Posts Tagged ‘heart rate’
A week gone by with nary a post so this is a meaty one, starting with this: 88 miles and a breakthrough. Like a gift from the Running Gods (or the result of 3 weeks back at high mileage) my general aerobic paces are suddenly back to my pre-injured state. ‘Tis a thing of beauty.
In an odd coincidence, Tuesday through Thursday produced 3 runs averaging 8:06, 8:07 and 8:08, yet each run was composed differently: one had some faster miles in the middle, one included fartlek and the 3rd run was even splits. I was especially happy with that last one since I never start quickly anymore, my first mile is usually between 9:1x – 8:3x so I was pleased when I saw 8:17 for that initial mile.
But then! Saturday afternoon I wore my Hyper Speeds for the first time (review below) and between their magic powers plus the last day of Lady Time (hormonal magic powers) and a beautiful upper-40s day, my first mile was a completely unexpected 8:05 and then it progressed from there, ending in 8 miles@7:46 avg. pace.
As much as I love data, the last time I strapped on my HR monitor was in September before my Half. It would have been wonderful to have the comparison of HR while injured and rebuilding, but the inevitable crappy feelings it would have brought were not at all worth it. I like to be happy when I can and knowing those numbers wouldn’t have given me anything useful.
But this week, I figured I was ready to see where I stood, so I started yesterday by checking my resting HR. Much to my delight, I got a rock-solid 46 with a teasing of 45 (47-48 is more of a usual) so Yay! Then today, I wore it out for my runs.
I’m glad I wore it for both runs because, while the morning run’s HR was fine, the afternoon’s was better – which is a good reminder never to put too much weight on HR data for one run, there are simply too many reasons for it to vary. But back to the run…
I wasn’t wearing the magic shoes but the hormonal magic must be lingering because it was another feel-good zippy run averaging 7:58/mi with an average HRR of 73% and it was windy out there. Considering this is the first week where those paces have reappeared, this is a really strong sign that everything’s in order. I couldn’t be happier.
Running Form – Arms
As you know, I’ve given attention to different areas of my running form over the past couple years. I’d work on one thing for a while then eventually come to peace with it, either because I’ve made an improvement (posture) or because the initial problem loses importance (foot plant).
Starting last Friday, I began focusing on something that’s been bugging me since the start: my armswing. It’s not all bad, for instance I don’t cross the centerline of my body which is a common enough mistake, but when I see photos or watch my shadow on the bike path, there’s a certain “smallness” to my arm carriage that I know could be improved upon.
While it sounds like an aesthetic complaint, it’s much more than that. I mean, of course I’d like to look like an Elite or, hell, even a high school XC kid, but beyond appearance, I suspect I’m missing out on a power boost because of this. After all, your arms drive your legs: they dictate how fast you’ll go and even affect your stride length, so it really is no small thing.
I started by studying the race video from September’s Half and noticed a clearly uneven carriage: one arm doesn’t go back far enough while the other one goes back farther, but only because it’s driven by the hand (not the shoulder or elbow, as you’d want), thus the angle increases well beyond the optimal 90-degrees.
So I’ve been reading articles and watching videos of runners I like – here’s a nice slow-mo of Shalane and Desi at the trials (Kara too, but she was all tensed up at that point).
When I work on it (and it’s very much a focus on the shoulders, not just the arms) there’s more swing to my upper trunk, less rigidity. It also seems to give me a more “tits out” posture, which is a good thing, not because I’m trying to get a job at Hooters, but because it’s optimal for breathing and efficiency.
In fact, Friday’s run was weird, it was unseasonably warm, 59 degrees, but super windy and I was feeling like crap so I almost cut it short. The first couple miles were 9:15s and I was slugging along. After a bit, I started paying attention to my arms/shoulders and I’m not sure if it was the distraction or if it was really helping, but I picked up a good amount of energy – the last few miles averaged 8:03s.
I tend to think it’s really helping since I also paid attention to it on Saturday’s fast run as well, this time with an additional “trick” of brushing my hands lightly on the sides of my hip, which ensures they’re going back far enough while keeping a good angle.
It’s been 9 days and I’ve lost a touch over 2 pounds. I’m also happy to report that by timing my meals differently I’ve virtually eliminated the hunger spikes I used to get.
