For the past month or so I have been having some big challenges with running — specifically, my heart rate has been jumping all over the place. As an AdultOnset A-fib “survivor”, it is very troublesome to be out loafing along on a zone 2 run and see the heart rate randomly spike to over threshold. I get a bit freaked out. Yet I’m clearly still conversational and breathing easy so it has been hard to figure out what’s really going on.
I talked to my coach, teammates, friends, random strangers, and guys at the bike shop trying to figure out what was going on. Many theories or guesses, but nothing meshed:
- Cold weather can spike the heart rate
- Nutrition could be a culprit
- Probably need to buy a new bike
- Change jobs
- Travel to/from sea level and back is a likely factor
- Too much / not enough beer the night before
- Really need to consider getting a new bike
You name it, I considered it (have you seen the Pinarello Grevil?!?). This was driving me nuts!
Thankfully, I finally figured it out in the middle of last Saturday’s run!😎 Once again getting frustrated with crazy looking numbers, and in a fit of childish spite, I rotated my watch 180 degrees on my wrist so that I could easily ignore the heart rate and continue running based on perceived effort.
Next time that I looked at the watch, I noticed that HR had dropped a good 20 points. About then, I had a flashback moment to the time I was reading a random tri forum and somebody opined that the heart rate monitors (HRM) built-in to Garmin watches work better if you rotate the sensor to the inner wrist.
“Wait a minute…” I thought as a blinding flash of the obvious struck me. “I just replaced this watch a month or so ago.”
Turns out I forgot to pair the chest strap HRM that I always wear when running to the new watch! I have been relying on the watch’s built-in HRM which I know, from much experience, is absolute garbage [for me].
I stopped the run right there and paired the HRM to my watch. BOOM – heart rate instantly dropped and the rest of the run was perfectly calm and numbers were as expected!
Glorious. Hello negative splits.
Had a great Zone 2 run today to confirm everything is back on track. Also, happy to say my z2 speed has dropped around 4 minutes per mile in the past year. Thanks, Coach!