Friday, February 01, 2013

Keeping it low

My coach, Debi Bernardes, is very committed to the principle of low heart-rate zone training. To summarize, you do the majority of your training at low heart rates, saving higher-intensity work until you've built a solid base. It can feel counter  intuitive  -- I've got to run fast all the time to get faster right?? But the advantages are that you build a more efficient machine and can train at higher volumes without injury. And truthfully, most people get in trouble with "too fast, too far, too soon."

She asked some of her clients to share some of their successes with training this way. Here's what I wrote:

"It is hard sometimes to be disciplined about staying in your zones. Not so much when you're training alone, but groups can be challenging -- seems like any time you get two or more cyclists together they want to contest every hill on the road like it's worth KOM points!

But long-term attention to HR training has been extremely effective for me. First of all it's the best way to build endurance -- they key underlying element of speed. Anybody can start fast, but it's the ability to maintain pace that's hard. Through a summer of rigorous attention to my HR zones, I was able to pull off a solid first IM at Wisconsin, negative splitting the bike course and turning in a pretty decent marathon at the end.

After that, and with another few months of low-end training, I'm finally being let off the leash a little bit, and the results are very encouraging. Just yesterday I was running multiple 1000 yard repeats at sub-7 pace, while keeping my average HR below 155 per interval. It was surprisingly easy, and a workout that once would have left me trashed was an enjoyable afternoon at the track.

There's no doubt in my mind that I'm a stronger, more efficient athlete now than I've ever been -- a nice thing to say when you turn 54 in a couple of weeks. So stick to it and build the base that comes from consistent, steady training at the correct rate -- it'll pay off. "