Tag Archives: realizations

Zones! (Beside “Loading” and “Falling Rock”)

Yeah, last night’s run was slow. But there’s an upside.  Keep reading!

I ran 4.5 miles, with a 0.5 warmup/0.25 cooldown or so, and really intentionally ran at 12:00 pace. My right hamstring felt tense even after my rest day, and I wanted to give it exercise, but not strain.

It was amazing to see my heart rate on that run vs. on the run last Thursday.  Not the same course, so not an A->B comparison, precisely.

W6D2, 4.5 miles at a 12:12 pace, Avg HR: 135bpm
W5D5, 4.5 miles at a 10:42 pace, Avg HR: 149bpm

The biggest and most exciting thing about this for me is this:

Wow! I have zones now!

When I started running, I had on, and I had off. People talked about warmups and cooldowns, easy runs and tempo runs, conversational pace, effort scales, HIIT, Max HR, etc.  I couldn’t conceive of any of it, and my inability frustrated me badly. If I tried to warm up, my HR climbed near max, and then flopped around in the same 85% range unless I stopped running. If I pushed myself one iota harder, I rocketed up near the 190’s, and got exhausted before my muscles got to exercise. If I slowed down a smidgen, I struggled to keep an honest ‘run’ cadence of any kind. (If I slowed down two smidgens, I would have been going backwards)

When I got my first Timex Heart-rate Monitor, I wore it, and just knowing that my HR was a certain number, and that I could work less hard and still be well inside a zone that meant I was gaining aerobic fitness, was a huge step for me. It helped me go from “I can’t run, I get tired quickly” (i.e. OVERDOING IT) to “I can run, I just do it slow”. Now, my slow pace is faster than I was running those heart shattering overexertions of a mile or two.

But with my newfound ability to run a 10min/mile if I want, the ability to cruise for 9 miles @ an 11 min/mile pace, and the further possibility of slowing it down to about 12 min/mile for a easy run, I have actual running zones! I can start to apply more than just quasi tempo efforts, when the time comes to train differently. I can adjust, run more slowly, and have an actual “Easy Run”, without mentally labelling the whole thing a cruel oxymoron.

One more tickbox on the quest to be a runner. Hopefully the next tickbox isn’t chafed nipples or cheek-burn, but if it is, hopefully I’ll win the contest over at eat.drink.run for a nice roll-on applicator of tushy grease. (Even if you have no interest in the contest, read the post and the comments for the opportunity to cackle in glee.)