The running has been a bit 'on and off' for me recently , owing to illness in the main. i had the mother of all head colds before christmas and well into the new year and so January has got off to a slow start. In the last two weeks i have been able to get outside and practice my new traing approach . 'And what would that be ?' I hear you cry - well I have been looking back over my training and performaces in the last 3 years and while I think I have made some good progress , I have brought my half marathon time down from over 2 hours to 1 hour 45 minutes and my 10k is at 48 minutes but i always had this nagging doubt about my training and that I was pushing too hard . I would often go for 10 - 16 mile runs at 9 to 9:30 mile pace when race pace target would be 8 minute miles . In races I would often have nothing in the tank in the last few miles and would run on will power , and on a couple of occasions i have crossed the finish line and almost stuggled for breath. In the marathon I am good for 18 miles and then the wheels come off and although i got a PB last year (while running with an achilles injury) I felt I was always running at maximum effort. So this brings us to my point , I feel I need to reasses my base fitness and if there is something i can improve on . I acquired a new running watch and HR belt in December and after testing this I found on long slow runs I would often be running at maximum effort and my heart rate average would be between 164-168 bpm. To me this didn't look right and i was obviously working too hard. In the meantime I have also started following the advice of Dr Phillip Maffetone and adice form the book 'Lore of Running'. This approach is nothing knew as training by heart rate has been practised for years but it is a discipline that is tough to follow in the first few weeks. I made an attempt at this a long time ago and couldn't get used to the slow running , but i have been following this approach for about 4 weeks and I am really getting into it. I am certain that one area I need to work on is my leg strength and these long slow runs working the slow twitch fibres are just what I need. I can already see my heart rate has lowered and I am able to run much further before my average HR rises significantly. It is obvious to me that my aerobic fitness wasn't good enough and hopefully this approach will make me a much stronger runner in the future. Furthermore using the HR belt gives me an indication of when things are not right , for example I was running just before christmas and I completed what I thought was 4 easy miles but my heart rate climbed steadily and peaked at 168 bpm. The next day I was feeling ill with cold symptoms. The only downside to running slower than you usually would is seeing everyone else passing you ! I had to swallow my pride at first but to be honest I am not bothered about it at all now because I am enjoying this , I feel really comfortable on the long runs and it has given me a fresh perspective on my running . I have a half marathon lined up for the end of March but i do not expect too much from this as it is probably too soon to see much improvement after training this way. We will see.
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