Per my Google+ friend Otto’s suggestion, I decided to do my long run this weekend with a heart rate monitor. Another factor in my decision to do this was Brian from my VO2 test on Friday. He suggested I do my long runs at a pace where my heart rate was no more than 155 bpm. In the spirit of learning more about my body, I decided to go for it. Even if the pace seems too slow, it’s all to help me be a better runner. I’ll consider it a learning experience.
Friday I did a really bad job prepping for a Saturday 20 miler. I was uncertain if I would be running that far mainly because my leg was still a little sore. I slept in a little late and didn’t get out the door until 7:30 (and 78 degrees). My heart rate alert was set to 155 bpm and off I went. After only 3 minutes of running, my Garmin was beeping. That was quick. Throughout the entire run, my watch must have beeped no less than 100 times. I really have been overdoing it on my long runs.
My goal was not to look at the pace but only my heart rate. Once I let go of my obsession with the miles per minute, my run became sooo easy. I didn’t care how fast (or slow) I was going, which made the run much more enjoyable. Every time I started up a hill, beep. I had a reason to slow down and my body couldn’t have been more thankful. Everything about the run was less stressful. I didn’t hate the hills because I got to slow down. I wasn’t cursing the 90 degree weather, only thankful that I was getting a tan. My concern was the 155 bpm.
My pace per mile ended up being about a 1 1/2 minutes slower than normal, which according to many running sources, is about right. And thanks to my slower running, I was able to run without any pain in my leg. I only made it 17 miles and that was fine with me. Considering my improper nutrition and the heat, I still considered it a successful run. This morning I got in another 3.5 miles and felt great the entire time.
These past few days have proven to be a very valuable learning experience. First, my VO2 test showed me that I am pretty fit and if I train smarter, I can race better. Second, I came to understand the importance of slower running yesterday. It also helped me to appreciate running without the stress of feeling like I had something to prove.
Thanks Otto and Brian! I think I’ll be using my HR monitor a little more to keep me in check on the easy days.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,