Monday, February 6, 2012

Interval Pace Babbling

Warning: This may interest very few readers today, except the die-hard data junkies.

I am not sure what took me so long to make the connection! Interval pace is ran at your predicted 5k pace....all except Jack Daniels.

This week I had a moment where the dim light bulb, also known as "my brain",  lit up-- it was a little "Aha" moment with running.

I have been having some trouble with interval paces in my marathon training. My goal with Daniels' Vdot training is to hit these intervals at exactly the right interval pace- which he lists as 6:10 for my most recent races.

Anyhow, I have been coming up slow in most of my intervals. This is really nothing new since I have started training using Vdot, though. The intensity is tough!

A quick comparison of Intervals across some of the famous coaches
  • I pace with Daniels is precise, "most people should shoot for 98% - 100% of HRmax, (95-100% Vo2 max)  rather than always demanding a 100% value". Also, there is an absolute cap of no more than 10K in I pace/week. Interval recoveries are to be easy aerobic, and equal to, (or lesser than), the time spent running at I pace. Intervals are to be 5 minutes or less, and 3-5 minutes is optimal. Using Daniels Vdot calculator: 1:29:30 half= 19:30 5k (6:17 pace) ...actual suggested I pace for training= 6:10
  • Between McMillan's calculator and Vdot: Vdot it is faster. McMillan provides a window for training at I pace. My "window" would be 6:04-6:18. Using the McMillan calculator 1:29:30 half= 19:22 5k (6:14 pace) .
  • Pete Pfitzinger (Advanced Marathoning) is reported to be a student of Daniels (Noakes Lore of Running), and incorporates his VO2max sessions as 3-5k pace workouts, or between 95-100% of your max heart rate. One of his plans states "Careful readers will notice that none of the VO2 max sessions calls for repeats longer than 1600 meters. The optimal duration for VO2 max intervals is two to six minutes; only elite runners will cover more than 1600 meters in a 6-minute interval.". I am kind of glad he doesn't have his own calculator.  The other two are confusing enough!
Heart rate data
I decided to take a look at my interval pace heart rate - just for kicks.

Using a heart rate max based on the highest number I have recorded in racing/training, my max heart rate is around 172 (5k race and feeling near death).


Click to enlarge- I am hitting around 94% sometimes. Nice water break after about 53 minutes. :)
The numbers, if accurate, show that my top interval HR max is actually around 94%, but most of the interval is spent at  92-93%. So I could be running harder....or my heart rate data could be off. In any case, I thought it was interesting as a test. (You might be bored stiff by it. :)


What has helped me (mentally) deal with the under performance in training is knowing/remembering a few things:
  • I pace has always been HARD for me to hit, but in the last 5k I did (one of 2 in the last 3 years!), I out performed the calculator and I had been training at a lower intensity than I am now.
  • The recovery times are short for these intervals--equal to or less than the TIME I spend running them. Before I had my Garmin, I ran all my intervals on the road (still do, by necessity) and did them all as 1600's (around 6 minutes each). I afforded myself 1600M recovery running, which  set me up to go faster in my intervals (longer rest), but took a greater toll on my body. It gave me great confidence until my injury period!
  • Since all this interval work is done on the road, there certainly could be some variables factoring in with my GPS readings: not totally flat, hair-pin turn involved in a 1200M interval, or trees in the way.
  • Racing times matter more than training times. Faster training does not always equal faster racing. 
  • I am DONE with all interval paced training for at least 12 weeks. If I do any I paced running, it will be in an impromptu 5k. 
So I have excuses. And that works for me at the moment! :)
***
Bonus random non-related info: I found out that the Eugene Marathon will have ladies Nike fitted shirts in small and medium- green. It's the little things. :)
***
From readers, I would love to know:

Do you use your heart rate monitor? 
Do you like intervals? What is a typical interval session like for you?
Do you have a preferred method of establishing max heart rate?

72 comments:

  1. I'm definitely incorporate interval training during my spring/summer plan. I just can't get into the heart rate monitoring - not ready to add more data. But I know it works ...

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    1. Kathy, watch out! You are going to blast your next marathon if you do that :)

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  2. Huh?!?!?!

