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The Misadventures of HeyBales Backpacking

Some story as to what happened, some just on winter backpacking in general.

Been feeling the need last couple years to the challenge of an actual point A to B backpacking trip, about 30 miles for available 3 days. Rather than just backpack in to wilderness area and day explore with son. So this is solo effort of course.

Decided on the only route I could find reasonably close that is a loop, to negate the cost of shuttle service. Eagle Rock Loop considered hardest route in Arkansas, and there are some hard ones I've done. 2 hr longer drive, but savings anyway. Didn't realize Google made very rough estimates for drive times on forest roads it had no clue about speed on, and speed was 10-20 mph for last 15 miles. Ugh.

Timing was about 2 weeks later than desired, so less winter, more spring type chance of weather - meaning rain, for western Mid-Arkansas.
Left here with snow storm coming in, winter weather advisory along most of route, and oddly for destination, and rain changing to sleet/ice and then snow around 1 inch during the planned hike in.
I made it in during the rain at least, 5pm, 1:15 before sunset, though already darkening in these steep valleys.

I had planned first camping point, to put me at first major Little Missouri River crossing for start of day before snow melt, and hopefully with lows of 15 F, while some water was still frozen up.

After first river crossing in sandals, just to get to trail, wearing poncho designed to cover backpack, and trying to get socks and boots back on keeping dry, headed off at 5:45 and 38 F. Ya, 30 min to sunset wasn't going to get me 6 miles down the trail, even though I contemplated getting out the headlamp and going in the dark, which son and I did on our last trip in spitting ice, so not unheard of.

But then came to another river crossing, no stone hopping possible. Saw accidental or arranged tree trunks across the river downstream a bit and side trail there, and investigated feasibility. 10 ft above the water, balancing on wet now sleeted rotten wood, about 10 min past sunset. Not a chance, though I should have looked at that side trail better past those logs. Later on that.

So back to trail. It's interesting what becomes a perfect tent spot in the rain/sleet and only about 10 ft of width between river and major mountain incline starts. Nice spongy leaves and moss, and a few rocks to help pop the back on. Tent up fast, pad/bag out, wet shirt off, kitchen setup in tent vestibule. Ice pellets continuing. Normal Chili Mac freeze-dried dinner and bedtime routine with book reading and note making, and desert.

Sometimes dehydrated is nice, not up once till 7am with muffled sunny white light. Ah, tad more than inch of snow, great, but only about 30 F, uh oh, easy snow melt.
Breakfast and packup, then sandals on for great wakeup to morning. Calf high cold.
This is the start of the trouble, right here in River City. See my sad little tent square in background, doesn't appear flat now.

Back in to socks/boots and down the trail we go, for like 3 min. Ugh, another crossing!
In looking around for rock hopping options, I see upstream the same logs across the river. Doh, that side trail skirted a steep section, but night before snow would have been possible. In my disgust with whole thing, I think I see a rock hopping crossing with only a one foot slight dunk I'm going to risk.
Wrong about depth, which effected next hop, and 2 wet boots and pant legs were result. Sit down and squeeze out what I can.

In prior experience with this, one foot broke through ice on off trail route in 10 F trip, and was wet up to knee. That time, squeeze water out best I could, socks back on, body heat from walking dried everything out in probably 2 hrs. Figured easily the same thing here. Perhaps these boots held more water, perhaps feet already cold from prior crossing, perhaps worse blood flow to feet with age, or bad combo of them all.
This was the downfall of Billy Mumphrey, that incident, I'm convinced, of a cockeyed optimist. Toes never warmed up in next 4 miles to next river crossing, and next to it a side creek crossing that had equal water depth but faster. Hard to see rocks under the water to step on with water moving that fast, so not really sure if knee deep or not, but both were for me. And couldn't feel feet banged in to rocks, but the cuts and blood indicated it did happen. Sandal strap must have snagged too, because forefoot strap broke.

Kept hiking, another 2 miles, another river crossing, feet never getting a chance to warm up. Deeper, attempt to really hit those higher rocks under the water. But when the force of water was pushng me downstream, attempting to stay aright and move in general correct direction was most important, not the water up to hips.

Not sure if walking funny because of no feeling in toes, or left boot was conspiring against me, but insole kept creeping backwards until forefoot was under the heel, and heel section up on ankle. Result was big toe going lower than intended and much rubbing. So even when cold, friction and heat can build up, creating a beauty of a blister. Two more side creek crossings requiring sandals (just kept them on and hiked in snow between them) indicated just what volume of water was going in to the river, and tomorrow I had 1 more creek and then 2 river crossings, to have the honor of following a creek upstream crossing 11 times.

My course of action was firmly grounded as to change of plans. With warmer temps, more snow melt, more creeks adding to volume, those 2 were dangerous, even by the ranger district's standards. Find old road and get upstream.

Camped that night next to creek that would have to be crossed tomorrow first thing, if that route was followed, to which I'd later come back to upstream to camp at again, after those 2 river and 11 creek crossings, which wasn't going to happen. During dinner found old road on map that would get me up there. Two of these old roads the trail had used so far to cross the river on old concrete bridges, so my hope was the same here. Group of 7 guys from Lousinia were in the area, and I brought firewood and enjoyed their fire, trying to warmup feet, that's when purple skin with no sign of blister was seen on two toes, and huge blister on big toe. Tried to dry boots out, at least got socks dry mostly. Didn't notice I couldn't feel heat from fire on many parts of foot.

