ANOTHER
MOTHER RUNNER

Heart Rate Training: Learning the Basics

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For as long as I've been a runner, I've pretty much run the same way: at a comfortably hard pace. Yes, I've thrown in speed work occasionally, and I did a run/walk pattern as I prepared for Ironman Coeur d'Alene, but other than that? Variations on the same theme.

That theme: comfortably hard miles that produced a sweaty sports bra, legs that ache when I climb stairs post-run, and a body that breaks down every six to ten months, unable to withstand the pounding that running inevitably brings.

Instead of adjusting my running style to counteract the hurt, I adjusted my time spent running: from five days a week (in my twenties) to four days a week (in my thirties) to three days a week (in my forties).

With each injury, I mentally tried to move myself towards a place where the run itself was the prize. Just miles of healing, balance, rhythm. No need to race, I told myself, no need to push myself, no need to do anything but live in the step I'm in.

Even with that perspective, I inherently knew that I'd likely be retired from running within a decade, if I were lucky. A year to heal an injured foot, a left hip that hasn't stopped barking since I gave birth 12 years ago, a lower back that feels as delicate as fine china.

So when Mary-Katherine Fleming, a #motherrunner and coach in Denver, approached me at our table at ZOOMA Colorado and started telling me about her philosophy of training—heart-rate based; short strength circuits, foam rolling galore—I bit. I'm enough of an endurance sports geek to know that Mark Allen, Ironman king, swore by heart-rate training, I had the Superior 50K on my wish list, and I had nothing to lose.

I started training under MK's guidance on November 17.

She's got a couple of rules, but here's the most important one with respect to this entry: With few exceptions, your heart rate doesn't go above 140 on a run. If it climbs above that, you walk until it drops below, and then you can run again.

I know there are a bunch of different tests and formulas and zones and percentages to calculate heart rate, but MK is ridiculously knowledgeable about training and the human body, and she told me 140. I didn't need to do any max lactate or VO2 tests. (She uses the Maffetone Formula: 180-age (43): 137. She rounded up, knowing 137 is awkward—and that I'd appreciate the extra 3 beats.)

The idea is that, over time, the pace that I can comfortably run at 140 will increasingly become faster. With an increased cardiovascular base and careful, thoughtful speed work sprinkled in, I will be able to race at paces I believed I'd never see again—or I have never seen before.

I don't want this post to get as long as a half-marathon, so I've distilled my heart rate training thus far into two categories: What I am on a run, and What I am not after a run.

What I am on a run:

Slow. Note: I am about to talk about pace, and I Ioathe talking about pace because my slow is your fast and her slow is my fast and we all get caught up in numbers when a mile is a mile, no matter what speed you run.

Keeping my ticker <140 means I'm running at a pace that I've rarely seen. I used to judge a run as good when it averaged a 9:30 or below. Now my average on my runs is about two minutes slower. I've only run one sub-10 minute mile under 140: a slight downhill, wind at my back, my big dog Mason pulling me along. I won't lie: it felt good to see a 9 pop up.

And I won't lie either about making my pace public, on Strava: I wasn't sure I wanted to post it. Stupid ego. Then I got over myself because a mile is a mile.

Regardless of pace, I feel slow. I almost feel like I'm killing time, bobbing along and waiting for the real run to begin.

Alone. Talking raises your heart rate considerably, but I wouldn't know: I haven't tried to run with anybody while keeping it under 140. (Once a week, I get a "fun run" with no heart rate limit; that's when I run with my pals.)

Sometimes bored. Slow and alone can equal boring. When I set out for a long run on Saturday morning and queued up the new episode of the second season of Serial, I might have sworn when I heard they are going biweekly. Bowe Bergdahl was my Saturday morning, hour-long diversion. Music is ok, but it can't be too uptempo, or I end up running too fast. The Brandi Carlisle station on Pandora is a favorite, as are the Death, Sex, & Money; Reply All; and On Being podcasts.

On the treadmill more than ever. Probably twice a week: sometimes due to weather, and sometimes because it's just easier to keep a steady heart rate. (And I can watch Netflix: Yes, I'm totally sucked into Making a Murderer, like a good portion of this country.)

