Low HR Training

1

My interest is peaked - please help me start from the very beginning. (Read 642 times)

    Hi everyone. I just joined the group, so lemme provide a little background:

     

    For some magical reason, I decided to look into this heart rate while running thingy.  I just replaced a Garmin and the new one came with a HRM.  I used it once, had no use for the information it was telling me, and promptly tossed it aside.  But for whatever reason, I got the bug to fully research whatever info is out there to see if monitoring my HR would be something that could help me.

     

    If you look at my log, you can see the vast inconsistencies.  I am a 30 yo mom of a 20 month old girl.  I only started running about 4 years ago and started with the C25K plan.  It helped me start becomming a runner, but never really instilled in me the importance of taking it slow.  So needless to say, I got ansy, wanted to do 5ks and wanted to do them as fast as I could.  So I entered a couple, did ok on some, and bombed on others.  I got frustrated with not being able to run more than 5 miles without completely losing my gas, and wanting to tear my hair out from boredom.  I love running, but I simultaneously hate it as well (I'm working on the mental aspects of it)  ABout 2 years into my running career, I got injured.  I started to show signs of IT band issues and promptly backed off the running and started seeing a PT.  He got me better, but didn't educate me too well on the mechanics of the IT Band and what I could do to prevent the injury from re-occuring.  This I did on my own.  I was able to keep it at bay and resume attempting to be the runner I always hope to be.  And then I got pregnant about a year later.

     

    When I was recovered, I tried to come back, but my lack of any kind of real running/base miles/knowledge left me more discouraged than ever before.  Add a new baby on top of all that and well, running just wasnt working out too well for me.  Then my husband lost his job and finding time to run after that just left me feeling guilty about asking my husband to watch the baby all the time.

     

    To add even more insult to everything, I am a night-shift worker.  I work this schedule half of the week and then switch back to "normalcy" the other half of the week.  It reeks havoc on me week after week, but I dont have another option.  SO basically,  I have very little time to even fit in any runs, and usually when I do they turn out to be complete crap.  So I'm tired of constantly failing and want to make whatever running time I can squeeze in actually count.  I want to make some kind of progress for once in my life.  I always used the excuse that my body just wasn't made for long distance running, but now I'm wondering if thats just my way of making excuses for all the running mistakes Ive been making.

     

    I want to try this MAF stuff, but I'm still such a newbie at everything running related.  So far, Ive calculated my RHR at 55bpm.  I tested my MHR the other day and found it to be approx 197-202.  I maxed at 197, but probably couldve pushed myself slightly harder.  Ive only two runs so far with my HRM just to see how slow I need to go to keep my HR at the 70-80% recommendations Ive been reading about.  These two runs felt awesome so far, even though they were extremely slower than my usual 11:30 or 11:00 mm pace.  But low and behold, when I slowed down, I went farther with less effort and felt exceptional afterwards. 

     

    But now I'm learning that I probably still need to go slower.  When I did the last run, my HR was 165 - 175. I think I peaked at 178 right towards the end of the run.  I thought I was in good fat-burning zone until I uploaded the data from my Garmin and saw that it was still placing me into Zone 4 - still anaerobic.  So after reading the wealth of info on the boards here, I will attempt to get some runs in at my calculated MAF of 150-155 and see how that works out for me.  I'm very excited to finally have a plan in place and I realize I will have to give it many weeks before I may see any kind of improvement.

     

    My main question at this point is: Seeing that I don't really have any kind of a base, what is a good distance I should be shooting for during my runs at 150 bpm?  Or should I change my thinking and go for time instead?  30 mins?   There will definitely be days when I just can't go for more than 20 or 30 mins just because of my daily schedule. But when I am not working, I work hard to give my runs more time.

     

    I appreciate any help anyone can offer me

    jimmyb


      Welcome to the land of Buh-Bump Buh-Bump, Chrissy!

       

      Thank you for such a well-written and clear post.

