You're Running Too Fast

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Yes, I'm talking to you! You are running too fast and you need to slow down! Yesterday I had a great run. I say it was great even though I ran 5 miles at an 8:57/mile pace (my 5 mile PR pace is 6:30/mile). So why would I call that a great run? The answer is because slow, easy running is great for my training and fitness.

Sorry he looks so creepy today.
For a long time I fell into the trap of trying to do every training run as fast as I could. I'd muster up as much speed as I had that day and try and set a new record. Maybe you can relate. You try to run as fast as you can and feel bad if you are slow (whatever slow means to you). After all, you aren't going to get those Strava kudos on a slow run! This approach, fortunately, is a mistake. It is important to have some fast runs. It's a huge part of becoming a faster racer. However, if every time you lace up you go all-out and try to be speedy Gonzales you are actually going to hinder your training and end up injured.

Slow running has many advantages to your training. Even elite Olympic athletes incorporate slow running into their weekly routine. So what exactly do I mean by slow running? There are a couple of ways to define it but the easiest is 1.25-1.5 times slower than your 5k PR pace. If you don't have a 5k PR pace just go a minute or two slower than your race pace for any distance. For me, my 'slow running' pace is anywhere between 7:54-9:27. Realistically I aim for about an 8:15-30 but I'm not afraid to go slower! A slow pace for me is keeping my heart rate at about 130 or lower.


All that being said here are three reasons you need to slow down for some of your runs:

1. You burn the same calories if you go fast or slow.

It's amazing how many people don't realize this simple truth. If you run a mile at a 10:00/min pace or run a mile at an 8:00/min pace the calories you burn are basically equal. There's a lot of debate on this subject but for all practical purposes they are equal. The only advantage to running faster is you can fit more miles in the same amount of time, so you could burn more calories per hour. But 5 miles slow or 5 miles fast will yield the same result. If you are trying to shed some extra pounds or running to maintain weight and health a faster pace won't really help you. (Note: running does, however, burn more calories than walking.)

2. Slow running builds your aerobic capability with less wear and tear on your body.

When you run your body experiences stress. Your legs, joints, lungs, and heart all are stressed. At the end of a tough run, your body sustains micro-tears in muscle fiber, dehydration, glycogen depletion, and more. Your body responds by making adaptations. These adaptations are things like stronger muscles and tendons, and a heart that can pump more blood more efficiently. When you run slower you put less stress on your muscles and joints, but your heart still has to pump blood. Running slow applies "gentle" stress to your cardio-vascular system, which benefits you on a run of any speed.

If you need more convincing here's a great video from Sage Canaday, a 2:16:52 marathoner, about the benefits of slow running:

 

3. You can run more miles with less risk of injury.

The rule of thumb for runners is to only increase one thing at a time; speed or volume. If you try to increase your speed at the same time as the number of miles per week you run (also called your 'base') you will likely get injured. Let's say you are training for a half marathon. You currently run 15 miles per week and you know you need to get more miles in to run a good race. Slow runs will allow you get more miles in with less risk of injury. Making a few of your runs 'easy' runs will help you build your base without causing too much stress on the other parts of your body. If you are prone to injury or have been injured in the past you should really give slow runs a try. Incorporating some slow days into your weekly routine also allows you to really push it on tempo or speed work days.

One last thing about slow running; it is freeing! Knowing that it is OK and actually beneficial to take some runs slow is a great feeling. It will help you enjoy your runs more. It's ok to stop and smell the flowers or enjoy the view. In fact you should really give this a try. Stop during your run and look around, enjoy God's creation and stop worrying about how fast (or slow) you are going. There's a time for everything under the sun, including slow running (Ecclesiastes 3), so get out there and log some slow miles!


Define your fitness

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

We had a bit of snow and everyone freaked out.

