Archive for heart rate zone training

Shark Bait Who-Ha-Ha

Posted in training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2016 by runmyssierun

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Still I Rise

Maya Angelou, 19282014

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

From And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.

 

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In the ZONE – Heart Rate Zone Training 101

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2015 by runmyssierun

I’ve been asked a lot lately about Heart Rate Zone training since posting a bit about it on some of my social media accounts. Now let me be clear about this because there is a group of cynics out there who are quick to bash this way of training and/or quick to simply bash me and all that I do – I am no pro at this. Heart Rate Zone training has honestly become the most rigid, difficult, brutal and merciless type of training that I have ever done. But I’ve learned so much about myself, my body and my level of health and fitness in the process. I highly recommend you give it a try because knowledge really is power.

HRZ training is NOT about how fast you go or how far you go.

I’ve spent these last few years focused in on how fast my marathon time was, counting my strokes while swimming laps, adding and subtracting and adding again on the weight scale, or calculating how many miles I ran or rode. While all of these things I did are important, I completely missed the boat on what should have been the foundation to this whole journey.

HRZ training is all the above while measuring how effective and efficient your body is becoming while doing all these crazy workouts.

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Here’s the basics:

Get a heart rate monitor and strap it on as per the instructions. Find your resting heart rate by laying down, relax in a quiet peaceful setting for at least 20 minutes (preferably when you first wake up in the morning before any coffee, caffeine or ANY heart rate inducing/reducing medications or foods have been ingested). Note the number on your heart rate monitor. If it bounces around for a bit, that’s ok. Take the average. This should be your baseline to work with. Check your resting heart rate once a month and note any changes… hopefully you’ll see a reduction in that number as time goes by and workouts increase.

Don’t have a heart rate monitor and want to know your heart rate right this very moment so when you continue reading, you’ll know what to do and what to expect during your next workout? No problem. Heart rate is measured in beats per minute. It can be measured at your carotid (neck) or radial (wrist) pulse. Be careful not to place too much pressure on your carotid artery as you can compress it and block blood flow. Once you find your pulse, count the heartbeats for 15 seconds and multiply by four to find your current heart rate.

See the table below and find your age

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Heart Rate During Exercise

Measuring your heart rate during exercise gives you an indicator of how hard you are working. As your workload increases, your heart rate will increase. Heart rate is also an indicator of fitness. The more aerobically fit you are, the lower your heart rate will be for a comparable workout than someone less physically fit. This also means that you will have to increase your workload to achieve the same fitness benefits as you become more physically fit.

Target Heart Rate

To maximize performance and get the most benefit from your workout, you need to find and stay within your target heart rate zone throughout your workout. Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. A 30-year-old woman’s maximum heart rate would be 190 beats per minute. Depending on your level of fitness, the American Heart Association recommends a target heart rate between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your target heart rate, take your maximum heart rate and multiply by 0.5 and 0.85. For a 30-year-old woman, the ideal training window is a heart rate between 95 and 162 beats per minute. If you are just starting to exercise, keep your heart rate closer to the 50 percent target. Those who have been regularly participating in aerobic activities should aim for the 85 percent range. When measuring your heart rate during your workout, do it as you are exercising or stop briefly and take it immediately as it will decrease rapidly with rest.

Additional Tips

You should be working out at a level that feels challenging. If it feels easy, pick up the pace a little. If your breathing is labored, you are extremely fatigued or your form is suffering, ease up. If you are exercising in water, your heart rate is an average of 17 beats less per minute, so decrease your target heart rate accordingly for an aquatic workout. Also check your medications. If any of them have a blunted heart rate response as a possible side effect, the use of target heart rates can be dangerous for you as heart rate is not a good indicator of how hard your body is working.

The following is taken from Runners World magazine (click here for the full article) 

Once you figure out your zones, the rest is like following the speed limit signs on the roadway. Since they are based on your redline, or lactate threshold, that becomes the point from which all the other zones are based—anything below the threshold heart rate zone (zone 4) is more aerobic in nature and easy in intensity, and anything at or above it is more anaerobic and high intensity.

