Sunday, October 28, 2012

Be Still My Beating Heart

My week of relatively easy running after the Detroit half-marathon ended yesterday with.....a dispiriting fizzle.

On the books was a 2-hour run with my heart rate under 150 beats per minute. My right hamstring was sore, so I was happy this one was to be so easy. But sometimes "easy" isn't "simple." From the beginning, my heart rate refused to stay below 150 if I was doing anything that resembled jogging. I'd run a few steps, the heart would zip up to 160 or above (regardless of whether I was going up, going down or running flat), I'd slow to a walk, the heart rate would plunge back into the 120s.....and this went on for the whole two hours. There was no shuffle that wasn't a walk that didn't provoke the 160-plus reaction. Yet I couldn't walk fast enough to keep it in the 130s or 140s.

Here's what it looked like. Not fun.
At first I thought it was a problem with my Garmin heart rate strap (I use the Forerunner 210). Often when I start a run, my monitor will show impossibly high readings (like in the 180s or even over 200) when I'm barely out of the 11-minutes-a-mile range. Since this is a known problem with Garmin heart rate straps, I tend to ignore it, and it smooths out. But when it never settled down yesterday as it usually does, it became impossible to ignore....and though I may be wrong, I decided to trust it, decided that my body just didn't want to run much yesterday and did A LOT of walking.

Now I'm second-guessing that and wondering if it wasn't the watch or the strap after all. I'm going to try some of the tricks I've read online for fixing this problem, and we'll see how tomorrow's easy run goes.

Either way, this isn't exactly how I hoped to launch the "marathon-specific" portion of this run-up to the California International Marathon. I guess I was due a return to earth after last weekend's high. If this is the worst thing that happens to me over the next five weeks, I'll be grateful!

Has anyone else had problems with your Garmin heart rate monitor? Any advice?

20 comments:

  1. Let me know if you figure something out. Mine shows VERY LOW heart rates. Two races ago it was in the 90s the first 3 miles, and theres NO WAY that was possible!!

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  2. There are some weird days where my heart rate just goes through the roof with no provocation. So annoying. Hope you get it figured out!

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  3. I'm glad you mentioned this. The last time I wore my monitor (only been doing it like once a week lately), it was showing 190s when I started my run. Say what? It did smooth down after a mile or so. My Garmin tends to be wonky in general during that first mile. So frustrating because I try to keep an accurate pace count and when that first mile comes in at 10:42 (when I know I ran faster), it screws things up.


    Hang in there with those seemingly "bad" runs. I had a lousy run myself yesterday. 18 miles have never felt longer... late start, hot and windy, bowel issues, delayed-onset soreness from lifting on Thursday, dehydration, tight glutes and hammies, periodic and unnerving calf cramps... By mile 14, it felt comparable to the end of a marathon. I wanted to QUIT, but I kept on even though my pace started slowing. I'm looking at it as one of those "mentally challenging" runs, which are good to have every so often. Makes you work through the pain.


    Maybe your body just needed a little bit of a break from that awesome half you just did. I think it's all good. Better to be undertrained slightly than overtrained even a little. You'll be back next weekend!

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  4. PS-Please tell me about this HR-specific long run you're doing. What zone? Maybe I should try this out on occasion. Sometimes I feel like I push myself too hard on my long runs. Does your coach have you doing true "long slow distance" each week? Does he think most people do their long runs too fast?

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  5. I have never used a heart rate monitor before so I cannot offer any input. Hopefully it was just a one time thing and you will be back to where you were before this happened. Sending you good vibes and wishing you the best.

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  6. I took a heart rate training class in college, which was great, but I'm ashamed to admit I've done very little with it since. No advice, only well wishes. Good luck! ( I do think you're right that your body was needing an easy day.)

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  7. Equipment-wise: I have a Garmin 610 and the modern soft strap (aka 'premium') which is probably the strap that you have. When I first got it, I found it did that sort of nonsense (180 bpm after 60 to 90 seconds) at the start of most of my runs... (like this, if I set my privacy correctly http://tinyurl.com/8cuoteo). The advice I got was to 'wet' the contacts before running. Instead, I tightened the strap and haven't had issues since. Maybe that will work for you too?

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  8. YES ... I had this exact same thing two weeks ago after my marathon and it freaked me out!!! I ran with my HR way too high at the Prairie Fire Marathon 3 weeks ago - which was 100% self-inflicted. But on Wednesday following the race, during my first run - I would run for a few steps and the dumb thing would go to 200bpm and I couldn't get it down. Then I would walk and it would go down to like 110bpm. Start running again and it would climb to 220bpm ... I mean technically, if that was right, my heart should have exploded. Mind you it was the first run after my heart rate fiasco marathon and I started panicking thinking I had a problem with my heart. It continued for most of the run but eventually went down to where it should have been, and I haven't had that issue since - but it was almost exactly as you described.

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  9. can't being tired or over trained also cause your heart rate to jump around? maybe you needed more time off after the half? I have no idea I wear one occasionally but usually just to go hmm that's interesting :)

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  10. It could be so many things. Do you take your resting heart rate? Maybe check that manually the next couple of days and see where you are.


    If it makes you feel any better, my 22-miler on Saturday was disastrous, which wasn't the confidence boost I needed heading into CIM either!

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  11. Been there, done that! I've had corroded battery sensors, loose straps and dry contacts on the strap. I ignore it until I get numbers that I like! HA

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  12. haha...I loved the title of this. I wasn't sure what it meant until I read it :)

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  13. I'm impressed you're doing a two hour run the next weekend! My body did not let me run long the weekend after the ten miler. This weekend I got 13 in, and think I'm ready to ramp up again. And I've actually never used my heart rate monitor, so I'm not much help!

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  14. I couldn't find my strap for a long time, but I finally did so I may start using it again. I don't have any great troubleshooting advice. Sorry you didn't have a good run.

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  15. I have not had any problems with mine (I have the 405) but my elevation is really weird sometimes. I just wrote up a post about it actually. It's quite annoying!

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  16. Ha! I have the 210 as well and have never even used the HR monitor. Don't even know where the strap is. Hope it was just a fluke and youre back to your usual splendor soon!

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  17. I'm terrible about using my heartrate monitor on a consistent basis. I can only imagine how disheartening this workout was for you. I'm impressed you stuck with it for 2 whole hours. If nothing else, that proves you are MENTALLY strong enough to BQ! :D

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  18. That would be really frustrating. I don't have any good input for you...hopefully it was just an off day for you or, even better, an off day for the Garmin. Hope the next run is on target!

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  19. The heart rate straps, etc. can go "weird" on you sometimes. Personally, I would cross-reference a run in which I believed the heart rates to be closer to accurate, and determine the pace of that run. When the electronics go "wonky", I would simply fall back to that pace. Not extremely technical, but all other things being equal, it should get you VERY close. Sure, if your course or the weather or your fitness is radically different, it would be further off, but that should help you dial in.

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  20. raina_smalltownrunnerNovember 3, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    I am going to click your link as soon as I get done here.
    I almost posted once about the same kind of thing, only it was because I was having weird spikes. It turned out that they happened every time i ran over a stretch of road with buried electric cables. Same spot and it would jump up 20 points and go back down as I got further away. It was a misty day and I wonder how that might have happened. Very interesting reading all your comments here!

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