/ Should I slow down?

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michael lawrence - on 30 Dec 2012
I'm running my second first half marathon at the end of March (the first was 18months ago) and I'd like to run it in 1hr35mins ish. The first half marathon I did I just ran as fast as I felt comfortable in training but made the classic mistake of doing too much too soon and had a very badly disrupted training schedule as a result.

This time around I'm being much more cautious about injuries and have been building up slowly. No injuries to date.... I'm taking a more structured approach to my training but I've only been able to fit in one run a week. I'm now going to introduce some tempo and interval training.

The question I have is around my heart rate/pace for my Sunday long run. Running books suggest I should be running at 75% max heart rate. I've just turned 41 so that should make max hr c180. I would class myself as fitter than the average 41 yr old so maybe 190 max hr is more appropriate? I have a heart rate monitor but running at 75% hrm is just so painfully slow. This morning I ran 13.1 miles in 1hr57mins ave heart rate 160, 9min mile pace over a hilly course. This felt pretty comfortable and I certainly could have run faster. Should I really slow down so that my heart rate is 143 (75% of 190)? I'm worried that I won't be pushing myself hard enough and won't improve my times if I do. Do I just have a more natural inclination to anaerobic training?
michael lawrence - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to michael lawrence: my first line should have read "second half marathon"....
syv_k - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to michael lawrence:

Maximum heart rates vary so much between individuals (it is a genetic thing rather than a measure of fitness) that you will not get a useful result by estimating.

Find out your maximum heart rate by running a few km flat out, and work from there. Then you should get a calculated heart rate range for your long run which corresponds roughly to an effort level where you can mostly hold a conversation.
lost1977 - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to michael lawrence:

if you've only been able to fit in one run in a week then stop over complicating this, no magic formula needed just more running sessions
michael lawrence - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to syv_k: thanks. So "flat out" being "as fast as I can without having to stop"?
michael lawrence - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to lost1977: thanks. Are you suggesting that more running sessions per week will bring down my average heart rate for my longer runs? The question isn't "should I do more running sessions" as I know the answer is "yes". The question is "do I follow the 75% MHR rule or not"?
lost1977 - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to michael lawrence:

the fact you can cover the distance required in a single run is good but unless you are getting enough training in then HR% you run at make little difference. you may not have asked it but i generally opt for training which makes worthwhile differences and when i offer advice i try to offer advice which makes a worthwhile difference . as to HR% unless you actually know your max rather than basing it on an often inaccurate formula you are better using perceived effort as a gauge
Eric9Points - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to michael lawrence:
> (In reply to lost1977) thanks. Are you suggesting that more running sessions per week will bring down my average heart rate for my longer runs? The question isn't "should I do more running sessions" as I know the answer is "yes". The question is "do I follow the 75% MHR rule or not"?

I think you've misinterpreted the rule.

Your max heart rate is supposed to be 220 - your age. So at 41 it's 179 and 75% of that is 134..

I think it's bollox as is the holding a conversation advice.

I suggest you go for a run of a reasonable length at a pace you can keep up for a good few miles without thinking you're going to die. Don't look at your HRM until you get home and can look at the data on your PC. The heart rate you had is about the heart rate you should be training at for the longer runs. For me that's about 165 but I'm 54 so I suspect it'll be a bit more for you.

When you do the race don't look at heart rate at all, by then you'll have a target speed you'll want to hit and just try and hit that (I'm assuming you've got a GPS watch thing).
IainRUK - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to michael lawrence: Just run more.. one run a week? any improvement no matter what you do will be marginal.. forget all that HR stuff at one run a week.. your heart rate is so variable unless you monitor it constantly and run regularly I can't see how it can help..

