Disclaimer ** Please note I am not a personal trainer nor any other sort of medical professional. Information is based on my personal experience and is just that. Please consult a doctor before performing any sort of physical activity.
Last August I started Heart Rate Training (HRT) (to read more about it click here for: Why Running Slow Really Might Be the New Fast)
Although I originally chose HRT to help me get back into distance running after 6 months of low mileage running, I’m now looking at is a solid plan for my running future. When I first started researching HRT I actually got a lot of negative feedback from people. Mostly “Oh, that’s only for elite athletes.” Well being the stubborn bull I am (I’m a Taurus) I decided to go for it anyway and I’m glad I did. FYI: Apparently I possess all the best traits for HRT.
First of let me lay all MY cards on the table as to why its time for me to start looking into the future of my running:
1)I’m not in my twenties or thirties anymore. Alright dang it I’m in my mid 40’s. (But really it’s not so bad, honest!)
2)I’ve never been super speedy, or even very speedy for that matter and HRT isn’t going to make me speedy.
In fact some days I feel like Homer:
3) I didn’t start running until my mid thirties and didn’t run my first half marathon until I was 40. Just call me a late bloomer
So why on earth would I choose HRT? Well, for this one main reason. I want to run into my future for as long and healthy as I can, period.
So lets revisit the benefits of HRT:
You will build up a solid aerobic base.
You will run more efficiently.
Most runs are done at an easy comfortable pace (which gets faster with time I promise)
It will prevent over-training or under training by working at the right intensity for each run.
You don’t feel beat up at the end of a run.
You should be less prone to injury.
Eventually your pace will improve (you will be running longer and stronger at an easier effort)
So how has spending so much time in my aerobic zone helped? Well lets look at some of my actual Heart Rate data. ***I wanted to include some of my older HRT data but Garmin Connect has lost my 2014 data. Whaaaaaaaaa! I sent them an email and hoping they can get it back!! (My first HRT runs looked much more like my third chart (post flu) listed below.)
January 2015 – 8 mile run: Slow and steady but still a lot of HR fluctuation.
Recent 10 mile long run. Notice that my heart rate is much more steady and in zone, that’s what your aiming for. Staying steadily in your zone.
Another nice thing, though be it frustrating at times, is knowing when to slow down especially due to sickness / recovery. In January I got the flu. Coming back from said flu was no joke. But I trusted my instincts and my heart rate and new when I was pushing too hard, too soon. (see below)
HRT 2 mile run right after having the flu: (yea, not good.) PS: This is more like what my early HRT runs looked like.
So am I blazing fast? Hahahaha…no. I’m still working on speed, however I rarely feel spent after a run, even a long run. I have done 6 half marathons since starting HRT with my average time as before HRT with less fatigue, less soreness Please note I do NOT wear my Heart Rate Monitor for races. I run by feel. In fact in November 2014 I missed a PR by seconds!
Does it happen overnight? No, no and no. Patience is key. I also belong to an online group of HRT runners ( Sub 30 Heart Rate Training) We share a lot of support and information and its nice to see the transformation and success stories.
Are there some down sides? Well yes. I rarely have “pace” running buddies. My hubby will run with me when he can just so we can spend time together #keeper. HRT paces are really individual and most runners do NOT run in their aerobic zone but go all out every run and end up spending most to all their time in their anaerobic zone. It can still be very humbling when I am out there running on the roads and trails. Getting passed by other runners is a daily occurrence. I have to remind myself that it’s not about their pace, it’s about my fitness and this is the type of training I choose. And hey when you have this view to look at, I think I can deal just fine!
What more info about HRT? Check out these books ** Please not I am in now way connected to nor a sponsor for the following books. Names are provided for informational purposes only.
Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot (John L. Parker)
The Maffetone Method (Philip Maffetone)
80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slow (Matt Fitzgerald and Robert Johnson)