Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wife Therapy & Heart Rate

Just had a little spat with the little lady.  It wasn't a huge blowout. I most likely wouldn't blog about that.  But I think I'm gonna make a new rule ... every time I argue with Michael, I will write something nice about Michael!   Ummmm ... she has good penmanship.

Me & my beautiful, sexy, smarter than me, cleans more of the house than me, nicer than me, athletic, triathlete, never leaves the garage door open all night, better looking than me, great singer, good time havin' love of my life ... that should cover it for a while.  (This would have been a good picture, but I was eating a kitkat)
Okay, to the run run. I've been focusing a lot on my heart rate lately.  I'm still a relative newbie at the whole science of running.  I mean, I can probably offer sound advice to someone who is just starting out.  I've read all of the basic building block books on what runners should and shouldn't do.  But I'm trying to focus more on little specifics that will help me stay healthy and get to my goal of 9 marathons this year.

I've learned a lot about heart rate in the 8 marathons I've completed.  Start out nice and slow, easing your heart rate into the race, and you have a nice smooth enjoyable run.  But, temporarily lose your mind at the start and begin to think you're a Kenyan, and your heart rate jumps and does some pretty unnatural things to your body.

Based on the research I've done, I think my MAX HR should be about 176 bpm.  [Using the 220 minus age, or 206.3 - (.711 x age) formulas]  But that seems a little low.  I've been using 185 bpm to calculate my % of max during a workout, because when I REALLY push it for a 400M sprint or so, I can keep it elevated there for a while. But I freely admit, that might not be a good indicator of MAX HR.

Most of my longer runs seem to end up with an average of 153 bpm or so, which would be about 83% of my max.  Tougher runs, like yesterday's tempo run end up around 160 bpm, which comes out to about 86% of my max.  Those percentages seem high - shouldn't they down around 70-80%.

When I'm at 153 bpm or so for an extended period of time, I don't really feel like I'm pushing it.  It feels smooth and easy.  I look at other runner HR's and they are up around 200 bpm, though they are probably much younger.  For example, Madison's was around 190 for her 10K on Saturday, getting up to about 199 during her kick to the finish.  She is 20 years old though. Should mine be higher?  Or is it good that it's lower? 

So, I'm a little foggy on this whole HR notion.  I track it everyday, but I'm a little unsure of what I'm really tracking.  I just know run faster = higher heart rate, and that's about where it ends.  But I would love to get more specific.

Should I be closer to 200bpm?
Is lower better?
What is your target HR% for a marathon?
Any advice would be awesome!
Mean while back at the ranch ... Michael just walked through the living room and I oozed smoothness, "Man babe, have you been losing weight - you're looking really good!"  Guess we're not arguing anymore!  True playa since day one ...
...be great today!


  1. Wow you're a talented schmoozer...you'll probably live a long, fulfilling life.

    As for HR, I have a rough understanding of it so the experts will give you a better answer than I.
    Your target zones seem about right to me, although I'll bet you could go a smidge higher when you're doing speedwork.

    I have a Polar watch that does a "Fitness test" for me then calibrates my training zones.
    ...and yes a 20 yo should def. be working at a higher HR than those of us (fabulous peeps) who are, shall we say, on in years.

    I've never tracked HR during a race.

  2. My coach has me do a field test every 6 months so we can find my max heart rate. I run as fast as I can for 8 mins with my Garmin on. From there she takes the max heart rate and the distance ran and runs it through a formula to come up with my heart rate zones. My heart rate always comes in real low and we still have figured that one out.

    "Man babe, have you been losing weight - you're looking really good!" Great play!

  3. You are working it beautifully there...hope it goes a long way for you!

    I think the best way is to test it out w/ a time trial. The old formulas really aren't very accurate. I'm betting yours is quite a bit higher than what the formulas give you. You can email me misszippy1@gmail.com if you'd like details on how to go about it.

  4. Look at you Mr. Smooth operator!

    Unfortunately I can't help on the heart rate stuff. I'm in the dark. I look forward to reading other people's comments though :)

  5. I'm excited to hear more about your research about heart rate. I have the monitor but don't use it because I don't know really how I will use it in my training!

  6. LOL! try checking your heart rate when arguing with the wifey. :p

    Clearly, you scored handsome points with that compliment. Good job! =)

  7. I'm 99% sure that 153 bpm for you is Zone 1, so that is def not pushing it. My Max HR is 191, but I new awhile ago that your HR zones are lower than mine. That being said, 176 seems low for your max HR.

    My target HR for a marathon is 160 bpm which is a nice zone 2 for me. In reality, I don't think I'll be able to keep it there.

    Nice comments about your wife, I love a woman with good penmanship.

    BTW, you DO know I was kidding about stressing on what to wear, right?

  8. Chris ... of course! I was just screwin' with you about what to wear. Like you, most of my stuff is tongue-n-cheek. I was actually gonna email you next week about HR. But I didn't want to bother you this week before your race. I'll wish you good luch later - but I know you'll kill it!

  9. I'm working hard on getting my heart rate down. My max is around 207. (I hit that on the track for 800 repeats...so maybe it is higher than that, by a little?) In my last marathon, my average HR was 190. I also proceeded to throw up and feel like death for 2 days after.

    I am especially working on getting it down before my ultras this year. Obviously I can't go 100 miles with my average that high. It won't work. Either my body and heart cooperate, or I slow down. (Which is totally fine.)

    Good luck getting it all figured out!

  10. Oops, I mean I'm trying to get my HR down in general, not my max. And I should have added, too, that my resting HR is around 44.

  11. Good topic - I think heart rate is the best indicator of fitness, and I try to run all my races based on heart rate as opposed to actual pace.

    I just finished the Advanced Marathoning book, this was one of the best passages in the book:

    I've found that I can handle running races that are approximately half marathon and below at 180 bpm. Anything more than that and my body dies very fast. For my marathon I was at 167. I think my max is about 200 or so. I try to keep my heart rate below 165-170 on all runs, or else I might be training at too high a heartrate.

    A good way to possibly find out your max heart rate might be to race a mile literally all out, and see what the heart rate reading is at the end of the race.

    Sounds like you are training in the right heart rate zones, I know that as you get into better and better shape your max heart rate tends to fall too, because your resting heart rate drops too. So 185 might be your max heart rate. I think you are right on with your training.


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