Do Long Miles at Low Heart Rate Build a “Better Engine”?

Here’s a summary of a question from Chris D.: I overhear an accomplished triathlete (HI Ironman) giving advice to people who want to run a marathon to spend months running below a certain heart rate to “build a big engine”. “It’s all about aerobic capacity.” He states you will get faster and faster at that heart rate. Even if you are out in the heat (which as you know will elevate the heart rate), keep your heart rate low by walking if you have to. But keep it below the magical number. You can do speed work but only in the last 2-3 months before the marathon. He advocates no more than 40 miles per week but this is all directed at decently accomplished half-marathoners (sub-2:00). What exactly is the training effect of running at a low heart rate for several months doing say 30-40miles/week? Does it indeed build a better engine? I know it won’t help you run fast, but will it help you run a marathon or Ironman or similarly long distance event where you need to remain relatively deep in the comfort zone?

If I were to take the analogy of a big engine as posed – then 16-wheelers would be the fastest vehicles on the road. To take another angle, let’s say he is building a bigger “gas tank” with his advice. Again it fails because he may have a 15 gallon tank and I may have a 12 gallon tank but if he only gets 10 miles per gallon and I get 20 then he will get 150 miles on his tank and I will go 240. So, let’s ditch the faulty analogy.

Let’s start with some related research data on world-class marathoners:

The best correlation between finishing times and training was – average training workout pace.
That means that the runners with the fastest average overall workout paces ran the fastest marathons.
The fastest marathoners run up to 30% of their miles at about 10k pace or faster each week.
And for everyone who is not elite here is one tidbit: VO2max is a poorer predictor of actual performance (race times) than lactate threshold, vVO2max and even sprint times (50-300 meters depending on the research study) for distance runners!

Slow training at distances shorter than the marathon teach you to run slow for less than the marathon. Miles of training improve your ability to process oxygen (VO2max). However, VO2max is a poor predictor of performance. Heart rate is a worse predictor of performance – almost no correlation to running times. The critical training ingredients need to train you neuromuscularly (specific to distance and pace), improve lactate threshold and improve efficiency.

So, here is what needs to happen in your training. Teach your muscles to fire powerfully and economically (use less energy/oxygen); and improve your lactate threshold (LT) and vVO2max (good predictors of performance at most distances 800 meters and longer). The research is pretty good on the LT topic. You have to run faster than your LT to improve your LT, not at that pace or slower. vVO2max is a better predictive measure than VO2max (it includes efficiency elements). Improvement in power and race pace economy are attained through goal paced running (not slow jogging) and high powered paces (just a bit slower than 10k pace up through sprinting). Powerful muscles developed through high quality running and running specific plyometric type training which yields more muscle cells (not bulk). This means less cells are needed to maintain given paces. Strength gained at specific speeds is generally transferable to slower speeds but not vice versa.

To answer your specific questions: Running as an exercise (like cycling and swimming and aerobics) generally reduces resting heart rate and as you get in better condition your heart rate may end up lower for a given effort. There is no such thing as a magic heart rate number. Your marathon “comfort zone” will be improved through the process of conditioning. Yes, if you go from sedentary to moving, you will improve greatly at first just from running – easy OR fast. However, the more seasoned you become the less this is true and the key to improvement is in WHAT you do with the miles (increased percentage of quality miles) more than how many miles you run. Therefore, his advice is way off base for these sub-2:00 HM runners.

So let’s sum up how you get faster at the marathon (or half marathon):

1. Lactate threshold – a good predictor of performance – is improved through faster than LT pace.
2. vVO2max – a good predictor of performance – is improved through high quality training.
3. Efficiency is gained through progressively higher percentage of goal paced running (your actual target marathon pace).
4. Efficiency is gained through high quality running which flows down to all slower speeds.
5. Efficiency is gained through powerful muscles which is gained through fast running and plyometric type training.
6. Long runs improve your ability to run the distance.
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 = overall high quality training yields faster marathon times.

PS
Those long runs only have to be done every 2-3 weeks NOT every week!

