Thursday, December 8, 2011

Heart Rate Stuff.....

WARNING: I don't claim to be a professional. These are my experiences that worked for me. I have read arguments that say this is not the best way to train or lose weight. All I know is I did and I thought I would share...........

A friend and I were talking about a food plan in relation to our running and this was part of the email....

.........When I was losing weight I always worked out in the morning. I got up, had a cup of coffee, and went and did my thing. Came home, then had breakfast. So I was fueling back up after a nights rest and my workout. If you worked out after dinner I think it would be unreasonable to think you wouldn’t have SOMETHING to eat afterwards and before bed.

I read once upon a time that while you are trying to build your cardiovascular system it is good to exercise on an empty stomach because you are trying to train your body to burn fat stores. If you wake up and eat breakfast and then workout your body will use the most readily available fuel source for energy….the breakfast you just ate. The article said this works best when you are exercising between 60 and 90 minutes in the fat burning zone or, 75% of maximum heart rate. The 60 to 90 minutes was because there is a ramp up period where your body gets into the ZONE. The longer you are in the ZONE, the more you train your body to rely on fat stores. This doesn’t really work when you do speed or tempo workouts because you are above the aerobic level and your body will burn glycogen over fat.

The other trick was the coffee. Since it is a stimulant, a cup of coffee before the workout would rev up the metabolism according to the article.

This is basically what I did every day I was losing weight. THEN I found running. I found myself running faster than I should to stay in the fat burning zone and I had a lot harder time losing. PLUS, I was always hungry as can be afterwards. I believe this is because I was burning up all my glycogen during the workouts and the gas tank was empty. Before I found running I was burning fat and still had my glycogen to fuel me the rest of the day. Moral of the story, slow down to lose weight. In the meantime, you develop a great cardiovascular system and are able to perform at a higher level with the same input over time.

The first time I recorded my HR was 2/4/10 during a 1 hour run. I had a 150 heart rate at an 8:20 pace over the course of that hour. Fast forward to 9/11/10 on my last long run before the St. George marathon. I ran 20 miles at basically the same heart rate of 152 at a 7:09 pace. Cutting over a minute off of my pace and holding it for an additional 90 minutes made me a believer!

Not sure if I have ever sent you this link but this is the guidance I used while building up over that summer.  Elite athletes have the same aerobic and anaerobic limitations as everyone else but with proper training to develop your cardiovascular system you can get a faster pace with the same HR. It’s hard to imagine the elite marathoners cruising along at a 4:45 pace and a 155-165 heart rate, but they do……  If they weren't, they would bonk.  Just like the rest of us when are in the anaerobic zone for too long (see my Boston splits from mile 9-16 followed by the bonk).

Food for thought.

This data is from three separate 20 mile runs in the summer of 2010 on the same course and starting at the same time in the morning.  The last one is the one I referenced above.  The 7/10 run looks like a disaster next to the others.  I had a Clif bar for the first and last time on that day and was barely hanging on at the end.  The 7/31 run was a great improvement and I was very happy with my time.  The bad thing that day was I felt like I had absolutely nothing left at the end of 20 miles which would have made for a disappointing finish at a marathon.  One interesting note is my time was 27 minutes fast with a LOWER average HR, 158 v. 159.  The 9/11 run was my last 20 miler before St George and it gave me a lot of confidence going into the race.  I needed an average pace of 7:29 to qualify for Boston, so 7:09 through 20 helped clear my mind and keep me focused.  I only shaved off a few minutes but did it at 152 HR, down from the 158 from 7/31.  As a result I felt like I could have kept going the additional 6.2 miles at that pace.  Another note, on the 9/11 run there was frost on the ground and it was cold most of the way, which was a big boost to help regulate my core temperature and HR.

This is a comparison of Boston to St George. I stayed very level at St George with my HR throughout and it showed in my pace at the end. I actually decided to let up a bit at the end since my main goal was to BQ, not push myself to the brink of exhaustion to shave off 2 or 3 minutes. Another note, it was 88 degrees when I crossed the finish line....  Boston on the other hand, I didn't do such a good job on. I was very happy with my time actually. The bad part was, I had been sick with a cold in the days leading up to the race, so it was a monumental effort. That said, it is easy to see why I tanked at the end. I crossed my AT during mile 9 and remained there for 8 miles total.  After mile 16 was where the bonk started.  From there my pace slowed along with my HR.  By the time I crossed the finish line I felt like I was doing the ultra-shuffle.....and it was one of the happiest moments ever!

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