For the past several years, I've trained loosely by heart rate. The last season I used heart rate training for was Fall 2011. I ran the Fargo FM half in 1:55 after being up all night, and morning with food poisoning. I ran the Philadelphia marathon with friends and ran a 4:25, helping a friend snag a 25 minute PR. If someone offered me $1000 to run a 4:25 right now, I wouldn't be able to do it. And that was a comfortable 26.2 miles.
So I firmly believe that heart rate training works, and works well, especially for those who've hit a wall with their progress and improvement as a runner (heart rate training post coming soon!).
Over the past several years, I have trained loosely by heart rate training, but because I was rarely in really good shape, heart rate training can be very defeating. When you're out of shape AND trying to keep your heart rate in a super easy zone, it can result in paces that look more like walking than running, especially if you're running in the summertime!
During my last "long" run for the Too Cold to Hold half, I was shocked at where my heart rate stayed during a run where my pace looked and felt speedy for my current fitness level. Two days later, I had a 5 mile general aerobic run. The first mile was around 11 minutes, which is pretty typical for my general aerobic heart rate zone, at some point I looked down at my pace during the second mile and it was 10:15. I waited for my watch to switch to the HR screen as I assumed I was running at too hard of an effort level, and was shocked to see I was on the low end of my heart rate zone for the run.
I ended the run with an average pace of 10:22, and that's with an 11 minute first mile. To see your pace drop almost 45 seconds/mile on a run is huge, and I let that propel a massive runner's high the rest of the day.
I may not be shooting for a massive PR this spring, but I am excited to put in the work to see where I can get my body. I'm excited for the base building cycle I'm doing right now, and I'm excited to continue that base building once I start my actual training program. I think this base will help to keep me injury free once the speedwork (my fave!) starts up.
So cheers to celebrating and taking time to notice your progress along the way. You deserve it!