Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'm a Stupid Runner

I have a confession to make...I am a stupid runner.  I'm injured because I decided to run a crazy fast pace (under 5:30 minute/mile) just to see what my maximum heart rate would be at those fast paces.  Why?  Because I felt I could do anything and not get injured.  I was in a good place with my current running.  Training was going well.  I had a nice running streak and I was starting to feel good.  I guess that wasn't good enough for me.  I wanted more.  I got greedy.  I got stupid.  There was no reason to re-determine my maximum heart rate.  I have done it several times in the past during races or at the end of hard training runs.  Why re-assess?  I suppose I thought my HR zones might be off--maybe they were too low?  Maybe I felt I needed to train harder, but still within my zones...that would mean I needed a higher maximum rate so I could readjust my zones higher.  Stupid.

I'm now on a three day non-running streak.  A full three days off from running.  My calf is healing.  I don't limp when I walk.  It's still a little sore and tight, but it doesn't HURT. That's progress.  I'm getting smarter.  If I stuck to my heart rate zone training this injury would have never happened.  My top zone would have kept me running at a hard tempo pace (~6:45-7:00 pace)...but not so fast that I would strain my calf!  That's the beauty of heart rate training.  You go as fast as your body (heart) will allow for the intended workout.  Over time, your body adapts and improves and you run faster at the SAME heart rate. Simple. Intelligent. 

Runners often forget the reason they run.  There are tons of reasons to run...better health, weight-loss, fast racing, stress reduction, etc.  Why do you run?  Once you know why you run, then you can train with that goal in mind.  If you are running purely for health, then you do not need to do fast-paced speed work.  Run easy.  Enjoy each run.  If you are training for a trail ultramarathon race, then you don't need to do workouts intended for 5K runners.  You need long runs on trails.  That's what I needed.  I had no business running at 5:15 pace.  I suffered the consequences.  Actually, I'm still suffering.  I hope I remember this lesson.  Time to "get smart."  I am returning to heart rate based training.  There are lots of good programs, but I'm going with a more conservative approach--it's based on Phil Maffetone and Stu Mittleman.  The primary emphasis is on aerobic conditioning.  I'll have three zones:

Mostly Aerobic Pace (MAP) = 110-130
Most Efficient Pace (MEP) = 130-140
Speedy Aerobic Pace (SAP) = 140-160

(When my injury heals, and I remain injury free for a few weeks, I can add 5 beats to each zone.)

These zones are based on 180 - age +/- adjustments based on health and injuries. None of these come close to my maximum heart rate of 191.  I've blogged about heart rate training in the past.  Here is one of my better posts that combines Maffetone and Mittleman and provides a few resources: "Maffetone Heart Rate Training".


Ben S said...

I dislike hard-intensity running so my goal is a sub 16 5k and I'm enjoying the rest of running all the more because of it. I have a long way to go. Keeping a running streak through the winter months has been great so far. I think I might make it an annual tradition to get me through the cold weather season. BTW - I came across George Beinhorn's site and thought it was interesting. The archive has lots of good reading. He's translated a scientific paper written by Van Aaken a long time ago.

Chris said...


Thanks for the web link. I'll check it out. I think I'll start a streak each Thanksgiving with the purpose of going 100 straight days--that'll get me through winter. Good luck with the sub-16 5K goal. I'm shooting for sub-19. My last 5K was a 19:20 a couple of years ago. With all of my darn ultras, I've lost some pure speed.