Next morning after frozen boots thawed out followed my route 4.5 miles upstream and worked great, missing 5 miles of planned trail, though still had to cross that same creek in sandals it was so deep, but just ankle now using the right rocks. Since timing was so good, went ahead and knocked out three 300-500 ft mountain ridges and creek crossings before camp, last one wet.
Only flat spot on other side that look good was green area, where thorn invasion had been mowed down, mostly, and full of rocks. Cleared thorns out for enough space for tent, and that was it.
During dinner I thought to put my hot bag of food on my feet and that's when I discovered no temperature sensation in most of feet, though they were dry and I thought just a tad chilled.

Next morning after letting everything still wet dry in the warm sun, headed over last 2 mountain ridges, and made dry creek crossing, and actually the river I crossed on first night, made it dry. Should have seen the group of 7 this day, they must have not made it past their first river crossing that was probably higher than hips for them.

So the 300-700 ft climbs to the ridges did give some great views of sharp long valleys and water falls near the very top, though they had done some controlled burns in February, so some unsightly areas. Plenty of different birds' sounds awakened me, deer slightly confused that last night by I guess orange tent and perhaps strange smell, armadillo actually heard me coming and tried to run poorly, coyotes in distance moved away or got silent by bedtime. Slightly warm hiking temps, but about right, plenty of, uh, water to be found. Didn't hear a car or plane until last day at car. I'm holding judgement on saying great trip depending on what happens with feet, though the longish drive and narrow window of opportunity to make it a doable loop trail makes me think no anyway.

Dr can't do anything about frostbite if it is, and if it's not and just needs longer repair time, still nothing they could do. If purple skin goes blacker I'll get in. But nothing to do with lack of sensation except poke around foot and confirm, yep, you got no feeling there. Wait and see. Thanks Doc.

So that's the misadventures. Related to fitness ..... ah, made a whole lot easier with the lifting I'd been doing, steep climbs and descents were done at 1.8 mph average, which is great. Lack of cardio conditioning not too bad, didn't slow me down. 45 lb pack felt like nothing, except on troublesome shoulder sometimes. Thumb felt really well using the trekking poles, though elbow may not be appreciating it. And some lessons learned - take the time to think if you really have experience in what is about to be attempted to approach it like you do have experience, when you really don't. Wet creek crossings ankle deep because no rocks to hop or too wide, and rock hopping across dry, is no experience for how to cross a deep river wet. I was totally going on what I hoped was sound logic with my methods, but how would I really know for sure? Also, I knew full well the winter camping mantra - stay dry, don't risk wet. Being aggravated and attempting a foolish move risking wet boots was .... stupid. And I may pay a price for that stupidity. I hope not, may have happened anyway eventually.
In the scheme of things compared to others and their tribulations, this self-induced one is minor. 
Though I am discovering how much feeling your toes helps with balance, my yoga/pilates may suffer. Oh wait, I don't do that. ;-)

Achilles update from July Dr visit

Totally forgot to give update after my visit. Kind of hard to put this in best order, but I hope there are some tidbits here that would useful to others with any injury.

Remember during my posts about fixing stuff and wanting to do it myself for, huh, thriftyness, but also distrust. Came up again.
Sports Podiatrists (according to their ads, so that means whole lower leg including achilles) first starts with x-rays before even talking. Upon saying "already", staff says "don't worry, insurance will take care of it". Huh no, HSA with big deductible, I will, but that's how they operate. Besides, x-rays are terrible for soft tissue injuries. Calling that first strike.

Dr comes in and asks of course what's going on and what I've been doing. I've got list of workouts leading up to time I first noticed issue and since, and what things seemed noteable to what was or was not involved, and what treatment stuff done when, ect. Referenced the eccentric heel drops in case it was achilles tendonitis. He asks what that is, I describe it, he says interesting, hadn't heard of that. Well, for a study protocol in last 5+ years that showed positive results compared to anything else non-surgical, that's not good. Strike two. Always like to go in semi-informed at least, to get an idea of where the Dr is in keeping up with recent stuff.

He does basically say it is early stages of tendonitis, earlier than they'd normally see, because usually someone would just work right through where I noticed it, and make it a whole lot worse, serious, and and easier definitive diagnoses, though longer recovery. So that's good, confirmed chiro/PT comments, I'm a wimp! Now of course the 2 strikes make me concerned about an honest diagnosis or him desiring to be quick as possible. So that may explain why it's such a specific spot of pain when pushed.

He didn't really want to figure out why it happened. To me, the why is half of the info to figure out, or how do I NOT do it again, since there didn't seem to be any singular incident. Or it's my troubleshooting nature, find root cause.

So he gave all the normal responses, ice (though accute stage was done already), heat to aid healing, naproxen 2 x daily, stretching, wear a boot at night ("don't worry, insurance will pay for one even though you have one"). Can't sleep with it though, so that's a bummer. Lay off using it (which was the case for 7 weeks no running and little improvement).

He did share some info that I think fits in with trying to figure it out. He pushed my forefoot back (dorsiflex) and said with this much pressure, he should be at about 15 degrees past 90 degree angle of foot/leg. He made it to only 90.

