Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 13 - Only 75 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi All,

This week is a big week of training with a total of 41 miles. Sunday will be a distance PR at 20 miles. I guess that means on Super Bowl Sunday that I will have some freedoms.

This week is also big because I will be passing the 400 mile mark since I started running last July. With the number of miles I'll be putting between now and the marathon, I should hit around 700 miles.

The next few months are all 120+ miles/month. I look forward to posting the same graph in April.

Not much to report today. I woke up today with my legs feeling good, just a little soreness on my left knee. Icing and stretching again tonight, trying to do as little as possible and get the most out of my rest day.

I look forward to getting back on the pavement tomorrow and getting a solid run in.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 12 - Only 76 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi Everyone,

This has been a spectacular weekend of training. Both from a recovery and goal perspective.

I've been staying in contact with my brother for guidance on and reassurance on the steps I'm taking to keep my feet, legs and knees healthy. I've continued to see improvement and as a result have been able to stay on track with my training goals.

I've also been receiving a lot of support from friends and family. It can be tough to continue to be motivated on a daily basis, your positive reinforcement keeps me excited and focused. I would say I have a very limited number of friends and partly by choice. I believe the people I've chosen to be friends with are extraordinary, I glad to say I haven't settled for less. Thanks again to all of you, you know who you are.

On my long run days, I like to reflect back on the run from start to finish. This will help me establish a history of progress and be nice memior.

I made a change today to my normal routine in a couple of ways and for a couple of reasons.

The first change I made was switching to my Ravenas, took a lot of mental convincing to do this. I didn't have the best experience on Tuesday but thought I need to continue integrating them into my runs. I did this with a decision to return/exchange for a new pair of Gel Nimbus runners if I didn't see immediate improvement on today's run. Funny say that out loud (or write it) "listen up shoes here is the ultimatum - kick ass or back to the shoe orphanage." The first few miles the same problems that persisted as earlier this week, pain shooting up the inner portions of my shins and noticeable pressure on my left ankle/arch. That said, the outer right foot (the problem child this week) felt like it had never been hurt. After about five miles, the shin and ankle pain faded and I was settling into a nice pain-free stride.

The second change I made was replacing my water with Gatorade. Lemon flavour in case your were wondering. I wanted to see if I got similar results with less liquid. Now to most of you this might seem like a minor change but last weekend I got about 14 miles in and was feeling a little bit sloshy - kinda of like a washing machine cycle was running in my stomach. By mile 16 the water had done it's thing, some exiting through perspiration and the other through it's normal cycle. I have a personal goal to avoid stopping or walking for any reason during a run unless the type of training method calls for it. I also didn't really have an option, not like there were any port-a-potties off the street. Needless to say, I some extra motivation to get home. I normally go through 700ml of water on a 10 mile run. I only took 400ml of Gatorade on today's run and finished comfortably with around 100ml left. I going to continue training with Gatorade on my runs over 10 miles and see if it continues to work for me.

The third change I made was putting my watch/heart rate monitor in pocket. The main reason for this was to re-direct my focus from pace and overall time to form. I was looking for low impact strides, relaxing my shoulders, staying tall, keeping my line of sight out in front, better turnover, hand low and loose, direction of arm swings and breathing. With some many things to keep track of, adding the pressure of keeping a certain pace or trying to set a PR makes it difficult to do any one of those things well. As a matter of fact, it actually encourages poor performance in almost all other categories other than speed. Over time muscle memory will take care of the fundamentals and give me the freedom to focus purely on speed. I'm coming to terms with that reality.

The fourth change is related to my post run nutrition, I'll fill in the details later in the blog.

I waited until the clouds cleared this afternoon before taking off. By the time I left, the skies were perfectly clear and the tempatures in the low 60s. Another amazing day for a run. I started down Shady Brook Lane at a comfortable pace and had a mental struggle over removing my watch. I finally pulled the watch off and placed it in my pocket. I made the turn down Southwestern, the main street through our neighborhood. It was nice a bunch of people out today enjoying the weather, runners, walkers, people playing with their dogs, flag football and people throwing the frisbee. The atmosphere was a welcomed distraction and soon I hit the quarter mile marker. I mention the quarter mile marker because this is where I routinely check my speed. I looked down at my wrist once, no watch. Kept running and then like I forgot altogether that I had purposely taken it off, I looked down again in moment of slight panic. It's one of those moments like when you've realised 4-5 minutes down the road in the car than you left your cell phone on the roof. I quickly remember my commitment to running without time markers today and kept running with mild sense of disappointment.

Time went by quickly as passed through a neighborhood near the house and made it to my second mile marker. Tempted again to pull the watch out of my pocket, I carried on. I was running a new route today so I was trying hard to remember where to turn and as I came to Mockingbird (a major street) I managed to convince myself to head straight across the street. This was wrong. A half mile later I hit a dead end and headed back out to Mockingbird. I found the right turn and soon found myself next to White Rock Lake. I love running out there, especially on days like to day.

I passed four miles and was still taking breathing easily but struggling with my shins. I was running in my new shoes so I expected this from my experience on Tuesday. The good part though was the other pains I was battling this week were gone altogether.

At mile five, I arrived in "that" place. I was fully zoned in and every step felt like I was gliding. The winds were picking up off the lake which normally would have been discouraging. Today, I just appreciated the cool air and kept going.

