working out
Sat 17 March 2018

Before we begin on this lovely St. Patrick's Caturday, allow me to express how proud I am that I got my undergraduate degree from UMBC. I am still recovering from the game last night, and I'm all the way out here in Portland. I can only imagine what Catonsville looks like this weekend.

But anyway, I recovered from the plague and other than a few tough allergy days (of course there is a ton of tree pollen in the PacNW) I've been breathing easy the past few weeks. So I resumed my regularly scheduled life, which includes some bike riding when I have errands to run, along with the occasional trip down to the gym on lazier days. It was tough getting back into things. I had to take the streetcar a couple times because I just couldn't make it up all those hills on my bike, and dialed things down a bit on the elliptical trainer at the gym.

Now I'm back to my old self again, and found a heart rate monitor that I forgot I had. I figured, maybe it'll help me figure out where I am in terms of fitness and maybe change things accordingly, or maybe keep doing what I'm doing.


I tried it out this morning and the results were not what I expected.

Apparently, this thing has decided what my target heart rate should be, which is nice I guess, but I am so uneducated on exercise that I'm not sure how it was calculated. Based on an internet search, it's just a matter of subtracting my age from 220 and then taking percentages of that number, but how do they know that's how fast my heart should be beating? Like, who came up with this formula? How accurate is it? Can it really be true that every single human being my age has the exact same target heart rate, regardless of whether they are tall, short, male, female, healthy, sickly, etc?

But assuming that these numbers are correct, I spent about 4 minutes of my workout warming up, 11 minutes actually in the target zone, and the rest of the time at around 95% of my maximum heart rate. No wonder I find working out to be so hard. My whole life, this is how I've played sports and worked out, pushing myself harder and harder just so I could barely keep up with my slowest teammates. If I had actually stayed in my target heart rate there was no way I could have ever played any sports at all. I mean, just running at a moderate pace for 5 minutes is enough to make me exceed my maximum rate.

This also explains why certain exercises just don't feel like a workout at all to me. Unless I am about ready to fall over because I can't get enough oxygen to my brain, I feel like I'm not working hard enough. I don't count it as a workout unless my face is purple and I'm sweating through my clothes and it takes me 10 minutes after I'm done to resume breathing normally again.

I guess I have to rethink this whole thing now because apparently I've been doing it wrong for the past 40-odd years. Apparently, I'm supposed to be barely working at all, going super, super slow, so slow that arthritic old ladies are shoving me out of their way. I probably should be doing that for longer, too, so instead of 35-40 minutes of dying, I can spend an hour or more listening to podcasts while barely breaking a sweat. Somehow this sounds wrong to me. It's going to take a major mental shift for me to get over this idea that working out should be work, even though the word "work" appears in the name, so you'd think there would be some of that involved.

My next workout should be interesting.