Had a great photoshoot with fashion model Ashley Brehmer at my studio in downtown Madison a few weeks ago. Hair and makeup by Kelly Schubel.
About a month ago a helpful dude on the slowtwitch forums recommended I try out an iPhone app called HRV4Training. I’d been tracking my resting heart rate for a few years, but I wasn’t really gaining much insight into actual training recovery. Sure, I’d notice days where I was up a dozen bpm from the day before but that could be from a multitude of reasons and wasn’t cause to take an easy day (or off day) of training.
Enter heart rate variability (HRV).
Using the camera on your smartphone HRV4Training measures your heart rate variability data and plots it into an easy to understand metric (Recovery Points). It also pulls your training/workout data from Strava or TrainingPeaks and uses that data for a number of assessments.
The more data points HRV4Training has from your daily, morning HRV readings and pulled from your online training log (Strava, TrainingPeaks, etc.) the more options it opens up in the app. Awesome.
I’m a data geek. I use a heart rate monitor, power meter, cadence, footpod, GPS watch, Strava premium, etc. HRV4Training gives me a ton of useful new metrics to look at. From what I can tell, it really seems to do what it’s supposed to do. On three occasions it’s given me warnings about my training recovery points. One day was after a tough speedwork run and the other two days were when I was sick. It makes absolute sense that those were days to take it easy in training or in my case to fully take the day off training.
I really can’t say enough about this app. It was $10 when I got it on the iTunes store and I love technology with good value. Marco Altini, PhD. and Alessandra Saviotti continue to develop and update the app on a regular basis and I’m very confident the research in the field of HRV will continue to grow and yield results in sport science. The display interface of the app is nice and the online literature accompanying the app is extensive.
I was interested to see my estimated VO2 max number. I’m still two months away from my first race of the year and my workload and fitness reflects that. I read that with a VO2 max of 53 (my current level) one can expect to run a 5k in 19 minutes which is right inline with my PR. I’ll be interested to see how much that number increases as my triathlon seasonal fitness progresses.
Of course, nothing is perfect. If you take several consecutive HRV measurements, chances are you’ll get several different readings (albeit similar). That’s not cause for concern with the app because the human body is so dynamic I’d imagine they are actual readings, just with the heart beating differently minute-to-minute. That said, I hope they continue to develop the best technology to gather HRV whether using the phone camera or an external sensor like a Polar heart rate strap. At the present time, they have me convinced the camera on my smartphone is measuring the data accurately enough.
This is also not the end-all system to determine whether to take a day or more away from training. The app doesn’t measure soreness, injuries, illness, or biochemical markers like testosterone or cortisol levels. However, it does take into account illness, injuries and soreness in the daily questionnaire. I don’t think those answers are weighted into Recovery Points, but the app does give “daily advice” on the home screen with additional warnings regarding those answers you may have given. With use of the app (and some common sense) I think it’s a great system to help prevent overreaching and overtraining.
I’ve been working on an ambitious project of architectural photography for a locally-owned restaurant group in the greater Madison area. Food Fight Restaurant Group currently has twenty excellent restaurants and I’m fortunate to be photographing each of them. Here’s a few examples of the interior photos.
Last week I had a talented painter named Amy Regutti visit my studio with four of her acrylic paintings. She needed digital images for gallery submissions and to make reproductions as needed and I was happy to help. I really enjoyed photographing the vibrant paintings and look forward to seeing more of her future work!
See see more of Amy’s visual artwork visit her instagram page at: www.instagram.com/amyregutti/.
I recently heard about a new product called the MilestonePod that clips onto one of your running shoelaces and it begins collecting data as soon as you start running. After a run you wirelessly upload the data to the free app on your Android, iPhone, Kindle Fire, or iPad using Bluetooth 4.0, (BLE).
I’m sort of a data hoarder so when I learned the technology was less than 25 bucks, I ordered one right away from amazon.
I already use a Garmin Forerunner 15 watch and heart rate monitor so I didn’t necessarily need the Pod to tell me time/pace/distance since I get that in realtime from the GPS watch. I was more curious about the foot strike data: cadence, foot strike position, rate of impact, stride length, etc. All really nice metrics to collect with cadence in particular (over different paces/distances throughout the year).
Right out of the box the Pod’s distance data was close to accurate. However, after a six mile run of a known distance I calibrated it in the app. I’ll be curious to see how it does over time with different conditions such as pace, hills and heavy wind.
The Pod itself installs quickly and is quite lightweight. While running, I can’t notice it at all on my right shoe and I’m a bit of a weight-weenie when it comes to running footwear. One thing that will be useful to some people is the mileage tracker for shoes. You place the Pod on a new pair of shoes as I did and it keeps track of how many miles are on them. That’s not how I personally determine when to toss my old running shoes, but it’s semi-helpful nevertheless.
Of course you don’t get data from the Pod in realtime but for me it’s still well worth the money to get this kind of running data. This Pod would be awesome for someone that doesn’t have a GPS watch and doesn’t want to spend the money to buy one. Also great for advanced runners that want more metrics than GPS watches provide.
This week I had a great shoot with Ashley at my photo studio in downtown Madison. We spent a few hours with different lighting setups, backgrounds and looks and are both super happy with the headshots and fashion portfolio photos! Feel free to contact me for my photography rates and availability this spring!