The sixth mile was full of interesting people. My favourite was an older gentleman wearing a big bucket hat and a shirt with paw prints all over it and said "My running partner has four legs." He looked like he was five or six days over due for a shave and long wirey gray escaping from underneath his big bucket hat in all directions. The wind was blowing his hat lid straight back and he looked like he belonged in the maritimes. His puppy was a mut of some kind running directly out in from of him practically hopping. The dog's jouls were pulled back in the wind and he looked like he was smiling. Maybe he was, he looked really happy to be out running with his owner.

The seventh and eighth miles were quiet and winded back through the neighborhoods I had passed through on my way to the lake. A few people out walking most of which smiled and waved as I passed.

At mile nine I was approaching Abrams Street and the Target near our house. I got the sense of nearing the finish and still felt like I had a lot of energy left in tank. I resisted the urge to speed up for the next half mile or so. At nine and half miles, I couldn't hold back any longer and took off at full speed all the way through to the finish. It felt great.

A few days Melissa forwarded me a link on nutrition for runners. I've been replacing following up my long runs with a Clif Bar and amplified whey protien chocolate drink. I plan on incorporate more of the ideas on the site Mel forwarded but an easy one was to include blueberries in mix.

I picked up 2lbs of frozen blueberries and have started adding 2oz. of blueberries to the protien shake. It is delicous and has the added value anti-oxidants. I've always had a general understanding of anti-oxidants and their benefits for disease prevention but the article Mel sent me made me curious about thier relationship to running. Below is an excerpt from a good article I found on the topic at

"Antioxidants protect runners from molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS).  ROS are most commonly seen in the form of free radicals and are produced as a normal part of metabolism.  However, research has shown that exercise increases the production of ROS.  The theory is that the increased production of ROS may “overwhelm” the ability of the body to maximize its antioxidant defenses.  This can lead to cellular damage because of an increase in oxidative stress on the body.  This oxidative stress has been linked to muscle damage, fatigue, and a reduction in immune function.  (1)

Oxidative stress can potentially hinder performance capabilities.  Antioxidants provide your cells with protection against these ROS.  The ratio of the ROS produced by exercise to the ability of the body to defend against ROS is important in preventing oxidative damage.  By consuming enough antioxidants one allows the body to work against the cellular damage caused by ROS.

We know there are numerous health advantages to your daily running routine despite the fact that it causes the body to produce more ROS.  The body actually does adapt ROS production to training, somewhat, although exactly how much is still in question.  Therefore, we are encouraged to maximize daily antioxidant consumption to improve the body’s ability to prevent oxidative damage and potentially hindered performance and recovery." 
Read the rest of the article.

Thanks Mel. 

After my run this evening, I spent some quality time stretching and working through some SMR modalities (see Day 6 blog on SMR). My legs appreciated the stretch and I am starting to see a small improvement in range of motion and flexibility. One day at a time. Stretching and flexibility in general is not a strong spot for me.

Tomorrow is rest day. I'm looking forward to it.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 11 - Only 77 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi All,

Today is one of those days where you feel like the world is yours to conquer. I pushed hard through my run today, using a mile repeat method. The results were good and I feel like I got a lot out of the training. Oh and when did Spring arrive? Today and yesterday have been beautiful - if you are in a bad mood then you must be a miserable person.

Oh and I discovered a "Power Song" feature on the Nike+ app. The last stretch was Lose Yourself by Eminem. I've got the lyrics stuck in my head. This song swirls a mixture of emotions for me. I grit down and phase out any pain with an absolute sense of focus and go for the finish. At the same, I want to punch in the face anyone who has told me "you don't have it in you" "don't get your hopes up" "you can't" "you won't". I think about everything important to me and think "I can" "I will" "I must". In that moment, I run harder than at any other point during the run. As I finish, I feel unstoppable.

"So here I go it's my shot. Feet fail me not 'cause this may be the only opportunity that I got."

Everyone has something different that motivates them. I've always been motivated by challenges especially with the odds against me. Of course, running a marathon fits me well. Did you know? Less than one percent of the World's population has run a marathon. I'm trying to find the stat but an even smaller percentage finish in less than four hours. That said, I'm no where near being ready to run it in under four hours but I look forward to getting there.

More runs like today and I should be well on my way. Thanks all for the nutrition and physio help, it is making a difference.

Today's Stats -- Distance: 6.0 miles -- Time: 52:16 -- Pace: 8:47

My run today, as I mentioned above, was a done using a Mile Repeat method. For those that don't know, mile repeats is running at a 5K or 10K race pace (tempo run*) to the first mile marker then resting 1 min (2-3 min is acceptable for runners new to training) and then back to the same pace through the next mile. I feel really good about the 8:47 pace because it includes 5 minutes of rest during the run. The goal will be to reduce the rest periods down to 30, 15, 0 over the next few weeks acheiving a sub 7 min pace.

*From Runner's World -"Studies show that one of the best predictors of distance-running excellence is your lactate threshold, the pace at which your body's ability to buffer lactic acid is surpassed by lactic-acid production, and you fatigue. Tempo runs put you at that lactate-threshold pace, which trains your body to become better at buffering the acid, thus increasing your ability to run faster or longer."

I wanted to thank my "biggest" donor to date Blake and Jenny Buckley. They donated £51.00 and left the following note "biggest donor in the house" - I got a good laugh. Thanks Blake and Jenny, appreciate you both as friends and for the support.