    I'm an English major.

    No to HR monitor, but they have this fancy schmancy Human Performance lab in San Diego that calculates all this high tech stuff (VO2 and Lactate Threshold), and I am DYING to see my fitness levels and incorporate HR training at some point. Now... To find the time to do it + the $200 fee.

    I do like intervals! Getting back them this week, in fact. 5 X 800s tomorrow with 200 rest for 6 miles total of running. My coach sent me a crazy spreadsheet of what I will be doing over the next couple of months. There's a wide variety: 400s, 600s, 1200s. 1600s. The rest period is always shorter than the interval itself. Mostly 200-400 between sets. There's something new each week with increasing speed as I get closer to my May marathon.

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    1. Yeah...I hear you on the 200$. I am curious, but not THAT curious! Sure would like a peek at your spreadsheet :)

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  3. ha ha, you know I love these technical posts. I'm journaling about my I pace right now so that I can get in touch with my inner runner here. Ha! No, really though, I like this:
    "faster training does not always equal faster racing". I needed to be reading this right now...feeling really slow and pathetic with training. Hoping I can still get good race results. :) I hope Petey boy gets me into some intervals or speed soon. I guess he does call for some tempos and sprints so it is up to me to actually DO THE PLAN. Wish I had more info about HR and I stuff but I don't know much about these things. And my brain is tired but Gosh, sure do love you! I might be crazy and run Eugene for fun if Waylon can't do it. I'll be cheering from you from behind (by several hours) if that's the case...but we all know that doing Boston and then Eugene would just be pure STUPID.

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    1. I think Petey boy is going to have you gasping for breath in no time. You will be grateful for the medium long runs and the LT runs. haha. But it will be fun! I would SO love to see you at Eugene- running or just cheering. I might need some fresh bottles around Valley River Center. :)

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  4. I do not use a heart rate monitor. And I am afraid of intervals. I get so stressed out trying to hit specific paces.

    I usually use mcmillian. I didn't know that there were other pace calculators. I will check them out. Thanks!

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    1. Rena, fear not! :) You will enjoy the Vdot calculator. Also there are several others. One you might like is http://www.runworks.com/calculator.html

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  5. I go through heart rate monitor phases. I could never get my heart rate anywhere near what it was suppose to be. Around 170, and I feel like I might pass out. I've been running faster lately though, so I wonder if that has changed. I also go through interval phases. For me, interval training definitely makes me faster, but it also stresses me out. Sometimes I just want to run and not plan or think about paces.

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    1. Running without thinking is EXACTLY why I started running...funny how things change :)
      I notice that some formulas ask you to subtract points if you have been running for over 2 years. I wouldn't be surprised if yours has done some yo-yo-ing with pregnancy, though I know you ran through yours- so inspiring!

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  6. This is some serious data. I like to look at my Garmin data, but I'm not great about using it for much. I am terrible about wearing my HR monitor. I am better about it when I bike than when I run for some reason. I should probably use it alot more - maybe I would actually get faster some day.

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    1. I think you are getting faster! It does seem as though a lot of cyclists use a HRM - and train regularly with it, but it is much harder to get to max on a bike.

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  7. Data! I don't think you should destroy yourself to hit the I times exactly. It appears as though the general effort (hard!!) and time of interval has been working out for you pretty well. Keep up the good training!

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    1. Thanks Beth! You are as nuts over stats as I am- or more :)

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  8. When I see graphs like that my heart races. Yep, I'm such a stats geek. I love it and have lots and lots of data from 30.5 years of running.

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    1. Haha! I bet you DO Johann! Miles and miles of data..

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  9. I find the HR issue fascinating. I have the opposite problem, HR is too high. My max yesterday on a moderate run was 208. I raced my 5K PR @ 195. My HM PR @ 185 average. But, my resting HR is 59. I know you have much lower HR overall. So, either my monitor is not precise, or I just have different ranges. It makes sense to me, HR should be bell shaped, with some people at the high and low ranges. I am now figuring out my ranges.