As far back as I can remember, my dinner time has been around 6:30pm. Didn’t matter if my bedtime was 10pm in the summer or 12-12:30am in the winter, I’d always eat at 6:30. This meant that in the winter I’d have those extra hours before bed that invariably required snacks and carrot consumption. Carrots are fine vegetables, btw, but I don’t love needing a stomach filler to keep the growling at bay.
Now, in the last month, my eating schedule started shifting due to doubling my runs. I usually get in from the afternoon run at around 4:30-5pm which left some time before dinner, so I’d eat some almonds or other snack to hold me over.
But this week, I decided to do away with the snack and just go for it: eat a small meal right after the run and then push dinner up to 8pm. This works beautifully because then at 10-10:30pm, I’ll have another little meal, usually the ole standby of PB/cereal (I love that shit like crazy, don’t ask me why) – far much more substantial than carrots or little snacks.
Et voila! I end up pleasantly sated until bedtime and my morning run doesn’t need fueling. I haven’t had a carrot in over a week. It’s a miracle.
Aside from that, I did a silly motivating thing that I’ve never done before…I bought a clothing carrot. That is to say, the other day on a whim I ordered some compression shorts (I only ever wear regular running shorts) that I’m too chicken to wear at my current weight but I think might look pretty damn hot when I lose a few.
I didn’t actually buy them with that in mind but once they arrived and I put them on I was like “I can’t wear these, too scary”. FYI, a 4″ inseam is frumpy for me in regular shorts but in compression (with the potential of ride-up)…not so much. Anyway, instead of returning them, it struck me that they’d make a fun treat for sticking to the plan. We’ll see, I may feel too nekkid in them no matter what but it’s silly fun and they were on sale, so no loss.
As mentioned, I took advantage of RunningWarehouse’s shoe sale a couple weeks ago and bought the Saucony Fastwitch 5s and the Asics Hyper Speeds. Here’s what happened…
Saucony Fastwitch 5s
These are the first pair of shoes I’ve straight up lost money on, which is my own fault for not exchanging them immediately. The thing is, it was a defective pair but it wasn’t till the second run that I was sure about it. When I first put them on, there was an intermittent feeling in my right arch when stepping off, almost a pinching, but it was occasional and I thought it might be something that just needed “seating” in the shoe. I did try to find the source but no matter how I bent or investigated the innards with my hands, I couldn’t replicate it, so I took ‘em out for a run.
First run was fine, I didn’t notice the sharp thing though it was odd to run in a stability shoe after wearing neutral shoes for ages. They were comfortable in the upper but extremely firm in the sole and I did not love them, but as I ran faster I started liking them more.
However, the 2nd time I took them out, the pinching thing was there in full force and I ended up with a blister on my arch! That is a pain in the ass place to get a blister – you’re doomed to feeling it for days no matter what shoes you wear. So I was pissed at the shoes but thought I’d give them another shot once my foot was settled. (only because I’d spent 52 bucks on them)
So yesterday, a week after the blister run, I tried them on again but was instantly alerted to that same hot spot. At this point, I knew the shoes were a loss so I took some snippers and cut the logo off the side thinking it might be the hard plastic and did some other operating but in the end, I couldn’t locate it. I think it’s the stability post or whatever keeps the shoe supported but I have enough working shoes right now that I don’t care to try another pair. And I’ll stick to neutral shoes from now on.
Asics Hyper Speeds (aka Magic Shoes)
These shoes are wonderful. They’re the lightest shoe I’ve ever had, 6.1 oz, compared to the Adios’ 6.5. Talk about barely there. I took them on that 8-mile run yesterday and you know how that went (fabulously) and they felt great! Lots of room in the toebox and no discomfort anywhere.
I’m debating whether to stock up on them, putting ‘em in regular shoe rotation since they’re so inexpensive right now (new version’s coming out) or whether to save them for races, in which case one pair will last me a long time. Either way, I resisted wearing them today, the better to harness their mystical magical powers for good rather than evil. Not really, I just wore the pair closest to the bed.
And that’s it for today’s self-involved novella. Have a great start to your week folks, run well and enjoy yourselves. Later!