Please if you haven't already, make a donation. (

I wanted to share one their patient's story with you. This is Kayse's story.

Kayse came to the Trust for rehabilitation after he was involved in a road accident
Kayse watches the frog leap outA small hand slowly but surely reaches out towards a brightly coloured lily pad toy adorned with green frogs. Thoroughly absorbed, you can see the look of concentration on five year old Kayse’s face as he pulls back the lid and a small frog springs out! His physiotherapist Sue Mobbs congratulates him – she remembers a very different little boy who would never have been able to do what he just did when he arrived at the Trust.

Kayse was hit by a car on a family holiday. The accident left him unable to control his head, limited his leg and arm movements and dislocated his left shoulder and right hip. He is now unable to speak, uses a wheelchair and for a time was fed via a gastrostomy tube. Physiotherapy, part of Kayse’s rehabilitation programme, is using play to encourage his arm movements and help him regain his cognitive skills.

“Kayse is changing a lot,” his mum Ymulkheyr explains. “He is a different little boy. Before he came to the Trust he could not control his head or move his left arm much. Now he is using a standing frame daily and trying to talk – he makes a noise that sounds like he is saying ‘Mumma’.”

Kayse explores the lily pad toySurprisingly the little green frog is playing an important role! “We have tried to use other toys but Kayse never gets as much out of a session as he does with the frog,” Sue says with a smile.

Kayse is learning ‘cause and effect’. When he lifts the lid, the frog jumps out. The activity encourages his early cognition and visual skills. Kayse now understands that it is him causing the frog to leap. The movement also helps him develop the use of his arms.

The physiotherapy and occupational therapy teams have worked together to provide Kayse with a body brace, arm splints and braces to help hold his feet and ankles in the right position. Together these maintain Kayse’s posture and give him a good range of joint movement, vital as he tries to regain the use of his arms and legs. He wears them during his sessions but they do not seem to get in the way of the leaping frog.

It is all great fun, but Kayse is also learning some important skills that he is able to carry into his everyday life.

Thanks again for following my blog and continuing to comment, encourage and helping The Children's Trust.


Day 10 - Only 78 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi Everyone,

Quote from a nurse at The Children's Trust. Good motivation during a long week of training.

“I was helping one of the children at the trust walk today and every 5 mins he would stop take a breath and carry on. I could see determination in his face. At one point he had to stop for about 3 to 4 mins but he carried on and made it to where he wanted to on marathon day I’m going to think of him and if he can carry on so can all of us"
My legs got a good ice down tonight and stretch. They are feeling much better. I'm looking forward to a nice relaxed run tomorrow and spending some time on the phone with my brother working through the soreness in my right foot.
Casey amazes me at how much he has been learning at school. I'm really proud of him and trust his professional judgment.
On a completely different note, I've been using a heart rate monitor now for almost a year. I have had a general understanding of methods for calculating maximum heart rate and incorporating it into my runs. I've been running my higher heart rates than where I would like to be this close to the race so I did some additional research. I found the following article and thought I'd share. Heart rate monitors are effective for all types of training not just running.
Heart Monitor Training
By Alex Sinha

Athletic heart monitors have existed for several years now, but it wasn't until relatively recently that the technology behind them, and the development of heart monitor training techniques came together to make training with a monitor both simple and effective for the average runner. While many runners own heart monitors, often they may not be using the devices to their full potential. Other runners do not own a heart monitor and are unaware of the benefits of training with one.

Why Use a Heart Rate Monitor?
Heart monitors are devices that are designed for wear during strenuous exercise, and serve the purpose of measuring and recording your heart rate, while giving you instant feedback about the work level of your heart. The fitness of the heart is the key to one's aerobic endurance - sometimes called 'cardiovascular respiratory endurance'. Both for health and racing reasons, aerobic endurance is a point of focus for almost any runner. Heart monitors are one of the most effective aids for tracking and developing your progress on the path to increased aerobic endurance.

1) Accuracy And Ease: Heart monitors are the only effective way to track and record your heart rate over the course of an entire workout. Not only do heart monitors provide you with a complete record of your heart rate for the duration of your workout, but they are also more accurate than manual methods. Stopping during a run to count your pulse disrupts both your workout and your heart rate, and even the application of pressure to the carotid artery - perhaps the most common point for manual pulse detection - slows down the pulse.

2) Monitor Your Fitness: Cardiovascular fitness is the single most significant factor in your speed as a runner. Consequently, being able to track your cardiovascular fitness - not to mention tailoring your workouts to meet cardiovascular goals - is an extremely useful training tool. Measuring the work-rate of the heart is the most accurate method of determining how much benefit you are deriving from your workout (a discussion on how to gauge results can be seen in section III). Other methods, such as how hard one is breathing, or how tired one feels, can reflect other factors and give imprecise impressions of the effectiveness of your workout.

3) Prevent Over-Training: For many competitive runners, every week's workout regimen is essentially a seven-day dance along the fine line between optimal training and over-training. Using a heart monitor to avoid stressing your body too much means that you will maximize the efficiency of your training, while minimizing the opportunity for injury. Injuries are much less likely to occur when you are not over-taxing your body, and avoiding injuries is tantamount to avoiding setbacks in your training. While opinions differ on how much running is too much (we will discuss this more later), once you determine the desired intensity of your weekly workouts, you can use the monitor as a gauge. Are your recovery days really allowing your body to recover? The surprising answer, in many cases, is that runners' easy days are simply not easy enough. Use your monitor to stay below a certain ceiling, and you will avoid depleting your body's glycogen stores, ensuring that you will have the energy to perform your intense workouts with vigor and that you will not have to take unexpected days off from fatigue.