Colin making is first snow angel
I think it was equal freaking between "We might run out of bread and milk!!!" and "I've never driven on a wet road!!" and "NO SCHOOL FOR 2 DAYS?!!".  Needless to say, when I got to the Y for my usual Monday morning run, the place was completely packed.  I had to be sly to get a treadmill and got on the rowing machine next to an older gentleman walking and jumped on his machine when he got off.

While I was running, I saw a commercial for Slim Fast.  I honestly laughed out loud.  First, how is Slim Fast even still around?  I really want to know.


Seriously.  Look at what is in this stuff!


Somehow, someone passed this off as health food!

Later that day, I read this post from Blogilates on Facebook.  I love her workouts and I find her very refreshing (p.s. I'm very picky when it comes to workouts I'll follow).  She opened up about a very real eating struggle she had after competing in a bikini competition.  I've followed several women's accounts of what training takes and I know it's no walk in the park, but not many tell of what it's like afterwards; emotionally and physically.  
If you don't read her article, basically women just eat chicken and broccoli (around 1,000 calories a day) for months and workout for up to 4 hours a day.  The results are astonishing, but they are miserable inside and once they resume eating a more normal healthy diet, they gain the weight back.  I think most competitors go in cycles of training, so once their body has recovered, they go right back into cutting mode.


How are these linked?
It astonishes me how we classify fitness.  It perhaps even more astonishes me how we are swayed by media to define it.  Slim Fast says, "Drink a milkshake and you'll be skinny and skinny is fit" and the bikini competitor says, "Starve yourself and workout for hours and you'll be fit".  How did fitness become milkshakes and starvation?

Honestly though, I can relate to both lies.  After Alison was born, I am ashamed to admit, my refrigerator saw some Slim Fasts.  I was desperate, in complete survival mode and didn't have the knowledge then that I do now.  I can also relate to being tempted to eat a little less and workout a little more to get to "the next level" in fitness.  When you're already eating healthy and working out, it's easy to let yourself believe that bikini lie.


That night I ate a homemade oatmeal cookie, in honor of fitness.  As I ate it, I thought,

"Here's to fitness.  Let it be in moderation.  To not workout too much or too little.  To not eat too much or too little and to enjoy a little real sugar every once in awhile."


Please don't let media define your fitness. 


Pebbles

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Friday, January 22, 2016

The day after the Surf N Santa 5 miler I saw I had been bumped from 3rd place in my age group to 4th. The results online all of a sudden showed a new name at the top which bumped me down. My time didn't change but someone else had, apparently, run faster than me and not been included in the original results. I was bummed. I was honestly very sad. I felt like I had accomplished something, even if that something was as inconsequential as placing in my age group, and then felt like it was taken away.


Being bummed about losing my 3rd place age group finish really made me think; why would I care so much? Why be sad? My time didn't change, I still ran the exact same race. I don't think I could have run faster that day. I gave it my all and I should be happy with the result, right?

I don't think it's necessarily wrong to feel disappointed. After all, I put work into running. I want to do well and give my best. I think it would be strange if I didn't want to do well in a race. In fact, giving my best can be a way to honor God.
"Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man." (Colossians 3:23)
Feeling disappointed at not placing in a race is not automatically a sinful feeling. There's complexity here because my heart is a mixed bag. It's a jumbled mess of crossed wires that sometimes sends false signals and sometimes short-circuits. It would be much simpler to say, 'of course you were disappointed, don't worry about it!', or, 'hey, if you felt any sliver of disappointment you've made an idol out of running and are a dirty sinner!'. Both of those are extremes that are not quite right.

Motivations are a tricky thing. Examining them is a lot like trying to look at something with your peripheral vision. You can see it, but you can't really make out the details. Was I disappointed because I had put a lot of work into that race, or was I disappointed because I wanted people to think more highly of me because I placed? Probably both. In fact, I do want to glorify God with my running, to be a good steward of my body. But I also want people to think I'm something special because I can run fast (sometimes). There are no pure motives flowing out of my heart. It's all mixed. If you're honest you can see this is true of you too. The apostle Paul speaks of this when he wrote, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out." (Romans 7:18).