About these ads

About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - trailrunningclub.com. I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for Running-Advice.com. I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
This entry was posted in Running, Training Effectiveness and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Do Long Miles at Low Heart Rate Build a “Better Engine”?

  1. George Z says:

    The folks I typically propose this approach (low HR training – see – http://formationflier.spaces.live.com/default.aspx?wa=wsignin1.0) often do not suggest low mileage but HIGHER mileage.

    Additionally (and let me disclose, I am not fully sold on this low HR, aka MAF approach), the thought is that you are building your aerobic system (which is 99 percent utilized in a marathon) with these low HR runs – instead of the anaerobic system.

    The biggest proponent of this approach was Ironman legend, Mark Allen. Supposedly at the start of his base (or what he called his patience) phase he’d hold an aerobic run (sub 150 HR) at slow paces, but towards the end of this phase he’d get it to 5:20 mile pace. The thought is if you can build that base aerobically, then you will have a large foundation to build upon anaerobically.

    Comment please!

    GZ

  2. George,
    The higher mileage thing does not compensate for quality running and never will. I addressed the issue of aerobic (VO2max) in the original post. Line up runners in order of VO2max; run a marathon; your finish results will not be reflrected in that measure. On the other hand, line ups of LT, vVO2max and sprint times will be more representative of the finishing order. That just happens to be what the research says – many times over. Therefore, bottomline is building this VO2max engine is simply less effective (not totally useless mind you) way to train.

    Of course no single run exists in a vacuum – i.e. ONLY improves VO2max, ONLY improves LT. Any running improves all systems but in vastly varying degrees depending on the pace. To optimize training, quality is the hands down scientifically supported way to train. Of course you need your long run for marathon training – it’s race specfic.

    Your linked article is interesting. The science doesn’t fully support what is posed. Something to make the issue perhaps conceptually clearer is something like this: If you can run a specific distance (5k, 10k HM or marathon) then the issue isn’t endurance. You can indeed “endure” your race distance. If you want to go faster the issue is stamina – pace over distance. The most efficient way to improve times is quality training. Even beginner runners will progress faster with doses of quality instead of the old fashion “build a base lots of miles” approach.

    The heart rate thing is nice for very beginners to use as a biofeedback tool to learn about efforts and their bodies (I even have one and use it occasionally). But it is absolutely a fact that there is no heart rate that corresponds to a marathon pace or time. Cardiac drift confounds this further. So, by strictly following a HR approach you automatically advise your runners to slow down as the race progresses. How can this make sense?

    I like the way you worded your comment saying “the thought is…” The problem with some training programs is that they have developed anecdotally – “if it made Mark Allen that fast it must be the right way…” or “if an Olympian like Jeff Galloway says so it must be true.” I have nothing against sharing training approaches. There are as many out there are there are people. My stance when I hear these things from “elite athletes” is – yes, but I wonder how good you could have been had you trained on a scientfic approach? We’ll of course never know.

    For my money I’ll put it on scientifically based approaches. As research discovers more… I’ll change with it. It is futile to argue a “belief”. On the other hand, scientific facts are fun to debate – not everything is black and white even in science.

  3. I found another fine tidbit to consider in this debate. A study of adolescent Kenyan runners were compared with same aged Caucasian counterparts they ran at similar percentages of their VO2max. However, adult Kenyans ran marathons at a higher percentage of their VO2max than the Caucasions. “…close studies of Kenyan runners reveal that a key difference in their training… is the higher average intensity of each workout rather than the daily or weekly volume of training. Higher Average intensity builds stamina at higher intensities producing the situation in which Kenyans can cruise all their miles at a higher fraction of max (VO2).” Owen Anderson PhD.

  4. Kevin says:

    Thanks Dean, this is uber helpful for me being someone who is looking to improve his marathon time.