4) Prevent Under-Training: Though perhaps less common than over-training, some runners simply do not run hard enough, often enough. In this case, the monitor can function as a sort of coach, telling you when your body can handle more, and consequently, when you should pick up the pace. Set a minimum heart-rate goal for your run, and the monitor will sound an alarm when you have dropped below your target, telling you to work harder.

5) Pacing During Training: Perhaps the most obvious use for a heart monitor is to pace your training runs. Sometimes your time is not the best measure of how hard you are working. Different terrain, different energy levels, inconsistent distance measurements, and any number of factors can mislead you into thinking that you have performed well or poorly when the opposite may be true. Your cardiovascular performance is best measured by the work-rate of your heart, so pacing your training runs according to your heart rate is the best method of targeting your cardiovascular fitness as you do your workout.

6) Pacing During A Race: Some runners not only train with a heart monitor, but race with one as well. The monitor is a better tool for gauging effort during a race than mile markers, as the appropriate speed of each mile during a race can vary. Also, the monitor is indifferent to the wind, the paces of the other runners, the cheering of the crowds, the silence of lonely stretches that occur towards the end of some races, and any hills and curves; it is an objective observer than can help you maintain a consistent work rate, both over varied terrain and in areas where external factors affect your motivation and speed. Within a racing context, a monitor is perhaps most useful in preventing you from going out too fast or working too hard early in the race.

7) Enjoyment: While many runners enjoy their long runs, using a heart monitor adds a twist to running, whether it is being worn for a race or for training, for one mile or for twenty. Monitors can give you an accurate and fun way to quantify your progress, and if for no other reason, contribute some variety to the activity.

How To Use a Heart Rate Monitor
Heart monitors are tools that provide feedback specific to your body. As a result, heart monitor training can only be effective if you use that information to design and implement a workout regimen that is tailored to your body and fitness level. To do this, you will calculate the various work-rate zones for your heart, and use these zones to guide your work-rate during your workouts. The first thing you will need to do in order to accomplish this is to figure out a couple of key values.

Specifically, the zones you will calculate can be derived from two numbers: your maximum heart rate (MHR), which is the fastest rate your heart is able to beat per minute, and your resting heart rate (RHR), the rate at which your heart beats when you are completely at rest and in the absence of stressful external stimuli.

Step 1: Establish Your Max Heart Rate

Simple Formulaic Estimation of the MHR Based on Age:
In general, this method will provide reasonable accuracy for about 80% of runners, but it should almost invariably be supplemented with an actual test. Typically, one of three simple formulas is used to estimate one's maximum heart rate.

Formula #1: The first formula involves simply subtracting your age from the number 220 (for men) or from 226 (for women). This method is preferred for beginning runners, those who have been leading a sedentary lifestyle. Simple Heart Zones Calculator

Formula #2: The second formula is very similar, but is preferable for those who are already quite active. For this formula, simply subtract half of your age from the number 205.

Formula #3: The third formula runs along the same vein as the two preceding it. For men, subtract 80% of your age from the number 214. For women, subtract 70% of your age from the number 209.
All of these formulas provide approximations that are based on the standard curves representing the "normal" MHR's for any given age, and they get you close to your own MHR, but not close enough. The numbers you will get when you plug in your own age would best be used as a guide, as opposed to an accurate measure.

Actual Testing of the MHR Through Physical Exertion:
The only way to truly find your maximum heart rate is to exert yourself vigorously for several minutes, obviously while wearing your heart monitor. In doing this, you have two options.

Option 1: Personal Test
Perhaps the best way for most people to find their MHR is to calculate it themselves. The most effective method is to do interval training, preferably on a hill. A hill of at least 200 or 300 meters will suffice. Sprint up the hill and jog back down, using only the jog as a resting period. Repeat this cycle five or six times, and you will likely attain a heart rate that is at least very near your MHR (your MHR being simply the highest number of beats per minute that you were able to provoke). In the absence of a hill, you may wish to extend the length of your intervals to 400 meters.

Option 2: Lab Test
In a lab test, you will be put on a treadmill with a pulse monitor, and asked by a specialist to run a specific, short, intense program. This option tends to cost around $150, and is best if you have a heart condition, or if you are unsure of your physical health, for medical personnel and equipment are all either present or nearby.

Keep in mind that your MHR can be a little elusive. If, a week after you determine your MHR to be 186 BPM, you see 192 flash across your display as you do interval training, then your MHR is actually 192. This does not indicate a change in fitness or health, but would instead serve as evidence that when you tested you MHR before you were tired, rundown, or perhaps did not exert yourself hard enough. Your MHR is genetically predetermined, and has basically nothing to do with your level of fitness. Some athletes have had MHR's in the 160 BPM-range, while others have rates that exceed 200 beats per minutes. The sole variation in your MHR is a decrease of approximately 1 BPM a year, a process that accompanies aging.

