Listen to your Heart (Rate) -Running by More Than a Feeling

Good morning and Happy Sunday! This week’s post title has not one but TWO song references. Who can tell me what they are?


Yesterday, I decided it was time to take the plunge and try a double digit run. I hadn’t run double digits since I hobbled through the Rehoboth Beach Marathon on December 2nd of last year. Wow, that’s a long time ago. Of course, my first thought was that I better choose someplace flat, but that would just make too much sense now wouldn’t it?

That is NOT flat.

I chose the Virginia 10 miler course. As you can see, it’s pretty much the opposite of someplace flat. For this run, my goal was just to finish. Spoiler alert: I FINISHED!

So happy to be back to using all of my fingers. #mimeschool

I had no pace in mind other than not to go too fast that I would have to walk (or “hike”, as the trail runners say). Usually, I would run by “feel” and use what is known as perceived effort to determine whether I was going to fast or not. If it starts to feel like a struggle, just slow down a little.

I’ve been paying more and more attention to heart rate these days. I really think it’s an excellent indicator of improvements in fitness, signs of overtraining/fatigue and level of effort on a run. I’m a running nerd to the core, so this all makes total sense.

Sidenote: There’s an extension on Google Chrome called StravistiX that I highly recommend if you want to analyze your workouts in great detail.

I decided to manage yesterday’s run by really paying attention to heart rate. I won’t do this all the time because micromanaging a run isn’t fun and adds stress, but it was good for where I am in trying to come back from a torn achilles.

Lots of little ups and downs in HR where I tried to keep it controlled.

Early in the run, I got anxious and my heart rate started to go nuts. I steadied my breathing and told myself to relax. Believe it or not, that worked! Throughout the run (especially climbing), my heart rate would creep up to Zone 5 (I won’t get into the Zone stuff but it’s an easy google search to find an explanation better than I can give) so I would take my foot off the gas pedal a little and try to relax.

The other cool thing is that late in the run, I started to tire mentally and started to worry that I wasn’t going to make it. I’d look at my heart rate and see that it wasn’t elevated. This led me to believe that I wasn’t working as hard as I thought and that I still had something left to give. That mentality got me to finish strong and trust my body.

Running buddy Jeremy took a pic of me finishing up the last climb and looking happy doing it!

There’s something to this heart rate stuff….Anybody else run by heart rate?


11 Replies to “Listen to your Heart (Rate) -Running by More Than a Feeling”

  1. Roxette and Boston!
    I’ve never gotten into heart rate training but I’ve heard it’s effective if you can get over feeling like you’re running way too slow when you start. Congrats on hilly double digits in the middle of summer!

    Liked by 1 person

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