Friday, April 11, 2008

This just in: I'm slow!

So, after some reading and some research I've decided to take my training down a drastically different path. I have mixed emotions about the change: on the one hand, I wish that I had come across this research 20 weeks ago, on the other hand, I'm glad to have found it when I did with 30+ weeks to go before my qualifying race in Seattle in November and lot's of time for the changes to have the desired effect. One thing is for sure, regardless of the timing of the changes, I'm sure that I'll be a faster, stronger athlete because of them. Just not right away...
Ever since I starting reading Lucho and Chuckie V.'s blogs I had the feeling that there was something I was missing in regards to my training. It also led me to believe that although I had a sweet piece of tech in my Garmin 305 I really wasn't using to the extent that I could. Sure, I uploaded my run data into Motion Based, but after that I just looked at the cool terrain maps from Google earth. Of all the features, it was the heart rate monitor that baffled me most. Pace, distance, elevation, all things I was familiar with. Heart rate, ummmmm.....yeah. It's beating. That's good, right?
Anyways, I started digging around trying to find what I could about heart rate training theory. Long story short, EVERYTHING I read told me that I was training at heart rates that were too high. Brian and I did the Conconi lactate threshold test which confirmed what I had been reading.
I wasn't totally convinced to make big changes until I came across 'Hadd's approach to distance training'. His was the first paper I read that thoroughly explained the benefits of training at lower heart rates and how to determine if an individual athlete stood to gain from that approach. Finally, a paper that didn't just tell me what would work, but offered a way to see if it would work for me!
Hadd's paper asserts that low heart rate training builds a stronger aerobic engine. Nothing new there. He goes on to say that an indicator of a weak aerobic engine is the lack of correlation between an athlete's short races and their longer ones. In other words, we know that our pace gets slower the longer we run, but it should get slower at a somewhat predictable rate. I think the numbers were 15 seconds a mile slower each time the distance is doubled.
This was what really turned the light on for me! I had always looked at those VO2 max/race time estimate charts with a huge degree of skepticism. There was no way I could run as fast as predicted over the marathon distance based on my shorter distance times. I just figured I was over performing at the shorter distances and left it at that. Personal best 5K time: 18.04. Personal best marathon: 3:34. Yeah, no relationship. Now I know why and more importantly I know what I have to do to fix it.
So, I did some math to figure out where my HR should be and the last couple days I have been running at the suggested low aerobic heart rate to get a feel for it. Research says that I will feel really, really slow and will need to be disciplined to keep the HR down consistently over time to see the desired results. I can't tell you how true that is. Average pace per mile this morning at 135BPM was 10min/mile!!!!!
Broken, definitely. But not for long.

1 comment:

jameson said...

things will come around man... Lucho and ChuckieV have a lot of success using similar training protocols... it's all about patience. good on ya for giving it a go... I don't know if I could do it!