My Secret Weapon


Who doesn’t want to recover quickly so they can have a great next run? It should come as no surprise to people that read this blog for a while that I’m all about taking care of my body so that I can recover quickly. I have a secret weapon for that, too.

G is for Garmin
I have a Garmin Vivoactive 3. Before that I had the original Garmin Vivoactive. I replaced the Vivoactive after about 4 years because a) it was acting a bit wonky and b) I really, really wanted the HR monitor function — which was not built into the original version.

I like that I am not switching back and forth between a regular watch and a Garmin. Because it tracks my sleep, my steps, my floors, my resting heart rate, my stress levels, and so much more — I wear my Garmin Vivoactive 3 24/7. I may have to remember to charge it before a run, but I pretty much always know where it is.

Some of those features are incredibly useful to me: they help me figure out whether or not I should push a run off to another day, or maybe just do an easier run rather than a planned harder workout. Here are the things I check frequently.

I don’t really think my fitness age should be 20 & if it really is 20 yr olds are in trouble!

I know that the V02 MAX reported by my Garmin is not extremely accurate, but I’ve found over time it’s pretty consistent. Sure it moves around a point here, a point there, but it usually stays in the same relatively narrow range.

I’ve never looked at several months of V02 MAX stats. You can see what happened in January when I was sick & didn’t run for 3 weeks. You can also see what happened with each COVID vaccine.

After my COVID vaccines I was struggling with my runs and my energy levels. Sure enough, my V02 MAX had fallen lower than my normal range. It took a while before it settled back into its normal range and my runs slowly started to get better.

My physiological stress levels are usually pretty low.

Garmin uses HRV (heart rate variability) to give you a number for how stressed your body is feeling. You may not feel stressed, by your heart doesn’t lie.

I actually find it kind of fascinating. In general my Stress metric is usually in the low range, but I could see it jump up after my COVID vaccines, for instance. I also know that if I see it jump up, it’s another good indicator it’s not time for a hard run (and maybe not any run at all).

Resting Heart Rate is something I do keep an eye on. It’s one of the best measurements I’ve found that can warn you you’re heading into the danger zone. I generally know when it’s most likely just a blip & the times it really means it’s time to rest by feel & from tracking it for so long. With both vaccines it jumped about 10 points in one day — which it almost never does.

RHR (resting heart rate)
Very similar to the Stress metric. If you see this jump up more than 5 points, it’s a good indicator something’s brewing. Although I’m not quite sure of the algorithm Garmin uses, because they do adjust it down sometimes the next day, so I’ve learned to take this one with a grain of salt.

Yes, my RHR jumped up almost 10 points after both vaccines, too. If I see it move up more than 5 points, again, it’s time to either readjust my run or my schedule.

I actually don’t track my heart rate while I run anymore, mostly just running by feel, and for the most part, it’s pretty consistent.

Final Thoughts
A lot of people could care less about these metrics, I know. I sync my Garmin with the app each morning (I believe that helps me to get a signal more quickly), so it’s just a matter of glancing at the info that’s already recorded. There are times I don’t have to look at that to know that it’s not a good idea for me to run hard, or run at all.

There are other times, though, that I don’t feel bad, yet the data says something is brewing. How many times have you felt fine until you didn’t? Tracking these three simple things (if that’s available to you) might help you clue in to fact that you’re not recovering well, for whatever reason, and you can adjust accordingly.

I am not a slave to the numbers, either, but I just find that it’s good information for me, and it’s readily available to me. I like not having to wear a fitness tracker and a GPS watch!

What’s a signal to you that you’ve recovered well?

Do you ever feel fine and then suddenly get sick?

Are you good about adjusting your running due to how you feel?


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.


There’a a lot to runfess over 10 miles: Runfessions October 2019

I have to admit I’m a little surprised by how many runfessions I could mine from one long run. I probably could have done even more! I’m joining Marcia @ Marcia’s Healthy Slice and getting a few runfessions off my chest — and yes, all the photos are from that 10 mile run.

When the leaves are gone and it’s cold — how will I keep track of my HR?

I runfess . . .
How the heck do you keep track of your heart rate when winter comes? During winter I usually wear my Garmin around my jacket sleeve. That lets me pull my gloves through the jacket sleeve, making a nice, tight seal between my glove and jacket.

The Garmin needs to be in contact with my skin, and I already know that it’s super sensitive to anything nudging it and breaking that contact, causing me to think I’m having a heart attack as my HR spirals out of control.

Maybe it was for the post run food (sweet potato salmon burger)

I runfess . . .
Mr. Judy asked why I was running 10 miles last week. Apparently he was wondering if I’d signed up for a half without informing him.

