Monday, December 31, 2007

Max HR surprises

When I started running, I calculated that my max HR should be 177 (220-43). I tried to confirm it by going up a hill a few times, as described in a book. I took my pulse up the hill but you can almost feel your pulse slow down as soon as you stop. And forget about doing it on the run. So I worked with 177 as a max.

Eventually I saw a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS/HR monitor at my local running store and bought it. I did the hill thing and got 180 as a maximum. i really felt I couldn't go any harder. A few weeks later, after a really hard training session with lots of hills, I noticed I had a period where my HR had gone up to 182. Time to reset my zones.

A couple of months later I ran my first 10k race. I didn't look at my HR during the race but I recorded my race and downloaded it to my PC. To my surprise, my maxHR in the final sprint was a fairly steady 187! A month later (yesterday) I raced a 5k, pushed really hard and surprise: maxHR in the final 300m was 193.

This changes my race planning quite a bit. I don't train using HR zones, but I do analyze my training sessions as well as my races. When I plan my races and set my goals, I know that there are limits I can't break. For example, I know I can't run at 95% of maxHR for very long, so I can't pick a pace that requires that kind of effort for more than a km (hopefully the last one!).

I have no doubt that eventually I will find out that my ultimate maxHR is a bit above 193. As I gain experience, I become bolder and I'm willing to push harder and accept some discomfort for longer periods. Knowing my true HR allows me to plan better, see if I train or race too hard and get the maximum benefits from my training.

As I said earlier, I don't look at my HR during a race. There is no point. I customized one of my Garmin screens with my current pace, the current Km pace, Total time and distance. No HR on my racing screen.

I don't look at my HR during the race, but I sure look at it after!

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