Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pre-Half-Marathon Training & Nutrition Update

I still have a lot to learn about heart rate training. I've been working with it since August, though, so here are some observations I've made at this point. I'd love to have those others of you who are using this method to tell me if you've noticed anything similar.

1. Long slow runs appear to have a pretty quick effect on my ability to run faster at my "easy" heart rate. On October 6, I executed an extremely slow one-hour-forty-five minute run. I thought that thing was never going to end, as I was under orders to stay below 150 beats-per-minute the whole time and seriously felt like I was running underwater at some points. But on my next mid-week semi-long run (an hour run last Wednesday) my paces at sub-150 bpm were ten to twenty seconds faster per minute than I saw on the long one just four days before. Though I was still slow, I never had that "Geez, I'm really crawling" sensation--even on some pretty long climbs.

Also, slow runs at higher altitudes (even the 500-foot difference between my town (Longmont) and Boulder) and/or on steep trails seem to have the same happy effect a few days later. I'm going to try to do my last run before I leave for Detroit at a slightly higher and/or steeper location for this reason.

2. Maintaining my "sustained" (speed workout) heart rate is *hard.* On Friday, I did a tempo/sustained workout that consisted of a 15-minute tempo section followed by four 2 1/2 minute speed sections. I nailed the tempo section with no problem (staying between 164 and 168 bpm the whole time), and I managed to nail the first 2 1/2 minute interval too (range for these was supposed to be 170-175 bpm). But on the next three I couldn't get the heart rate to stay in that range. True, the middle two were slower than the first one (which I think means I was being a drag-ass and not running fast enough), but the last one was at a pace ten seconds per mile faster than the first--yet the average heart rate was only in the high 160s. Not sure what's up with that.....Anyway, I know I still need to work on toughing it out at those higher speeds. It's amazing how long 2 1/2 minutes can seem!

3. Pace is much less of a big deal to me now. I do look at it, but only in retrospect. Thus, I'm really not sure what to run next Sunday. Darren wants to look at my speeds and comfort level on one last "sustained" workout this coming Tuesday (four four-minute intervals at 164-168 bpm). If I'm able to stay comfortable and controlled during all four intevals, he says, I will have identified my pace for the Detroit Half-Marathon this Sunday (keeping in mind the race is at sea level, where this pace/heart-rate level will feel easier). As you can imagine, I'm very eager for Tuesday to get the question of my half-marathon race pace answered.

I also have a massage that day, after the run. I'm going to be spending a lot of time with my foam roller and in my bed over the next few days, too!


My weight is holding steady, but I know I'm in danger because I've reached a stage where I am hungry a lot of the time (even when I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom or help one of my kids). Also, sugar cravings, which I thought I'd eliminated during my injury downtime, are back with a vengeance. So far I'm sticking with my "Sunday only" strategy for treats, but it's gotten hard.

Any advice on dealing with the hunger monster during marathon training? It's not like I'm going to be running fewer miles after Detroit!

Thank you to everyone for your nice comments on my last post. I'm off now to read some of the awesome race reports I'm sure folks have posted!


  1. It's been awhile since I've HR trained (but I have a feeling it's going to return, soon!) but I always wanted to poke my eyeballs out how slow it was at first. But isn't it cool to see the amazing progress? That whole Maf training is so underutilized because us runners, as a whole, don't have the patience. But if done correctly, the results are amazing. Hang in there, you are getting faster! :)

  2. It's amazing how quickly the body will respond to certain running stimulus. I have noticed that the biggest differences for me are usually sleep and temperature. Cool runs with more sleep before- or a rest day- leave me rested and ready to run an easy fast run.
    It is hard to go slow some days- and honestly, I often go by feel and just glance at my HR..I get a little upset when my legs want to go but my HR says NO.

    Really thrilled with your progress, T!
    About food...I don't have the answers. My answer is to eat sugar, but try to do it within an hour of my run. But it ends up being all day anyway.

