sleep' when the unit was not in use and concluded that they were, so something else is draining the battery.

 22nd February. Meanwhile I had contacted stages Technical on  and later posted a link to my blog report on their facebook page.

 25th Feb. Stages' Evan Gaspar replies after reading my blog and says he will send out a new unit.

6th March Email from Saddleback saying my new Power Meter has been sent out.

11 March New Power Meter arrives, fitted in minutes. I will leave the battery in. Have an indoor session tomorrow and an outdoor on the 13th.

18 March After a week and several rides and workouts I used the Stages App to check the device and the battery was still showing full :) Happy days.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Stages Power Meter Battery Drain !

If your don't want to read the whole thing then hit the link below for the very short summary.

Updates and complete timeline now here.

I have contacted Stages to see if they can help as I'm in the UK and the unit was purchased for me by a friend in Colorado Springs.
I emailed Stages Technical about the problem on 22-Feb-2014.

Well the first battery lasted for a total of 7 hours riding time. I didn't panick at this stage although it had not quite achieved the claimed 200 hours !

I replaced the battery with  new one. It lasted around 5 hours. The third Duracell is being taken out when not in use.

The sad thing is that Stages haven't made an Android app so I have to take my bike to an iPad user to get the data. If there was an Android app I would leave the battery in and check it throughout the day.

Duracell battery put in the day before but removed overnight.

My firmware is up to date 2.0.38

I don't see the point of the zero reset, it merely shows you a figure and doesn't reset anything to zero !

Don't know what the slope or DPOT values are for.

I have discovered that the earlier ones shipped to the UK had similar problems.

Tri Talk Forum    and here   Bike Radar Forum

I decided to perform a test on my 'unworthy' Android device as it does support Bluetooth 4 and so can see the power meter when its awake and transmitting. 

Look at the times in the upper right. I had woken up the device in the first pic and then let it alone for ten minutes to put it back to sleep. You can then see me searching for it at 15:06 and it is not found after several attempts. I backed up this test with the Garmin Edge 500 and the same thing happened for ANT+.

I have decided to leave another battery in and check it tomorrow night if I can get access to an i-device.

It's now the next evening 24-Feb-2014 at 18:30 GMT.
No reply from Stages yet. I will link this blog on their Facebook page.
The battery has been in place for 30 hours but only two of those were spent cycling.
No access to an i-device tonight so lets try the Excellent Trainer Road.

Trainer Road attempts to find Stages Power Meter.

Nothing happens. Also nothing on the Garmin Edge 500. I remove and check the battery on a battery meter which says the voltage is good so I replace it.

I get something but the signal goes from good to poor to bad. I'm going to leave it for another day, this time in the house.

Here is what I hope will be the penultimate update. I arrived home tonight to do my 1 hour turbo session. I had left the bike in the house overnight. I got ready, put on Trainer Road which detected my HR monitor. Then I spun the crank and Trainer road detected the Power Meter.

Got on the bike to start the workout and NOTHING, battery out battery in still NOTHING. Removed battery replaced with another new one and away we go, no problem. I later tested both batteries on a simple good/bad battery meter and they both moved the needle to the same good position. I'm baffled.

The good thing is I got a very good and detailed response from Evan at Stages who is going to send outa new one. That's why I hope I'll only be making one more update to the blog :)

Updates and complete timeline now here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Latest Training Aid. Virtual Power v Power

What can I say. I love using my turbo trainer now ! Yes. I sold two in the past because it's soul destroying, boring as hell.

Now it's great.  The reason is Trainer Road. 

I mentioned this before in my last blog so hit the above link if you haven't got beta on it yet.

I started off using Virtual Power to determine my FTP and all subsequent workouts were based on this. My Training plan was the Intermediate Base 1 a six week program working on the 'sweetspot' range of power output.

I got on well with this program with obvious improvements out in the real world. I did however notice that it wasn't quite right. I had been lazy with the bike setup. I should have checked my tyre pressure on the rear wheel to make sure that everytime i connected it to the turbo trainer the same amount of resistence was being generated. In reality the slow loss of air was making my workouts easier !! When I noticed I re inflated the tyre to over 100 psi and found that my FTP was actually much lower than I had thought.

Before this though I had already made the decision to get a more accurate view of my power, one that didn't care about tyre pressure, one I could use out on the road. I ordered a power meter.

I settled on the Stages power meter, I had to wait a month as they were out of stock. Many thanks to my friend and fellow cyclist John Macleod for facilitating the acquisition of the power meter.

The above one is on the bike of Richie Porte of Team Sky, they can't be that bad then I hear you say ?

The upshot is that my REAL FTP is 191, I'm more or less a beginner again :) I have restarted the six week Intermediate Base 1 program. I'm in week 2.

I have noticed that the Power Meter is very sensitive and its a lot harder to be bang on the power demanded by the workout. Even though I have reset my FTP, the workouts feel a wee bit harder. I immediately noticed that it was harder to achieve the low power 'warm up' and 'recovery' wattage. Needless to say I'm glad I went back to Base 1 and didn't plough into Base 2 !

Here's an example of the same workout, the first is using Virtual Power and the second is done with the Power Meter.

You can claerly see the 'shakier' plot of power with the second picture.

Now lets examine the heart rates. Remember the FTP has been adjusted down from 251 virtual to 191 power meter.

It's perfectly clear that I'm running a higher heart rate in the second  (power meter) picture. Remember this is a sweetspot workout, admittedly power orientated, but I feel that the HR results than in the first ( Virtual ) picture are far too low.

So there you have it. I have heard a lot of people say that the results they have had with Virtual power match up pretty good with the power meter but, maybe it's my lazy attitude to setting up, it didn't really work out for me. All was not in vain, as I said, I still made improvements out on the road and trail with vitual power.

I'm looking forward to the next 4 weeks of the program but most of all getting back out to test myself on some Strava segments in a month :)