This morning I met with my running coach to have my latest Cardio Point test done. The test measures my progress with the metabolic training I have been doing since July. The program is explained in my report fairly well:
Your unique metabolic measurements create a personalized framework for your exercise program. Each zone is defined by heart rate beats per minute and is created according to your body’s current fitness ability. Your zones will change as your fitness progresses.
Two measured points matter most within your zone framework: base, most efficient point of fat utilization, and threshold, most inefficient point of fat utilization. Pushing above and below base and threshold enables you to work harder with less effort.
I want to share this because my results are interesting today. Since I began the program I have seen significant improvement. Both my aerobic base and anaerobic threshold have improved. Frequently I would mention how difficult it is to run slow to stay in my zone two range. Recently Jim at Fit Recovery questioned wouldn’t all zones improve if you worked hard in one, say zone three. Well I can now answer this question from experience. No. Not at all. With that I will first share the “interesting” part of my test results. Since my last assessment on October 31st I have been running my slow runs right at the point where zone two and zone three meet. The last test had my zone two range from 123 – 140 and zone three from 141 – 158. For the most part my average heart rate for my zone two training would be 138 to 141. I should have been focusing more in the 128 to 133 range. As a result, the test today showed my aerobic base shrank a little. About 5 beats in zones one through three. My zone two is now 118-139 and zone three is 140 – 161. The good news is that my fat burn is increasing and that is the desired goal, burn more fat than carbs. So by training a little too hard on my easy runs, I did not help my zones, I actually hurt them.
Ah but there is good news. Notice my upper end of zone three?? Yes – 161, that means I have pushed my anaerobic threshold out to 162 from 159. This is important because I am able to go faster with a higher heart rate and still burn some fat and not all carbs. When a body goes anaerobic only carbs are being burned, oxygen is reaching its maximum capacity, and this level can not be sustained for long. My speed work did its job. Now my focus is to rebuild my aerobic base – translation: quit worrying about how fast I am going and just look at my heart rate – and also continue with my speed work to further improve my anaerobic threshold.
There is a third objective to add to my running – work on my head. While my legs, lungs, and heart are improving I am still hesitant to believe I am capable of going much faster. I had this discussion with my coach right before getting on the treadmill. She proceeded with the test and kept increasing my pace. In the past we have not gone past a 10 minute mile pace before she started increasing the incline. Today she took it up to 9:13 minute mile pace. I am wearing a mask that covers my nose and mouth and I can not talk. After increasing my pace she looked at me and asked if I am okay with a grin. My heart rate was at 133, so I obviously could handle it even though my head was telling me it was too fast. I stayed at that pace for another five minutes while she took the incline from 0% up to 6%. I was surprised at how long I was able to hold the pace while climbing uphill. Now I am wondering how fast I can go on the flats when I do my speed work. So I am back to my mantra I adopted a year ago – Believe. My mental challenges are set – curb my pride to run slower and Believe in my ability and run faster. Exercising both body and mind.