  3. I think I had intentions of trying it, but now I can't find my heart rate monitor. Good for you for sticking it out so long, from the sounds of it I would have got really impatient by now. So happy for you and how well you are doing.

    I don't know what to do about the marathon hunger monster, pretty sure I just fed mine all the time...

  4. I plan to start heart rate training the next session. For me, my issue had been never pushing myself out of that 150 range. I enjoy reading about your training and look forward to hearing about Detroit!

  5. Hey you! I used to heart rate train with my coach (before I got preggo) and it actually did wonders for my running and I wasn't exhausted all the time keeping in the prescribed HR zones.

    I am so happy to hear that your running is going so well. I hope that SI joint is acting ok and isn't hurting you. I have been back to running now for two weeks and I am crossing my fingers that mine doesn't act up post baby.

    I have never been a big sugar fan, but I craved sugar while pregnant and my nurse practitioner told me that it was because I needed protein. Not sure if that is true or not, but it couldn't hurt to try more protein?

    Looking forward to hearing about Detroit next weekend. :)

  6. I really struggle with sugar/carb cravings as my miles increase... I'm not sure I've ever found a great solution, other than trying to keep healthier "treats" in the house. So excited for you and your race!!!

  7. I haven't figured out the hunger monster yet...if you do, let me know!!

  8. When I was half-marathon training, I found that if I focused on getting enough protein and whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats) and tried to stay away from bread and processed foods, it really helped. I also made sure I ate pretty much immediately after my runs (especially those long runs) and I made sure I fueled enough during my long runs. If I was really hungry, I ate fruits/veggies and something with protein (typically yogurt) before eating anything else. Pretty basic and you're probably doing a lot of this anyway. Good luck with your half! Looking forward to hearing more about how the heart rate training is paying off.

  9. I've got nothing for you on HR training as I've never done it, except to see where it is when I feel like puking. I think the hunger at this stage is normal. As long as your putting the right kinds of calories in I wouldn't worry too much. Woot for Detroit! Definitely consider Chicago. : )

  10. For whatever reason...I haven't had the usual 'rungry' I get during training..not sure if it is because I have bulked up on weight training this time around or more veggies or what. I'll take it though - I hate that feeling of "I want to eat everything in sight". Can't wait for Sunday!

  11. I think the heart rate training is so interesting! I don't do it, but can see where it would be very helpful. For instance, like RunningMandy said, many people don't push themselves hard enough on the speed work portions. I do check my heart rate for my runs and I can definitely see a lowering of my max HR on the Long runs! Right now my Long runs are between a 150-156. As for the eating, I have a hard time with that too. Snacking is my weakness/savior. I usually bring TONS of fruit to work and any time I am hungry I just have some of that, as well as my regular meals! Luckily I am not a sugar junkie, but I can see where that would be hard, especially during the holidays! Resist! Have an apple!

  12. Wow! Now I know more about why you said you had no idea about pace for this weekend. I get it! I am curious to see how your test went and what your plans are for this weekend now!

  13. I'm so excited for your race! This is such a timely post, too, because a friend just emailed me today asking about heart rate training, and when I came to search for an earlier post on it, here this was! :)

    Good luck this weekend! I'm going to be stalking you as much as I can from the Katy Trail. :)

  14. I hope you have a great 1/2! It's really exciting to read about your training, as you sound so strong in your approach. You don't stress about pace all the time, but realize that easy days AND hard days -- balanced and quality workouts are key to getting at your goal. I still struggle with this (and my lack of real knowledge or coaching) so I envy your maturity, so to speak. Good luck!!!

  15. Let me just say I think it's cool that a girl is getting kinda anal about heart rates. Usually that task is a guy thing.

    I can't help too much on your LSD question. Usually my long runs are faster. I notice I get faster the more miles I do per week.

  16. Advice on dealing with hunger during training? I really find that eating helps. :P