    For me training fast means racing fast. This has to do with the mental component, confidence, but also with getting my digestive system used to racing hard. To me, the faster than 5K paces seem correct. In the last mile of a 5K the 5K pace will feel more like 5K-10secs or so, exactly what Daniels has you do (I trained with the FIRST program for my first marathon and the times I had to hit were Daniels, faster than McMillan). But, when I train really hard I run 9-9:30 or slower the next day.

    I think everyone is different. As much as we try to find something that works uniformly for everyone, well, that can't happen. You are doing great Raina, and whether you hit your I pace or not, you are smoking it at all distances:)

    Green skirts -nice work Eugene!

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    1. Very interesting about your heart rate, AM. You are right about there being a bell curve to it all..and if you weren't working out like you do, your resting HR would be much higher, but yours sounds normal to me as it is. Mine is just low- always has been. Lower when fit.
      One of the things I came across was that very young, highly trained, women tend to have high heart rates- so maybe your true age is 20. :)

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    2. AM...so glad to hear this b/c I am like you!! I can easily get into the 180's at tempo pace...when i'm racing my HR is in the 200's as well!! MY resting heart rate is in the 40's!!:( so what gives? I have never known what the heck this means?
      I mostly want to knwo what range I should be aiming for for "easy" days???? help!

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  10. I think this stuff is super interesting and just got into HR training last September. I agree with you 100% that the HR shows us how hard we are actually working in relation to our perception, meaning we could be working harder or too hard. Training often with my monitor on has helped me to know when I'm pushing too hard on the easy days, which is probably my biggest downfall and is what held me back last fall from an amazing PR in the marathon.

    For me because I drink so much coffee I have the added challenge of data that is sometimes off, but it's still sometime helpful. I like your point that just because you cruise through your speed session doesn't mean that you'll perform any stronger in races, there is a lot of power in this statement.

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    1. Coffee could mess up my data? Oh, darn it!

      I am 100% with you on the easy run data. I try to wear it a few times a week on E runs so that I can see if my easy is really easy. Once I had a huge spike in my numbers and figured it had to do with the cold medicine, and cold I was running with. That made me think twice about actually running with cold medicine, since you can damage your heart.

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    2. curious....what do you ladies use as your "easy" HR???
      Joel told me it should be 150-155 but someone else told me it's diff for everyone so I have no idea what mine should be.....

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    3. Nicole, Mine is a lot lower than that, but yours MIGHT be right at that number. If you are concerned, you can get a test done by a physician. (I haven't done that.) But to determine your max heart rate, there are several different types of physical tests you can do while recording HR. Then you can consult a variety of books or online sources to see what your training zones are. Easy pace would be a certain percentage (zone) of your max heart rate. Noake's "Lore of Running" outlines the zones.
      Hope you are feeling better!

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  11. Great post. I took me a couple of times reading it to begin to get it. I still call you "wicked fast".

    As for HR monitor - yes I do; Jill requires the data.
    Do I like intervals? - think so. I just follow the schedule as best that I can.
    Estab a max HR - above my comprehension - that one I will leave up to the coach. :)

    Overall my brain is at 184% capacity; so I do not have a clue about most of the Vmax, HR rates, etc. However, I like reading all about them. Thanks

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    1. Well, I will stay tuned for your post about what your coach has you do to establish your HR max. ALWAYS curious. :)

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  12. Kid, you are still WAY faster than I will ever be. I'm so totally fine with that. I do all this running stuff for the fun of it. If I were to start getting worked up about Vmax and HR% and all that, it would become like work, and I would become obsessed with the data. I am a bit of a data-junkie, I love reading this kind of stuff, remember I am often scarily close with predictions of peoples race times based on the data they provide (I missed your half time last year by 2 seconds per mile). I want this all to stay fun and easy, so it stays my retreat from the world for a few hours a week. But I kinna grove on reading this stuff.

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    1. Well you are allowed to keep reading and commenting, even if you just want to enjoy your running without the data. Hope you are keeping your money safe this year until race day! :)

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  13. I have to be honest with you, you don't want advice from me because I only understood about 1/3 of what you were talking about! I am not fully fluent in runese yet!

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    1. You will be! And I just love hearing from you- advice not necessary. Friendly comments always welcome. :)

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  14. I haven't done intervals for quite a while... now I am feeling guilty!

