Thursday, March 15, 2012

Slowing Down to Go Faster

As mentioned in an earlier post, a friend of mine and I are competing in the Timberman Half-Ironman.  We're getting our training schedule from Mark Allen Online and Mark is a big proponent of training with your heart rate no higher than your maximum aerobic heart rate, which for me is 149 beats per minute (if you want to calculate your maximum aerobic heart rate, go the bottom of this post).  Allen still says to do 15-20 minutes per week of speed and interval work in each activity, but that we really need to build a good base to carry us the 70.3 miles.  He also claims I will experience an increase in my pace and after just a few weeks should see a dramatic improvement in the speed I can go at a lower heart rate.

I strongly believe in the benefits and effects interval training can have on a person, but I also buy into this low HR approach.  In 2009 when I started back running, I took my time.  I just cared about getting out and going for long easy runs.  After about 5 weeks of this, I tested out my speed and found that I had improved my mile time by 2 minutes!  For some reason I didn't keep doing what I was doing and decided to train at a faster pace.  You might be able to figure out what happened, but the long and short of it is that I didn't get any faster and started experiencing a lot more aches and pains. This has occurred in another area of my life too.  I once followed a workout routine for 3 months where I went for high reps with low weights.  In that time, my bench max went from 195 to 285.   I was so psyched about how much I could lift that I switched to heavier workouts and guess what...the gains stopped.  

It seems to me, the only thing standing in my way is me and my ability to set my ego aside and take things slow for a little while.  Mark Allen talks about how hard this is on our egos and that's why many will never train this way.  To keep our heart rate low usually means we have to slow way down.  For me it means I have to keep my pace at 9:30 - 9:40 per mile for now.  That's dreadfully slow, but I think I'll be okay with it just as long as it's still not that slow a month from now.  

Training slower also means that I have to either slow down my running partners or trail behind.  Last night in our family run, Becca ended up having to leave me in the dust a couple of times because I had to keep my pace down while pushing the boys...thanks for your patience, honey :-)  

I'm excited though at the prospects here.  Along with the Vegan Challenge, I have high hopes for where I'll be a month from now in my abilities.  

Does anyone have some success to report with this training style?  Anyone think it's bunk and can back up their claim?

~The Mr.

So if you want to calculate your maximum aerobic heart rate, there are several methods out there, but here's how Mark Allen's does it: 
1. Take 180 
2. Subtract your age
3. Take this number and correct it by the following: 
    -If you do not workout, subtract another 5 beats. 
    -If you workout only 1-2 days a week, only subtract 2 or 3 beats. 
    -If you workout 3-4 times a week keep the number where it is. 
   -If you workout 5-6 times a week keep the number where it is.
    -If you workout 7 or more times a week and have done so for over a year, add 5 beats to the number. 
   -If you are over about 55 years old or younger than about 25 years old, add another 5 beats to  whatever 
      number you now have.
    -If you are about 20 years old or younger, add an additional 5 beats to the corrected number you now have. 

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