I am breaking in a new gadget (no I can’t afford it, I agree with you totally, it was a gift from the other side*). It is a Polar RCX5 which I chose because it has certain advantages over the Garmin Forerunner 10 that I have been using for a year. The Forerunner takes forever to pick up a signal, I can be a mile and a half into a run, having stood round on the street corner for 5 minutes beforehand, when it will suddenly remember that it was born a GPS, not a bangle. The other problem is that it will only last a maximum of 6 hours on full charge. As the (non-replaceable) battery loses batteriness over time, it is now about 5 or so hours; which for someone who runs slow marathons occasionally is a big drawback. Either problem would not be serious if I did not carry the two major personal flaws of being impatient and slow. Add to that long-sightedness which means that I can’t read the display very well, and I was twitching for a new toy.
The RCX5 has several separate bits: heart rate monitor (with user replaceable battery), GPS (charges on mini USB), watch (with user replaceable battery) – you can buy other bits as it is designed for multi-sport use (cadence sensor etc etc). You can use the HRM when swimming. As the components are separately powered they hold a charge for a really long time. The screen has a zoom feature so that you can enlarge the upper and lower parts of the screen if you want. It doesn’t have a pain-in-the-arse touch bezel or touch sensitive screen.
It comes with a vast amount of data, and pre-programmed er programmes. And here is the problem. I did the first long run on the programme I had selected today, didn’t really look at anything other than the time allotted (55 mins) before I set off. The first section of ten minutes appeared to be a warm up, keeping HR in Zone 1 between 80 and 104bpm. Now I don’t know about you, but for me that is a challenge when I am walking. I completed, at some point last week, the fitness test thing on the HRM ( measures resting heart rate and heart rate variability as far as I understand) and I scored a Good. However I have run with an HRM off and on for years (more than 15) and I know that my HR when I am running is high, I have in the past run whole half marathons at 188, I will quite often run at 170+ for a long time. It does me no harm, and never has as far as I can tell. My resting heart rate is normally in the 50s, my cholesterol is unusually good for my age, my blood pressure is very slightly on the low side, I am rather podgy but show no other signs of impending cardiac problems.
Back to the run. The second section was 35 minutes at Zone 2 104-120 bpm. Now after 35 minutes of investigation I can confirm that the best I can do under 120bpm is a downhill shuffle. Mostly it is a walk, and not a brisk one up hills. The final section was a repeat of the first, and as I was warmer, it necessitated a lot of stopping and gazing into the distance while my heart rate dropped. I normally potter along at 10-11 minute miles, for this ‘run’ I averaged 21 minute miles. Relaxing yes, good for looking in detail at peoples’ gardens and wondering if you could divine their age and background by what and how they planted; but not conducive to increasing fitness.
Once I was home I spent some time investigating the issue, and I have decided that to de-faff the issue and allow me to use the presets, I will have to undergo a transformation. So for the purposes of my heart rate monitor I am now 28 not 48. This gives me about 15 bpm on the zones, so I will see how that goes. ( European shoe size 39)
* My very late mother still sends me cheques for royalties every once in a while. Luckily she is able to use the intermediary of a literary agent, rather than ectoplasm which would be difficult to pay in.