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