Step 2: Establish Your Resting Heart Rate
Unlike your MHR, which is basically fixed, the RHR is a measure of fitness, and should slowly decrease, as you get more and more fit. In general, the resting heart rates of different individuals can vary greatly. Someone leading a sedentary lifestyle can have a RHR nearing or even exceeding 100 BPM. Most endurance runners will have one below 60 or 50 BPM, and possibly even below 40 BPM. The absolute lowest RHR's belong to elite runners, some of which dip below 30 beats per minute. The reason for this is that the stroke volume of these elite runners is so high that each heartbeat pumps more than twice as much blood as that of a sedentary adult. This allows the heart to slow its rate substantially, while still supplying the entire body with adequate blood flow. A high stroke volume is reflective of a large, strong heart, which results from a high level of aerobic fitness.

Your resting heart rate is exactly what it sounds like: the rate at which your heart beats when you are totally at rest. While finding this number is less strenuous than calculating your MHR, it is easy to make the mistake of trying to derive your RHR at an inappropriate time. The best method for determining your RHR involves strapping on your heart monitor when you wake up in the morning, before you even get out of bed. Simply lay there for two or three minutes; your lowest pulse rate will be your RHR. Doing this test first thing in the morning is logical, for there are many factors aside from physical activity that can lead to an increased heart rate - including stress and the presence of caffeine in your system - which can be eliminated by doing the test immediately after waking up. Dehydration, on-setting illness, and insufficient rest can also manifest themselves in an increased RHR.

Step 3: Calculate Your Training Zones
Calculating training zones allows you to customize your workout to your heart and current fitness level. Using a heart monitor without tailoring your workout to your own personal training zones essentially eliminates the benefits of heart monitor training.

Once you have your MHR and your RHR, you can grab a calculator or visit the heart zones calculator, and easily set up a chart to help you determine how much strain you are putting on your heart at a given heart rate. Typically the chart is based on percentile markers, where your MHR is 100%. To create your chart, calculate the percentile markers in 5% increments, descending from 100% to around 50%, and using the following formula:
((MHR-RHR) x Percent level) + RHR

For example, suppose your MHR is 190 and your RHR is 50. Your calculation for your 95% level would look like this:
((190-50) x .95) + 50) = 183 BPM

For your 90% level, your calculation would appear as follows:
((190-50) x .90) + 50) = 176 BPM

Your chart, then, would show 190 as 100% of your max, 183 at 95% of your max, 176 at 90% of my your, and so on down the line until you reach 50%.

These zones will be crucial when you determine your training program and start to track results.

Step 4: Implement A Training Program And Track Your Results
If you have completed the first three steps, then you are prepared to begin training using your heart rate monitor. How you wish to train, however, depends on your ultimate goals. Some trainers recommend that runners should not run two consecutive days over their 70% level, setting that value as the ceiling for recovery days. Most agree that hard days should be run at the 85% level, if not higher.

Regardless of how you are training, and what you are training for, it will be useful to keep track of your results. It is highly recommended that you track not only your heart rate for each workout and the activities that the workout entailed, but also that you record your RHR daily. Some have even worn their heart monitors for entire days, simply to see what kinds of activities and stimuli provoke what speed of pulse.

III. How To Measure Results
The ultimate goal of training with a heart monitor is to be able to run longer and faster with a lower heart rate. If you keep track of your results, there will be a couple of ways to see the progress.

First, as you improve, you will see that running the same distances at the same heart rate will become easier. Effectively, you will be able to run faster for these distances without your heart having to work as hard. This is a direct reflection of increased efficiency of the heart. To see this, try running a set course - with your monitor - that is several miles long, and stick to a preset speed, perhaps your marathon pace. Then, under similar weather conditions, try the same course again a few weeks later. Run it at the same pace as you ran previously, and compare your heart rates for the two runs. If you've gotten fitter since your first run, your heart rate should be lower during your second.

Another way to see results is to keep track of your resting heart rate by taking it down and recording it every morning before you get out of bed. Many trainers recommend that runners keep track of their RHR on a daily basis, and, as stated above in the RHR section, increased fitness should bring with it a lower RHR.

IV. What Kind of Heart Rate Monitor Should You Buy?
While there are several styles of heart monitors, the most accurate and popular have two components: a chest strap that contains the sensor and the transmitter, and a watch-like display, with a receiver, for your wrist. These devices come with an array of different features, and can range greatly in price.

Basic Features: The most fundamental feature inherent to a heart monitor is the ability to measure your heart rate. Also, since they are worn on your wrist like a watch, most heart rate monitors feature a display that has all the functions of an athletic watch, as well as a feature that allows you to set adjustable heart rate limits. These displays can differ with regards to the size of the digits and the size of the screen, backlighting, water resistance, and so on.

Other Features: A number of the more advanced features are potentially quite useful.

Complex Data Analysis: Higher-end model heart rate monitors can make more complicated calculations and summaries of recorded data. Some heart monitors allow you to automatically record your MHR and your lowest heart rate for the workout, and to make more complex calculations, such as overall averages, disparities between high and low rates, and the like.

More Sophisticated Data Collection: Some heart monitors can estimate the number of calories you are burning and measure the ambient temperature. Other options include altitude measurement and estimation of your VO2 (a value related to your body's oxygen consumption).

Larger Memory Bank: Many basic heart rate monitors can record only one workout at a time, forcing you to record your data elsewhere between every use of the device. Heart rate monitors with larger memory banks can record multiple workout results without erasing earlier records. This can be convenient - especially if the monitor is not computer compatible, and recording results must be done manually instead.

