Chest Compressions (A Mama Kat Writing Post)

For my Mama Kat prompt this week, I chose “An invention you’d like to see created.” Although I usually let choose for me, number 3 was practically waving its hands and begging to be chosen. 

I have finally entered the world of fitness technology gadgetry. I have had the same running watch so long that I really can’t remember when or where I bought it. The velcro that holds it on is about to fall apart, but otherwise it has been a trooper. Very basic – it keeps time and that’s it but that is all I felt I needed. Until now.

Now I have coaches (PRSFit) and Jeff and Diane of PRSFit use heart rate monitoring as a key component of training. (This post provides their rationale in detail.) I had to buy a heart rate monitor as part of my coaching process.

Enough about the fact that I have taken this baby step. Now it’s time to talk about the strap. The heart rate monitor consists of the watch-like part you wear on your wrist, and it gets its information from the monitor you wear around your chest. I have known all along when lots of my fitness friends and acquaintances had heart rate monitors on their wrists, that they had the other piece strapped around their chests. Now that I have been doing it myself a couple of weeks, I am here to commend them for their patience and advocate for a re-design.

The chest strap consists of the part that has the technology in it, which is enclosed in plastic, two plastic straps that extend out that are supposed to be wet in order to relay information to the monitor, and the elastic piece that stretches around your chest and hooks into the “information unit.”

What mystifies me is why something that we use while doing something that makes us feel so free, is so darned constrictive! Although I am getting used to it, it still feels tight while at the same time feeling like it may fall off at any minute.

I suppose there are a couple of options with the current design:

1) Wear it and just deal with it, or 

2) Shell out around $65 for one of these (a Polar brand “heart rate monitor bra” with little spaces/fasteners where the monitor itself attaches):

The #2 option, however, is expensive and the reviews I have read have been underwhelming.

Surely there’s something that is just as functional but a lot more comfortable. I don’t know what, but for Heaven’s Sake I live in the town that educated the inventor of Spanx. There must be some way to improve the chest strap experience.

Any ideas?

ps – this is a tangent, except for the fact that this post is kind of bra-related. Aren’t these some of the coolest looking sports bras you’ve seen? They’re from Roll Up N’ Dye, an artist I learned about from Ann of Ann’s Running Commentary.


Fewer Races, Faster Times (Hopefully)

“The Last Banana”

When I first started blogging regularly, I planned to chronicle my efforts to get out of “the last banana club.” This post is the first one I ever wrote about my goal of improving my 5K time to the point that I could finish in less than 30 minutes (and have a broader post-race snack selection than that last sad banana half).

St. George Island Sizzler
June 27, 2009

As I approach the three-year mark of that goal (without having achieved it), I find myself utterly unable to commit to any other goals for 2012 (I usually have 3 goals for each year). It is time to admit that, although I have definitely made progress, something I am doing (or not doing) has to change in order to get me there.

I finally purchased a heart rate monitor. I purchased the heart rate monitor when I entered into a coaching relationship with Coaches Jeff and Diane of PRS Fit. I have spent this first week talking back and forth with Jeff about my goals of running a 5K in less than 30:00 and completing the Boston 13.1 Marathon for Autism Speaks on September 16, 2012. One of the keys of establishing the coaching plan is an assessment. The assessment thus far has involved the heart rate monitoring and preparing to adjust my weekly workout schedule.

I did a maximum heart rate test on Tuesday (and, for the record, ran my first sub 10:00 minute mile in the process!); and lactate threshold testing on Thursday. Yesterday involved one of the first adjustments I have had to make to my workout plans. Prior to having a coach, I had planned (for yesterday) to run a 10K race here in town. Subsequent to having a coach, I ran 1.5 hours instead, keeping my heart rate in my Zone 2, with a three minute push at the end. The goal is to build an aerobic base.

Coach Jeff’s rationale for forgoing the 10K is that I was making a common mistake: racing too much, training too little. As much as I missed everything I love about racing yesterday — my friends, the excitement in the air, the challenge, the race pictures we would see afterwards (hey, maybe one of these days I will like one!), the results, and helping a good cause (in this case, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tallahassee) — the coach is right in this case. I would have completed the race, I would have LOVED it, I would have had some good stories to tell.

But I would not have known enough or learned anything else about my body, my technique, or my mental approach to make any changes that would make a lasting difference in my 5K speed.

I also know I am probably going to have to change my fitness schedule around so that my Tuesday intervals aren’t followed the next day by boot camp* with stadium stairs (because there is not enough recovery time between the two). It has taken me so long to get to a point that is a hair below dread every Tuesday night that I have asked the coach to leave intervals on the schedule in lieu of doing something different with the time I have been devoting to reaching Row 85 of Doak.

As much as I will miss my boot camp buddies, I’ll pay the price for now.

Anyone want to do stadium stairs with me some other night?

Run for the Cookies
February 12, 2012
*(Here’s a blog about boot camps – note Doak camps are usually on Wednesdays now.)