Posts In: Carmel

Tell me if this story sounds familiar: 

You strap on your shoes and head out running, but before you are even a half mile down the road your heart is jumping out of your chest and it doesn’t come down until you back off to a super-slow walk that is embarrassing.  You don’t want to look slow so you ramp the speed back up, the same thing happens, so you grind it out and chalk it up to being out of shape. 

Yes, you are out of shape but let’s train a better way than the “gut it out” method and incorporate “heart efficiency” training.  But, let’s back up a minute.

The Goal:  Develop a MONSTER!                                                     

We want 2 things to be true of your cardiovascular system:  1) it has the endurance to sustain activity over extended amount of time, and 2) it can recover quickly after bouts of more intense work, and when activity stops.  To develop this we need to train you heart to be a pumping MONSTER—every  beat delivers a surge of blood and uses the least amount of energy and effort to do this. 

Why is training your heart to operate at a lower BPM important?  Visualize bellows – that air-blowing device used to puff up the flames in your fire-place, and compare them to your heart.  Place 2 sets of bellows next to each other that are the same size and work equally well at building a flame but are operating much differently:   #1 uses strong, long puffs, delivering max air each complete cycle, and #2 uses tiny, quick, shallow puffs to do the same work. 

We want our hearts to be like #1 – a monster with strong, efficient surges.  Yes, #2 is getting  the job done, but it’s using WAY too much energy to do so, limiting how long it can work, and running the risk of breaking.  You only get so many “puffs” at that rate before something bad happens.

So let’s train to develop a MONSTER by falling out of love with mileage, and focus on BPM’s and time, using the first 4 weeks teaching your heart to LOVE operating at a lower BPM.

Here’s the assignment: 

  • Run/Jog ≤ 75% of heart rate max (HRM) =(220-Age)x.75
    • Beginners:  10-20 min, 2-3 days/week
    • Advanced:  10-15 minutes longer than normal run 1 day/week, keep other cardio routine the same
  • Week 2:  Add 10-15 min  to each workout @ same HR
  • Week 3:  Add 10-15 min to each workout @ same HR
  • Week 4:  Add 10-15 min to each workout @ same HR

WARNING:  This type of training is BORING!!!  The first time you train like this you may be shocked at how slow you are moving.  And you will look slow, it will be embarrassing, and you may think “I put my spandex on for this?!?!”  Remember, you are laying the foundation which takes time and patience…the fun will begin as you ramp things up, so deal with this, do the work, and focus on passing people later as you and your MONSTER go out to eat up the course!

Written by Mark Moreland

Owner/Personal Trainer

Smell that Spring air?  Getting that urge to fire up your exercise again?  Me too!  Yup, it’s about that time when the weather transitions out of the doldrums of winter and sparks the desire to get outside and get active.  As your activity increased, your body will begin to talk to you and give you important information about how it is responding.  So listen to your body, train with your brain, and heed the messages it is sending you to maximize your effort and stay safe.  Pay special attention to these two messages.

Signal 1:  Ouch!

Probably the most educational message your body will send you, “Ouch!” should never be ignored since doing so can lead to chronic or even permanent damage.  Explore “ouch” as soon as it happens.

  • If “ouch” is immediate and during exercise, then STOP, and resume at a much lower intensity to see if comes on again. If so, then stop and find another exercise or quit for the day.  It’s better to stop now and collect some info than push through and make it your last workout for a while.
  • If “ouch” comes on slowly with exercise and subsides when exercise ceases, and is a “burning” sensation within the muscles, then this is normal and indicates your body is out of its comfort zone and working hard. This kind of “ouch” is constructive, but monitor its intensity level – especially if you are just getting back into exercise.
  • If “ouch” shows up in the next day or two after exercise as mild soreness and/or stiffness in the muscles and joints, then be encouraged. Your body is telling you that your activity was challenging and it’s healing nicely.  Compliment your hard work with rest and recovery resources such as light exercise to loosen up, good hydration to replenish body fluids, and quality protein and veggies for joint and muscle repair and improvement.  Nice work!

Signal 2:  Yay!

This signal is the reason we exercise in the first place.  “Yay!” usually shows up at the beginning of a workout as you get going,  but then disappears in the middle during the tough parts when things aren’t so fun but the work is getting done.  Then, “yay” reappears at the end when your work is done, and is attached to the satisfaction of hard work accomplished, and lingers in the form of improved physical condition.  Booyah! Let’s do it again!

So strap on your fitness shoes, opt for those shorter sleeves, and get your body moving this spring, but make sure to train smart and listen to your body signals.  Balance your desire to be active with sensibility and wisdom to stay safe, improve your condition, and keep moving forward with no set-backs.  Enjoy your spring!