Okay heart, let’s try stop the beating

A few weeks ago, my personal trainer SuperStacey noticed that every time I ran, my heart rate would skyrocket above 190bpm. It’s never bugged me and I wouldn’t be faint or out of breath when I ran. But it didn’t look right.

Heart rate

This is what my heart rate usually looks like. I start running & it shoots up!

In typical Stacey fashion, she did some research to understand the issues and came up with a mini programme to train my heart. In her words, “…it makes no sense to only strengthen your hamstrings, glutes and core while your heart is what’s letting you down on the runs.” I did also occur to me that with all the running that I was doing, my aerobic fitness was terribly low. Not good.

Running Junkie Francis recognized my new running program on my Strava update as the “Maffetone” method. The what?

*Created by Phil Maffetone, the Maffetone Method is a style of training that focuses exclusively on aerobic running. Using a heart rate formula of 180 – your age (plus several corrections for injury, fitness level, health, etc.) you come up with an “aerobic maximum heart rate.”

In a nutshell, the low heart rate based Maffetone training method is meant to build up my aerobic base and keep my runs in the fat burning zone. Sounds good!

Talk about frustration, but the last couple of runs have been dreadful! Just when I get going, my watch beeps warning me that my heart rate is over the limit into what Garmin calls “Threshold” and a little red heart flashes on the watch face. I’m meant to slow down a bit until the heart turns to green indicating that my heart rate is down to aerobic levels.

Lower heart rate

Forcing myself to stop and bring down the heart rate – so far so good. It’s a big difference.

I run a few meters, hear the beep, slow down and then come to a crawl before I can run again, hear the beep, come to a crawl… a few times I’ve even had to stop to bring it down as it hovers in the 170’s!

This morning’s run felt a bit easier and it is something I’m keen to get right. It’s the patience I’m not so good with!

This is a run in March vs. May. Notice the difference in running zones.

I’ve discovered with running that there’s always something new to learn about my body and to shape my training around a new challenge.

Speed sessions. Strength training. Breathing techniques. Building my core. Leg work. When it comes to running, the training programs are endless.

I must also confess that I’m not the biggest fan of running in winter. This “maffetone phase” of mine suits me because it means I can focus on a few shorter runs, even run at the gym and not have any long distance training runs to focus on during the colder days. I might as well give it a go.

Have you ever tried it? Has it worked?

* Source: https://strengthrunning.com/2015/02/maffetone-method-and-base-training/

Baby (running) steps

“How was your run?” 

It’s the same question KK asks me every time I return from my run. I’m so busy sync’ing my Garmin to my Strava that I often reply with, “Great!”. But this time, it was different. My run was fantastic and I could not get the smile off my face. Looking at my watch, I was asking, “What? A PB?” I had just run my fastest time on a regular 4km route from home. I was thrilled!

Strava

Strava details comparing my runs on the same route

It’s my last month taking blood thinners since my pulmonary embolism scare in December. Six months of rehabilitation and slowly getting back into running. It’s not the only excuse reason I have scaled back on my running. With KK’s femur stress fracture, we’ve both been living life in the slow lane this year.

But I haven’t been sitting idle…

  • I’ve been training regularly with a personal trainer (and friend) Super Stacey. The focus of my training programme has been on strength exercises, and especially targeting areas such as glutes and hamstrings.
  • I’ve also returned to following a more balanced eating plan *whispers: LCHF/banting*. More veggies, less meat. Cutting out dairy for the first time in my life. What an eye opener! Lots and lots of water. It’s made a huge difference to how I feel. (and yes, I keep promising to update you in a follow up blog on my diet.)
  • Shorter runs. I love heading out for a 4km run before the sun sets in the evening. My route is out, up, down and back in. Mentally, it’s easier to handle after a tough day at work. I keep the longer run for weekends. And when I say longer, I mean no more than 7kms.

Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 9.47.16 PMI’m unable to say what has made the difference to my progress specifically, but I’m guessing it’s all of the above. It’s a factor of quality over quantity in my running distances, proper eating, focused strength training all wrapped up in one, and time… in my case, 6 months.

You can’t just run. You need to strengthen and fuel your entire body. And sometimes, you need to stop thinking about half marathons and be pleasantly surprised by the joy and relaxation of a simple 4km run.

In other news, KK is ready to start running again. Baby steps….

Runners FOMO

Both KK and I pulled out of the Two Oceans road race this year. KK’s fractured femur is still healing & I had not trained enough to be sure that my ankle would make 3 hours out on the road after my December injury.

In the two days running up to the race, our social media feeds were flooded with angry and frustrated runners who had been sorely let down at race registration. Delays in number collection, queues of over 2 hours at the race expo. Definitely not what runners need a day before a long race!

As we woke up at 5:25am on Saturday morning to catch the start of the half marathon broadcast on TV, snuggled under the duvet and hearing the wind howling outside, I did think for a minute “thank goodness I’m not running this year!”

The runners started to make their way over the finish line. One by one, the tracking app showed their results, their Facebook updates showed photos of medals and joyful celebrations. The FOMO began to creep in.

Later that morning, we drove through to Cavendish to do some shopping and weaved our way through some of the back markers on the race route with just an hour to go before final cut-off. It stung! That’s usually me!

Seeing the runners making their way up University Drive, remembering first hand how their tired bodies would be screaming with exhaustion to stop, but knowing that the finish line was so very close! From that last uphill stretch, you can hear the crowds, you hear the loud speakers, you can smell victory!

My heart had climbed out of my chest and was racing with them on that hot tar! I wished it was me! I wished that I was 1km away from my Two Oceans medal. Damn!

Another year will pass and I’m still trying to find my feet and map out where my running journey will take me this year. Shorter distances? More half marathons?

Whatever I decide, that Two Oceans ballot will open in November and I won’t hesitate. My love hate relationship with Two Oceans is bipolar. Some years I hate the race, other times I fall in love. This year I missed it and feel I need to come back and experience it all again.

Runners FOMO is the worst!

The final (leg) stretch 

After months of intense training, KK is finally tapering for the Comrades marathon.

I wish I could sigh a breath of final relief but no, he’s still got a few more weeks to go. One month actually. 4 weeks. 30 days. 

Until then, we’re still avoiding sick people (ie.: all people), being in a state of hunger 24/7, sleeping as much as we can and being incredibly grumpy! I say ‘we’ because as the wife of a Comrades runner, you have no choice. You’re in it for the long run!

Race qualifying started last year November already. Then it was the UTCT trail run in December, a few marathons in the beginning of the year, followed by x4 (!!) ultra marathons, Two Oceans being one of them. In between that he’s been clocking over 100kms per week. And heading into taper, it doesn’t stop. Now KK starts with fartleks and short (that’s short?) 30km long runs. 

I’m tired. I’m not the one training but I’m tired both mentally & physically. I said to KK earlier tonight that a runner cannot run Comrades marathon every year. It takes so much out of you!
Not only for the runner but also family & friends along side you all the way. 

But for now, it’s taper time. Let’s do this! *cheers*

Tired legs resting