As a novice runner I read a lot of advice about how most beginners push themselves too hard. I struggled to understand the difference between an easy run, a tempo run and a threshold run. Various definitions tell you about being able to run and talk – I was only ever able to gasp a few words. I think that I even commented in my blog that as a beginner, every run, ie that fact that you were running not walking, was by definition a tempo run.
today I went out for a planned low intensity run guided by my heart rate monitor. I reset the HR zones to what they should be, having knocked 10 yrs off may age previously as the zones set as they were ‘didn’t seem right’ ie I could achieve zone 2 with a brisk walk and I felt that it was holding me back from running as much as I could. Apparently a low intensity run is supposed to feel like you are holding something back.
having primed the alarm to vibrate at the top and bottom of HR zone 2 I set off. It was frustrating at first, I only seemed to run a few steps then it was telling me to slow down. I had to walk. It seemed daft to be walking when I could run. A man on the street even commented to me, why wasn’t I running properly. (Here in the north of England it’s quite acceptable for complete strangers to speak to you and give unsolicited advice) ‘I’m using a heat rate monitor’ I explained. ‘No pain no gain!’ He replied, grinning and taking another pull on his cigarette. Mmm. I smiled benignly and walked on.
It was a bit annoying to be constantly reminded to slow down to a walk, so ever the scientist I decided to amuse myself by counting how many steps it took to get me from one end of the heart rate zone to the other. On a slight incline, 100 running steps up, 80 walking steps down. On a steep incline 70 steps up, 100 down. Steady slight decline, 200 steps up, 70 down. In the future I will be able to count this again and see if there is any ‘improvement’.
I did 5 miles, and by the end of it I was getting tuned into the feeling of when it was still easy and when I was going into the next zone. When I got home, I felt absolutely fine and actually like I could go out and do it all again. I think that’s the point! If I can get another couple of hours in at low intensity over the week, I can really push myself at Parkrun on Saturday as my 20% ‘high intensity’ session.