Week 73 - Listen to Your Heart

… rate monitor.

I just finished a half marathon. Taking some insight from a few conversations with Stickman, I decided to try a few new things for this race.

First, instead of focusing on pace, I decided to focus on just my heart rate. I setup my watch to only show heart rate and heart zone, and I averted my eyes whenever there was a race clock visible. I had no idea what my time was until I finished.

I haven’t done any tests using this technique, so I didn’t really know where to keep my heart rate. I opted to just keep it in the 150-160 bpm area (which is high zone 3 / zone 4 for me). That is a large window compared to what Stickman does. He keeps his heart rate within 2 to 4 beats of his target rate. That’s just too advanced for me at this stage, and I figured the wiggle room would help on the hills.

In the end, I was pleased with the result. In the back of my mind I was hoping to get somewhere around 1:45 (my last half marathon time was 1:56). I wound up with an official time of 1:46. While it may not seem like a lot to most people, knocking 10 minutes off my time was a nice present.

On top of the time, I felt great in the last 2k. Last year, the last 2k was uncomfortable, but this year I had enough to sprint the last hundred meters. It was a great feeling to have a better time than last year and feel better at the end.

The second thing I tried was to monitor my fatigue level. TrainingPeaks has a graph which can predict the best time to race. It uses your training load and your fitness level vs fatigue level. I’ve used this in the past, but in a haphazard way. I did my best to have all the variables line up on the right day. Here is the graph showing it coming together:

fitness vs fatigue chart

If you note where that purple line drops down, and the yellow line comes up, that is supposedly when my fatigue is lowest and my ‘form’ is highest. I tried to do the same thing on the 104k bike ride (which you can see as the shark fin on that downward trend). However, I misunderstood how the variables worked and messed up that attempt.

(If you’re curious what that massive hole is all about, that’s when I went on my meditation retreat)

All in all I am very happy with the race. Heck, I am grateful I can run at all! Thanks Banana Man for talking me into doing the race this year.