Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Continuing Adventures of Cancer Boy

What a day! Yesterday that is. A client failed to show for a meeting and after waiting fifteen minutes I pulled the plug. So I drove home - thirty minutes each way - and walked in the door to have said client call, apologize profusely and beg me to come back. My face was killing me, and I have been suffering from low-grade headaches which I generally only suffer as a result of a hangover but which I suspect are caused by the ointment I am slathering all over my ugly mug. I gritted my teeth and relented. The things we do for money...

On the way to the client I had someone drive into the side of my Miata. I was puttering along in my lane, the traffic was horrendous and a big silver Audi decided to do a lane change without bothering to check his mirrors. I veered as far away as I could, stopped just short of clipping the parked cars, hit my horn and my brakes - all to no avail. Normally, this would leave me pissed off. But I was too hot and too tired. The Audi pulled over and out emerged a kinder, gentler version of Marcus Welby, MD. Mister silver hair and wire-frame spectacles walked over, thrust out his hand and introduced himself as Bob "D". I already had my licence, registration and pen in hand.

Bob was a little confused, too polite for words and offered his Audi as an office to fill out the paperwork. I wanted to hug Bob and tell him it would be all right. Hey, accidents happen. And Bob obviously didn't have a mean bone in his body. Back in Bob's Audi, leather lined - of course, I filled out two sets of information and handed one to Bob. In parting I wished him a better day than the way it started... Every once in a while you realize that life is like a rowboat, we're all in this together and we're better of if we bail it out together. Rowing in unison doesn't hurt either...

I had no desire to go to the Marathon Clinic yesterday. The Clinic is only three weeks old, but it already seems mired in confusion and a lack of direction. After ten clinics I think I have a pretty good idea about what people need to know in order to be successful in their training. And talks about shoes aren't it. Fuck, if you're in a marathon clinic and you don't know enough to have a decent pair of runners... well, it just doesn't happen. But it gives the store an opportunity to shill shoes.

The discussion was on heart rate monitors and the local Polar rep was in attendance. Couldn't miss this one. The discussion was mostly technical and although it was touched on, I didn't think the talk emphasised what I consider to be the most crucial part of marathon training and the benefits of using a heart rate monitor - Heart Rate Target Training Zones. In fairness, the Rep nailed it on the head when she said that the single biggest training mistake was runners doing every run in a clinic at the same level of effort, ie about 75%.

Some little ditz who was at the clinic for the first time went on and on and on, ad nauseum, about how she couldn't get her Polar to work - until I chirped off about it sounding like "pilot error" to me... Is it just me or are there huge numbers of the populous that could really benefit from video replay? Yes, that's you. Yes, you do look and sound foolish. Yes, it might be better if you listened instead of talking all the time...

Everyone who wanted one was then fitted with a heart rate monitor to try out. This is always a moment of truth, because in EVERY freakin' clinic you will get some complete and utter morons who - because they are stupid, mind you - who will begin to speak inanities about "not believing" in heart rate monitors - like it's some kind of bizarre religious sect - and blather on about "training by feel". All of this is complete hogwash of course. The demented souls actually belief this tripe, mind you. And without fail, it will be these dumb f**kers who go too fast on Sundays and will be unable to take instruction in the rest of the clinic. You have to wonder why they even pay to participate in a Clinic when they clearly think they are already too smart to learn anything new. Yet nearly every clinic seems to have a couple of runners who fit that bill...

Tonight, after much discussion (most of which I disagreed with), the decision had been made to show people what it was like to train at 80% of their Maximum Heart Rate, which should approximate their lacate threshold. It was hoped to determine people's Maximum Heart Rate by a formula that was complicated enough for experienced runners but one which I figured was doomed from the start by people who were undisciplined and inexperienced. Better off to run them up some hills after they have been warmed up in my not so humble opinion, at least that way you have a base line that is applicable to some real world training practices. And you would get a safe and easy 95% heart rate reading in fifteen minutes of effort.

Of course, what would 80% of your Maximum Heart Rate be if you didn't already know what your Max was??? They fell back on the old standby of 220 minus your age. For most of the people in the clinic, that would have meant a Max of somewhere between 180 and 190. In theory. So at 80%, their new little Polars should have been reading somewhere in the neigbourhood of 150-155... And they were clearly instructed to stay at 80% for the first part of the run.

The plan was to run for twenty minutes at 80% and then go hard for five minutes. It took me a few minutes to get up to 160 and then I sat there - dead on 80% - at least for me that is. In a few minutes Anthony breezed by me, hardly breaking a sweat or breathing hard - there's a reason he runs close to three hour marathons. Within ten minutes I was conscious of quite a pack of people just behind me. Christ, it was impossible not to hear them. And ALL of them breathing hard. Not anywhere near 80%, all of them at 85% or plus, plus,plus.

I started asking for heart rate readings and all of them were 170-180. It was a miracle! They had Max Heart rates of 220!!! In awe I watched them pass me, dreaming of the days when I would soon be watching them in the upcoming Summer Olympics!

I shook my head, resisted the urge to race, gritted my teeth and stayed at 160. The pack flew by, led of course by the couple who don't believe in heart rate monitors and the ones who believe every training run is a race, and left me in the dust.

At twenty minutes, when Anthony asked everybody to go hard, it was easy to pass them all within a few hundred meters, because they were already going flat out. Three or four runners actually had to STOP because they didn't have anything left!

I remembered that I was running the Marathon in Smithers in five days and after I saw 194 - yes, that's about 96% of my Maximum Heart Rate - I pulled off into the infield. Rather than lose my temper, I headed back to the clinic. My average heart rate for the twenty minutes? About 75%, about right given the two laps it took me to get up to 80%. My highest heart rate. 95% plus. Or about what people were supposed to find out.

End result of the evening? A completely wasted work-out for just about everyone in the clinic. The people who wouldn't listen - like the couple who don't believe in heart rate monitors, or who couldn't be bothered to listen, effectively ruined the training session for everyone in the clinic. The data that people received won't be worth apinch of coonshit as my Grandaddy used to say... Oh, it's going to be a long, hot summer...


Anonymous Pedro said...

Hey Vince,
That is perhaps the funniest entry I've read to date! I'm still sitting here with a huge smile on my face, having laughed just about the whole way through it!!!!!!!!
What a shame we humans have an ego - without it we'd all be able to learn so much more!
Have a great race in Smithers my friend.

12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But Vince...

Why do you CARE so much!


5:18:00 PM  

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