Low HR Training

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Using Low HR training for an ultra (Read 588 times)

    Hi everybody, I know this isn't the ultra group, but I think the two kinds of training go very well together, and I know a lot of the experts on this group are ultra folks, so I am posting my question here. I have been dreaming about doing ultras for a while. However, the most success I saw in my times running was when I was running only 3-4 times a week, 25-35 miles (generally in the 25-30 range). However, it was too high intensity to keep up, and shortly after I qualified for the Boston marathon, I began a general decline in my running, both in times, injury, sickness, and mental drive. After about a year and a half of a steady decline, when I put a solid effort into a 5K, yet ended up with a time that was almost my worst ever since starting running, I decided it was time for a change. I had previously made several attempts to nudge my mileage up to 35-40 miles, but I became plagued with injury. I also had a few stressful things going on in my life, divorce, moving, selling and then buying a house, etc. Things have stabilized and I have picked up the low heart rate training as a way to bump up my mileage without the associated problems. Throughout September and October, I dabbled in it, keeping the majority, but not all of my runs at a heart rate of 146 or lower (using the formula of 180 - age - 5 due to my bouts of illness/injury). I was only dabbling first of all to get a feel for how to keep myself slow, second of all because it was still fairly hot/humid, and some days I just could not keep it that low, and third of all, because I had a few commitments to a 10 mile race and a trail running series on the kind of trails that right now, I just can't run below 146! After the trail running series was over at the end of October, I am doing a strictly base-building phase, where every run I do is 146 or lower. The good news is, I am finding I can keep up a much better pace now. When I first started playing around with it, I was at a 15 minute pace, if I was lucky. These days, I will have good days and bad days, but on my good days, I'm closer to a 13 minute mile pace, even on a long run (I just ran a half marathon with low heart rate at a 13:15 min/mile pace). The other good news is, I have found an ultra I am really excited about. It's fairly local, it's a 60K (so a bit more of a challenge than a 50K), and it is next September, so plenty of time to train. One more piece of good news is that I have been able to regularly get 35-40 miles a week over the last few weeks, so the lower intensity is definitely doing me good! The piece that is not going well is that it takes me a very long time to get my runs in. Almost 3 hours, just to run 13 miles, and that was a good day. If I have a bad day, my pace still edges up to 14-15 minutes/mile. That is tough on the schedule, and it means I haven't recently gotten any long runs in over 10-13 miles. I am hoping my pace will continue to improve, but I am not sure if winter weather and slippery conditions will end up making me run slower. So, I might go through the rest of the winter without a run longer than 13-15 miles. So, given a goal of 60K in September (my only goal is to finish), what would everybody's suggestions be for mileage/week and the distance of my long runs, starting say in February or March? I am planning on doing the continued base building, of 35-45 miles a week through at least December and January, and see how things go after that. What would be the longest training run you would do for a 60K? Any advice or suggestions would be helpful... thanks!! Teresa


    run-easy-race-hard

      My primary races are ultras and I use marathons basically for speed work. I just hit a new PR for 50 miles, almost 3 hours faster than I did the same race 3 years ago. By the way, are you doing all of your training on trails? If so, I'd recommend you squeeze in some road time, as that should be at a faster pace. I ran my last 100 miler without any training run longer than 20 miles. In fact, I never take training runs longer than 20 miles. However, I do run quite a few marathons and ultras and the core of my training involves back-to-back 20 milers on sequential days.
        My primary races are ultras and I use marathons basically for speed work. I just hit a new PR for 50 miles, almost 3 hours faster than I did the same race 3 years ago.
        Wow. Impressive. I want to be able to say I do marathons for speedwork some day.
        By the way, are you doing all of your training on trails? If so, I'd recommend you squeeze in some road time, as that should be at a faster pace.
        My standard place to run these days is a flat, packed dirt/crushed gravel trail. My favorite places to run, but I don't go there much when trying to manage my heart rate, are the crazy rocky, rooty, hilly, stream-crossing trails. But the half marathon I mentioned was on the road, and I did not think I was going to be able to keep up a pace like that for so long, so that is a very good point. So even though it's flat, the packed dirt/crushed gravel likely is more difficult to run on?
        I ran my last 100 miler without any training run longer than 20 miles. In fact, I never take training runs longer than 20 miles. However, I do run quite a few marathons and ultras and the core of my training involves back-to-back 20 milers on sequential days.
        That is very good to hear also! Since I've been trying to increase mileage, but I can't take 5 hours in a standard day, I have taken to back to back runs also, 10 each day on the weekend is what I try to aim for now. So I will probably continue doing that through the winter, and then start to increase the distance of the back to back runs. Thanks so much for the help!!


