I have a couple of athletes who, for whatever reason, will not wear a heart rate monitor. For some athletes I think this is fine- if an athlete is experienced and has a deep background and has a good sense of feel/pace, it can work (I've seen it work!). I've also seen that the reason some athletes don't like to wear HR monitors is that they don't like the high numbers they see and they really don't want to slow down so they would rather bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they are going easy when really their HR is 170 (I am familiar with this pattern b/c I spent all of 2013 training this way). With new athletes I think it's super important to use HR b/c a new athlete goes running and thinks she's going "easy" then my eyes pop out of my head when I see the file because HR is so high... So I often find that writing a run session for an athlete using the word "easy" doesn't always work. And I understand this because it doesn't even always work for me (and I'd like to think I would know 'easy' but I swear without a HR leash that 'easy' is often at least 'moderate' and sometimes bordering on 'hard'.)
So for my athletes who won't use HR, I've changed the wording for the aerobic sessions I prescribe. Sometimes I write "perceived effort 3/10"... or "You should feel like you did nothing when you finish this"... or "Run a pace that is so slow you'd be embarrassed if someone you knew saw you!" I actually had an athlete tell me the other day that she needed me to give her permission to run slowly... I hadn't really thought of that but yes, at times when you're just running base type aerobic effort, slow is fine. Preferred, actually! I mean, it's fine to go a little quicker on aerobic days if HR is also low... but if you're supposed to be running easy and you swear it's easy but your HR is 170, it's not actually easy. And if you're not wearing a HR monitor so you don't know your HR is 170, it's still 170, which is still not actually easy. Sorry. :/
My dilemma today was that I couldn't find a screwdriver small enough to get at my HR monitor battery compartment to change the battery. So I was faced with a long run on a hilly route on a sunny afternoon with no HR leash. In the past this has always been a recipe for at least moderate effort, generally turning to hard. I ran progression on Sunday and hard on Tuesday so today I wanted long and (truly) easy miles. I went with my own 'embarrassingly slow' instructions and made sure that at all times I was truly holding back. I think it worked, though I can't say I felt like I'd done nothing when I finished. To be fair, I ran 10 miles which is my longest run in months(!) plus the 2 mile morning dog jog made it 12 miles on the day so I think it's ok that I felt some fatigue in my legs. My hip was perfect when I started my long run but ~4 miles into it I could feel it starting to get pissy and right now it's back to the familiar irritation it has been at for the last few months. I find it interesting I can run 4 miles hard straight up and downhill with zero pain but 4 miles easy on shallower hills pissed it off? It's not that bad- not any worse than it was last week, but just a bit on the disappointing side with that because it was actually feeling 100% perfect there for a few days and I thought maybe I was all better. Not yet.
I am stoked though to get that longish run in and hope to be able to keep those up every week!
Anyway, earlier today Shakira was like COME ON DOG GET UP AND PLAY WITH ME...