Megan Lizotte May 02, 2012 TWEET COMMENTS 3

Developing a Training Plan Part II: Effort - Page 2

Tune Out and Breathe

In a technologically advanced and obsessive age, it’s easy to get so distracted by things like the new song on our iPod, the beep of our GPS-enabled watch when we’ve run another mile, or the calories-burned feature on our heart-rate monitor that we forget to listen to our bodies and the important signals they send us.

“I thought music was helping me through hard runs, but I realized it was actually limiting my ability to pay attention to hitting my target pace,” says Barbara Felton, a client of mine from San Mateo, California. “After I gave up the music on my threshold runs, my pace was much more consistent and I was able to recognize that effort level and apply it to my next workout.”

Recognizing how you feel during various efforts (half-marathon pace vs. conversational pace, for example) allows you to familiarize yourself with the appropriate pace for the workout at hand so that you are able to reap optimal benefits. This recognition requires focus, which can mean a minimization of external distractions.

Sensation is often a much more important marker than your heart-rate monitor indicates. Running with a heart-rate monitor can be helpful in determining your personal “sweet spot” for various intensities. However, keep in mind that many factors (sleep, work, stress, diet, etc.) cause your body to feel differently from day to day, so technologically generated figures cannot always provide accurate effort-level information for a particular run.

Instead, pay attention to your breath. One of the best indicators of perceived exertion is simply the sound of your breathing. For example, it should sound much more labored during a 5K race than during a threshold run.

Familiarize yourself with varying efforts by listening to your body’s cues and applying that knowledge to subsequent workouts. And remember, running workouts too fast can lead to an increase in necessary recovery time, making you too tired for the next scheduled run and preventing you from gaining the optimal benefit from your training cycle.


Megan Lizotte is an elite distance runner and online running coach at www.hgrunning.com. She is a three-time World Mountain Running Championships competitor, two-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and the 2011 USATF Trail Marathon Champion.


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