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Building A Better Bumblebee

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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  ounce on Sat Mar 28, 2015 8:55 pm

@Mark B wrote:
but it was also 63 degrees outside -- my warmest run since last October -- so that might have had an impact on the fall-off in pace, too.

Oh, yes!  We've been getting into the 80s, now, so 60's will be inching up into the 70's here, as I begin the acclimatization to summer, again.

I'm looking forward to your report on next Friday's run.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Sat Mar 28, 2015 9:19 pm

@nkrichards wrote:
@Mark B wrote:
Did you daughter climb Beacon Rock itself, or did she head up Hamilton Mountain behind it? Either one's a great workout, though there are more miles and vertical feet in Hamilton. Dog Mountain is a bit too far for me to easily reach in a drive, but I've heard stories about just how challenging it is. Good luck!


Katie climbed Beacon Rock.  She said it was much easier than she expected and wished she'd picked something a bit more challenging but when you hike with friends you often have to compromise.  A co-worker that hiked Hamilton a couple weeks ago recommended it and Katie hopes to hike it sometime.  Not sure if she can fit it into her schedule before we summit St. Helens but it's on her list now.  I'll join her if I can...

It's a good hike. Not for those who are afraid of heights, but it pays back jitters with amazing vistas.

There are also a number of trails on I-84, on the Oregon side of the Gorge, that are pretty vigorous. There's one that starts at the base of Multnomah Falls. You can go to the top of the falls, which is a good climb, and then push on to the top of Larch Mountain. It's a 14-mile roundtrip with something like 4,000+ feet of elevation gain. I'd love to do it one of these days.  

I was poking around on the Portland Hikers website and found this great guide to Columbia Gorge hikes, which offers distance, elevation gain and difficulty. Pretty nifty.

@ounce wrote:
@Mark B wrote:
but it was also 63 degrees outside -- my warmest run since last October -- so that might have had an impact on the fall-off in pace, too.

Oh, yes!  We've been getting into the 80s, now, so 60's will be inching up into the 70's here, as I begin the acclimatization to summer, again.

I'm looking forward to your report on next Friday's run.

Oh joy, Texas summer. I'm sure that's not the most joyful time for you. (But if you trained there and raced where it was cool? Wow! You'd be amazed.)

I'm excited about next Friday. I'm going to make sure to taper a little during the week so I'm as fresh as possible. (Which means a 4,000+ foot mountain climb is out of the question.) I get the impression they'll be wringing me out by the time I'm done. Smile
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:53 pm

MAF Test: 6.12 miles total, 5 miles testing

Weather: Sunny, 44-46° Gear: Sandals, shorts, T, jacket (shed) gloves briefly. Fuel: Coffee and oatmeal before. Water after Mile 2, Mile 4.

This is likely to be my final MAF test based on a formula-driven heart rate target. I wanted to give it one last go, even though I've been having a few problems lately, just so I can know where I am now, at least at this level.

Here are my past three MAF tests:



What I found was that I was slower this morning than I was in February, but that my pace remained fairly steady throughout. I had a 17-second falloff between my fastest and slowest mile, and I actually got back a couple of seconds in the final mile. By comparison, I had a 21- and 23-second falloff in my previous two runs at this intensity -- and those aren't really fair comparisons, because I had to pause to use the porta-john in both those runs. No pit stop this time.

Because of that, I suppose the fairest comparison is to look at what happened before I veered off the track.

January: 18-second mile-to-mile falloff between Miles 1 and 2
February: 19-second mile-to-mile falloff between Miles 1 and 2
March: 5-second mile-to-mile falloff between Miles 1 and 2

That's a nice little improvement, even though the overall paces were slower this time.

Why I'm slower this time is something to ponder later. I know my sudden onset of allergies probably has a lot to do with it, but I want to go back and review the past few months and see if I started doing anything differently that may have also played a role.

