Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Heart Will Go On

I did my first run with my heartrate monitor after getting my Lactate Threshold tested. I have to admit, it wasn't as bad as I feared. But first, a little more about the test day.

For starters, this whole Lactate Threshold thing is very confusing. I have several Triathlon books, I've looked at many online articles... none of them give a good definition of what the LT actually is. They say it's a "point", a "state", an "intensity"... but what IS it? I mean, I assume it's a number but what are the units? Is your LT measured in yards? Dollars? Jigawatts? None of my reading gave me a straight-forward answer. Even the data from Phase IV has several numbers listed under Lactate Threshold.

From what I gather, for all practical purposes the Lactate Threshold is a heart rate. My LT is 153. I'm still not sure if the proper grammar is to say "My lactate threshold is 153 beats per minute" or "My lactate threshold occurs at 153 beats per minute." Whatever. Bottom line, that is the pace I need to stay below for my endurance training. And how do I apply this?

This is what the Santa Monica Sadist told me: "You are over-training. You need to slow down your pace."
This is what I HEARD: "Listen, fatty, you're not in good enough shape to run with those other guys."

I know it sounds crazy and irrational, but hey, look who you're talking to. I was told that for my long runs, I should do maybe 12-minute miles. There's nothing wrong with that pace, but I was trying to crack the 9-minute barrier and it sounded like a big step back to go forward. It was frustrating to hear. But people far smarter and far faster than me swear by the science so I gave it an honest try.

I am pleased to report that I ran 8.3 miles tonight with an average heart rate of 150 at a 10.3 minute-per-mile pace. I'm thrilled. What this means is that yes, I have been running too fast but I don't have to slow down TOO much to run efficiently. I don't want to become a slave to the monitor, but I'll use it once or twice a week to keep myself honest.


Blogger rocketpants said...

You may actually find that with consistent HR training as you stick to lower bpm,that as your endurance improves you might see some speed improvements. A similar sort of philosophy is employed with the Maffetone method that Mark Allen trained with. I think knowing your LT helps you figure out where your HR needs to be so that you stay aerobic.

Good luck with all the training!

5:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I should do the LT test - I'm always looking for an excuse to go slower.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Brent Buckner said...

Running that close to your LT for that long probably isn't in any major training plan.

Being able to hold an average HR of 150 for 85 minutes suggests to me that your LT may be higher than 153 - which seems odd, as you did a blood test.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Siren said...

You're right - your LT is a measurement of the heart rate at which the body flips that particular chemical switch.

It's my understanding that some training runs are planned for right around LT, and doing so will, over time, help raise your LT. Which means you might have to slow down for now, but over time you'll increase your speed by increasing the level at which your body can perform without too much lactic build-up.

But I've only read the book once and I'm still a total newbie at this HR training stuff, so I'm paraphrasing and you might want to check out the book yourself: Total Heart Rate Training, Joel Friel (bookstore didn't carry it, got it on Amazon)

7:41 AM  
Blogger Steve S. said...

Good luck with your new toy...

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blood lactate is is a byproduct of your muscles and is always being produced (Even at rest). The ability for your body to clear the buildup of lactate during workouts depends on your aerobic engine. So, working out at a lower HR helps build a more efficient aerobic engine allowing you to clear lactate much more efficiently (equaling Less Fatigue).

Lactate is measuerd in millimoles.

Millimole: A unit in medicine for measuring concentrations of cholesterol (In this case Lactate) and many other substances in the blood.

Sorry for the long winded explanation.

I hope it helps.


3:25 PM  
Blogger theseamonster said...

Which HR monitor did you get? My Polar M32 (low end Polar) needs to be replaced. Any advice?

11:59 PM  
Blogger RunnerGirl said...

I so need a HRM. Badly.

Anyhow - great post!

1:43 PM  

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