The key to optimizing this knowledge is to train purposefully based on these zones. In a typical training schedule you’ll follow the flow of easy and hard workouts. You might have a tempo workout on day 1, and follow with an easy effort workout (or two) on day 2 and 3. By alternating hard and easy workouts, your body is able to recover efficiently, adapt to the demands of the workouts, and get stronger.

Many make the mistake of training solely by pace and end up training too hard most of the time (la la pace). It’s an effort that is too hard to be easy, and too easy to be hard. Somewhere in between purpose and the point of no return.

This doesn’t happen when you tune in and run by your body (effort) because pace becomes the outcome of every run rather than the purpose.

There are many variations of the zone percentages so don’t let that confuse you. The idea is to make friends with what they mean and then create a training plan based on the purpose of the run rather than the pace.

Here is a percentage chart by authors Foster and Edwards and how to use each zone in your training.

Zone 1: 60-70% of threshold heart rate: A very, very light intensity effort level marked by easy breathing and complete conversation. For many runners, this zone comes in the form of a walking pace as it is a very low intensity. Use it: for warm up and cool down, easy recovery workouts.

Zone 2: 70-80% of threshold heart rate: A light intensity effort level where you can still hold a conversation. Use it: for easy/recovery runs, warm up and cool down.

Zone 3: 80-90% of threshold heart rate: A moderate intensity effort level where you begin to hear your breathing, but you can still talk in sentences. Use it: long runs, training runs.

Zone 4: 90-100% of threshold heart rate: A comfortably hard intensity effort that is just outside your comfort zone where you can talk in one-word responses. Use it: for tempo runs and mile repeats to raise the lactate threshold (redline) and be able to run faster at easier effort levels

Zone 5: 100-110% of threshold heart rate: A hard intensity effort well outside your comfort zone where you can’t talk. Use it: for interval workouts and the final finish of your race.

The aim is to match your training workouts to one of these zones to maximize every run and its benefits. When you do, you’ll notice your recovery dramatically improves, your performance improves, and you’ll have fewer aches and pains from pushing too hard.

How has Heart Rate Zone training helped me?

My family’s history of heart problems go deeper and further than cancer so I do take this VERY seriously. I understand and am taking measures to reduce my caffeine addiction that clearly affects how hard my heart works, especially during tough workouts. Learning about my own personal heart rate efficiency and effectiveness is has been a huge wake up call to me.

I’ve learned that you can be a 30 year old size 2 and jacked up on pre-workout, diet pills and in greater risk of cardiac arrest during a half marathon that she attempts to finish in 1:20 pushing herself at a Zone 5 than a 40 year old size 20 pacing herself at a manageable Zone 3 pace and finishing that same half marathon in 2 and a half hours.

Currently, I am building my body up at a Zone 2 with longer workouts so that when I do my tempo and interval trainings as Zone 4, I actually increase my pace and endurance. By controlling my heart rate at a Zone 2, my body becomes more efficient with it’s power and effectiveness.

How is this different from what I’ve done before? I love pinterest. Before I go to bed, I try to unwind, zone-out and get “inspired” by asking pinterest for workout motivation. What comes back to me almost every single time are posts that have “no pain no gain”, “train insane or remain the same” and other such motivators that tell me push harder and not give up no matter what. To me, this means I need to go further, harder and faster. How heart rate zone training has changed my workouts is that it has worked on my patience. It has made me understand that while at Zone 2, it is still training my body for endurance. I can spend 4 hours on a tiny, uncomfortable bicycle saddle – which is a tough feat for any human – but not have the fear of going into cardiac arrest or muscle strain and injury because I’ve built up the stamina and an easy zone. I can jog for 9 miles, smile and sing and two days later sprint a couple of miles at half the pace of my long run.  It’s the toughest thing for me to be riding or running at Zone 2 and get dropped or passed up by fellow riders and runners because I want to be with them, push with them, be a recipient of their encouragement… and I can’t do that when they’re a mile ahead of me.