Not hurting. No injury-related pain, and no exertion-related pain. I know: I can hardly believe it either. (Knocking on wood.) I ran five days last week for a total of 35 miles. The last time I ran 35 miles in one week was likely in 1997, when I was training for the New York City Marathon.

Patient. Heart-rate training is not a quick fix. It's about building a cardiovascular base that is as solid and wide as an Egyptian pyramid, a process that can take at least eight months, if not a couple of years. Patience has never been my forte, so this is a good buy one/get one for me: What I'm learning on the road can easily translate to the rest of my life.

What I am not after a run:

Super sweaty. I ran 75 minutes this morning, which was about 35 degrees. I got home, and my sports bra was barely wet. I came home, Action Wiped, and put on clothes for the day. I need to remind myself to shower after two or three runs. (TMI? But remember: I work from home.)

Crazy hungry.
Heart-rate training is supposed to teach your body to convert fat, not glucose, to fuel. (Cue the famed "fat-buring zone" of nineties cardio.) I'm not entirely sure that's going on, but I can say for sure I don't have that famished, I've got to eat all.the.THINGS appetite I used to have after a long run. I'm hungry, but hangry. My family appreciates the difference.

Tired. When you're training with a heart rate under 140, an hour-long run just can't, by definition, be hard if you've been running for a few years. I'm definitely
fatigued after a long run—my longest so far is 2 hours, 30 minutes—but it's more of a mental weariness than physical exhaustion: I'm just don't want to be in motion anymore.

That said, I have that exercised exhausted feeling at the end of the day and am sleeping well, so that's a win.

Dreading my next run. Back in my comfortably hard days, when a run exhausted me and brought me closer to another injury, I kind of dreaded the next time I'd put myself in that position. No longer: now when I head out, I know I'll be feeling the same way when I return home.

I haven't seen much improvement in my <140 pace yet, but it's only been two months. I do, however, have a pace test in the next few weeks. I took one before I started my training with MK, so I'm intrigued to see if I've become a more efficient runner. I'll report the findings. (I know: you'll be waiting on pins and needles!)

In the meantime, I'm curious: Have you trained with heart rate? Did you like it? Are you interested in it? Have questions about it? Let me know in the comments below.

 

90 responses to “Heart Rate Training: Learning the Basics

  1. Is there any recommendation for heart rate monitors? I have lost a lot of weight and have excess skin, which makes the chest strap very difficult to use. It tends to cut out or give me inaccurate readings. I base my runs on effort, but I want to reap the benefits of heart rate training.

  2. I lasted 4 days with HR training 2 years ago. Seriously considering it again. Just finished my first half coming back from an IT band injury. Horribly slow and 174 average HR. If I train at 140 HR, I race at whatever I feel like? My 140 HR was a 14-15 min pace. It was so demoralizing. I really want to improve my speed without injury!

  3. I am re-reading this post after seeing the HR based challenge to open in April. My injuries are sooo similar to Dimity’s. PF and back issues for over 2 years!! Most times I feel that I will never get back to running. I am at my third try at making a comback. I am up to about 12 miles a week with a long run of 4 miles. Frustrating! I am intrigued at the HR based model. What device do you recommend to track heart rate?

  4. This was a timely topic for me. My new Garmin 235 has heart rate monitoring built in so I’ve been looking at my numbers a lot, but not really sure if they were right or what to do with them. Almost all of my runs have been in zone 5 (!) unless I purposely run really slow. I think it would be beneficial for me to start making more of my runs much slower to keep my heart rate down. My max heart rate seems high to me (195), but I’m still hitting high numbers on my runs. I’d love to make HR training work for me!

  5. OH. MY. GOODNESS! I came back to reread this post and all the comments after today, my THIRD day on my new HR training plan. I ended my workout almost in tears because a 30 minute Z2 run forced me to walk soooo much to keep my HR in Z2. I felt ridiculous and I hated it and decided to quit the plan. Then I regained my head and came to read this again to remind myself that other BAMRs are in or have been in the same place, and I read Dimity’s reply to my first comment saying there is a HR Challenge coming! ME, ME, ME! Can I be first in line!?! I need the support so badly! I feel like I’m totally starting over from scratch and it is so difficult. I am thrilled to pieces that there is going to be a HR Challenge group to help me stay the course!