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    1. Do I need to send someone over with a stopwatch?! Just kidding- we only practice guilt-free blogging here!!

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  15. Interesting stuff. I love technical data.

    Do you use your heart rate monitor? Yes, but I haven't for about a month.

    Do you like intervals? What is a typical interval session like for you?
    Just started doing them. After three years of really slow running and not much improvement in the last two years, I decided to start. This morning was my third session, 5x800. Last week was 4 and the first week was 3. I started them after reading this article http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-244-255-624-0,00.html

    Do you have a preferred method of establishing max heart rate? Lactate threshold test, go all out for 30 minutes and take the average heart rate from the last 20 minutes. I don't do them often because they hurt.

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    1. Thanks for the suggested test! So an average over 20 minutes- not the highest number? That might work in my favor, at least making things more comfortable, or pushing the data closer to 95-100% during my intervals! I like it...

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  16. I am going to be using my heart rate monitor for this training cycle, where I'm focusing on speed and will be doing a lot of intervals.

    I had to compute my maximum heart rate for the McMillan questionnaire--the formula I used was this: HRmax = 205.8 − (0.685 × age). Apparently (according to Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge :^) ), this is the "least objectionable" formula (the best way being an expensive test in a physiology lab--would love to do that someday, but it's not in the budget right now). For me, at 39, the result was right on 179. So that's where I'm going to start. But I do plan to modify if my workouts indicate something different would be more appropriate.

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    1. That's an interesting formula- the closest formula to what I have been able to determine as my max. The common formula people use is 220-age and that just doesn't come as close for me. I will look forward to reading your HR related blog posts! :)

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  17. I have read this 8 times. I'm going to read it 4 more and then I will comment-ha ha! Great post Raina! I'll be back soon:)

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    1. LOL...if you have the time! We ALL have time issues! I promise I will stop editing it so that you don't have to read 4 more times. :)

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    2. I agree..I've read it twice...still not totally registered..I will try a few more times too...

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  18. I'm a data junkie!! I've just started using a heart rate monitor consistently (well sort of) with this training. So right now, I'm just collecting data to try to figure out at a later date.

    The only way I've established max heart rate was just using the highest on my garmin -- it is higher than the formulas say it should be but the paces I run make that higher number seem reasonable. Otherwise I'm always training at a too high heart rate and that doesn't make sense based on effort. But there's so much to figure out --

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    1. Sounds like you will have lots of numbers to play with after Eugene!

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  19. I'm a fan of intervals-the challenge of them, how it feels when you're done, the whole thing!

    Somebody once told me a few years ago that stuck with me: "you never win anything in training". Bam.

    As for HR monitor, I acutally own one but have never used it. I may do some tris here soon, so it may get the dust blown off it yet!

    Keep up the good work:)

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    1. Tri? Really?? I thought you were just doing the XT for fun! I love that quote, too. :)

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  20. Raina, you made my day, this is what it is, a super fit 20 year old trapped into a 38 y old body. Off to tell this to Tim:)

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    1. Ha! I am sure that I am right. Or you have us all fooled with your photos :)

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  21. My max HR with no calculator, just the highest I have ever seen on my monitor is 211

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  22. I am basing my training off of Jack Daniel's plan! Nice to see someone else is too! That's awesome!! It's funny that you said with his plan you get a shorter rest than you are used to because I experienced just the opposite! I am used to taking about 2 minutes rest in between intervals but Daniel's plan I get much more which is actually kind of nice! This is just my second week trying out his plan, but I like it so far! I do use a HR monitor as well, but I don't know what my true max HR is for sure. Based on what I've seen on my HR monitor I have a good estimate. If you wear the HR monitor for a 5K race you'll probably get pretty close to max HR at the end. Great post! I love reading about others experiences with these sort of things! It seems like training should be pretty simple, but it's really so complicated! :)

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    1. Ah! another Daniels fan! I wonder if you are talking about intervals done at Threshold pace ?? Those have really short recoveries- like 1-2 minutes for 5-10 minutes of running? I'd love to hear more about your plan, Angie!