If my heart sometimes cares too much about what others think do I stop running? Nope. Running isn't the issue, my heart is the issue. If it's not racing it will be something else. Knowing the motivations of my heart and its tendencies is a good place to start. I can take my weakness, my brokenness, my wrong motivations to God and say "help!". When I am weak, he is strong. I can pray and ask God to help me not value the opinion of man.

One of my favorite prayer books is called "The Valley of Vision". It's a collection of puritan prayers. In one of the prayers titled 'Love-Rest in God' the author writes:

My dear Lord
I depend wholly upon thee,
wean me from all other dependences.
Thou art my all, thou dost overrule all and delight in me.
Thou art the foundation of goodness,
how can I distrust thee?
how be anxious about what happens to me?
In the light of thy preciousness the world and all its enjoyments are infinitely poor:
I value the favour of men no more than pebbles.


I love that last line. While I can't say that I value the opinion of men no more than pebbles, it is what I want.  I pray that the opinions of others would hold no more sway in my life than a pebble does. And, as the end of the prayer says, that God would "grant me grace to distinguish between the genuine and the false, and to rest in thee who art all love."

The truth is, God may not ever grant me complete victory over my misplaced motivations in this life.  While this can be frustrating and discouraging at times it also leaves me no choice but to wholly depend on God, and there are a lot worse places to be.

p.s. Oh yeah, it was a mistake. I actually did get 3rd place. They accidentally added someone to the wrong results page and they fixed it the next day.

My illustrious prize is a wine coaster.




Wouldn't it be nice...

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016



A little tune for you while I whine. In my head tonight, as I tried to get a run in after the kids went to bed and my legs were killing me:

"Wouldn't it be nice if fitness was easy and all I had to do was jog a mile and eat an apple and I could have a 6 pack and never ever feel pain.  Wouldn't it be nice if I wasn't getting older and wasn't a woman...who's had 3 kids.  Men.  They have it so easy."

The truth is, I have not been enjoying running lately and although I've met my goals, my mind is thinking "am I done yet?" the whole time.

Then Monday Ben said, "Doesn't running 10 miles sound fun?" when it was literally freezing with ice on the ground, but we only had time for 8, so around mile 6.5 Ben picked up his pace to make it back to the Y to get our kiddos and made me promise I would run a certain road for him and my run ended up being over 9 miles.  My rear has never been so frozen!  Yea, those men I tell ya'.

I absolutely do not like this picture, but it's documented that I survived Ben's insane run on Monday.


But then there are moments that remind me that running isn't always about enjoying or looking a certain way or even staying warm.


Moments like hearing Alison talk about what exercise she'll do when she grows up or being able to have a jump rope contest with her, remind me that I run to be healthy and it trains her how to live a healthy life as well.

Alison drawing at the Y while I lift weights...best view of the gym right here.

Moments like hearing Colin ask me to take him for a run and seeing the other kids jump up to join the race, remind me that I run to keep up with my three kids and to help them be that; kids.  We live in a time where the norm is a sedentary life; sit in school all day and watch TV all night.  Being active breaks that norm, but also gives kids a chance to explore and be creative.




My whine is over...thank you for listening.  I will persevere.

P.S. Men aren't all that bad, especially the crazy one I call my husband.  He recorded that Beach Boys song for me our first year of college, when we were dreaming of being old enough to get married.  I am so thankful he was crazy enough to marry me a year later!



Surprise Race Report - 8k Chilly BOB Fest Roadrace

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Jen found out about a small local 8k on Wednesday and suggested I run it. The course goes around Windsor Castle Park, which we run all the time, so I thought the race would be a good idea. I had already run my normal weekly routine Monday-Wednesday so I didn't really have a chance to 'train' or 'prepare'. I just had to trust that my weekly routine was enough to power through an 8k. I did an easy slow 5 miles on Thursday and didn't run at all on Friday so my legs would be fresh. I went into the race with 22 miles for the week already.

