Low HR Training

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Words of wisdowm from Joe Henderson (Read 529 times)


Wasatch Speedgoat

    Here is Joe's message this week. Many consider Joe as one of the initiators of the low HR training with his books in the 70's and 80's on running long and slow. You can sign up for his weekly newsletter or buy his books at http://www.joehenderson.com/ Fri, 22 Jun 2007 04:27:43 -0400 Acing the Pacing RUNNING COMMENTARY 681 (rerun from June 2003 RW) One of the most basic tenets of running training is a hard one to sell to ambitious, impatient runners. It's that you must run less than your best most of the time. Put another way, you can't go all-out all the time. Maximum efforts are prescription items, best taken in small and well-spaced doses. Put yet another way, you must pace yourself. Find what your limits are in races, then back away from them on all but a few of your runs. The hardest runs are challenging and exciting, but also temporarily damaging. The easier ones repair the damage and bring you back stronger for the next challenge. Assuming you accept this premise, the trick is knowing how much less than your best to run most of the time. What pace is easy enough to hold day after day but not too easy to give a training benefit? Where is your building zone, your comfort zone? The modern way measure effort is to monitor your heart rate, running at a certain percentage of maximum. The time-tested method is to drive your training routes in a car, stepping out to mark the mile points. There's a simpler way to settle into a pace that's right for you. It works just as well as wearing a heart monitor or timing every mile -- and sometimes better. That's to relax during most runs and just let whatever happens to the pace, happen. This was the guiding principle in my first book. Its title, Long Slow Distance, seemed to promote running the slowest possible pace, which wasn't at all my intention (or my practice). A better word than "slow" would have been "relaxed." Relaxing meant setting no time goals on most runs, checking no splits, accepting whatever pace the day's feelings and conditions allowed. My comfort zone settled at one to two minutes per mile (or about one minute per kilometer) slower than my current racing rate for that same distance. Today, more than three decades further along, I can't race any distance as fast as my slowest training once was. But the plus-one to plus-two gap between relaxed pace and racing pace remains constant. How to relax and let body wisdom find the right pace for the day? Run by time periods while leaving distances unchecked, or run known distances but to leave the watch at home. Either way protects you from racing yourself in training. A compromise between those two approaches allows both a known distance and a watch. But to keep the pressure off, you take no splits and keep no training-course records. Students in the beginning-racing classes I teach follow that path. At their age and stage of running it's hard to sell them on listening to their body instead of the watch. They want to know "how fast?" and many of them (males, especially) want to race every longer and "easier" run. To control this youthful tendency while still giving numerical answers, they receive only final times and per-mile averages. Their en-route distances aren't marked, and they don't run they don't run any course twice during a term. High speed and hard effort go unrewarded after these runs. To reinforce the idea of NOT pushing limits here, I give a daily "Pace Ace" award for the runner who comes closest to his or her target time. That target is one minute per mile slower than current 5K race pace. It's an easy figure to remember and calculate, and I'm happy if they agree to back off their race pace even that much. Another hard sell to runners this age is the concept that pace means more than per-mile averages on today's run. It also means pacing from one day to the next and the next and... Some students complain that the runs I give them feel "too easy." I try to tell them that one run doesn't stand alone. Then I ask, Could you come back tomorrow and run this same one again? Could you run this way three to six days a week, month after month, for years on end, and never tire of it? A view of pace that takes you through one run also gets you through dozens or hundreds or thousands of runs. Doing less than your best most of the time keeps you coming back for more.
    Life is short, play hard!


    Forever Learning

      Steve, Thanks for posting - very good info. and a reminder to not become too dependent on the HRM. If I were to run by feel, or even 2 minutes slow than 5-K race pace, that would still be 2 minute faster than my current MAF Shocked . That is what perplexes me and gives me reason to question if I am not taking it too easy... 5-K PR is 23:01 (7:25) and current MAF is 11:30 +/-


      Wasatch Speedgoat

        Hi Jeff.... What's more important than anything is to build you aerobic base before beginning any type of harder work for improvement. In the old days (70's) we used to have the "talk test". If you can talk or carry on a conversation or sing a song aloud, you were training at the right pace for an easy day. If i followed what Maffetone says I should train at, I too would be running too slow and would have to walk most of my runs. According to his formula, i should train at 130 max. I hit that jogging easily down the road after 10 minutes of running. I have found i am more comfortable at closer to 140 for my easy days. Now some days i might run at 135, but those are usually my lazy days. So like Jesse says to do, running easier is better than running too hard, but if you run too easy, you won't see much improvement. Give it 6 weeks or so at the real easy running and then ramp it up by 5 bpm and see how that feels...continue to do that until you feel you are starting to work more than comfortable, then back it off a tad. One thing I don't like about Maffetone's formula is that it puts us all in the same category. My max HR is around 186 with a resting of 52. My wife Deb has a max of 209 and a resting of 50. Certainly her easy running will be at a higher HR, probably about 20 bpm above mine! When she tried to follow the Maffetone plan, she was so frustrated, almost to tears because she could not run a step without it going above her MAF. We went out and did the max HR test for her, I adjusted her numbers to reflect training at 70% for most of the time and she's smiling all the time when running....and yes, we talk the whole time we're out there! Maffetone had her number at 128...our adjustment brought it up to around 160. Just one example of how formulas do not work for most. So do the low HR thing for a good solid 6 weeks, then go out and do the Max HR test and write back. You will be a happier run, I guarantee it! Big grin Good luck with it! Steve
        Life is short, play hard!


