It's been extremely rewarding to see improvements in my heart rate from my exercise routine that I posted about last week. Aerobic fitness was one of the main things I wanted to improve, so seeing large gains in both max capacity and general cardio fitness has been great. Some examples:
- Today I did a strength training circuit day, and because there was no clock with a second hand (and I don't wear a watch), I used the treadmill between supersets to time my minute recoveries. I noticed that even after intense exertions during the supersets, my heart rate was dropping to 110-120 beats per minute within 30 seconds. I honestly thought the heart rate monitor was faulty until I verified the measurement by taking my own pulse. Recovery time is a major metric for cardio fitness, and this was both surprising and very welcome.
- Ability to maintain a low heart rate during moderate exercise. The best example of this has been with biking, where I can go for an hour on the exercise bike at a decent resistance and clip and keep my heart rate down safely in Zone 2. Back when I used to train haphazardly, I was never able to get anywhere near this level. During these rides, I visualize my heart as an engine, and try to maintain a steady power output while "greasing" the engine with blood (internally) and sweat (externally). Call me crazy, but the visualizations make the workout much more enjoyable - I'm building a stronger, more powerful engine for my body!
- Running: While there is still really no such thing as Zone 2 running for me (I'd have to be going so slowly that I could probably walk just as fast), my low-speed jogging heart rate has steadily been going down, and is now just in Zone 3. One day I hope it will be in Zone 2, but since I have no desire to do long-distance running, it's really just a fitness measure for me.
Unfortunately, I haven't seen wonderful improvements in resting heart rate. I can tell how hard I worked out by my post-workout heart rate as well as my resting heart rate the next day, but I've only been able to knock off about 4 beats per minute, and even that is based on sketchy data. I want to drop my resting heart rate to 50 bpm. I'm nowhere close =P.
Another area where I've seen improvements is in avoiding running stitches. I suffered one during my treadmill intervals yesterday, but I was able to mitigate and finish the intervals by dropping the intensity down to my previous workout's intensity for the last half, and walking for two minutes following the final interval. I'm convinced I get stitches by venturing into anaerobic territory for too long, so presumably, the fitter I get, the harder it will be to get a stitch.
Life goal: Run a 6 minute mile, and a 20 minute 5k. Haven't tested either of these, but based on my interval speeds, I'd imagine I'm a long way away. =)