Each turn around was at the bottom of a pretty steep hill.
My strategy for this race was a bit different than my previous 5 mile race. The course for this race is an out-and-back with two forks on the side. That  means there were three turn-around spots and each one was at the bottom of a hill. This was a very hilly course and meant that it would be hard for me to race a consistent pace. Instead I decided to race my heart rate. My goal was to keep my heart rate at about 160 bpm, which is about 86% of my max heart rate, right in the lactate threshold zone. This, hopefully, would keep me giving max effort the whole time even if my pace had to slow due to a hill.


Pre-race - The race had a few hundred participants and was fairly low key. They did have chip timing which is really nice for such a small race. The start was at the manor house on the Windsor Castle Park grounds. The weather was cool (45 degrees) and breezy but the sun was shining. I did a few strides down the road to get my legs warm. The wind was blowing and I knew that between the hills and the wind my legs were in for a beat down.


Mile 1-2 - I went out with the lead pack and ran the first 400 meters at a 5:30 pace. My heart rate hadn't jumped up yet so I just kept racing whatever pace that heart rate could sustain. At 800 meters I was in 4th place and I was gaining on 2nd and 3rd. They kept slowing and I kept feeling good so I pushed on and passed them. I did consider for a moment latching on and running with them as a pack. But I decided to chase first place and press on alone. I slowed down a bit as I kept my heart rate right around 160. The guy in first place was about 20 seconds ahead of me (now in 2nd place). He looked strong and I just kept running trying not to over think the situation. At mile 2 I approached the first turn around. It was straight down and up a big steep hill, run around a cone, and then down and up the hill again. My legs burned and I ignored my pace and focused on my heart rate. 6:19, 6:29

Mile 3-4 - The turn around gave me the opportunity to see my pursuers without looking behind me. There was a group of about 4 guys about 15 seconds behind me. I was running about 15 seconds behind first place and was feeling very lonely. It is hard to run alone in a race! Why do I always end up in 'no-man's" land? Mile 3.5 was the first of the two forks. It was a brief up hill, then a big down hill for the turn around. When I got to the bottom of the hill to turn around I had a brief side stitch. I felt like I was maxing out and about to explode. I literally stopped at the cone for about 2 seconds to re-group and I seriously doubted I could hang on and maintain my place. I started running up the hill and just took it one step at a time. My legs felt like jello going up the hill and my body felt like it was traveling through molasses. The main problem was the wind. It was a steady 15 mph in my face. The only thing that kept my going was knowing that everyone else was in the same situation as me. If it was hard for me, it had to be (hopefully) hard for everyone. The leader was now about 30 seconds ahead of me and my pursuers were still about 15 seconds behind me. 6:49, 6:48

Some people coming through the small finish line. At least they used a chip timer!
Mile 5 - The last push was down the second fork. It was down hill, around a cone, then back up the hill to a flat 400 meter sprint to the finish. I somehow still maintained my space between first and third. My legs truly hurt but I finally started to think I could hang on. When I made it to the top of the hill I started to sprint and surprisingly felt I had a little kick left in me. I ran really hard to the end and crossed the finish line in 32:26 and held on to 2nd place overall. First place came in at 31:51 and third was 19 seconds behind me. Somehow I had managed to pull off a 6:16 last mile (well, almost a full mile).


Post-race - Not much to say here. I got my obligatory bananna, water, and granola bar. Stayed around to get a hat and cup as a prize and then drove home. Apparently this race didn't have any good prizes, even for placing 2nd overall. It was a very challenging race and my legs felt tired and sore that afternoon. I think I the heart rate strategy was helpful because it would have been near impossible to maintain a consistent pace going up those hills in the wind. Side note: After the race I noticed the guy who came in first place was wearing shorts with KU on them. Turns out he is from Kansas, like me, and graduated from the University of Kansas in 2007! We had a nice chat and felt good that a pair of Kansas boys topped a small race in Virgina.
This is as good as the loot gets for such a small race. Not even a gift card for 2nd place overall!


