Tuesday, August 16, 2011

HR training

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.  

19 comments:

  1. my HR training can get annoying because my HR flutters so damn much. and the only way you can imrpove your Z2 is to train like a beast in your z2. My running Z2 is like 1030 minute miles...sigh.

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  2. I've done HR training...my strap never does stay up. But I'll agree the initial test is the WORST FEELING EVER. I too, wondered if I was going to die.

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  3. I have no clue how to do HR training. I think wearing the heart rate monitor might be annoying???

    Good luck with the new zone training! It sounds really interesting.

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  4. Max HR is cool to know, but utterly worthless. Your threshold number is the golden number. Work below that and you increase endurance or recover. Work above that and you start seeing gains.

    If you start hitting times with lower HR #s than before, it means your efficiency is improving. Of course all I need is one hot day and it all goes out the window.

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  5. I'm not familiar at all with HR training but hope to learn a lot as you figure it all out. ;)

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  6. Heart rate training scares the begeezus out of me, so I haven't gone near it. I know I *should*, but I'm being a giant skirt about it. It'll be fun to watch you progress :)

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  7. I think hr training is smart training. Tough to do someti
    Ed, but it pays off. Stick with it!

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  8. So help me god if you figure this shit out I will join you. Well when/if I ever run again that is.

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  9. I find this totally fascinating because I know absolutely nothing about it and there are lots of fun numbers! Hope it works out well for you.

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  10. I've never tried HR training - but I think I'd like to. I know there are a lot of benefits from knowing and training in your HR zone! Who tested you? George from CAR - or do you have another coach? I'd be interested in the info, thanks :)

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  11. I've never done HR training but I think I'm going to start wearing my HR monitor to get some baseline numbers (in case I want to use it in the future). Does your coach tell you exactly the HR goal for every workout?

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  12. So after reading the first paragraph my eyes were immediately drawn to the chart, and I was so concerned that you were actually writing from the beyond with a max HR of 255. :P

    Phew, glad I continued reading.

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  13. I'll never be anything but mediocre regardless of my HR so this is too technical for me...

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  14. I need to pick your brain about this further. I've "sort of" been doing HR training ... without knowing all the necessary info. Whee!

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  15. I have been heart rate training for over a year now with Coach Jeff Kline. I believe that you will see some good results, especially with a coach. In my experience I had a second LT test about 6 months after the first which adjusted my zones. In other words, I became faster so I had to run faster to get into the higher zones. Good luck with the heart rate training, it's good stuff!

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  16. I had the test back in 2009 and havent been tested since. My zones haven't seemed to change because effort level still feels the same in each zone. I always wear my HR monitor and that's how I pace easy runs, long runs and tempos. particlarly useful for hot tempos becuse your pace will be slower but if you HR is Z4 then you know you are where yo need to be. It's a confidence booster when your paces drop for equivalent zones!

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  17. I love HR zone training because as you say you don't have to think just do. HR is 155 = perfect and just keep going. HR = 182 and I better bring it down.....simple easy.

    I say it took me a few months to get used to it and then it took off and I saw all kinds of gains. My first marathon was 4:29 and my second with HR zone training and a coach was 3:39. I would say that is pretty good improvement.

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  18. Oh boy. I have never done HR training but sounds like it could be kinda fun. At the very least, it would mean buying a fun new running gadget, right?

    Question: For the splits you included, were you basically running hard for 5 minutes for several intervals and then you switched to even more intense 30 sec intervals? Is that how you kept track while running?

    Hope your training week keeps going well.

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  19. I think this is so cool. I barely ever wear my HR monitor, but would like to. I'm also pretty sure my bike test from January is messed up because my bike came loose from the trainer. Remember that?

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