Heart Rate Training Monitor? Check. Skepticism? Check. Enthusiasm? Check!


"I run because it makes me a better mother. Pure and simple. A better, less anxious, and happier mommy," explained marathoner Melissa Fenton back in January. "I will escape in the dark of early morning, and with each stride I will take back myself, pick myself up if you will."

As we've followed Melissa as one of our six Role Mothers over the past few months, we've gotten to know quite a bit about her, including the fact that she doesn't really follow a strict training plan. "With the exception of the mandatory 'long runs' during marathon training," she explained last month, "I very much do training runs with a pace based on how I feel, how I’ve fueled, the temperature and humidity, and how much time I have."

Until now. Melissa is going to try out the Half-Marathon Heart Rate Challenge and document it along the way. We'll check in with her every two weeks to see how she's running and how she's feeling. Here, she talks about prepping for the plan. 

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When I first started reading Dimity’s posts about her adventures in heart rate training, my interest was piqued. I’m at a semi-happy place in my running, I’ve always been content running one speed, and I’ve long lost interest and desire in chasing PRs, but still. Still. Still something was amiss. Since running is my reward, my respite, and my very much deserved (and only) standard and expectation-free zone, I remained hesitant to add specific rules, and additional regimens to it. That being said, for about the last six months I’ve had the itch to change it up a bit. I first tried to add some speed work in, but who was I kidding, all that did was annoy me, frustrate me,  make me throw up in my mouth a little, leaving me feeling pissed off, not refreshed after a run. Suddenly, HR training, and its promise of happier runs and speedier paces, beckoned me. After a phone conversation about the plan with Coach MK (who I’ve personally nicknamed Talladega Tongue, because of her astonishing ability to speak at a rate of roughly 500 words per minutes) I was sold. I am officially doing the Amazing Half Marathon HR Challenge, wave 1.

During our phone call, MK asked me what my goals were for the plan and what I hoped to get out of it. Luckily, for the last 15+years of running I’ve remained injury free, but I’m beginning to realize as I enter my mid-forties that aging joints, bones, and hip flexers are just a faulty curb step or long run away from screaming back at me. I need to keep my running machine parts in tip-top shape, and that is one thing the HR plan promises to help me do. I told MK I’d also like to eliminate the walking breaks I find myself needing to take in the last few miles of a marathon. Although I’m only doing the half challenge, she assured me that what I would learn about my body, how I would learn to manage paces, effort, and the way I feel, would inevitably help me achieve that goal.

Ya’ll, I’m stoked. I’m also anxious, nervous, and slightly unbelieving in the magic of 140 beats per minutes. But I’m also eager to leave my ego at the door, and I’m more than willing to look like a sloth running through thick caramel sauce for the next 12 weeks, if that means at the end I will have a badass aerobic base that can shepherd me through fall running season.

So I’m ready to take a leap of faith and give it a whirl, and I’ve got a cool new hot pink HR monitor on my wrist to prove it. If you could see me now, I’m fist pumping that baby in the air, ready to stare down, take on, and run through a hot and humid summer.  And I’ll be doing it all at 140 BPM.

Let’s do this. Happy toes, don’t fail me now!

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3 responses to “Heart Rate Training Monitor? Check. Skepticism? Check. Enthusiasm? Check!

  1. I am so anxious to follow your training through your posts. I really want to try heart rate training, but the timing isn’t right. I’m a volunteer running coach for our Moms on the Run group so it would be hard to lead an intermediate group if they’re doing 10-11 minute miles and I’m at 12-13. I’m pushing 60 and since I began running a few years ago, I have always had some nagging injury. I am determined to do this training in the future, though, and look forward to retraining my body and a no-pain run!! Good luck to you

  2. I’m looking forward to hearing your training reports. I know they will be brutally honest and humorous. I know exactly what you mean when you say you had the itch to change things up. I hear ya and I applaud your courage.

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