Computer Compatibility: If you wish to record your results accurately and quickly, it may be better to seek out a heart monitor that can be plugged into your computer, though this tends to be among the most costly of features. These monitors come with software that will allow you to save and graph various readings that the monitor has taken over the course of your workouts. After a workout - or after several - you can download your results onto the computer, where you can display and analyze the data in a number of different ways.

Coded Signal: Because heart rate monitors have two separate components (the chest strap and the wrist display), the readings from the sensor on your chest must be transmitted to your display. If the signal is not coded, then interference caused by jogging with another runner who is wearing a heart monitor can occur, yielding inaccurate readings.

Recording of Bicycle Workout Data: Some of the more expensive models have a whole set of options for use while riding a bicycle, such as measurement of distance and a memory bank for more than one bicycle's wheel size, among others. This can be useful both for those who train by bicycle and those who are forced to use a bicycle to get back in shape after a leg injury.

Cost: A basic heart monitor can cost less than $50. A high-end monitor with many extra features can cost as much as $350, and possibly more. In general, the most expensive monitors are those that can download their data onto a computer. Ultimately, though, the feature combinations and the associated prices are so varied, that it is difficult to classify heart monitors by both cost and capability. There are quite a large number of functions as well, some which are not even discussed here. You may find that some cheaper models may actually contain more of the features that are desirable to you, so it would be a good idea to decide which of these features you value most before deciding on a model.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 9 - Only 79 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi Everyone,

Wow. Best way to describe how sore I am practically all over.

Skipping back to the weekend, I wrote about the new gear I purchased. One item being my new runners, Brooks Ravena Eight. I have minimal amount of instability on my left foot causing minor pronation. The Ravena shoe has a small amount of posting that helps support the arch of the foot which is necessary to correct any pronation that occurs. I also bought the shoes because I'm approaching 400 miles on my current runners, Aasic Gel Nimbus 9s. I didn't want to wait until half way into training for the marathon to make a switch. So the plan was to slowly rotate these into my training routine and see how they handle.

I noticed very early into my first run with them on Tuesday night, that they were putting a good deal of pressure on my arches. By the end of the run, they had become uncomfortable. The next day was miserable as I was dealing with foot and shin pain. The tension carried over into my run last night and again today.

I'm not tempted to take the Ravenas back to the store and trade for a nuetral shoe like the Aasics I currently have. I haven't had any problems with my Aasics so I'm leaning towards another pair of the Gel Nimbus 9s. Before I get all return happy, I'm going to do some research on how to properly break in a new pair of shoes and common experiences when switching into a runner with posting material.

If you have any experience or advice on the topic, please respond.

Okay..on to tonight's run. Tonight was an amazing night to run with great weather. I honestly wish I would have been able to enjoy it more. I had to talk myself into actually running this evening, not because of laziness or lack of motivation, but because of the foot and leg soreness I've been dealing with all day. It didn't even feel good to walk. I was a little worried that I would injure or may have already injured my right foot. After dinner tonight, I ice bundled both feet (ankle and sole) and them before the run a long 30 minute soak in hot water with epsom salts. Even then, my feet and ankles were questionnable for a run. The entire run was filled with blister, right outside foot, left inside ankle, both shins, and left knee nagging at me for 60 mins and 44 seconds. I tried two or three times during the run to talk myself into cutting the run short and getting extra rest. While, I did finish the distance I'm not overly excited about it. I struggle between the thought of "Go me, way to battle" and "stubborn asshole, you should have rested".

Very much looking forward to the rest day tomorrow, lots of protien, l-glutamine and complex carbs. Hooray for rest day Friday.

Today's Stats -- Distance: 6.55 miles -- Time: 1:00:44 -- Pace: 9:16

Okay so I feel like the lack of sleep and general condition of my body has made my last few blogs come across bitter. So on a much more positive note:

  • Around the World - I'm now .02 times around the world. I thought I'd be at .01 forever. My DailyMile friends will relate. See below.

  • The Children's Trust - Our team coordinator sent me a picture of the team. They had a team training event this past weekend, so she was able to get a shot. I'm excited to join them soon and make it out to the training days.

A big thanks to Phil & Mary for the sponsorship and donation to The Children's Trust. Up to a £100 donated.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 8 - Only 80 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi Everyone,

Tonight was great, we'll everything except for my run. We went to a wine dinner with a friend, great food and great wine. Both factors that I'm sure didn't help my run this evening. On top of that I really haven't got much sleep the last few nights, I'm looking forward to a couple of good nights over the weekend.

Stats -- Distance: 6.55 miles -- Time: 59:52 -- Pace: 9:08 blah

The run started out fine but two miles in my legs started to tense up and my lungs sluggish with cold air. The rest of the run from there on out seemed rather miserable. At one point, I almost convinced myself to call the run short. As delicious as my dinner was, believe me it was, it didn't taste nearly as good while I was burping it up the entire run...gross I know.

I'd like to make the most out of every run, especially with the limited time before the marathon but know these nights are going to happen. I'm going to get my run in earlier tomorrow evening and take it nice and easy...pace aside.

Looking for nutrition ideas. Let me know if you have some.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 7 - Only 81 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi Everyone,

Today was the start of another solid week of training. 35 miles total on the schedule this week.

Stats on tonight's run -- Distance: 7 miles - Time: 1:01:35 - Pace: 8:44

Everything seems to be coming together nicely. My pace is adjusting down into the 8 minute range and my average heart is steadily declining back into the low 170 range. My short term goals are to get my average heart rate down below 165bpm and times for all runs under 10 miles under an 8:30 pace.

