Thursday, April 07, 2005

Method to the Madness

As I'm into week 3, I thought I should explain the method behind my madness (so that both people who read this blog can follow). The key factor is my plan is exercising at the proper heart rate.

Everyone's heart has a maximum rate. You would think this is related to fitness, but it is not. In general it corresponds to age. You can get a rough and ready guess by using the formula 220-age = max heart rate. You can also find out your max heart rate by sprinting up a steep hill three times in succession (more or less). I have done this before and discovered that my max heart rate was 197. A few years have passed since then, so my guess is that my max rate is now around 194.

On the other end, you have a resting heart rate. This is the slowest that your heart beats. The best way time to measure this is first thing when you wake up in the morning. This rate does vary with fitness. The more fit you are, the lower it goes. Tennis player Bjorn Borg was said to have a resting heart rate of 29. (That's one beat every 2 seconds.) Most mortals are in the 60-70 beats/minute range. Last time I measured my resting heart rate it was 64. Resting heart rates also vary according to other factors. If you are sick, hung over or had a hellacious workout the day before, your resting heart rate will be elevated.

My goal in running is to get my heart rate up to 65-70% of its maximum capacity and hold it there for an hour. 70% of max capacity is around 155 beats/ minute.

194 - 64 = 130
130 * .7 = 91
91 + 64 = 155

At this rate, I am getting the bulk of my energy from burning fat. It is also a farily slow pace thus cutting down on wear and tear on the body. John L. Parker (remember John L. Parker; this is a blog about John L. Parker) suggests that runners need to run at this lower rate for at least half of their workouts.

If I really wanted to improve my running ability, I would also run 2 times a week at 85%+. This is what most people think of as "running". You go out, huff and puff, and come back red faced. Problem is that I'm not really in great shape, and if I did this, it might interfere with my ability to run 6 out of 7 days a week. As the program continues, I hope to be able to work some of this faster pace running in. As it is, my legs are almost all spent by the end of the week.

18 days down, 82 to go
Weight: 202


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