Nike Road Machine Sunglasses - Review

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Friday, January 15, 2016

I got a pair of Nike Road Machine sunglasses for Christmas and have been wearing them for almost a month now. There are two types of runners in the world; those who wear sunglasses and those who don't. I love wearing sunglasses while I run. In fact when I ran the Surf N Santa 5 miler last month I wore these glasses the whole race. The only reason that is remarkable is because the race started at 4:30 pm and was supposed to be under Christmas lights. Well, it was sunny when we started so.... I didn't bother taking them off. However, when I crossed the finish line it was almost dark and the announcer called out my name, "Ben Shear!" and then said, "and he's wearing sunglasses!" Yeah... I'm cool.

This is probably what my face looks like when I run.
If you're a sunglasses runner, like me, then the Nike Road Machines are worth checking out. You may already know that they are rated best in class for sub-$150 sunglasses, which is good for me because I find it hard to keep glasses longer than a year or two before they break or I lose them. Spending more on sunglasses just doesn't make sense.

Fit - They feel very comfortable. They have some tension on the rubber temple ends which really keep these glasses in place when running. They don't move a bit when doing all-out sprints. I have also found that I don't' experience sun-glass fatigue. I can wear these for over an hour without them bothering me. They are very comfy!

Notice the vent holes at the top middle. This prevents them from fogging up.
Style - The Nike Road Machine sunglasses have a spacey look to them. This is because the lens is almost a full wrap. The lens size blocks out the sun from all angles but it does make me look a bit bug-eyed. I don't mind the style when running, but you won't see me wearing them walking around town.

You can see the vent holes on the outside of the lens.
Lenses - The optics are crystal clear and don't fog up often due to having strategic air ventilation holes at the top. Notice I didn't say 'never'. They did fog up on me a few times but the conditions were very extreme. Overall I think the vent holes do make a difference and they will preform better than most other sunglasses in this regard. The lenses give a full field of vision and I don't notice any distortion no matter which direction I look. I also have long eye lashes and suffer from LHLS (lash hitting lens syndrome). These glasses don't cause my LHLS to flare up. They allow plenty of room for eyeball hair to maneuver.


Quality - You can tell when something is sturdy and well made when you handle it. This is definitely true with these sunglasses. They somehow manage to feel durable and well made while at the same time being extremely light. I have no doubt that these will last me for several years. The sturdy case that came with the sunglasses also helps me keep them safe.


Bottom line - At $48 on Amazon right now it's hard to get a better pair of glasses for the money. They are lightweight, stay in place, and provide great protection from the sun and wind.



Week In Review

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Sunday, January 10, 2016


Apparently sleep matters a lot with recovery. This week wasn't the best for me and sleep. And I know it was even worse for Jen. It started with me watching a triple overtime basketball game on Monday night. Fortunately my team (University of Kansas) won, but unfortunately the East coast is not a good time zone for sports.  Yeah I know this was my choice, but it doesn't mean I wasn't tired the next day. This, combined with children who for some reason despise sleep, made for one tired week. Apparently sleep is so important to running and recovery that the Oregon Project tells their athletes to get 10-12 hours a night! I'll have to work on getting more sleep the week before a race.
I've also been combating a nagging minor cold this week. It's not bad enough to stop me from doing anything, it's just enough to make like slightly miserable. Oh well, still ran. 

Monday - 7 miles at 7:48 pace
Tuesday - 3 x 1 mile sprints, 5:27, 5:27, and 6:43 pace. Plus weights (chest)
Wednesday - 7 miles at 8:23 pace
Thursday - 5 miles at 7:46 pace
Friday - 5 miles at 7:14 pace
Saturday - 5.5 miles at 8:24 pace
Sunday - Rest!

I bottled some beer I made this week. I'll find out in about two weeks if it carbonated well and if it's any good.


And I got inspired to make some butter croissants because I love butter! They turned out to be delicious, just a lot of work to make.