Walked first 5 minutes, last 2.3 minutes. Average HR for entire distance: 127
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:08 pm

Also posted over in the Support thread...

What the heck.

I just realized my "Building A Better Bumblebee" blog lost a good year's worth of posts. It now "begins' last month, midway through a conversation. Not a good thing.

I looked a bit more and discovered that there's ANOTHER "Building A Better Bumblebee" blog in the list, but it's LOCKED.

Why? I'd thought maybe there was a 40-page limit, but I just checked and found several other similarly long-winded blogs that have more pages than this one, and they're NOT locked.

Hoping we can figure this out. Losing work, or access to it, is highly problematic.

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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:51 pm

Okay, I just reviewed three months worth of blog entires looking for some possible explanation for how things are going... and aside from issues related to minor injury (heel fissure), dodging bugs (maybe) and getting broadsided by allergies (definitely), I didn't see anything obvious.

(I did notice from reading my earlier posts that I'd used the porta-john after my warmup mile in my second MAF test, which probably left me fresher for that first mile than I might otherwise be. So that relatively speedy mile start may have have been a fair comparison.)

I did notice that I've lapsed on core work in the past month, so there's a chance I'm not getting enough strength work in. So I'll be more diligent about that going forward. But the most logical thing seems to be the allergies. I'll be glad when pollen season is behind me.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  nkrichards on Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:23 am

@Mark B wrote:
@nkrichards wrote:
@Mark B wrote:
Did you daughter climb Beacon Rock itself, or did she head up Hamilton Mountain behind it? Either one's a great workout, though there are more miles and vertical feet in Hamilton. Dog Mountain is a bit too far for me to easily reach in a drive, but I've heard stories about just how challenging it is. Good luck!


Katie climbed Beacon Rock.  She said it was much easier than she expected and wished she'd picked something a bit more challenging but when you hike with friends you often have to compromise.  A co-worker that hiked Hamilton a couple weeks ago recommended it and Katie hopes to hike it sometime.  Not sure if she can fit it into her schedule before we summit St. Helens but it's on her list now.  I'll join her if I can...

It's a good hike. Not for those who are afraid of heights, but it pays back jitters with amazing vistas.

There are also a number of trails on I-84, on the Oregon side of the Gorge, that are pretty vigorous. There's one that starts at the base of Multnomah Falls. You can go to the top of the falls, which is a good climb, and then push on to the top of Larch Mountain. It's a 14-mile roundtrip with something like 4,000+ feet of elevation gain. I'd love to do it one of these days.  

I was poking around on the Portland Hikers website and found this great guide to Columbia Gorge hikes, which offers distance, elevation gain and difficulty. Pretty nifty.


Thanks for the link Mark.  We've done a few of the hikes on the Oregon side over the years.  Our favorite is Eagle Creek.  We went a short distance past Tunnel Falls to a fantastic little island in the middle of the creek where we could sit and eat our lunch.  Katie is hiking Angel's Rest next weekend.

Really interested to hear how your testing goes...
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:33 am

Don't beat yourself up - you are suffering from allergies, right?  And you had less drop off and a steadier pace over the distance?  That seems like win to me.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Mon Mar 30, 2015 12:28 pm

@nkrichards wrote:Thanks for the link Mark.  We've done a few of the hikes on the Oregon side over the years.  Our favorite is Eagle Creek.  We went a short distance past Tunnel Falls to a fantastic little island in the middle of the creek where we could sit and eat our lunch.  Katie is hiking Angel's Rest next weekend.

Really interested to hear how your testing goes...

I'll be sure to share, Nancy! I was just going through the instructions and noted to my dismay that I'll need to abstain from coffee the morning of the test. Eep. That'll be interesting.

That hike sounds great. My family wants to explore different areas -- routes I find pleasantly familiar generates comments like "you want to go there again?!" -- so maybe we'll start poking around the Oregon side of the Gorge this summer. Smile

Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:Don't beat yourself up - you are suffering from allergies, right?  And you had less drop off and a steadier pace over the distance?  That seems like win to me.

