November 17, 2019

Peak! (And a recap of 3-3-3 running for week 7)

So much for writing daily in November!

My daily writing goal is like a lot of goals that I make--I miss one day and then figure I already "ruined" it, so I might as well just forget it. It's a terrible mentality! If I miss a day, I should just get right back to it.

It may not seem like an important goal (writing every day) but I find that on the days that I write a blog post, my anxiety is much lower in general. I still get very nervous about posting something vulnerable, but for even when I write personal posts like that, I feel good about writing in general. I enjoy writing!

So, I'm not going to quit trying to hit this 30 day challenge. I just have to keep starting over, haha. One of my "40 Goals by 40 Years Old" goals is to complete a 30 day challenge. And I decided that I want writing a blog post every day for 30 days to be that challenge.

Lately, I've had more time to myself, but I've been distracted. I had NO free time for about four months; now that the craziness of summer and fall is over, however, I find myself with some time to do things I enjoy. One of those is an app I downloaded on my phone called Peak.

Peak is very similar to Lumosity, which you know I love. I've been playing Lumosity for a long time now, though, and had gotten the top score on most of the games. I was starting to get bored with a lot of them. I really like mind games like the ones on Lumosity, so I looked in the app store for another one that is similar.

And that is how I discovered Peak. I have to say, I think I like it even more than Lumosity! (I liked it so much that I even paid for the subscription.) There are a few games in Lumosity that are still favorites, and unfortunately don't have equivalents in Peak, but Peak has a larger variety of games and it has goals to work toward.

There are badges to earn (it's like they knew exactly how to suck me in!):

So, I've been playing the games on Peak (probably way too much) instead of writing on my blog. It feels good to do something enjoyable and stress free, though!

I have several random things to write about (a bullet-style post would probably be best, because everything is so random) but I think I'll save that for tomorrow. Since tomorrow starts Week 8 of my 3-3-3 running plan, I want to recap Week 7.

I've still been running on the treadmill. We actually got quite a bit of snow here on Monday--enough to warrant a snow day for the kids on Tuesday!--and the roads in the neighborhoods are still icy in patches.

Also, at the suggestion of several of you Friends, I started watching the TV show Jack Ryan while I'm on the treadmill. (My rule is that I can't watch it unless I'm on the treadmill; otherwise, I'd binge watch it on the couch, haha.)

Running on the treadmill means that my Garmin's stats are incorrect (I feel like I've complained about this at least 10,000 times on my blog and I guarantee you at least 10,000 more). The timer is incorrect on my treadmill, but I feel like the speed is accurate.

So, I use the distance on the treadmill and the timer and heart rate monitor on my Garmin to get my stats. To do that, I have to adjust the distance on Garmin Connect. (Which I didn't start doing until only a couple of weeks ago.)

Anyway, this week went... fine. Nothing super notable.

Monday (Week 7, Day 1)

I felt great the first mile. I noticed that when the show I'm watching has an exciting action scene, it's easy to keep my heart rate low. When the show gets boring or people are just talking, my heart rate tends to increase (I think this is because I pay attention to my breathing and running form rather than just letting it happen; I wish I could turn off my brain to stop this, but I just try my best to stay interested in the show).

I kept track of my mile splits for this run: 13:30, 13:33, and 13:25.

Wednesday (Week 7, Day 2)

The first 1.75 miles were great. I barely had to touch the speed on the treadmill and my heart rate stayed steady under my MAF rate.

Mile 1: 13:03 (4.6 mph at 0% incline for the entire mile)

Mile 2: Lowered to 4.5 mph for about 0.75 miles and then 4.4 mph to keep heart rate down.

Mile 3: Varied between 4.2 mph and 4.5 mph, 0% to -0.5% incline. It was hard to keep my heart rate under MAF. It's also hard to "run" at a speed under about 4.4 mph, and feels like a shuffle. At 4.2 mph, I can't lower the speed any more and maintain a "run", so I lower the incline in order to lower my heart rate. I've never had to lower it beyond -1%, though.

Friday (Week 7, Day 3)

For this run, I decided to try out the foot pod again. I had forgotten that I could mess with the calibration factor percentage, so I figured I could work with different numbers until the Garmin's speed read the same as the treadmill in real time.

The factor that it was set at (from when I was running at about 7.0 mph on a regular basis) was 92%. (I have no idea what the percentage means--just that you start with 100% and depending on your stride length and all that, it may vary from the the baseline of 100%).

First, I reset the calibration factor from 92% to 100%. Then I ran the first mile on the treadmill at an even 4.6 mph the entire time, just to see what the result was. That gave me a 13:24 mile (a 4.48 mph speed), so it was slightly off.