Cool moment of run - On the last 100 meters, a shooting star that must have lasted five seconds shot clear across the sky. Made up for how stinking cold it was out there tonight.

Last thing, I've had a few co-workers and other friends ask about running/training etc. My first peice of advice - join It is a great source of motivation. I've have some great friends on dailymile that keep me motivated and interested in running.

Kidding, no really, this is the last thing - visit to support The Children's Trust without them I wouldn't be running in the London Marathon.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 6 - Only 82 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi Everyone,

Little late sending this out.

For starters, big thanks to the first couple of people that made donations to The Children's Trust ( Every pound counts.

Yesterday was a much needed rest day. There were several times throughout the day that I somehow forgot about the stiff legs. I went to jump out of my chair almost bit it.

I did do some stretching in the morning and again at night but I'v been nearly disciplined enough.

My brother is studying at Logan Chiropractic and passed along some information on Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) using foam rollers and other implements. I started using foam rollers back in August and saw an immediate improvement in overall flexibility but more importantly recovery time. A lot of the soreness created by the lactic acid build-up is broken up.

The article goes into a great deal of detail on the process and science behind SMR. The article can be found at It not only explains the science but also gives details on the different techniques as they apply to various muscles in the body. Good stuff if your a geek like me. Sometimes I wonder why I didn't go to medical school (minus the part about getting accepted).

Moral of the story - more stretching. More stretching = fast recovery. Fast recovery = faster times and longer distances.

I've decided that on my off days and potentially other days throughout the week that I will share the training tips I've learned/am learning. Hopefully some of this is helpful to someone.

Blog 1 of 2 for the evening. I'm headed off for a 7 miler. Update coming after the run.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 5 - Only 83 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi Everyone,

Today was an important day in my training. I had a distance PR (personal record) in front of me and with more than a month off from running I was unsure what the outcome would be.

I made my goal (Goal: 3hrs - 18mi). I finished in 2:49:24 (Pace: 9:24) - that's a good sign and a confidence boost.

The weather today was at my advantage with low wind, partly cloudy skies and temps in the low 50s. Perfect setting for a long run. I started the first mile like I was running a race at a 7:53 pace. I quickly reminded myself how long I still had to go. By mile 5, I had my pace down to 9:13 and was settling in nicely. At this point, I was rounding the North end of White Rock lake.

I've found a new favorite place to run. The trails at White Rock have suttle hills, big hard wood trees, gently winding path, a great atmosphere set by a number of other runners, walkers, and people with thier dogs and outstanding views of the lake, Dallas downtown skyline and at 5:30 a sunset filled with shades of orange, blues, purples and yellows. The nice part about a run this long is you actually take the time to enjoy the scenery and people around you.

By mile 9, I was still moving along nicely at a 9:32 pace and headed directly into the sunset. Mile 10 and 11 took me around the southside of White Rock lake and the spillway. They have recently remodeled this area making it a great place to make the turn home. At this point, it was getting dark out and cooling down nicely. It wasn't much longer after that when I checked my distance and time - realising I had already passed the 13.1 mark. I was surprised at how great I was still feeling.

It wasn't that long ago that 13.1 miles was a big acheivement for me. Today made me reflect back on the training through July to October. I started out with some basic goals and found that I was quickly meeting and exceeding those goals. My original goal for the Half Marathon in October was to simply finish the race without making any stops to walk. It then changed to finish in 2hrs and 30mins, it then changed again to 2hrs. Moving forward to today, I am aiming for a 3hr 40min time in the marathon. Hopefully this time, I haven't underestimated or been too agressive.

At mile 14, Elise and my pup (Jacelyn) met me to re-fill my water bottle (not a problem I've been faced with my long runs before). I was excited to see them and from the uncontrollable wiggles (the dog) and smile (the wife) I could tell they were happy to see me.

I ran into a lot of hills along the next few miles and the pain really started to set in around 15.5 miles. I had slowed down significantly at this stage due to the pain and secondly trying to manage a reasonable heartrate (taking Melissa's advice). Normally, I would push harder at this stage and try to finish strong. I tried at least five times to pick up the speed, each attempt was short lived. I felt like my legs were going to fall out from underneath me. On the last stretch, my Nike chip let me know I was only 400m out - pretty cool (Thanks Casey and Tiff - great Christmas gift).

Prior to this I had moved my goal from 3hrs to 2:50:00, so at 200m I made a lame attempt at sprinting. A complete lack of form and most likely amusing for the passing motorist. That said, I did make it and was very happy with run.

Due to a lack of proper planning, I found myself around a 1.5mi from the house. I rested for 2mins - trying to walk out some of the soreness then took off running again. I made it all of 200m and decided it just wasn't happening. Although the run had started off with near perfect weather, it was now freezing outside. The walk home was miserable. It was cold but what was really miserable was the pain that was setting into my glutes, hamstrings and the entirety of my calves. I had to stop at one point and sit for a few minutes before continuing on. I envisioned beingin  my warm apartment, curled up next to my wife on the couch, watching football and eating left over tacos. It was every bit as wonderful as I imagined it when I finally made it home, minus the two flights of stairs up to our apartment.