        Wasatch Speedgoat

          Hi Teresa.... My suggestion would be to stop the mile counting and run for time. I mostly run by time and can usually figure out what my distance would be by my pace and log those miles in. FWIW, I have run all of my ultras on LHR training. I ran 13th at the Bighorn 100 in 29:39, 41:14 at the Hardrock 100, a 27:35 at the Massanutten 100 a couple of years ago. I also set the over 50 CR a few years ago at a 50K in Virginia, 5:39 (Promise Land 50K). It does work very well for our sport! My training? I like to run about an hour every day at noon at 135-140 HR (I'm 56), about 1.5-2 hours on Saturday and 4-6 hours on Sunday. I try to run every day so if I do have to miss a day I don't even care. So I average about 12 hours a week, which sure sounds better than the maybe 40-50 I'm running Wink I also like to add some short pickups a few times a week at the end of my runs or during my runs. Maybe 5 X 30 seconds with a minute or so rest. This reminds your fast twitch to not go to sleep for good. Yesterday I went on a nice trail run and on the way back passed the track, hopped on it and ran the straights fast and jogged the curves. This morning I ran a PB (for this year) 5K on a XC course (20:56, 66th out of 500, 5th AG). Running by time also works well because you don't have to find a course...just find a nice road or trail, run out for half the distance and return! It's a very low stress, low HR type of training that works great for me. Good luck with the training and Happy Thanksgiving! Steve
          Life is short, play hard!
            Hi Steve, Thanks for your input and advice! I have been running 8-9 hours per week recently, and that ends up getting me around 35-40 miles a week. I was planning on increasing that, would you think 9-10 hours a week would be sufficient to get to the finish line of a 60K and not feel too miserable at the end (I guess I should have stated that as my real goal!). Mine would probably break down like this (this is my hopeful schedule, not what I am doing now) 1 hour 2-3 days a week 2 hour 1 day a week 1-2 hours Saturday 4 hours Sunday I normally run with my Garmin, so I will at least know how far I am going. But running for time would help me fit this into my schedule a little easier... Sometimes now, when I head out for a "long" run, which isn't that long yet, I have no idea how long it will take me. I probably throw in an extra 2-5 hours a week of walking also, to exercise my dog on the days he doesn't run with me. I don't care even if this doesn't help my overall running, I am also trying to lose a few more pounds, just because I have a few to lose, and I hope it will also help me run faster at a lower HR if I weight a few less... I like the idea of throwing a few faster pickups in. I was actually just wondering about the "forgetting" how to run faster, because when I started running and even training for my first marathon, I thought 10-11 minutes was my easy pace. These days, with 13 or so being my actual easy pace, when I hit 10-11 or under on a downhill, it feels like I am FLYING! My main goal now is to run ultras, but I sure wouldn't mind if I could throw in a PR marathon time, especially if I could get it under 3:30 some day. Nice job on your 5K time!! And thanks for the help!


            Wasatch Speedgoat

              You're training sounds perfect to me....and that should get you through a 60K comfortably. Sometimes i don't run much more than that for 100's! A lot of ultrarunning is mental....if you think you can do it, you can. Also if you have any feelings of doubt, that little thought grows as the race gets longer and next thing you know you are a DNF. Know that you can finish that race and feel good, just go out really easy and then as you get more comfortable, start moving along. Soon you will be passing runners...then near the end it's hard for all of us, so know that you we are all in it together and are all struggling. Good luck with it and keep it comfortable, Steve
              Life is short, play hard!
                You're training sounds perfect to me....and that should get you through a 60K comfortably. Sometimes i don't run much more than that for 100's!
                That knowledge alone will help me mentally! I have "thought" myself out of even trying anything over a marathon for a while, I keep thinking I should get to some magic point in my training and suddenly I will feel ready. I finally decided, ready or not, I'm doing this! Anyway, I really appreciate the help!


