Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Whose Heart Is This, Anyway?

The most challenging thing for me about running by HR lately has been the terrain in my town. It's all hills. Some short ones, some long ones, some steep ones, some shallow ones... but I can't find a truly flat place to run around here that doesn't involve the track or the treadmill. And when you're trying to keep your HR low, and you're not really that fit, and the road turns even slightly up, well, you're walking (if you're hard core about not going above your zone).

I don't think there's been a run in the last 5 weeks that I did not walk (at least partway) up the hills. This has been very frustrating. But I am committed to fixing it so I'm sticking to it. Dammit.

Today my schedule called for the staple... 50-60 min run, HR 140-155max. Get used to this, he told me. So ok, I head out on a loop I've done a couple times before. It starts downhill so that's nice- gives me a chance to warm up and keep my HR low enough. But then its rolling in the middle and of course pretty much the whole second half is up up up and I end up walking a lot so I usually finish this run with my head hanging low, and sometimes, I'll admit, there have been tears of frustration.

But not today! I could tell right from the start that this was going to be a good run. HR was lower than normal from the first step. Sweet. I actually felt like I was approaching my old 'easy' pace, and every time I looked down at my HR monitor (which is less often these days b/c I'm got a pretty good feel for it now), it was a few beats lower than I guessed it would be. In fact, I was running down a slight hill today and it crossed my mind that I didn't even really want to go any faster, and my HR was 142. Five weeks ago it was not possible for me to take a single stupid slow jogging step at 142. So this was huge progress.

I still had to walk partway up 2 hills on the loop to stay under 155, but these hills are rather steep and I think it'll be a while before I'll be able to get up them without walking. Later in the run I was going up another longer, less steep hill and as usual, backed the effort WAY off in an effort to avoid walking for as long as possible... but then I look down and my HR was 147. Running. Uphill. 147. Seriously? So I pick it up a bit and look down again... 149. Nice. I ran what felt like a comfortable effort up that road and never went above 151. That was different. Look, coach! No walking!

Eventually I got to the last hill leading up to my house. I have yet to run this whole thing with HR <155. In fact, I think I've always ended up walking more than once over the half mile climb b/c my HR usually wants to be 158-160 on this last part. But not today! I couldn't believe I was running up this hill and kept looking down at my watch for confirmation- thinking, "Who's heart is this, anyway?" Can't be mine. But sure enough, I ran up that whole darn hill and never even went above 151.

What a freakin' relief. Seriously. All this slow slow jogging can really take its toll on an athlete mentally, so it's nice to see some concrete gains... Man, I needed that today. And now I've got my sights set on conquering a few more of the hills around my house at <155. There are some I haven't even attempted yet... but at some point I am going to get them. All of them.

9 comments:

Elizabeth A. Rich said...

That's AWESOME Michelle!! Glad you're sticking to the program and seeing some gains.

I have to tell you, with all your HR talk I had to test it out a few weeks ago. I too wore my HR monitor on a few runs of varying speeds, courses and distances to see where my HR is at - hehe. You are spreading the bug! Then it chaffed the crap out of my boobies and I divorced it. :)

GREAT WORK!!

Molly said...

Woohoo!! That's awesome!

Beth said...

Oh it will come Michelle! I know exactly how you are feeling - went through all this myself. But it will come and you'll be running up those hills one day and think "crap - got to run harder because my HR is TOO LOW!" :) Keep up the great work!!

mmmonyka said...

Great to hear that! I should do more research about how this whole aerobic training/HR thing works.
I did my 5mile brick run under 160HR and I felt awful. It was somewhere around 8:20 pace and I don't remember the last time I ran that slow. But I am going to try to stick to it if it makes me a better triathlete. But it's damn hard because I am still training for running road races and I have this nagging feeling that that's not what most runners do.

I wish I lived some place with hills, hills are good. The only hill I will see in Michigan is the bridge over a highway.

Iron Krista, "The Dog Mom" said...

I love it! I did about 4 years of strict HR training. It took me over a year to not have to walk on my runs, especially if it was hot out. It so works! While it's several years later, I am happy to say that I used to run a 10min mile at a 160-165HR, now I'm can run an 8:30min mile with a HR 15 beats below that. SO fun to see it all come together...

That said, my current coach doesn't train with HR zones but I'm still obsessed with it :-)

Running and living said...

Yay, so happy for you!

Did you do some testing to figure out the 145-150 range? I have a really low resting heart rate, like 60, and can easily run an 8 min pace at 145-150. But I think perhaps my range should be lower, like 130-140, which is an 8:30 pace. Hmm!
Anyway, I am so happy this is obviously working for you both on the bike and the run. I am following Tim's blog now and am learning a lot! He is great!

Kara said...

Now you can smell some flowers! Thanks for stopping by my blog Michelle.

cherelli said...

Very very cool. Can't wait to see what the next season brings in terms of performances.

Jennifer said...

Nice job, that's awesome!! I'm sure it's tough after all these years of doing tris to totally start over but looks like it's paying off :-)

So glad you've got me on the HR training plan too, I'm already seeing results! Posting to TP now...