Week in Review (10.28 – 11.3)

It’s really hard to get back into running when you can’t get a solid couple of weeks strung together.  The longer I’m apart from running, the more I miss it but the more lazy I feel, even if I did get to the gym 6 days this week to teach.

  • Monday: MAF Run #1, 30 min body sculpt, 30 min spin
    • Running: 3.25 miles, MAF (<150bpm)
      • Since I didn’t (and don’t really) have time to spend 12-15 minutes of walking to warm up, I jumped right into the run knowing that my pace in the 2nd mile might increase.  I drank almost a full 32oz of Gatorade a couple hours before the run which I knew wasn’t smart (but it tasted so good – Cherry Glacier) and it definitely sucked during the run.
      • Splits:  Mile 1: 12:05 (144bpm), Mile 2: 11:55 (147bpm), Mile 3: 12:25 (147bpm), .28: 12:37 pace (145bpm)
      • Oh, and my ankle started bothering me about halfway down the block.  I kept running because I’m stubborn and figured with PT the next day, I’d at least make sure I could point out exactly what hurt!

    • Body Sculpt: 7lb free weights only
      • What a big class!  I even met my first blog friend, Ashley at Our PRs!  Thankfully she came up after the class because I would have been so nervous if I knew I was teaching in front of a blogger.  This class full out exhausted me.
      • We did a ton of side lunges and I saw some new faces that didn’t quite have the form down so I did my best with trying to correct form while still making it challenging for the regulars who are already a really strong group.  We did a lot of “Hold that squat/lunge and check your form!” which somewhat worked but as always when you’re tired, form suffers.
      • The ankle bothered me during anything that involved landing on my foot (jumping jacks, high knees, etc.)
    • Spinning: 11 miles
      • Playlist sucked, but that’s what I get for trying a bunch of Halloween music I wasn’t crazy about.
      • My ankle bothered me a little still.
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken!
    Cilantro Lime Chicken!

    Tuesday: PT and 60 min body sculpt

    • PT: Recovery and  “It probably isn’t a stress fracture”
      • Chris worked on my leg a bit said it could be tendonitis, then apologized because it probably hurt… but it didn’t.  The only thing painful was him touching my bone.  Not good!  He told me not to run and let him know how I felt on Thursday.
    • Body Sculpt: 7.5 lb and 5 lb free weights
      • The class keeps growing every week!  I’m so glad to see the numbers consistently above 20 considering I was lucky to get 5 when I took the class over.
      • Another tough weights workout (for me) because I was on the verge of a cold, upped weights, and already sore from Monday.
  • Wednesday: 30 min body sculpt, 30 min spin
    My shorts were too short during spin, apparently.
    My shorts were too short during spin, apparently.
    • Body Sculpt: 7lb free weights and step
      • Felt sick, but not much I could do about it but try to keep it together and pretend I felt great.
    • Spin: 10 miles
      • A better playlist, but a small class.  Hard to be motivating when you’re feeling unmotivated yourself.
  • Thursday: 45 min spin
    • Spin: 15 miles
      • The acoustics of this club I subbed at are terrible, which doesn’t leave me very confident but we made it through.  I was still feeling a little under the weather so I don’t think the class was that great, but it’s kind of a blessing in disguise that I can’t run (and got sick) the week I was scheduled to pick up 3 spin classes.
  • Friday: REST!!
    • I took a mental health day at work and did nothing but some food shopping later in the evening.  I did run from the door to the car and back as a mini 20-second sprint testing out the ankle.  It felt good… until Saturday.
    • Got my Oiselle striped scoop neck tee!  I’m disappointed I didn’t wait a little longer because this weekend they are on sale and I could have gotten two, plus the scarf for probably the same price as I got one plus the scarf… but I’ll keep my eyes peeled for another sale!
      Received my Oiselle striped scoop tee and I am in love.
      Received my Oiselle striped scoop tee and I am in love.
  • Saturday: 45 min spin
    • Spin: 17 miles
      • Ankle was sore from Friday, what the hell, I barely run yesterday.  Literally 10 steps.
      • Microphone wasn’t working so I panicked, but found a way around it and saved (my) day.  The class was a tough one, better off than Thursday’s!
  • Sunday: 60 min spin
    • Spin: about 20 miles
      • Same playlist as Saturday with a few extra songs.  Since I’m scheduling this post, I’m going to assume (fingers crossed) that class goes well and knowing how the playlist already ran, I know this will be another hard workout plus I tossed in a tabata in the finish.