        Forever Learning

          Steve, Just to let you know, my MAF (151) is very close to 70% HRR (149) so I am lucky that I fit within the normal distribution. Max HR (194) - I have hit 190 running intervals 4 weeks ago and 191 last week during my 1 mile time trial (add 3 beats vs. 5 to be conservative to get MaxHR) Resting HR (44) I am on week 4 (unofficially about week 6) of my MAF/Hadd "esque" base building. Will go 2 more weeks and report back... Thanks again for your thoughts. A bit of common sense is needed in all this - sometimes I forget and get too bound by the "rules" The one thing that I can notice is more of a belly breathing versus a chest when staying around my MAF of 151. I can certainly carry on a conversation and am not winded. I can notice my breathing becoming on the verge of "not easy" when my HR gets near 160 (on an especially hot day at the end of a run - a non-planned Van Aaken pickup Wink ) . I do plan to follow either a Higdon Intermediate or Pfitz 24/55 plan to get me thru the two HM planned this Fall (one race and one with friend) and then might continue for my first Full in mid January. // Jeff


          run-easy-race-hard

            Just to throw a small wrinkle in on the HRR thing, my resting heart rate is 36 on a good day and my max is 210+. My typical training HR is 139. Maffetone would give me 148, Mittleman would give me 153 or so, Hadd 145. Marathon 172. It's quite common for me to run my long runs with a friend who is a bit slower than I am. Sometimes that will be at 120-130. I'm actually one who doesn't believe that you can choose too low of a heart rate --- as long as you're actually running! Also, it is important to pick up that speed going down hills, so those with no downhill option may need to work in some higher heart rate stuff. For those who want to look at some data, here are a few examples for me: short training run in warm temps, prior to heat acclimation: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/2939670 medium training run in cooler temps next day: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/2941353 hilly medium run on 4/14 http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/2493530 Boston marathon on 4/16 http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/2493530


            Forever Learning

              Jesse, Thanks for your additional insight... Ran a 5-K today in 23:37. A course best by 37 seconds - ran 24:14 on May 26th. Conditions today were tough - 76 and 100% humidity. I hit 195 Max HR (had never hit above 191 previously) during the final kick. I think I will start doing one of my runs on the TM each week for some consistently higher HR/ faster turnover miles - as you suggested


              Prophet!

                nice job on the 5K PR...i'm right behind you, just had my PR in 5K over a month ago at 24:02 ... previous one was 28:29 Smile . are you planning any marathons soon, and if so what's your goal ? I'm hoping for a sub 4 hrs in December


                run-easy-race-hard

                  Good stuff. Great PRs, folks. It was only about 2 years ago that I was struggling and dreaming about breaking 4 hours in a marathon, thinking it would never happen and over the last year I've been able to hit in the 3:10-3:20 range consistently. I hope you're able to stay patient and stick with it.


                  Forever Learning

                    nice job on the 5K PR...i'm right behind you, just had my PR in 5K over a month ago at 24:02 ... previous one was 28:29 Smile . are you planning any marathons soon, and if so what's your goal ? I'm hoping for a sub 4 hrs in December
                    SurfnRun, I ran this same course for my first 5K back in November at 26:08. So nice improvements over time. My best 5-K (own time trial) was 23:01 on a flat course back when it was only about 68F. My plans for the Fall include 1 or 2 HM and thinking hard about going straight into a full in January (Houston). I am thinking about doing the Pfitz 24/55 (not suggested for 1st timers - I know) and the timing of the 2nd HM works perfect for one of my long runs with 12 mi. at marathon goal pace. These slow relaxed (using Joe's word - from above) are allowing me to get my miles up and still feel fresh. The 55 Pfitz plan indicates you can go into with a base of 30-35 mpw. After 4 weeks now around 33-35 mpw, I am taking a stepback week (run perhaps 23) this week (actually next would be better - 4th of July week) then will try to run 38-40 for 4 weeks. If I do a 24 week Pfitz it would start week of July 30th. It looks like your progress has been awesome. I can only dream of running sub 10mm at under 150bpm Wink // Jeff


                    Me and my gang in Breck

                      Thank You Steve. As always, this is the key to running for health and happiness. It's just good to be reminded so that we don't forget. Mark

                      That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Neitzsche "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." "Dedication and commitment are what transfer dreams into reality."