S o in the midst of the my fitness programme, I try and keep some additional cardio going on. I generally go running. I remember running as a young boy. I had a stopwatch, and would have to ask my dad how far a certain route was, and work out the numbers from there. Over time, I have invested in apps, watches, and heart rate monitors.

It’s a great motivator, but it’s also got me thinking about how things used to be. Back in the day. You know, before technology. In particular, I remember a certain Graeme Pope-Ellis.

I grew up as friends with Lee, his son, and Graeme and my dad were part of the same running group. At one stage, heart-rate monitors came on to the scene. One morning, if I recall the story correctly, there was some discussion amongst the members of the running group after their morning trot about the latest and greatest of new HR technology. Everyone was standing around – sweating from their morning training session, and comparing this-type-of-watch with that-type-of-watch, working out optimal training progressions and what everyone’s VO2 max/maximum heart rate was.

Graeme Pope-Ellis

Graeme Pope-Ellis

Graeme stood quietly in the background, sipping his water and listening with contented amusement. My dad, noticing him, asked him what he thought. He laughed and said he didn’t bother with that nonsense. After all, there was a much simpler way of working out your maximum heart rate, he said.

“Really?” said my dad. “How?”

“Well, if I really want to know what my maximum heart rate is, I go for a run. I run as fast and flat out as I can… until I pass out,” said Graeme.

“Pass out!?” reacted dad.


“As in, unconscious?”

“Yes. I just go out hard. Until I black out,” Graeme explained. “And then, as soon as I wake up – I measure my pulse. And that¬†is my maximum heart rate.”

There was shocked silence among the group for a few seconds.

“And then,” Graeme continued, “I get up immediately and do it again. Just to make sure I was right the first time.”

To this day, most will tell you it was very difficult to tell whether he was joking or not.

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