So I'm extremely tight in calves. But due to many twisted ankles as youth, they just don't bend much, so when I stretch, it's done quick, so neither side feels very tight at full stretch. And some attempts to stretch more have actually caused multi-day pain on side/front of ankle, so no good there either. So just need to stretch more often. Rolling isn't useful though, that's not stretching really, not same outcome. Already knew that. It can relieve tight spots to allow relaxing, but if maximal relaxed state is still really tight, it's ain't helping.

So the why did it happen? My first workout records comment on 3/20 bike ride didn't feel great. What was leadup?
Been running 1-2 x weekly since 10K race end of January, and backpacking trip well before with walking 13 miles x 3 days, so legs had the usage.
Did do that short notice 13 mile run on 2/28 after geting notice regarding job. But 5 days later did another 6 miler no issue, and another 6 a week later, so don't think that did it. Unless it merely added to too much stress.
Started lifting progressive heavy 4 x weekly upper/lower split routine on that 3/5 until 4/24, and hardly any running/biking. So 5 lower body workouts by that point of issue on 3/20. So I believe associated with that.

So I had noticed right before stopping the gym that it seemed my full depth squats caused me to shift to left side slightly. I figured due to right ankle breakage causing less movement, so I found raised heels solved that issue, on last day. But my left leg is also short, so I have heel lift in that shoe, and figured I needed it really on lifting heavy. So foot slanted forward, causing point of balance to be on forefoot more. And what do you have to engage to prevent tipping forward on calf, deads, SL DL, ect - calf. And that calf is already probably 1/2 - 1 inch smaller in size, so I'm guessing weaker. So heavy weight shifting left not on balance in middle of foot.
A week after noticing issue on 3/20, I also started farmer's walk with 160 lbs in same shoes with just heel lift, so now really stressful, so that probably didn't help.
I then started walking only instead of running through April. Then May with no heavy lifting, started the 10K training for that June race, and while some comments about tight achilles, never awful until after the race. Which was standing around waiting for storm to come or go, and not stretched out great.

So current program of stretching as much as I can remember, not sitting/sleeping with plantar flexed foot as best I can, and doing eccentric heel drops frequently, seems to be making the difference. Enough rest between running days seems to help too. And after the half-IM, I'm planning to back off to running 1 x weekly. Well, maybe 2 x short time. In case I can heal to train for marathon.
Lessons learned.
Go to Dr with some good knowledge to discern if they are keeping up with new things.
Attempts to do things right might not be thought out well enough, run through logic again.
Records of workouts useful to discern order of things leading up to and after injury may have occurred, examine early to have correct thinking rather than going off memory.
Any I missed that you see for application down the road? 

Desperate times, desperate measures - or foolish Tri training

So the 3rd Annual HeyBales Half-Ironman Triathlon is scheduled Sep 1.

I'm not sure if I can get the run training in by then, and the race director has indicated if I don't do it, it will likely be cancelled because of lack of participation, since that's the last Saturday for the public pool to be open (please don't rain).

So I've been doing the 56 mile and longer bike in training, so got that down on it's own.

I've been doing the 1.2 mile swim, so thats good enough, cramps beside the point.

But the 13.1 mile run. Not sure how good it can get, though I know I've got some base in the legs still, and biking hills help immensely, so hilly group ride still on.

Looking at normal advice to not increase weekly mileage by more than 10%, I worked backwards from a weekly long run of 13.1 at least 1 time, and a 30 min run and 60 min run each week.

The 30 min run would follow the bike ride, keep legs used to switching modes and running tired. I would do jog / walk intervals with 90% jog time.

The 1 hr run would follow the swim, just to have 2 hrs of exercise in the day. Would use 80% jog time.

The long run would start at 7.3 miles, then 9.1, 11, finally 13.1. Using 70% jog time.

All the runs would be alarmed for mid-Aerobic level, really train the fat-burning system, and hopefully make it an easy workout.

1 day of 60 mile ride, hopefully on Saturday, long run on Sunday.

1 day of circuit training to keep muscles generally strong.

2 rest days weekly still. 

So 3 run sessions, 2 bike sessions, 2 rest days, 1 swim, 1 circuit lifting.

I see podiatrist tomorrow about what is going on with Achilles, and it's been decent since the ride. Hoping after the run I did some twang of something to help diagnose. Going to be ticked off if no symptoms at all for Dr to troubleshoot.

And the HeyBales Half is welcoming to any participants. Sadly starts at 1 pm when I can get there. Which means ending around 7pm for me depending on transition times.

There are no medals or shirts that I'm aware of, no on-course photographer, no frequent SAG or water stops, no on-course referees so be honest about drafting, no street markings of the route, Garmin is official time-keeper and distance tracker. No nice transition area, and no post-race party or even meal for that matter. Really seems kind of chintzy but the price is right - pool admission.

Getting your personalized calorie burn formula

Calculating for steady-state and non-steady-state aerobic cardio.

As always, explanation for understanding, then method. So looks long, but it's easy 30 min test.

First, notice this is not for anaerobic, so not for lifting or most intervals that go up in to anaerobic range, though it could help the latter be a tad more accurate.

Why distinction between steady-state (same HR for 2-4 min) and non-steady-state aerobic (HR bouncing all over the place)?
Because HRM's use a formula that is only for steady-state aerobic.
When you increase a workload (say pace) your HR initially goes up to say X. Then it drifts back down to say X-8 in 2-4 min. So X-8 is the HR really needed for that workload, X was actually inflated.
And what if you stop the workout and stand, how long before the HR drops to X-60 that is actually needed for just standing? That's obvious it was therefore inflated the whole time it was dropping.
What if your workout was nothing but changing workloads? The HR would be elevated the entire time above what it really needed to be. If elevated HR always seen by HRM, elevated calorie burn is result.

