Beating Like a Hammer

Two weeks ago I thought I had found a track to hit up in the mornings at Mira Costa CC.  I got one short workout in after first trying to sneak onto the middle school's track and then getting lost up a hill. One week later, I made my jolly way over to MCCC and wouldn't you know it? The track was locked up. Nothing like wasting more than 30 minutes of driving and warm-up running to find the track is locked.

Anyway, during the one stupid track workout I got in, I realized that I don't like using the Garmin for track splits/intervals. I find it annoying that it shows me mile pace. I also obviously don't need the distance GPS-tracked since, duh, it's a measured 400-meter track. I just feel like it’s a lot of baggage, the Garmin, for the track.

I decided to go old school/low-tech with a digital watch that could record splits/laps. But perhaps also get the bonus of the heart rate monitor strap because if  it costs only a little bit more, why not? Then I can use it to force myself to run on feel (or heart rate) rather than trying to convince myself what my easy pace should be.

Flexing my deal-hunting fingers online, I found this little Ironman Timex in Plum. I say “little” because compared to the Garmin Forerunner, it's itty bitty. It's downright cute! With tax and shipping, it was like $46 (retail price is over $100, amazon has it for $67).


It has way more features than I expected. I kind of love it. I can enter my weight, HR zones, max heart rate, etc. You can set alarms on the heart rate zones, it tracks how long it takes for you to recover to a lower heart rate zone, etc. Data!!!


I strapped that bad boy on Monday evening for an easy two miles (post 15K race). I noticed going up a hill, my heart rate shot up to 167. Using those extremely inaccurate age-based HR calculators, my max is anywhere from 177 to 187. Those numbers seem very wrong, because that 167 felt only a tiny bit labored.

I then read this article:

How to Accurately Determine Your Maximum Heart Rate & Have An Out of Body Experience At the Same Time

I have zero desire to try to push to "heart fibrillation" and enjoy the "rad out of body experience" so I went with the other noted option of pushing it as far as I am comfortable with and then estimating the upper end (which I think might still be conservative, but much closer to reality than the equations based on age).

Cut to yesterday morning.

I went on “Track Finding Expedition #4” to CSU San Marcos... And the Heavens Opened! To reveal a track that was open with other non-students on it! Finally.

I was again short on time because it’s 20 minutes away, and I got a little lost finding my way in on foot, so I had only 40 minutes or so to warm up and get some repeats in. I was mostly concerned with seeing where my heart rate went when I pushed it, so I did 400, 800, 1200, 800, 400, with 400m rest jogs. In the last 400, I ran very hard in the last straightaway. But I did not feel like I do at the end of the race (not even close) so it may not have even been at 95% effort. I hit a high of 188. I believe my max heart rate is anywhere between 197 (+5%) and 207 (+10%).

Next thing was determining my resting rate and again this is a slight estimate. I sat in my cube yesterday afternoon and I counted beats over 30 seconds and got 30 (60 bpm, which is in line with another check thing I had done at our annual health fair last fall). But I was not really "resting" in the middle of the day at work, and determining my heart rate upon waking up in the morning is tough when you have an Australian Shepherd licking your face and/or leaning all of her body weight on top of you. Anyway, so, I'm going with an estimate of 55 bpm as my resting heart rate. 197 as my max.

With that I have some training ranges to work with!


What is interesting is the long run has a higher rate, maybe because you are out there longer and your heart rate continually creeps up, never getting a chance to recover. I ran a 6 miler (based on this morning with my new gadget. Instead of bird-dogging my pace, instead I was obsessing over my heart rate – which leads me to believe runners are just obsessed with any training data available. Doesn’t even have to be pace.

I hadn’t calculated my ranges this morning, so this run a was somewhat of a guestimate on where my HRM should be. I averaged 150 beats per minute (the hills didn’t help me – I was pretty steady around 147 but my neighborhood is far from flat, so the hills spiked my heart rate to 155-165). My pace based on the mapped route was 9:03. It was probably the easiest feeling run I’ve done in a while – so perhaps I am not taking my easy days lightly enough when I run them at 8:45-8:50 pace. Tomorrow I’m going to possibly try a tempo and aim to keep my HR in the “threshold run” range – 169 to 183.

I’m totally geeking out on training data.


  1. I wanna know where you found that Garmin for $46!!! I can only find it on Amazon... PLEASE HELP! Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Kersten,

      So it's not a Garmin in that it doesn't track distance or pace. It's only for heart rate monitoring and time. When I use it I have to go and map my run afterwards to see how far I went. Just in case I was unclear because you definitely can't find a Garmin Forerunner for $46.

      Anyway, I got the Timex Roadtrainer with HR strap from It might be a "refurbished" or "open box" or something, but good enough for what I need to do with it!

    2. Oh - DUH! I see it does say TIMEX. Heck - that's good enough for me! I've heard it really helps your workout using HR monitor. Heck, I know how far I go so don't need a GPS for running, but this looks awesome! Thanks!

  2. huh... interesting. It's freaking adorable, that tiny watch. And now I want one, with a heart rate monitor. Garmin data is clearly not enough.

  3. Greetings! I just started reading your blog and totally relate to your data freakishness so I thought I would comment! I've been using Runkeeper and iSmoothrun on my iphone for a while and am always looking for new gadgets... Did I read something about an Australian Shepherd?? My family dog was an Aussie, Gabby, and passed away a few years ago. Such amazing dogs! Hopefully I can find more about him/her as I read through your posts! Your blog is so motivating, keep up the good work :) :)

    1. Hey there! I have two little furry buggers. They are technically Miniature Australian Shepherds but Louie is nearly 35 pounds - he's a big "mini". Nikki is 24lbs, she's a little lady, sneaky-houdini-escape artist.

  4. Dude, I am so lost but I super love the watch. Maybe it's exhaustion? I am so freaking tired I think I need a few days of run rest. I just took more vitamins than an old person so we'll see if I can get over this hump.

    P/S We have decided we are going to move north in the next couple of months so maybe we can have our own track parties! YEAH!

  5. I'm seriously still cracking up over that cat. Freaking hilarious :).


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