Sunday, January 3, 2021

Sit And Be Fit

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have come and gone. Didn’t mean much to me. I’m not a holiday guy in the first place, and in the second place I’m really not enthusiastic about any event whose defining feature is drunkenness. No, there wasn’t any latenight debauch for me. I spent the waning hours of 2020 on the turbo trainer and when the clock struck midnight I was taking a shower. I spent the rest of the night watching old movies, not vomiting and making promises to God that in exchange for some relief I would never overindulge again. When morning came I congratulated myself for maintaining my regular schedule on one of my nights off from work, then I went to bed, 8 a.m. or thereabouts, like a good boy.

I’m trying a new trainer setup this winter, moving out of the home gym and into the home office. When I’m in the saddle I have a full view of the big TV in the den. Kind of hard to explain, but the home office and the den are combined and yet distinct areas. The home gym is now for strength training only, and I will continue to spend plenty of time there. But the home gym TV is old and its power supply is unreliable, resulting in occasional freezing of the picture. That’s fine when I’m lifting weights, as I can reset the TV quickly between exercises, but I don’t want that kind of interruption when I’m doing a trainer ride.

I will use my Garmin Forerunner to quantify my trainer workouts this winter … despite concerns about the accuracy of the device. On my New Year’s Eve ride it reported a maximum heart rate of 189 beats per minute. No way. That’s a gasping for breath effort, and at no point was I working so hard. At 55 years old, I’m not sure I’m even capable of hitting 189 bpm. And 27% of the workout in Zone 5? Again, no way. This was an easy spin. I did intervals, but the “work” periods were only marginally harder than the “rest” periods.

It’s also more than a little suspicious that my heart rate rose and fell so abruptly.

Again, the harder intervals were only marginally harder. Even if they had been all-out sprints, there would have been some lag time before the device accounted for the higher heart rate. The spikes may have occurred because I was in a much more upright position during the harder intervals. I added a blue line to the graph to show what appears to be a reasonable, gradual increase in my heart rate over the duration of the ride. That I feel I can trust, so maybe the “fix” for the wild fluctuations is simply to keep my hands on the brake hoods.

If the Forerunner can’t be trusted to give me accurate heart rate numbers, then at least it can be trusted to make some record of my workouts on Garmin Connect, and that alone will provide a level of motivation that had been lacking. My decision to purchase the Forerunner was motivated largely by a desire to have all of my fitness tracking in one integrated package: Garmin Connect. But the inaccuracy of the device is disappointing. Its heart rate and calorie calculations aren’t even close. Outside it’s a timer and a route mapper and a distance tracker, but inside it’s really just a stopwatch. Good enough, I guess, for this winter. Historically, I haven’t been able to maintain a commitment to turbo trainer rides. If, however, I have a good indoor training season, then perhaps next year I’ll invest in a smart trainer and put all of these worries behind me.

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