Second, why a personal formula, doesn't the HRM know my required stats to calculate accurate calorie burn?

Uh, no. Even if you have a HRM that has a self-test and stat for VO2max, and trying to estimate HRmax better, there are still several assumptions.
Your BMI (height and weight) is compared to range of fit to unfit (gender and age), to calculate VO2max (in cheaper Polar's), and combined with resting HR to calculate VO2max (in better Polar's).
Even if you enter in lab tested stats for those, an assumption is made between where your VO2max occurs compared to HRmax, and where you go anaerobic compared to your HRmax.

Third, can this be accurate?

Well, the formula for walking and running flat between certain speed ranges has been found to be within 4% of lab measured calorie burn. That is very accurate. Some slight incline is still more accurate that HRM.

The amount of calorie burn per minute has been found to be a straight line function between what is called HR-Flex point (where exercise level and need for more Oxygen for fuel burning starts, about 90 bpm) and your anaerobic line (where exercise is producing enough lactic acid muscles will soon lose ability to stay at that level and carb is total fuel source because not enough oxygen to keep burning fat). About 5 other studies in this study referenced for that point.

Traditionally you'd get a VO2max test and all the data, see what you burned at all the HR's as it went up, and create your own best fit trend line from 90 to anaerobic, and that would be your calorie burn formula (remember y=mx+b for defining a line on a graph).

This method uses that walking and jogging formula to skip the whole need for that test for purpose of calorie burn.

Because of the way the test is done, you can actually see what the inflated HR is right after the pace/incline is changed, but then keep doing the same workload to see what the HR lowers to for steady-state calculation.
If you do workouts that are always changing the workload and HR is all over the place, you use that formula meant for inflated HR.
If you do steady state cardio with HR pretty much the same with perhaps extended times up and down, you use that formula.

Here's how to do the test.
You'll need a treadmill that reports speed and % incline or grade, NOT degrees. (unless you convert first)
You'll need HRM that reports instant HR. For use of your personal formula later, you'll need time of workout and avgHR during the workout session.
You'll need Google Sheets or Excel to use your stats and get your results.
A notepad or something to record your HR on, and for notes on what speed and incline to use.
An idea of how high your HR can go for a good 5 min, higher the better, just want it in the aerobic zone, not dying in anaerobic, should feel like you could keep going for much longer than 5 min from breathing (though joints may not like it).

It would be best to pretest during some warmups for regular exercise to know about what speeds and inclines get you near goal HR. You want 4 data points of HR with decent separation, 100 bpm as desired minimum.
100 - 105 - 110 - 115 is NOT good.
100 - 115 - 130 - 145 is good. Or couple near the top if what you figure is aerobic range, like 150 - 165. But keep 100.
Record what speed and incline got you there. This can be done over several workouts, just test it out and note it.
While you could increase incline while walking steeper and steeper, the less incline the more accurate. So if 4 mph 2% incline is first level, then you'll need to start jogging at 0% whatever speed for next level.

You do not need to hit an exact HR, just close to a spread out range. Better to know what speed and incline you need to use to get close to it.

Get the spreadsheet to see what I'm talking about. Notice the walk/run, speed, and grade is used on next link. My sample data from last VO2max test should be deleted in yellow cells.

The cal/min will be obtained from this calculator. Try to keep walking speeds between 2-4 mph, running 4-6.3 mph, less incline the better for accuracy.

Real test. Just use the treadmill timer for this.
1 - Do a 10 min warmup walk, getting speed such the HR is steady at 90 by the end.
2 - Increase speed/incline to Level 1 that will hopefully get you near 100.
3 - Within 15-30 sec of change note the HR right then, unless it keeps going up.
4 - After 4:30 min note the HR then, it should be lowest then.
5 - At 5 min change speed/incline to next level.
6 - You get the idea, repeat steps 3-5 for all 4 levels, and 8 different HR's. Keep them separate.

Confirm you used the walk or run and speed and incline and correct the spreadsheet entry, enter the HR stat in each section.
Take the stats for that level to the calculator above, get your clothed weight (unless you did it naked with no shoes) with Gross goal option, and use 1000 min as time. Now the results for calorie burn you can move that decimal point over 3 places for better accuracy. So 3852 becomes 3.852 cal/min to put in spreadsheet in both sections.
The treadmill specs of test are merely there for future reference.
As weight lowers, what should happen to pace to keep the same HR, even without increasing fitness? Correct, faster.
What should happen to fitness even if weight and HR doesn't change? Correct, faster.
So you'll want to redo test if cardio fitness is still improving or weight is dropping, as it will change calorie burn for given HR.

So there are fields to actually put in your avgHR and time of workout, and you'll get back gross calorie burn. Use that if replacing Fitbit stats for better accuracy. Use net if doing MFP method of eating back, which takes out your maintenance burn already accounted for. Don't use one for the other, wrong way.

And displayed is your personal calorie burn formula that you can just use with a calculator. Notice if the final number is plus a negative which could happen, in other words subtract.

Graph is there for visual on how straight the line is. Variance may look big, but easily with 5% still.

And the correct formula can be used for any aerobic cardio that fits. Doesn't have to be running and walking.
This does not remove from possibility other reasons for elevated HR that would invalidate the formula to some degree of accuracy, like that double-espresso, or medication, or dehydrated, or 100 F, ect.