Strides And Drills
The other day, Adam alerted me to a video on Diagonals. I asked him what was so special about them, it looked like strides to me and he replied “It’s strides, basically, but with continual running.” To which I responded, “Isn’t that how you’re supposed to do strides?” Um…no.
Apparently, I’ve been doing strides wrong from the get-go. What I understood as “full recovery between” I always thought meant easy running till your heart settles down so I’d start them a couple miles from the end of my run, doing them in a string as I made my way home, with normal easy pace between. But in reality, you’re supposed to walk or shuffle between them, as in FULL full recovery. I’d been making them somewhat aerobic and they shouldn’t be. Not a major loss, since the Diagonals workout is good enough for Kenyans, it’s good enough for me, but I’m going to do them properly from this point on.
Aside from that, today was pretty interesting as I did something I’ve avoided for 3 years…drills. It’s another thing Coach Adam/A Muse has been trying to get me to do but I’d been resisting. I knew full well I could benefit from them but the things that kept me from doing them were:
1. Back in 2008 I tried some when I had a bad ankle and stupid me didn’t realize all that bouncing (they’re pretty much all ankle-centric) would make it worse so I ended up with a long-term ankle hurty thing. Kinda scared me about doing them again.
2. Being a late-starter with nobody ever showing me what “real” runners do, I didn’t trust myself to do them correctly
3. I was not thrilled with looking like a crazy idiot in the park
#1 is not a useable excuse anymore and for #2, I watched a few videos several times and practiced in my apartment to get the idea of them and for #3, I finally figured out an excellent place to do them, not in the midst of the park and only .5mi from home (and once I move, it’ll be only a block away) on a flat patch of grass. No more excuses.
So as today’s 17-miler came to a close, I reached the place I’d chosen, paused the Garmin and did 2 skipping, 2 high knees and 2 butt kicks plus 3 strides. I felt quite accomplished afterwards and plan on doing them a couple times a week, eventually expanding my repertoire, as well. Here are a few videos if you’re interested: Lauren Fleshman, Pete Magill, Jabari Pride and there are tons more on YouTube besides these.
A Strange Speed Workout
I almost published an entire post on yesterday’s workout, complete with dark, depressing thoughts of how much I suck. But I’m totally over it. I’m great. Life is good.
It was my first real speed session in many, many months, so I wasn’t expecting a lot and it probably didn’t help that the previous day was a miserably-humid 15-miler that ended with me counting down the final miles home. I was nervous about the session (6x½ miles w/2min rec’s) but still, I figured I’d come close to a 5k pace target. But no. Much to my chagrin, I was stuck around 10k pace and could not go faster! After 4 reps, I switched over to 4 x ¼mi with 1min rec’s in hopes the shorter distance would help me speed up but alas, it did not.
It was 76 degrees, so that would have been a slowdown factor, and maybe the previous day’s 15-miler didn’t help, but excuses aside, it was supremely disappointing. Only a few weeks previously, before the achilles/knee interruption, my speed had dropped on those on/offs to where I was hitting 5k pace and faster, and now once again I seemed to be missing the 5K gear.
But here’s the good news: Yesterday afternoon, while feeling loserish and weirded out about it, I went back in my logs and realized that even if “fast” is eluding me right now, my heart rate improvement is kind of astounding…but weird.
In all the 800s I used to do, (including 2 sessions I did a year ago in similar conditions at the same pace as yesterday) I always averaged a heart rate around 181 and maxed around 191 – that’s my usual interval HR range. Yesterday? I averaged 169 and maxed at 177. We’re talking a 12-14bpm difference. In fact, the highest I’ve been able to get my HR this whole season is 181 and that was once. So I’m simultaneously appreciative and weirded out, because it’s just plain strange.
So while it’s hugely aggravating that I’m unable to break through to that higher HR zone (I mean really, isn’t it weird?) instead of worrying about it as I did yesterday and wondering if I somehow ruined the way my heart works because of all that easy running, today I’m sane again and think that all I need are a couple more weeks of intervals and tempos and that missing 5k gear will be mine. If nothing else, this is certainly an interesting situation.
As you know, it’s been ages since I’ve done any continuous faster miles (MP, tempo or steady state), since January to be exact. I’ve been curious to see what kind of shape I’m in and also, I’m ready to get this party started! So yesterday was the day. What happened was really good, though not what I expected.
