Monthly Archives: November 2017

The Pros and Cons of Heart Rate Training

Any runner who has looked to improve their speed or fitness has at least thought about using heart rate training to get better.  Heart rate training means using a heart rate monitor either on your wrist or around your chest to constantly measure your heart beat during exercise.  This training method bases workouts on target ranges.

Some people have great success with heart rate training while others prefer to run by feel.  Here are a few of the pros and cons to training based on heart rate to help you decide if it’s right for you.heart rate training

PROS
Slow down.  Many runners get stuck working medium hard too often.  That can lead to over training or, even worse, a serious injury.  It’s difficult to separate levels of intensity using the talk test unless you’re very experienced.  Heart rate training can help give guidance on just how easy the easy runs need to be.

Know your numbers.  Knowing what your resting and max heart rates are can be a great gauge of fitness.  If one goes down and other goes up you know you’re improving.

Stay in the zone.  Just like knowing your numbers can let you know if you’re improving, they can let you know how to work out.  You’ll want each workout to be a specific heart rate zone to create the desired adaptation.

CONS
Too many variables.  There are a wide variety of things that can change your heart rate that have nothing to do with your workout.  You naturally have a higher heart rate in the afternoon than in the morning.  Hydration, weather, sleep, stress and diet can all also play a major role in how hard your heart works while you’re exercising.  This many opportunities for variance make it difficult to compare apples to apples.

Inaccurate.  Especially when working at a very high intensity level, most heart rate monitors don’t respond fast enough to really let you know what’s going on.  Breezing through a few 100M repeats?  No way you’re going to get accurate data off a wrist watch.  Receivers can get sweaty and malfunction.  They can sense things that aren’t really going on.  It might pick up a close by heart rate monitor even if it’s on someone else.

Get stuck.  It’s easy to become a slave to data.  Paying constant attention to your heart rate can end up stopping you from pushing yourself hard when you need to and that won’t lead to improved performance.

Coach Meredith

Jared Ward’s Olympic Advice

Winter is coming around and is often a time when people set their spring goals.  Thinking about that, I recalled a great learning moment i had in November 2016.  It was the opportunity to meet and listen to Jared Ward.  Not only is he an incredibly kind and intelligent person, he finished sixth in the marathon at Rio 2016.  Known as the fastest mustache in the marathon Ward won the 2015 US Marathon Championships in 2:12.56.

Always eager to learn everything I can that will make me a better coach, I was excited to attend his meet and greet at a race expo.  These are some of the highlights from the 90 minutes he spoke to us and Jared Ward’s paraphrased thoughts on:jared ward

Your first marathon:  Spend time on your feet.  Ward suggests cross training on a elliptical or bike “if additional running is pounding your legs.”  He emphasized building up your mileage and developing aerobic fitness as marathon readiness tool number one.

Handling Heat and Humidity:
Train your stomach.  “It’s a muscle, too,” he says, and can be taught to handle the additional fluid you’ll need.  Practice during training runs by downing 3-4 ounces of fluid instead of the usual two.

Fueling a long run, marathon, ultra or anything really:
Find what works and stick with it.  Try different varieties of gels, blocks and fluids until you figure out what sits well in your stomach and isn’t a distraction.

Cross training:
When he was looking for something to do, a friend suggested Jared Ward join him in the mountains of Utah, where he lives and trains, for a mountain bike ride.  Just as they were about to take off, Ward was told that after the ride he wouldn’t want to run anymore.  He “still loves running” but has found mountain biking to be his favorite alternative.  He “hate[s] swimming” and believes everyone should find what works best for them.

Easy Runs:
Ward emphasized the importance of making easy runs just that, easy.  Keep the pace casual and focus on making sure the time on your feet runs “don’t interfere with your next workout.”

If you ever have the chance to meet the muschtached mathematician marathoner, grab it.

Coach Meredith

4 Ways to Embrace Cold Weather Running

Winter has arrived in some parts of the world and is creeping up in others.  No matter if you’re already fighting cold temperatures and winter precipitation or prepping for it, cold weather running is an unavoidable part of training for a spring race.  Here are four of Team ECRP‘s tried cold weather runningand true methods for powering through those cold, dark winter training runs.

Dress up.  Cold weather running means layers.  It also means less daylight and more of a need to be seen.  Headlamps, reflective vests and brightly colored clothing are all encouraged in the dark, cold months.  Just think of all the fancy gear you can add to your collection so you’re prepared for anything nature throws at you.  Neon windbreakers, reflective striped tights and lights on your shoes make cold weather running more fun than those hot days with little to wear.

Take a friend.  Since there’s less daylight, it’s more important that you have a run buddy during winter than summer.  There’s power in numbers for lots of reasons.  Increased awareness of your surroundings, the ability to draft in the wind and body heat.  Other advantages of a running buddy or group during cold weather running include laughter, camaraderie and someone to trade fashionable reflective gear with.

Warm Up.  Get moving before you head outside.  The warmer you are before walking through the door the less you’ll notice how cold it really is.  Try jumping jacks, single leg bridges or squats.  Anything that gets your heart rate up is fair game.  It’s also nice if it your chosen exercise hits muscles that are about to work.  Think hamstrings, glutes and shoulders.  Be careful not to break a sweat, however, that will make the outdoors worse.

Ready to Finish.  Just like you warmed up before you went out, get ready to come back.  Having dry clothes to get into quickly is incredibly important.  They’ll warm you up and increase your comfort level.  Hydration is important in winter too, so having a nice warm drink at the end can be a real treat.  A tasty snack can help keep you motivated to finish a run.  Who doesn’t love a big post run slice of cake?  Make sure it contains both carbs and protein and you down it within 30 minutes.

Keep these four things in mind when the winter rolls in and your cold weather running season will fly right by.

Coach Meredith