Thursday, December 15, 2011

So How’s That Heart-Rate Training Working Out for Ya?

Two month’s ago I had this post about my start of heart-rate based training. With the exception of a few weeks when I ramped things up to prepare for the Rock Canyon Half Marathon that’s how I’ve been training. Specifically, I’ve been focused on base or endurance training in Zone 1.

Heart rate zones don’t have a standard definition, so just to level-set, I’m using the standards established in the book, “Heart Rate Training” by Roy Benson and Declan Connolly. I know there are some 5 or even 6 zone systems out there but this has just four.

Here’s a summary as explained in the book

HR Zone Effort Index Fuel Source
60% - 75%
Primarily fats
75% - 85%
Mix carbs & fats
85% - 95%
Primarily carbs
95% - 100%
All carbs

The percentages refer to percent of max heart rate. When I measured mine, it came out to 171 (for running) so for a Zone 1 workout, I’d be looking at about 103 – 128 beats per minute. The numbers change for biking and swimming, but the percentages are constant.

Furthermore, the book defines “Endurance” as how long you can keep running at any pace. That’s different than “Stamina” which is how long you can last at a specific pace. Since I’m still pretty early in the off-season (my first tri is still over five months away), I’m working the endurance phase.

It’s been harder than I thought it would be to slow myself down enough to stay within Zone 1 (or Z1)—especially when running. The bike is easier and in swimming, I’m doing my best estimate because I don’t/can’t where a heart rate monitor in the pool.

So is it having an effect? It’s kind of hard to tell. I do think it’s wise to be taking it easier this time of year. With nothing major on the horizon for a few months, I’m staying in shape but not punishing myself. The lead-up to my 70.3 race in July will be grueling, but there’s no sense in operating at that level of intensity so soon. In fact, I’d more than likely injure myself before I got into regular season training.

Tangibly, there’s not been any result to which I can point. My weight has stayed fairly constant and I have not perceived any change in my energy levels. However, I’m only on week 9 of a 21 week offseason program (it began in October right after that max heart rate test). It’s also the middle of December which means cold and dark and I think I tend to eat more than I do in warmer, brighter months.

The first week in March has me in Hawaii and I’ll be interested to see where I stand at that point. My 70.3 training begins in earnest the first week I’m back in Colorado.

Between now and then, I’ll post more about my interim progress and share anything I’ve learned.

Thanks for reading!

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