Conditions-wise, it was a shoe-slosher: 75 degrees, dewpoint 69. The run was 15mi with 3 faster (no shame in starting small) beginning at mile 5. Because I’ve lost all sense of what pace to target, I wore my HR monitor with the intention of hitting 180 max. This, because a typical tempo run for me hits 180MHR, sometimes a bit higher, so that’d put me in the ballpark.
To my semi-chagrin, I could not get my heart rate anywhere close and was only able to hit 170 in last few seconds. The effort was there but the weather, coupled with months of easy running, had put a governor on my gas pedal.
Regardless, the outcome was significantly encouraging, even with the moderate pace: 3mi @ 7:21, 166AHR (79% HRR). That’s a marathon pace heart rate*. And due to the cruddy weather, an elevated one, at that. It bodes very well at this early stage.
Obviously I have a lot of work to do, gotta get that missing tempo gear back (hell, I couldn’t even hit Steady State, which is somewhat pathetic) but it’s just a matter of getting used to running harder again. Good thing I started now instead of leaving it till mid-July when training officially begins. Not that I’m worried in the least, I love this current period: no expectations and nothing’s a downer, it’s all “oh, this is new and different!” Great fun.
The rest of the week
was uneventful aside from the heatwave/humidity suck that required early rising. Mon was recovery, Tues-Saturday all started slower than usual, between 8:50 – 9:00 but by the second mile started a regular progression downwards. Wednesday was a no-lookie-at watch day, wanted to see what paces my body would take naturally in those crappy conditions…turned out exactly the same as the other days.
Cutback Week In Review:
Monday: 8@8:29 (11 strides)
Tuesday: 10@8:09 (10 x 60 on/60 off)
Friday: 9@8:16 (7 strides)
Saturday: 15@8:04 (w/3@7:21) and if anyone cares, 72%HRR for the whole run
Total: 72 mi (avg pace 8:14)
I take back “uneventful” – all those brackets…it’s starting to look like I’m training for something. :) And the 4 single-digit runs were a novelty. But while I enjoyed the cutback, I’m raring to get back to another big block of miles.
On that note, I’ll leave you with a nice article about cutback weeks that, in a well-timed turn, came out last week in the midst of mine. Though, unlike Hall, I don’t credit the bible for my scheduling, I pulled it outta my ass. Seemed to work just as well.
We’ll find out next week anyway, post-cutback should supply some extra energy. Plus the weather’s supposed to be way better, too. Woohoo! Ciao for now, babies.
*Heart Rate Stuff
Here are marathon pace heart rates from a few of the Big Cats:
Pfitzinger: 73-84% HRR
Daniels: 73-86% HRR
Hadd: 84-87% HRR
HRR = Heart Rate Reserve, it’s an alternative to MHR (maximum heart rate) because it uses your resting heart rate as well, so it’s a more specific/accurate method. AHR= average heart rate.
Also, I’ve posted this before, but for an excellent Excel spreadsheet for HR, grab Greg Maclin’s Heart Rate calculator. It’s fabulous and includes the aforementioned Big Cats’ zones for all runs. Also, the Daniels’ Excel Spreadsheet from Electric Blues is one of my favorite tools ever, it’s got everything but the kitchen sink in there. If you already use both of these, you’ll probably want to download them again, they’ve both been updated.
Very weird week for me physically: one high point sandwiched between some strange lows. The first low coincided with the day before LadyTime which is usually a sub-par running day for me so no surprise there. But once it starts, I generally run great for the next few days. Not this week.
Now, on Wednesday, as expected, I had an incredibly vibrant run but Thursday was rough. That night I slept 11 hours and then had to take a nap after Friday’s run (which started well, btw, but became exhausting halfway through). Saturday was better but Sunday was another slogfest – I had expectations of doing a 15-miler but had to turn around at the 5mi mark.
I’m thinking it may be iron-related: the last time I had red meat was 3 weeks ago and I haven’t taken multi-vitamins or iron in months. Combined with my period and possibly the higher mileage (increased footstrike hemolysis) makes it plausible. I also had some weird itching this week which can be another symptom of low iron. Or maybe it’s just a bug, which is preferable since iron takes time to restore.
