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What does a "crappy" run look like from my Fitbit's perspective? 
27th-Feb-2016 12:27 pm
running, shoes
I've been working my way through a modified version of the "Couch to 5K program", the major modification being that I only run once a week, so I'm progressing 3 times more slowly than you're supposed to. I've actually been quite pleased that I've still been able to make quite a bit of progress despite only running once a week. It seems like this is a lesson I keep having to learn: just because it might be "optimal" to train 3 times a week or whatever doesn't mean that you fail to make progress if you do less than that, especially if you're consistent.

However, the one drawback to running once a week is that if I have a crappy run for whatever reason, I kind of feel like I've blown it for the week. Two weeks ago, I had one of those beautiful runs that are probably the reason why I keep running even though it so frequently sucks - I felt good, I held a good pace, finished strong, felt great afterwards.

Then last week, I hit the pavement ready to do it all again, and like two minutes into my run, my left calf cramped up. Walked it out, stretched a bit, tried again. Nope, instant calf cramp. Briefly considered just running anyway, and then did the grown up thing, went for a walk, and came home and spent some quality time with the foam roller and the lacrosse ball working the knots out of my muscles.

This morning, I went out to run, and while I didn't have any cramping, it wasn't what I would call a great run. My legs were pretty tired, and while I "ran" the full length of time I was supposed to, by the last few minutes I felt like my pace was really lagging. It made me wonder if I was cheating myself out of cardiovascular benefits by running when my legs were tired and couldn't keep me going fast enough to keep my heart rate as high as possible.

The Fitbit Charge HR actually makes it possible to semi-intelligently answer this question. I compared my heart rate data from the awesome run of two weeks ago and today's crappy run.

The awesome run:
18 minutes in peak heart rate zone
14 minutes in the cardio zone
14 minutes in the "fat burn" zone
138 average bpm

The crappy run:
17 minutes in peak heart rate zone
13 minutes in the cardio zone
18 minutes in the "fat burn" zone
133 average bpm

So, there's a difference there, and it might even matter if I were training for competitive endurance running. But from a general fitness point of view, I can now confidently say, "Yay, crappy runs are awesome!"
27th-Feb-2016 09:13 pm (UTC)
I've had similar thoughts with trying to practice meditation. Sometimes I sit down and my brain is all over the place -- but I tell myself that even a bad attempt is better than no attempt at all (especially since I'm unlikely to injure myself, which is one up on running).
27th-Feb-2016 10:39 pm (UTC)
Ever since I read about the brain imaging studies that showed that the brains of runners mid-run are remarkably similar to the brains of meditators, I have tended to think of my weekly runs as "meditation, with added risk of shin splints."

There's a book called _Silicon Valley Monk_, in which a local engineer details his experiences with Buddhism and meditation - including two fairly serious psychotic breaks that he experienced during long meditation retreats. The author uses sports injuries as a metaphor for what happened to him - in his opinion, it's not that meditation is inherently dangerous (or even inherently dangerous for him), it's that he did too much too soon, or did the wrong kind of meditation for the way his mind functions, or didn't do the correct things to recover. So, if one wanted to be really pedantic, one might say that it is possible to "injure" oneself while meditating, but you have to get really intensive with your practice.
29th-Feb-2016 07:58 pm (UTC)
This is interesting. I may have to recommend that book to a friend of mine.
29th-Feb-2016 08:35 pm (UTC)
It's a self-published memoir, and it's a bit of a mixed bag - the sections about his travels in India aren't really up to the best travel writing I've read. But as a remarkably clear and unflinching account of what it's like to go mad, the book is amazing.

I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who's interested in the pyschology of meditation practice, or who is looking to deepen their own meditation practice.
28th-Feb-2016 09:31 pm (UTC)
Yay for you and for running!
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