       

      Your struggles as a beginner aren't unique. I've seen a lot of carnage among beginners who take on too much training load too soon. They might not be spending too much time on their feet, but the time they are, they are moving too fast, and are too anaerobic. A lot of the time, depending on their state of fitness and weight, they should be walking until their body is ready to run. A heart rate monitor (HRM) and working out at MAF would have saved a lot of them much grief and pain. Imagine starting out with a HRM  and seeing that in order to stay under your MAF, you can only walk. Then sticking with that. Eventually, in order to stay at MAF, you wouldn't be able to walk fast enough, and you would have to run. Eventually, the beginner would be able to run everything at MAF.

       

      Before I knew about HRM's, I was a walker, and became pretty fast at walking, but got bored. I began to run and train for a race 3-4 months later, and did pretty well my first race season. The walking prepared me for running. I had developed my aerobic system (without thinking in those terms). I trained too hard, and raced too often, and by the time I was through 8 races, I was slowing down and struggling. That's when I decided to study running, and the HRM just made complete sense as a biofeedback tool. Eventually, I followed Formationflier (Leitnerj)  into the MAF dimension, and here I am, still chugging away, with the staunch belief that the MAF test is THE best tool and guide I have on my running journey. Dr. Phil Maffetone's books, 180-formula, and the MAF test have taught me invaluable lessons about what increased life stress can do to a runner's body, how to navigate through the various phases of training and races in a healthy way, and how to think long-term. You've arrived at the same place. Again, welcome.

       

      It's important to understand what training load is, whether you are running just for health reasons or to enjoy being a racer. I think of it as this: 

       

      total exercise + life stress= training load

       

      Total exercise includes running, yardwork, walking, lifting and chasing your baby, standing in line for a few hours, time on your feet at work, etc.

       

      Life stress is all the mental stress that adds up from family, finances, job, etc.

       

      A runner might have the perfect balance going--a training load that keeps them healthy and progressing in training times and race times. Then one day, a family member gets sick, or someone loses a job, or there are suddenly huge bills or debt, or someone dies, or  there is  a divorce,  and the life stress just goes through the roof. The training load  has just increased and the runner might have to cut back on the total exercise side of things. If not, the runner might find his or her self in a state of overtraining, or  develop an injury. I learned this the hard way. I've also seen other runners break down during high stress periods after running healthy for years. They're going through a divorce and BOOM, an injury. In my case, what the life stress was doing to me showed up in my MAF tests as a lengthy plateau, then a regression. Not being astute enough at the time about how important the MAF test information was, I never cut back on my marathon training, and found myself over-trained.

       

       

      You've calculated your MAF---great! I suggest doing an MAF test. SInce you aren't running very long yet, try a brief test of 1-2 miles or 20-30 minutes. Do the test after a 15-20 minute warm-up where you get your HR up slowly from MAF-25ish to your MAF over that time. Try to do the test on the same course and under the same conditions. Record time, distance, temperature, humidity, sun or overcast or rain, and wind speed (weather.com will give you this info) and your weight. I do my tests on the treadmill, and just worry about indoor weather variables of temperature and humidity. Do one every 2-4 weeks. The key is to keep track of how fast you are going at MAF under the same conditions. This is called aerobic speed. Some runners here don't do a ritualized MAF test and keep close watch on their miles at MAF.  Any progression or regression in aerobic speed, OT, and other problems of deficiency will show up in all your MAF miles. I prefer a ritualized test, and I make adjustments accordingly. The MAF test is the most important thing I do in my training.

       

      Remember, if you need to walk to stay at or under your MAF, do so. Many here, including myself, have found that you can run pretty slowly if need be. Others find it intolerable to run (e.g) 15:00 per mile and mix running with fast walking. Both ways will work fine. Do whatever works for you.