Well, I sure hope it's allergies. Otherwise, there's something wrong with my body!

Thanks for the thoughts, Michele. I appreciate them.

And yes, you're right... I am seeing measurable improvements. It's just that this sort of training smacks the ego around a lot -- it forces you to go really quite slow at first -- so if something like a cold or allergies slows down the rate of improvement, it gets into your head. The fact that I have never attempted to train at this low a heart rate makes it all that more challenging. It's probably quite beneficial to train in this range, but golly! It can be rough when the competitive side of your personality starts presenting itself. (You think you'd outgrow insecurity, but maybe not... )

Anyway, I'm hoping the test on Friday will either 1) give me permission to increase the intensity/speed of my training or 2) drive home the point that I really DO need to keep on at this level of discipline. I'd rather it be the former than the latter, but I could live with either. I just want to know.

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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Mon Mar 30, 2015 4:35 pm

Trail Run: 75 minutes (~4.65 miles, though RunningAHEAD GPS correction says 5.13 miles)

Weather: Nice! Sunny, but shady and cool in the woods. Gear: Altra Superiors (originals), shorts, T, jacket until I warmed up. Fuel: Carried nuun in handheld.

I wanted to get out on the trails but didn't want to fry my legs a few days before my big test, so I kept it close to home at Whipple Creek Park. I'm toying with the idea of using it as as loop route at some point, so I wanted to see how far I could go without repeating a single trail segment (except for a couple of segments I had to hit going both ways).

The result was about 4.7 miles. Hm. I might be able to make that work.

I was surprised and happy to see a HR dip down to 48 just before I started my Garmin, and even more surprised to see how moderate my heart rate was in my uphill warm-up walk. I passed the 5-minute mark without realizing it because it felt so easy. I was able to run more today, keeping my HR at least close to my target. I still walked a good deal, which is required given the terrain. There aren't any mountains to climb, but there isn't much flat, either.

Here's an aerial photo that shows just how compact this park is. I suppose the whole area was forested like this at one point, before farms, orchards and then subdivisions encroached. This section was preserved at least partly because of all the ravines, I suppose.



Terrain map, which shows the ravines:


I started having to walk more after I'd done about an hour, so I decided to wrap up my big loop and call it good.

Walked first 6 minutes, last ? minutes until my HR dropped below 100. Average HR for entire run: 126
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Tue Mar 31, 2015 5:00 pm

Walk: 2.3 miles

Weather: Partly cloudy, a few scattered raindrops. 52.

Out for a lunchtime walk, trying to beat an incoming shower on the doppler radar. I felt more fatigued than usual, which seems odd. Maybe I didn't get good enough sleep last night. I tried to keep my stride smooth and easy and didn't concern myself with pace.

Oh, wait. How could I have forgotten that I stated up core and calf work this morning? No wonder my legs were feeling it at lunchtime! Shocked
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:21 pm

Barefoot Run: 3.1 miles on wet asphalt

Weather: Between showers. Party cloudy, cool. 44° Gear: Bare feet, shorts, long-sleeved T, jacket, gloves (shed), hat (shed)

My last workout before my test on Friday. Since it means skipping my midweek sorta long run tomorrow, I figured it'd be worth it to get a barefoot run in today. I'm still using the lower HR target.

The run went surprisingly well. I hit the first mile in 11:12 with a HR 4 bpm below my target. (Woot!) I stayed under 12/mi in the second mile, and almost cracked 12 on the third. My HR drifted up a little but not horribly so. I might have been a little excited. I noticed that it was easier to bring my HR back down, too. Progress?

Average HR for entire run: 129

For comparison, here's the same run/HR from Jan. 23, just after I first made the switch:


And today (April 1):


Mile 1: 94 seconds faster
Mile 2: 90 seconds faster
Mile 3: 105 second faster

Not too shabyy...