  6. Congratulations, it sounds like your body loves HR training! I run by listening to my HR… when I received a HR monitor last fall I quickly stopped wearing it after confirming hills spike my HR to 170+. Reinforcing my need to speed walk up them 🙂 my chest hurts at 170BMM, I much prefer 120-135 HA!

    Thrilled to hear you are running again Dimity!

  7. I ran (or attempted to run) zone 2 HR for pretty much all of my Ironman training, and although I didn’t always like going slower, it really did increase my endurance and decrease my injuries. However, I can’t imagine that one number is the right number for everyone, as others have said. My HR runs very high, maxing out above 200, so 140 is just too low for me. Numbers aside, I think making peace with doing more zone 2 miles is important for those of us who want a bigger cardio base and/or want fewer running injuries.

  8. I was wondering if you have changed your diet at all since starting this regime? Also, are doing any other cross/strength training? Thanks Dimity.

  9. Thanks for sharing your experience with this. I have a similar injury rate as yours (just about to start back after a lay off). I want to run for as many years as i can (mid-late 40s here) and have been considering various ways to do that. I will take a look at this for sure! Good luck Dimity! Thanks for sharing your experience with this, please keep us posted as your training continues.

  10. Had to add another comment (this topic is great!)…sometimes we get caught up in ‘gotta get my 4 miles in’ but with life and kids your time is precious…so you blast thru it…fast as you can…again. Over and over. These HR plans have lots of time based runs. So now it’s ‘gotta run easy…aerobically…for 35 min..’ And you feel great!

  11. I’ve been training with HR since reading Maffetone’s book in August. I can’t agree more that it is a much more sustainable way to run. I don’t get anxious before my hard runs anymore. I look forward to speed work. My long run today felt great. And I have energy to be a mom and work full time. I’m trying for another half. Got Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 Running book for Christmas and I’m working on base training with his plan. Basically I use HR for easy and long runs and pace for intervals (using McMillan calculator). I use my Garmin to monitor my HR (it alarms when over 140) and a polar monitor when I’m on the treadmill.

  12. I’m for sure going to try this! I keep ending up with injuries…usually not terrible ones but 2 weeks off here, 2 weeks off there…it’s so much worse to feel like i’m not allowed to run …makes me want to so much more (even when sometimes the run itself is no fun).

    I have a microsoft band that tracks heart rate on the wrist so I’ll try this. I’m at 148 but will probably round up as well. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  13. What a timely post, I am very interested in this topic; in fact I did my first run/walk today attempting to keep my heart rate below 135. I was running so slow and had to walk quite a bit to keep the heart rate down. Does this type of training require all runs to keep the heart rate down?? I saw a reply above from Dimity there is going to be a heart rate challenge!! I will definitely sign up for that!!!! Thanks for the great post!

  14. I am HR training for my next half marathon. It is agonizingly slow, but I agree with many of your points. I am not as exhausted as I normally would be by this point, I am not unusually ravenous and I do not dread my next run. Like you, I was beginning to dread running. How can that be?! It’s one of the things I love the most. This new approach has reawakened my desire to run. As I am just starting HR training, only time will tell if it improves fat burning and keeps me injury free and running happy. Thanks for the great article.

  15. I have been running distance for over 30 years and have had every injury known to any runner. I am so very intrigued by heart rate running, and so very convinced that it may be the only way I can keep running as I finish up this 5th decade of my life. Everyone I know wants to run faster, not smarter! Help! How do I get in touch with your coach?

  16. OMG, I love this post!!! I bought John Parker’s heart rate training book after listening to one of AMR’s podcasts from last year. I only got through two weeks before my college-aged son came home for winter break, and I gave in to my normal run pace so we could run together. But I will say that during those first two weeks – well wow! I ran my last half marathon using the run/walk method and wasn’t sure I would ever run without walk intervals again. But just my first long run on the HR training plan, keeping my HR below 130, felt ridiculously easy. More importantly, I REALLY enjoyed it mentally. It just felt good. It felt sustainable. And, yes, it felt slow. I am back on the plan now that baby boy has returned to school, and I admit that my ego rears its ugly head when I have to stop to walk in front of a long line of cars sitting at a traffic light – I just know they are judging me 😉 But, seriously, I really believe this training is the key to enjoying running again, achieving new PR’s and sustaining my health injury-free. Keep us posted Dimity!

