Friday, July 18, 2014

Not Strava's Suffer Score

THIS IS NOT STRAVA'S SUFFER SCORE CALCULATION. This is my own way of measuring the intensity of various workouts and does not show you how to calculate Suffer Score. If you want to calculate suffer score see this article:

I cannot remember where I stumbled on the article or the information, but somehow I came in contact with the Strava App's Suffer Score. I have never really used Strava to track my runs but was familiar with the application as a bike tracking application, especially since reading this article a while back.

Being a fan of numbers and such, the Suffer Score intrigued me. The Suffer Score is an attempt by Strava to rate the intensity of a workout using your heart rate during the workout. I love the name of the metric and the idea behind rating each of my workouts. I have been tracking a metric I call ITZ, short for In the Zone, for my workouts for a while. The ITZ is a measure of how much time you spend in the target heart rate zone. I set the ITZ measure as 102 bpm which within the target heart rate zone for my age group:

However the ITZ was a little generic in the fact that it abstracts how hard I was working out. The Suffer Score adds some detail to the intensity of the workout. I found this article about how the Suffer Score was calculated, and I started tweaking the numbers and zones.

Here are the zones I came up with along with the coefficients for each zone.

To calculate the intensity of the workout I used the following formula as detailed in the calculation article above.

S =  (8/Z1_HR) + (16/Z2_HR) + (32/Z3_HR) + (64/Z4_HR) + (128/Z5_HR)

My heart rate monitor polls every second. So if the Heart Rate measured is in the Z1 range (between 90 and 115) then we take 8 divided by that Heart Range. Example 8/110 = 0.073

We sum up all those values and come up with a the intensity. Below is the calculation for one of my 5K runs

The chart shows the amount of seconds spent in each zone (Count Zones) and the score for Each Zone. The Overall Intensity is calculated as 390.09. This 5K was a the Carter Street 5K course and was ranked 6th on my list of exercises logged based on average heart rate during activity.

Here is another run. This is a 2 miler shorter run to a friend's house. 

As you can see the overall intensity is lower for this run. Interesting to compare the time spent in each zone. Z3 was higher for this run and Z5 was not even obtained. Longer runs will naturally score higher on the score, however with the Z break downs you can compare the intensity of the workout with more granularity.

And finally here is a chart showing my heart rate while mowing my lawn.

The score here is 194.19. Again the nice thing about the calculation is it offers a more granular view than the ITZ (In the Zone) metric I was using before. If you are looking at the ITZ for the mowing session you would see that you spend 89% of the time in the target heart rate zone. The  score shows that the workout was not that intense. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hungry Man Challenge

The Hungry Man Challenge: Participants purchase a Hungry Man Meal and bring that meal into work. All the meals are then added to the wheel of destiny. Each person spins the wheel of destiny to see which meal they will consume. After meal consumption a form is filled out to rate the meal.
You may be asking who then wins the Hungry Man Challenge. No one really wins a Hungry Man Challenge, except maybe the Hungry Man Corporation and the small bump in profits garnered.

I somehow convinced 5 of my co-workers to participate in the 1st (and possibly) last Hungry Man Challenge of 2014. The following Hungry Man Meals were entered into the challenge

  • Mexican Style Fiesta
  • Pulled Pork
  • 2 - Spicy Fried Chicken Meals
  • Classic Fried Chicken
  • Bourbon Steak Bits

"Nutritional" Value

Hungry Man meals, and frozen dinners in general, are not really known for their nutritional value. The table below confirms that thought.

Combined we consumed

  • Almost 4 days worth of Sodium
  • 2 Days worth of calories
  • 3 Days worth of Fat 

The participants completed the following form to rate the meal.

  • Rate the taste of the Hungry man meal 1 - 10. 1 - Terrible and 10 - Awesome
  • Rate the appearance of the Hungry Man Meal 1 - 10. 1 - Terrible and 10 - Awesome
  • How likely would you eat this Hungry Man Meal again 1-5? 1 - Not Going to Happen, 5 - Very Likely
  • Rate how the picture of the meal on the box resembles the after cooked picture of the meal
  • Comments


Chicken fared the best in our survey scoring an average of 5.67 taste rating compared to 3.33 non chicken meals. The Spicy Chicken, part of the Selects line, scored the best in taste with a high value of 7 and an average of 6 between the two participants. The Bourbon Beef Strips and Pulled Pork offerings rounded out the bottom of the list on taste.


An interesting result in the appearance category is that it closely matches the taste ratings. Chicken again showing its dominance with the Bourbon Beef Strips and the Pulled Pork lagging behind. The Spicy Chicken meals scored the best in taste and appearance. The Saucy meals scored terrible in the appearance category with an average of abysmal 2.3 rating out of 10.

Spicy Classic Fried Chicken

Picture on the Box

How did the end result compare to the picture on the box? Food artist can make just about anything look appetizing. Hungry Man's Food Artist are masters at this. The food on the box actually looks decent, the story changes when you remove the frozen entree from its pleasing to the eye packaging. The average rating on how the end result compared to the picture on the box was a brutal 1.67. Again the saucy entrees (Bourbon Beef and Mexican Style Fiesta) were terrible in another appearance category and both scored a 1 out of 5 scale.

How Likely would you Eat this Again

No surprises here. Every participant answered answered with a 1, meaning not very likely they will eat this meal again. I'd like to caution participants though to never say never. Hungry Man Challenge 2!!!


Finally there was a comments section to allow participants to give feedback about the meal.

  • Bourbon Beef Strips: It tasted like a child ate a bag of candy and puked it into the tray. Although the carrots were tasty, it could not make up for the disaster that was the gritty potatoes. Massive failure by Hungry-Man that may result in my quick demise.
  • Spicy Classic Fried Chicken: Chicken flavor wasn't bad, potatoes, "dessert", and vegis were not good enough to warrant finishing the meal.
  • Spicy Classic Fried Chicken: Chicken had good spice.  Other sides...not good.
  • Mexican Style Fiesta: Re-fried beans were not terrible. Rice/Enchilada mixture left a little to be desired. The cocada pudding had actual bits of coconut in it, almost leading you to believe it tasted decent. Then you remember you don't like coconut.
  • Pulled Pork: The pulled pork was mostly a sweet BBQ sauce with occasional almost undetectable bits of completely shredded pork containing only 2 actual chunks of pork about a half inch long. 
  • Classic Chicken Dinner: Corn was good, brownie was bitter, potatoes were still powdery.  The chicken was very inconsistent.  The meat was perfect on one, rubbery on the other.  The breading was nasty.
The 3 stages of a Mexican Style Fiesta