Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Back on Track

I think I can officially say I am back on track. I purchased a Pear Square One device on eBay. I have been wanting one for months and debating if I needed it or wanted it. I finally just went for it. I am really glad that I did! 

What is Pear Square One? It is a little device that coaches me through each run. There are many training plans on their website that can be uploaded to the device. I started a half marathon one the day I got the device and am on week 8 now. Although I was already on a training plan, this one seems to be much more effective. The device works with a heart rate monitor and foot pod that tracks my running cadence (how many steps per minute). Each workout is based on heart rate. For example, today I did a 35 minute hill repetition workout. It started with a two-step warm up in heart rate zones one and two. Next, I did five hill sprints in heart rate zone 4 with a three minute recovery in zone one between each repetition. It ended with a two-step cool down in zones one and two. I was surprised to discover that my comfortable running pace is around zone three or four. This has created quite a challenge for me, as most of the running in the training is based in zone two. However, I've found that holding myself back a bit has increased my fitness faster than going all out. I have learned that I have to check my zones often, which is easy on the Pear because it has a button on the right ear bud that gives me my pre-determined stats whenever I want them. The coach has also taken the time to explain things that other running apps, etc seem to think everyone already knows. For example, a "fast finish" run is a run that warms up at zone one and then continues at zone two for the majority of the run before finishing the last 5-10 minutes in zone three. A tempo run is similar, but the fast part is in the middle of the run. 

Despite how much I like the Pear, there are a few things I wish were different. The first being I wish there was a wireless syncing dongle I can use. It's a bit tedious to plug it in and sync it every day. Also, I wish that the software was better. I am still using Run Ahead because the stats and tracking are so superior to Pear's. Pears simply focuses on heart rate zones within each run. That means after each run I sync my Pear, take the info from there and input it into Run Ahead. I know, it's not that much to do, but I'm pretty busy and every minute counts. Finally, I wish they had a "training plan" for the actual race. I have already asked them about it, and they said they are working on it. It feels like I'm being left to flounder on my own on the actual race day after weeks of support. The best they could come up with was to use the "free form workout" so that my run is at least counted. While I do plan on doing that, it doesn't come with any coaching. 

Now that I know more about what all the different types of training runs are, I am able to better utilize the features on Run Ahead. Isn't the graph pretty now? 

Current training graph

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