April 23, 2012

Heart rate drift and pacing

So common wisdom tells us that to race efficiently, shoot for negative splits.  In it's simplest form this means to run the second half of the run faster than the first.  It makes sense and I had never given it much thought beyond - "I'll give that a try".  Now, try as I might, I am not good at this.  Generally my best efforts result in even pacing throughout an event whether it be a 5k or a 13.1.  For me, every race has gone something like this:

Mile 1:  Gotta get out of the crowd.  Now I am going to fast, won't be able to maintain this for the distance.
Mile 2-?: Gotta slow down!  I think I got it now.  Drink something.  Keep running.
Final Mile:  Why in the hell is this so hard all of a sudden.  How is my heart rate still rising?  Maybe I'll just die here...

Turns out that at least one (of the many contributors) to my problem is heart rate drift (HRD).  HRD is the phenomenon endurance athletes experience during training (or for myself more prominently in a longer distance races) as a result of continued exertion and progressive levels of dehydration.  In short, my understanding is this:  as we lose water our blood becomes thicker.  Our hearts then have to pump faster to move that blood around enough so we don't die.  It looks like this:
This is a heart rate chart from a recent fartlek workout I did.  The initial plateau is my warmup, somewhere around 9:30/mile.  Each spike is then a 30 second "sprint" at a 6:15/mile pace followed by a rest of 5 minutes at that 9:30/mile pace.  The concept of HRD clicked home for me when I recently looked through my training log and found this little example.  Each interval pushes my heart rate a tad higher with that last one hitting about 90% of my max heart rate or so.

So now I have a bit more of an understanding of what pacing means to me.  I have to keep it slower at the start so that I can factor HRD into my final mile.  I am going to be pushing a higher heart rate at the end of a run at a given pace than at the start and there is science telling me why it is so.  Hydration and pacing matter to race the best race (not to mention a lower blood/cake level, but that is a different post all together).  This is a goal now.  Getting pacing down and start truly figuring out why my actual hydration needs are.

On a side note, IT Band is feeling much better.  Pulled off a 4 mile hilly run in Grand Rapids over the weekend with no pain.  This was my first run not on a treadmill in over a month and the first time I have attempted any sort of hills in quite a while.  Felt good and strong.  Eyes towards August now and the Speedy Chub Relay at Steelhead.

April 14, 2012

Bill Nye Talks About the City of the Future (lots of bikes!)

Bill Nye looks into his crystal ball and gives his opinion about what the city of the future might look like. His ideas about bike specific infrastructure are intriguing and certainly don't sound technically complicated. It all sounds quite doable, even with today's technologies. Unfortunately it seems pretty far fetched in today's auto-centric culture, but nothing happens without first having a dream or vision about it. 

April 13, 2012

On the mend

And feeling better so far about it.  My IT band problems seem to finally be moving on.  A lot of time with the dreaded foam roller and stretching has been helpful.  Cross training and strength training have been helpful.  I recently picked up a compression support wrap as well and that seems to keep things in order as well.  I had been tentatively running 2 miles about 3 times a week recently, often with some walking intervals in there just to make sure I wasn't causing any more strain.  Finally today I figured I would push things a bit.

I put in a 3.3 mile fartlek run today.  No walk breaks just steady running with interval sprints at a 6:30/mile pace.  No pain at all.  Cut it off at 3.3 just to make sure that I didn't aggravate anything but I was definitely tempted to just keep going.  Will be hitting the roller again tonight (like most nights) just to push out any tension. 

April 6, 2012

Nice Day For a Ride

The miles have been ramping up lately and my commutes to and from work on bike have been less about surviving the elements and more about enjoying the ride. Stopped to take this photo of the river while enjoying a leisurely commute home.

April 5, 2012

I'm new here...

Well sort of.  I have been involved with the Speedy Chubs for a little while now.  Getting to know the other members and such.  So far we have gotten together a small group bike ride and a 5k race in Plymouth that we participated in.  Super excited to participate in the Steelhead half Ironman as a Chub in our relay team.  While I like to bike and would like to dedicate more time to it I am a runner primarily and will be bringing up the end of our team at Steelhead running the half marathon finish.  But I am new to the blog.  Joe invited me to start contributing to the site and I am excited to start contributing.  Since Joe is more focused on the biking aspects of the group I think I'll try to focus more on running.

Unfortunately, I have been battling a little iliotibial band problem as of late.  I put myself behind a bit in January ramping up my training on some old shoes and have been suffering a little (or a lot depending on the day) since.  Luckily I think I am finally making it over the hill with the injury.  After our 5K I went on a strict running diet, ie. no running at all.  Lot's of time on the elliptical and incorporating more strength training through plyometrics style routines (more about that to come later).  After what I think has been a good rest period I bought myself an IT Band compression wrap.  This has seemed to help quite a bit.  I'm now back up to running 2 miles at a time without any pain.  I am hoping that by the end of April I will be back on a full training plan for Steelhead.