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  23. OK, so I mostly had very little idea what you were talking about, but I tried. :) You are smokin' fast, that's for sure.

    I have a heart rate monitor, but right now the data is just "interesting" to me; I don't actually do anything with it.

    I love intervals. For my marathon, they were 1600s with 800 recovery jogs; I really like the 800's/400 recovery ones. Right now, though, I'm just focusing on logging the miles for the 50K. Survival, not speed. :)

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    1. You will do better than survive that 50k! And I like 800's too- sounds like your recovery time is similar- just measured in distance :)

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  24. I love these kinds of posts but it was alittle over my head righ tnow...still foggy from all the drugs.

    right now John has me doing mile repeats at my 5K pace (6:30) we'll see how that goes!!

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    1. I think John will have you in good shape, Nicole! :)

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  25. I never had a structured race training plan as such and, at my time of life, don't suppose I ever will! Being a late starter (aged 54) who took up running for health reasons, I wasn't even aware of such things - and didn't have a computer at that stage to surf the 'net for information, nor such things as a Garmin or heart rate monitor. My training consisted of a few intervals and pyramid sessions round a local cricket field, some long solitary off-road runs around our Pennine hills and lots of shorter races to raise my overall cruising speed. Occasionally, if I got a lift, I'd do a few measured intervals on the track - but it wasn't really my scene. Basically, I just kept it simple, listening to my body, running according to how I felt, staying pretty much within my comfort zone and, most importantly, enjoying what I was doing.
    Derek Turnbull, one of my great New Zealand mentors, had a similar approach and became known as 'The Fastest Old Man in The World' with his numerous world records (including his 2:41:57 to win MV65 in London). I never got anywhere near his high standards but proved it possible to run sub 3 hour marathons, in my 60's, by ignoring all the plans, charts, graphs, HRM's, Vo2Max sessions, etc. etc. and just running for fun and enjoyment. Not that I'd recommend such an approach to anyone training for this year's Olympics!

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    1. Well, I am certainly not training for the Olympics,
      but I am serious about training to get faster at this point in my life.
      I enjoy it- the data, the workouts, enough to run crazy hours outdoors. There are certainly more bells and whistles now compared to when you were at your fastest, but since i don't have a track to access without a 40 mile round trip, I am glad to have my GPS. It's a nice upgrade from spray painting every 200M on the backroads...
      Also, I do enjoy running for "just running" in its season. :)

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  26. OK-I'm back to this. I have now read it my required 12 times before commenting-ha! I roughly use McMillan in training-slightly adapted. My window for I pace is 6:20-7:45. I've been fairly consistent landing somewhere in here-ha ha! I'm kidding.

    This is a great post Raina. You lay out coaching comparisons clearly and you make technical data very easy to read and comprehend for your readers. This is truly a great running blog!!

    I have NO idea what my HR max is and now I'm very curious. I'm maybe going to run a 5K in the next couple of weeks, not as a race for 5K necessarily but as a test in mental strength. Really thinking I need to practice hurting and pushing through in prep here. I am thinking I will try HR monitor as I'm guessing I get near my max in a 5K. I really do think this HR training is interesting and maybe something for another training cycle:)

    I'm going to email in a bit about racing times vs. training times and confidence etc. as I would get cut off on here!!

    Your final bullets are great!! The road, variables and the Garmin etc. can make a HUGE difference in pace. You could have been running sub I pace on a track for the same effort. You are doing fantastic!!! As usual, love to see a post from you. You always make me think. Have a great day girl!

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    1. OK, Jenn. I am really looking forward to your 5k- pushing through the hurt part and the data. Keep me posted. I will be giddy about it when you do!

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  27. I use my heart rate monitor to keep myself under my aerobic threshold on some long runs. I haven't done interval training in ages. I might throw in some interval training once I develop some consistent base training. The highest heart rate I've gotten (at the end of a 5K)is 203 and my resting heart rate is in the mid 40s. We're all different when it comes to heart rates and exertion levels. There are so many variables! "We are all an experiment of one."

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    1. That's what I usually use mine for as well- or just to glance over the highs and lows when I am done.