Up next: No races planned. Just keeping my base miles at about 30-35 miles per week and doing strength training. It's good to have some 'down-time' between races and just enjoy running no matter how fast I'm going.

p.s. check out Jen's week in review below!



Week in Review...Jen Style

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This week was our first week back to school after Christmas break and I was tired.  Tired, but determined.  I'm thankful to say that my shin splints seem to be healed, but my feet are still struggling.  Because of that, I'm trying to be diligent in cross training to make sure other supporting muscles are strong while giving my running muscles a break.  On top of that, I'm trying to make Pilates a priority once a week because my daughter really enjoys it and it's an exercise we can do together.  Here's my workout week:


Monday:
5 miles at 8:10 pace, on the treadmill while watching Gilmore Girls just to keep things fun.
30 min Pilates

Tuesday:
3 miles at 8:00 pace, on treadmill.
30 minutes weights, focusing on arms

Wednesday:
HIIT for 1 hour (if you do this workout, I don't believe it really burns 800 calories, but probably more like 400...sorry to be a Debbie downer)
Picture courtesy of my 3 year old...green tea after lunch helped me through this week
Thursday:
RIPPED class for 1 hour (similar to a HIIT workout with weights)

Friday:
5.5 miles on the trail at 8:30 pace, minus the last mile which was a 6:30 pace in desperate efforts to get back to the Y before child watch closed on my 3 kids.  Remember that first week back to school?  Yea, this workout was squeezed into my morning after working with a crying 3rd grader.
Said 3rd grader, minus tears

Saturday:
6.5 miles on the road at 8:35 pace.  SORE CITY.  I was so crazy sore and tired by Saturday that I felt like I was crawling down the road.  But the weather was perfect and I just tried to enjoy some "quiet time".



My goal for the week was 20 miles with some cross training and I'm thankful I got it in.  Some times it's easy for me to discount my workouts because they're not as long or as fast as Ben's.  That's the girl side of fitness; we are always comparing ourselves to others and not allowing ourselves to be okay with who we are, where we are.



Low Impact Snow Running

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Need a good laugh? Just watch this video:


The weather here in Virginia has finally turned cold, but it's warming up again this weekend to the 60's! Right now we don't have any snow on the ground like in this video. Last year I ran in a lot of snow and ice and fortunately I never fell like this gal. I did have a lot of runs where I would 'shuffle' rather than 'run' over some icy spots. I wonder what was more injured; her back or her pride? Both had to hurt after that spill.  I feel bad for laughing.  On another note I really like that guys' jacket.

Do you run in the snow? Have you ever taken a spill? What are your snow/ice running tricks?

How to Understand Heart Rate

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I recently got a GPS watch with a built in hear-rate monitor. I quickly realized that having a heart rate monitor is nice but it only helps you if know what the numbers mean. I did quite a bit of research and found that training using your heart rate is very helpful because your heart rate provides an objective measure of exertion, one that's usually more accurate than your mental gauge on how hard you are working.


In order for you to use heart rate in your training there are some terms you need to know. The first is max heart rate. Your max heart rate is the maximum rate your heart can beat. There are lots of ways to calculate what your max heart rate is but for simplicity I would go with MHR = 208 – 0.7(age).  Because I bet you don't like math just plug your age in the calculator I made below and it will spit out your MHR. For me (age 32) that put my MHR at 186. So if my heart rate goes up to 187 I will explode and die. Ok, not really. It's not a 'hard number' it's more of a good guess.


Even more important for runners is your lactate threshold heart rate (LT HR). Your LT HR is the point where lactate, a product of carbohydrate metabolism in the muscles, begins to accumulate because it’s being produced faster than the muscles can use it. Put even simpler it's when you are working out so hard that your body can't use all the lactate it produces. Ever been sore after a hard workout? Blame lactate. Lactate is a key part of how you get energy from your muscles when you run. So how do I find my lactate threshold heart rate? Unfortunately it's not as simple as plugging in a number.