Squats and achilles usage

My achilles problem, despite walking and biking, didn't seem to be an issue for those activities.

But I've continued squating through whole injury time, thinking that's not it.

Asked a trainer at gym if he thought it could be, and he said if ankle mobility is bad, it could be aggravating an injury, even though calf engagement isn't much. Well, both ankles have been twisted so many times through the years, besides the triple broke ankle, that I don't get much flexion from them. So it may not only be aggravating, but perhaps the cause too. As the bad left achilles one can flex slightly more, perhaps weight shifts over there on last foot of downward drop though I always looked balanced in mirror side to side.

Never could squat down with heels on floor like others, unless legs wide stance with toes really pointing out. Always thought, and it probably does, it had to do with longer thighs which are great for biking. But I did squats to work the quads, not for weight, so never did that wide stance nor toes pointing out that much.

Finally tested with just squating down no weight, and with max flex to ankle, I cannot get thighs parallel unless I'm holding on to something to keep from falling back. Now you put enough weight on my back, and while it may appear I'm still centered over foot, something is giving way to accomplish that.

So it appears my solution is merely to spread the stance and point the knees out more, which does allow me to go to parallel.

Or if quads is really my focus, get intent on not going all the way down and enhance quad use even more.

Or as I've seen, put a short block under the heel with forefoot on ground, allowing maybe enough range of motion to keep doing what I was doing. Why does that sound like a balance nightmare and potential AFV winner?

I'll have to see if wide stance feels like enough quad usage, but I doubt it. I don't think I've ever pulled back from not going depth, this is going to feel strange. 

Thought I'd share since some have asked how it was going. If that is indeed it, still have 6 weeks to train for half-marathon. Perhaps doable. With care. Keep me honest folks! 


Testing HRmax & VO2max with .... max treadmill test!

Got a race coming up and want to train smarter, not harder? Want to take your training to a new level, not just increasing mileage? Want to allow proper recovery from intervals and lifting without impacting the healing process but aiding it? Want to confirm your intervals are hard enough to be useful?

Perhaps you have been doing cardio for long enough you need a more serious test than this. 

And you want best stats for your better HRM that actually allows you to see and change them. 

So most of the good HRM's will allow you to put in your own HRmax, which is then used to figure out some zones for you, and possibly more important to eating enough to fuel a strong workout, to calculate calorie burn as decently as possible. 
Even if the HRM doesn't allow changing the HRmax manually, you can lie about your age to get it to change. And HRmax effects calorie calculation more than age. 
If nicer HRM, should even have stat for VO2max. Even the Polar's that estimate that figure from resting HR test, can be confirmed or improved upon by a real max test. 

So this is a standard maximal effort puke test (maybe puke, I don't). You should check with a Dr if you have any concerns. If you have been running for a year and can get up to max effort within 10-20 minutes or sprint up hills, this test is likely for you. If not, use the link above, or these links for sub-maximal tests.


This is a test that some gym treadmill's can handle. Some of them don't go high enough in % grade to handle it, but most can get up to 14%, which will be fine if your VO2max is up to 30 males and 35 female. If up to 20%, then fine up to VO2max 66 & 74. Or if not, you can increase pace to at least discover the HRmax stat.

So below is the site for the Bruce treadmill test, which is great for adjusting your training zones better. Because you can effect your VO2 max to some degree though genetics plays strong role, once you are a tad fit, you can't adjust your genetically set MHR, though you can keep it from lowering with age nearly as much.

For study stats or accuracy potential, see the Bruce tests here. There is a link after test info for getting your results. 

So you need a treadmill that will go up at least by 2% grade increments (NOT degrees, like 45, but % grade). Speed that can be set to 0.1 mph increments. 
An assistant will be needed that can adjust the speed & grade for you fast when needed, run a stop watch, and offer encouragement (or find a treadmill where you can enter in your own interval workout. A certain StarTrac model will do this). 
And of course a HRM, hopefully one that logs maxHR seen during a workout. 
Suggest testing the treadmill to confirm max grade, and which changes faster, grade or speed, since both need to increase pretty fast. Many won't do both at same time, so do quicker one first, which is usually incline since just 2%.

Then you do the following after a rest day when totally rested. If you don't do running, this will be limited usefulness. If you are not use to the inclines, perhaps spend some weeks walking/jogging them so it doesn't totally freak you out doing this the first time.

This test requires the person to run up to 21 minutes on a treadmill whose speed and slope increases at timed intervals. (21! should be simple, right?!)

The person warms up for 10 minutes walking level 3 mph. 
Then with person standing off treadmill, setup as follows. 
The grade of the treadmill is set to 10% and speed at 1.7 mph (2.7 kmph). 
The assistant gives the command “GO”, starts the stopwatch and the athlete steps on and commences the test. 
The assistant adjusts the treadmill grade and speed at the end of 3 min intervals as follows (total potential time 21 min): 
Speed mph- 2.5, 3.4, 4.2, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0 (kmph 4.0, 5.5, 6.8, 8.0, 8.9, 9.7) 
Grade % - 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22. 
The assistant stops the stopwatch when the athlete is unable to continue and records the time to the second. HRM should have the HRmax as a stat if a decent one, if not then look fast at what it is. 
Cool down walk for 10 min, stretch as needed, that incline is killer. 

So the table, if this formats right, would look like this. 

