Tag Archives: heart rate

Long Slow Distance Lessons

CB032718At the Annapolis 10-Miler this year I was behind a couple girls with t-shirts that read on the back “Trained on LSD and Speed” and as a runner I thought that was cute and a clever play on those two words. It wasn’t until days after the race that I started to really consider how the blend of long slow runs and speedwork really are the core tenants of training. And then I realized it was time for me to evaluate if I had been training on LSD and speed.

I’m on week eight of Bart Yasso’s Runner’s World marathon training program as I train for the Richmond Marathon. His plan very clearly spells out Easy runs, Hills and Hill Repeats, Speedwork, LSD runs, and rest days. This is the last week of the hill work-outs and then we move on to mile repeats and a variety of other track work like the famous Yasso 800s. Up until this last week the LSD runs have been between 7 and 13 miles and I have to admit I was only doing LDs. In each of the long runs, I went out with the goal of maintaining my 9-minute, or faster, pace. Over the weekend I was working the gracie’s gear booth at the Nation’s Tri with Coach Gracie Updyke and we each had a 16-mile long run planned for Sunday, so we got to talking about long runs. Continue reading

Holy Heat and Humidity

j0439012Until this past winter I’d never really run in what I consider to be extremely cold temperatures (teens and low 20s and 30s). Most of my running has been in the spring through fall seasons in warmer temperatures and when I was in college in Charleston, SC, I had plenty of runs in hot and humid temperatures. So while I always thought I was a warm weather runner, by the time winter changed into spring this year I had definitely gotten used to cooler weather running. I wondered if I would welcome warmer temperatures the way I used to.

For some reason, this summer in Annapolis has been a slow build to the hot, sticky, humid temperatures we usually experience in July and August. Up until a week ago we had almost no humidity and temps were lingering in the mid-70s, still ideal running weather. All of a sudden though, full summer hit Annapolis with temperatures rising to the high 80s, 90s, and sticky humidity too boot. It didn’t take long for me to decide that I definitely prefer cooler weather running and there is no question that hot weather negatively affects my running performance. Continue reading

A Beepless Run

polar_heart_rate_watchFor a while now I’ve been running with my Polar heart rate watch to better gauge the effort I exert during training runs and rides. When I first got the watch I read the manual and went through the set-up process according to the directions. In the manual it stated pretty clearly that the watch would beep whenever I was above or below my target heart rate zone. In the last six months that I have been using the watch I have become slowly tolerant to the beeping. I have had runs where it only beeps for a little bit because I quickly get into and stay in my zone and I’ve had other runs where it beeped the entire time because I was a digit over my heart rate zone. The first time I wore it on a bike ride it also beeped the whole time because I was a couple digits under the heart rate zone.

Once I wore the watch during my interval runs and then it beeped the entire time because my effort in running intervals was significantly higher than during a long or easy run. The difference during that session with my watch beeping the entire time was that I was on a track. With other runners. I was that girl. Continue reading

Training Log Review: Runner’s World

rw_summaryFor the last month I have been using the training log on runnersworld.com both to log my work-outs as well as to experiment with one of the many available online training log programs available to athletes. It was a few months ago that I decided I would use and review as many logs as possible and I had started with the log on Race Nation‘s website before moving on to the Runner’s World log.

When I started with the RW log, I was slowly building my running routine back up from my marathon recovery and have since begun training for my first triathlon, so I have multiple kinds of work-outs that I need to track. I already had a profile on rw.com, but if I hadn’t, that would have been the first step, just like for any other site that stores your personal information.

The RW log has one button to enter a new run and another button that drops down with options to enter a bike, swim, strength session, walk, health note, or generic ‘other’ work-out. I found entering the first few entries to be tricky because not all fields of the log format were super intuitive to me. For most type of work-outs, standard data fields are: date, time, heart rate (rest, average, and max), route, distance, time, weight, and environment. There is also a standard notes box at the end, which I love, as well as the option to rate the quality and effort of the work-out on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best or hardest. And, as you may know, I am a big fan of measuring the quality of my work-outs. Continue reading

What Are All These Thresholds?: Lactate Threshold

Doing sprints is one way to help build your lactate threshold. Photo by Ian_UK.

Doing sprints is one way to help build your lactate threshold. Photo by Ian_UK.

If you spend enough time training for anything and start to read articles, message boards, and blogs that discuss your specific exercise be it running, biking, spinning, or swimming you are bound to come across a discussion about lactate threshold. It’s likely you will see this phrase used in conjunction with topics of heart rate training, VO2 max, aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, and perhaps even endurance zones. Unless you have a degree in sports or fitness or are a trained trainer, these words probably read like a foreign language and feel overwhelming.

At least that’s how I felt.

What better way to eliminate that stressed feeling of not understanding all this new training lingo than to learn as much as possible about it? There are endless resources on the topic of lactate threshold but before we get into how it relates to training, some basic definitions would be helpful to outline. Continue reading

Running Rituals

j0438575There was a fun article in the May 2009 issue of Runner’s World about prerun routines and it shared some tidbits and facts about the various things runners do before a jog or a race. For example, it takes the average runner 6.9 minutes to get ready for a run (according to their RW poll).

