Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Chronicles of Heart Rate Training: Day 1

Today I'm tried something different (gasp!).  I'm taking up heart rate training for my running program.  So, today was day one of said training.  I did 77 minutes keeping my heart rate in Zone 1 (which for me is 120bpm to 132bpm).  My expectation was to go out and probably do about 6 miles or so.  Mind you, I'm already aware that I usually train at about 160bpm on a regular basis.  Now, looking at heart rate through a whole new lens, I realize that 160bpm puts me in about Zone 4...almost at maximum heart rate.  DOH!  Anyhow, I'm going to give this a shot and see where it gets me.

It's hot.  And humid.  And sunny.  I'm already starting to sweat and I just got out of my car!  Oh well, gotta get 'er done!  So I start out.  My heart rate starts to jump just from moving my feet a few steps.  I see this is all going to be quite the learning experience.  I'm only about a tenth of a mile in and my HR is already 140bpm.  Hmm...guess I should slow down a bit.  But I'm already going SO SLOW.  How could I move any slower?  I decide to try power walking.  Works for a bit, but then my HR drops too low, so it's time to pick it up again.  I feel like I'm shuffling my feet.  I hit one mile and look at my watch: 15:09.  Are you kidding me???  This will put me at about 4.5 miles when all is said and done...for 77 minutes of work?  I hate this.  This is agonizing.  Here I am, plodding along, at a pace that my grandmother could beat me at with her walker if we were racing, and I'm supposed to do this for another 62 minutes?  Good grief.  But, I have to give it a fair shot.

Now, I am not a patient person by nature.  I have a purpose for many things I do in life.  Go into the store, purchase what I'm looking for, get out.  I don't sit and do nothing very well (although, others in my family might tell you otherwise...).  Today I have to pay attention to a totally different measurement than what I'm used to.  Instead of watching pace, I'm watching heart rate, and my heart rate is telling me that I usually go too ALL of my workouts.  Crap.  Maybe this is God's way of telling me to "slow down" and "enjoy life" and "take it all in".  Whether it's divine intervention or not, I'm very much hating this workout.

I find that I like the downhills the best.  I can pick up my pace without too much shift in my heart rate.  Nice! But, it's not all downhill on my run.  There are some uphills, which means I have to go even slower than the snail's pace that I'm already at because my body's working harder to get me up the hill.  And then there are the flats.  The flats are probably the hardest part.  You feel good enough to chug along, but at the same time, your HR is increasing and it's harder to even realize it.  So then you have to slow down.  More.  I'm seriously moving at 19:00 minutes per mile at some points.  That's slower than I walk!

There are so many benefits to HR training.  I've been reading about them, which is why I feel I should try it out.  Give it a fair shake.  See where it takes my running and my body.  Slow, sometimes agonizing, but fun.  I finish 4.62 miles in 77 minutes with an average pace of 16:41 minutes per mile and an average HR of 132 bpm.  Nothing stellar, but it's one more step on this journey.  I'll be learning discipline, how to listen to my body, and patience...three things I definitely could improve upon.  So here's to the completion of my first official HR training workout!


  1. How do you go about heart rate training? What made you decide to try it? Do you have a recommended heart rate monitors that you like? I've been running/walking for about 5 months and I feel like I'm going backwards with my running. In July I was up to running 1 mile non-stop, which isn't a big deal to some, but was huge for me. Now I'm struggling with running 1/3 a mile non-stop. I'm wondering if heart rate training would help me.

    I really enjoy reading your blog :) You are very encouraging and inspiring!!

    1. Sarah,
      I wanted to try heart rate training to improve my overall running and see what it was like. A friend of mine had done it and said it improved her overall performance tremendously. I use a Garmin Forerunner 305 and I like it. There are many different HR monitors out there, and I've heard others who like those. The best way to do HR training is to get your max HR by doing a run test. There are a couple you can do, and I can send you information on them if you'd like. Or you can do a more generalized way of finding it by taking 226 - age = Max HR. (The 226 is for women, 220 is for men.)

      And running a full mile is a huge deal for anyone...we all got into running by completing our first mile. You'll get there again. I'm more than happy to help any way I can! Thanks for the kudos, too :) It came at just the right time!