(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Earlier this year I started working out with a heart rate monitor and was very frustrated by what it told me. Still, I gritted my teeth and committed to working with it for a few months to see if I would become stronger by first slowing down. All these years I’ve been telling myself to speed up and now I have to tell myself to slow down!

At the same time, I’ve wondered how accurate the traditional heart rate ranges are for a person with exercise-induced asthma who pre-treats with ProAir, a medication known to raise heart rates. I don’t have breathing difficulties in my regular day-to-day activities, just when I’m exerting myself aerobically. In fact, if I pre-treat very long before my activity begins, I get very jumpy.

As for that question, I just found out that National Jewish Health cardiology is doing outreach into the neighborhoods by offering Walk with a Doc monthly events where a specific health topic is discussed and then people go on a walk with the health professionals present and ask more personal questions. When I wrote the program with my question, the doctor in charge suggested I come and talk with them there—which I will do at the June event. However, he did give me hope that I may not have to restrain myself at the level I am currently. You mean I don’t always have to run like an old woman??!!

Typical run exertion rates Jan. 2013

Typical run exertion rates Jan. 2013

Since I’ve been using the watch for around three months, I have finally collected quite a bit of data and there is definitely a positive trend occurring. My watch “knows” what’s happening throughout my run, but the straight data I get is more along the line of mean and mode—it doesn’t really tell me what my median heart rate is. However, I can find a summary of that data through the training load chart. Checking it yesterday, I was surprised and delighted to see that my willingness to “listen” to my watch these past several months has paid off.

According to Polar Fitness, “Training intensity and duration as well as physical parameters (for instance, age, weight) affect training load.” The training load chart is divided into three zones: red indicates “cumulative training load is on a very high level” that is potentially straining your body so much so that taking a break is recommended; yellow indicates “cumulative training load is on a high level” and training level should be reduced in intensity; and, green, which indicates “you are recovered from previous training sessions” and can increase training sessions or their intensity levels.

Typical run exertion rates April 2013

Typical run exertion rates April 2013

I’m very happy to report that I haven’t hit the red zone in over two and a half months and that my workouts in the yellow zone this month have been very close to the green zone. For the most part my highest training loads happen in ZUMBA class where I do not make any effort to slow myself down. But even those sessions have improved greatly since I began changing my running patterns by exerting myself more as the watch suggested I should.

This news makes me ecstatic because it means that very soon I should be able to begin increasing my speed without overexerting my heart. Then I’ll just be running like the middle-aged woman I am! As well as exerting myself in a much safer manner than previously. Yaroo!

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