Yesterday, a group of riders passed me up and as I yelled out to them “Y’all are dropping me like a bad habit!!!” I remember the wise words of Ramon Hermida:

One thing I learned a while back was: ride your own ride, at your own pace. I know what my goals with cycling and exercise are. I don’t let others dictate what I should be doing, and don’t even bother attempting to explain to others my rationale for doing the rides that I do. What matters is: there is a reason and I know what that reason is. Another thing that I learned is not to pay attention how others want to define me: whether it be by my spirituality, by my race or ethnicity, by my looks, by my weight, by my career, or by my material possessions. That is their problem, not mine. I am in charge of my own story. I can sincerely tell you that each year that passes has been the best one in my life. If not, then each day I have the opportunity to change it and make it so.

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So I smiled as they all zoomed by me and I rode my own ride at the pace my coach designated for me to ride. And while I am explaining to you all why I’m doing what I’m doing, it is done in the hopes that it educates those who WANT to learn how to become a healthier, more fit version of themselves… and not for comparison sake or to compete against anyone. I am not looking for validation or acceptance from anyone but welcome everyone’s cheers and advice. I encourage the whole world to join me in this adventure but HIGHLY encourage you to join TEAM if you have a connection to cancer. Doing this is MY choice and I’m doing it the way I want to for my own reasons and I love that I am still learning something new about all that I do and all that I am every single day.

I hope that I have the patience to go slow when I need to go slow. I hope I have the power to go fast when I need to go fast. I hope I have the energy to go the distance when I need to go far. I hope I can do all of this so that I can make this the foundation of WHY I started this whole crazy journey in the first place. I am building my foundation.

I am in my now, investing in my future so that I honor my past and help make a positive impact on someone else’s future.  

I watched a movie last night that I got a great kick out of. It’s called Hector’s Search for Happiness and it chronicled this man’s journey around the world in search of happiness. During this movie, I was taken back to a time when I was sitting at the little bistro table with my bike guru at the front of his shop. He asked me how things were going and I responded with something like “what I would do to have just a normal average week with nothing super monumental or super devastating” implying that there were always ups and downs in my life.  The movie had one particular scene where Hector was in Tibet and a group of Tibetan monks were happily celebrating “all of it”. Hector couldn’t see it and didn’t understand. I think that was me. I couldn’t see it nor could understand it. At the end of the movie, the powerful flood of all the emotions is what clicked finally. It was all of it, the good the bad the ugly… it is all of it that has been my happiness. So I get it now.

In my own pursuit of happiness, I have found happiness in the pursuit and it is all of it and I celebrate it. (Confused? Watch the clip in the video link below) My wish today is that we all become as enlightened into the mystery of happiness. My journey has made me happy and I know my destination is still so very far away. Taking the difficult (higher) road has been hard but in the good, the bad and the ugly… I have found happiness. I hope you do, too. Cheers. May this journey continue on for a long time.

Heart rate zone training getting better now

Posted in cancer, cycling, Running, triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2015 by runmyssierun

This is the first week I’ve finally started to feel pain free and strong during my workouts but still dealing with the headaches of a caffeine-poor body. Unfortunately, I can also feel the additional weight I’ve put on for all these last few months I haven’t been able to do what I had done before. I share the stress and anxiety of my fellow triathlete friend and blogger LoriLynn (You can follow her blog here).

