Friday, May 20, 2011

flatten that line

After owning and training with my Garmin Forerunner 305 for 3 years, and being coached by Mary for 1.5, I FINALLY learned how to upload the data from the Garmin onto my computer. Previously, I just used the Garmin to keep track of distance and pace, and then average HR once I started with Mary. I would report this stuff for every workout but seriously.. what kind of information am I giving her when I tell her my average pace over 100 miles was 17 mph and my HR was 151 bpm. Two data points from an entire day's worth of training? That's ridiculous and essentially useless.

I decided that I wanted to learn how to upload the files onto my computer a while ago, but I just could never get it to work. After basically having instructions given to me step-by-step by a friend, I FINALLY figured out how to do it! (That process was not without its frustrations though). Being a scientist (I <3 charts), this influx of new data was really exciting to me!

Now, after seeing Garmin files for the past few weeks of workouts, I can see how much work I really need to do. My HR and pace files look like an EKG monitor. These major inconsistencies in my heart rate and pace are NOT good for Ironman distance events. Every unnecessary heart rate spike I have will affect me later on in the day - probably at mile 18 in the Ironman run. Since one of my major personal goals in my upcoming Ironman (5 weeks, bitches!) is to run a really solid, evenly-paced marathon.. I have a lot of work to do in order to get my HR and pace lines smooth as possible in order to make this goal a reality.

I have noticed that I do a little better in races (I did pretty well in the Flower City Challenge) and in endurance runs than I do with cycling. In long Saturday training rides especially, I am ALL OVER the place. My background: running. So this is not shocking to me at all.

Good Example:
my HR data from Flower City Challenge half marathon.. good upward HR
trend, not a lot of spikes.. that bit in the middle was in the very hilly cemetery
Bad Example:

Note ALL of the spikes in both HR and pace. I am very, very inconsistent on the bike.

It's a bit discouraging and frustrating to look at this data, but I also think it's a really, really good thing because it gives me a concrete goal to work on. Before, I would just do my long rides with no distance or pace goal in mind - I just wanted to finish. Now I can still leave those pace and distance goals alone (since they are sooo dependent on environmental factors that change daily) but I can really focus on my heart rate and keeping it from spiking - and then I can actually look back on my data post-ride and see how well I did.

Mary has given me a HR cap of 155 for bike rides (I spoke a little about this earlier in the week). I have found that it's easy enough to do when the hills are small and I can spin up them, but once I have to utilize my "granniest" gear, I am screwed and my HR skyrockets. What I am also supposed to do is not let my HR dip down super low either, so I have to work hard to not coast down small-ish hills or let myself slack off when there is a tailwind carrying me along.

Just some more things to work on in the upcoming weeks! :)


  1. good work girl. remember, get into a low gear, spin, and RELAX. That will pay you back on the run in good ways!

  2. I think you've just inspired me to keep better track of my Garmin stats. You're right, there is so much more than 2 points of data from long workouts!

  3. Its hard not to want to pound up a hill and get it freaking over with!! I've learned that this isn't always the smart thing to do and have paid for it big time on the Run. So Im going with spinning this year! I wasn't cramping today while all the other peeps were! and I was passing them on the hills with spinning not grinding!! woot!

  4. I have found it is way harder to get a flat line on the bike especially on hilly terrain. Your heart rate is going to plummet no matter what going down hill because you have gravity and wheels moving you, whereas with running you still have to move your legs to keep moving, which will still keep your HR elevated.

    Its a mess looking at power files on hilly courses, whereas on flat courses you can stay pretty consistent. That is why there is normalized values that throw out the spikes. I wonder if we can figure out how to normalize our heart rate data? Averages can be scewed on hilly courses.

  5. I do the same thing on hills, once I am in my granny granny gear, my HR spikes. Could be because I almost mash as I get there and go "Oh yeah, I have gears" ha

  6. This is a hard one... I mash the gears and even when I get super granny, my heart feels like it's going to pound out of my chest. I blame it on being a flat lander who doesn't climb much. :) Maybe it's cause I suck at biking! HA


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