Odd Duck Training

I’ve been noticing something lately, and looking into it I’m realizing that what I’ve noticed isn’t that unusual but it appears I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to my approach to heart rate training.

So first, what I’ve been noticing.  I’ve been focusing on keeping my heart rate down in the Aerobic zone for my training, which at my age is no more than 135.  Some of it I suppose comes with still having a lot of weight to lose, some of maybe from never having run very fast.  Some of it is that aerobically I’ve never been that strong, which is the whole reason I’m doing this now, is to build that up.  I’m realizing that all of those “some of it”s don’t make a lot of sense the way I wrote it, and right now I really don’t want to rewrite it, so I’ll try to make sense of it.  Yes, it would be easier to rewrite it.  I’m stubborn that way.  Anyway, all of those “some of it”s refer to how challenging it can be to run at that low of a heart rate.  At the same time I do have to say it shows how far I’ve come – there was a time probably not that long ago where walking would would get the heart racing pretty quickly.  In that regard, I’m proud of the progress because now I can run at a relatively low heart rate.  But it’s frustrating sometimes that it doesn’t take as much as I’d like to bump me right up into the 140’s.  All part of getting fitter, I know.

That’s not the interesting part.  I can tell by the way you are nodding off.  I hate to disappoint you – this next part probably won’t be that interesting to you either.  That you are still reading at this point is a bit of a minor miracle, I would say.  Anyway, it has been interesting to me.  Perplexing at first, but after noticing a pattern, interesting.  

Last night I got out running.  Every minute my Endomondo program is set to chime in and tell me my heart rate.  I do my warm up for about 6 or 7 minutes and get started.  Boom:  Right away, I’m barely moving, I’m at 143.  Seriously?  I’m supposed to be about 120 in that first minute, maybe 125.  143???  I’m barely shuffling, how am I supposed to slow down?  It did slowly drop down, and I didn’t struggle too badly with the speed.  I turned my distance notifications off of my tracking app, so I didn’t know how fast (or in this case, slow).  When I get done, it’s like 17 minutes the first mile, 18 the second.  

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3.31 miles per hour?  This is the RUNNING part.  That’s slow for walking, what is up with this???  That’s a little frustrating because not that long ago I was starting out in the 15 minute range.  This was more like when I first started doing this kind of training.  Have I REALLY not improved?  And even Sunday’s run, just was slower than I was expecting.  

So I’m kicking myself doing my half mile cool down, wondering what I’m doing wrong, why isn’t this improving, all of that.  Maybe it’s time to scrap the whole heart rate zone thing.  This reminded me of a couple other runs I did that, I just had a harder time keeping my heart rate down.  And you know, those were always after work… heyyyyyyy…  wait a minute….  so is that the key?  Is it just the stresses of the day and such?  But Sunday wasn’t that great either…   but it WAS later in the day.  

And that’s the interesting part — realizing the times my heart really has wanted to get racing more has been when I run later in the day instead of in the morning.  I’ve had an easier time keeping my heart rate down in the morning.

So, I started searching all over.  Found a lot of people who found the same thing, that they tend to run about 10 beats per minute higher when they work out in the evening than in the morning.

So this is where I discover the odd duck part.  

Every. Single. Person. that I found talking about this same phenomenon was more frustrated by not being able to get their heart rate up more in the morning.  They all talked about their performance being better in the evening.  Every one of them.  For each of them, heart rate training meant that the key to a good workout was getting their heart rate as high as possible.  Here I am trying to keep mine down.  

It doesn’t surprise me I’m a bit odd.  That’s the story of my life.  

I’m realizing too that I’m not a big fan of conventional wisdom.  Too many times it just seems to be flat out wrong.  Things like ever since we decided that high carb low fat was the best thing to do for getting healthy obesity and diabetes have skyrocketed.  Honestly, I don’t know for sure yet when it comes to the traditional approach of pushing yourself to the limit all the time.  There are people who do that who are much further along in their fitness than I am.  Some of them could run 3 laps to my one.  So I can’t say they are wrong.  But I can say that what looks to be right for me is something I’ve got to work with long enough to give it a chance.  

But there’s a lesson for me in this – to make my comparisons against similar workouts at similar times of day.  It will be interesting to see if this difference in heart rate changes as training goes on.

Has anyone else noticed a difference in their heart rate between morning runs and training and those done in the evening?

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About Ron Walter

I'm just a guy who was so out of shape he couldn't run to get out of the rain. I'm taking my life back. It's not always perfect, not always successful. The victories though are greater than the defeats. I plan to keep it that way.
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2 Responses to Odd Duck Training

  1. Hey Ronald. Don’t be disheartened (sorry about the pun!). There’s logic behind the training that you’re doing, but it is just training. Why not try a timed 5K run without monitoring your heart rate and see how much you have really improved?

  2. I actually feel pretty good with it. I’ve had a couple times where the last mile or two I ignored the heart rate and just ran, and even with a few miles already behind me I could pick up the pace pretty well, in fact I found a nice little kick at the end I couldn’t have done before. When I look at the big picture everything seems to be working. Right now if I cut loose and did a 5K like that, I think I’d love the results but I also fear I would have a harder time keeping disciplined after that because I’d want to keep going out fast.

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