To view more of Ashley’s modeling work visit: ashleyerinbrehmer.com.
Recently, I decided to figure out a dustproof method of storing my dSLR camera lenses. At first I thought about some kind of shelves but ended up just going with a very inexpensive Sterilite 15 quart storage box from the hardware store. It latches shut and only cost about four bucks.
I store the lenses base side down and ordered a 40 gram silica gel canister as well. About the size of an Altoids tin, the canister is rechargeable by putting in the over for a few hours (yes hours) at low temperature. The silica gel absorbs moisture in the box and will prevent fungus from damaging my lenses. The canister was only seven dollars but I’ll have to check it every month or so to see if it needs recharging to dry out the gel beads.
Had a fairly good year of racing in 2016 and met a goal pace that I wasn’t sure I would be able to hit. Also fell short in a couple of spots and will need to improve on those areas.
My first race was Capitol View Triathlon on June 12. As you can see from the chart above, I started ramping up training in mid March and was quite fit by June. I held that fitness throughout the season and started to fade in early September. This was a fairly typically year for me and I have a hard time staying focused in training over too many months. Since I do short course racing in order to stay sharp I do a few hard interval seasons per week which are at race pace or faster than race pace (read: tough days).
The olympic distance Capitol View Triathlon was a high-priority race for me and I’d done a lot of swimming in the off season. Something like two or three 45 minute sessions per week. That’s not a lot by elite standards at all but it was a relatively high percentage of my overall training load. I hadn’t done any open water swims before the race and I was horribly slow in the choppy waters of the lake. I had made up my mind before the race, that I’d focus on having a good swim at Cap View to see if I can compete at the distance. If I could, I’d step up to standard course or middle distance racing. It didn’t go as planned and I was really frustrated but… it told me what I needed to know in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
My next race would be three weeks later in Mount Horeb [race report]. I went into that one full of piss and vinegar and had a good race right up until I hit the first big hills in the off-road run course. As fit as I was, I was not prepared for the steep trails. It wasn’t pretty but I finished sixth overall after a solid swim and a decent bike split.
It would be a full two months until my next race in Belleville. In hindsight, I should have taken a week off and then started a new build, but instead I kept up high intensity/speedwork for eight weeks. Aggggh, bad call. Soon after that race I was mentally beat from training. I went into Devil’s Challenge without a lot of pep in my step. It was sort of cold there again this year and by that time of the season I am sort of over it. Next year’s season is scheduled to end for me on August 27! Any races after that are just gravy.
I still hit my 5k run pr in late Sept. with a chip time of 19:19 and a fifth place overall in the race. I was and still am pretty proud of that effort. At that time I weighed 132 lb. and my VDOT was around 51. After that one, I hung up the racing shoes for the year and took three weeks off. And I mean off. No swimming, no Zwift, no easy runs, just chillin’ and catching up on work.
I took my first FTP test in the off season and hammered it pretty good that day. To be honest, I’m not sure I really increased my power that much over the year, but instead maintained that power number and increased my endurance so I could sustain that over a race and still run afterwards. This year, I’m hoping to add a bit of power on the bike now that I know I won’t melt if I put out over 200w.
My training/racing volume was: 80 swims for a distance 127,092 yd., in a time of 44h 55m. 109 bike rides for a distance of 2,111.1 miles in a time of 118h 10m. Many of the rides were on my indoor trainer on Zwift. I had 125 runs for a distance of 568.9 miles in a time of 83h 20m with 14,304 ft of elevation. In my age group (division), I ended up with three first place medals and one second place.
Here is what I have lined up so far next year: May 6, Lake Monona 20k, Fleet Feet Aquathon Series (5 races), June 24, Wisconsin Triterium, July 8, Pardeeville Triathlon, August 27, Sugar River Triathlon. I’m looking forward to starting the season early and ending it in late August, unless I feel like tacking on an additional race or two.
Professionally, I had an amazing year. I shot the photos for a third book which will be coming out next year, and I starting shooting some more video features. I got to photograph several professional athletes and shot quite a lot of action sports. I picked up a Rode microphone and a 14mm wide angle lens and am looking at picking up a Canon 5D Mark IV to replace my EOS 6D.
I visited the Mayan Riviera in February and have planned a trip to Cozumel in early February again next year. I’m psyched because I have a direct flight from Milwaukee and am staying at hostel there that looks rad. I haven’t yet researched the current state of scuba diving the reefs in Coz. but I know the last time I was on the island, I spent about half my time underwater. I plan to contact the same little dive outfit I used ten or so years ago.
Like many people this year, I loved the Stranger Things series on Netflix. I don’t know how they’ll be able to match the intrigue of the first season but I plan to watch season two next year regardless.
I don’t really have any resolutions in mind for 2017, other than to focus on family and personal happiness. I love all the gadgets I have, but I also fully realize they can complicate my life rather than fulfill it so it might be a year for me to start reducing possessions. I plan to read a few good books and dust of my DJ mixing console as well.
My favorite songs of 2016 were: All the Birds by Lou Rhodes (ultra chill), Lit Up by Phace (drum ‘n’ bass) and Transition by SLV (techno). My favorite DJ mix from the year was: Scuba Hotflush on Air Episode # 07.