Friday, January 29, 2016

Heart Rate Training

Because I finally got a heart rate monitor and I'm not trying to set any PRs this spring, this is the perfect time for heart rate training. (This spring is just about staying healthy so I can run ALL THE RACES.) I've done a bunch of reading and have come to some conclusions:
  • Heart rate training takes tremendous patience.
  • You need to ditch your ego.
  • Easy runs are the bread and butter of most training plans. They served me well over the summer, although I probably ran them too fast, and there's no reason to ditch them. 
  • My aerobic system isn't well-conditioned, and I've probably lost a lot since October.
  • Maffetone and his method contains too much bullshit pseudo-science for me to take him seriously. "Carbohydrate intolerance" and "adrenal fatigue" are two phrases that raise red flags. The formula for your target heart rate is WAY too low (I'm 40, have asthma and take daily medications), and I can't see that it's really based on any real science. The upside to Maffetone is that you're not likely to get injured this way and you will build your aerobic system. You also won't be able to have any fun or do any group runs. 
  • The Hadd method is more realistic and incorporates workouts. Two higher-HR runs/week sounds great to me. That gives me a trail run and a workout -- perfect! (My long runs might be an issue, but I'm not going to worry about that yet.)
Currently I'm running five to six days/week and slowly building up my mileage. (I'm also trying to do some regular strength-training and lots of maintenance work.) I'm keeping my heart rate at 150 for most runs (and I have no real reason for choosing that HR), but I will just let Wednesday group runs go as they go. I may move into workouts those nights (especially as we get more daylight) because the moderate pace probably isn't doing me any favors. 

I'm also looking at doing the test that Hadd describes in this PDF. My plan is to do it next week for a 9-miler (5x1.5miles at varying heart rates with a final 1.5 miles as a cooldown). Curious to see how that goes. 

Also, "Hadd" wasn't his real name. He was coach John Walsh who passed away a while back. He was an active contributor on and seemed like a great guy who was very generous with his time and expertise. All of the info about his methods are online resources, often compiled by other internet users. I'm sad that I just discovered him, and he's no longer with us. 

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