  5. Diana H says:

    Hi Dean,
    As a newbie into the Mark Allen training scheme, I would like to add my two cents. For background, I’m a 11 time Ironman veteran and former age group world champ in Hawaii. I wanted to add to your commentary by stating that Mark Allen is training long distance TRIathletes…i.e. he’s training people for success over a 10-hr duration, not just a 3hr marathon. So, with his approach of building the aerobic engine, his athletes are dialed in to preserve glycogen and burn fat for fuel, thus helping them survive to the end of a 10+hr event. Plus, as soon as that aerobic engine has been properly developed, he loads you up 3 times a week (1 in each discipline) with supra-threshold high intensity work, and encourages all-out running races as a component of the build for an Ironman. I just don’t want your readers to think his methods are faulty, because from what I can tell, they are pretty darn good! My next race will tell the truth…I can’t wait to see what happens : ).

  6. Great to hear from you Diana. I understand the premise of his training. It’s the same basis as was in the 1960s of developing long slow distance (LSD) base then adding quality work later on. I never called his methods “faulty”. They do get results. My emphasis however is on cutting edge research based training. His does not fall within what is currently found within research.

    Of course, you need a high level of endurance to “endure” 10 or 12 or more hours of competing. The research overwhelimingly shows that you’ll get there faster, and with fewer miles/hours with quality running infused fromt he start. The research is also showing similar results for cycling and swimming! So as for being a TRIathlete, it doesn’t hold water with the research.

    My best example is of a friend and colleague who followed the traditional triathlete approach. At the end of his 11 hour Ironman, he told me very simply – “I wish I had listened to you, I could have run the marathon at least 30 minutes faster … but I listened to the heart rate like I was warned so many times and as I had trained… I ended up slower than what I was c apable of.”

    I know this is only one, anecdotal example, but it is exactly what the research has told us. No more, no less. Again, it doesn’t mean you won’t get results with that appraoch. The point is and my emphasis is to be efficient with your training so that you can reduce the volume AND maintain the same OR BETTER results since VOLUME of training – NOT intensity is the number one predictor of injury.

    My hat is off to you endeavoring to conquer the Ironman! I love it!

  7. Adam says:

    Hi Dean,

    This is the second post that has been linked by Runner’s World online editors (ironic given the name-change experience you mention elsewhere). Many, many posters on the discussion board there scoff at your assertions (I think without reading your complete post) regarding LSD. The situation becomes like arguing religion, where people are so devoted to their point of view they become blinded to a contrary finding, evidence notwithstanding. I would assume that you do not advocate eliminating LSD from training cycles, rather the studies you have read suggest that it should not be the central component. What does LSD accomplish, then, in your opinion–particularly for experienced runners?

  8. Adam,
    You hit it on the head it’s like arguing religion. I will never convince LSD advocates… and that is ok. (I read some responses – they bore me. I heard every argument back int he 70s and early 80s when I actually believed it too. You see, I’ve been there and done that… 100+ mile weeks… Lydiard-ho!)

    You are also right, they haven’t kept everything in context. There should indeed be longer slower runs for marathoners about every 2 to 3 weeks. That is exactly how you gain endurance. On the other weeks you infuse goal paced long runs that are slightly shorter than those LSD runs. If you race distances then you should have long runs as part of your diet – seasoned runner or novice for general endurance, connective tissue strengthening as well as aerobic conditioning. The big differences are the fact that “base” training is no longer just a bunch of mindless miles as once advocated… i.e. those 1000 mile summers. And, speed work (in varying forms) is advocated year round. And finally the percentage of quality is far higher and faster than previously advocated. Forms of quality running have been found to improve measures formerly solely atttributed to distance running – like VO2max.

    I like the one comment about my not quoting all the sources. He’s right. I don’t Why? Space and readability. I would just say – go read Bilat, Rusko, Anderson for a few… their research tell sit all. I try to simplify the research from respected sources.. not repeat what the research states verbatim.

    Any disparaging remarks about Owen Anderson I take exception to. He is dedicated, thorough, unbiased, balanced in his research reviews and assessments. He has no agenda (like selling a product). It is unfortunate that because someone disagrees with a point of view OR interpretation of research that a personal attack would be made.

