State of the Heart

Many of you have asked about my triathlon training and I think it's high time that I start documenting some of the journey. As of today, I am seven weeks into my half ironman training and 16 weeks away from RACE WEEK!

First a little background: for the first time in several years I'm using a triathlon training plan. My new best friend is Don Fink - a triathlon and running coach and author of Be IronFit. I don't actually know him and I've never seen him, but I am following his advice and his training plan to get me across the finish line on October 29. His method entails heart-rate training. His belief is that "effective heart rate training is the best way to maximize your training benefit and minimize your training time."

I read the book twice before I even signed up for the B2B. I compared the plan to two others I trusted. I asked two local iron triathletes. [Both said, yes, it's a great idea! I've never done it, but it's supposed to work!] I debated, drew straws, thought twice, listed pros and cons and finally committed. Two things sold me. First, THIS ARTICLE by Mark Allen. Second, the picture below of my friend and iron-distance triathlete Renee Griffin! I watched as she crossed the B2B half iron finish line. She was laughing and smiling and practically dancing across with her two daughters. Plus, she was FAST!

My first step: calculate my proper heart rate zones. I started with the standard 220-my age = Max Heart Rate equation. I compared it to Mark Allen's method and tweaked it with the Karvonen method. My next step: stay in the zone. The first phase of the plan is ten weeks of building an aerobic base by staying in Zone 2 -- 75%-85% of my maximum heart rate -- which is about 133bpm - 155bpm. I set my Garmin 405 and set out on my first run. 

I learned a lot in that first week on the bike and on the run. First, my runs are a lot slower in zone two. My natural pace for short runs is about 8:50/mile. At that pace, though, my heart-rate jumps up to zone three. In order to stay in the zone, my pace slowed to nearly 11:00 minutes per mile! I also started tracking all the things that make my heart-rate jump:

  1. waving to neighbors
  2. the hills on Masonboro Sound road
  3. nearly hitting a squirrel that has stopped in the middle of the road
  4. a flat tire on mile two of my first bike ride
  5. negative thoughts [I'm going so slow, this is ridiculous, I'll never meet my goals]
  6. positive  thoughts [OMG! This IS working! I feel so much better! I could ride all day!]
I have learned so much in what my training partner calls OPERATION BASE PHASE [thanks, JYo]. Stay tuned for more adventures in the next few weeks, including mind games, racing dogs and getting the drift.

Gotta Run!