So, I somewhat hit my goals.  I didn’t get that base MAF run in, damn ankle.  But I also didn’t give up on MAF training because I didn’t have a chance to (ha, see successful goal!) I did continue tracking with My Fitness Pal, even added some recipes of my own.  I’m getting nervous for next weekend’s race since I haven’t run at all this week and my ankle still hurts a little… I have to run this race and I won’t take a DNF or DNS again.

Goals for this week are simple: Finish the Dirt Cheap Stage Race without killing myself, breaking anything, or further injuring myself.

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Training Plan V.2 (MAF)

As I probably mentioned previously, I never stick with the same training plan.  I generally alter it as I’m running based on how I feel and if my goals change.  So naturally, two weeks in and I’m changing it again after reading all about heart rate training.

After a lot of research and reading, it makes sense to me to use this time of base building to train with my heart rate.  A return from injury, a need for a strong aerobic base, and no real racing in the near future… if not now, when?  Granted, I have 4 runs in my future that will not be based on heart rate which isn’t exactly what I’m supposed to do but whatever, I’m already signed up and it’s only 3 days of the next four months or so.

I read about Miss Zippy’s experience, among others and felt positive that now is the right time to do it.  I know for a fact if I stick to regular training now, right into marathon training, when next fall comes around and I have a few months to start HR training… it’s going to be a lot harder to convince myself to settle down, check that ego, and suck it up.

That said, this upcoming week starts week one with MAF.  I’ll be able to do 14 full weeks of MAF training (runs are only in the aerobic stage, which is also known as painfully slow) and then start up a 16 week marathon training program, which will introduce speedwork and runs beyond that aerobic stage.  For those unfamiliar, the goal of MAF training is to train at a specific lower heart rate and only under that heart rate in order to eventually be able to run at a faster pace with that slower heart rate, allowing your body to burn more fat as fuel.  In short, you train your body over time to do more work with the same amount of effort.  Eventually, you will plateau and then at that point you begin adding in speed work, etc.  For me, I’m not waiting on a plateau because of my May marathon goal… but 14 weeks of dedicated MAF training should build me a good base.

For this method (and there are many different methods of heart rate training) we use the 180 formula (created by Dr. Philip Maffetone) to determine maximum aerobic heart rate.

We start by subtracting age from 180: [180 – 25 = 155]
Then, factor in the below:

 a. If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.
b. If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.
c. If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180–age) the same.
d. If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

I chose “b”.  I’m coming back from injury, have asthma, and am just getting back into training.  I would have gone by choice “a” due to the inhaler I use daily, but it’s for asthma and since that’s listed in choice b, I’ll stick with that.  Plus that choice fits me to a T!  [155 –  5= 150]

According to the above and the recommendations, my aerobic training zone is 140-150bpm. 

My training (with exception to Friday’s run) the past week has been about 155bpm or less, so I can almost consider it to be a week of MAF training.  So, I already know how much it’s going to continue to suck but hopefully the payout in the end will be worth it.  And if it isn’t for me, well you live and learn.  This certainly won’t be my last training cycle!

Unfortunately in order to get my miles in, I’ll just have to dedicate a little more time to my running.  Fortunately, since I’ll be running strictly in my aerobic zone, I will not be as fatigued and I may be able to fit in short runs Monday after work occasionally.

Here goes the MAF training plan!

