Monday, February 11, 2019
Journey to Kona Day 9: Knowing Your Body
I’m an admitted data geek when it comes to my training. When I first decided to run, in the early 90’s, I bought a book on heart rate monitoring. It’s still pretty accurate! I bought one of the early Polar HRM’s and haven’t looked back since. I’ve had anaerobic threshold testing done by Neal Henderson himself and done countless Conconi’s (a testing routine that correlates running pace/cycling power with HR) myself for both my bike and run. What have I learned?
At the end of the day, it’s still about knowing your own body. Everyone wants a formula to tell them exactly what to do, but being a geriatrician has taught me one thing. No two people are alike. The “average” person represents a broad range of dots on a graph, and should only be used to get oneself in the ballpark. But, I still love data! My wife makes fun of me when I enter my results into Training Peaks at the end of each workout.
It’s always interesting to see how the data responds after some time off from training, which I’ve just had on multiple levels. I haven’t really ridden my bike since the early summer, and my run training was solely focused on long distance and endurance through the winter. Put that together with my recovery over the past month and here I am.
Just two weeks ago, when I started running again, my HR would get high pretty quickly unless I stayed at a slow pace. In just a couple of weeks, I’ve already gotten closer to my “fit” heart rate zones, showing how quickly the body can respond to training when you’ve got years and lots of miles behind you. In addition to heart rate, which I actually don’t use that often anymore, I long ago locked onto my breathing pattern while I run. I can pretty consistently relate my breathing rate to my heart rate zones. A comfortable effort is associated with breathing every 6 or more steps per breath cycle; Zone 2 breathing tends to be closer to breathing every 4 steps; what is considered “tempo” effort corresponds to breathing every 3 steps. I’ve used this when doing half marathons, where I keep my breathing at every 4 steps for the first few miles, then let it come up to every 3 steps. Similarly, a 5K is raced breathing every 3 steps throughout, with an increase towards the end.
I was really pleased with today’s effort, ran one mile very comfortably, increased my effort with the second and third miles and did a hard quarter mile at the end. Ironically, my running pace for all of these efforts is faster than what I expect to run at ironman. Mentally, that puts me in a very good place right now! I love the data, but I also love the feeling that I can just listen to my body and it will help me do the right thing.