Just saw that Colby graded her blogging in recent days with a “See Me.” I don’t even think the teacher would want to see me. I expect a note in my box asking me to withdraw. Where have we been? Where do the days go???
I got a heartrate monitor for my birthday this year, and like the Garmin I received last year, it’s been a blessing and a curse.
Blessing: it’s cool and useful and I think it will help improve my running.
Curse: Like my dear frenemy, the Garmin, it doesn’t hesitate to tell me I’ve been doing this running thing all wrong.
I hate doing things wrong.
I always suspected that I ran too fast on regular runs, but it was easier to ignore when I didn’t have an absurdly high heartrate number staring me in the face. My friend Laurie had been hinting for a while that she thought I was probably running too fast too often and overstressing my body in the process. She’s a lifelong triathlete and studying to be a nurse, so when she says something about training, it’s worth a listen.
I don’t know how many of you train using a heartrate monitor, but the general gist is this: if you run at a pace that overexerts your heart too often, you will risk injury and burnout. I have been very lucky in avoiding injuries (knock wood) and I don’t think I’ve ever had runner’s burnout, BUT, but I did feel incredibly wiped out a lot last year when I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon. I could manage, but still – I was pretty tuckered. Maybe that was burnout? Mentally I felt fine. I dunno.
My life is A LOT busier this year than last fall – work is busier, my kids are busier, everything is busier. I want to be able to do everything and enjoy everything without feeling wrecked while I train for the Philly Marathon on November 23. I figured I would give training in my proper heartrate zones a try to see if I can train in a way that allows for proper recovery, etc.
I don’t have high expectations for my performance at Philly anyway –particularly since I’m doing the Fenway Spartan the week before, which is not the number 1, or even number 100, recommended activity during the taper. Stupid, I know, but there’s no way I’m missing the Fenway Spartan!!! I figured it was worth a shot to mix things up a bit now with my monitor and see how heartrate training goes. If it screws me up, I’ll train differently for the next marathon.
What I realized from just a few test runs with the monitor is that I never really ran recovery runs before. Ever. My heartrate was at the same level whether I ran long, short, mid or recovery. That’s not good and does nothing to improve performance. When I ran “easy,” recovery runs, I did run short. But I still ran too fast and too hard. That’s not a recovery run at all. Those are just junk miles.
I have run 49 miles in the last 8 days, attempting to control my heartrate for each run – checking my Garmin obsessively and staying at or below the low 150’s as much as possible. It can be frustratingly slow, but I’m already getting better at managing my heartrate – yesterday I ran 13 and I never saw anything above 155. And you know what? I felt great afterward. I didn’t feel like I had run 13 miles. Or many miles in the preceding 7 days. Other than tired legs, I felt fine, and still do today. NO exhaustion, no fuzzy head, no overall weariness. Today, I ran a 3.5 mile real recovery run at a slow pace, and feel terrific. I’m going to keep going with this for a while and see if I continue to feel so good.
The super slow pacing is annoying, but I am going to try and stick it out. Laurie suggested doing all runs at the lower heartrate for a few weeks, and then working back in some harder and faster runs. I figure it is worth a shot. I have that stupid monitor, after all.
Who else trains with a heart rate monitor? Any tips? Success stories? Things to watch out for?