HEART RATE 101
Here are the registration dates and waves for heart rate-based programs.
Polar Heart Rate 101: The Basics of Training by Beats is suitable for any runner—beginning, advanced, marathoner, not-yet-5K’er, postpartum, in a training lull—who wants to give heart rate-based training a spin.
There are no physical prereqs, other than being injury-free.
Because there is no goal race at the end of the 8-week plan, it’s a great, no-pressure way to build or maintain your fitness. Bonus: If you want to jump into a race-focused plan after Heart Rate 101, you’ll be in great shape in many respects.
Every workout is measured in minutes, not miles. You’ll run five days a week, with one day of optional easy cross training like a yoga or Pilates class. Speed development is minimal in this plan, as it focuses on maximizing your endurance. For the first six weeks, no run is longer than 60 minutes. During the final two weeks, the long run extends to 75-90 minutes, while weekday runs all stay 60 minutes or fewer.
In the first week, you’ll run 2 hours, 45 minutes over the course of five workouts; in week eight, the biggest week, you’ll be at 4 hours, 30 minutes over five workouts. (Those are minimums; there are ranges for a few workouts; you can add up to 45 more more minutes of running weekly.)
You need to wear a heart rate monitor with a chest strap for every run. For nearly every mile, you’ll aim to keep your heart rate at or under 140 beats per minute (bpm). Why 140? Based on Maffetone’s Formula (180-age, with a few qualifications), 140 is a solid number that works for nearly every body. Keeping your heart rate under 140 greatly expands your cardiovascular/aerobic base, greatly decreases your chances of injury, significantly lessens post-run fatigue, and makes running feel very doable and even fun. (Truly!)
For the first three weeks, you will have a weekly Free Run, where you can run as fast as your heart desires.
Fair warning: Your initial pace at 140 bpm will surprise you. You will likely be 2-3 minutes slower than your current average run pace, and you’ll walk quite a bit to keep your heart rate within range, especially when you climb hills. You will be frustrated and possibly teary and maybe even think about dropping the program.
We’ll keep you going though, and over the course of the next eight weeks, your perspective on running (and your own potential) will do a significant U-Turn. Your runs will turn from frustrating to fun, and you’ll be ready to rock whatever you choose to do next.