Nope, but the 15k is almost 9.5 miles. I hope to actually do a little warmup before it, as I know that the warmup really helps. So that’s almost 10.5 miles (or maybe 10). So many runners can just go out and run 10 miles (or 13, or more), but my body is happier when I’ve trained for the distance.

10 hilly, windy miles . . . no fuel . . . no problem

I runfess . . .
When I first started running I was a GU addict. It said to take one every 45 minutes, so I did — even on short easy runs. I liked chocolate GU! Yup, I gained weight training for that first half.

I’ve learned from those mistakes. Nowadays I rarely have anything to eat on the run until I get past 8 miles. Until I ran my 9 miles . . . with nothing but Saltstick chews. Then 10 miles.

Seriously, who am I? Very unlike me. Yet both runs were fine. I didn’t even think about taking fuel with me, except briefly as I got ready to leave. I do eat a decent breakfast a couple of hours before a long run, though. I also think that it’s better to fuel on the run when you get past 8 miles (which for me is just under 2 hours) — your body does need the carbs and it helps to prevent the rungries later.

It’s not the first time I’ve run up here, but it was the first time I noticed this fountain.

I runfess . . .
Since I discovered how to see my heart rate without other information (see below), I’ve been playing games with myself trying not to peek at distance. I can live without knowing my pace for easy runs, but sometimes on a long run, you wanna know how much you have left to run, right?

It was a mighty battle with myself not to peek at the distance left in that last mile during my 10 mile run. I wanted to be done — running by heart rate means more time on your feet, and although this was a pretty good run, I was still definitely ready to be done!

Who knew this was hiding in my Vivoactive 3?

I runfess . . .
I discovered something new about my Vivoactive 3 on my 10 mile run last week. One of the data screens just displays your heart rate, divided by zones:

  • Warm up
  • Easy
  • Aerobic
  • Threshold (can help improve speed, apparently)
  • Not sure what the last one is, the death zone, LOL?

So now I have a way to run by heart rate without even knowing what my pace is at all. I’m not 100% sure how I set it up, the heart rate zone setting up has been confusing to me, but now I can turn off alerts for heart rate because it’s super easy to see where I am — unless it’s speed work, in which case it’s just one part of what the watch shows me (along with distance and average pace) because I need to know what my pace is for speed work.

Do you like those zones that Garmin has for heart rate? 

Do you just live with exposed skin in the dead of winter?

Ever been surprised by a feature of your GPS watch after you’ve had it a while?

What do you have to runfess from October? Come join us


I am also linking up with:

5 Gifts for the Runner in Your Life


I may be going off theme today for the  Friday Five 2.0  from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy — actually, this was the theme for the Tuesdays on the Run Linkup — but I hope you’ll bear with me and see if any of these gifts seems right for the runner in your life.

Which just might be you.


A simple device that cures a lot of pains

I have been simply amazed at the difference in my life since I’ve been using my ShinTekk (you can read my review here). And I think that every runner could benefit from one. I don’t care if you suffer with shin splints or not, the purpose behind the ShinTekk is to strengthen your lower legs to prevent injuries.

After months of ankle pain, and now no ankle pain (except a brief ache occasionally after a particularly long run or hard race), I am a believer.

Your runner won’t ask for this, but they need it and it’s worth every cent.

My pink worm travels with me on trips and to races

The Original Worm
The worm is also not a running gadget with a whole lot of buzz surrounding it, but it should be. Since reaching out to the Austin based company and reviewing the worm (you can read my review here), my worm has traveled the country with me and accompanied me to local races.

I love its small footprint!

A place to track runs, races, goals, and more

Believe Training Journal
2017 will be my third year using this journal. Maybe it will be the year I actually don’t have gaps! Sometime during the year I get very busy and don’t write down my workouts, and I always regret it later — I use my past journals to look up how I was running at the same time of year, how I did in races the previous year, what I wore for a race or at a certain temperature, what I ate before a race, when I left for a race . . . the list goes on & on!

Garmin Vivoactive
A GPS watcher, fitness tracker, and more

Garmin Vivoactive HR
I love my Vivoactive (you can read my review here), and I still love it after 1 1/2 years. I love its accuracy, its ease in finding a signal, not having to wear a separate fitness tracker, and the fact that I can swim in it.

The only thing I’m unhappy with is the fact that a year later they came out with a heart rate monitor version. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my Vivoactive, but I almost wish there was.

Sitting isn’t always bad for your health

The FitDesk Exercise Bike
Another pricey gift, but if your runner needs more cross training in their lives and wants to stop sitting too much, this might just be the ticket.

We bought mine last New Year’s — it was on sale — and while there was a slight technical issue at first and it took some back and forth to get it fixed (it’s a very small company), I’ve been happily using my Fitdesk all year long (you can read my review here).

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

What is the one runner gift you REALLY want this year?

What company do you wish you could be an ambassador for?

What do you give to your runner friends?