Anyway, I ate a ton of beef last night, am doing the same tonight and will make a point to take iron every day.
Monday: 9@8:21 (first 80 degree day of the year, was pleased with it)
Tuesday: 9@8:52 (day before LadyTime, understandable suckage)
Wednesday: 14@7:53 (great HR run! more on this below)
Thursday: 8@8:29 (ugh)
Friday: 11@8:16 (ugh)
Saturday: 10@8:09 (pouring rain but felt ok)
Sunday: 10@ 8:30 (ugh)
Total: 71mi (avg pace 8:19)
The bright spot in the week was my HR run on Wednesday. The temperature was perfect (mid 50s), just as it was for the previous two HR checks, so a clean comparison. Check it out.
April 13: 14@7:53, HRR 71% (155)
March 30: 11@8:10, HRR 71% (155)
March 20: 11@8:00, HRR 74% (159)
Major progress! Shame I felt like crap the rest of the week but it doesn’t worry me, it was just a blip.
I’ve been thinking a lot about it, reading tons of posts and articles and am thinking that 80mpw is my new 70mpw. In other words, my revised mileage goal is 80+ for the next few months. It only adds about 40 extra minutes over 75mpw so it seems silly not to go for it and I’m insanely curious to see what the payoff will be.
This, however, has to be my top limit because I can’t go any higher without doubling. I also reserve the right to say “nah, this is too much” and dial it back if it stops being fun. But aside from this week, it’s been hunky-dory so I think it’ll stick. The idea that there might be a little pot of gold at the end of this rainbow is enough to keep it seriously fun.
I mentioned acquiring a “where did that come from?” purple toenail last week. After removing my nail polish yesterday, I discovered 3 “where did those come from?” lavender toenails, too. It’s strange that I’m getting them, my shoes feel fine and they’re the same style I’ve been wearing for ages now, plus my route is the same, it’s not like I’ve started doing some massive downhills. Maybe those stretched out socks were the harbingers of evil (bunched up fabric). Oh well, thank god for new socks and nail polish.
I had a happy weekend despite the hamstring injury. Since it was a cutback week and Saturday was a scheduled rest day, all I missed was Sunday’s run.
My internet investigation revealed the hamstring owie to be a Grade I strain that, barring any reinjury, ain’t no big thang. Under some wise Adam advisement (thanks, Coach Man!), the week has a few minor changes: a 5k pace workout on Tuesday is now an easy run and Friday’s 8x1ks @ 10k pace will morph into 8x800s, which I’ll cut short if anything feels weird.
Other than that, the homemade compression sleeve and slushy icepack continue to work their magic. I got out this morning for a reaaaally slow 7 (10:17 pace). Last time I went that slow was the first run after Boston and before then? 2008! Lol. But I could feel the hammy’s presence and was reminded further when I rushed across the street to beat a stoplight, so “leisurely” was the word.
It was actually quite an enjoyable run – you don’t heat up half as much in “Feels Like” 86 when you’re going that slow. Clothes still needed wringing out, but it could have been 70 degrees as far as comfort level.
The Running Gods Replied
Just last Monday I beseeched the Running Gods for a sign, any sign, to instill a touch of confidence back into my running. Oddly enough, I got my wish during this injured weekend…
Thanks to this summer being unusually hot and humid, I stopped wearing my heart rate strap a few weeks ago since all it was doing was making me feel inadequate. However, I still check my resting rate a few mornings each week because I like keeping tabs on the trend. The lowest it’s ever been was 45 (and that was a temporary flicker during my big improvement period last year), usually it’s 48 and in the last month or so, 49.
So imagine my shock when I put the strap on this Saturday and saw the numbers do their usual descending dance, only to hit 42. 42?! Huh? This was so unexpectedly weird that I thought my Garmin was flaking out on me. So I turned it off and on…still 42. Ever suspicious, I dug out the old Polar heart rate monitor and…well, will you look at that? 42.
But wait, there’s more.
Sunday, I again put on the strap wondering what I’m going to see and you could have knocked me down with a feather: 44, 43, 42, 41…40 beats per minute! Granted, it didn’t stay there long, but Oh. My. God.
My heart, the primary organ in all this running stuff, is giving me an unbiased indication that something good is happening. Whether it’s from more sleep (average 6.75 hrs/night for July so far and getting better) more rest days, lowered average mileage, or all of the above, I am on track!