       

      I suggest staying at or under your MAF for the next 12-16 weeks, or more if you want. You want to build up your aerobic system and aerobic speed. After you've seen progress for awhile, you might want to try a run that is above your MAF every week (race, tempo run, Fartllek, etc.).

      If your MAF tests show progress, stick with the anaerobic phase until you reach a plateau or see regression, then return to a pure MAF aerobic base phase, and begin to build back up. You could also take a few weeks off if you wish. So, like this:

       

      Aerobic base phase: 12-16 weeks or more. You should see progression in MAF test times and training times.

      Anaerobic phase or racing: do a weekly anaerobic run or a race until your MAF tests show a plateau or regression. You can always go back to base training sooner if you wish.

       

      Again, use the MAF test as a guide when to switch phases, and when to cut back in either phase. If you see regression in your tests, something is over-stressing your body, and it should be addressed.

       

      Constructing your training schedule will depend on what time you have, and what your goals are. Here are some suggested guidelines:

       

      --run by duration (time). Your body knows and feels duration, not miles.  If an elite marathoner is doing his or her long runs in 2-2.5 hours, then an amateur should be able to get the same training effect in the same amount of time. No need to double the duration to get the same amount of miles in.

       

      --try to follow a hard/easy philosophy. Always follow a hard day with an easy day. Hard days would be runs that are more taxing.  For a beginner, this could be a 45 minute workout. If so, either run a  20-30 minute run or walk the next day or rest. A hard day for me is anything longer than an hour. There are runners here who run an hour everyday and do just fine. Hard/easy is ultimately a relative thing. If you're Scott Jurek, the great ultrarunner, an easy day might be 2 hours. Again, use your MAF tests as a guide.

       

      --do a long run once every 1-3 weeks. This shouldn't be longer than 30% of your total duration for the week.

       

      --rest at least a day or two each week (for now--this could change depending on what kind of runner you end up being)

       

      --cut back total duration every 3-4 weeks for a week, then return to where you left off

       

      --increase total weekly duration by no more than 5% per week. If you ran 2 hours this week, then 2:06 the next week is fine. Some use the 10% rule, but better to take it slow if you are  beginner.

       

      A sample schedule starting with 2.5 hours per week (everything at or below MAF).

       

      You might want to start out at less time and work up to 2.5 hours and beyond.  Build a schedule that fits

      your needs, life and goals, and take it slowly.

       

       

      Day......duration...% of total duration

      1.....45 minutes...... (30%)

      2....off

      3....20 minutes walk or run (15%)

      4....30 minutes...... (20%)

      5....off

      6....30 minutes...... (20%)

      7....20 minutes walk or run (15%)

       

      *always take at least 15 minutes to warm-up to your MAF. This 15 minutes is part of your run time. Do a cool down walk of 10-15 minutes after the run.

       

       

      That's the idea. Then build a little each week.

       

       

      Do whatever it takes to keep life stress from getting out of hand. Sometimes, there is just nothing we can do about it. Your MAF tests will guide you as to when to cut back on the exercise side of things.

       

      Hope this helped. I suggest reading one of Dr. Phil Maffetone's books. Visit his website (click).

      Keep us posted on your progress and journey. Cool

       

      --Jimmy

      Log

        I noticed you have a high maxHR and you are young. so, if you find that running at 165-175 feels a lot easier than what you did before, but at the same time it was already a very slow pace (you say much slower than 11:30/mile), then you may not need to lower the zone for a while. that can be a working approach too.

         

         

        here's my experience with that kind of approach: when I was starting out as a beginner with a HRM and did not hear about the MAF formula, but I was trying to run at a HR as low as possible, I started out at a zone of 175-179 and it felt just great compared to the runs I'd been doing before that. then what I did was simply lower the target HR zone by 5bpm each time I noticed my pace at the zone improved. at the same time I increased the volume (I spent a bit more time running). so I went from 175-179 to 170-174 then to 165-169 then to 160-164 and then 155-159, which was very close to MAF.

