[054] In the zone

This week I acquired something I never even considered incorporating into my training – a heart rate monitor. Over the past months as I have immersed myself into everything triathlon, almost every piece of training advice comes down to monitoring your performance via heart rate (or, rather, lactic threshold – but heart rate is an easy way to estimate LT outside of a lab environment). Entire workouts are predicated on staying within a certain zone, such as running 4 miles in Zone 2 or swimming laps in Zone 4.

It has all seemed so foreign to me, but the more I learn about it, the more it makes sense. Training is so much more scientific than I had ever realized, but now that I’m working in three separate disciplines in the same amount of time I previously was using for one, it’s critical that I tailor my workouts to get the maximum benefit. And, to my surprise, running (or biking, or swimming) fast 100 percent of the time is not necessarily good training.

Although I have some races coming up within the next couple months – a 10k and a sprint triathlon – my “A” race for the year is the Olympic in September. So I am trying to keep a mindset of being at the beginning of my major training cycle with the peak coming in six months. And that means base-building. Although my official training began January 1, I already had a decent base (I even set a 3-minute half-marathon PR in November 2010).  But now I should be focusing more on volume rather than intensity.

This is where the heart monitor comes in. When I wear it during training, I can always know when I am in base-building mode or when I creep higher into intensity mode. To do this I have to calculate my heart rate and the specific zones. Max heart rate is calculated by age – so mine is 188. The monitor tells me my resting heart rate is somewhere around 48. My zones fall as follows:

Zone 1: 118-132; Zone 2: 132-146; Zone 3: 146-160; Zone 4: 160-174; Zone 5: 174-max.

This is great information for me, but the proof comes when I start putting it to the test. I have yet to use the monitor during a workout, so I will be very interested to learn what levels of effort are associated with these zones. And, if the effort prescribed is less than what I might expend on a workout, it will be a challenge for me to dial it back. Hopefully the payoff comes later in the season when the more intense workouts kick in.

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3 Responses to [054] In the zone

  1. Blaine says:

    Great that you have discovered the value that heart rate monitoring can bring to your training routine. We, at MIO, continue to work to both educate people and produce innovative fitness & wellness tools so everyone maximizes their workouts and lives healthier… keep it up! If anyone has questions regarding heart rate or weight management watches pls chat me on Twitter @MIOwatch

  2. steena says:

    Wow, I admire people like you who have the patience to learn about this kind of training, and actually do it. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how the heart monitor improves your training, maybe you’ll inspire me to use mine!

  3. David H. says:

    I used one a few years ago with running for several months months. I learned a lot about myself, and that I was in fact running much slower than I realized based on the effort my heart was giving. (I hope that made sense.) I hope this helps you out.

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