breaking away....

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Heart Rate Training

The purpose of training by heart rate is to establish the intensity of a specific workout.  Most people may go by speeds, or perceived exertion, so why get so specific.  The heart rate is a measurement of what is going on in your body during the test.  It is specific to the individual.  You can have a high maximum heart rate, or a lower maximum heart rate, this is not an indication of your ability, it is a specific measurement of your heart rate, the number of beats your heart takes in a minute.
 My goal in writing this article is to make clear why you would use heart rate training and how do you establish your training zones and implement them.

Your heart rate is a measure of  how many times your heart  beats per minute.  Stroke volume is the amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat.  With increased conditioning a person’s heart will start to pump more blood volume per beat.  This increase provides more oxygen rich blood to the body per beat, this eventually is evident by a lowering of the resting heart rate, and increased ability at the same heart rate.  Why does this matter?  If you have been training by speed alone a decrease in heart rate at the same speed means you are working at a lower level, you may eventually be under training for the purpose of a specific workout.  If you want to make sure your training is quality training and not junk miles, strap on a heart rate monitor and begin to train with purpose and a clear goal for each workout.

 If you understand the need for different types of workouts, then understanding heart rate zones is easy.

 Heart Rate Training Zones:
First you should establish your resting heart rate.  To accomplish this, first thing in the morning before you get up, you should put on your heart monitor and record your heart rate.  It will usually stay close to the same.  If it is up 3 or more beats per minute over the norm it could mean you are fighting a bug or are overtraining.
Resting Heart Rate: ___________
Zone 1:          Active Recovery 65 – 75 % of Lactate Threshold.  Training            in this zone: is used for Active Recovery Workouts for the day     following high intensity workouts; uses stored fat for energy.

Zone 2:          Aerobic 75 – 85 % of Lactate Threshold.  Training in this Zone: burns a mix of fat and glycogen for energy; will improve your  ability to transport oxygen.  Endurance intensity.
Zone 3:          Threshold 85 – 95 % of Lactate Threshold.  Training in this           Zone: burns mainly glycogen for energy; is the best zone to climb hills in as it takes less recovery than higher zones;  will improve your ability to burn carbohydrates.
Zone 4:          Lactate 95 – 105% of Lactate Threshold.  Training in this Zone: burns glycogen for energy but without enough oxygen,        therefore it is anaerobic; builds speed and a tolerance for lactate acid;    raises your lactate threshold; is hard on the body and takes a couple          days to recover.
Zone 5:          VO2 Max  > 105% of Lactate Threshold  Training in this zone: is done without oxygen it is completely anaerobic; Short efforts          in this zone will increase your VO2 max, the ability of your body to transport oxygen to the working muscles.

Max Heart Rate: ______________

In a Triathlon training season you will be focusing on many different styles of workout, but the most important one would be your aerobic workouts, you want to increase the ability to burn fat for energy.  You want to create a training program that doesn’t leave you overtrained and depleted.

 How do you establish your training zones?  Go to a lab for testing.  Use the calculated zones for your specific training.

How to implement heart rate training in your plan.  Heart rate monitors are effective in measuring the body’s response to an increase in workload, but where an increase in speed on a treadmill is immediate, the heart rate response has a lag.  It may take a full minute to reach the level it needs to do that work level.  For this reason it is valuable to use your heart rate as a target for your long distance runs, keep your heart rate for top of zone 2 your ceiling, you do not want to cross this.  For shorter harder intervals, the lag in response makes the heart rate a poor choice for setting your speed.  For this reason I use a run test which maps heart rate to speed.  This allows me to see what speed gets an athlete into their zone 4 effort.  This is helpful as it allows me to retest often to make sure this is still a zone 4 effort and that they are still working hard enough.  For zone 4 workouts I give speed targets, not heart rate targets, I can assume the heart rate from the test.
What happens when the results are not showing what we had hoped, an increase in heart rate can be an indication that the body is under stress.  Stress can be from training, work, home life, nutrition, or illness coming on.  Keeping a diary of resting heart rate can show you when there is an increase in resting heart rate, and what happened in the days leading up to this as far as workouts and life stress.  Respect your heart rate on those days and maybe substitute that planned interval run for a recovery run or complete rest.  If your heart rate is telling you what is going on inside it is important to learn from this.

 Be aware that in the warm up phase of training your body is slow to respond to the bodies call for oxygen. You may experience heart rate spikes during warm up, another reason to start slow and gently warm up, I suggest walking before you begin your runs, this is enough for your body to already start to increase the heart rate and supply the body with the oxygen it needs.

In conclusion you can benefit from heart rate training as it gives you a window into what is going on inside.  You will know if you are working easy enough, or hard enough depending on the  goal of the workout.  You will also be able to run tests to show a change in conditioning which can signal a need to change your program up.  This is key, training with a purpose will get you to your goals.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year and New Goals

I am currently working on a heart rate training article to put up later this week, and realize that with the New Year, I got to see quite a few people I haven't seen since Ironman taking their first dip in the pool.  I am happy they were able to break from the routine for a good break so that they were ready to come back in the New Year.  Some people never do take that break, it is essential to have a beginning and end to the training plan.  You need a break from the constant focus on goals.  Now that that break is over for most, I am here to remind people to go back slowly.

Exercise patience and know that with patience you can build it back up without injury.  You can get that personal best without trashing your body.  You can focus on one thing at a time with absolute clarity and make that change happen.  Focus on the few things this year that haunted you last year.  Was it your technique, now is a good time to make that a priority, with focused practice.  Was it shoulder and breathing problems, go to yoga and work on breathing and mobility.  Look for the most benefit you can get from the low heart rate training that will have the most lasting effect on your sport.  Your best bet is anything that is knowledge and habit based, it takes a long time to create change.  Begin today with a goal and work towards that goal.

You can't change what you don't acknowledge, so give yourself time to analyze what one thing could you change that would have a lasting effect, make that your goal.

Happy New Years, I anticipate great things this year, as I sit in a Canadian winter that seems to be the eternal fall or spring, this gives me hope our summer will be warm and of course produce some fast, fast races.