  17. I’ve been shopping for a HR device, trying to decide on which model. As I get older and run longer (ultras) HR training makes more sense.

  18. I’ve been training by heart rate for about 15 months now. It is the hardest running I’ve ever done. To make myself run so slowly has been difficult and an true exercise in humility. I won’t even keep the pace on my watch face because despite my belief that I am training the best way right now, it is just too hard to see those
    paces. Once in a while I just say “the heck with it” and run however I want paying no attention to my HRM. That feels so good! What you’ve heard about long runs being easier to recover from, not wearing down your body, building a very very strong system, and eventually getting faster at the same HR are all true. Good luck – it will be worth the investment of time and humility!

  19. You know I’m a fan of this type of training, Dim. After spending a season of training that way, my “slow” runs got faster. Long runs were easier to recover from. I’m planning on training the same way for my 50K in November.

    I couldn’t go by the one size fits all formula, though. My max HR is really a lot lower than 180 or whatever the standard formula is for females of my age. If I used that, I’d be running out of my shoes on “easy” days. So for me, doing some sort of test (hills, sprints, whatever) was worth it.

    So glad you’re taking on Superior! I have no doubt this training is going to get you there!

  20. I had a good friend who trained this way for an Ironman last year, and he said his pace definitely did well and improved over the months of training. He also finished Ironman without any real residual effects or injuries (he could walk normally the next day!). So I was intrigued. I tried to keep my HR lower during pregnancy but got impatient and quit wearing my HR monitor. I’d be interested in giving this another shot as I’m about to start training for a half and I’m super unmotivated to run right now (cold cold snowy cold). 🙂 I have a hard time doing anything but my “comfortably hard” pace so it would be good training and discipline for me.

    1. Sounds like it’s time to give it another whirl. One thing about being cold and snowy: layer up! I don’t get half as hot on these runs as I used to, so extra warmth is helpful, especially for the hands, ears, neck.

  21. So interesting Dimity! Well done! It’s hard to conquer the ego, but when you think of it, who on earth really cares about pace compared to health, wellbeing and fun. Keep up the good work!

  22. Actually, this all makes perfect sense to me, and I would love to try it….except I know how impatient I am, and how much I really love to sweat. I would probably only last a week. And also, it seems complicated, like I need anything else to keep track of. But considering that my race times have pretty much stalled, maybe this is exactly what I need. Keep us posted, actually I am on pins & needles!

    1. Will do, Stephanie. And there’s nothing really to keep track of, except one number and your heart rate monitor and strap. Just sayin. 🙂 If you have a goal that is really delicious to you, it might make sense to try it then.

  23. Mark Allen was trained byPhil Maffetone. Maffetone’s HRT formula is 180 minus your age. I tried it but for me that is a heart rate below 110. Now that is slow. I gave it up because I would rather run with my friends. Good luck! Hang in there.

  24. SUPER excited for you, and super interested…..I remember trying to keep below 140 when I was pregnant, and I wanted to scratch my eyes out. Which HR monitor do you use/recommend? I currently have a Garmin, but an lesser model with no HR tracking.

  25. I just purchased the Garmin 235 with wrist based heart rate and I am VERY interested in doing this. So do I go by the 140 rule? If not how do I figure out what number to not go above?

    Thank you!!!
    Judy

  26. My heart rate is naturally low so it’s been hard for me to look at the TM’s assessment of my heart rate and give it any credence. Your post is fascinating for a lot of reasons but I’m personally happy that you are injury free and feeling good.

  27. I started HRT a few months ago – I hated it at first being the competitive person that I am. I still want to wear a shirt emblazoned with “I’m slow because I’m heart rate training”. It’s getting better now and I really look forward to the weekly speed or hill work

    1. Very cool, Kris! Right now, the only intensity I have are pick-ups in my runs (20 seconds every mile for one run/week) but I am looking forward to the more intense workouts. (And I can’t believe I just typed that…dare I say this HRT is kind of fun?)

  28. I would love to know more about it…..but, I don’t even know where to start! My focus this year is to become “lighter and stronger” and this seems like it would definitely help me reach those goals. Is this something someone can do on their own or is a trainer necessary?

