Running with a heart rate monitor, and bonfire night fun!

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Good morning! It’s Friday Friday Friday. I’m down in Sussex visiting my family which has been great, despite the lovely UK weather trying to ruin our fun.

First up though, let’s talk about running. I have used my Garmin 610 for near-on three years now, and I love it. I like being able to see how fast I am going, the distance I’ve covered, the elevation – all the usual statistics. But despite having paid extra to buy the Garmin chest strap, to monitor my heart rate, I have never used it. Until now, that is.

I would love to say my motivation was to ensure I am training in the optimal zone to improve (and burn calories), but this is very much a secondary benefit. My motivation? Free cinema tickets and coffee from my new health insurance provider. Now, I am not here to peddle health insurance, but if you have to pay £500 tax for something per year, you want to get as much as you can back, right?

If I do 30 minutes of exercise at 70% of my maximum heart rate, they give me 10 “points” which equates to two free cinema tickets and two free coffees a week. (You can also do 60 minutes at 60% and receive the same number of points). Now, I clearly do the exercise; the insurers website interfaces with Garmin Connect; and I have the Garmin and the heart rate monitor. This is a no-brainer, so I duly plugged myself in for yesterday’s hilly run, and hey presto – we’re off to see SPECTRE on Sunday. Plus come Thursday, I will get a code to use in Starbucks. I literally ran for coffee. BOOM. 

Added bonus – Matthew doesn’t drink coffee, so I will be having his too. For the win!

Now, using a heart rate monitor obviously has advantages beyond free cinema tickets and coffee (WASH YOUR MOUTH OUT WITH SOAP). It was interesting to see how my heart rate responded to the hilly run on Thursday morning, especially since I had absolutely no idea how much I was pushing my body. Using a heart rate monitor really is the best way to evaluate this.

So, I am 32 years old. Common advice, including by the British Heart Foundation, uses the following formula to calculate your maximum heart rate:

220 – your age = 188 for me. As such, working at 60% would mean a heart rate of 113bpm, and 70% would mean 132bpm. Mine was an average of 165, so I was well above this threshold. Even though it always feels like hard work, it’s good to know this is reflected in the numbers.



Now onto the fun stuff. Last night was bonfire night (or Guy Fawkes night) here in the UK, where we celebrate the thwarted-attempt (the thwarting, more than the attempt) to blow up the House of Lords and King James I on 5th November 1605. Guy Fawkes was caught in the act of guarding the gun powder, and went on to die a rather gruesome death at the hands of the state. We all celebrate by setting off a shit load of fireworks…..even though nothing actually blew up on the day. You still with me?

It was raining ever so slightly, so we dressed like we were about to go on a 15 mile walk up a mountain.


Bonfire night is brilliantly medieval and macabre, with lots of fire and smoke, and of course – fireworks. We watched the procession of our local bonfire society, carrying the Guy and lots of fire down to the bonfire.




Matthew pretty quickly sniffed our a hog roast:



and I had 1.5 litres of mulled wine on me as standard:


We walked down to the bonfire, and I took my trusted flashing light that I use for running, since we were walking on unlit roads. Matthew took his torch. My siblings mocked, but no one was hit by a car. BONUS.

Firework time!


Then it was time to head home for a late dinner and to enjoy a glass of wine by the fire. Fortunately, we have bonfire night plans on Saturday too, in London, so not long to wait for more mulled wine fun.

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