Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Perfect Running Pace (Effort)

I've found my perfect running pace. Actually, it's a running effort, not pace. Over the last couple of years, I've settled into a very relaxed running effort (and pace). I often finish a run with an average heart rate reserve of 60-65%. That's a pretty darn easy run. Nothing wrong with that effort, but if you want to improve, you probbaly need to push just a bit harder...even on easy days. I now have a new "easy day" targeted effort--just around 70% HRR. This is still considered rather easy by almost all training plans. It's about 89% of lactate threshold which is easy according to Joe Friel or Matt Fitzgerald (my two favorite "running book coaches"). Still, it's slightly harder than I usually run. It feels right. I'm not totally relaxed, but I'm definitely not pushing hard. It's the "top end of easy" for me. I need to push just a bit. This effort is still very aerobic. It should build aerobic enduance and still allow recovery.

I still need hard days and I will still have some really easy days too. But my new norm is this "top of easy" paced effort. I'll toss in one tempo type run (at lactate threshold effort, about 80-85% HRR) and one speed session (400m-1600m repeats with rest intervals to stimulate VO2max) just to keep things fresh and prepare me for racing. And, maybe once a week, I'll return to my tried and true really easy running day. I call it my "Riddle Day" after local ultra running legend and coach Jeff Riddle. It's slow. It's easy. It's casual. No pressure. If I did this more than once/week, I'd be frustrated and annoyed. It's that slow. In terms of heart rate, it's around 50-55% HRR. This is most effectively done when actually running with Jeff. Good opportunity to catch up on running gossip and maximize recovery.

I track my effort (heart rate) on all runs and I'll try to keep my weekly totals at about 80% easy effort (70% HRR or 89% lactate threshold) and 20% at lactate threshold or above. 

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