RW asked 2, 284 runners what they do before a run, and in case you didn’t see the column, here are some of the fun facts:

  • 85% hit the head
  • 75% drink some liquids
  • 54% stretch
  • 45% have a quick snack
  • 38% apply lip balm
  • 20% apply antichafing product

All this got me thinking about whether I have a routine and as it turns out, I do! I thought I’d share mine and would love to hear if there are any running rituals you have. Continue reading

Measuring Work-out Quality

Photo by jontunn.

Photo by jontunn.

I’m on the second week of training for a triathlon which includes two cycling sessions per week. Until now I’ve been going to spin class and needed to start biking outside. I broke out my Gary Fisher mountain bike, checked that the tires had enough air, and headed out for the 40 minute foundation ride the training schedule called for.

Most of the areas where I live that I can bike are relatively flat. I try to incorporate hills into my runs whenever I can and I chose to do the same thing with my bike ride. Even with the hills and keeping the mountain bike on has hard of a gear as I could handle, I felt pretty disappointed at the end of the 40 minutes with the quality of the work-out. Thank goodness I can push myself hard with ab exercises or I would have felt as though I’d done hardly anything.

Spin class to me is possibly one of the best work-outs I do. I think this because I sweat a tremendous amount in the class, I breathe hard, and I know that I am challenged in each class. When I enter spin classes in my training log, I always rate it with a high quality level, usually a 6-8 on a scale of 10. As I was putting my bike away and noticing how little I had sweat, I started thinking about the process and components I use to measure the quality of a work-out and wonder how you think about work-out quality. Continue reading

Thresholds: Heart Rate Help

j0438743At the suggestion of a friend of mine who is an NSPA-certified instructor, I got a Polar heart rate watch last fall to help me train better. I read the Polar user manual and it was obvious the watch does a lot more than what I am ready to do in my training (different alarms for speedwork, a variety of lap settings, etc), and while I haven’t delved into the watch’s many functions, I did set it up to monitor my heart rate. My “own zone” is 65-85% of normal heart rate and I am almost always above the max.

I thought maybe it would be helpful to switch from the percent of heart rate to the actual heart rate setting thinking I would have a better idea of how I’m doing if I knew my actual heart rate. I do like seeing the HR rather than the percent of HR, however, I’m still not clear on what the numbers actually mean. For example, I did a 4.05 mile run with the watch beeping at me almost the entire time. My HR limits were 162/124 and I was only in my zone for 8 minutes of that run. Oddly, the rest of the time I was below my zone with an average HR of 120 despite the fact that my time on this run was the fastest I’ve had yet for that route. How could my HR have been so low when I was actually running faster?

Realizing the number of questions I have, I decided it was time to do some more reading. I turned to Polar’s website as well as an extremely helpful document called Optimal Results, a heart rate training program that was developed in 1994 by Dave Ruff, the National Personal Training Director for TFC Partners and owner of Ruff Fitness. In reading through the training articles on Polar’s website, I learned that I probably should first monitor my resting HR and then set up my own limits based on that number in order to properly conduct heart rate training. Continue reading

What Are All These Thresholds? Introduction

j0313896When I started training for my first half marathon last year I was stumped by how tired I would get after long runs. A close friend, who is now a NSPA-certified trainer (National Strength Professionals Association) recommended I get a Polar watch to monitor my heart rate while training to make sure I was not over-exhausting myself on those long runs. I did and despite having read the owner’s manual there are still some things that stump me about heart rates, “own zones,” and what the numbers really mean.

As I started to pay more attention to message board posts, other blogs, and articles that discussed heart rate training I started to find that heart rate is usually used in the same sentence as lactate threshold or anaerobic metabolism or VO2 max–all terms that in all my years of running I am just now discovering. For example,  a spinning instructor recently had a hand-out at the end of class an article from a copy of Spinning and what is probably the summary sentence of the article is quite foreign to me: “Testing your lactate threshold provides you with a maximum aerobic heart rate because it tells you at what heart rate your body switches to anaerobic metabolism.” Continue reading

Fresh Start

j0438872After taking off from exercise for one full week to let my body really rest, it felt like months since I’d done anything cardiovascular. I picked a Sunday to start back into an organized training and fitness plan and I don’t think I could have picked a better day. From my bed I could see that it was gorgeous out, a perfectly clear and sunny spring day. I knew it would be chilly though so I prepared with layers and was shocked once I got started to find out how windy it was. So why was it perfect? Because it was pretty enough to remind me why I love running outside but it was also chilly and windy enough to humble me and reassured me that I can’t just jump back into running where I left off.

I am starting fresh. I find this to be a huge opportunity to do it all “right” this time. I wore my Polar heart rate watch this morning which I haven’t touched in over a month. I’d like to get a better grip on heart rate work-outs and use them to really understand my performance. First though, I think I need to learn how to use my watch because for some reason it didn’t measure my HRs this morning.

My plan was to do around 3 miles in my neighborhood but because I didn’t map the route ahead of time I was bummed to find that it only ended up to be 2.54 miles at the end. Continue reading