Millennium Running Club Tips – An Experiment of One
AN EXPERIMENT OF ONE:
As many of you have found out, each of us is an experiment of one, when it comes to training. What works for one runner, may not work for you or me. That being said, we try to find training advice and training programs that work for a majority of people, while fine-tuning it for ourselves. This week, I will share some of my thoughts concerning a few training questions.
Is using a heart rate monitor a good idea for most runners? Heart rate monitors can be an excellent tool for the coach or self-coached runner in order to monitor workouts, stress levels, and progress. First, you want to find a device that is accurate. The most accurate devices are those that use a separate chest strap that sends heart rate to your wrist monitor for constant viewing. Next, you will want to find your maximum heart rate. This can be done by doing a very hard workout that brings your heart rate to its actual maximum, or you can estimate max heart rate by using “the old standard formula,” 220 minus your age. This calculated value can over or underestimate your max HR by as many as 20 beats per minute (bpm), causing you to train too easy or too hard. If your max heart rate is accurate, then we can work at specific percentages of it, such as 60-75% of max for easy days, 85-90% for tempo days, and above 90% for maximal aerobic (intervals) days. Personally, I find the best two uses of a heart rate monitor are for daily checks on resting HR and for all “easy, recovery” days. Resting HR is a good indicator for stress and overtraining. A 5-10 beat increase in resting HR may indicate that you are coming down with a cold, not getting enough sleep, dehydrated, or not fully recovered from a previous hard training day. On the other hand, a decrease in resting HR or HR when performing an identical training run, may indicate an increase in fitness. Concerning recovery days, many of us tend to run too fast, especially when feeling fresh or when running with friends at “their pace.” Use that HR monitor to slow yourself down.
What are the most common mistakes made by recreational runners? Usually a runner trains too hard. Either the beginning runner increases the number of miles run per day, or the number of days run per week too quickly. Follow the 10% rule-increase weekly mileage and the longer run by no more than 10% weekly. The biggest mistake usually made by an experienced runner is to run too hard during recovery days between harder workouts, including the long run.
Can runners make changes to their basic running form that might help them improve performance? Without a doubt! Some of the more common mistakes that one might see are clenched fists, a stride that is too long with a foot plant that is well ahead of the runner’s hips, a stride rate that is too slow, or a runner that is bent over (head and chest down) while running. Another mistake more often seen with women runners, is the side to side swinging of the arms instead of a front to back swing. We can practice good running form by adding short strides before or after a run, or by adding short accelerations during the middle of a run. Focus on one aspect of your running form during each stride or acceleration. Run tall (head up, chest up), loose hands and shoulders, front to back arm swing, quicker leg turnover, foot plant under your hips, and stronger push-off can all be practiced.
Will a proper mental approach help improve performance? I am not a sport psychologist, but from this “Experiment of One,” (me), who has run thousands of miles and hundreds of races for 40 years, I firmly believe that the mental approach is what separates 2 individuals who physiologically are equal. Thinking positive, learning how to relax while staying focused on the task at hand, and believing in yourself-that you can do it, that you will do it, are all very important for success. This may be a good spot for a Lazareth Lake Quote: “You don’t know how much you can do, until you try more.”
BE SAFE OUT THERE,