Monday, 13 October 2014

Heart Rate Training - 3 week recap

I started using the Polar H7 heart rate monitor about 3 weeks ago to better track my workouts, and boy howdy was it eye opening!  As you may recall, I was shocked and dismayed to see that my cardio health meant that I was not burning anything near what I thought during my usual workout sessions - - whether doing weights, elliptical, or zumba. 

I always knew that the MyFitnessPal app had a rather - shall we say - generous definition of calories burned from various activities.  According to that app I should be constantly in deep calorie deficits with few results.  Clearly the app was inaccurate.  Flattering, yes, because it made me look like a superwoman in my calorie burns, but not so useful as a way of tracking calories in versus calories out.

I trusted the readings on the elliptical because they relied on my actual weight and a calculation of effort based on a combination of my incline, tension and strides per minute.  Should be accurate, right?  Erm...not so much.  The elliptical is just as generous in its own way when compared to the heart rate monitor as the MyFitnessPal app is when compared to the elliptical.

All of which is a long way of saying that for the past 3 weeks I have been preferentially tracking with the heart rate monitor as an indicator of my true work.  This has had a side effect of kicking me out of my comfortable easy workouts (not that I appreciated this at the time!) into a place where I am pushing it for the duration of the workout in an attempt to keep my heart rate in the training zone.

What is the training zone I am looking for?  Well, for my age (46 - - at least for now) I should shoot for an average of 121 bpm - 148 bpm to keep my heart rate in the 70%-85% maximum heart rate range, which qualifies as vigorous activity.  I should call it vigorous!  I am positively knackered every time I finish a workout but I am very happy to finish and really feel like I've accomplished something. 

Taking a look at my chart, above, I had one workout in the past three weeks where I was below the heart rate for moderate or vigorous workouts (the little red bar on the left - a zumba workout), and two workouts in which my average heart rate was higher than 85% of my maximum (a little too high - elliptical workouts both of them). 

I found it interesting to look at these workouts on the chart because while the easy workout had a perhaps understandably low level of overall calories burned and calories/minute burned, the two where my heart rate was a little high did not have the highest overall calorie burns in absolute terms (they were both 46 minute workouts), but the calories burned per minute were greater than 10 cals/minute each time.  I have no idea what this means, but I certainly found it interesting.

Anyhoo, the heart rate training is showing me that by and large I am using the heart rate monitor to help keep my workouts in the vigorous zone, which is good.  These are helping to improve my endurance and overall fitness, which is also good.  It's hard work completing a vigorous workout every time, but I suppose that's kind of the point, isn't it?

On somewhat related news, in a very high risk move the Matriarch bought me a couple of pairs of yoga pants from Lululemon.  You know, the place famous for their see-through yoga pants and its refusal to stock anything larger than a size 12 because "Frankly, some women's bodies just actually don't work [for the yoga pants]."  I am not a fan of their business model for the obvious reasons, and I had never considered shopping at Lululemon because I am normally a size 14 for bottoms, not a size they normally carry.

The Matriarch looked at the size 12 yoga pants and thought they looked "a little big" so she bought me a size 8 and a size 10, both in tall lengths.  Hahahahahahaha.  In her defence, the Matriarch is 5'2" so everyone seems like an amazon to her, but at 5'9" I don't really qualify for tall clothes (I'm too short).  The one pair was so long that they puddled on the ground completely hiding my feet.  The other pair, the capris, came down to my ankles in a most un-capri-like manner. 

Here's where the bizarre part came in - - I could put both of the pants on!  (not at the same time, of course)  The 10 fit perfectly except for the length and the size 8 capris were a little too form fitting, but they were on with no muffin top to be seen.  I wouldn't want to do any actual yoga in them, just in case (see comment re. see-through yoga pants, above), but they were on, and I still had feeling in my legs and everything.  Crazy!

So today the Nerd and I went to the Lululemon store in the Eaton Centre (which was open on Thanksgiving Day because it is a tourist zone) and exchanged the 8s for a 10 and the talls for normal sizes.  And both pairs fit perfectly.  Holy shit.  I know yoga pants are stretchy and all, but this is a step change for me.

I still wouldn't buy anything from Lululemon myself, but I am perfectly happy to wear these gifted yoga pants.  Yes, I understand that I have a certain degree of moral flexibility.  But hey - size 10s! 


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