January 08, 2012

Focusing on heart rate

It was time for a long run today, with 27km on the schedule. My guidance for the long runs, unless they include a marathon goal race pace hit, are to keep my average pace between 4:41 and 5:06 per kilometre, and my heart rate between mid-130 to mid-150 beats per minute.

Today's course was my usual one, heading north from Valleycliffe to Brackendale, and back. My breakfast was coffee, water and an energy bar. My warm-up was walking Luka and Punky, my sister's dog. I brought three gels and a 600ml bottle of water.

My iPod and Garmin were charged, and so was I, it appeared. After a sluggish start, I felt good once warmed up. I am very much enjoying a return to using a heart rate monitor; my pace may seem off at times according to the numbers on the display, which I find can jump around even as I know I'm running consistent.

Sometimes Mr Garmin says I'm going 5:39 per km, and 3:39 per km five seconds later. I know he's wrong but find it distracting and unsettling nonetheless, especially in sessions that are all geared towards keeping a certain pace.

Heart rate measured by the Garmin is much more stable, so if that number is in the zone it's supposed to be, then all's well. Already I find that this change of focus makes a huge difference; my training is much more relaxing as I simply check whether my heart rate is where it should be, and then I look at the pace as an FYI. Today was a solid session.

I ran 27K in 2:12:14, or an average pace of 4:54 per K, with an average heart rate of 145.

As suggested, I made an effort to gradually pick up the pace. I took two splits, showing that I covered the first 14.06K in 70:04, averaging 4:59 per K and my heart rate at 144 beats per minute. The remaining 12.95K I ran in 62:10, averaging 4:48 per K at 148bpm. A great run that rounds up the first official week on the program, which was a very good one indeed.

My total mileage for the week was 104K; for the first 8 days of 2012, it was 131K.      

Next week has 109K in store for me; the most challenging run will be Sunday's as it calls for 27K including 13K at marathon goal race pace. First up is tomorrow's 10K recovery run.

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