As we get started on our training journey, some of us are new to the concept of heart rate training. Heart rate training requires that you keep your heart rate in a certain range, depending on if you are wanting to work your aerobic or anaerobic energy systems. For our purposes, we are trying to build our aerobic system.
That being said, most of our training is going to be done is Zone 2, which for our program is defined as 75-85% of max heart rate. Now….when you are not in your best shape, that zone is reached rather quickly. Or at least in my experience….right now my out of shape butt gets to 75% of max heart rate getting up off the couch!
So I decided to ask the RYPE resident Ironman, who completed her first Ironman last year with a time of 13:35:21…officially qualifying her as #BADASS, what her advice to athletes would be when trying to keep your heart rate down to Zone 2 becomes a challenge.
Here is what she said:
Check your ego at the door… One of the hardest concepts for me to understand during Ironman training was heart rate training, running slower to somehow make me faster, I didn’t get it but it was what my plan called for so that’s what I was committed to doing.
My first Zone 2 run I walked, a lot, even though I felt fine when I went into Zone 3 I didn’t understand why I couldn’t keep going, why I needed to walk until I got back down to Zone 2 but I did, every time, and at the end of the run I added about 2 min on to my usual mile time and was devastated, how can I get through an Ironman with that time? How is this making me better?
For 3 weeks I was so focused on my time and how it was barely improving that I failed to notice how good I was feeling after each run, how my muscles/joints and lungs didn’t hurt when I was done and how I felt like I still had fuel left in the tank when I was done running because I wasn’t burning myself out during the run. I still wasn’t happy with my time but I did realize this was progress and as my miles got longer, my time got shorter (was back to my usual mile time in Zone 2 by Aug) and I still felt good after the runs like I could keep going if I had to, now don’t get me wrong when you hit double digits those runs are gonna suck but my body didn’t hate me for it and I felt fully recovered by the next workout.
Think of heart rate training like a furnace, you start out the day (race) with a specific about of wood (fuel) in your system, Zone 2 is the low flame that will keep the wood slowly burning all day, the higher the zone the higher the flame that is added to the wood, once the wood is burned the fire is gone and you are left trying to work off of fumes.
Top 5 Tips:
1. Heart rate training is a very humbling experience, check your ego at the door before you start.
2. Take the thinking out of it, program your watch to beep as soon as you go past Zone 2 and walk when you hear the beep, wait til you get back down to at least a 2.7 to start running again or you will be walking sooner than you think.
3. If you think you are walking a lot now wait until the summer, heat plays a big role in heart rate training be mentally prepared to accept this, it will pay off in the fall.
4. In the beginning you will walk on the hills don’t let it discourage you, pay attention to where you first started walking and watch how over the weeks you are able to go farther before that dreaded beep.
5. Pay attention to your body and how you feel when you are in high Zone 2, you will learn your body’s ques and know when to slow down before you hit Zone 3.
I know it sounds cliche but remember its not a sprint its a marathon (literally), you will get back what you put in, trust the training.
LaDawn McClamb….YOU ROCK!!