During housecleaning a few weeks ago, I ran across a Post-it note where I had scribbled the results of my treadmill tests during the Summer of Low Heartrate.
In search of something different to keep training interesting, I had decided to try out the Hadd method. There is a manifesto on this over on LetsRun, but the basic idea is that you do all your training at low heartrate to improve the efficiency of the cardiovascular system. I forget the supposed scientific basis (and don't feel like looking it up), but the goal is to lower your steady-state HR for a particular pace. Then, if you run your marathon by sticking to a particular HR, your pace will be faster.
It's supposed to work best for people who have stronger PRs at shorter distance than they can match in the marathon. This was not me, but the idea of running lots of slow miles in the hot Texas summer appealed to me, so I gave it a try.
So I ran REALLY slow all summer, trying to keep my HR under 130. I noticed a couple of things. First, HR creep is inevitable in the heat. After around 12-15 miles there would be no way to slow down enough to keep the number in the zone. Second, ANY kind of uphill makes a huge difference in HR. Seriously, stepping up onto a curb would create a spike.
Part of the Hadd plan is to do a benchmark every six weeks at a range of heartrates. You run one mile at each HR (in one continous run), and record how long it takes.
I did my test on a treadmill (same treadmill, to reduce variance), and the results were pretty shocking.
HR -> Initial test -> 6 weeks in -> 12 weeks in
115ish -> 10:31 -> 9:23 -> 9:08
125ish -> 9:08 -> 8:38 -> 8:15
135ish -> 8:15 -> 7:53 -> 7:33
145ish -> 7:30 -> 7:15 -> <7:00
155ish -> 6:53 -> 6:38 -> Couldn't go that fast on the TM
After running a whole summer with literally 0 miles under 9:00 pace (except for the test), I did one or two LT workouts and then ran a PR in the 10K, under 7:00 pace.
Your mileage may vary, but I was pretty impressed.
2017-10-02 12:42 PM
Much better than trying to run fast miles in the hot Texas summer. I hate speedwork.
I never ran with an HRM but that's pretty impressive.
2017-10-02 12:37 PM
I remember when you were training with this plan but I never heard (or remember) what the result was.
After this training, did you run any races other than that 10k?
2017-10-02 12:59 PM
This was the summer of 2008. The 10K PR was in early September, then I ran Route 66 in Tulsa 2 1/2 months later. It was a long way from my PR, but I met my goal with a 2 minute negative split and felt very strong.
A little research in the Runango archive brought up this summary from my RR ...
So, after all that, what were the results from the Summer of Slow? It didn't change my running life, or make me amazingly fast, but I'm giving low heartrate training a thumbs up, and I'll probably be using it again next summer. I've run several marathons that were a good bit faster than this one, but all of them (save one) took MUCH harder training to do it, and none of them felt as easy as this one. The way that I was able to continually crank down the pace and to handle the hills at the end left me feeling that I might have several more minutes in me. I attribute most of that to the low HR I was able to maintain. I was over 15 miles in before I slipped over 80% of max. I do think there was another important factor here, too. All the weight lifting I did this summer had to help my leg strength, especially in the complementary muscles. I think this paid off in considerable less sorenes
I never had a HRM until this year, so I have never really trained by HR. I find this very interesting!
2017-10-05 6:27 PM
It's interesting, but what was your training in the 12 weeks, and 24 weeks before you started this?
I experience is that any sustained training I do lowers heart rate for the same pace over the course of the training. When I back off on on the training, the heart rate required to sustain some pace goes up.
While I'm a little surprised at the results. It would be interesting if you had similar date for a similar period of higher intensity training.
That's a good point, there is no control data for comparison. Even for the 10K, I ran essentially the same time as my previous PR, on a very similar course under very similar conditions. What I liked about this was that the training seemed so much easier.
2017-10-06 12:13 PM
It's a good point too about the training seeming to be easier.
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