"Instead of seeing how fast you can go or how much pain your body can take, your're much better off training in a comfortable zone. This teaches your body to burn fat and spare glycogen, which will maintain your physiological health and reduce the risk of injury." Stu Mittleman
I had the opportunity last week to get tested for my VO2 max. I wear a heart rate monitor when I train outside, but I've never tested to see what my zones should be. I've done 2 mile time trials during marathon training to test for my paces for short vs long runs, but nothing official. Since I'm training for an Ironman this year, I felt it might be beneficial, so when the opportunity came up I decided to go for it.
I was tested on the bike as well as the run to establish my zones for each sport. I was hooked up to a mask that was hooked up to a machine and every two minutes I increased the speed on the bike. On the treadmill, the speed as well as the incline was increased.
There are many philosophies and thoughts as to whether VO2 testing is accurate to begin with (some feel the LT test is more accurate) and then there are philosophies as to how to use the information from the test. My test gave me 4 different heart rate zones. I know for Ironman, most of my training will be in zones 1 and 2. And this is where philosophies differ. The HR for zone 1 is low, yet some people feel that's where the training should be and if I need to walk to keep my HR there, then so be it. Other people suggest going by PRE (perceived rate of exertion) while watching the HR. Others say train in zone 2 which gives you a higher HR zone. Some people say train as you are going to race. Well, for short distances that would probably be zone 3. But for Ironman it will mostly be high zone 1 or low zone 2.
With all of that information, I have been paying a little bit more attention to my heart rate.
The Rosedale Ride is an organized pay ride that benefits the Rosedale school. The Rosedale school is a special needs school, so it supports a worthy cause. And luckily for me, the route is very close to my house, because the ride was this past Saturday and I had to be at my son's soccer game by 11:00. The fields were just 3 miles off the route.
I started off at the front of the pack and the way out was great. The winds were at our back and for that first hour we averaged about 19mph. But that was soon to change. As we turned east and then south to head back to the starting line, we were hit with very strong headwinds. There were times I was doing 12mph. It was tough. And I thought for sure I was probably way over my HR range that had been established Friday night during my VO2 test.
I ended up cutting the course where I needed so that I could head to the soccer fields and made it just in time for my sons game. I was able to get in about 40 miles. And when I analyzed my data after I got home I was surprised to see that my average HR was just where it should have been for the ride based on my cycle test.
The run is where I'm having a problem, and today made it worse.
Lots and Lots of Wind
Not only was it windy the day of the Rosedal Ride, but this spring has been very windy all around. Today was no exception. On the calendar was a 1 hour run. Temps have been getting hotter so today was in the low 80s. By the end of summer, 80 will feel cold, but for now, that's HOT. With the heat I had planned on going out slower and seeing if I could stay in the low zone 2 range. But it was not meant to be. The wind gusts this afternoon were 15-20mph. I almost wimped out and stayed inside on the treadmill, but then I told myself "It may be windy at Lonestar 70.3 in 3 weeks and it may be windy at Ironman Florida in November. You have to train for it so you will be prepared."
So I headed out. And it was hot. And it was windy. There were times the wind would stop me in my tracks and there were times the wind would blow me forward. It was hard. And my HR shows it. I ended up being in high zone 2. And I could tell afterwards that the effort was too hard.
I don't want to over do it on slowing down as I have worked hard to get faster, but I know I need to run at a pace I will be able to run for a long time. And at a pace I can hold after a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike. I need to learn to train in that comfortable zone and burn fat and spare glycogen.