Whatever my HR target gets moved to after Friday's test, it's good to know that this lowered effort has had some measurable benefit.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  nkrichards on Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:37 pm

That looks like a pretty nice improvement in a fairly short time!  I'd be encouraged.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:03 pm

@nkrichards wrote:That looks like a pretty nice improvement in a fairly short time!  I'd be encouraged.

Thanks, Nancy! It is nice to see.

I have never trained in this range, so I wasn't working with much to start with. It has made this more challenging (as had the barefoot/sandal approach), but it does seem to be yielding some benefits. This time has not been wasted.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:42 am

HR differences between men and women are funny.  At 131, I'm running a 9:20 pace and its comfortable and easy.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:32 pm

Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:HR differences between men and women are funny.  At 131, I'm running a 9:20 pace and its comfortable and easy.

I'm not sure if it's as much a male-female thing as a biomechanical thing, Michele. Some people are simply better wired genetically to run faster with greater economy. I'm not surprised about you, considering your sub-elite background. It's probably one of the reasons you were able to compete at that level. Me? I was never particularly fast, even when I was young. Faster than some, but never in the lead pack. Maybe the 70th percentile? I'm betting you were well up into the 90s.

It does make me crazy, though. A friend of ours who shall remain nameless (name starts with a W) has to run 10+ bpm BELOW her MAF target rate or she'd be running ridiculously fast.

I'm always curious about why there is such a difference, but never quite so much as to want to get a muscle biopsy (if anyone would do it) to determine my percentage of fast- to slow-twitch muscles. Just as well. I don't know what I'd do if I found out my legs were best suited for running the mile. (You can stop laughing, btw.)
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:43 pm

Not laughing, but I would be the same if I really ran at my MAF target as W.  There are gender differences though which si what makes the 220-age inaccurate.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:55 pm

Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:Not laughing, but I would be the same if I really ran at my MAF target as W.  There are gender differences though which si what makes the 220-age inaccurate.

Oh, I'm sure that's the case. What is your MR max? Last time I really tested it during a 5K, I hit 193. At that age, I think it was "supposed" to be something like 175 at the time. Pfft. I did most of the 5K above that "max."

That's one of the things I'm looking forward to with the test tomorrow. Formulas probably work great for populations, but are less accurate for individuals. The fat part of the Bell curve can only be so big, after all. There's got to be some deviants.

The test tomorrow isn't so much about setting a new MaxHR. Rather, it's finding out at what intensity I start to shift away from using fat-burning slow-twitch muscle. That's the actual point that Maffetone tries to hit with his adjusted 180-age formula. Now, his formula may have worked for me... but I won't know until the test.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Apr 02, 2015 4:56 pm

Can't seem to hit my "max" anymore but I guess it drops with age.  I was tested once and it was 203, but now I'm guessing closer to 193?
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Thu Apr 02, 2015 6:17 pm

Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:Can't seem to hit my "max" anymore but I guess it drops with age.  I was tested once and it was 203, but now I'm guessing closer to 193?

Interesting, the mysterious other runner to whom I referred also has a MaxHR that's in the 200-range. Probably not a factor in the lower HR stuff, but it is an interesting coincidence.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Fri Apr 03, 2015 3:21 pm

Okay, just back from my big fitness test, dosing up on the caffeine I wasn't supposed to consume beforehand..

SO. MANY. NUMBERS.

I don't have the time at the moment for an exhaustive report on how it went, but I will offer up a couple of data points.

Weight: 186. Crap.
BMI: 28.28. CrapCrap.

At the outset of the Fluffpacolypse, I decided to screw the diet for the time being. I am seeing the result now. Oh, well. I know what I need to do to fix that.

VO2 max: 40.44 ml/kg. In the "good" category, and better (125%) than the formulas predicted. With no anaerobic work, I can live with that.

MaxHR: 172 according to the computer based on when I threw in the towel. I think it's higher, like the low 180s, but it's not particularly important.