I’m going to try my MAF tests on the treadmill because the weather in Buffalo can be quite crazy and I need to have the same conditions every time.  It’ll change a bit due to physical therapy potentially in the morning, but the Tuesdays I chose were probably the best ones I could use.

Wish me luck, I might be a miserable S.O.B. for the next 3 and a half months!

Running Paces: Heart Rate Monitor

In the past, I’ve been guilty of all my runs being executed at the same pace or same effort, with exception to speed workouts.  I’d say every run was about 3.5-4 on a 5-point scale of effort.  I know this isn’t good and I think after 19 months of training this way, I’m ready to change.

Now seems like the perfect time to switch my focus from pace to heart rate and change my training style since I’m on the up from my recovery and I’m not training specifically right now.  Coincidentally, Runners World must have known that so they published a great article about it in their latest issue.  (But this isn’t the first article on it in recent months, either.  They also posted one which you can read online from February 9th, 2013.)

I bought a heart rate monitor about a year ago to incorporate it into training.  I used my Garmin with it for one workout and it nearly made me throw up striving to hit target heart rate during each set, even when I was exhausted.  I never used that feature on the Garmin again, even though it seems like it was really doing its job.

The only other time I paid close attention to it  (besides casually checking during races/runs) was the Spring Forward Distance Run.  I wanted to say in the lower end of zone 4, so I remember keeping myself in that zone, pushing it on the hill and then letting my heart rate lower on the downhill until I could push it again.  It ended up working really well in terms of a racing strategy so I’m not sure why I didn’t do it again.

photo 1 (28)So getting back to this article in Runners World, it talks about a polarized training plan.  Essentially for this plan, you should strive for a week like such: 75% easy, 10% threshold, and 15% hard each week.  We can learn what these paces are (because they will change as we get better) by using a heart rate monitor.

Easy days should reflect a heart rate under 80% of your max (aiming for 60-70%).  Hard days should reach above 90% of your max.  This leaves threshold to be between 80-90%.

The key on the easy days seems to be maintaining that high cadence within 5% of your threshold cadence.  It’s recommended to have a cadence of about 180 per minute (90/foot).  Every time I’ve previously checked out my cadence, I was about 178-184 and while I haven’t concentrated on it since I’ve switched my form, it doesn’t feel largely faster or slower than it was previously.  For me, 5% would be 170-176.

For hard workouts, they recommend cutting back volume and adding rest, which will boost intensity during the sets.  An example provided: Instead of running 6×1000 meters with 2:00 rest, try 4x1000m with 3:00 rest and do each rep at least :05 faster than usual.  Repeat every two weeks and either shorter the rest or add a repeat until you’re back to the original workout, but at a higher intensity.

The other thing I took away from this month’s Runners World (so far!) is some advice from Lopez Lomong (which I obviously have to listen to because he’s the only Olympian and verified account to follow me on Twitter!)

photo 2 (25)

Since I’m not working in true speed into my base building plan until December, I can definitely toss this in easily without requiring additional recovery time.

Now, it looks like I need to re-write a few speed workouts during the end of my base training.  I’m not going to follow the 75/10/15 rule just yet, because I’m only base building but I am going to make sure my heart rate stays in the easy zone.  I haven’t done a true heart rate test, but I’m fairly certain my max is about 200 (the highest I’ve ever recorded, which was during my PR 5k this past summer on a very, very hot day).

If I base my zones off this…
Easy: < 160bpm (aim for 120-140bpm)
Threshold: 160-180bpm
Hard: > 180bpm

I’m pretty excited to incorporate this into my training because my runs are going to be pretty boring right now. With no variety besides distance and location, it’ll be like playing a little game with myself.  Plus, I am going to love seeing how my pace changes and gets better as I keep the heart rate training up.  And while training with paces is fun in the long run, I’ve been really interested in a heart rate based training plan for a while now (hence the purchase of a heart rate monitor in the first place), so why not give it a go?  I have nothing to lose – it could really work (or really flop) for me.

Does anyone train with a heart rate monitor to make sure their runs are targeting the right zone and easy/hard enough?