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  28. I don't own a heart rate monitor, but i do plenty of interval training and tempo runs. My secret to PR-ing (is that even a word?!?) is CrossFit Endurance 3 times a week. It's a magical potion of interval, tempo, and moderate long runs. Last October I did a 1:48 half marathon without running over 6 miles. Check into it... it works -and you don't have to wear a big ol' wonky watch or heart monitor. smiles!

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    1. I do like to run - a lot- If I had more time to squeeze in more fitness, oddly I would choose running. But I have heard of CrossFit and know lots of people prefer it. :)

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  29. I definitely like the HR and the data it spits out, but you know this data can be greatly challenged by so many variables (wind, temperature, sleep, recovery... to name a few) that I try not to make it all set in stone or I'd go manic! All these numbers meant a lot more to me when I was competitively racing in college and right after but I don't care as much as I once did. I'm just happy to be out there running these days! :)

    I love how passionate you are about the data and I know you are learning so much from it all. That is truly inspiring!

    :)

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    1. True about variables. Glad we don't have much wind here...it would probably be a good idea to check the resting heart rate that day before the workout, I imagine.

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  30. I'm trying to work intervals back in recently... in the past, speed work often got me injured as I just jumped in with too much too soon, but I'm feeling good so far. I don't use a heart rate monitor, but I do find the track is the best place for me. I tried doing my 400's on a running path this week and was all over the place, partly because there were some traffic lights and street crossings in the mix, oops!

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    1. Ah! Street lights are a no-go. You do need a country road at minimum! A track is certainly better :)

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  31. I hate intervals and do them as little as possible. :-)

    (and OpenID is being a sulky child today.)

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    1. That's VERY possible with OpenID.
      Maybe you hate intervals, but I bet you know what your heart rate % of max is during them & how you established your HR max!! I hope that OpenID didn't gobble up a very good, detailed explanation you were going to leave! It would be more fun than me googling around...

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  32. HRM - Sometimes. I try and not get lost on the data and forget to just run and have fun.

    Intervals - 1/week to keep my turnover high. Again, I don't get lost in the numbers.

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  33. Interesting post, it brings me to the time when I was a runner.
    I don't use HRM, I cannot do anymore intervals; when I was in the Navy Team we used to do that work into the stadium: 10 series of 1000 meters (1 km) with 200 m. of recover.

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  34. I guess I am a few days behind reading this but your interval pacing jargon is always of interest to me! I haven't been doing too much interval training this past year. My speed work has mostly been in the form of tempo runs (which have helped immensely) but I do try to work in 800 repeats on a semi-regular basis. Right before a race I throw in 400's.

    When I start training for NYC this summer I am looking into buying an online customized plan from the Jack Daniels site. One of my buddies is doing Grandma's Marathon and she just got her plan from him. I looked at her plan and I must say I liked it. Do you use a plan from his book or is it more customized for you?

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  35. we use HR a lot. It really helps with base training. Well, the hubs knows a lot more about that. But it's tricky with interval training. Just have to make sure it's accurate, like you said. Youre getting so speedy woman!

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  36. Great talk about intervals and heart rates!

    I really haven't done any training related to speed work or intervals since high school, so when I am back to health and running fine again I would like to do some!

    Sounds like your training is going well!

    I loved my garmin 305 HRM, I thought it was great for reigning me in during training so I wouldn't do runs too fast. Such great data collection too.

    For max heart rate, I've never actually done a test to determine what my max is, but the highest number I've ever seen on my HRM is 200, so I figure that my max HR is 205 or so. No idea if this is actually accurate =)

    http://nellyontherun.blogspot.com/2011/05/whats-your-heartrate.html

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  37. And I appreciate the note about the stress fracture, it does seem to be getting better over time. Though I may have slightly tweaked my left knee snowboarding last week, hopefully it feels better with a bit of rest. I was afraid of getting injured while snowboarding, but I think my injury is somewhat minor - I can't catch a break though!

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  38. WOW! This is an informative post and a little over my head! You are fast and getting faster!

    I use my HR monitor consistently in Spinning class but I have failed to use it with running (like I KNOW I should). This post is prompting me to do so! You are getting so prepared for Eugene!

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