    Coach Dean

  9. Hey Dean. Interesting post on building a better engine. I’ve got your website linked to my high school team’s XC running website and hope they read some of your stuff. As for building a better engine … what about summer training for fall XC season. I tell all my athletes (and write them out a formal plan) that 90% of your summer miles should be slow and easy. I usually offer up one hard day a week in June and mid-July, leading up to two hard days per week in late July through August. Racing season here in Michigan begins in September leading up to the state finals in the first week of November. I’ve had luck with this approach and had great success, but am i getting the most from my athletes with this philosphy? Should I be pushing more hard days in the summer training regimen??

  10. Preparing for x-c is unique. It requires strength and power as well as varied terrain. Just adding more miles isn’t the most effiecient way to do this. Decrasing the percentage of speed work is ok this tie of year. The trade off should be increasing speed-strength and hill work. High school x-c is no longer than 5k and at this age, lots of miles and lots of long runs are not indicated. Though this is a time to relax and recuperate from spring track you’ll still want to keep up-tempo runs – do not make the mistake of letting runners lose all that wonderful speed they gained during track!

    So, here is what I recommend – trail running (even slow) will build x-c specific strength. Infuse into the summer training – hill work (uphill reps AND downhill reps); use circuit training (400 @ 5k pace then a set of 4-5 different exercises between and then repeat 4-8 times without rests between) and each week or even every other week some kind of quality work. Finally as I’m sure you’ve found, it’s really important with this age group to keep interest with variety. I like to camoufalge quality runs within games (tag, Indian lines, follow the leader lines, etc.).

  11. Thanks Dean. I’ve often pushed for a “break” after track season (of course I”m the track coach too) of 2-3 weeks but I’m seriously re-considering it. We focus on trail running even in track to reduce the pounding and stress and I rarely have injured runners. so, like you said, “don’t lose all that wonderful speed they gained.” As long as its lower key running, I’m not pushing a break after track season this year for my experienced runners. I also like the 400′s with core strength stuff. And, of course variety always plays a role with the youngsters – obstacle courses, treasure hunts, etc… fun stuff. Thanks again.

  12. Karl says:

    I’m excited, but I seem to have a mental block in putting all this into a exercise program. For me, running is my morning devotional time, 7.2 miles non-stop in the early morning darkness. I want to qualify for Boston, 50 miles a week should be enough, right? So now I’ve got to figure out what it is that you are talking about and make a training schedule out of it.

  13. Karl,
    The answer of course is maybe yes and maybe no. Just doing miles each day will not get you to Boston. Just doing a progressively longer long run will not get you to Boston. Creating schedules that work and that are customized can be daunting. I guess that’s why there are so many coaches out there… including myself. If you need some help visit my coaching page for some details – I’ll be happy to help you out.
    You’re looking for answers and that’s a good thing. Have fun and good luck on your road to Boston.

  14. Joshua Josephs says:

    Coach Dean,
    I think the other part of this and any advice to a runner is you have to look at what type of runner you are dealing with. If you were to give Tyson Gay a plan to get to marathoning it would look very different than the plan for Ryan Hall. Tyson Gay might need an LSD type plan since he thrives on a real high kick/lactate threshold probably where as Ryan Hall probably needs speed work as his stamina is more than equal to the task. Obviously these are straw men to be knocked down but I think a blanket training program even one with science behind it needs a lot of modification to the skills mental and physical of the individual athlete.

  15. Joshua,
    You are correct that ALL programs need to be tailored tot he individual. That is why runners who want to really make all they can of their programs consult or hire a professional coach.

    There is absolutely no such thing as a blanket program that works for everyone. That is my main knock on all these download-16-week-marathon-miracle programs – unless you have quite an extensive background on HOW to tailor them – they are not all they are cracked up to be.

    On the other hand… there are scientifically supported approaches that work for all… even if the workouts themselves differ. But something to note… the research has not been kind to LSD approaches regardless of the athlete – experienced, sedentary or otherwise. It continues to be anecdotal evidence that supports it.. So, even for Tyson… I would approach it differently.