Putting aside the mental need to LOOK a certain way and WEIGH a certain amount and BE a certain size has always been a constant struggle for me. After all, I am that washed up beauty queen that let herself go… (that’s sarcasm). But in all seriousness, that time of my life really did mess with my head about my body image. I’m not going to blame pageantry for that because I think many women endure body image challenges and realizations at that age – and THIS age for that matter! It’s probably even worse at this age (I am 45 by the way). I won the swimsuit portion of the Miss Texas Scholarship pageant at the Miss Rio Grande Valley preliminaries in 1990 and I was even one of the very first Bud Girls swimsuit model. The 90’s was the decade of the waif super model. It was IN to have big Cindy Crawford Guess model hair, smoke cigarettes, never eat and do step aerobics with slouch socks and high top white Kaepas.  20 years and 20 pounds later with two children, this same era of women that endured that decade must now endure either the ridicule of “mom pants” or the embarrassment of “muffin top” with the more hip low-rise jean. Long gone are the days of “Little in the middle but she got much back”. The struggle is real but, thankfully, so is my outlook on myself now. Do I WANT to look like my twenty year old self? Oh hell ya! Will I do what I did back then to get where I was? Oh hell no.

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It’s not rocket science to understand where the weight gain has come from:

  1. A drastic decrease in intense and consistent physical activity over a period of about 6 months

  2. A drastic decrease in heart rate due to the removal of highly caffeinated beverages (i.e. coffee) over a period of 4 weeks

  3. A tremendous desire to NOT fall back into the unhealthy, restrictive eating disorders of my pageant days because now I know the cardiac dangers of being “skinny fat”.

Clearly I've collected a few tires around my belly. Unable to run like I used to and being restricted from core strengthening exercises due to the hip and herniated disk issues, it has become quite embarrassing to show off this bag of flab around town in the most unforgiving  spandex lycra known to mankind.

Clearly I’ve collected a few tires around my belly. Unable to run like I used to and being restricted from core strengthening exercises due to the hip and herniated disk issues, it has become quite embarrassing to show off this bag of flab around town in the most unforgiving spandex lycra known to mankind.

A zoomed up version of my point of view over the entire run. They quickly became colorful dots on the horizon.

A zoomed up version of my point of view over the entire run. They quickly became colorful dots on the horizon.

I’ve been gradually trying to increase my running endurance and mileage to catch up to Maritza, Ronnie, Cat and Alex. On Saturday, it was difficult to see them easily jog out a full mile and a half ahead of me while I struggled to remain in my zone 2 and cuss vile words as I was reminded of my pace by my Nike Run app voice from hell. I had purposely removed the pace from the window of my Garmin watch so that I could focus only on distance, heart rate and heart zone. I completely forgot to mute that wicked woman from my Nike App. Oh well, at least I learned what to do the next time I go on my long run and, honestly, it is good to know my pace at that zone so that I can prepare myself for time during practices and race day. It just hurts the ego because all I’ve ever heard up until this point is that you should push yourself to your max and beyond your known limits. It’s supposed to be hard to do these workouts. You should run a mile in less than 10 minutes and even better if you can do less that 8 minutes and then you can run the with VRC regulars once you hit the 6 minute mile level.

My concern now, after learning about heart rate zone training, if after completing so many half marathons and full marathons that took several hours to complete - assuming I was at levels that should have been no more than a few minutes in length, have I done permanent damage to my cardiovascular system?

My concern now, after learning about heart rate zone training, if after completing so many half marathons and full marathons that took several hours to complete – assuming I was at levels that should have been no more than a few minutes in length, have I done permanent damage to my cardiovascular system?

At my zone 2 rate, currently, my one mile times were hitting 13 minutes. *I know, laugh all you want. I wouldn’t put it out for ridicule and comparison if I wasn’t already prepared for the backlash.

So here’s the point I’m trying to make (after all this backstory)… at the end of my eight mile Zone 2 pathetic run, Coach Lori twisted her ankle and slowed down to finish my miles with me.

Coach Lori had to twist her ankle in order for her to slow down enough to keep up with my zone 2 pace.

Coach Lori had to twist her ankle in order for her to slow down enough to keep up with my zone 2 pace.

