Saturday, July 21, 2007

Heart Rate Zones.

Okay, so I took a few days off after the Bottomless Triathlon, to think about my next race and an associated training plan. I've had some motivation problems, especially with my running, since it just hasn't been much fun lately. I decided to change my focus, but in order to keep my focus changed I needed my training plan to keep me focusing on the right target.

So I revisited one of the books I used when I first started training last year. His plans are all time and heart rate zone oriented. Last year, I pretty much bagged the heart rate stuff because I couldn't stay in the appropriate zones, and came up with my own zone to work in. Then my training slowly evolved to focus more on speed and distance, which I think has helped my cycling a lot, but has just frustrated my running efforts.

So I picked one of the plans in the book, then researched and fiddled with the heart rate zones for a while. My trouble is that if I use the typical formula or a variation of to find my max heart rate (220-age) and then multiply it by the appropriate percentage, zone 1 seems way too low. I know there are ways to try and determine your max heart rate, but they all sound a bit too painful for me - plus they all highly recommend having a partner to help - uh anyone volunteer to help me find my max heart rate at 4:30am? It would be ideal to have one of those VO2 max tests, but lets see a.) I live in Podunk nowhere and 2.) I am not made of money - so.... I took a look at my peak and average rates from recent races - decided to make my average race peak rate my 80% max and back calculate the remaining zones. Here are my zones after doing this:
Zone 1: 102 - 123; Zone 2: 123 - 143; Zone 3: 143 - 163, Zone 4: 163 - 183. Zones 2 & 3 are about right,but I still think zone 1 is still a bit low and zone 4 may kill me if I actually get up to 183.

Okay- so week one of my 6 week plan goes like this (adjusted to my schedule and available pool times - of course):
Day 1: Planned - Run 30 min. in zone 1; strength train. Actual - Ran 30 (~2 mi, but I'm not counting), AHR = 123, no strength session (too much laundry and dirty dishes).
Day 2: Planned - Swim 45 min. zone 1. Actual - Swam ~37 minutes finished my 1200 yard workout, AHR = 91, ended up chatting with Aquaman for the remaining time. Got invited to go for coffee sometime - Jeff was amused.
Day 3: Planned - Bike 45 zone 1; strength train. Actual - Biked 37 on indoor trainer listening to music in headphones until youngest awoke, AHR = 117, strength trained in the pm.
Day 4: Planned - Swim 45 zone 1. Actual - swam 45 min finished 1450 yd workout, AHR = 114.
Day 5: Planned - Rest. Actual - Day 6 workout - Ran 60 (~ 3.75 mi, still not counting), AHR = 132.
Day 6: Planned - Run 60 in zone 1. Actual - Rest
Day 7 Planned - Bike 60 in zone 1. Actual - to be determined.

Observations: I can't run in zone 1. I tried, obviously from my mileage - averaging 15 min/ miles or more - but I'm not focusing on this... Trying to keep my heart rate down was to my legs like running downhill slow - after my hour run, once I stopped my knees spoke up. So either I should just walk for the zone 1 sessions or perform some kind of walk/jog or try and stick to a rule I found in my heart rate zone research and keep my HR less than 130 and use the Gunnar Borg's Rate of Perceived Effort scale - zone 1 equates to and RPE of 10 to 12 (fairly light exertion, just starting to break a sweat). I must admit though, that my long run was enjoyable as I didn't fatigue, or cramp, or have to yell at myself that I was not quitting. I watched the sun rise & enjoyed the coolness of the morning.
After my first swim session, I was worried that I couldn't swim in Zone 1 either but on the other side of it, even though my RPE felt about right. Maybe this is a key to my slowness in this leg? My second session I tried to kick it up a small notch and was successful.
My bike session I worked on keeping high cadence. I found that if I kept my cadence above 80 my heart rate stayed in zone 1, but if I got to 90 or higher I jumped into zone 2. Need to compare this with my outdoor session I hope to get today.
Next week's training is very similar except I have one swim and one bike session in zone 2. Then week 3 - 5 we kick it up both in zones and volume...


Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

I had my max HR tested. It would have been completely wrong based on the formulas, i seem to have some irregular heart beat. You might be able to do this yourself on a treadmill, although it is probably safer with a partner. Keep increasing the speed a little at a time until you feel like you're going to die or go flinging off the edge - that's a good estimate of your max. Jump off (feet on the rails) when you need to stop.

I cannot run in zone 1, that means walking for me. I can run/jog in zone 2, and I like it a lot. That is my Sunday pace.

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

Hrm. Zone 1 is not really a training zone - it's more of your sit on the couch zone.

For triathlon, you need to be aiming to train in zones 3 and 4. Perhaps this will help you figure out your zones - even if you use the 220 minus age thing...

It's useful to know your resting heart rate too, you get this before you even get out of bed in the morning.

Joe Friel's book is a good one for getting a lot of information, I recommend that, you can find it on Amazon.

You can get Recoverite online from Hammer, or your LBS (which i think there are not many where you are).

Keep goin'!