Interval, Heart Rate Training, Oh My!

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine

I am not a fast runner, I am average but I can maintain for long periods of time.  I would much rather go out for a long slow run than partake in interval training.  However, interval training is a big part of preparing for a marathon (especially if one wants to improve their overall time).   Last night I engaged in the dreaded act of intervals.  I started with a series of dynamic stretching.   Dynamic stretching improves dynamic flexibility and decreases the risk of injury due to running (these injuries are typically overuse or strains).  During the running movement working muscles have to overcome resistance from other non-active muscles (also known as agonists and antagonists muscle contractions).  Dynamic flexibility over time improves through the non-active muscles relaxing during the running motion causing less resistance to the working muscles.  The results are improved running economy.  Dynamic stretching trains the brain to send signals to the muscle fibers to hold less tension in the non-active muscles; which helps antagonist muscles to stretch during the running movement.  The runner will feel less tightness post run.  Many refer to these stretches as mobility exercises.  These exercises, which only take 5 minutes prior to running, imitate the same muscle recruitment, movement and contractions found in running. Engaging in dynamic stretching prior to exercise will loosen and lubricate muscles; training them to perform more efficiently during the workout by relaxing the antagonists muscles.  I will post a few pictures of examples at a later date, until then Google dynamic stretching or mobility exercises.

Post stretching I activated my Garmin and headed out for a 10 minute warm-up.  I typically start my warm-up at recovery pace (around 8:45 minute mile) and increase very gradually (about 8:30 minute mile).  The warm-up is light and easy no hills or labored breathing.  Easy breezy! I covered a little more than a mile within the 10 minute warm-up.  I typically recommend doing interval training at a park or on a track.  The surface tends to be smoother and the distance is known.  Since I have a child who demands my attention the road in front of house will do for now.  I did 10 X 1 minute intervals with 1 minute rest in-between.  Ideally I’d like to take 30 second breaks, but my body does not recovery quickly during intense workouts.  I wear a heart rate monitor because I’ve had some issues with over training in the past (which caused fluid to build around my heart and forced my heart to work harder in order to pump blood to my working muscles – I ended in the ER post race).  Heart rate training and monitoring is practical for assessing exercise intensity and knowing your limits.  During the warm up jog my heart was steady at 76-80 BPM.  Throughout the interval cycle my heart rate was around 100 BMP during rest periods and 177 BPM during activity.  What does this tell me?  My max heart rate is 191 BPM (220 – AGE (29) = 191 BPM), this concludes during interval training I reached 92% of my max heart rate (this is a rough estimate).  Training at this level is meant for short periods of time only. It effectively trains the fast twitch muscle fibers (explosive movements) and aids in developing speed.  Most people trying to lose weight train at 60% of their max heart rate because the body uses fat as a fuel source at this level (tapping into the aerobic system).  Most endurance athletes train at 70-80% of their max heart rate forcing their bodies to use carbs and glycogen as fuel. During my 1 minute sprints I reached a 4:50 pace (it ranged over the 10 repeats from 4:50 to 5:48 minute mile).  My rate of perceived exertion (also known as RPE) started at 13 and ended at 18.  The RPE rate is a range of numbers from 6 (no exertion at all) to 20 (max exertion) which helps individuals know how hard they feel they are training.

*The Karvonen Method is a more accurate formula to achieve an accurate heart rate training range for aerobic conditioning.  Max Heat Rate (220 – AGE) – Resting Heart Rate (lay down for 20 minutes without moving and then take resting heart rate) X Heart Rate Zone (60%-90% of Max Heart Rate) + Resting Heart Rate = WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE. *

Following the intervals, which were taxing on my body to say the least, I rested for 1 minute followed by a 10 minute cool down run (about an 8:10 pace).  The cool down run seemed effortless after a 5:50 pace for 10 minutes!  Every time I engage in interval training I think about the Kenyans. I don’t understand how they run so fast!  My sprint is their marathon pace (and most of them are faster than that).  I am beyond jealous of their abilities.  I must stay focused on me because I can only be the best me I can be!  I will never be fast, but I can improve my efficiency and form.  I will keep pushing for a stronger, better, faster marathon.  Boston in 17 days……..

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About runnerskickassphalt

I am a normal girl who happens to be a mom, wife, marathon runner, and CrossFit coach. I am constantly looking for my next adventure with my kids, clients and family.
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