Training For the Half Marathon

In this article, I want to serve up the meat and potatoes of using heart rate as the principle training guide for a half marathon. Over the past 15 years I have tried desperately to “dummy down” the explanation regarding physical adaptations that occur when heart rate is systematically used in training. I am reminded time and again to employ the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) principle when trying to explain these concepts to my clients. Here at last, I think we have successfully achieved that end.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we need two things; first, is a reliable heart rate monitor. I am personally vested with Polar. They have the greatest variety of monitors on the market. My favorite model for serious runners is the RS800sd. The reason I prefer this monitor is because of the highly detailed feedback it can provide, such as speed, distance, cadence, stride rate and of course all of the heart rate related data. This monitor is a bit pricey, selling for around $499.00 retail. If this is a bit too much for your budget, my next best choice is the RS400sd which provides all of the aforementioned details minus cadence and stride rate. Other less expensive monitors are available, as you lose some of the functionality the price drops considerably. A word of caution; avoid cheating yourself from these valuable functions, once you get accustomed to using heart rate while you train you will become addicted to the feedback, the more the better. As they say “its better to spend a little more than you planned than a little less than you should have”.

Next, we need to establish some base parameters, namely your anaerobic threshold and maximal heart rate. Your anaerobic threshold is the line in the sand so to speak, between your bodies’ energy systems. Further referred to as your “AT”, the point which defines when you have stopped accessing your fat stores and are now completely drawing from your sugar stores for energy. This bit of information is critical in that it defines the intensity of all of your training.

In a perfect world, to arrive at this priceless information you need a VO2 max test. We perform these tests everyday in our lab for runners, triathletes and fitness enthusiasts interested in weight management. This approach is highly recommended. On the other hand, if you are on a tight budget, the next best approach is to employ predictive measures. Unfortunately, a host of variables can affect the accuracy, but it is easy, and costs you nothing.

The formula I would suggest goes like this; simply subtract your age from 180 to arrive at a base heart rate threshold and infuse a plus or minus 5 beats per minute based on your current state of fitness, for example:

  • If you are new to running and this is your first long event, don’t ass or subtract points.
  • If you have been away from training or recovering from a virus subtract 5 points.
  • If you have been running and healthy for the past 6 months, add 5 points.

You’re newly established “AT” serves as the nucleus of your training plan. Once you have this value, you now need to establish a one mile “AT” time trial. To do this, you simply go to your local track, warm up and run until you achieve your “AT” heart rate and begin timing yourself at this heart rate for exactly one mile. This test is important because it will serve as your progress report throughout the course of your training.
Once this is done, it’s a good time to determine a maximal heart rate as well. This can be done by running up to your peak effort, recovering for about thirty seconds and repeating this process about 3-4 times. The highest attainable heart rate is a pretty close indication of your peak heart rate.

Now that we are empowered with the governing heart rate responses it’s time to apply them to the four principle training stimuli.

Example:Sally is 40 years old and has been healthy and training for the past year. She would subtract 180-40=140bpm, add 5bpm for her fitness level and arrive at an AT of 145bpm

Afterwards Sally performed a field test and found she could not exceed a max heart rate of 180bpm with this information we can now begin to build the correct intensity for each training stimulus

  • AB -135-145bpm “aerobic base training” training conducted for long duration below the anaerobic threshold.
  • MSD– 110-170bpm “motor skill development” interval training that focuses on enhanced economy at speed.
  • LT– 140-160bpm “lactate tolerance” training which is analogous to race pace efforts with governed recovery.
  • AR– 120-130 bpm “active recovery” low intensity training that promotes recovery and preparedness to get back to training soon.

Organizing these training components properly will prepare you for nearly any endurance event. This is not rocket science, varying intensity and duration is nothing new. However, as they say “the devil is in the details”. Instead of using pace, distance and time to govern your training, you are now using critical feedback from your bodies pump (the heart) to dictate how hard, how long and when to recover from your efforts. Keep in mind that your central nervous system is the boss; it regulates bodily functions to protect and serve. Trying to follow a program that does not account for this bio-feedback will never be as effective.

Arranging the schedule to meet my level of ability
The primary concept of an endurance program is to gradually build “resistance to fatigue”. Our template ensures that all the pertinent elements of your training are integrated into your daily, weekly and monthly program.
Once you understand and can conceptualize what I have done here, you are able to adjust the workloads, days off etc. to match your lifestyle and responsibilities.

How do I rate my level of experience?
With running, it is always better to error with less than more mileage in your planning. After all, you can always increase your mileage, however if you take on too much too early you risk injury.

The following training mileage/time recommendations should adequately place most runners into a scheme that works well for a successful outcome. Keep in mind that in our training, your principle concern is the volume of time committed to each specific component of training NOT mileage. Your mileage increases proportionately with your improvements over time.

Beginner 3.0 to 4.5 hours per week (aprox. 18-25 miles per week)
Intermediate 4.5-6.0 hours per week (aprox. 25-40 miles per week)
Advanced 6.0-8.0+ hours per week (aprox. 40-60+ miles per week)

BE CONSERVATIVE don’t take on more work than you are physically prepared to achieve. You can always add mileage but you cannot subtract injury or over training once it occurs.

Effective Dog Clicker Training

Irrespective of the type of dog you have, dog training lessons with clickers are counted among the most effective and notable methods to dictate and control a dog’s behavior while training them to respond to basic commands. It does not take much time to become an expert at clicker training. With a good functional clicker, the dog can be taught all the commands.

Learning Clicker Training Tricks

The vital element in clicker training is teaching your dog to recognize and respond to the sharp strong sound of the clicker audible from a distance of 20+ yards. For every command, you have a different click. The motive behind the training is to observe distinctive positive behavior and reward it with a clicker sound. The clicker obviously does not initiate the training. The dog must understand first that a click means you are happy with its behavior. You can begin the exercise by getting a simple $2 clicker from a pet store nearby and some dog goodies.

Using a clicker specifically for this reason has its importance. For a start, the dog will respond to the sound of the clicker only when they become aware that you found their behavior positive and wish to reward it. You can use words in certain circumstances, but their response will not be as quick as when the clicker was used.

Implementing Clicker Dog Training

Response training to a clicker begins with three simple steps. The first step is to establish a behavioral pattern with your dog. For example, it could be speaking, rolling over, sitting, or performing some other trick you have in mind. The moment the dog performs the task or trick, use the clicker and reward it.

Two to three markings is all it takes for the dog to understand your command and repeat it on hearing the distinctive clicker sound for it. Dog training lessons with clickers are effective as the dog’s response is immediate, and the reward allows it to memorize the commands. Verbal commands are not as effective and you will need more time to train the dog.

Lastly, continue the behavioral training regularly once your dog understands the pattern and connects it to the reward. Goodies need not be used all the time. Showering praises and petting the dog work just as fine.

Shifting To Verbal Commands

The moment your dog understands a behavioral pattern, clicker dog training can be replaced with verbal or spoken commands that could be used at any location. Speak out the required verbal command just before using the clicker, and then reward it. Your dog learns quickly how to connect the three.

Ultimately, effective clicker dog training will teach the dog how to respond to a spoken command, and it will understand that you rewarded it because you approved. You will not have to reward the dog in time. It will willingly behave in a positive manner because you like its behavior.

It must be evident by now that dog training lessons with clickers are effective. It simplifies the task of training your dog in many different ways. Use a sharp yet simple command to mark the pattern, and train your dog to perform any task.