At Min___Speed mph___Grade_____Speed kmph 








21________nothing - congrats 

If the treadmill maxed out on grade before you maxed out your HR, you can still get your HRmax by increasing speed to next level, but the VO2max can't be calculated then.

Take your time to this link to get your results. You just did the Bruce treadmill test. 

Make a record of the date, weight, time to failure, and VO2max, and HRmax. You'll want to compare down the road.
Input your new info into your HRM. 

Even if your fitness level as measured by VO2 doesn't increase with training, as your weight lowers it actually goes up, because that figure is mL / kg / min. 

So as you put new stats in your HRM like new lower weight, you'll need to increase the VO2max stat, or do another test, which is only useful every 6 months. But you can lose a decent amount of weight in that time.

To normalize VO2max mL/kg/min to a non-weight based VO2 L/min, do the following and record with your results: 

VO2max you got as result x weight in lb's x 0.0004536 = VO2 L/min. 

When you lose weight, merely take that VO2 L/min / 0.0004536 / current weight in lb's = new VO2max mL/kg/min to put in HRM. 

VO2max you got as result x weight in kg's / 1000 = VO2 L/min. 

When you lose weight, merely take VO2 L/min x 1000 / current weight in kg's = new VO2 max to put in HRM. 

If you have the spreadsheet, you can also do this on the HRM tab, top right side. Tested VO2max and weight, current weight in HRM stats section, and new VO2max figure is shown. Now, what if you are doing cardio endurance, or want to maximize intervals, then you'll want to train to HR zones, and while having a tested HRmax is good, it's better to use the Heart Rate Reserve Zone method, which uses resting HR along with it.

This can help in doing Active Recovery HR zone for any cardio using the same muscles as what you lifted with day before, get blood flow but add no additional load, sadly called Fat-burning zone in table above. Proper HIIT would be in Max zone for 15-45 seconds, and recover in fat-burning zone for 3 x as long 45-135 seconds. Other intervals could be in Anaerobic zone for 1 min, with recovery in lower Aerobic for 1 min.

Next step to improvement would be figuring out your Lactate Threshold by field test and training to HR zones based on that best method. That's the next blog. Then after that, perhaps combining the 2 for your own personalized formula for better calorie burn estimate, needing just avgHR and time of a workout.


Reduced metabolism/TDEE beyond expected from weight loss

So several studies have pointed to this effect of adaptive thermogenesis, some of which is expected. But found a nice recent one that covered several effects at once nicely.

First, the totally expected part. I'll try not to use the term metabolism as an all day type thing including all activities when that is really TDEE. Metabolism is mainly the lower level functions, some base and required though can be slowed down, some higher level functions like cell replacement for skin, hair, nail, muscle growth which can really be slowed down or skipped, and even higher level stuff like processing foods which probably shouldn't be considered metabolism normally, but some do ("kick start your metabolism by eating breakfast" misunderstanding).

Your TDEE is composed of your BMR (Basal metabolism) + NEAT (Non-Exercise activity) + TEF (energy burned processing food eaten) + EAT (Exercise activity).

If you eat less, your TEF burn (usually about 10% of what you eat) goes down, so TDEE goes down. So eating 2000 TEF is 200 of that, go to eating 1600 TEF is 160, so loss of 40 calories to TDEE, not much.

As you start to weigh less, NEAT and EAT (if pace & intensity kept the same) go down since you are moving less mass around, so TDEE goes down. What may happen though is you move more since you weigh less, and exercise harder. So perhaps no adjustment to TDEE, but probably lowering.

As there is less body mass for functions, the BMR will go down slightly. If mainly fat mass lost, not that bad since it didn't require much energy anyway (2 cal/lb a day). But muscle mass lost, while resting energy use isn't much (6 cal/lb a day), that lost muscle being used daily could impact TDEE badly. Along with less mass is perhaps less LBM which includes blood volume, less muscle is also less glucose stores (with water), and water management is a decent calorie burn too. So as weight goes down, BMR goes down somewhat depending on what is lost, and therefore TDEE will lower too.

So outside all those known and expected reasons for your metabolism and TDEE to burn less as you diet and lose weight, there is the one that could be avoided, and perhaps you want to avoid it to make maintenance easier.

And that is a drop in TDEE unrelated to any of the above, and is just the body getting more efficient with BMR, TEF, NEAT, and EAT altogether, metabolic adaptation is what it's usually called. Sometimes called metabolic damage, if you consider lower than what it was and could be damage, or merely the body doing what it has to do.

Here's the 6 month study in full if you want to dig in to it, I thought I'd point out some tidbits.

Participants had to be between BMI 25-30, overweight category, but healthy otherwise. They were excluded if they smoked, exercised more than twice a week, were pregnant, lactating or post-menopausal, had a history of obesity (BMI>32), diabetes, cardiovascular disease, eating disorders, psychological disorders, substance abuse or regularly used medications except for birth control. So that may have a bearing in comparison.

Diet was 55 / 15 / 30 for C / P / F. 

CR (Calorie Restriction) was 25% deficit from TDEE, so not massive.

CR + EX (EXercise) was 12.5% deficit plus 12.5% calories burned in cardio exercise 5 x week, each session being 403-569 calories for 45-53 min (women and men difference).