There are a few ways to figure out your LT HR. The first is to go pay an exercise lab to do a threshold test on you. But who has time for that? The second way is to guess by feel. I know, it sounds mystical and it's not very exciting, but it will work just fine for you and me. Your lactate threshold heart rate is found at the fastest pace that you can sustain for 30 minutes (if you are not super fit), or 60 minutes (if you are very fit). The heart rate you have during that effort is your lactate threshold heart rate (LT HR). For most people you can find this during a 5k or 10k race effort. For me, this is about 158. This is also 85% of my MHR which corresponds to another popular, but less accurate method; estimating your lactate threshold based on a percentage of maximum heart rate (80-90% of maximum heart rate in trained endurance athletes). 

Got your LT HR figured out? Ok, great now here are the heart rate zones and what they mean:

Zones

Description

Use It For...

Example HR

Your Face in this Zone

Active Recovery

Barely even exercise. You are basically always in this zone unless you are dead or exercising. Living, sleeping, watching Netflix and basically just chilling. This zone means you are able to recover and repair your muscles from previous workouts. <127
Aerobic Threshold Very comfortable and quite useful for building aerobic fitness, fat-burning capacity, and endurance. 
Most of your runs should be here. Building your aerobic threshold is important because it will enable you to run faster for longer before you tip into anaerobic metabolism which cannot be sustained for as long.
128-141
Tempo Just faster than jogging pace, 'comfortably hard'. This is the automatic pace you will run when training. This will teach your body how to run at a fast pace for a longer distance. To do a tempo run jog for about 10 minutes, then do 3-5 miles at your 10k race pace. Then do a slow jog for about 10 minutes. 142-150

Sub-lactate Threshold  Running hard enough that it requires some conscious effort. This is where  tempo training merges into the threshold power zone for training. This is an excellent place to increase your power at lactate threshold without the huge training stress generated when you train at and above LT. In other words you pretty much get the benefit of LT training without as much stress on your body. 151-157

Lactate Threshold Even more stressful on the body than the previous zone. This zone is starts to become difficult to maintain for the long haul. Your goal is to build up to 3 x 15 minutes with 5 minutes of recovery between hard efforts. This is your basic HIIT. Working out here will increase your LT which means you can run faster! 158-160

Aerobic Capacity
Very intense and stressful, but when incorporated into your training in small amounts it will elevate your running performance significantly. To run here you must do it in short intervals.
As your aerobic capacity increases, you can run farther and faster. Run slightly faster (10 to 30 seconds per mile) than your 5-K race pace. Run this pace for 3-5 minutes then recover. Don't do this workout more than once a week. 161-166
Anaerobic Capacity   This is anywhere from the fastest pace you could do a mile to a full on max effort sprint. Do a set (4-12) of sprints as fast as you can for about 8-10 seconds. Do this only once a week and you can even do it up hills. You will be sore and you will run faster because of it. 167+

One great advantage to training based on heart rate vs pace is that heart rate percentages will remain the same. I might be in the tempo zone at a 7:00 min/pace but you could be in the aerobic threshold zone. Pace really isn't as helpful to your training as heart rate is. Everyone has different heart rate abilities based on genetics and training.

I've recently started to incorporate all this into my training and it has already paid off. I've let my recovery runs be slow (and I dont' feel bad about running slow) and I know that I really do need to push it hard some runs to get into that next 'zone'.  Until I did this I basically ran every training run as a tempo run. That's not effective because it doesn't let my body recover and I never truly push myself by going into the higher zones. How about you? Have you ever used heart rate training before? Has it helped?


2015 Year In Review

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 was the year of running for me. After a few years of moderate running I really hit it hard in 2015. You could say I got kinda serious about it. Even serious enough to...ahem...start a blog. I also really enjoyed running this past year. I have had a very blessed year. I never got injured or majorly sick and I was able to break all my PR's. I am VERY grateful for all that God gave me.