         

         

        this process took a couple of months and I enjoyed myself and the runs without any frustration. the thing is that while these runs may had a carb burning element to them ("anaerobic"), they had a fat burning element too, definitely a novelty for my body compared to the runs I was doing at 185-195 before I started training with the HRM. this is probably why this was effective. 

         

         

        good luck with your running one way or the other! Smile

          Thank you both SO SO MUCH!  This is awesome information.  I really needed to be talked to in the most basic of words so I could understand things.  So your replies help a lot  Smile

           

          I am still a little fuzzy on the MAF test,  and what is considered as progress or regression, but I will read up a little more on it and do one ASAP.  Today, however, I wasn't able ot get to the gym as planned (life came knocking on my door) so I decided to give running while at work a shot.  Granted, it was hot as hell outside, somewhere in the 80s and probably 90% humidity (I'll get the true specifics for my log purposes), and it was also 10:30 at night but it was the only available time I had to give this a chance so I did it.

           

          I did a little warm-up walk, probably close to 3 minutes.  Then I started my jogging unitl I reached my MAF of 150. This took about another 3 to 5 minutes.  Then I backed slightly off just to lower it a little but was surprised to see that I was still able to maintain a run at this pace.  I think it was close to a 13:00 mm (gotta double check the garmin).  And I basically maintained that pace until the clock read 28mins.  I then proceeded to walk the final 2 minutes to conclude my 30-min work lunch break.   Since I was doing all this around my workplace (aka the hospital), I only walked for a brief minute or two when I was passing in front of the Emergency room.  This was due to pure embarassment on my part - didnt want too many people to see me out there slogging away in scrubs!  And only once did my HR hit 152 at which point my alarm went off and I walked until it backed down to 143

           

          I think it worked out exceptionally well for me, considering this was all the time I had to fit anything in today.  I might continue to do this on a regular basis during the 3 days that I work.  I will then incorporate the longer run times on my days off.

           

          i feel awesome after that little run, and I didnt even sweat for too long after I came back to work. I was worried I would be drenched in sweat (as my normal running tends to leave me) and stinky for the rest of the night. But it was great!!

          jimmyb


            Thank you both SO SO MUCH!  This is awesome information.  I really needed to be talked to in the most basic of words so I could understand things.  So your replies help a lot  Smile

             

            I am still a little fuzzy on the MAF test,  and what is considered as progress or regression,

             

            i feel awesome after that little run, and I didnt even sweat for too long after I came back to work. I was worried I would be drenched in sweat (as my normal running tends to leave me) and stinky for the rest of the night. But it was great!!

             

            You're welcome. Progress in an MAF test is a faster average pace relative to the pace in your first test, or the previous test. Regression is a slower speed. Click here to read about the test.The page has an example of progress.

             

            --Jimmy

            Log

              ok got it.  Will try the MAF test Thursday or Friday at the latest.  I'll post the results.  Big grin

                 

                I think it worked out exceptionally well for me, considering this was all the time I had to fit anything in today.  I might continue to do this on a regular basis during the 3 days that I work.  I will then incorporate the longer run times on my days off.

                 

                i feel awesome after that little run, and I didnt even sweat for too long after I came back to work. I was worried I would be drenched in sweat (as my normal running tends to leave me) and stinky for the rest of the night. But it was great!!

                 

                 

                cool to see you are already able to run at MAF. in this case, you can forget what I said above about gradually easing into it. good luck with your training and enjoy running! Smile

                  I attempted my first MAF test on Friday. I chose to do it on the TM at the gym because it took away all those outside variables and I want to keep some kind of standard that I can replicate easily.  This might be a stupid statement, but I dont have a foot pod for my Garmin so I just kept monitoring my HR on it and logged down what the TM info was.....so I dont know how accurate I think it may be compared to my outside running.  I kept the TM at a 1.0 incline though.

