Recently, I've been experimenting with heart rate training. Well, not really. I've been wearing a heart rate monitor while I do my workouts, and reading about heart rate training intermittently. So basically, I'm collecting data in anticipation of the day I might want to target my workout intensities based on heart rate. Or maybe I'm analyzing my workout's efficacy (after the fact) based on heart rate data.
Why am I interested in heart rate?
Basically, I like the objectivity of it. Targeting a workout toward a specific pace (or measuring it's success based on a certain pace goal) doesn't allow flexibility for varying temperatures, elevation, fatigue, etc. Heart rate on the other hand increases with effort, no matter where that effort comes from (hills and heat increase your effort and hence increase your heart rate). So in the extreme example of a hilly tempo run on a hot day, it might be near impossible for me to reach my goal pace (via the Mcmillan running pace calculator for example), but I can certainly reach my goal heart rate for a tempo run.
The real reason is that I use RunningAhead.com to log my runs, and I have to give each workout a name. Often, I'm not sure if what I ran was hard enough to count as "Tempo", even though I'm fairly sure it was too hard for "Easy". So what do I call these runs? Nothing. Right now they show up in my log as "Default". This is what you call not training smart. Fail.
Here is my favorite example of conflicting information from different sources:
- "70-80% of max HR is what I call quality junk miles. It does you not much good, so stay out of this zone as much as you can." [Source]
- "70-80% of max HR is the aerobic zone.
1. Be sure you're well rested, well hydrated, and well warmed up. You can conduct this test on a track or a moderately steep hill, which may work better if you're not an experienced track runner.
2. Run hard and fast for 2 to 3 minutes. Jog back to your starting point. Repeat two more times, running a little harder and faster each time. On the third and last repeat, pretend you're running an Olympic race.
3. Check your heart rate during and immediately after the last repeat. The highest number you see is your maximum heart rate (MHR). (Source)
- 220 - A = 191 (Classic)
- 205.6 - 0.685 * A = 186 (Source)
- 208 - (0.7 * A) = 188 (Source)
- 205 - (0.5 * A) = 191 (Source)
So that's my spreadsheet. Want to use it yourself? Just click here and then either "save a copy" (from the file menu) if you are a google docs user, or "download as ..." (also from the file menu) and choose Excel format. Then just enter your resting heart rate and maximum heart rate to get your own target zones. I added the "No Man's Land" bit at the end as an afterthought, after thinking about the quote at the beginning of this post about "quality junk miles". I took no man's land as the area between the maximum of endurance/easy/long and the minimum of stamina/tempo from both the Mcmillan and Runner's World target ranges. I'll tell you one thing: I sure do see a lot of 160s on my heart rate monitor! Oops. I'll work on that I guess. At least it's easy to remember. Basically, I should never see 16x (except when ramping up or down of course).
I guess now is the time to start looking at some of my heart rate data over the past few weeks to see where I've been falling, and if I've been naming my runs appropriately. (I was going to put a table in here analyzing my workouts over the past few weeks, but it became tedious and was wordy and unclear anyway.) Here is the upshot: Most of my easy runs squeak in as easy at about 155bpm. I am appropriately naming my "default" runs as default, because they are indeed in "no man's land" too fast for easy and too slow for tempo. The only time I hit the target tempo and interval paces are when I run with a group. I only have one long run from the past year with heart rate data (a 16 miler from 8/18) and the average heart rate for that was 158. Just squeaked in under the max on that one. (I have been afraid to wear my HR monitor for long runs and races, for fear of 1: chafing and 2: overanalyzing HR and pace data and ruining the run).
There are a lot of numbers up there, and it's a lot to remember while I'm running. McMillan + Karvonen yields the easiest to remember numbers, so going forward, here are my goals: Easy and long runs less than 155 bpm. Tempo/Stamina runs at least 170 bpm. Intervals at least 180 bpm. Simple. :)
I learned a lot today. Thanks for reading along. (If you made this far!) I guess I have some tough runs in my future, but hopefully you will see a faster Ty as a result!