    1. You can do it on your own, Alice. Here’s a good place to start: http://philmaffetone.com/180-formula/

      There are some books that are helpful too: the most recent one is 80/20 by Matt Fitzgerald.

      We are also going to have a Heart Rate Challenge in the Train Like a Mother Club. (Although Challenge feels like the wrong word…) Pulling it together now. Stay tuned…

  29. I couldn’t agree more with this. My experience with HR training has been almost identical. Except your runs are still on strava, I stopped putting mine on there 🙁
    My first several runs were an eye opener – I spent a lot of it walking because my watch was beeping at me nonstop for having too high of a HR. It was a little defeating. It took a few runs to get the hang of starting slow – even slower than I already needed to go, but now I think I got it.
    I’ve noticed that I can run longer at a lower sustained heart rate without it going over 140, so I think my endurance is improving. My “fun runs” for now are slower, but somehow feel easier, if that makes sense. And I’ve noticed that I can somewhat control my HR by concentrating on my breathing. Something that I play around with while plodding along. I’m curious to see how this experiment turns out, but so far so good!

  30. I started HRT this past summer. It is definitely hard to see your paces tank and to take soooooo much longer to run the long runs, but the speed work starts to feel easy and fun when it gets sprinkled in to the mix! It’s just hard to not feel that way on every run. But when every run is “comfortably hard” the speed work doesn’t feel fun.

    1. I agree: I’m actually looking forward to the speed work, Lindsay. Kind of like when you only eat dessert on the weekends, it suddenly tastes better than having it every night. (Although, truth be told, I’d enjoy it every night…). Glad to hear you’re enjoying it!

  31. I would love to learn more about heart rate training. A BRF of mine is doing it so that she can run in her metabolic zone and burn fat instead of carbs. She’s getting her “sub max” test tomorrow to help her find out what her true heart rate should be. I’m curious about it more because I’ve been doing nothing but fighting injuries for the past year and a half. I’m currently training for a 50k and I’d love to train without constantly worrying about developing an injury, trying to prevent an injury, or trying to keep an injury from getting worse. I’d love to learn how to figure out what my heart rate should be.

  32. I’m supposed to be managing my heart rate when I run (keeping it low- close to what I generally do on a brisk walk), as I am going through chemo- I monitor it, but am still running my heart out for the permitted amount of time (20-30 minutes, every other day). I’m sure there is some wisdom to this… Taking note.

  33. I have read other articles in the past, but none piqued my interest quite like this one. I have been in a slump, and this might be a way to alter my mindset and give me a new running life. 🙂

    1. Worth a try: always good to mix things up, IMO. Sometimes it’s not about going harder, it’s about easing up and going easier. Hard to wrap my head around, but it’s working so far.

  34. My husband uses HRT and it certainly works for him.
    I am going to follow your journey. Wasn’t Adrienne doing this as well?
    I think you need to think about what your ultimate goal is. I do long runs w/ a friend who is faster than I am, so I probably am going too fast in terms of HRT. In terms of my life in general, I would rather run w/ her than run alone. And since I have been running injury free, I am hesitant to make a change.

    1. I wouldn’t make a change either, Kathy, if everything is going well. (If it ain’t broke…). I felt pretty broke—my half-marathon in September was an achy slog. My goal right now is to train for and finish the Superior 50K with no injuries and the ability to keep running afterwards. HRT is definitely the best call for that right now. I miss my friends, but I do get to run with them once a week, and for now, that’s a choice that works for me.

  35. I’ve been doing HR training for the past several years, and I think it’s helped me keep running and tri-ing healthily into my mid-40s. My coach set my zones after a LT field test (which she periodically re-checks for me) and I love to have them as a guide. However, I don’t know what I’d do if she told me to keep it below 140, because even my zone 1 extends higher than that. It’s possible that the ultimate end will end up being the same (pace improvement at low effort) but it seems that the process of getting there could be more frustrating. But I know so much about your issues with injuries, and I think anything that can keep you running and healthy can only be a good thing!

