So first I'd like to preface this by saying that everything I'm about to say is probably wrong in some way, but feel free to send me angry emails about how dumb I am anyway.
I'm through my first week of HR-based training and I actually like it. My coach first set up my zones based on my, "Hmmm, I did a HR test in January on the bike and I think my max HR was 184? That sounds right." But then I tried to run in Z4 and almost had a heart attack and my effort level was at 10 and I was 10 bpm under the bottom of the Z4 line. So I actually went back and looked at the Garmin stats and discovered it was 171, not 184. It also doesn't help that my HR strap was broken for 2 months so I have lots of rides and runs where my max HR is showing up as 244. Wheeee!
Anyhow, so my coach very kindly redid my zones but we scheduled a HR test because he's already discovering that I'm a nitwit. I've been using those zones for the past week and I think that they are close. I did running intervals in Z4/Z5 that seemed about right for pace/effort, and I had a long Z2 run on Saturday that also seemed about appropriate for long run pace/effort. My average for the long run was actually at the upper limit of Z2, but hey, Z2 is Z2 and I felt like I could have pretty easily run about 5 more miles at that pace so I was happy. The thing that I am surprised to like about HR training is that I don't have to pay attention to my pace/splits. I set up a new screen on my Garmin that is showing lap time and HR and that's all I have to care about. All of my workouts are designed by time in zone, and it's kind of fun to flip back over to the pace/time screen at the end of a workout and see what it looked like. Also, to see how "fast" I can go to the bathroom (split 7) when I forget to stop my watch. But I lapped it and launched into a real recovery split. Lap buttons save the day!
But, all of this was only rough, so: the test. I spent the 24 hours or so leading up to this being really terrified about how much it was going to hurt. I mean, we're essentially trying to find the limit on my suffering, right?
So we did the test this morning and it wasn't that bad, except for the last minute or so where I was wheezing like crazy and wanted to die. I forgot to ask what my max HR was but I guess I'll see it later on when I get my new zones. I believe that the goal of this test was to find my lactate threshold and to try and get a max HR, and let me tell you, my heart doesn't actually like it when I run until I feel like I want to explode. I ended up at 7.6mph at a 3% incline (yes, it has to be done on a treadmill, no, I don't like treadmills) which is a "feels like" pace of 7:18 and yes, it felt that awful because even running at that pace for a minute is far more speed work than I've done this summer. But then it was over and the good thing about Ironman - and even mostly half-Ironman - training is that you don't spend a whole lot of time anywhere near your max HR. Z2 FTW.
He also noticed that I was crunching forward from the waist a tiny bit which means my glutes aren't activating and that my right foot was pointing out a bit which means my right hip flexor is tight, which is a very excellent diagnosis of all the things I thought were improving. I'm hoping that some of the crunching was due to being on a treadmill because when I run outside, it seems as if my butt is much more involved in the process. However, I was landing solidly on my mid-foot which is a huge overall win over what was going on back in June.
So, tell me, my fair friends, have you even done HR training? I'm curious as to how/if/when these numbers change over time, and how it affects your performance, and how you deal with it on race day. I should probably go buy a book but I'd rather just ask the internet.