Tuesday, January 8, 2013

following the beat ...

Oh, heart rate training.

If you ever want to do something completely frustrating, then try heart rate training.

For quite some time, I have known the merits of heart rate training.

I know how if you do the vast majority of your training in Zone 2, the "fat burning" zone, you will train your body to burn fat as fuel, thus making you more efficient.

I know how beneficial this sort of training can be for endurance sports, especially multi-hour events like ultras and long-course triathlons.

I know how if you are consistent with heart rate training, over time you will become more fit and that your paces within those zones will drop, often significantly.

And I know that it is incredibly hard to overtrain if you stay true to your heart rate zones. Really, it's a no-brainer. For most people, heart rate training is the way to go. Unfortunately, heart rate training is incredibly hard to do and pure torture if you are used to running by "feel".

One of the things on my 2013 To Do List was to stop obsessing about distance and train solely by heart rate. Because of this, I feel like I at least have to give it a solid effort. So, that's what I have been doing since January 1. And I've already learned some valuable lessons.

To begin with, heart rate training really messes with your ability to run with other people. In the past, I have shown up to run with friends and run whatever everyone else was running. Some days the pace was slow. Some days the pace was fast. But most of the time, I would call it conversational.

Now, when I run with others, I have to warn them that my pace will be incredibly slow and that if my heart rate starts climbing, I will have to slow or even walk to get it back into range. Although some people are chill with me screwing with their run like that, I really don't like to do it. It's just easier to run solo, even if that just means running a few blocks behind everyone else.

I have also learned that what I call "conversational" pace when I run by feel, in no way aligns with my Zone 2, although it should (in theory). This fact means one thing - my concept of "conversational" pace is really off. For example, during Christmas break I ran 8 miles with a friend with an average pace of 9:33. I would have said that was an "easy" run. We didn't struggle. We talked the entire time.

Today, I ran pretty much the same 8 mile route and stayed in Zone 2 (for me 138-156 bpm) the entire time. My average pace today was 11:06. And I probably could have run forever, which is kind of the point of running in Zone 2.

Ultimately, I know this is going to pay off. I just need to have patience and the mental fortitude to ignore the urge to pick up the pace. So, from now on, I'll be following the beat ...

15 comments:

(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

11:06???? Fascinating.

6 Pack Momma said...

Just curious, once you master this do you ever get to "speed up"? Or will you always been at this 11:06 pace? I've been meaning to look more into this whole hr training. Maybe just not in 2013????

Keep plugging along :)

Katie said...

I don't do zones, I do MAF, but it's kinda the same roots. And it all starts out the same....slowing wayyyy down, but it's definitely worth it. Awesome!!!!

Running for Oreos said...

I started HR training April 2012. It was extremely frustrating for me too. It does pay off, but you already know that. When I first started I think my pace was around 11:30-12:00. I did get faster, and I credit all my PR's last year and being mostly injury free to the HR training. I read somewhere it takes 6 months to "see" the benefits. Keep it up! It worked for me and I'm sure it'll work for you!

chasingdownadream said...

Yeah, super interested in this myself. But the big slow down freaks out my type a personality.... Interested to see how you handle it.....

H Love said...

You are doing great!!!

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

First of all, I would like it if 3 more people joined your site! C'mon 1000! HR training sounds like it tests patience. I'm wearing my Polar FT 40 for runs now instead of my Garmin so I don't get frustrated by my decreasing (prego) pace!

Lisa J said...

you have way more patience than myself--- every single run by HR, thats awesome.

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

Kudos for giving it an honest effort. When I get around to getting a HR monitor and/or GPS, I plan on doing the same. However, I have my arguments against the theory behind zone training. Still worth an experiment though either way!

And you now have me being more thoughtful about the HR that I tally after all of my runs.

Pam said...

I never used a HR monitor, but I ran intentionally slow for most of my runs over the past several months and was blown away by my PRs in the half and 5K distances. It WILL pay off!

Jason said...

Stay patient young grasshopper. It happens and happens fast.

My zone2 runs are now 8:15-8:20 paces when they were 9:00 paces less than 4 months ago.

It certainly works and will certainly benefit you at 140.6. Plus it is easier to recover from and that is what you need as you train for 140.6

Elizabeth said...

wow. i don't know if i am patient enough to try it. sometimes you just want/need to run hard/fast. interested to see how quickly it drops!

Average Woman Runner said...

crazy. I've tried so many times over the years to train by heart rate and I can barely last one, 3-mi run. I go batty. My max HR is ~205 and I feel comfortable when I'm running in the 170's which is between 70-80% and anywhere from 8:20-9:20 mile depending on terrain. It's where I naturally go "by feel." The bottom of Zone 2 is just a brisk walk for me, top of zone is probably an 11:00 min mile. ACK! How can that be improving my fitness? I will try to keep up with your HR training - maybe some of your patience & discipline will rub off on me?!

Nicole Orriƫns said...

I know what you mean! When I started using a heart monitor I had to really slow down hard, to stay 'in the zone'. It was really surprising to me, that all that time I had been running too fast! And there was me thinking I was slow…

Momshomerun

comfortcruncher.blogspot.com said...

Heart rate running is tough... But it works. I decided to start running with a heart rate between 120 and 140 to boost my basic cardiovascular system about a year and a halft ago. Over three months I improved my mile time by about 45 seconds running at the same heart rate. So stick with it! It works!