    1. I’ve worked with zones on the bike before, Sarah, and I agree: there may be some value in not being so strict with the 140. But I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to finish a run, be able to walk around barefoot (I couldn’t do that before with my foot injury), and not be totally wiped out. So I’ll take it for now, and once I progress, maybe we can loosen the reins a little bit. 🙂

  36. I am doing HR training and it does require patience. My personal trainer, who is so much smarter than I am about all things related to healthy exercise started HR training for his own needs. “There’ll be lots of walking, but it works.” When my HR would jump to 170-80 as soon as I advanced from a walk to a slow, slow jog, I knew I needed to do something. My trainer has proven it works, so it is my New Year’s resolution. I’m to keep my HR at 127 (the trainer’s recommended pace based on my age.). I use the treadmill because it’s easier to change pace. After three weeks, I can see my pace or incline can increase while my HR stays closer to 127. I am hooked!

  37. This is really interesting since I think we all want to continue run as long as possible. I would love to hear about what “gear” you are using for this.

  38. I’ve been intrigued about heart rate training for a while but haven’t been able to find acceptable answers to my questions. I’m curious where the <140 came from. Is it just based on charts or did you do a max HR test? My understanding is that most of the charts and standards are based on men and for men and aren't even all that current. I know as women we don't always fit into the "men's" categories and I think HR training based on their models is probably one of those cases. I know my HR is always much higher than list as "should be" and I know many other women where this is the case as well.

    1. Hey Julianna: Sorry I didn’t provide that in the first round of the article. Here’s a great place to start to determine your HR: http://philmaffetone.com/180-formula/

      I’ve done max tests before on the bike and on the treadmill (for work purposes) and they work, but they’re really physically difficult and cost $$$. I’d start with the Maffetone formula, and if it feels terribly wrong, then you can look into ways of adjusting.

  39. Thanks for writing and sharing this. I have been embracing the walk more for a couple years, when I need it and say to myself, “I have nothing to prove.” And then I try to enjoy the moment more. Just started tracking my heart rate in the last couple weeks too to compare workouts. Then, I had the funniest treadmill run last week where i hardly broke a sweat for ten miles and then told myself, “Now listen, it’s time to step it up.” But after reading this, I think I will embrace that run too. One thing I know about ultra, it’s about chilling and doing no harm. Looking forward to your results.

  40. I’ve heard of it in the past, but that is it. You’ve definitely peaked my interest! Can’t wait to hear more about it from you!

  41. I am very interested in learning/hearing more. I am a new-ish runner in my 40s and I want to continue to build on my cardiovascular base but remain injury free. In my last training cycle for a half, the wear and tear of the “comfortably hard pace” took its toll on me mentally and physically. I might have to give this a try.

  42. This is one of those topics I’ve been avoiding reading about, because I don’t want to have to monitor anything on my run and to be able to run “free”….but given that I keep saying this method mentioned, I read this post….I’m intrigued!

  43. It works, it works, it works. I started HR training last spring after another disappointing half marathon. I went and got a VO2max test to get my “zones” and I stuck with it all year during marathon training. I had to suck up my ego and drop from my 9:15 pace group to 11!!, but slowly and surely over the season I made it to the 10:00 group while running Z2 and it feels easy. I’m not so wiped at the end of a long run, so I can actually do more things on Saturday than lay on the couch. My BRF did the same thing and she completed her first marathon in under 4 hours by doing most of her runs at 10:30s! If that’s not a success story, I don’t know what is. Main point: it takes patience. It will really make you mad for a couple of months, but stick with it. Results happen.

  44. I would love to learn more, I have always gone out to fast and have worried way to much about pace. I got a garmin 235 for christmas so I have been toying with trying this. Also curious about the 140 number? Is it uniform for everyone or is it different for everyone base on RHR, age, etc.

  45. I’ve been seeing more about HRT and I must admit it’s peaked my interest. I would love to hear more or have more resources!!

  46. This is very intriguing to me? I am excitedly awaiting your results! Now, off to read the hot book collecting dust on my shelf!

  47. I’ve been dabbling with this since the summer. I’m in my mid 40’s and I honestly believe it’s why I didn’t get injured training for my 1st half. It is very frustrating though, I’ve been keeping my HR <145, maybe that's to high. I'd love to hear as much information as you have. On an interesting side note I went out for an easy 6mi run a few weeks ago and my HR was sky high, I knew something was off. 36 hours later I was sick as a dog. It's definitely given me a more of an insight to my body.

