Thursday, December 15, 2016

Running by Heart Rate vs Feel

I've always been the kind of runner that loves to track variables related to my running. Distance and time? Of course, who doesn't track those? Then pace derived from distance and time, yes indeed! Plus GPS track, elevation, heart rate (average, high, low), heart rate variability, cadence, stride length, etc. And I frequently set my watch to provide a warning alarm when I am out of zone (usually for heart rate). A couple of days ago I decided to stop the heart rate monitoring. I'll run by feel instead of heart rate zones. This has advantages (freedom, variety, less stress) but also carries disadvantages (pushing too hard, injuries, over-training). I need to be careful over the next few weeks to remain disciplined, but also care-free in my running. Run fast when I want...and it feels right. Take it easy when I am feeling less than optimal. Hopefully the extra variety will keep me motivated to maintain my running streak and also provide different stimuli to improve my running. Consistency and variability are the keys to better performance. If I can run every single day, but also do different types of runs (short/long, fast/slow, continuous/intervals), I'll become a fitter and faster runner.

Coach Jeff believes this is a recipe for injury and illness. He thinks I need to be held back by my watch and HRM. Maybe. Maybe not. I'm confident I am older and wiser. I can monitor my running the old fashioned way...listening to my body before, during, and after my runs. I'll likely strap on that heart rate monitor every once in a while (for variety) and monitor a few runs here and there. Always nice to have a benchmark for comparisons. Am I improving my pace at the same heart rate? Does it feel easier at same paces?

For now, I have completed 22 days on my running streak. The last 2 have been sans heart rate monitor. They've been faster than normal. They've felt great. I'm still here. Injury-free and healthy.

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