A New Way to Run
In anticipation of signing up for some suitably ludicrous race next summer, I’m trying to start training like a real ultra runner - by running painfully slow for as long as possible. To this end I’ve got a heart rate chest monitor that handily connects to my watch, and so now every time I go running, I am trying to keep my heart rate below 145pm, as calculated using the MAF 180 Formula. Previously, my training runs have all been in the vicinty of 5:30 - 6:00 min/km, but now that I’m keeping my heart rate down, my new easy pace is… 7:15 min/km. Which feels very slow.
Equally though, it is a good indicator that my aerobic fitness is not as good as I might have thought it was. The whole purpose of training with my heart rate in this zone is that it is the most efficient way to train my aerobic base, ie what is required to run endurance events - the MAF mentioned above stands for Maximum Aerobic Function. I have more to say about MAF in general but that can wait for another post. The evidence is very compelling that by doing the majority of my running at this very easy pace - even if it feels difficult to slow down to the required pace - I’ll not only improve my ability to run for a long time, but I’ll get faster too. After all, even at a shorter distance like 5k, your aerobic system is doing most of the work. It also means I’m much less likely to get injured, I don’t get tired and I can simply do a lot more volume; I am currently on course for a 60k week this week, only 5k less than my weekly volume PB and comfortably the farthest week I’ve done since moving to London.
It is a bit of a cliché, but it’s nice to slow down. Because I’m finding the running physically easier, I can take in my surroundings more. I’m not exhausted after a run so I still have energy left to do other things with my day. Part of me does feel a little bit sheepish about posting my runs on Strava, but it’s not like I was ever a fast runner in the first place, and I know that it’ll pay off in the long term when I can post an absolutely heinous race on there in 6 months time.