Saturday, May 09, 2009

Run 4 Life

While I was in Boston, my roommate, Joe, and I had many discussions about training. Joe is a bit heart rate training guy. It is how he has trained for many years and credits it to staying healthy and injury-free. He has been running a very long time and still gets it done. (Over 50 years old and runs a sub 3 hour marathon!) He credits it to his heart rate based training. Thinking he might be on to something.

Now, the funny part is I have been wearing a HRM for quite some time. You would think I would be looking at that data more closely. I review it after a race, but that is pretty much the extent of it. I guess I approached it from the idea of seeing what my heart rate was at a certain pace and distance instead of looking at it the other way around, what my pace is at a certain heart rate.

Basically, my racing is very similar, I typically go out too fast and never, NEVER adjust for things like wind and hills on my pacing. I always jokingly say my race strategy is this: light my hair on fire and run to towards the finish line. (Which explains the second half of Boston.) For the most part this has worked pretty well, but I see some huge gain if I were to even out my pacing. Paying closer attention to the down hills in the beginning of Boston may have helped in the second half. So, I have decided to really bring in HR based training and racing.

First, I needed a bench mark. So I thought this race would be good. I used a previous 5k as a guide and determined my pacing from there. However, at the last minute, I changed my heart rate zones to be a bit more aggressive. What could go wrong, right?

Read on.

So, at the race I saw some folks I knew and chatted with them while I got ready. Got warmed up with Tracy and Paul, then headed to the start. And off we went.

Like in typical fashion, my pacing was dead on my new expected rate and hit the first mile marker 5:59. Hmmm. I was had originally was thinking 6:15 pace was a better starting point. But I was feeling pretty good. Who doesn’t at mile one, right?

At this point, I had moved into the number 5 slot was right behind number 4 guy and I had Tracey and Paul right behind me. We hit mile two at 12:20 and still held our same positions. I was right behind 4th place guy, and Tracey and Paul and drifted back a bit. Still going well, but starting to feel it a bit. At this point the wind really picked up on the course.

We hit mile 3 at 18:50, but now 4th place guy was pulling from me and I was really feeling it. At about 3.5 miles Tracey caught me. I had thought about pushing it again, but didn’t want to jeopardize 6th place as well and let her go.

We round the corner and finished the race in 25:26. A new 4 mile PR! Good for 6th overall and 2nd in my age group. Not bad for a “test” race. My fifth PR of the year, too!

So what did I learn?

My max heart rate isn’t as high as I had thought. The last minute change in zones nailed me a bit in late stages of the race. However, I have a great plan for a 5k now.

Wind really does impact your heart rate…Joe you were right!

Over the summer, I am going to do much more heart rate analysis on my runs and races and see what I can do by fall.