It’s Complicated…

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It feels really good to be getting back into the training groove again.  It has been a pretty fabulous week, I feel refreshed and focused and ready to tackle the 2012 season (258 days until Ironman Mont Tremblant).

Sharpie tried to kill me earlier this week by asking me to do a run test to determine my heart rate (HR) thresholds.

On a track.

Track run, running, HR Testing

Probably THE most exciting tracks you have ever seen, no?

I almost died of boredom.

And almost had a heart attack.  I had to bust my buns out there!

I sent Carole my numbers and she helped me extrapolate my HR zones.  She explained everything so clearly – I was again struck by thankfulness that I am fortunate enough to have her for a coach.  I really have a better understanding of why building an aerobic base is so important, and how HR training fits into that.

SO anyway…Sometime mid-week it hit me, I have never specifically HR trained.   I mean, I wore a HR monitor and recorded my Max HR and my Avg HR on Daily Mile.

That was fun.  And fairly useless.

I wasn’t really doing anything with it.  Just recording the numbers, noting occasionally that when my heart rate neared 200 I was breathing pretty hard and it was hurting and I was about to pass out.

So then I make the next jump and realize that this means is that I really have NEVER been aerobically fit!

WHAT??  I stopped and thought about it.

I have never made myself into that aerobic machine that keeps on going and going…I have always been more like that scrappy dog that refuses to come back when chasing a rabbit, to dumb to slow down just because it hurts.

This is pretty exciting stuff for me, I have to admit because I think this means that I have some potential.

For something…

I am not sure what, but at least to become more fit than I ever have been.

The truth is, I am really having to swallow my pride in doing heart rate training for the first time.  I am TRYING not to look at pace.

This is tough to do when your HR monitor is on a GPS whose main function is to tell you how fast and far you are going…and all internet training sites happily spit the pace directly in your face after you enter your time and distance.

The truth is, it is like getting a new toy.

Or no. Wait…

It is like finding a toy that you always had but didn’t think was that cool until someone showed you how to use it…then you realize that it really is the coolest thing ever.

I am loving it, it is a whole new challenge.  More importantly, I am loving running again.  Running and I really had some issues last year.  I changed our relationship status to “it’s complicated” on Facebook for a while, now we are back to “in a relationship”.

Too corny?

There are tons of books/articles out there about Heart Rate Training.  If you want to get your toes wet, I recommend THIS BOOK by Joe Friel or THIS ARTICLE by Mark Allen. They explain it WAY better than I ever could.  

About caratunkgirl

Short spunky girl from the tiny town of Caratunk, Maine. Active outdoor girl. I am a forester, whitewater raft guide, Ironman and 5x marathoner with Ultra dreams. Always ready for the next adventure with my dog Kineo by my side.
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20 Responses to It’s Complicated…

  1. Heather O says:

    You crack me up! Good luck with the heart rate training. I tried it a couple years ago, but like you I really had no clue what I was doing. Hopefully you wont have to do too many more track workouts…ugh!

  2. Jeff says:

    Awesome! MAde me laugh from another FB conversation we had!

    You are doing great Mandy and it is going to be fun for us all to be training together for the same race.

  3. Kevin says:

    Caratunk has a track??? I thought they only had a treadmill? haha

    Good luck with the continued HR training! I have thought about trying it, but I always forget to wear my heart rate monitor.

  4. That heart rate business sounds like something I need to understand and apply. I think I’d find out a lot about my “fitness” if I did that. Good for you, and don’t die out on the track!

  5. Jessica says:

    I’ve really focused on HR training this year, and it’s been tough (because a lot of times I feel like I’m moving at a turtle’s pace) but the gains have been huge. Good luck! It’s totally worth it!

  6. Tracy says:

    I’m doing the same thing… HR training. After so many injuries, I did some reading and realized I’ve been training/running/living at max HR, and my body was just breaking down as a result.
    HR training is slow, boring and mentally hard, but for me it has to work… or I’ll have a tantrum until I get my way….wait, no that’s what my 5 y/o tries on me. Nevermind. It will work!

    You can do it Mandy!

  7. I’m going to read your links about HR monitors. I have one but have no clue how to use it. I also have a nice garmin that I don’t have a clue how to put the info on my computer….. Maybe I should take some time to read the owner’s manual… hmmmm.

    I know we aren’t that close, but if you ever get down to the coast, we should go for a run! (and you can show me how to use my monitor…) 🙂

  8. Jill says:

    YAY! I’m glad you got a training coach and are learning so much more about yourself, that is so cool!

  9. Rae says:

    Ohhh good luck with that! Ive never heart rate trained….really should start 🙂 Hopefully it helps your IM Tremblant experience!

  10. Christi says:

    I need some help in the HR arena! I am glad that things are working out great for you. That makes me happy!

  11. On a scale of 1-10 I give myself a 7 for comprehension.

    On a scale of 1-10 I give myself a 2 for practical application of same.

    Maybe it should be my New Year’s resolution.

  12. Anne-Marie says:

    I had the same reaction when I first tried HR training… I had to walk a lot of hills to keep the HR down and like you, hated seeing the pace/mile afterwards. It really works though, so stick with it!

  13. adena says:

    I love the corny, I can’t stop laughing! Glad you are back together. 😉

  14. Sharpie says:

    You’re going to be awesome, girl. We’re gonna turn you into a machine. Game on. 🙂

  15. Matt Oravec says:


    Where to start? First off, guilty… I too am that scrappy dog that just goes after that dang rabbit!

    HR training though, love this. Pretty much all last year H and I did this. We never exceeded our thresholds during training (unless it was a speed session) and she got a 30+ minute PR on her marathon time (although she didn’t really know she was HR training apparently).

    It’s good stuff, it builds a huge base that you can easily add speed on to. However, it took me a couple months to settle in on it and get my paces back up to what I was comfortable with.

    Stick with it and believe in it. It is good stuff, and your Heart knows whether or not you will have a good workout that day, whether your mind agrees or not, listen to your heart!

  16. HR training is supposed to be great, I’ve never had a monitor to do it with or a better coach to help me figure the intervals. Soon enough though. But it does really show you how to control yourself.

  17. Kovas says:

    I’m thinking I’m going to try HR training this spring – thanks for pointing out that Mark Allen article!

  18. Colleen says:

    Corny? Not at all… I love it! Sharps knows what she’s doing and I think you have some great things coming your way this year! YAY!!!

  19. Shannon says:

    hehe. i don’t actually have a HR monitor… been thinking about it, but wouldn’t know what to do with it either. never done any HR zone training. Will be interested to see how it goes for you, maybe you’ll make me change my ways!

  20. I really think there’s something to be said about the benefits of heart rate training. I did it to an extent this year while training for IMAZ, but probably not as much as I should have. I’m excited to follow your training again this year!!!

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