  16. Pingback: Interesting article about endurance training, heart rate, and running « My angle on weight loss

  17. runnerforchrist says:

    Very informative site…thanks a lot Dean for your knowledge about the issue. Keep it up!

  18. Hi coach Dan, regarding this article I believe and experience also tells me intensity is the most efficient way to build speed over long distance. How ever I find great value on “slow” running in order to build connective tissue strength to withstand hard interval training, and also as a complement to overall training. Said this, I also understand that intensity can be most efficient to building a big aerobic engine, but only is this doesn’t lead to you to overtraing.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      German,
      Some slow running is indeed to balance workouts BUT most runners do FAR too much of it. And faster running is equally good at building connective tissue. The issue again is doing too much too soon of ANY kind of running can cause injuries. The myth is that faster running does so. It is many miles of slow running that causes far more injuries than quality running. It is interesting that you bring up overtraining. Another myth is that faster running somehow causes overtraining which is completely untrue. Too much of any single kind of training leads to over training as well as plateauing. My runners run quality runs at least once a week year round… more during racing season. As long as they follow my program I almost never have an overtrained runner. It happens more from runners who don’t listen to their bodies OR their coach.

  19. Nergock says:

    Terrible example. Seriously? How would he know that he’d run faster following your program versus LHR? Lame!!

    My best example is of a friend and colleague who followed the traditional triathlete approach. At the end of his 11 hour Ironman, he told me very simply – “I wish I had listened to you, I could have run the marathon at least 30 minutes faster … but I listened to the heart rate like I was warned so many times and as I had trained… I ended up slower than what I was capable of.”

    • Dean Hebert says:

      You miss the point. It is indeed the perfect example. It comes from the runner’s mouth – not a coach, a physiologist or running philosopher. He held back and at the end knew he had plenty in him to go faster but he did not because he was instructed to hold back and not let his HR rise above a certain threshold. He listened. He finished feeling great – with far too much energy left and knows he simply did not push like he was capable of doing. He kept holding back thinking that some tragic occurrence would befall him if he exceeded that given HR.

      If you read my other comments in this thread I have also underscored that to hang your hat on one experience of course would be folly. I only use it as a real-life example which supports the research already done. That is for those people who think that research is just for the “labs” and does not apply to real runners.

      • Jeremy says:

        Traditional triathalon programs do not advocate usage of HR to dictate pace. This athlete had more of a pacing issue. HR is fraught with issues on race day as many factors affect it (particularly heat and cardiac drift). HR is simply a method to determine intensity. One could also use RPE or even better for speed monitors for pacing. Cycling at least have power meters to help manage efforts. Too bad there isn’t anything as accurate for running, but determining pace is what you’re supposed to do months prior to an event.

        The whole aerobic engine thing isn’t completely a whacked way of thinking though. If you’re already in great shape, then maybe you don’t need to do so much in the form of base training, but it probably doesn’t hurt so much, but at least guarantees you have a good aerobic base to begin with.

      • Dean Hebert says:

        Jeremy,
        Contrary to your experience, my experience is that almost all triathlon programs use HR for their running training. There is one and only one”best” way to gauge your running – PACE. It is unarguable. A 7:00 mile is a 7:00 mile. It is even more perfect than the power meters on bikes because uphills or flats yield different power outputs and speeds. You are right about the aerobic base as far as not a bad thin. Of course we are engaging in an aerobic sport… therefore it has to be important. The point however of the article is that if the emphasis is only on or primarily on aerobics to the exclusion of a total scientific training program you will absolutely be guaranteed not to race your best. You need quality running to do so.

