Sunday, February 1, 2009

The last thingy: HR Training - Day 42 & Final Thoughts

Today was a very odd day. After a stint in fixing the toilet tank in the bathroom all night and into the morning, I woke up too late for the group run. I figured that I could possibly run in the evening and subject myself to one more night of treadmill hell, but I was really tired - almost to the point where I felt like I hadn't even gone to bed at all.

After running my errands for the day, I decided to just take that final day off for my own good. This was the only one of two days where I actually bailed out during the entire training plan, the other being a light run a week earlier.

So this is what my last week ended up as for the Training Effect:

And the overall since the beginning:

So what was the point of all this?

Well, this is what I got out of it:

1.) HR Training does work, but it does take a great deal of time and patience in it. If I was an elite career athlete instead of a weekend warrior, I would probably devote a whole year to just tune in my HR and not do any events. But I'm not on the cover of a Wheaties box, so the idea of me strictly doing that doesn't fly.
2.) If you run for fun and only for fun, then HR Training isn't for you. The fun for me was gradually sucked out and I tried my damndest to enjoy the runs with what I had.
3.) If you have a very specific goal in mind, HR Training can work for you. But your patience will be tested greatly. Expect to be frustrated with yourself for the first two weeks. It will get better once your body "gets the message", but it'll suck at first.
4.) If you decide to do HR Training, expect to be ALONE. Unless you can exercise restraint and not get sucked into the semi-competitive nature that group runs can generate, you're better off being alone and focusing on yourself.
5.) If you train on a treadmill, you can tune your HR better - but it can turn to crap when you're outside. However, 99.9% of races will not be done on a moving rubber belt, so learning how to run outside while HR training is necessary. There's no point in learning how to develop perfect-pitch in vocal music if you're not going to practice actual songs for a concert. This goes back to the goals thing.
6.) If you decide to pursue HR training, get a VO2Max/Metabolic test done. There is a cost, but you'll have the most accurate information to help you out and the motivation factor of "I PAID FOR THIS, I BETTER USE IT" really kicks in. I doubt I would have taken my HR Training as seriously had I not paid for my testing.
7.) If you are not able to mentally handle HR Training while doing other types of workouts (cross-training), you might have to abandon your cross-training for a little while. I had to since my brain was stressed out from trying to remember the training patterns for my specific HR training.
8.) Get use to radio interference and those transmitter belts just going nuts for no reason. Mine would lose signal or give off a reading that didn't match my perceived exertion.
9.) Figure out what your perceived exertion is using the HR data. The better you know what your breaking points are, the more in-tune you'll be with your HR when you lose the connection or get erratic readings. My perceived exertion has gotten better since my start of this training 6 weeks ago.
10.) If you train outside, you need to REALLY focus on matching your perceived exertion against your HR. Reason: You may not hear the beeps or the HRM might not operate properly in spots. The world isn't a quiet place usually.
11.) If you decide to HR Train, do as much of it as possible to adapt faster. I walked alot more and did alot of the slower light-runs when I had time. The more time you put in, the more does come back. However, it also has the negative effect of getting really boring and giving you the desire to scream obscenities frequently.
12.) Don't be afraid to ask questions or to question the methods of any HR Training plan. I know with my training plan specifically, there were alot of crazy things and every run seemed like it was an interval run. Eric told me that the training plan he devised for me was to tune into my HR zones better. However, looking back I think my training zones were too wide and I should have had more sub-zones to train at. Running at my Aerobic and Anaerobic Thresholds made me go as fast as I could within those zones, but I know that isn't always the best thing to do now. You need a variety of HR Zones or sub-zones to train in depending on what you're aiming for in your goals. This is why I developed those sub-zones for myself based on my own observations in my training.

As for my actual performance, I'll let the numbers do the talking...

These are the numbers for the runs that were "light". Check out the average speed and the top speed of these:

12/18 - 21:50 avg/15:30 max (this was before the official training)
12/22 - 23:23 avg/13:27 max
12/23 - 20:16 avg/16:51 max
12/25 - 17:39 avg/10:44 max
12/26 - 17:57 avg/13:02 max
12/27 - 19:39 avg/13:29 max
12/28 - 16:06 avg/9:52 max (this was a very good day)
12/29 - 18:23 avg/15:28 max
12/30 - 19:23 avg/14:53 max
01/01 - 19:52 avg/14:27 max
01/03 - 18:27 avg/13:58 max
01/07 - 19:23 avg/15:57 max
01/09 - 19:35 avg/14:19 max
01/14 - 16:47 avg/11:12 max
01/16 - 15:17 avg/10:45 max
01/19 - 19:02 avg/15:52 max
01/21 - 20:07 avg/16:28 max (powerwalked, cranked up treadmill to max%)
01/31 - 17:01 avg/10:56 max

As you can see, the overall speed has increased within a six week time. Also, my HR has been more steady as well (although I do need to fine-tune things a bit more).

Overall, I would have to say my experience was good and I will be taking some aspects of what I've learned and incorporating it into my training

For those in Seattle, Tacoma, or points in-between, definately do your VO2Max training test at The Balanced Athlete in Kent. You'll get your test plus the bonus of a training plan and advice on improving your performance...and making sense of crazy HR Training zone runs.

Well, now that's over - on to the future!

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