Sunday 15 December 2013

We are in love with you....

Where I run...the weirs on the Wharfe at Grassington
my heart and I.....
     Recently, for a number of reasons, slow motion has set in. I'd started to get a bit stale,
A pleasant bit of road to the hidden village of Thorpe
running at my usual pace resulted in breathlessness so, for the next couple of months or so, I'm concentrating on rebuilding an aerobic base with the least amount of effort; i.e. doing most runs within my working heart rate. The main problem has been trying to establish exactly what is my 'working heart rate'? Or what is my maximum heart rate?  Of all the books I've read, none of their authors ever deal with runners at my end of the age scale. The popular method of calculating a mans maximum heart rate is 220 minus chronological age which, in my case, equates to 139.  85% of that, to determine working heart rate, is a mere 118 which I'll usually exceed in the first 100 metres of a run. By the time I reach the top of the hill it can be in the 150's.

     There is absolutely no way I can keep within 118bpm without taking frequent walks, not even on the flat, let alone during the hundreds of feet of ascent I usually encounter.   So stuff that!  Likewise Dr Maffetone's formula of 180 minus one's age for maximum aerobic heart rate results in no more than walking pace for me. The formula that best suits me is the Karvonen calculator based on a person's age and resting heart rate. It still gives me a maximum HR of 139 but the training zones are worked out a little differently by what he calls the heart rate reserve method.  85% allows me 124bpm whilst 95% allows me 134bpm. That upper limit sounds nearer the mark for me. 

across the bridge at Linton Falls...
After experimenting with different formulas over various routes, and failing miserably to complete any run without having to walk parts of it, I decided it was high time I got back to self-coaching which hasn't done too badly for me in the past.  Those formulas may work on flat routes, or on the track, but are totally useless in hilly terrain with umpteen gates and stiles to negotiate. According to Garmin my last five runs included 457, 683, 1084, 338 and 980 feet of ascent, resulting in almost as much walking as running - which is not my style! Walking destroys any semblance of rhythm. After a walk the start of each run is back to square one sending heart rate back up to maximum in no time at all. There's no way I can keep a steady HR by including walks.

     Today I closed all the books, stuck them back on the shelf and did it my way. I called it a slow tempo run,
into Mossdale...
keeping the same cadence over an undulating 4.29 mile route with 398ft of ascent while staying within my comfort zone. After pressing 'Start' on the Garmin I hid it under the sleeve of my running top so I couldn't see or consult it for the duration of the run. "This should make interesting reading when I feed it into the computer" I thought. And it did. By keeping a steady running pace with no walks the HR graph was far less erratic than on occasions when I'd tried to keep within Maffetone and Karvonen parameters.

..and over the Suspension Bridge back to Hebden
The little dip at the 3 mile mark was where I stopped for a call of nature!  Naturally, the line rose and fell a wee bit on ascents and descents, but never was I struggling, or out of breath, although the average (133) and maximum (142) heart rates were above the recommended aerobic training limits for my age.  But most importantly, I finished the run feeling good. Towards the end of it, turning into our narrow lane, a car drove up behind, prompting me to sprint for home with an effortless turn of foot I hadn't experienced for some time. I really enjoyed that and can't wait for it to happen again. Which is how it should be....
                               PS. Click on the photographs for full screen images.
Graph with ascent, descent and corresponding heart rate...and that tell-tale dip at 3 miles


  1. I also try and run with the HR sometimes, Here are a few things I do:
    I did a couple of hard runs and pushed myself... I have decided from the data that my max is 178 (I'm 44)
    Then on a couple of easy runs (when I was feeling OK) I watch my HR and it would, while on the flat, stay between 130-135... With that in mind I looked at a couple of web sites and and the one furmular for easy run HR was max- age plus 1 3 months unbroken running and plus 1 for hard training. (there were minises) 140, I thought that looked right, so now I run easy runs and try and keep my HR under 140. It means I run slower on the hills and slower if I'm tired or sick... I guess that is the idea!

    1. Thanks for that CD, but that formula wouldn't work for me. Max HR (153) minus my age (81) = 72 which is below my walking pace. I don't think there are any hard and fast rules for determining working heart rate. It all depends on the health and fitness of the individual. Last Sunday's run averaging 133 and a max of 142 felt really comfortable so I'll try and stick with that for a while. Interesting that it works out about the same as yours....

  2. Yes, finishing the run feeling good is the best feeling! I haven't been using my heart rate monitor lately, but sometimes it's fun to experiment with it.

    1. Aye, my legs felt really good after that run, I could have gone round again. Same again today. Think I may have found the secret of ultra running...

  3. Hi Old Runningfox, Merry Christmas to you and family. Have a wonderful holiday.
    Keep up the good job, keep running to stay young and healthy.

    Best regards.

  4. I like the elevation profile :)
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!