  20. Bill says:

    Rusko found at one time that slower training was indeed optimal for improving AT pace. Is this no longer valid? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3453408?dopt=Abstract

    And while I admire your dedication to science, only education and nutrition studies are less reliable than exercise studies. Too many variables combined with a complex system.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Bill,
      You are right about studies. Humans are infinitely variable therefore interpretations are sometimes tough. A key is looking at the who, what, when, etc. of a study to find themes (and meta-studies tend to be more reliable). That being said it does not mean we discard or dismiss the research results because there is variability.
      In the ’87 study you link to, here is one key phrase which indeed has been replicated many times: “Intensive training at the intensity of anaerobic threshold or higher was observed to be most effective in producing improvements in VO2 max.”
      As for AT – the answer is yes and no. The earlier in training (younger, novice, beginner, etc.) the more true the statement is. (“Low-intensity distance training was more effective in producing improvements in anaerobic threshold.”) However, it’s being show that there is a cross-over in training at higher paces in which AT is also positively affected.
      The bonus however if you race (as opposed to fitness run) is that the higher intensity does something that AT training simply does not do – train you neuromuscularly to run fast. And that has to be the bottom line.

  21. Jeremy K says:

    Isn’t it obvious that if you want to run 6:00 minute/mile marathon, you have to train at that pace if not faster? I don’t know what the answer has to do with energy system development which is much more important in a 5-10 hr triathalon than a 2-3 hour marathon, and what is really the point of long miles at low HR. I haven’t experienced the “big engine” idea first hand as I’ve only been doing endurance events for 2 years (3 cycling centuries, 1 Half Ironman, 1 Olympic Ironman, 1 Sprint Ironman), but think the point is to maximize your aerobic engine with long slow runs, rides, swims. Then speed up through the classic periodization techniques that everyone seems to subscribe to. The studies with elite marathoners are a little deceiving because they have already fully developed aerobic engines (or near fully developed) while most of us, are just at the tip of the iceberg. I think it makes sense to work on developing our engines, then incorporate more intense workouts – intervals, LT work, HIIT, etc. to then get your neuromuscular system used to that speed and effort. The rest I think is getting your brain to withstand the pain associated with those types of efforts. I don’t disagree with the article here, but it does paint base training in a negative light.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Jeremy,
      Thanks for dropping by. Perhaps you see this painting base training in a negative light but that is slightly off target. The current science AND practice shows that pace is the most critical factor. And that the old notion of base is not entirely true. “Base” can be just as effectively developed with lower mileage and intensity and the corresponding decrease in injuries. Miles themselves have the biggest impact on a beginner. Period. The studies actually with elite are very deceiving indeed but for just the opposite reason you state. Look down the list of elite marathoners – distance athletes – how many started as an elite marathoner doing lots of distance for that big engine? None. They all start at getting FAST first then, gradually going longer. So yes, their engines are indeed developed… with FAST first.. NOT long first. To that point on the practical end… elite Kenyans average well under any 100 mile weeks. They simply get fast, keep running fast as they add distance.

  22. Gary D says:

    Top marathoners don’t log 100+ mile week after week for no reason! Many of those miles are run at very slow paces. In my experience, starting out running at a high % of max HR is asking for injury unless that aerobic engine is well built up first. I believe the periodization method advocated by Arthur Lydiard, John Hadd, etc, of starting with lots of easy paced miles, and building up to higher speeds after your aerobic engine gets built up, is tried and true.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Unfortunately the science isn’t on your side. The Kenyans do not do that kind of mileage contrary to some reports. They will run 70-90 miles per week but with up to 30% of their mileage at 10k pace or faster. Also data is beyond any argument that miles above the mid-2o mile per week range has dramatic rises in injuries while speed of workouts is NOT correlated to higher injury rates. HR rates are NOT correlated to injury rates either.
      Those are just the facts. There are those runners and coaches out there who will stick to the Lydiard approach. It most certainly is not useless however it also is not timeless… and so some of progress, and modify our training approaches and programs as more research is done.