In addition, I had the opportunity to stock up on some new gear today. I picked up from compression sleeves, underarmour coldweather tights, running gloves and new running shoes. I went to RunOn Dallas to pick up the shoes and had them take a look at my wearing patterns and stride tendencies. They told me I had some slight pronation on my left foot and recommended a shoe with small amount posting/stability support. I ended up with the Brooks RAVENNA 2 runners. I look forward to alternating them into my training runs and fully switching over in the next few weeks. My current shoes are a nuetral shoe, Aasics Gel Nimbus 12, and made a big difference over the last pair shoes I had been running with. They've worked out really well but will be hitting the 400mi mark soon. I thought it would be best to switch now, 12 weeks out, rather than making a last minute switch before the marathon.

That's all for today, I'm looking forward to a full night's rest.

Thanks again for following my blog. Comments, training tips and donations to The Children's Trust ( is welcomed and encouraged.


Day 4 - Only 84 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi Everyone,

Today was an outstanding day for a run. The temps in the mid 50s and bright sunny skies. Best of all, it was outside and off of the dreadmill.

Stats -- Distance: 3.28 -- Time: 27:50 -- Pace 8:29

Based on a suggestion from a friend, I'm going to go find some Shot Rocks...whatever those are...for my long run tomorrow. Goal is 10min pace which works out to be 3 hrs flat. The struggle with 18 miles, besides the obvious, is finding a good place to run it. I think tomorrow I'll head out towards White Rock Lake and just run for an hour and half and then turn back towards the the future I think I need to do some better route planning, especially as these runs get longer. I hate running laps, it is like a broken record.

Daily Mile sent me this 2010 Year in Review.. pretty cool. I thought I'd share for those of you that don't know about Daily Mile.

Just a quick reminder, if you haven't already - please check out The Children's Trust website ( and consider donating on my fundraising site (


Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 3 - Only 85 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi Everyone,

Last night's run proved how important each day from now until the race is going to be. My heart rate is up much higher than I anticipated it being. It is going to take a few weeks to get my times down...safely.

Hamster Wheel Run -- Distance: 7miles -- Time: 1 hour 6 minutes -- Pace: 9 minute 28 second

Today is rest day and then 3miles tomorrow before the distance pr on Sunday. I've decided to dedicate some time this weekend doing research on nutrition specific to marathon training, useful training tips, etc. If you have any good advice, let me know.

I also wanted to post a video from The Children's Trust...Sophie's story

Remember you can support The Children's Trust through my fundraising site -


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 2 - Only 86 Days Left Until the London Marathon

Hi Everyone,

Last night was my first training run, it went okay…not great and not bad. I ran 4.56 miles at a 9 min 11 sec pace.

Note: I’ll need to run at an 8 min 23 sec pace to reach my goal time in the marathon.

I’ve got 7 miles on the agenda tonight, a day off, 3 miles on Saturday and then 18 miles on Sunday. A grand total of 32 miles for week one of training. Whew! 32 miles in a week is around the number I was peaking at during my half marathon training back in September. My legs are going to need a long soak on Sunday night.

On the other front, I setup a fundraising site through Virgin Money. Virgin is the official sponsor  and organiser of the 2011 London Marathon. The Children’s Trust has a direct link to the Virgin Money website; therefore, the money you donate goes 100% directly to the charity without passing through other hands.

Thanks again for following and all your support.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Run Flick Run - 19 January 2010 (Day 1)

Hey Everyone,

Welcome to my blog. It's official, at 3:51pm Central Standard Time, I received notice that I have been accepted and will be running for the The Children's Trust in the London Marathon.

This is exciting for so many reasons.

  • The Children's Trust ( is great charity in the UK that provides rehabilitation services to children. One of their services include the UK's largest paediatric brain injury rehabilitation centre. Something I can certainly relate to (more on my story below).

  • I love what the London Marathon stands for. The London Marathon ( is known as the biggest annual fundraising event on the planet. Very exciting to be a part of this.

  • My wife and I are moving to London in the next few weeks. Running for the The Children's Trust team means lots of opportunity to meet new people.

  • The route for the London Marathon is full of historic landmarks. The race starts in Blackheath, heads east through Charlton and Woolwich for three miles, turns west and passes the Cutty Sark in Greenwich after six to seven miles. It crosses the River Thames at Tower Bridge and then loops around the east end of London, past Canary Wharf in Docklands, before heading west again along the Highway and the Embankment to Parliament Square, Birdcage Walk and the final corner in front of Buckingham Palace. What a great place and event to run my first full marathon!

  • It will be incredibly challenging. A little background on my running history...started running with a focus on races in July 2010. I started out running 2 miles, about an 11 minute pace. Ugly. I ran my first Half Marathon in Tyler, TX on 11 October 2010. My goal time was 2 hours flat, I finished in 1 hour 53 minutes. After a brief break, I started training again for my second Half. On 21 November 2010, I ran my second Half Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My goal time was 1 hour and 45 minutes, I missed my goal by 2 minutes crossing the finish at 1 hour 47 minutes. Now it's time to move on to the big one, 26.2 in London - here I come. Goal - - - 3 hours 40 minutes.

  • I'm a chunk. Time to lose some weight, what better than marathon training to lose a few pounds?

Part of runnining for a charity means raising money, I'll have a website up soon to collect donations.

My goal is £3000 ($4,500 USD).

I'll keep everyone updated on the training and fundraising. Thank you in advance for the support!

~Run Flick Run~