Lani Muelrath wrote:
Though I am familiar with utilizing heart rate as part of an aerobic fitness training program, I haven't heard of a distance program quite like this. The question that comes immediately to mind for me is what else does your coach know about your health, fitness, any contraindications, or other needs?
The way to increase your aerobic capacity, that is your ability to work at higher intensities while still exercising aerobically, is to push the heart rate training zones. Yet without knowing more about the training program you are referring to per se, I'm not sure what the bigger picture is.
You know what? There really isn't much more to know about the training program.
Well, okay. I'll describe it some more. This virtual coach has never met me in person. But I did have to fill out a questionaire regarding my health and my running history. I provided this coach a description of each of the 12 or so races I have run in since I started running about one year ago, including how fast I ran in those races and my average heart rate in those races.
From this information, they estimate my "lactic threshold" and from there determine the heart rate zones I should run in.
I have noticed, by visiting the coach's forum, that other runners who have signed up with this coaching group are also a little confused about why they are being asked to run slower than they have in years in order to keep their heart rates in these "zones" based on this formula that the coaches use.
Most days of the week there is a type of run assigned to me.
About 2 or 3 times per week I am assigned a recovery run
in which the target heart rates are very low (from my perspective), in the 108-126 beats per minute range. I decided to find out how slow I would have to run in order to stay in this heart rate zone a few days ago.
I found out that I had to take awkward tiny steps in order to keep my heart rate from going past the upper limit (126 beats per minute) of the recovery zone.
Also, a about 2 or 3 times per week I am assigned a Zone 1 run
. This means I am an to run so that my heart rate falls in the 131-141 beats per minute range.
This zone is a bit more comfortable for me. I can actually "run" in this zone. But slower than I would run if I were just to do a "take it easy run" and not focus on my heart rate at all.
I believe that the "selling point" behind this sort of training is that by doing lots of running at these low heart rates, I will eventually be able to run significantly faster at these low heart rates. Then, when I want to run even faster than that, I can run faster at an even faster heart rate, in zone 2
perhaps (141-151 beats per minute) or in an actual race, an even higher heart rate.
In theory, I think this idea makes sense. Back when I started running I made the mistake of trying to set a personal record every time I went out to run. Every day was race day.
The theory is that a runner gets faster, not by running as fast as one can everytime one puts running shoes on, but by running for longer periods of time. Long, slow, relaxed runs are the way to go. I agree.
But these heart rate zones are uncomfortablely low and I am skeptical as to whether someone in another part of the country who has never seen me at all can punch a few numbers into a software program and determine the heart rate ranges in which I should run. In other words, am I just being a stubborn running student? Or are these coaches using a program that can't possibly provide a good fit to all runners under all circumstances?
I have read that relying on a runner's perception of exertion is unreliable too. Maybe so.
To be honest, my mind is made up. I am not going to be constrained by these heart rates zones, though I am not going to be sprinting every time I run either.
But I wondered what you think of this sort of program. Does it seem like pseudo-science to you? Maybe it's an unfair question because, as you mentioned, you haven't been personally acquainted with it and are only hearing about it from my description of it.