LCD (Low Calorie Diet) was 890 cal/day until 15% of weight was loss, then back to maintenance calories by month 3, whatever it was then. That's a tad massive

DEXA scans for body composition of LBM (Fat Free Mass (FFM)) and Fat Mass (FM). Sedentary TDEE measurements in a metabolic chamber for 23 hrs. SMR (Sleeping Metabolic Rate (BMR)) measured chunk of night no movement.

Several formulas related to measured Sedentary TDEE at baseline based on all available stats, to compare down the road when stats changed.

At 3 month check, sedentary TDEE had dropped by the following amounts, below what the formulas would have indicated for new measured LBM and FM, and SMR. In other words, it lowered the expected amount, and an additional...

CR - 371

CREX - 2

LCD -  496

At 6 month check, there was some recovery to be had, and reminder the LCD was at maintenance this entire time from 3-6 months...

CR - 209

CREX - 129 over expected

LCD -  275

So notice that even after 3 months maintenence level eating, the initial LCD group still had a TDEE 275 below what was expected for their current LBM and FM. Perhaps more time at maintenance it would have recovered?

The CR group slightly recovered, but still 209 lower than expected. 

The CR+EX group actually had an increased TDEE.

Now that was Sedentary TDEE in the lab that was compared.

Daily TDEE with all activity was also compared to their SMR, TDEE/SMR for physical activity rate (PAR).

At month 3, CR and LCD had significant drops in PAR below what would have been expected for their current LBM and FM, by CR 350 and LCD 497, with CR-EX having none. At month 6, CR 215 and LCD 241, so again some recovery.

So the NEAT part of their day decreased as expected because of lower weight, but even more than expected because of less movement, resulting in lowered figures above.

So, that is how much their TDEE dropped along with their lower eating level and weight.

Now imagine during your weight loss, is your TDEE being lower going to help or hinder you for sticking to an eating level? May depend on how little you really want to eat.

They lost in total CR - 8.3, CR-EX - 8.4, LCD - 11.2.

So while the LCD did lose the most (in 3 months too compared to 6), their TDEE had only recovered from 496 to 275 below what it could be, perhaps more recovery was coming. So no wonder the first few months of maintenance could be the hardest, you have the most suppressed metabolism then.

And notice that even the great results of the CR-EX group, still meant 8.4 lbs in 6 months of dieting, with a 25% deficit in essence, 12.5 created by diet, with additional 12.5 by extra exercise. But no loss of TDEE, in fact increase, and mere decent level of cardio.

Other point to keep in mind - no more than 2 x exercise a week was being done prior - so they had a lot of room for improvement. No weight loss prior, so full burning metabolism. And in overweight range, not obese where these effects might not be so bad.

Thought it was interesting info to know. So when you are talking about metabolism slowing down, it's more correctly your TDEE slowing down with all the components of it to some degree, beyond what was going to happen anyway. And recovery to expected levels could be well over 3 months when at maintenance. They reference another study where it took 6 years to.

HBO documentary Weight of the Nation discussing similar study, and the hormones causing the above effect. 

Here is another study reference alot like the one above, this one trying to come up with a formula to take in to account this more than expected downgrade in metabolism/TDEE. 

Gobbler Grind Marathon followup

Love when they have free course photographer. Of course you have to find yourself, but you find many other things too.

How cold was it?

Start 12 F and got up to 22 F by 12:30 pm with sun shining. Of course in shade of trees on bike/hike path in creek valleys, it was usually cooler than that. 

The cold had several bad effects the race director wasn't prepared for I think. Either volunteers were short anyway, or they didn't come when it was that cold. Combined with frozen water at aid stations made for waiting in line for water. My total weight time all along the route, some was getting my own water out of container, was 8 min. Also most of the cups filled by shaking hands was 1/4 to 1/2 full, not nearly enough every 2 miles for still sweating as I was. And not nearly enough for the energy gels I was taking that need water with them. Those started about 1.5 hrs. And lack of heat in belly and no digestion set up some bad intestinial issues later on. Suggestion, don't wait to find the PP hoping it will go away - it won't and you'll just be going slower than needed for longer. Of course that slower pace probably helped with fact I had no replacement sugar, and didn't hit the wall or cramp up anywhere. Half-ironman was worse than that.

There was a police officer doing his 52nd marathon in 52 weeks for supporting Sunflower House. They said look for his number, of course 52. So many people, and figured he'd be way out in front, I'd never see him, wondered why kind of recovery must be needed to do that week after week. Never saw that number on the 2 out-and-back sections that totaled 13 miles, though spaced out several times. Well, in looking at how long the free photographer stuck around, I found him.

Interesting how efficient I look, like I'm not even moving. Which is almost the case. -;0

Well, there I am, and no, not 9 hrs, 4 hrs. Don't know if that's temperature issue, or designer never looked at a calculator to know how to make a 4, the 1's are screwed up too. Bob above came in just a tad behind me.

Marathon Results - 4:15:25 - 82nd out of 163 total. 65 out of 101 males. 12 out of 21 45-49 age group.

Now to dig through and see how many younger one I did better than. I know I passed about 5 on the road that must have gone out too quick and where walking. 

Marathon training program with reduced time

Short marathon training - 6 weeks if you include the taper week, which isn't really much training that week.
Considering I did a half-marathon at the end of a half-ironman triathlon Sep 3, not totally out of shape.
Kicker is focus has been on a Century bike ride that happened 10/13.
Training schedule for Gobbler Grind Marathon 11/24.

