For several years now, I hardly ever would go for a run without strapping on a Garmin. Occasionally I'd forget to recharge it, and it would give me the 'battery low' warning the second I switched it on. Drat. Running with a regular 100-lap triathlon watch just isn't the same. It's as if you don't really know where you are, how long you've been gone and of course, how far you've run. Even though I run the same routes day after day and weekend after weekend, the Garmin makes it 'real' every time it clicks off one more mile at all the predictable spots. It's a useful tool but I'm ready to try something else, which is effort-based running. Rather than my training runs being pace-driven, which is almost invariably the result of wearing a Garmin, I'm going to run by effort, as measured by heart rate. Yes it's another gadget but not nearly as 'controlling' as the Garmin. Essentially I would decide to run a specific workout at say 75% to 80% effort, which is right at my anaerobic threshold, and then go ahead and run at a pace which elevates my HR to between 140 to 150 beats per second. Or if I were planning a VO2 Max workout, I'd run at 90% plus effort, elevating my heart rate above 158. What makes effort-based training effective is that true effort can be guaged irrespective of the difficulty of the course, the ambient temperature, wind etc. So you are less likely to run too slow when conditions are ideal, and you can easily see when your effort is too hard, which would help prevent over-training.
Interestingly, during last Saturday's 5K race, my HR was pretty consistent at a few beats over 170, which I had hitherto considered to be my max HR. Clearly that is not the case. Next Saturday I think I will shoot for 175...
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