Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Training By Heart

This time around I’m training differently. First of all, I have a running coach. Second of all, I training based on my heart rate. I’ve never paid attention to my heart rate until now, and it’s been a fascinating learning experience. I’ve learned so much about myself just by wearing a heart rate monitor.

My training program is comprised of 5 components:

Anaerobic threshold (burning sugar for energy-this will carry me the last few miles of the marathon)
Aerobic capacity (burning fat for energy-this is the level at which most training occurs)
Motor skills development (brief, precise intervals that challenge neuromuscular motor recruitment)
Lactate tolerance training (train the body to diffuse the lactic acid accumulation in the working muscles)
Active recovery (walking, swimming, biking, etc)

Most of my training will be done below my anaerobic threshold (AR), which for me begins at a heart rate of 154. So I need to maintain runs with a heart rate of 154 or less, unless it’s a specific AR training day.

Last Saturday, I ran a test mile at my aerobic capacity (154 or less). It was eye-opening, because I kept hitting a heart rate of 170 and would have to walk to slow my heart rate back down to 154. No wonder I have never been able to run long distances without walking, getting tired, and ending up running super slow. I was never running efficiently for my body. And now I’m learning how to do that by listening to my heart. Right now in order to maintain a 154 or less, I have to run very slowly and many times my heart rate shoots into the 160s-170s and I will have to walk to slow it back down. It’s a little frustrating, but my coach tells me everyone who trains this way experiences this in the beginning. Over time, I will be able to run faster and consistently at my heart rate of 154 without it unintentionally shooting over. I definitely notice a difference though…I am able to run for 1.5-2 hours without stopping, because I’m running efficiently for my body.

I’m sure this all sounds complicated. It is! I’m still learning, but it’s very exciting! I’m seeing a vast improvement, and I’m eager to see the changes in my body and my running capabilities as my training continues.

Do you train with a heart rate monitor?  What's your feedback?


  1. Maggie,

    How does someone determine AR? I'm interested in applying this training method.

    1. Hi Tony! There are a couple ways...The easiest is to take 180 and subtract your age. Another way is to get a VO2max test, where you run on a treadmill with an oxygen mask. It's a little more precise than the calculation, however it's costly.

      Hope that helps! :)

  2. Beware the 180-age method of determining AR. This is a method to use to determine AR for a population. Your actual MHR can be off by 20% or more. You really need a VO2Max test to determine Max Heart Rate accurately.