Exercise / running

Running, Exercise and the Heart: A Few Questions Answered

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 5.45.45 PMToday’s Ask The Expert session on Twitter with Hartford Marathon Foundation (HMF) was great! Lots of interesting questions and fun. For those who missed it, here are some of the questions asked, along with my answers (in bold). Our next Ask The Expert session (scheduled for March 28) will be on Nutrition, as it relates to performance, training and exercise. Be sure to connect by asking a question to @RunHMF with the hashtag #AskHMF .

What’s an easy way to find my maximal heart rate for Heart Rate Max (HRM) training? Maximal heart rate can be approximated with the formula HRMax = 208- (0.7*age).

Which one is more beneficial, running outside or running on a treadmill? Running outside typically is a better cardiovascular workout due to hills, differing terrain, and wind resistance. It also simulates racing conditions. However, the treadmill can be a safe option in cold and dark conditions, and can be easier to use if you want to accomplish certain speed and distance goals. If using a treadmill, make sure to set the incline at a 1% grade to mimic wind resistance and throw in some incline changes throughout your workout.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 5.54.23 PMHow many times a week should I do speed work if I want to run a faster half marathon this spring? 1-2x week of speedwork  is optimal to improve performance. Mix it up with tempo runs, shorter sprint repeats, and longer intervals on the road or track. Hill repeats at the park count! Now, when I do sprints during speed work and I feel like my heart is going to jump out of my chest, what’s happening?! When you’re doing sprints, you’re getting close to your maximal heart rate and working anaerobically, producing lactic acid and other fatigue causing metabolites. Your perceptions of exertion will be very high but this is necessary to improve performance!

Are the heart rate sensors on treadmills accurate? They can have errors of 20 to 50 beats per minute so I recommend verifying accuracy by taking your own pulse! Reduce movement of hands for better accuracy; heart rate monitors with straps are a better bet for long duration and/or high intensity endurance exercise. Salt and fluid can also help the conductivity required to measure pulse rate on treadmills so sweaty hands are not a problem when using.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 5.48.55 PMCan I drink wine if I am training for a marathon? Absolutely…wine in moderation is a great reward for hard training! 1-2 glasses a day for women and men, respectively, is actually beneficial for heart health. More than that can contribute to dehydration, so be careful not to substitute wine for water.

If I want to start running, what is a good amount of time to shoot for for each session? How many times a week? A mix of running and walking (2 minutes walking, 1 minute running) for 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week is a good start. “Go low, go slow” is the mantra. Increase until you can get to 20 consistent minutes of running and then from there you can slowly increase frequency and duration.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 5.51.12 PMWhat strength training would you recommend to pair with running to increase the speed of my half marathon? It’s important not to fatigue the muscles too much during endurance training, and you don’t want to build excessive muscle mass. So 2 times a week of light to moderate weight strength training for about 1/2 hour is helpful to maintain strength but optimize half marathon training.

Is it okay to continue running during pregnancy? If so, what’s the best heart rate for both mom & baby? The recommendations for exercise during pregnancy are as follows: If you did it before getting pregnant, you can do it during pregnancy! Doctors no longer use heart rate limits (they used to advise that heart rate not exceed 140 beats per minute during pregnancy). Pregnant women should aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise/week, and pay attention to physical signs of discomfort and/or dehydration.


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