Heart Rate and Hard Way Learning

This morning I had my last speed run workout before the race this weekend – and it was fantastic. The past four weeks my trainer has me doing fast intervals – today I did four repeats of 1,000 meters with a 200 meter jog in between. On a treadmill I equated it to .62 mile fast and .13 recovery, so four repeats of a total of .75 miles. After a mile warmup run I increased the treadmill to 6.8 (8:49 a mile) and took off. My foot pod tells my Garmin 901XT that I am running closer to 8:20 pace. This has been consistent for the past four weeks. All I know is I am getting my heart rate up to my high zone 3 and into zone 4. When I started this workout four weeks ago I had a hard time maintaining my pace when my heart rate went past my anaerobic threshold (AT) of 158. Today I was sustaining 162 to 164 during the speed intervals. And I felt very good. It did not feel like an easy run, but I did not feel like I was suffering. After the four .75 repeats I did three repeats fast (7.2 on the treadmill or 8:20) for 200 meters with a 200 meter recovery jog. My heart rate peaked at 172. I couldn’t believe it. I was pushing it, but I was not where I thought I was at my max heart rate.

After my workout I reported back to my trainer. Later in December we are going to test again to see where my zones are and if (my hunch) my AT has moved further out. Today was such an encouraging workout. Any running I will do between now and the race on Sunday will be very easy slow runs to shake out my legs. This was just what I needed going into the race to really feel prepared. Now if I could do something about the weather forecast this weekend for Sacramento, I would really be happy. It looks like rain. More things to pack to be prepared…

Yesterday my trainer asked if another athlete she works with could contact me about heart rate monitor training and zone training. He is skeptical about how it could help improve efficiency. I told her I am more than happy to share my experience. It just plain works. I have written about my experience here and I am amazed at how I have improved. Not only am I running faster, I am doing so at lower heart rates and I have also increased my ability to run at very high heart rates. It was not an easy process. Sometimes running (err walking and jogging more at times) slow was more of a challenge than the speed work. Now the slow runs are runs and I am able to do it at a faster pace, so the speed work is the greater challenge. So little in life comes easy. The hard lessons, I have found, are the ones that leave the greatest impact. Far beyond running – in work, relationships, finances, faith,  every aspect of life – the hardest learned lessons are the most rewarding. Some are quick and painful, others bring long suffering until we learn. But the rewards gained are the sweetest.

10 thoughts on “Heart Rate and Hard Way Learning

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  1. I have come to look forward to speed work… and I’ve been trying to implement your heart rate based training tips into my workouts. Best of luck in the marathon. Looking forward to hearing the results.

  2. I love learning things the hard way! Too many people knock it, but if you’ve learned, and you’ve got some effort into it, chances are you won’t be forgetting the lesson… 😉 Too bad about the weather. That’s a bummer.

  3. Good luck on the marathon. That does look like a lot of rain coming thru, hopefully you just catch the tail end of it. Nice course and temps look great. I did CIM in 2001, freezing rain and sleet at the start, once I got moving it was fine.

    1. Thank you so much for the encouraging words. It just stinks – train so hard and so long and then rain. I hope it is on its way out by Sunday. At least it will be in the upper 50’s and not freezing rain!

  4. Good luck this weekend, you’ll do great and remember to enjoy every minute you can – you’ve earned it (weather cooperating or not)…

    I’m such a huge believer of heart rate training. Even in the short 4 months I’ve been focused on it, I’ve seen similar and dramatic results in my zones, perceived level of effort, and paces. It definitely takes a while and a true commitment but its definitely worth it in the long run.

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