I am trying to understand how to increase my endurance and pace as a runner so I can run an ultra marathon.  I have begun training for a normal marathon in my quest.  I have a couple of charts that are telling me I should run a certain number of miles per week in order to become a marathon runner.  I am including a link to the running chart and info I am using. http://www.halhigdon.com/marathon/MaraNovice1.html  This is a baseline I have seen repeated on many other sites.  It is important to know what I am running as I am now finding it hard to know HOW to run those miles each week.

What I am really struggling with is how fast I should run and for how often I should be running fast.  I am seeing people post times at 8:30 per mile.  I have run that fast, but not for more than a mile or so.  I typically run anywhere between 10 and 11 min per mile over 3-5 miles.   I want to know how to run longer and faster so I began to do some research and found lots of info about heart rate and endurance.  This is what I have found and what I will be trying in order to push my endurance:

Things I need to know before I can get started:

o   Resting Heat Rate (RHR) – mine is about 60 Beat per Minute (BPM). According to this chart and my age, my RHR is Excellent.

o   Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) – I do not know mine yet, but should know this evening using a 30 minute test.

o   Using a formula, I then determine my Hear Rate Zones….

Time to stop and discuss this.  Heart Rate Zones are based on your MHR and RHR.  The top and bottom of your heart rate.  There are like 5 different calculation options.  Yes-  there are many different calculations on how to find your appropriate heart rate zones.  Most are not accurate and only a lab test will provide you the information you are looking for accurately.  (What are you actually looking for? I will discuss in a minute.) I do not have the time or money to take a lab test.  I will use the following method which is widely accepted as the most accurate:

Karvonen Method example:

o   MHR=192 and the RHR=45

o   WHR=MHR minus RHR  =192 – 45=147

o   Z=WHR multiplied by Training Zone %  =147 x 70%=102.9

o   70% Training zone =Z plus RHR=  102.9 + 45=147.9 beats per minute

So- what are you looking for?  The idea is that your body can run at a certain level for so long before it creates too much ATP and lactic acid.  Lactic acid is the junk that causes your muscles to ache and you have to stop running.  ATP, CO2 (breathing out) and H2O (sweat) are created when you are converting glucose (simple sugars) to energy.  ATP is stored in your cells and is used as energy.  Lactic Acid is produced as part of this process, but when oxygen is present (you are able to breathe and oxygenate your body) glucose is broken down in total and turned into H2O, ATP and CO2.  No fatigue from excessive Lactic Acid happens when you are able to breathe.  In other words- if you are able to breathe and process ATP properly, you do not have lactic acid build up and can run without fatigue.

The ability to push your body for long periods of time and not produce massive amounts of Lactic Acid is found in training at a certain level.  This is called the Aerobic Zone (Oxygen Zone).  It is widely accepted that this zone is based on 70 – 80% of your heart rate patterns identified earlier.  Training at 75% of your Working Heart Rate (WHR) is a great place to be to stay in your Aerobic Zone.  Staying in this zone will help your heart get stronger and your resting heart rate will decrease over time.  Eventually you can run faster at a lower heart rate.  According to what I have read, this pace will feel slow.  Staying in this zone is what makes a person able to endure long distances and will create speed over time.

The next level is Anaerobic Training.  This is  80-90% of your WHR.  The ability to function in this zone is often based on your point of deflection (POD).  Your POD is where your body can no longer remove lactic acid from your body fast enough and you begin to break down.  The idea is to run races just below the POD.  Teaching your body to deal with the lactic acid allows you to push your POD higher over time.

So what is the answer??  I will run my two of the three week-day trainings in my Aerobic Zone and one of them I will run with some sprinting to increase micro-muscle development and to push my POD.  My long runs will always remain in my Aerobic Zone.  I will cross train on weekends in my Aerobic Zone with bursts into my Anaerobic Zone to push my POD higher.

I feel like a Nerd.