  23. ridestride says:

    Hello, I happened to “fall” upon this page when I was searching for HR zones during a Marathon. Interesting discussions and advice. I am a recent convert to HR training. I completed VO2Max testing to get an idea of my zones and my HRmax. I have seen/felt my HRmax number before when doing speedwork so I know that the test was effective in identifying the edge to which I could go. The Zone 2 days are excruciating slow but the benefits are good and ONLY accrue if on Zone 4 and Zone 5 days I hammer it hard – the idea being that I shouldn’t be fatigued/un-recovered prior to Interval training. In that sense it is working as expected. Another thing I do (to avoid finishing with gas in the tank) is to plan negative splits mile-by-mile with reserves left for last 5K or 10K. That allows me to first run or bike slower then others and then go faster then them and expend almost everything I have. Thoughts on this approach?

    • Dean Hebert says:

      ridestride,
      The fact that you do negative splits illustrates that HR is something not to follow. How is it some how effective for “pacing” half the race but suddenly not good for “pacing” the second half? This is a demonstration of it not being a reliable method of RACING. On the other hand, as I have stated many times, for a novice to begin to “learn” what any particular effort is, it can be instructional as a learning tool at that point. If you are racing… it is not.

      If because you do not know what the right pacing effort (i.e. not go out too fast) is in racing then you are using it to learn from. And in time you should become more in tune with your body and efforts to become more effective at racing without HR as a guide. Then you can focus on improving your times instead of watching HR.

      You are obviously sold on your approach and for you it currently works. So, honestly I’m not sure what I can give as input. If you believe that it works for you … do it.

  24. Gus says:

    Interesting idea re more faster running vs. lot of LSR’s. 26 weeks to NOLA marathon and have been running again since Jan 1st (had knee issues and finally went to doctor, he said won’t be able to run but if did wouldn’t do damage just might hurt, so said hell with it just started running again). Am 66 and have gotten up to 25 miles a week, just sort of running, with some parts of runs faster. Got Garmin watch and will do some HR work (sitting HR was 49, haven’t done the morning thing or real hard run yet). Start of this was also to lose weight, down from 251 to 210 (6’2″) and see a 1 as the 1st digit in my weight as where need to get.
    Makes sense to me that need to run faster paced running training enough to get faster, even for a marathon. I am concerned about injury and when run faster can see much less stress on knees (trying for mid strike more as was classic heel striking elephant) as am just lighter when going faster. Problem right now is as run faster my form improves but also poop out fast.
    Is pretty hot here in New Orleans so my runs lately have had more heat/hydration issues than am I training fast enough or too fast, getting some work done at air conditioned inside (at a 9.5 times around) mile track at local college where have been running what is for me pretty good effort (10/11 min mile pace) with some faster laps. Feels good and seems to help me work on better form/economy of stride and next workout. I’m not running hard enough on runs or “fast” portions for any “over training” issues to occur; but I’ve started this week with my “get it on” plan.
    Going to try as suggested some version of “more” higher % of race pace (which I hope to keep revising upward) or faster running and see where it leads. Have been working in some general light upper body exercises and some “runners” leg exercises too which intend to continue.
    Seems to me that if want to run what for me would be good marathon time then need to be able to do one 440 at some improved time (vs. what can do now) so can do better 880 and better mile and better 10k and better half-marathon. How can I do 10 minute miles for marathon if do 10 minute miles for 10k? If my training leads me to get down to 8 minute mile for 10K (fat chance, but using as an example) seems gets me to better marathon time than training to run 20 miles at 12 minute pace (assuming don’t completely miss the boat on endurance).

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Gus,
      You’r eon the right track.
      Couple comments:
      Faster running has NOT been shown to increase injuries… more miles is directly linked to more injuries.
      Yes, you have to get your 10k time to in that range of 8 per mile if you hope for 10s in marathon.
      Right on about weight given your height.
      Forget changing your footstrike. Do what is natural. All the crap written about this is awful and misleading. There are forefoot, midfoot and heel strikers who are running world class times… It is BS to change a naturaly form. Odds in fact show that you will end up increasing injuries when you change your natural running form – UNLESS there is something specific that is CAUSING and injury. When you do faster workouts.. you will OPTIMIZE YOUR FORM… not become someone else’s idea of form.
      Good luck… keep it rolling.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s