Lactate Threshold Heart Rate: 143. What? Really? Dang. I always thought it was a LOT higher. Hm. Maybe that's why I tended to blow up in marathons...

The rest of the numbers are harder to quickly explain, but in a nutshell, it appears that my new Maffetone HR target of 129 correlates very closely to what the test classifies as the transition point to where I start burning more than 50% of my energy from glycogen. The test put the "aerobic base" level at 130. Yeah, pretty close.

A secondary aerobic measure, 60% of VO2max, puts my "all-day" exertion level at 135 bpm.

I asked what that meant, and things get squishy quickly, but generally the idea of training at the lower HR level and racing at the slightly higher HR level sort of works. And if I want to maximize endurance, any push into the higher realms will require dipping into the lower realms to compensate. Makes sense.

One nice thing he mentioned was that my transition curve of burning more glycogen is more gradual than it is for a lot of folks, and my recovery time from my max effort was fairly quick. That bodes well.

Okay, that was more than "a couple." Guess the caffeine kicked in. Very Happy

More later.


Last edited by Mark B on Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:57 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  nkrichards on Fri Apr 03, 2015 7:52 pm

I wish I understood all this better...that said I'm not sure I'd have the patience to train as slow as I needed to anyway.

I do have one question though...If I run the majority of a long run at an appropriately slow pace does it hurt anything to finish fast and get my HR up for the last mile or two.  I've been working hard at starting slower so that I can finish fast.   Am I canceling out the benefits of those slow miles if I finish fast?
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:51 pm

@nkrichards wrote:I wish I understood all this better...that said I'm not sure I'd have the patience to train as slow as I needed to anyway.

I do have one question though...If I run the majority of a long run at an appropriately slow pace does it hurt anything to finish fast and get my HR up for the last mile or two.  I've been working hard at starting slower so that I can finish fast.   Am I canceling out the benefits of those slow miles if I finish fast?

Patience? It doesn't take patience, Nancy. It takes bullheadedness. And blinders.

Your question is a good one, and it's been roundly debated by physiology geeks.

My best answer is, unless you are committed to doing nothing but low HR workouts, the answer is no. It won't hurt.

For low heart rate purists, the concern is that too much stress on the system interferes with the process of building mitochondria and capillary density for the slow-twitch muscles. When you start burning glycogen, it changes the pH of your leg muscles (or something like that; it's very technical) and hinders those aerobic adaptations. (Building mitochondria and capillary density is the point of low heart rate training, because those are the things that allow you to run faster at the same effort level.)

So, if maximizing your aerobic "engine" was what you're focused on doing, going past your aerobic threshold can at the very least slow the process of improvement, or even stop it altogether. (That said, even Maffetone himself talks about the need at some point to incorporate more uptempo work before racing. Once you've built a base.)

But if you're following the more standard approach for training, it's fine if you spend some time at a higher intensity. Just remember to do about 80% of your running at that easy aerobic pace. The type of intensity depends on what you want to achieve. Somebody like me, who is interested in ultras, might do some LT type of runs to push that threshold a bit higher. Somebody wanting to race shorter distances faster would want to do some lung-busting track work.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Sat Apr 04, 2015 8:28 pm

A fun bit of data from my fitness test on Friday. It tracks the volume of oxygen consumed (VO2), the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled (VCO2), the ratio of fat/glycogen burned (RER) (btw, .7 = all fat, >1.0 = predominately glycogen), heart rate (HR, obviously) and the amount of power generated (Watts).

It takes a little bit of figuring out to see the different scales for each data point, but if you follow the tracks generally you can see that things generally progress in a steady manner until about 130 bpm when the VCO2 curve starts heading north a bit faster.

At about 143 bpm, you see a bump in all the lines (except Watts), which lines up with where they said my LT is. Things keep going at that slightly faster rate until about 152 bpm, when the RER takes a sharp turn up and the VCO2 line crosses the VO2 line. That's known as the "ventilatory threshold."  Essentially, it's a shift to fast-twitch and pure glycogen metabolism.