I ran two half marathons and did a handful of smaller races and had a lot of fun with them all. I learned a lot about racing and feel like I'm running the best right now that I have ever run. The low point of the year for me was being deployed. It was crazy hard to be away from Jen and the kids. It was also very difficult to run and exercise and eat healthy. My options were either a treadmill or, if we were in port, to run in circles on the pier in 90+ degree heat with 100% humidity. Oddly enough I left for deployment weighing 162 lbs and came back at 167 lbs. But I was faster and felt leaner (I averaged over 500 stairs a day on the ship). I hit the weights pretty hard while deployed because running was just so mentally and physically exhausting after a 12 hour day in the tropical heat. Since coming back I've lost some of that muscle weight but managed to keep my pull-up max the same (currently at 25 woo-hoo!).

This was the cardio room on the ship. Did I mention I hate treadmills?
See the pier on the left? I ran that multiple times, like a lost sweaty hamster. This is in El Salvador.
I did get to meet the President of Panama (he's in the middle).
And ride a helicopter with some SEABEES in Colombia.
The high point for me this year is being home for Christmas and getting to spend time with my family. This Fall I got to do a 1 mile race alongside my daughter, who is 8, and do many runs with Jen including a 5 mile race for our anniversary.  A family that workouts together stays together!


For the year I tallied 1,128.5 miles over 150 hours. 249 total runs averaging 4.5 miles with an average pace for the year of 8:00 min/mile.

I burned 144,062 calories for the year. That's equal to 41 lbs of fat!
I'm thankful for such a great year of running even with the challenges I've had. I know that it won't always be this way. I'll get injured, my knees with spontaneously combust or who knows what will happen. The point is; I don't want to take for granted the fact that I can run.

For 2016 I hope to run more races, break some PR's and to run about 30 miles a week. But more importantly I hope to do with with Jen and to set a good example for my family. I want to continue running and being healthy in a balanced way. I hope you had a great 2015 and are as excited as I am about the upcoming year!


Happy New Year!

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Friday, January 1, 2016


Some people party on New Year's, but we go for runs in the rain.


Thanks to my new running hat, it was actually quite refreshing.  It's amazing what a little hat can do!  Plus, I had to break in these new shoes.


I went to Point2 running store and had my feet assessed by a "professional".  I was impressed by their technology and how they could asses my feet and gait, but I was not so impressed by the professional when it came time to pick a shoe.  After the assessment, I was told that I have such high arches that the middle of my foot doesn't touch the ground at all, which sounds like it would be a problem, but he said it only means I don't need a shoe with a certain arch support.  He also said that I don't over pronate, which is a common source of shin splints, and my current pain is simply due to the poor support in the shoes I was wearing.  Finally, he said that my feet actually have not grown/flattened, but in reality, I have a size 6.5 foot and a size 7 foot.  Weird.  So basically it comes down to this; my feet are normal and I run normal so I can buy any shoe I want.  Not what I was hoping to hear.  I was hoping this gentleman would turn into a magical running fairy and show me the perfect shoe for my feet.  It was actually my own husband who saved the day and picked out the winners that I ended up purchasing.  

The bad news is, after the first run, I came home in tears because my shins/feet were in so much pain.  However, the professional confirmed I have shin splints and that's not something a new shoe can cure overnight.  I have confidence these are good shoes and I just need to give my body a chance to heal and adjust to actually having support.

I took 3 days off of running and did some cross training instead.  I waited until there was absolutely no pain when I touched my shin and went out for a slow run yesterday.  I purposely ran very slow and promised myself I would walk at the first sign of pain.  I made it almost 4 miles and only the little pinky toe on one foot went numb, which I count as huge progress...plus, I didn't cry.


I came home to fancy cheese and crackers and homemade zuppa tuscana.  I'm spoiled y'all.


It finally cooled off here a little and the soup was exactly what I needed after a wet run.
After dinner, we partied with these three and had a roaring game of dominoes.