                   

                  My main question:  Do I go by what my split times are, or my average pace over that specific distance?  Also, I took readings at every 0.5 miels because I'm not able to go past 2.5 or 3 miles yet (including the warm-up).

                   

                  Data:

                   

                  distance    split            avg pace per TM    avg HR     TM mph
                  0.5          8:07 (16:14)       15:23mm             153            3.9
                  1.0         7:51 (15:42)         15:47 mm           153           3.8
                  1.5         8:02 (16:04)         16:12mm            155           3.7
                  2.0         8:15 (16:30)          16:40mm           156           3.6

                  I found this test quite difficult. I had to walk MANY times because my HR kept going too high aboe 150 for me to be comfortable with.  I got frustrated, but kept with it.  Then I got home and realized that I had coffee before the test - I think this is why I struggled with the HR so much.  So I tried the test over on Sunday, two days later, without coffee.

                  Heres that data.....

                   

                   

                  distance     split                 avg TM pace        avg HR       avg TM mph
                  0.5             7:08 (14:16)         14:38mm          151                4.1
                  1.0             7:15 (14:30)         14:38 mm         151                4.1
                  1.5             7:13 (14:26)          15:00mm          153               4.0
                  2.0            7:42 (15:24)           15:47mm         153                3.8
                  2.5            8:07 (16:14)           16:12mm         154               3.7

                   

                  My other question:  if the TM is on a steady 3.8 mph (for eample) I find that I'm able to fast walk at this speed, or slowly jog.  If my HR gets a little high, I will bring it down to a walk, but still keep it at the same speed.  Does that change anything?  Is my pace technically still the same?  I'm thinking I might have to give this test a try outdoors with accurate readings from the Garmin, instead of the TM data.

                   

                  Any comments or thoughts on my data?

                    in these tests, does it include the 10-15 min warmup?

                     

                    yeah, coffee would affect the results a lot. also best to avoid eating carbs in the last 3 hours before these runs.

                     

                    the TM may not be calibrated too well, so if you can find some flat loop outside you can use that for the test.

                    jimmyb


                      I attempted my first MAF test on Friday. I chose to do it on the TM at the gym because it took away all those outside variables and I want to keep some kind of standard that I can replicate easily.  This might be a stupid statement, but I dont have a foot pod for my Garmin so I just kept monitoring my HR on it and logged down what the TM info was.....so I dont know how accurate I think it may be compared to my outside running.  I kept the TM at a 1.0 incline though.

                       

                      My main question:  Do I go by what my split times are, or my average pace over that specific distance?  Also, I took readings at every 0.5 miels because I'm not able to go past 2.5 or 3 miles yet (including the warm-up).

                       

                      Data:

                       

                      distance    split            avg pace per TM    avg HR     TM mph
                      0.5          8:07 (16:14)       15:23mm             153            3.9
                      1.0         7:51 (15:42)         15:47 mm           153           3.8
                      1.5         8:02 (16:04)         16:12mm            155           3.7
                      2.0         8:15 (16:30)          16:40mm           156           3.6

                      I found this test quite difficult. I had to walk MANY times because my HR kept going too high aboe 150 for me to be comfortable with.  I got frustrated, but kept with it.  Then I got home and realized that I had coffee before the test - I think this is why I struggled with the HR so much.  So I tried the test over on Sunday, two days later, without coffee.

                      Heres that data.....

                       

                       

                      distance     split                 avg TM pace        avg HR       avg TM mph
                      0.5             7:08 (14:16)         14:38mm          151                4.1
                      1.0             7:15 (14:30)         14:38 mm         151                4.1
                      1.5             7:13 (14:26)          15:00mm          153               4.0
                      2.0            7:42 (15:24)           15:47mm         153                3.8
                      2.5            8:07 (16:14)           16:12mm         154               3.7

                       

                      My other question:  if the TM is on a steady 3.8 mph (for eample) I find that I'm able to fast walk at this speed, or slowly jog.  If my HR gets a little high, I will bring it down to a walk, but still keep it at the same speed.  Does that change anything?  Is my pace technically still the same?  I'm thinking I might have to give this test a try outdoors with accurate readings from the Garmin, instead of the TM data.