The crazy thing is, I could FEEL it happen. I felt a hot/cold shiver pass through the skin on the back of my arms, thought "huh?" and checked the HR. It was about 156. Right in the middle of that transition. Fascinating.

The tester thought the speed of my recovery was good, which is nice.



They used the data to establish five zones. Here they are:

Zone 1: 114-122* bpm (80-85% LT)
Zone 2: 129-136 bpm (90-95% LT)
Zone 3: 136-143 bpm (143=Lactate Threshold, so HR @ LT)
Zone 4: 143-150 bpm (105% LT)
Zone 5: 152-172 bpm (Peak effort. 172=max HR achieved in this test)

*-I don't understand the 7 bpm gap between Zones 1 and 2, but will seek clarification.

The interesting thing is, those zones don't necessarily match up with their recommendations for training.

Max Fat Zone: 100 bpm - Pretty self explanatory, the point where you maximize burning fat for fuel. For me, that's a steady walk on relatively flat terrain.

Aerobic Base: 130 bpm - The point to where I transition to getting more than 50% of my energy from glycogen as opposed to fat.

60% peak VO2: 135 bpm - The peak level at which a well-conditioned person can maintain activity for extended period, aka, "all-day speed." This will be key for long-long distance races.

Anarobic Threshold: 143 bpm - Also known as the Lactate Threshold. This is where the body begins to accumulate faster than it can be metabolized or cleared. This is considered the KEY indicator of success in racing. If you have two runners, equal in all other aspects except LT, the one with the higher LT will win every time. And this level can be moved up through training.

Max VO2: 172 bpm - Again, self-explanatory. The anaerobic cap, which can only be sustained for a brief period. I probably could have pushed it higher in competition, but I didn't feel like hanging on any longer.

A word about the test: It was similar to the sort of stress tests they give while checking for heart disease. On a treadmill, starting slow. Building steadily by angling the treadmill and increasing the speed. The test could go as long as 21 minutes, but that's really not possible to achieve. I suppose it's efficient at stressing the body, but it's not really how people run. I would have rather based it on speed only, or at least less incline -- with a more gradual buildup. It probably doesn't matter for their data-gathering purposes, but it'd feel a little more natural.

What it all means: Basically, it validates what Mike told me several months ago: That I was training at too high of an intensity. That target of about 129/130 bpm is pretty much what I need for most training. I kept trying to pin the guy down on how it translates to Maffetone, but he really didn't know, and the Internets aren't helping me. But at this point, it probably doesn't matter.

The guy who did the test also offered up a training strategy that was similar to what I did when I was training for marathons. About 80% of my time in the low HR area, with most of the rest of the time doing LT work to bring that number up and give me some more HR stretch. (The zones are based on percentage of LT.) For ultras, he said speed work isn't really helpful, but for shorter distances, it is. Pretty much the classic training approach.

Exactly what that means to me... I'm not sure yet. I'll keep with the lowered HR target and consider playing with a bit of LT work at some point, maybe. (And oh, yeah. Lose some weight.)

Thoughts?
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  nkrichards on Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:05 pm

@Mark B wrote:
@nkrichards wrote:I wish I understood all this better...that said I'm not sure I'd have the patience to train as slow as I needed to anyway.

I do have one question though...If I run the majority of a long run at an appropriately slow pace does it hurt anything to finish fast and get my HR up for the last mile or two.  I've been working hard at starting slower so that I can finish fast.   Am I canceling out the benefits of those slow miles if I finish fast?

Patience? It doesn't take patience, Nancy. It takes bullheadedness. And blinders.

Your question is a good one, and it's been roundly debated by physiology geeks.

My best answer is, unless you are committed to doing nothing but low HR workouts, the answer is no. It won't hurt.