Sure, it still remains to be seen as to how or when this will reflect in my paces. But even if they don’t drop in time for a PR in September, I’m cool with that! Because if nothing else, this says I’m getting healthier. I’m not stagnating, I’m not moving backwards. The Girl, she is in motion.
Did my first proper (non-Billat) interval session in 6 weeks and am happy to say, saw a clear sign of progress, something I took for granted last year till it starting backing up on me like a gas station toilet.
Today’s session was 10.20mi total: 2.75mi to my interval spot, 5 x 1000 w/2min recoveries, then 3.25mi home. The intervals averaged 4:07 (6:37 pace) and when I compare that to my last set of intervals 6 weeks ago (6×800 w/2min rec’s. averaging 6:54), that’s a solid improvement and getting closer to last Fall’s times. Looks like the Billats were not spinning my wheels one bit.
Another happy thing about this workout was it’s only the 2nd time I’ve ever hit my max recorded HR of 193, which I was beginning to think I’d dreamt up. The first and only other time it’s ever hit it was in 2007 at my first 5K and that’s what I’ve been basing my HR around (calling it 198 since it’s unlikely you ever hit 100%).
The interesting thing is that I once hit 192 a year ago, also doing 1000m intervals, so perhaps that particular distance draws it out of me better than any other. It was 65 degrees today, so that probably helped sneak it up there, too. All I know is, however it got up there it’s a relief since for quite a while now, my max HR has felt capped, that my tempos were reaching the same max as my speed sessions (too high for a tempo, too low for speed).
And for the record, I averaged 184 on those intervals. Don’t want you to think my heart was about to explode or anything.
Yay! I finally hit my usual “normal” weight of 117.5 this week (4 lbs lost). I haven’t been sacrificing much, just stopped buying cookies and candy and have been eating salad for most dinners – which I love. I stick in a handful of walnuts and dried cranberries along with tons of veggies, so it’s not a sacrificial meal. I’m still eating my nightly ice cream topped with sweet cereal for added yummy crunchiness.
Breakfast is usually a 5-grain hot cereal with tons of cinnamon and some sweet-n-low (nobody’s perfect), lunch is a turkey sandwich and I’ve been addicted to Bobbi’s Hummus (thanks Jenn!) so I eat that daily as a snack with crackers. One main thing is I stopped buying huge bread. Seriously, I was getting very large sliced bread which means more peanut butter or whatever you slather on there.
I was 119lbs. when I ran Philly but my best races last season were at 115.5, so it looks like I’ll be right there again for Boston. As mentioned before, I hate to say this stuff with so many people having body issues, but it’s physics, so there’s no sense pretending it doesn’t make a difference. And for those tsk-tsking readers (you know who you are) remember, I’m 5’4″…so 115 is not a radical body weight by any means but it will, unquestionably, be an important component to racing well.
The Wheelchair Lady
If you’re my friend on Facebook, you’ve already read about that lady on Tuesday. As I was finishing up a 12-miler, a stones throw from my front door, a woman passed me in an electric wheelchair and called out, “run an extra mile for me!”. If it wasn’t a couple days after the race with me feeling achy still, I would have, but I didn’t, I just wanted to stop. And I got called out for it a tad.
Of course, I felt like shit for not doing it but I’m honest about my foibles and that was one. So yesterday I ran 2 miles extra for her, did an 11 instead of the 9 I had planned. Made me feel somewhat better but hey, I think we all know I’m a solid bitch at heart. I got no problems with that, since I have enough sweetness to equal out. hee hee
Been thinking about this a bit and am hereby declaring it…3:25, nothing faster. My race last Sunday calculates out to a 3:20:26 marathon but it was on a totally flat course, so I figure 5 minutes of leeway should do me alright. If not, and I end up slowing down more, that’s cool too, I really don’t give a crap.
I’m looking forward to trying out my new marathon pace this Saturday since it’s slower than any of my goal MP workouts thus far. I hope to see a very pretty number on the HR monitor. That’ll tell me if I shouldn’t dumb it down further, which would suck since I walked such a large amount of Philly for a 3:33, but hey, it’ll be what it’ll be…the Heart knows.