                       

                      Any comments or thoughts on my data?

                       

                      It's best to keep slowing the pace, and if it gets so slow  that you can't run anymore, walk. But walk a pace that gets you HR to MAF. During the test you want to keep in a tight zone around MAF. If your MAF is 150, a zone of 149-151 works fine. Just don't let it linger long in 151. So, walk or run, but always keep your HR at MAF, don't let it go too low. That won't be a problem after awhile.

                       

                      Doesn't matter if you have coffee, just have coffee before every test. That's the key: do the test the same way every time. Doesn't matter if the TM is slower or faster than outdoor running. You're looking for progress in the test.

                       

                      It's okay to boop your watch every half mile if you wish. I do every mile. Just do it the same way every time.

                      Per mile, your second test looks like this:

                       

                      14:23

                      14:55

                      08.07

                       

                      Your total time is 37:25

                      your total mileage is 2.5

                      Your average pace is 14:58

                       

                      To give you some hope, here's a look at my test from Dec 2009:

                       

                      13:49

                      14:54

                      16:08

                      00.09

                       

                      total time is 45:00

                       total mileage is 3.01

                      average pace is 14:57

                      MAF 133

                       

                      take a look at my MAF test log here

                      and see where things went and how quickly. I've been on a journey!

                      If you have any questions about what you see, don't hesitate to ask.

                      The log is also example of how you can keep track. Open a spreadsheet, make some columns, and keep track of the same information.

                       

                      You're not bad off at all. I've seen beginning tests that are much worse. If you keep at it, build that aerobic system, and run some tempos when it comes time, you will see progress. If you make these tests a ritual, they will serve you well.

                       

                      --Jimmy

                      Log

                        Thanks Jimmy!   To answer the other question, yes I did warm up for 15mins the first time, 10 mins the second.  Gradually worked my HR up to 140ish (MAF-10) and then started the test.

                         

                        I'm definitely going to stick with this - I like how it is making me like running again. I'm not burnt out while running and I actually can take the time to enjoy it now!  I'm sore in some new spots - especially my middle back area so I hope that resolves itself eventually.  And my IT band hasnt been bothering me at all.  I rolled on my foam roller the other day and could barely detect any kind of knot in my troublesome areas so I was quite pleased about that.  Can't wait to see how I progress!

                          Thanks Jimmy!   To answer the other question, yes I did warm up for 15mins the first time, 10 mins the second.  Gradually worked my HR up to 140ish (MAF-10) and then started the test.

                           

                          I'm definitely going to stick with this - I like how it is making me like running again. I'm not burnt out while running and I actually can take the time to enjoy it now!  I'm sore in some new spots - especially my middle back area so I hope that resolves itself eventually.  And my IT band hasnt been bothering me at all.  I rolled on my foam roller the other day and could barely detect any kind of knot in my troublesome areas so I was quite pleased about that.  Can't wait to see how I progress!

                           

                           

                          you should warm up for the same time for each MAF test because otherwise results can be distorted.

                           

                          yes, it's neat, if you feel overloaded, this sort of running gets you back on track. don't be too worried about progress until there is time to do the next test, i.e. don't check every day.

                           

                          as for middle back: maybe you were leaning forward too much - at a slow pace one can get lazy and do this?

                           

                          ITB is happy with such slow paces because it's just less load on it. at least in my case that was how it was. still, a good running form is good to have even at very slow paces. (I know, it's harder at slow paces to run with good form...I didn't even realize for a while that it was important but it is!)

                          anyway, if you had a problem with your ITB, it can now have a chance to heal up - not much load on it but still gets extra blood flow for healing Smile