I’m still working through my martial arts patterns – the Chang-Hon (ITF) set of Taekwondo patterns as I nurse my somewhat sore lower back. This is a result of not warming up properly before doing my morning stretches. I wrote a post where I stated that I started doing these again a few months ago. I mentioned in my other post that I also had an interest in meditation and thought that doing patterns would fit into mindfulness practice, which they do very nicely. Furthermore, I’ve noticed the added benefit of increased body awareness and balance. In my quest for more spiritual peace I rediscovered a practice that already had given me a sense of inner peace. I had learned this practice long ago but I let it pass away from my consciousness into a long period of latency. In essence, these forms, which are predetermined sets of movements have become my meditative practice. From what I have counted there are 256 different moves in the nine forms that I know at this time. I do them at least once a day and I normally stretch out well after doing them. This morning I did some more intense back stretching without warming up and I’m paying the price right now. Key lesson is to warm up.
My primary focus is running and I can honestly say that the stretching component is something I’ve neglected over the years so it feels great to find some improvement here. I’m finding these forms to be a great recovery tool from running as well and I want to try to begin to quantify their benefits to the endurance world. They also fit into the randomly unexpected short bursts of downtime that I sometimes have as a father of a toddler. This last reason is a critical one! There are a lot of times where I have some time but only like a fifteen minute block of it. Jake will be at the train table or I’ll be cooking dinner before mom gets home so I’ll put on the TV. Mom usually, but not always puts Jake to bed so there is this time as well that I can use to train something. You know that guy you saw just starting his run at 8:30 PM Monday night in the rain? This guy is probably on my schedule. I guess I could wake up super early and hit the roads but I use that time for reading and writing as my mind is sharpest then and distractions at the minimum.
Unexpectedly, I found my technique improve dramatically just by doing these forms on my own. I know this because I video myself at times. I’m at a sort of plateau which is good because that is where I want to be with these right now. I think a lot of growth comes from these phases when you don’t recognize improvement. To judge my improvement I often video myself and critically analyze it later on. I point out to myself the myriad numerous flaws in my technique and then I set a plan to correct two or three different things over the next couple of days. I find one or two things to work on – like control of the non-active hand, a proper bending ready stance or stances in general. I’m always working on stances. I know, I know I can only progress so far without an instructor but I do feel more competent in my technique just by doing these. Right now with my schedule this is as good as it gets. Patterns are a great way to keep me active on the days that I can’t get out and run. I believe that they are a great recovery tool. I also hit a bag 2x a week for a half hour at a time after doing a short recovery run (or is it a warm up run?) Equally as important is strength training like slow “kicks” over a chair.
This forms session I wore a heart rate monitor. It took about 9 minutes to complete and my heart rate averaged 120, although my HR was higher (130s) when I was doing the form itself. I also ran 3 miles this afternoon very easy because I did 7 last night at tempo + pace. This morning my HR was up a bit compared to “normal,” which I would term the day after no training or an easy workout. During the form my HR was up in the 130s most of the time. I estimate this to be about 60% of my max HR. This puts me into the low end of a recovery run but this effort feels somewhat harder than a recovery run. Well, the truth being told that recovery runs usually feel hard to me because I’m usually wiped from the day before. I know I’m too old to train this way but bad habits are hard to break. Besides, I’ve always taken a lot of time to recover. While I feel like I’m aerobically fit I’m still getting a bit gassed on these by the end of the session. I’m breathing heavily and it feels like I’m running in the aerobic range.
Just a few minutes ago I did the forms again. Today, I haven’t run at all. My HR averaged around 125 with some of the session getting over 140 bpm. I think I might try these continuously to see what the outcome is. I’m guessing my HR will be at least in the upper 150s.
I believe that heart rate varies considerably among the various sports I have done. There are so many factors that go into it. Hydration, temperature, personal predisposition, stress, diet and many more things I can’t think of right now. As a general rule, I believe that using the conversation test to determine aerobic heart rate. If you can talk its aerobic and this is where most of training should take place for aerobic sports. I’m convinced that this is the range that has a lot of variability and I’m interested in conducting my own tests on this. I ran a 5K effort to get my threshold zone. I would expect racing to be a bit higher in intensity so I did this time trial on my own. For the tempo zone I think I’ll take 30 seconds per mile off my tempo (or threshold) pace. When I was cycling I used heart rate all the time but I’ve given it a rest since I’ve been running.
I’m sure there are several very comprehensive studies about heart rate out there. I will file these great studies next that unread book on VO2 max and anything to do with watts in cycling. I’m not going on the wild Google Goose chase to look these up.These are right next to anything to do with some funny diet. I eat to train. If I can’t run after eating it – I don’t eat it. This diet works for me. I’ve met too many (mostly cyclists) that “swear” by all this data but fall far short in competitions. I need simplicity and too much information creates confusion for me.
One can really go down the rabbit hole of analysis when it comes to quantifying the metrics we now have access to in sports. You know you live in such a rich country that provides sophisticated equipment like heart rate monitors and watt meters to the general public. We even spend vast sums of money to sponsor university level academic studies to analyze and draw conclusions using this data. While this is great for us as athletes but I’m not sure about the total value added to society in general. But yet, I digress again. Regardless, these sites seem pretty good to get a baseline on the data.
I feel like I need more data to set a baseline. But, I only have so much time so I’m going out on a limb here and I am going to assume every time I do all my forms my average HR is in the low side of the aerobic range while the time in motion will be in the middle of that range. I would suggest this practice to runners who want a recovery activity that can be done with little or no preparation and with virtually no equipment. Runners would also benefit from combining with stretching since you will be warmed up well. Patterns, or forms, or Katas or anything else like them have the dual benefit of serving as a physical activity as well as a way to “reboot” the mind like meditation.