Sunday, October 20, 2013

Heart Rate Running: Is it Working?

I just wrapped up my first week of running under a new plan.  This week included five days of running; different from my customary four.  I’ve also introduced two runs that are intended to get the heart accustomed to operating at a higher level (above the aerobic, fat burning zone).  This week included a tempo run and an interval run.

So how did it go?  Well, there were some mixed results.  The tempo run was rough.  Looking back, though, I should have known that it was a bit too much too soon.  It wasn’t the tempo run itself that was the problem; it was that it was scheduled to be a five mile tempo run.  This means one mile at the aerobic pace that I’m accustomed to, then three miles at the higher anaerobic pace, and finally the last mile at aerobic pace.  The problem with this plan is that I’ve been running 3-5 miles at aerobic pace, and zero at the higher pace.  So I’m not sure why I thought I could do three. 

Spotted a heron on my long run Saturday!
And I couldn’t.  But I adjusted on the fly and did about a mile and a half at the higher heart rate zone.  So the more logical plan is to slowly build up to this five mile tempo run; starting at a three mile tempo and gradually adding a bit to the higher heart rate zone as I go.

The interval run was more realistic.  Five minutes warm up in the aerobic zone, and then intervals of one minute in the highest heart rate zone (“red line”) and two minutes in the aerobic zone…then a five minute cool down.  I did four intervals, and while challenging, I was able to do it for the most part.  I’ll increase the intervals, both in frequency and duration, as I move forward.

Runner’s World recently posted an article that claimed (via research) that intervals need to be at least 3 minutes in length in the difficult zone to be of maximum benefit.  I suppose that this is true; however, you have to start somewhere. 

Heart Rate Training Update

So how is this heart rate training thing going?  I’ve noticed that there are some positive results.  The goal of heart rate training is gear the body to run at a better pace for certain heart rate zones.  You can’t really adjust your max heart rate, but you can run faster at a lower heart rate over time.  In order to look to see if this has happened for me, I have to select a run that has been consistent over the entire period.  My “recovery” or “base” runs have been consistently at 5k from the beginning.  I have always kept them in the same aerobic heart rate zones, as well.  I never cheat; the only time I run outside of this zone is for the last ¼ mile, which I run without regard to zone.  Here is what my average pace has looked like:

Week one:          13:40   
Week two:          13:30
Week three:        13:17
Week four:         12:53
Week five:          12:28

I’d say it is pretty good progress overall; almost a minute drop in pace over this period.  Keep in mind that these runs include walk breaks for when I exceed the aerobic zone; walks that bring the heart back down to where it should be.

Shoe Review Update: Adidas Boost

The "Boost foam" is holding up very well after 100 miles
I am becoming quite accustomed to the Adidas Boost shoes.  Maybe the best thing I can say about them is that I rarely ever think about them.  I’ve got over 100 miles on the Boost now, and they’ve shown very little in the way of wear.  I switched from Kinvaras; quite a different shoe.  But one thing I’ve noticed is that the Boost are holding up better in the sole than the Kinvaras did.  I can destroy a pair of Kinvaras at about 250 miles; partially because I’m a larger runner.  I have a feeling that the Boost will last well over that, although only time will tell.  The one complaint I’d have is that the toe box is fairly small.  This is not an issue I’ve ever had with previous shoes, but it is noticeable to me in the Boost.  It caused a slight problem with my left foot, but it has since corrected itself and I tend to lace up the shoes looser now. 

I hope everyone is progressing well!


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