2 rest days per week. Swimming is extra rest day for lower body if I can do it.
Active Recovery HR zone is used for workouts following a hard effort. 
Aerobic HR zone used for efforts with rest day following.
Weekend run is distance based, weekday runs are time based.

1 24 period with 24 miles running, 3x 8 miles.
1 feet-time workout with expected marathon time spent on the feet.

17 - Run 1 hr 6 m aerobic
20 - Run 9 m aerobic 1.5 hr & Bike 1 hr
Total hours - run 2.5, bike 1 hr
Total miles - run 15
21 - Lift upper body
23 - Run 1 hr aerobic 6 m
24 - Hill sprints 1 hr 4.5 m
26 - Bike 1 hr
27 - Run 12 m aerobic 2 hr & Bike 2 hr
Total hours - run 4, bike 3
Total miles - run 22.5
28 - Lift upper body
30 - Run 1 hr aerobic 6 m
31 - Hill sprints 1 hr 4.5 m
2 - Bike 1 hr
3 - Feet-time 22 m aerobic 4.25 hr
40 min walk
1:10 run 7 m
35 min walk
1:10 run 7 m
40 min walk
Total hrs - run 6.25, bike 1
Total miles - run 22.5
4 - Lift upper body
6 - Run 8 m tempo 1.25 hr
7 - Run 8 + 8 m tempo 1.25 + 1.25 hr
9 -  Bike 1 hr
10 - Run 15 m aerobic 2.5 hr & Bike 1 hr
Total hrs - run 5.25, bike 2 hr
Total miles - run 39
11 - Lift upper body
13 - Run 1 hr aerobic 6 m
14 - Hill sprints 1 hr 4.5 m
16 - Bike 1 hr
17 - Run 18 m aerobic 3 hr & Bike 1 hr
Total hrs - run 5, bike 2
Total miles - run 28.5
18 - Lift upper body
20 - Spin 30 min recovery & Swim 30 min
21 - Spin 30 min recovery & Swim 30 min
24 - Gobbler Grind Marathon 26m 4hr
Total hrs - run 5
Total miles - run 32

27-29 - camping trip

Updated spreadsheet - Q & A

To explain how the Activity Calc improved, I'll need to explain how it used to work. And any general questions can be answered too.

Simple Setup tab Activity Calculator was totally based on method found in several studies that found much better accuracy over the 5 level TDEE table. Just as that table is based on BMR x activity factor, these studies also used BMR x activity factor x minutes.

You've perhaps seen the site, or the site that used radio dials, or couple others, you deal with minutes per day, trying to figure out if you are picking a standard day to get a TDEE figure on. And those used 5 different levels of activity type, from sleep to heavy activity. Rather detailed, plus 1 day rarely equaled the other days in a week.

For the spreadsheet I picked a sedentary with no exercise foundation to build upon, with activity factor 1.25 x BMR. I then let you enter in hours per week for increased work activity, and minutes per week for exercise activity. The different levels had different activity factors x BMR. The week averaged back to daily.

But I did not stick with the study's activity factors for exercise, which were based on healthy weight folks, and therefore lower BMR. Which was not correct when you weighed more and underestimated more as weight went up. So I took 2 extreme examples of low (1000) and high (2400) BMR, looked at how much they burned actually doing the stated walking speeds for the levels I used, and of course had to take an average of everything to get a BMR activity factor. But it scaled much better using same method as study did. But the farther away from average BMR yours was, the worse the inaccuracy. Lower BMR, over-estimated calorie burn, higher BMR, under-estimated calorie burn. Only talking 80 calories/hr either direction at high cardio at highest and lowest BMR. But lots of activity could make it worse over a week.

The other problem with the old method, if you were able to retain LBM and mainly lose just fat mass, your Katch BMR would actually stay the same. But if you weigh less, you actually burn less moving the same pace. So the whole goal of the spreadsheet, maintaining muscle mass and LBM, starting giving over-estimated calorie burn the closer you got to goal weight while maintaining LBM, and under-estimated when over weight. Again not talking a great amount, unless you had a lot of activity weekly.

So how does the Activity Calculator work now?

So the same foundation of sedentary desk job is still built on top of with increased daily work activity, and exercise activity. Still a weeks worth of activity averaged back out to daily level.

Studies, and now FitBit and BodyMedia and others, show that sitting and standing time is best represented by your BMR, actually RMR if awake (some of them don't do it right). So the increased work activity with standing/moving slightly is RMR x 0.5. The very active work day is based on walking about 2mph, which is what the study BMR activity factor matched.

The exercise levels are now based on your current weight. So if you have a lower than expected Katch BMR because of low LBM from bad past diets, but actually a high weight, you do burn more and this new method will correctly show burning more. Also means if you lost weight but maintained or increased your LBM, you get less calorie burn then you used to. May not be much, could be a lot, just depends on how much exercise and what type.

Weight lifting is also weight based now, with what some studies showed for direct calorimetry measurements of strength training. 

To emphasize getting the right activity level for exercise if you have a variety, suggest testing treadmill speeds at  walking 4 mph with HRM if you have exercise that might be between medium and high cardio. If your normal workout's average HR is higher or lower than that, you know what exercise level it is.

Those cardio levels were picked because each is almost double the calorie burn of the lower level, so major hops. 

The TDEG recommendation is still based on studies and what should help maintain muscle mass, along with protein recommendation. Strength training is of course recommended.

Any questions on above or at all, let me know below, or in the wall posting for this blog.

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