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A revolution in training gadgets

A revolution has taken place the last years within electronic training gadgets and devices. We have GPS in smartphones, tablets, PCs and pulse watches. Even the power in the “steps” during bicycling can be measured in real time. The most common function up till now has been measuring the pulse.

I started with this back in the 1980’s , in order to control my training better. With the introduction av GPS in pulse watches, many other measurable functions came on to the wrist. On the current clocks and other gadgets we can follow our current speed, the average speed during and after the session, and we can look at maps, curves, profiles and tables for a number of parameters when downloading the sessions from the equipment to web pages.

There is however a “danger” related to this. We easily  conclude that increased speed in the training sessions means better and more efficient training. So, what is the problem, you may wonder. The speed is a risky parameter to measure too often. If you do it from time to time to check your shape, it is no problem  Then it is also important to look at the pulse registration, to see the “cost” of the test.

The test of speed should normally be done in competions. It is then you will really see your performance level. The goal with a competition is this: To perform as good as you can.  A common mistake is to not separate between performance and training, by measuring every training as if it should be a competition.

The purpose of training is to create growth in the ability to perform. Competitions are of course also efficient “training sessions”, but they normally cost so much that it should be limited how often they are performed. It is the regular training sessions that shall give us growth in the performance, steady and slowly. Therefore, forget about the running speed in most of the training sessions, and rather have a look at the pulse. If you have knowledge about how the pulse should be at the different sessions, you will have good effect of pulse measurement during training.

The running speed during training is disturbed by a number of factors. Wind, temperature, rain, snow, ice, profile of the track, how you are dressed, your shape of the day, etc. The speed is therefore not the right parameter to use, and it does not tell you the real “cost” of the session, which is actually what you should measure.

If you have a GPS pulse watch or any other running gadgets, don’t make yourself totally dependant of it. Leave it home from time to time. You have surely noticed the negative dependency some people have to their mobile phones. The same applies to GPS pulse watches. During training sessions with the people I am coaching, I strictly tell them to forget about it, if they stop registration on the clock if we have to stop for the red light at a road crossing.

The same applies if they are checking the speed all the time. In some cases a too strong dependency, and in the worst cases a psychologically forced condition to use the watch, is developed.  All of us have advanced “sensors” and intuitions in our bodies, and the ideal case would be to learn to interprete the body’s signals without use of “external” technology.

The technology in these gadgets is first of all useful to confirm what you “feel”, and then make yourself independent, or at least partly independent, of the watch.  For example when you are running on your threshold level and how that feels. Turn your watch and try to find the threshold load. When you think you are there, turn the watch again to see if it is right. Like this you can train yourself to be your own pulse “device”.

As you understand, a pulse watch is an excellent tool when training towards your targets, but make sure you don’t become a “slave” of it. Personally I use my pulse watch to see how far I have been running, paddeling, walking, etc. It inspires me to go for more steps than the others in the family, which I think is a nice little competition that sharpens me a little bit in my daily activities. .

Author: Ingrid Kristiansen

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