Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How to use Heart rate monitor in your running training plan

In the Coachr.com article, ‘Heart Rate Training for Improved Running Performance,’ coach and exercise physiologist Jason Karp outlines the different types of training techniques that competitive runners use in their workouts. I have a heart rate monitor but haven’t been using it regularly to collect data on my running. After attending coach Rob Cloutier’s presentation on developing a training program at Fleet Feet Albany, I am committed to adding heart rate information to get more out of my running workouts.

Karp recommends that during the basic long distance run, which he calls the aerobic endurance run, the runner’s heart rate should be should be between 70- 75% max HR. The Sunday long run is not just ‘junk miles,’ it works to improve the runner’s muscles at a cellular level by increasing the number of mitochondria and capillaries in the legs.

I have chosen to focus on running a faster 5K race this spring and summer, so my main training run is what Karp calls the lactate threshold run. Running at 80 – 90% of my max HR will make me able to run harder for longer periods of time. An example of a lactate threshold workout would be a tempo run. I would start off easy, then build to running at 80 – 90% of my max HR for about 20 minutes, then taper off to an easier run to lower my heart rate.

Karp states that, “optimum improvements in aerobic fitness occur when running is performed at an intensity over 90% max HR … because training at this high intensity targets improvements in VO2 max.” VO2 Max intervals last from 3 – 5 minutes each and are separated by short rest periods. A VO2 Max interval for me would be a series of 800 or 1,000 meter sprints.

The other type of interval is the Anaerobic Glycolysis interval. These are short, 30 – 90 second sprints separated by longer rest periods. Since this interval is an all out sprint, heart rate wouldn’t be an accurate measure of effort. Karp states that Anaerobic Glycolysis intervals, “train the muscles' ability to tolerate and buffer muscle acidosis and train the recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers to enhance speed.”

For a 5K runner, Karp recommends three aerobic endurance runs, one tempo/lactate threshold run and one VO2 Max/interval run every week.

I found the article’s ‘Heart Rate Guidelines During the Training Year’ chart really useful; I printed out the article and cut out the chart to tape into my running log for future reference.

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