Friday, 25 November 2011

Heart Rate and GPS Training

What is wrong with my training?

•    Do you use a heart rate monitor or a speed and distance monitor (GPS) when you complete your running exercise/training?
•    Have you ever wondered if you were running at the correct heart rates and/or paces in training?
•    Have you ever wondered why your heart rate while training is different than that of the people around you?

    Heart rate monitoring has been around for years to gauge the effort or intensity of a training session. Although easily measured, heart rate is influenced by many variables which can provide a false indication of intensity (See Heart Rate Training Article). To make matters even worse, many utilize inaccurate equations based on age and resting heart rate to set max heart rate and training zones, which they then use as part of their training. Many of the monitors used to measure heart rate during a training session also utilize these same equations in setting training zones for purchasers. Again these are inaccurate. Here is the problem:

1.    Max heart rate is not the same with people of the same age or gender (max heart rate is individual)
2.    Max heart rate is only one measure of a whole range of aerobic intensities (5 to be exact)
3.    Max heart rate equations assume that rates are the same between disciplines (running, cycling,   swimming, etc), which they are not (Eg. 220 – Age)
4.    Percentage of max heart rate in determining aerobic training zones assumes that these percentages are the same for everyone (which they are not)

    The result is inaccurate training zones and limited improvements in fitness. Heart rate can be utilized as a means to measure the effort during a training session (provide you read and understand the limitations listed in the Heart Rate Training Article), but should not be utilized to determine aerobic training zones.

    GPS monitoring has changed the way we measure effort when we train. Utilizing speed or pace, an individual can obtain instantaneous information regarding their current and average speed/pace over a given time or distance. The advantage of GPS monitoring is that most of the factors which influence heart rate are removed. This allows the individual to train at specific speeds and paces which reflect their individual fitness level and need for their training distance. Other factors need to be considered though:

1.    When running with pace, increases in grade (incline) can change the zone at which you are training.
2.    Increased wind conditions can also increase the zone at which you are training.
3.    Overcast or covered conditions (trees, buildings, etc) can impact the pacing information.

    Though, like heart rate, simply measuring your pace during a run does not disclose whether you are running the correct pace for a particular workout. Even monitoring these paces over several workouts does not disclose whether you are running at the correct paces. Believe me; we see the result of improper pace training in the lab everyday, with runners wondering what they have been doing wrong.
    For the next article I will be looking at what a proper fitness test can tell you about your fitness and how that information can be utilized to maximize your training time, energy, and results.

The "Rookie" Profile

Well, we have all been here at some point or another during our training career. For some it may feel like starting over again after a period of transition or forced time off due to injury, work, family, or other commitments which limit your training time. For the sake of this article though, a Rookie is a Rookie (never trained before).

            Starting to become more physically active can be tough. I had a quote sent to me the other day stating “the hardest step for any runner is the first one out the door.” This can be true for the experienced individual at some times during the process, or the rookie who is looking to start their journey. Regardless, for the rookie the key thing is to be consistent with your training, and complete your training at the levels of effort which reflect your individual fitness level and goals. Do that and good things will happen.

            From a physiological standpoint we can determine a rookie profile quite quickly. Any effort for this client above and beyond normal daily activities produces a significant increase in physiological stress; meaning their body does everything it can with the resources it has to deal with the exercise stress which is being imposed upon it. However, since they have only been completing limited daily activities, even small increases in effort produce a substantial load on their body systems. Here is what a “Rookie” Profile looks like in the lab:
            A "Rookie" Profile typically starts off at a walking speed ( say 5 km/h), progresses to a faster walk (6 km/h), then to a jog (7 km/h), etc. until the test is completed. For the "Rookie" any increase in effort above and beyond normal daily activities causes a substantial increase in lactate levels (exercise stress). This client will have to be very careful in structuring their exercise training for several reasons:

  1. They may ignore what their body is trying to tell them and may try to push beyond levels which are too advanced for their current level of fitness.
  2. If they do start at a proper exercise intensity for their current level of fitness, the tendency is to progress too quickly beyond what their body is capable of handling.
  3. The tendency will be for them to want to run all the time (due to personal or group pressure to do so) with limited success, which could result in frustration and reduced consistency
  4. There is a high risk of injury for this person completing too high of an intensity too often, thus increasing their chance of injury or burnout.
            This is a very common profile we see here at the PEAK Centre. Many people are starting to include more running, cycling, rowing, and swimming into their daily routine. Each person is individual and the level of progression and improvement over time will be different as well.

            The “Rookie” needs to be patient and ensure to complete each training session at the level of effort which represents their individual fitness level (as prescribed from a test by heart rate and/or speed/pace). They must be very careful in trying to adapt a training schedule designed for an intermediate or advanced endurance individual, in that their body may be incapable of handling that level of exercise stress. By measuring and identifying their levels, “Rookies” can ensure that the progression of their exercise training will produce the desirable results they are looking for.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Reactive Profile Training (RPT) - Endurance - Part #1

  • Have you ever wondered why some people can seem to run forever at base intensity, while others sputter out?
  • Have you ever wondered why you cannot seem to push your intervals or hill work to the levels you want to?
  • Have you often wondered why you are falling short of your time goals despite getting in your training?

It might be your endurance profile!

            Over the years we have had the unique opportunity to see first hand the results from 1000’s of people who have come into the centre for fitness testing services. We get to see the results of the training they have completed over time. What I can tell you is that when someone walks through the door at the PEAK Centre we never know what we are going to see from the test results. The reason is each person has:

·        a unique training experience/history
·        a unique genetic make-up,
·        a unique set of goals, and
·        a unique personality

            When we look at all of the testing data we find patterns of profiles based upon all of the factors that make us unique listed above.  These patterns of profiles not only shape how the information is analyzed from a test, but as important, they should dictate the type of training a person should be completing (the distance, the intensity, the specific intervals, etc). 

There are essentially 6 profiles that can be identified:

1.      The “Rookie” Profile
2.      The “Relaxer” Profile
3.      The “Repetitive” Profile
4.      The “Rigorous” Profile
5.      The “Recuperative” Profile
6.      The “Reliable” Profile

            Now that you know that there exists not one, but six profiles, you can imagine how difficult this can be when scheduling training and specific workouts. Each profile has specific strengths and weaknesses, and each need has to be specifically addressed if improved endurance is the goal. An interval set for a person with a “Pusher” profile may not be good for a “Relaxer” profile. High base runs for a “Rookie” profile may not be good for a “Repetitive” profile. The next series of articles will identify the strengths and weaknesses of each profile. Can you determine which profile you might be?