Sometimes you just have to look yourself in the mirror and admit that something you are doing is just not working for you. Yeah, I know that I have been doing heart-rate training for under a month, but I am finding that I am stressing out more about my heart-rate than I am enjoying my running.
Not. What. I. Want.
I have learned a LOT about my running and also a lot about diet, stress, sleeping and focusing on being healthy versus just running faster over the past month, since I started reading about MAF training. However, when my running becomes a stressful part of my life versus a positive endeavor.
It is time to re-evaluate what I am doing.
This morning’s run was a really great example of what I am talking about.
It was a great day for a winter’s run. Temps near 30*F with the wind chills bringing it down closer to 20*F. However, the roads in Augusta were mostly clear and I needed a run besides the treadmill. So I headed to Planet Fitness with the idea I was going to run outside.
I ran outside.
However, instead of enjoying the run, I was constantly worrying about how often my alarm on the watch was going off. I would keep slowing down to get the heart-rate down to my target heart-rate of 135 bpm. The breeze was in my face going out, so that made things a little more difficult and this course does have a few bumps, so getting the heart-rate monitor (which is consistently inconsistent) to behave was not something that was happening this morning.
Then I am pretty sure that it picked up the cadence again and that made the run even more difficult.
Even though my effort level was very easy, the more the high heart-rate alarm went off, the more frustrated I became. Then it became a frustration cycle the slower I went, the more frustrated I got. Now I know that with heart-rate training you gotta check your ego at the door, but at the same time running is “my time” to enjoy myself.
I didn’t do that today and have not on several of the heart-rate based runs that I have done lately. I have attempted to remain positive, but it has not been easy to stay that way.
Finally, I decided that I would simply ignore my watch’s heart-rate monitor and go by the effort level that I was using inside on the treadmill to go easy. Once I did that I started to relax.
At that point I had a few miles left before I finished and got to think about what I was doing. During this time I decided that while I have learned a LOT about what is actually running easy versus what I thought was running easy, that heart-rate training just does not fit well with my personality.
That is not a bad thing, but my mindset is wired differently and I have run one way for so many years that changing to running by heart-rate is not for me. It doesn’t mean that I will stop using the heart-rate monitor completely, it does mean that it is not the primary focus of my running.
My enjoyment of my running is going to be the focus of MY running.
This change will also allow me to run courses that I have been avoiding, because I know that my heart-rate and running would not co-exist and I would be walking more than running, which is not what I want to do.
I will probably go back a combination of something like the Hanson’s Method, with Running By Feel and 80/20 Running being my primary focuses.
However, I do know that my recovery days will be a lot slower than they were in the past and that many of the other things that I learned in Phil Maffetone’s “The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing are going to be a part of the lifestyle changes that I need to make with regards to my diet, rest and stress management.
Unfortunately, it is my nature that is more the issue, than MAF training or any other training. I am always thinking that something might be just what I am looking for to help me become a better runner. However, I do find that trying out many different methodologies and philosophies that I can add things that are good for me as a runner and discard the stuff that doesn’t work.
I also have a feeling that part of my frustration with heart-rate training is the consistently inconsistent heart-rate readings that a optical wrist monitors is not that accurate. While I don’t mind the chest strap so much when running on the treadmill, I am not a fan of wearing one for outside running. So how close to MAF heart-rate training was I really doing when I ran outside? That is something I can’t honestly answer and was a part of the problem, especially when my Garmin would lock on to my cadence on most runs at some point.
So I will go back to training by pace, but with a better understanding of what and why I need to keep out of the “no zone” and actually run the recovery paces versus just running comfortably and when I run hard – run hard. Some of that 80/20 running stuff.
Now to figure out my training plan and actually set some goals for the spring, which I didn’t dare do while I was attempting the heart-rate training, since I didn’t know how it was going to work.
This doesn’t mean that I will race very much, but I have some ideas on what kind of paces I want to run for certain distances, if I do decide to jump into a race at the last moment.
It is time to get back to enjoying my running and stop feeling stressed because I can’t run slow enough.
I think running at or below a certain HR is a useful way to do mindfully easy runs, but if you want to run, I can imagine it’s best to just let go of all numbers and go!
That is the direction that I am pretty sure that I am heading :-). It is going to be a pretty good year if you ask me.
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Running should be fun.
I’ve been thinking about consistent effort and not consistent speed when running hills. I find it makes little sense to kill myself on every hill and then run out of gas.
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