Pssst…want to score some speed in your next marathon/half marathon and still feel strong at the finish? Try heart rate training.
Geek out on this:
Your legs contain different types of muscle fibers. Some of these fibers, the fast twitch ones, rely on burning sugar as their major source of fuel. These muscles are powerful and will propel you at your maximum speeds, but their efficiency is limited by the amount of sugar, or glucose (stored as glycogen) you have stored in your body. Also, relying on these fibers too much too early during a run will cause a buildup of lactate in your blood. The result: your body will be forced to slow down and you will end up having to tell every one about your great first half of the race, and then confess that the wheels fell off at mile 10. Another type of muscle fiber, the slow twitch fibers, will keep you moving and grooving all day and all night. These fibers contain mitochondria. Think back to high school science class, the mitochondria is the little bean shaped thing inside a cell that uses oxygen to burn fat for energy. Your slow twitch muscle fibers contain more mitochondria and rely on oxygen to burn fat for fuel. While current scientific understanding says that you cannot increase the percentage of slow twitch fibers you have in your body, you can train them to increase the number and efficiency of mitochondria. The benefit to you: a more efficient use of oxygen, which equals more fat burning, more energy, and faster and more predictable times!
Heart Rate Training Bonuses
If you are anything like me, you prefer to train like a fool in love. No breaks, pull out all the stops, your whole heart invested. Slowing down seems like torture, but a lasting relationship with running requires patience, communication, discipline and humility. By slowing down on your easy runs you will be able to handle more mileage without getting injured. Then you and your marathon training will be able to walk together down the running chute to the starting line to give your marathon vows.
Heart rate training does not mean always running slow. About 80% of your mileage will be slow and 20% will be targeted fast workouts. This is because running a fast marathon requires the use of both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers. These muscle fibers each require a specific type of training; the good news is you don’t have to train both fiber types on the same day! By doing heart rate training, you will be fresh to optimally train your fast twitch muscles while more effectively building mitochondria in your slow twitch fibers. It’s a win/win!
More mitochondria means more fat burning potential. Need I say more?
Smell the Roses
Heart rate training is not easy. At first, you may have to run so slowly that it might seem like you are running though peanut butter. Be patient and give it some time. Soon you will be able to handle faster paces without increasing your heart rate. This means more speed for less work! Use these slow miles to meditate, listen to music, chat with a pace buddy or focus on form.
Run with your heart,
Emily : )