She kept me in check and had me constantly check my heart rate.  Every single time she told me to check, I was over my zone 2 level. She was in tune with her body and I still wasn’t. She could read when her heart rate was going up and could tell that if I was running alongside her, that mine was obviously up as well. I still need to hone in on that skill so that I don’t exhaust my body before the finish line. This is important and something I have never learned to do! Just as you should push to make yourself fast, you should also strive to calm your heart rate down for empowered endurance.

While on that last mile, she said something that pierced me to the core. “It’s more important for women to understand and regulate our hearts because heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. We, as women, tend to take care of everyone else but ourselves and it’s our hearts that give out. I lost my mom to heart disease because she was sedentary.” (click here for stats about heart disease that validates what Coach Lori said)

See, the thing is that I really did feel strong in my run. *Granted I did start feeling a little pain in the hip at about mile 4 but it subsided after a while. I also had the best swim in ages just days later. I didn’t feel winded. My breathing is now in control, There is more power in my stroke. My hips are rocking in the water just as I am supposed to be. I’m still slow as molasses but now, with this new little attitude… who cares? And if you care about my pace… you need to ask yourself why you care so much about MY numbers. Worry about yourself. I worry enough about myself. Ok? I had a great swim. I’m not bragging. I’m relieved!!!!

I started running because my Aunt Sissy asked me to run for her after she saw that I was becoming unhealthy. In my mind, I was running to fight cancer for her. In her mind, she wanted me to run to become healthier so I wouldn’t die a premature death like my baby Brother did after dealing with the stress of cancer on top of every day life stress.

But here’s the reality – I run because I don’t think I can do much of anything else to fight cancer and I still have some anger issues with cancer. After all, it stole some of my favorite people in my life. I run because while in Team in Training, Run Walk or Crawl, Running 101, Sandy Overly’s Just Tri Its and Maniacs, Erica’s Super TriLife, and all the other running groups I was/am in… I’ve found a great sense of emotional healing, confidence, camaraderie and support that I do not get in any other part of my life.  I run because my doctors have monitored me and showed me evidence of me becoming a healthier person. I run because I really like the way I was looking. Running made me feel and look younger and more vibrant. Running makes me feel like I can contribute to not just my well being but also help someone else either by inspiring them to also begin a healthy lifestyle or by raising money through Team in Training and using it for cancer research to identify the source of cancer, find a treatment for cancer and make sure that it is affordable and accessible for all those who want it. Add swimming and cycling to this and, goodness, triple all the benefits stated here.

I’ve gone through so many phases of running (and triathlon) and I do not want to change or edit any of my prior posts that document it because I think it’s important and indicative of the way I’ve learned and matured through each sport. I can go back to posts where I saw I was focused on speed, or focused on weight or focused on distance… I ‘mean really.. go walk through any gym, watch any TV commercial, scroll through Pinterest, Youtube or Tumblr running inspirations and you’re going to find so many mixed messages out there. I listened to them and got mixed up myself.

We all have different reasons to workout (or NOT “workout” per se but simply be more active in our lives) . We all have various motivations. After three years of jumping into the health and fitness world of marathons and triathlon, I’ve witnessed my reasons and motivations morph. Each season and every coach has taught me something new about myself that I wanted to improve upon. I hope that never changes. I hope I always want to improve myself. I hope I’m always learning something new about myself. I hope I’m never so pompous as to think that I know it all or better than anyone else out there struggling just like me. I hope I’m never so insecure that I feel the need to constantly compare myself to others and form a hatred stemmed solely from envy. I hope I never lose the joy I have found in this life style and in the people who surround me with encouragement and support.

At this moment, I am not looking at my pace.

At this moment, I am not looking at my scale.

At this moment, I am focusing on my heart health, endurance and form.

At this moment, I am only concerned with being better than I was before and beating one thing and one thing only… CANCER.

I didn't run to beat your timeI ran to

Why do you workout? Do you run? Zumba? Crossfit? Bike? Spartan? Roller Blade? Body Build? Surf? Skate? Walk? Swim? Dance? What do you do and why do you do it? Do you WANT to do something but too scared to start? If so, what is it that you want to do?

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