Why Heart Rate Based Run Training?

I train strictly via Heart Rate based run training. It’s been about 20 years since I first began distance running (I ran sprints in high school for a year, but I don’t count that!) and I was not always an advocate of heart rate based training.

Up until about 5 years ago, I trained according to my pace. I took nothing else into account…only my pace. I had a run scheduled and would check a box. I measured myself against an imaginary standard of perfection which doesn’t exist.

Each race I trained for I would end up with injuries. I was diagnosed with iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and many other injuries which end in “-itis”. I had so many, I can’t keep track of them all. I thought this was normal. I believed that when training for a marathon it was normal and accepted to continually be hurt and feel completely beat down.

I happened to stumble upon heart rate based run training. It all just made sense to me. Phil Maffetone’s “The Big Book of Endurance Training” especially influenced my decision to train via HR.

After I read more and more about the physiology of running and HR training, I realized that it’s NOT NORMAL to be chronically hurt, in fact it’s abnormal. It’s a sign from your body. It’s also NOT NORMAL to feel completely beat down during marathon training. Contrary to what you believe and have been taught, you can feel AMAZING during marathon training if you are fueling properly and training in the proper zones.

Many don’t realize that they are actually running in their anaerobic zones too long and too often.  (some heart rate running advocates may argue that if your goal is to run endurance events, then you don’t ever need to run in the anaerobic zone). Too many anearobic zone runs may lead to overtraining syndrome, which includes fatigue, injuries, brain fog and so on. However, when you are running a marathon, you actually need to have a solid aerobic base, so it makes sense to build this system as opposed to the anaerobic.

These days, I train strictly in my aerobic zone. Every. Single. Run.  Depending on how I feel, somedays, my pace can vary up to 1 min/mile. I feel so much more energized during training and less injured. I just feel better.

There are so many factors that can affect your heart rate….stress, weather, lack of sleep, sickness, diet, and nutrition. Doesn’t it makes sense to look at your body holistically when running, rather than focus on one single outcome which doesn’t factor in these variables?  

Heart rate based run training takes the guess work out of run training. It really does. I believe most do not train this way because we are so conditioned in society that faster is better.

It can be counter-intuitive to slow down, to speed up. It works, though. Trust it.

What is your approach to training? Have you tried Heart Rate Based Run Training? If not, give it a go! Let me know how you feel after a few weeks!

Until Next Time…Be the Change

~ Brooke 

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