As I was running along this morning, dreaming that my pace might actually increase enough for me to one day consider entering a marathon, it occured to me that I only ever run at one pace, regardless of distance. Yesterday I was using Jeff Galloway’s race predictor to determine my potentail marathon finish time – 6 flippin hours! Grief! I can’t think about entering a marathon until I could complete it in 5, preferably 4 hours and something (I would happily replace the something for anything in that last sentence) but 6 hours is seriously gruelling.
I’ve just surfed on by the runnersworld website and found myself attracted to an article discussing the advantages of heart rate training and particularly the system designed by Phil Maffetone. The link to the article is here, but I think you might need to be a subscriber to view it. The point that attracted my attention was that Phil made the comment that most beginners make the mistake of running all runs at the same pace regardless of duration. He suggests a period of running slowly in order to speed up and recommends a base training period of at least 2 months at a heart rate of 180 – (age), providing you are fit, healthy and have been exercising recently. For me that is a heart rate of 145 bpm, which seems very low for me. I currently find a reasonably comfortable run, averages about 164 bpm. Tomorrow I will make a point of checking out how slow I need to run to stick at 145 bpm.
Other people who have tried this method also found the prescribed heart rate to be painfully slow but those that stuck at it seemed to notice speed benefis in the long run. One woman improved her marathon time from 4:05 to 3:31 which is a major benefit.
I find these radical programs really intimidating. I run really slow as it is, suggesting I run at 145 bpm would see me practically walking and then I’d be back at square one. On the other hand, I see that my current heart rate is pretty damn high for an easy training run and maybe I would really benefit from trying something new. Hay ho I suppose this is what makes sports science so interesting – no hard facts – its all trial and error.