For the second mile, I went to work adjusting the calibration factor up and down until the speed on the Garmin read the same as on the treadmill. It ended up being a 115% calibration factor! I have found that the faster I run, the lower the calibration percentage ends up being and vice versa.

I'm going to test out the foot pod on the high school track to see how accurate that calibration factor  is, and then I'll also know if the treadmill is accurate.

For the third mile, the Garmin and the treadmill read the same speed, even as I adjusted the treadmill's speed up and down a little to keep my heart rate at MAF. The average ended up being 4.5 mph (13:20/mile).

Since I'm about halfway done with my 3-3-3 running plan, I was hoping to look for some sort of pattern with my pace--to see if the MAF training is having any effect. (Ideally, my speed will get faster while maintaining my heart rate at the MAF training level. MAF stands for maximum aerobic function. I wrote more about it on this post.)

This data below isn't great for comparison, unfortunately, because of the Garmin being inaccurate with the treadmill and some my earlier runs were outside (with Joey). But here is what it looks like anyway:

Yes, that looks like way too much data, even for me. But I wanted to see some sort of pattern, so I'm looking at all of it. The yellow highlighted lines are the outdoor runs, so I know those are the most accurate as far as distance and pace (but they are also a month old).

From looking at all of this, I can't see that I'm really able to go faster yet at the same heart rate. I will make sure to do at least one outdoor run this week to compare, though.

I did find something that I think is very interesting, though: When I run outside, my stride is a little longer than on the treadmill. Also, my pace is a little faster (for most of them). The pace is likely faster due to the longer strides but near-identical cadence.

I do notice when I'm on the treadmill and my heart rate starts to get too high, I'll shorten my stride a bit to take it a little easier and hopefully bring my heart rate down. If I don't change the speed on the treadmill but I shorten my stride, I'm still going to be going the same speed. And maybe this is why my speed has to be a little slower on the treadmill than it is outside. (If I had to increase steps, then I my heart rate would climb).

Okay, I realize this is all super nerdy and confusing and I'm definitely "thinking out loud" (thinking while typing) so it may not even make sense. I haven't even looked at the data until now, actually.

But the whole thing that I've learned from this so far (7 weeks in) is that I don't have enough consistent data to make any conclusions about anything. Even Dr. Phil Maffetone, who developed the MAF heart rate method, says that you should wait three months before looking at results.

You know what the most amazing thing of all is, though?

I've run three days a week for seven weeks now! This 3-3-3 running plan is really working out well for me--with each run, I feel a little more excited about getting back into it.

I'm starting to get impatient with the slow running, though. I love not feeling like I'm going to die when I run, but sometimes it's hard to run SO SLOW. I'm going to stick it out for the full three months, and then I am going to add a little bit of speed work (80% easy at MAF pace, and 20% hard).

It's so crazy to think that I'm looking forward to doing speed work again, hahaha.

Anyway, I have to go make dinner. I'll do my bullet-style post tomorrow to catch-up!


  1. My nerdy self is totally geeking out over all this info! Thank you for sharing! I didn't realize you could change the calibration of the footpod! I will have to check that out! Do you use your GPS for speed outdoors or do you use the footpod?

    1. Hahaha, I'm so glad someone appreciates it. It's basically useless information, even for me, but I am super nerdy when it comes to this stuff (obviously).

      I use the GPS outdoors, and it's always spot-on with accuracy. You can change the calibration of the foot pod with certain Garmin models--I think it's just the older ones. My Garmin is the 620, which is from 2013(!) and there is an option to change the calibration. The Garmin I had before the 620 had a way to calibrate it by pushing a button and then running a set distance on a track, and then stopping the button. I wish I could do that with my current Garmin! But if you experiment with your foot pod on a track (a known distance) then you can play around with it. I just wish there was some easy way to have an accurate connection between my Garmin and my treadmill. Then I could stop complaining about it! ;)

  2. I totally get what you mean about stride length. I find it funny that I can keep the speed the same but change my heart rate just by either walking or jogging at the same speed. I do have long legs too so that helps I bet. :)

    1. It is funny! I can control my heart rate just by thinking about it to a certain degree (a few beats per minute), even when I'm not exercising. Trying to stay calm and breathe slowly usually makes it drop a little. I really wish I was seeing more progress, though! I don't mind running slowly, but it'd be nice to know that it's working as far as my cardio fitness goes.

  3. I just listened to a podcast about 100 day challenges, and she suggested still checking off the box each day even if you didn't complete the task. It allows you to keep going instead of having to constantly start over. I think it might also be interesting to track your percentage of completion.

    Just something to think about.


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