Running books suggest you should run more.. :-)

And also not add interval and tempo work onto a once/week schedule... build up the mileage/sessions then add stuff later.. once 30-40 miles per week.
Liam M - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to michael lawrence: You've made a common mistake with the %hr calculation. 75% is generally based on Working Heart Rate (WHR), which is the difference between maximum and resting heart rate. So if your MHR was 180 and your RHR was 70, 75% would be based on the difference (about 153).

As others have said, your MHR can vary a lot from that rule of thumb, and I don't believe being fitter results in it increasing (I read something that suggested Eddy Merkcx had a MHR of about 160). If you want a better estimate, run a 5k hard and see what max you hit. It's also worth checking your RHR; maybe wear a hrm overnight and see how low it goes.

Running slowly can work well (though probably not as much if you only run slowly - Hadd training excepted, but it's based on about 100mile weeks), but based on the volume you quote, just getting out more is likely to reap the most rewards.
michael lawrence - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to lost1977: the get more running in advice is welcomed and I know it is something that I will be doing; time pressures up until haven't not given me the opportunity to do more sessions. The theme developing here is don't worry about heart rate too much just run which answers the big question for me. Cheers.
michael lawrence - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Eric9Points: no, I got the rule right but just added another ten beats per min to my theoretical maximum as 179 bpm felt way too low based on what I know I can tolerate.

I tend to agree that the theory seems flawed. If I ran at the 75% of theoretical max hr it would result in such a low pace per mile that I could walk quicker!

Yep, I use my gps and find it much more useful. Sounds like the other most useful tool is just listening to my body and running more by feel. I think I'm coming to the conclusion that there are so many variables that can affect heart rates that they are bound to be only a very rough guide.
Steff - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to michael lawrence:

I am not much for heart rate monitoring, but if you want to use a heart rate monitor, a better approach would be to use threshold HR as basis for calculations, as it's more reliable. Max HR varies a lot from one day to another.

However, the best thing you can do at this stage is to do what Ian said: run more!
michael lawrence - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to IainRUK: yep, got the run more bit planned. Why shouldn't tempo and interval runs be added now? Is it because I need more base miles to cope with harder sessions? I have been doing interval sessions and weight work down the gym but haven't done any extra running to date for fear of injury - I feel confident that I've managed the risk of that so far so can now press on but cautiously.
michael lawrence - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Liam M: the hr calculation was taken directly from "The Marathon and Half Marathon" by Graeme Hilditch; it didn't say a word about working heart rate! There seems to be a number of theories and calculations! Running, especially at non elite level, shouldn't be this complicated.....
Steff - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to michael lawrence:

Because adding volume adds a greater benefit than adding intensity at this stage and adding both at the same time may cause injury.
In many people's opinion speed work only makes sense once a certain weekly mileage is used.
michael lawrence - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Steff: thanks Steffens. That clears that up for me and it makes common sense; my body has coped well with the extra miles at a steady and consistent pace so suddenly altering stride length, etc in the course of running faster could injure me.
michael lawrence - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to michael lawrence: sorry Steff; spell check changed your name.
Wilbur - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to michael lawrence:
> (In reply to IainRUK) yep, got the run more bit planned. Why shouldn't tempo and interval runs be added now? Is it because I need more base miles to cope with harder sessions? I have been doing interval sessions and weight work down the gym but haven't done any extra running to date for fear of injury - I feel confident that I've managed the risk of that so far so can now press on but cautiously.

I would add tempo and intervals myself. From July to beg of nov I did one run a wk around 5-7 miles. I am slw but 10k time came down from 56 mins to 48 mins doing fartlek type running. Means that for me now I've started doing marathon training my long slow runs can be a bit quicker than they otherwise would have been
Steff - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Wilbur:

> I am slw but 10k time came down from 56 mins to 48 mins doing fartlek type running.

Yes, but how much would it have come down if you had run 3 times a week? Imposible to answer of course, but the argument here is that it would result in bigger improvement for most people. Also, fartlek can mean many things. Just changing speed occasionally in playful way I would recommend for runners of any mileage and ability, but not formal speed work.


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