Before going any further I advise before any physical exercise is carried out, a complete and thorough warm up activity must be done, and likewise, before any activity is ended, a complete cool down followed by stretches must be completed!!
How does all of the above help?
Say when we started this whole discussion that we went out and ran 10K or 6M and maintained our heart rate in a certain zone. For example say zone B, the Aerobic zone. This might take us 90 minutes.
If we did this same distance twice a week training in the same zone, then we are training our body to make better use of our cardio vascular system. Over time, our body will be learning how to be more efficient at bringing in fresh oxygen and getting rid of stale carbon dioxide. Our heart will be developing into a bigger stronger muscle and would therefore take less effort (less pumps per minute) to satisfy the oxygen needs of our body.
Therefore to do this same distance in the same time our heart rate would be less. BUT, imagine if we still worked in zone B!! For the same amount of effort from our heart (BPM), we would see a reduction in the time it takes us to do the same distance!! Bingo!!!
Now after a few weeks of this, we could do the 10K distance in 85 minutes for the same amount of effort (BPM)!!!
NOW, imagine if once in a while, once we felt able, we could add a 1 mile run once a week but this time we worked in zone C. We would be teaching our body to use up it’s own glycogen stores as energy, but we would be getting a better energy supply and would be moving quicker!
So where in zone B this mile might take us 15 minutes, in zone C it could take us 13 minutes. Using the same principle, if this was kept up once a week, in time we would see a reduction in the time taken to run a mile. We could go from 13 minutes to 12 minutes for the same amount of BPM!!
How is this useful if we are only running 1 mile and the race we want to do is 10K/6M?
Imagine you are running the 10K/6M race, and you knew that from where you are now, a mile in front is a single track that nobody can take over you on for at least 2 miles. All of a sudden, you could speed up your pace, and increase your heart rate from zone B to zone C. You start to take over the runners in front and make progress through the pack of runners and you go from position 150 to position 125 over the space of a mile! But then you start to notice the burn in your legs and the build up of lactic acid and don’t think you can carry on. That’s ok, because when you get to the single track where nobody can over take you, you can slow down and drop back into zone B, the aerobic zone. Your body stops using up it’s glycogen stores and goes back to using the oxygen that your breathing. This zone is also where muscles recharge with glycogen, and you have 2 miles now where you can have a breather, keep your position and recharge.
Now up ahead, there is a similar scenario, and again you can take over a further 25 runners over the space of another mile!
Just by being aware and running smart, you have made up 50 positions, got a personal best (PB) by 5 minutes and feel awesome!!
This can be applied to anything – running, swimming, cycling, rowing – anything where your heart rate plays a part in the activity and you want to see improvement!
If you forget to take your monitor with you one day, or your battery dies or something, then a useful thing to remember is this;
If you are running and can’t speak at all, you are likely in Zone D.
If you are running and can say a few words before you have to gasp, then you are likely to be in zone C.
If you are running and can string a short sentence together before being short of breath, you are likely in zone B.
If you are running and can chat normally, then you are likely in Zone A.
Now, would you rather train to your average speed or your heart rate?!!!
Happy running Stoke F.I.T.!!