Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Heart rate monitoring: training yourself

As a follow-up to my post on heart rate zones, this post is about training with a heart monitor.

Earlier this year I signed up to run a half marathon in August. The prospect of running 13.1 miles was daunting when previously the farthest I'd ever run was 6.6 miles. I needed a plan!

SmartCoach
I had a look on the Runners World website for training plans and found SmartCoach. Here, you enter a few details (a time for a recent distance, how often you train, how many weeks before your race, etc) and the online system calculates an individualised training plan for you based on your ability. The plan is based on pace. So for example, if you run four times a week the plan will have you running probably three times at a slowish pace (for me, about 11:04 min/mile) and once at a faster pace (eg, 9:30 min/mile).

Heart Monitor Training
Some Twitter friends (@britsonpole) very kindly sent me their training plans for running a half marathon (they recently ran the inaugural Greenway Challenge). Their plans were based on heart rate zones, with three weekly runs at or under recovery (70% zone) and one at threshold (85%).

I decided, since I have a heart monitor and have been reading Heart Monitor Training, that I'd use the SmartCoach plan for distances but replace pace with heart rate zones. It was a good decision; my first training run was to pace (11:04), whereas my second (and subsequent) run to my recovery zone meant my pace varied from 11:04 to 9:30 min/mile (depending on elevation and wind resistance I expect!).

I'll update on my training progress in August, and perhaps I'll explain before then why varied runs are best :) If I can summarise succinctly and accurately that is...

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