In all honesty, my training has yet to fail me. I am still finding myself progressing consistently with training, always welcoming the early morning hours for a refreshing sweat, constantly learning something about myself as an athlete and enjoying ways to keep my body healthy, well and alive.
Ever since training with power in 2008, I have seen my cycling improve significantly. Since then, I have yet to train for miles or for speed and rarely to do I look at my heart rate.
In terms of running, however, I enjoy keeping an eye on my heart rate. However, ever since purchasing a Garmin running wach in 2010, I have learned (through research and applications on myself) that running for pace and perceived exertion is a more valuable tool than soley relying on heart rate.
Many athletes complain of trying to do high-intensity intervals with heart rate zones and struggling to reach recommended zones for the "hard" efforts as well as struggling to lower the heart rate during "easy" recovery efforts. Knowing that the heart rate is affected by many variables, I encourage athletes and fitness enthusiasts to continually monitor the heart rate, specifically after downloading data onto a performance software program like WKO+, Golden Chetah or Training Peaks. The most valuable use of using a heart rate monitor is to ensure that you are recovering properly during workouts as well as monitoring your heart rate before and after workouts.
So while the heart rate can tell a lot about your fitness and progress as an athlete, I find that pace is a much more valuable tool for run training. However, being the "quality" trained athlete that you aspire to be, I highly encourage adding in walking breaks into your workouts in order to allow for consistent progress with training, to reduce risk for injury, to allow for quicker gains in increasing lactate threshold as well as building cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance, to better tolerate nutrition during training and to allow for easier recovery (due to less fatigue and less constant wear and tear) and to keep you excited to cover "more miles" in less time.
Worried that you won't be able to cover a specific distance at your upcoming running race or triathlon?
Perhaps one should consider that a race day performance is built on continual gains in performance. While the first few weeks of any training plan may appear effortless (with a few aches due to the body getting use to new training loads) and you may find yourself progressing quickly with increasing distances, it is far too common that athletes often get bit by the "training bug" and forget that training for an event is way beyond just covering x-miles for x-amount of time at x-zone. Sometimes you just have to trust yourself that if you stick to a well-designed training plan that allows you to train hard but recover harder, your body is going to be ready for race day because you will be executing a race day plan that is within your capability..because you are simply putting your training to the test.
Here are a few of recent runs to show you how the heart rate varies with pacing but with walk breaks, you can still be consistent with "intervals" without risking the type of fatigue that takes several days (alongside exceptional nutrition) to recover from.
*In case you are new to my blog, I run 4 days a week (Tu, Th, Sa, Sun) and my weekly run mileage is typically around 20-28 miles, depending on my "long" run. I never run for "miles" but rather for my "main set" (I warm-up until I feel good and cool-down with Campy until he gets tired) or for time. I have also mentioned in the past that since May 2011 all of my runs occur off the bike. Once or twice a week I may do a 30-90 min spin before I do a run but generally most of my bike workouts include some type of power interval (generally in my specific zones of Z3-Z4) and if the workout is "bike specific" I am riding for around 90 minutes to 2 hours during the week and up to 3.5 hours on my "long" ride on the weekend. I love the water and could swim every day if I wasn't a three-sport athlete. I typically swim Wed and Friday but will often thrown in another day if I am feeling like Nemo.
2/7/11- Brick Workout
1:40 bike on Cyclops power fluid trainer (20 min warm-up, main set: 2 x 15 min Z4 w/ 4 min recovery. 1 x 20 min Z3 upper w/ 5 min recovery. 10 min Z3 low, cool down).
40 min run - straight off the bike, into the "main set"
4 x 6 min (7 min/mile pace descending to 6:45 min/mile pace) w/ 2 min walk
#1) 6 min: 7:05 min/mile pace, 138 bpm average heart rate
2 min walk: 106 bpm heart rate
#2) 6 min: 6:54 min/mile pace, 146 bpm
2 min walk: 102 bpm
#3) 6 min: 6:49 min/mile pace, 146 bpm
2 min walk: 107 bpm
#4) 6 min: 6:42 min/mile pace, 149 bpm
2 min walk: 111 bpm
Total: 40:36 min, 4.89 mile, 8:18 min/mile pace, average HR 133 bpm
2/5/12: "long run"
1:20 easy spin on trainer
1:12 run - 5 mile "warm-up" (2 miles with campy, then 3 miles solo). Main set: 5 x 4 min @ around 7 min/mile pace w/ 1 min walk recovery. Cool down as needed (with Campy)
Mile 1: 7:36 min/mile, 116 bpm average HR (Campy was really flying!)
Mile 2: 9:05 min/mile, 117 bpm (potty stops for the campster)
Mile 3: 7:29 min/mile, 141 bpm
Mile 4: 7:34 min/mile, 142 bpm
Mile 5: 7:37 min/mile, 146 bpm (2 min walk break until I was ready for main set)
#1: 4 min, 6:58 min/mile pace, 149 bpm
1 min walk, 123 bpm
#2: 4 min, 7:10 min/mile pace, 146 bpm
1 min walk, 126 bpm
#3: 4 min, 6:54 min/mile, 151 bpm
1 min walk, 121 bpm
#4: 4 min, 6:57 min/mile, 150 bpm
1 min walk, 127 bpm
#5: 4 min, 6:55 min/mile, 151 bpm
1 min walk, 124 bpm
Warm-down w/ campy
Total: 1:12 total time, 9.03 miles, 8:01 min/mile pace (with walks included - no stopping watch during my workout), average HR 136 bpm.
Ready to add some walking into your routine? Try short "running" or fast walking intervals enough to make you breath a bit heavier than normal and allow double or triple recovery walk time to expire CO2 and to breath in fresh oxygen. Always consult your doctor when changing your exercise routine, especially when adding in high intensity intervals. All intervals can be done non-weight bearing on cardio equipment, water jogging, cycling or swimming. Enjoy!