Friday, September 28, 2012

Training Zones and Running for Fitness

Running is not for everyone. I was reminded of that when a friend of mine posted his social media status recently:

I went for a run but came back home after 2 minutes because I forgot something...
I forgot that I'm fat and I can't run for more than 2 minutes.

Cheryl, TLOML, and I are going to participate in a 5K Run/Walk in about 10 days. Cheryl is going to walk with one of our friends. I am planning to part jog and part walk and beat my time of last year. To prepare we have been doing a 5K each weekend near our home here in South Florida. We are using the upcoming 5K as motivation to keep up our fitness routines. Cheryl has hers, I have mine. Both of us now have Timex watches with GPS and heart rate monitors. As we discuss our workouts we have found ourselves talking about how to "get in the zone." The right heart rate zone.

Whether you want to lose weight, burn fat, develop your six pack abs, or just maintain a healthy fitness level, regular cardio exercise needs to be major part of your weekly usual workout pattern. So, what is the right zone? Depends on your objective for the workout and your overall fitness goals. You will need to know your resting heart rate (mine is 53 beats per minute). You also need to know the safe maximum heart rate for YOU. Don't worry. There are plenty of calculators for that if you don't want to do the simple math of subtracting your age from 220. Okay, it might be a little more complicated than that, so here are a two from some good on-line resources:
I think  you will really like this second one with it's sliding scales and good visual indicators of target heart rate zones.

Monitoring my heart rate during workouts has been part of my routine for several months. A couple of weeks ago I came across an article on RunningForFitness.Com about training zones. It spurred me to do more research. Let me share some notes from their web page as well as a few from LiveStrong.Com, another great source of fitness info.

The rest of my post today comes from  RunningForFitness, LiveStrong and the Mayo Clinic.

Your Fitness Zone
For vigorous exercise, aim for a target heart rate of 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate (MHR). Your MHR (roughly calculated as 220 minus your age) is the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.

Tempo Runs
A tempo run is a sustained, high-intensity effort to help improve your endurance and stamina. You begin with a five- to 10-minute warmup and then begin your tempo run, which can be intervals such as three minutes of running at high intensity followed by one-minute recovery jogs or 20 minutes of consistent running at a high intensity. Whichever training style you choose, your high intensity running should be at 85 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate, according to "Running Times."
Read more:

Your running ability is affected by water and food intake, stress and sleep, which means your heart rate will be different on different days. This varied heart rate response is one reason a monitor is beneficial. The pace you ran yesterday may cause your heart rate to elevate too high today, and you will need to slow down. If you are having a strong day and your heart rate is too low, you can increase your pace to elevate your heart rate into your training zone.
Read more:

You may also want to read Heart Rate Training Zones By USA Triathlon Coach Ken Johnson, or this article on BodyBuilding.Com by Lisa Moser,

Final Thought
Don't push too hard. When you start to work your heart over these suggested percentages, not unless you are in great shape and can push yourself into a higher range, then you have gone into an Anaerobic Threshold. Which means that you are pushing yourself way too hard, and no healthy benefits are being obtained. You are defeating your purpose. If you push yourself into an Anaerobic Threshold your body can no longer meet its demand for oxygen. You will start to feel exhausted, your HR increases above the Max. (which is 100%), you will stop the fat burning process, and you will start to hyperventilate due to the excessive amounts of lactic acid in your body. In other words, you are not pulling in enough clean oxygen through the lungs to clean it out of the blood. Your heart can no longer pump enough blood to your working muscles to sustain your activity, and you are overloading yourself. You prevent this from happening by staying in your Target HR Range. As you become more fit, you can push yourself into a higher range without going over into the Anaerobic Threshold.

REMEMBER: Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program if you have a chronic health condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes or you take medications such as beta blockers for these conditions or for migraines or glaucoma. Also see your doctor if you experience heart palpitations, fatique or shortness of breath. And of course, be sure to eat breakfast, and take a Clif Bar with you.

Heart clip art used under license from PresenterMedia.Com

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