  48. When you mentioned your HR training on a recent podcast, I was immediately excited for future information. I’ve been interested in it, but not enough to research and start it. Plus, did I really want another gadget to strap on and numbers to watch? I love getting information from real people about this, so please keep sharing away about this!

  49. As I sit here reading this with a swollen knee ( would love to hear any advice on Runner’s Knee) from running way too fast on Sunday, I can’t help but think hmmm maybe I should give heart rate training a try. Dimity I totally get your first hang up around speed. I am by no means fast but I have in my head that over a certain time is not a work out. (Yet here I am not running at all this morning). I am super curious to hear more about how it is going.

  50. I’d love to try HR training, but was wondering how your trainer calculated what your HR should be. is it the 220 minus your age for MHR, or does it go by a certain percentage of your MHR? Can you share what your trainer used to calculate yours? Thanks so much!

  51. Can I just say, please don’t hesitate to post “slow” paces onto Strava, along with the faster ones. I’m a slow runner working on doing slow runs AND fast(er) runs, and it’s motivating to see a variety of paces coming from one person.

  52. Super interested in this!! I’ve been toying with the idea of trying HR training for a while now, but I’ve been a little uptight about how slow I know I would have to go to keep my HR low. I can barely keep it in the lower zones for some of my interval training runs…I just get too focused on pace. I really want to hear more about this, and would love to get a strava group started for other BAMRs that are giving HR training a try!!

  53. I’d also like to know how one determines their target HR. I take a beta blocker, daily, for migraines and am wondering how this affects things. I’m all for injury prevention – being 55 and all. Thanks for the post.

  54. I am much the same of a runner…out too fast and try to maintain comfortably hard and then end up either dead at the end or injured. I’m intrigued by the heart rate training, but haven’t jumped on board. I guess it means change…and I don’t know where to start.

  55. I have always been awful at math and always feel when there are numbers involved in running I tend to back off, but am really interested in learning more – especially how do you find out what your target heart rate should be and the best way to monitor it – like is a strap more accurate than a wrist watch that measures heart rate?

  56. I too will love following this thread and your training. I am, for the first, time using a winter training plan with a coach and while I cannot get my head around lactate thresholds, I am learning more and more about heart rate zones. I think this makes sense for me, an already a slower runner who definitely does not always love it. And it helps my husband got me a Garmin 920 with a heart rate monitor for Xmas!

  57. Dimity, this post is full of great information! I tried heart rate training once, for about 3 days, and couldn’t stick with it. I know runners who have started heart rate training, but have never heard much about their end result. I’m looking forward to following your experience. It’s fantastic that you’ve increased your mileage so much, and days per week running, and are feeling good.

  58. I have never tried this type of training but recently I have thinking about it. I’ve always do be same thing- go run. Typically my runs are not super hard but monitoring my heartrate would be interesting. How did she come up with the number 140 for you? I may have to order the garmin 235 ive been stalking so I can give this training a try!!

  59. My husband, who has completed an ironman and multiple 50k races, is my “trainer”. He swears by heart rate training. It took me a while to believe that running slower will make you run faster. I would see him to training runs at a 10:30 pace and then crush a marathon at a 7:20 pace. Whenever I would come back panting from a run I would always proclaim “I had a 10:30 average!” (my fast), and he would always have the same statement, “I don’t care. What was your heart rate?” Anyway, I finally caught on, and I’ve had less knee/hip/IT band issues ever since. It’s been about a year, and I haven’t noticed much difference in pace, but I can see it on the horizon. Now I come home post run (not panting) and proclaim “my average heart rate was 135!”…even if my 12:00 minute pace is admittedly hard to post to strava. I’m trying to stop calling myself “slow”. Like you said, a mile is a mile.

  60. Hi Dimity, that’s very interesting. So, the 140 HR limit is for everyone regardless of resting heart rate or age? Also curious to know what HR monitor gadget you wear. Sounds like that type of training might suit me; the minute I increase mileage I tend to get injured, with a nagging right knee and right hip the normal culprits. Oh to be able to happily run consistently! Combined with my new glute strengthening program and, as you mention, foam rolling, maybe I could get there. Thanks!

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