For low heart rate purists, the concern is that too much stress on the system interferes with the process of building mitochondria and capillary density for the slow-twitch muscles. When you start burning glycogen, it changes the pH of your leg muscles (or something like that; it's very technical) and hinders those aerobic adaptations. (Building mitochondria and capillary density is the point of low heart rate training, because those are the things that allow you to run faster at the same effort level.)

So, if maximizing your aerobic "engine" was what you're focused on doing, going past your aerobic threshold can at the very least slow the process of improvement, or even stop it altogether. (That said, even Maffetone himself talks about the need at some point to incorporate more uptempo work before racing. Once you've built a base.)

But if you're following the more standard approach for training, it's fine if you spend some time at a higher intensity. Just remember to do about 80% of your running at that easy aerobic pace. The type of intensity depends on what you want to achieve. Somebody like me, who is interested in ultras, might do some LT type of runs to push that threshold a bit higher. Somebody wanting to race shorter distances faster would want to do some lung-busting track work.
If I'm understanding this correctly, I should try and keep my low HR runs low HR till the end and do my faster stuff on a different day?  Since I've always been a 3 day a week runner I've used the "Run Less, Run Faster" theory and used my cross training days for easy workouts.  Maybe it's time to try something new.  I do think that I'm going to concentrate on shorter distances and/or triathlons after Boston.  The marathon distance has become too difficult to fit into family stuff right now.

Thanks for sharing Mark.
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Re: Building A Better Bumblebee

Post  Mark B on Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:34 pm

@nkrichards wrote:
@Mark B wrote:
@nkrichards wrote:I wish I understood all this better...that said I'm not sure I'd have the patience to train as slow as I needed to anyway.

I do have one question though...If I run the majority of a long run at an appropriately slow pace does it hurt anything to finish fast and get my HR up for the last mile or two.  I've been working hard at starting slower so that I can finish fast.   Am I canceling out the benefits of those slow miles if I finish fast?

Patience? It doesn't take patience, Nancy. It takes bullheadedness. And blinders.

Your question is a good one, and it's been roundly debated by physiology geeks.

My best answer is, unless you are committed to doing nothing but low HR workouts, the answer is no. It won't hurt.

For low heart rate purists, the concern is that too much stress on the system interferes with the process of building mitochondria and capillary density for the slow-twitch muscles. When you start burning glycogen, it changes the pH of your leg muscles (or something like that; it's very technical) and hinders those aerobic adaptations. (Building mitochondria and capillary density is the point of low heart rate training, because those are the things that allow you to run faster at the same effort level.)

So, if maximizing your aerobic "engine" was what you're focused on doing, going past your aerobic threshold can at the very least slow the process of improvement, or even stop it altogether. (That said, even Maffetone himself talks about the need at some point to incorporate more uptempo work before racing. Once you've built a base.)

But if you're following the more standard approach for training, it's fine if you spend some time at a higher intensity. Just remember to do about 80% of your running at that easy aerobic pace. The type of intensity depends on what you want to achieve. Somebody like me, who is interested in ultras, might do some LT type of runs to push that threshold a bit higher. Somebody wanting to race shorter distances faster would want to do some lung-busting track work.
If I'm understanding this correctly, I should try and keep my low HR runs low HR till the end and do my faster stuff on a different day?  Since I've always been a 3 day a week runner I've used the "Run Less, Run Faster" theory and used my cross training days for easy workouts.  Maybe it's time to try something new.  I do think that I'm going to concentrate on shorter distances and/or triathlons after Boston.  The marathon distance has become too difficult to fit into family stuff right now.

Thanks for sharing Mark.

Well, your strategy got you to Boston, so I can't say it hasn't been successful...

If you had only three days of training, I'd suggest doing a sorta-long run at a low intensity, a short (30-40 minute?) day at higher intensity, and a longer run, with a 3/1 low intensity start with a fast finish every other time. If you had time to add an extra day, I'd suggest something at a low intensity.
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