Let me tell you a little (well not so little) secret about how I pace myself during my longer runs.
I listen to my heart.
Marathon training taught me a valuable lesson on how listening to your body plays an important role on your overall health and performance.
As a competitive athlete, I was always trained to go at a “balls to the walls”, all out, heart pounding intensity. For me this doesn’t mesh well with long distance running. I learned this on my first 15 mile run.
I was running much slower than my normal pace due to the crazy October heat (yeah it was 86 and humid in October last fall) and still felt like I was dying. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was going on. That wasn’t until I looked down at my HR monitor and it read 195! I was at my max HR and moving so slow (15 min mile + slow), it didn’t make sense. I was only 6 miles in and I was ready to cry out of frustration. I ended up switching to run/walk intervals for the remainder of the run. I wasn’t happy about it, but I wanted and needed to get my HR back down under 170 BPM to save myself from overheating.
It was the first time that I really listened to my heart and learned the importance of doing so. Had I kept pushing myself to reach a certain pace, I could have found myself collapsing due to heat stroke. I know HR training isn’t for everyone, but for me it really does help. It tells me when I need to slow down (something that can be a struggle for me) and lets me know when I have more energy to speed up.
I know, it’s not a perfect science. Our bodies can act differently under varied circumstances and small things (lack of sleep, caffeine, weather) can account for an increased HR during training. Regardless, for me I feel like it’s a useful tool and I think I will work on putting more focus into it over the next couple of months.
I found this useful chart (based on my Max HR and resting HR) and do find that it correlates with how I perform on my longer runs. If you’re interested in learning what ranges work for you hop on over to Running For Fitness to create your own guide.
I’m really excited to see how my running will change once I reincorporate HR training into my routine. I am eager to see what my sprints look like and look forward to reaching new running goals as the weather warms up.
How do you train? Do you listen to your body (or heart) and let it guide you? Do you push yourself to meet a certain pace? Do you shoot for distance or time?
Interested in learning more about heart rate training? Visit Competitor for, “Running 101: Training With A Heart Rate Monitor”, or “Get In The Zone: The Pros Of Heart-Rate Training For Runners”