                Wasatch Speedgoat

                  Walk when you have to and run everything else. Certainly walk all the hills Wink Good luck with the training! Steve PS: I did 25 trail miles with my wife and dog today in 5:10...pace? about 12 1/2 mpm...
                  Life is short, play hard!
                    Walk when you have to and run everything else. Certainly walk all the hills Wink Good luck with the training! Steve PS: I did 25 trail miles with my wife and dog today in 5:10...pace? about 12 1/2 mpm...
                    I got the ultra bug seriously after running a marathon that took me over 6 hours. Golden Hills It was the absolute most fun I have ever had, and the people I met were just so friendly, I felt instantly comfortable chatting with them, although I'm normally shy. I learned very early to walk the hills here. I don't have hills like that in Ohio! But I recovered from this race much quicker than I did from my recent road marathons, that, and the time it took me and how much I enjoyed it gave me the ultra bug. Anyway, your dog can run for 25 miles? I am curious how far to push mine. He has done 10-11 with me, and while he's calm and well behaved afterwards, he certainly doesn't seem beat. I don't know anybody else who runs as long and slow as I do, so it's nice to have a partner!
                      Steve - I did the run by time instead of miles thing over the weekend. It was MUCH less frustrating, especially on Sunday when I had to slow down a lot to keep my heart under 146... I just said, I'm out here and I'm going to run 3 hours, and however many miles I get, that's what I get. Instead of my usual frustrated feel when my heart rate starts to rise more than I expect, like "oh no, I am never going to be able to get in my 13 miles now!". I only got in 12.9 miles in 3 hours, so I am still not running very long at a time, and that is still a bit frustrating to me.. but that was after a 2.25 hour run Saturday, so I had a good weekend overall. And I totally have the mental drive now to get me through the 60K. I want it as much as I wanted my first marathon, and then after that, a Boston qualifier. I got both of those, so I have no doubt I will finish! I really appreciate the advice and support.


                      Wasatch Speedgoat

                        Hi Teresa.... There you go ruining your run by figuring out how far you went! Wink Only kidding....if there's one thing "wrong" with Running Ahead, it's the mileage thing on the log. But that's ok...I do the same thing because I'm also in the 2000 mile club, so i have to measure my miles. As long as you don't care how far you went, it's fine....and you will go further and further in that same time period as you get fitter with the low HR training. BTW: Tucker dog has run up to about 35 miles with me and Deb, but that was in the winter on snowmobile trails. In the summer he stays home on our long run days. He is a German Shepherd/Husky and he's more Husky than shepherd, so is a great winter running dog. He has long legs and will usually run the first ten miles all over the place and probably runs several miles further than we do in those first 10 miles, then when he starts to get tired, he'll settle in behind us for the rest of the way. He never runs roads, only trails. Good luck with the stress free training! Steve
                        Life is short, play hard!
                          I noticed something weird, I have always experienced this to some extent, but it was very drastic in my 2 hour Saturday run. It was a bit cold (30) but certainly not the coldest I've run in this year. I am trying to keep my heart rate under 145. I was starting out very slow, I was trying to go a 15 minute mile for the first mile or so. However, even at this pace, my HR would very quickly jump up to 155-160 before my Garmin even beeped at me (I have a max of 145 set). I would walk a bit, and almost as quickly, it would jump back down to 120. Then I'd take a few very small jogging steps, and it would jump back over again. I continued this frustrating cycle for about 3 miles, so my first 3 miles were in the 16-17 minute range. I was also feeling some twinges and tightness in my calves and arches. Suddenly, around mile 3.5, all the twinges disappeared, and at the same time, my pace was increasing to 13 minute miles. It continued like this the rest of the run. Is this normal? Does it really take me 3.5 miles to warm up? Am I ruining all my base building efforts when my HR jumps up to 10-15 beats over my maximum aerobic number? It jumps so quickly, and even when I am running at 20 beats under my max, so I don't know how to control it.
                            Hello. Not sure about how long it is taking you to warm up, but as far as the monitor goes, I have alot of trouble with mine if I am not sweating. When I go run outside and it is cold, I find that for the first mile or two before I actually start to sweat, the HRM can be all over the place. Mine would frequently perform as you describe, but after I got going, it leveled out. Anyway, I don't know that I'd worry too much about that. Doing more of a warm up before heading out might be a good idea though, just in general. Good luck.
                              Hello. Not sure about how long it is taking you to warm up, but as far as the monitor goes, I have alot of trouble with mine if I am not sweating.
                              Good point! It has seemed a bit more squirrelly since it has turned into wintry weather. I do put some water on it before I put it on, but I've done that ever since I got it in the late summer... On Saturday, I was sincerely hoping it was a inaccurate reading but I slowed down anyway just in case.
                              db7


                                Put a very light coat of lotion or vasaline on it before you strap it on. Works great until you sweat it off and then you dont need it anymore. (hope no one takes that out of context) DB

                                Tougher than most, dumber than the rest. "You can not count the miles until you feel them" TVZ

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