Monday, June 14, 2010

too much adrenaline?

This weekend's 17.75K was the first race I ever ran that I fully intended on NOT RACING. I went in unstressed, excited but not anxious, relaxed. Or so I thought. When I later got the chance to look over my splits, I noticed an interesting statistic.

G, MCM Mama and I hit the first mile marker in 9:58, a rather conservative pace for me. When I run a 10 minute mile in training runs, my heart rate averages between 139 and 142. Well, take one guess what my average heart rate was in that first mile ...

171.

Nuts, right? It gets even more interesting when you consider that my average heart rate in mile two, which I ran in 9:44, was 155. Seeing these numbers got me thinking. First, why was my heart rate so high in mile one? And second, how can I use this info in future races?

I think my heart rate was so high due to an abundance of adrenaline. I didn't really feel overly stressed or excited about the race, since I was using it more as a training run than a speed test, but apparently my body was feeling it (perhaps this is my OVERLY competitive nature coming into play). Then once I settled in, the adrenaline wore off and my heart rate regulated. Makes sense to me.

So, how does this affect my other races? Well, here is my thought. If I am racing for a specific time, I usually start a little (little being the key word) slower than my goal pace to warm up. But this "slower" start is still a much faster pace than I ran on Saturday. Add this faster pace, which is going to elevate my heart rate, to my "adrenaline boosted heart rate" and I'm pretty sure I am not going to get that recovery like on Saturday. This might explain why my heart rate was over 180 for the majority of the MAC Half marathon in early May. Maybe?

Either way, this information is helping me formulate a new race strategy for events over 10 miles. I think I need to be ULTRA-conservative in my starts during these longer races. Not just the 15-30 seconds under goal pace in that first mile. "Losing" a minute or two in the beginning would be much better than crashing with miles left in the race. Unfortunately, I don't have another race to test this out until September and I am not sure I can simulate the "adrenaline effect" in a training run. So I guess I will just have to wait and see ...

18 comments:

Marlene said...

I always sort of wondered about this ... HR being elevated in a race situation due to nerves/excitement/adrenaline. How does that affect people who train exclusively by heart rate?

It must have been nice to run for fun with friends WITHOUT pressure! It's definitely nice to do that once in a while.

Stephanie Nichole said...

Hmm I don't normally watch my HR too often. Maybe it's the whole "warming up" thing-- the heart rate is kind of getting a jump start then settling in. Have you checked the same pace during a casual long run when you'll feel more relaxed??

momof3 said...

we could be stupid and run the PH Half Marathon...

Katie A. said...

Hmmm...very interesting!
I think you need to find another race soon! And try it out! LOL!

Navy Wife on a Diet said...

do you ever use an inhaler before your runs? I have exercise-induced asthma and my heart always gets a little jumpy from the albuterol.

OrangeBlossom said...

You should find another race and test your hypothesis.

I, too, check out my heart rate during my runs. It provides interesting data. I enjoy the numbers part of running. =)

Anne said...

Very interesting...I look forward to reading what this all means...so, when is your next race?

Carly said...

This is very interesting. I'm interested to find out if your theroy is correct.

MCM Mama said...

Hmm, interesting. I don't track my heart rate, but I usually feel hyped up and jumpy at the start, even when I'm not "racing" a race.

Hope you can figure it out and use it to formulate your race strategy.

Teamarcia said...

Fascinating. I too am amped up from nerves/excitement the first mile or more. Happy strategizing!

Molly said...

interesting theory, it makes a lot of sense.

fitandfortysomething.com said...

thanks for sharing this info!

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

You are a numbers girl.

I would be interested in seeing where my heartrate is. Someday I'll get back into the tech' side of running equipment.

I agree that you probably were just excited for the race regardless of your awareness of "not racing it." You probably can't stop that excitment factor on race day.

Anabela (Bela) Neves said...

I have been meaning to check my HR on my runs but haven't yet. Reading your post I think I will soon!

Char said...

I've been an avid HR-checker since I succumbed to overtraining syndrome last year. Adrenalin has a huge impact on HR and even the phone call about the vomiting child could have had an effect.

Sarah said...

Hmmm...interesting post. I have never used a HR monitor, which is crazy, since my Garmin has one. I will be interested to see what you discover. :)

Megan said...

That happens to me. But it usually is b/c of me getting overly excited.

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of thing I try to teach people. Can we expect a sequel?