FIND A FORMULA THAT ‘FEELS’ BEST TO IDENTIFY YOUR PERSONAL TARGET RANGES AND TO MEET FITNESS GOALS. There have been Earned Runs blog posts in the past about the hidden benefits of high intensity exercise with regard to improved immunity and decreased risk of dementia. One of the articles discussed, based on research in which data was collected more than 4 decades, measured exercise intensity using the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale.
Exercising participants subjectively described the degree of difficulty of a cycle ergometer session effort with an expression like “very light”, “very hard”, or “very, very hard.” that corresponded to a number on the Borg RPE scale (likely the original 0-21 scale).
The Borg RPE scale, the original or one of its two revisions, has been used successfully in many research studies. Runners and other exercising athletes may have used their own version of a perceived exertion scale without knowledge of the formal Borg research tool. Trainers and coaches would refer to this practice as running or training by “feel” to distinguish it from efforts measured objectively by heart rate.
Because the intensity level at which exercise is performed is increasingly seen as key to obtaining health benefits, like weight control and blood pressure and glucose management, how do we know by ‘feel’ that we are at the correct level to achieve a specific outcome? How do we know we are working hard enough or not overly hard when we use ‘perceived’ exertion measures to guide training?
Is a heart rate monitor required?
Probably not. However, if checking your individual perception of effort against a heart rate monitor number will help build confidence by taking away uncertainty, go for it. Use the Borg RPE scale to describe the subjective difficulty of a session and at that time record a heart rate monitor reading. Check that reading against a target heart rate range. After that, exercise mostly by ‘feel.’ Check a heart rate monitor intermittently as needed to allow for improvement or detraining. What feels hard at the start of a training program will be considered easy in later weeks. Conversely, what was easy during a training peak might not be so after months of not working out.
An article by Laura Williams, “What is My Max Heart Rate and How Can I Use It In Training?” for runnersworld.com helps with that process. Williams describes the pros and cons of using the popular and simple (Fox) method of calculating Maximum Heart Rate (MHR): 220 beats per minute - minus your age. She includes other formulas as well.
Multiplying your MHR by a desired percent effort will determine your training level target heart rate. The values for 65%-85% effort by age are likely to be generically posted on exercise equipment in fitness centers. Thus, the 65-85% effort range of a 20-year old person with a 200 bpm MHR would be 130-170 bpm, 114-149 bpm will be 65-85% range for a 45-year old with an MHR of 175bpm, and 98-128 bpm will be the range for a 70-year old with MHR of 150bpm. However, it is thought that this simple Fox calculation of MHR doesn’t take into account fitness level or gender. And the range posted on machines is likely too broad to help figure out intensity level/zone.
An article by Paige Waehner for verywellfit.com explains in detail how to calculate MHR based on your individual resting heart rate by using UPDATED formulas compared with the Fox formula. For men and women [206.9 – (0.67 x age)], the Tanaka formula has been developed, and, specifically for women [206 – (0.88 x age)], the Gulati* formula. Another article by the same author posts a Target Heart Rate Chart for low, moderate, aerobic zone, and vigorous intensity training based on the Tanaka formula (which for most purposes can be rounded off to 207 - (0.7 x age), according to age.
Another article on the topic, authored by John Bobalik for active.com uses the Fox formula to determine MHR and then the Karvonen method (which requires you to know your resting heart rate) to determine the various target heart rates for training/effort levels:
-aerobic range for fat burning (50-75% MHR)
-aerobic range for fitness (75-85% MHR)
-aerobic-anaerobic threshold (85-90% MHR)
-anaerobic range for fitness (90-100% MHR)
The math calculations are clearly explained with examples in Bobalik’s piece, and I found it the most useful of all the articles cited. A different site provides a calculator which will do this after you insert numbers for MHR and resting heart rate.
Some women may wish to use the Gulati* formula to determine their MHR. The maximum number is a bit lower and the target ranges of beats per minute per training level tend to run a bit lower. A 70-year old female’s MHR would be 150 bpm by the Fox formula and 144 bpm by the Gulati formula, which would lower the target goal effort for each zone.
Men and women hoping to get the most out of themselves may wish to use the Tanaka formula. A 70-year old’s MHR would be 150 by the Fox formula and 160 by the Tanaka.
Williams’ runnersworld.com piece reminds readers that however calculated, MHR formula-derived rates are estimates that should be used as guides to training. The target numbers may need to be adjusted up or down depending on perceived effort “as time goes on and you adapt to training”. Again, it seems that ‘feel’ plays a deciding role in how we train.
Do you want to avoid formulas, calculations, and target heart rates altogether when determining training effort intensity levels? The parting message from the NYT WELL blog* might be for you. “Everyone kind of has their own natural pace”, expert Dr. Tim Church is quoted as saying.
Keeping track of a number may distract some from sticking with an exercise program that’s enjoyable. Skip the math and work by “feel,” as hard and as long as you wish, if a non-formula approach helps you meet your fitness goals.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*Tara Parker-Pope discusses the research that generated the re-calibrations for both men and women in a 2010 nytimes.com WELL blog. In Parker-Pope’s piece she identified the lead researcher at Northwestern University in Chicago as the source of the new women’s formula, Dr. Martha Gulati. The original publication in the journal Circulation was located by Earned Runs; see the very last section “Clinical Perspective” for explanation of the new formula.
The specific source of the Tanaka formula was not provided by Parker-Pope although the work of University of Colorado researchers was mentioned.
(compares Fox, Tanaka, and Gulati and the Karvonen method)
(uses 206.7 minus (age x 0.67 formula)
Target Heart Rate Calculator chart using Tanaka MHR formula
(uses 206.7 minus (age x 0.67 formula)
(Karvonen calculator tool)
Explanation of resting heart rate, with fitness charts by gender, age
IN-EAR IPHONE-STYLE EARBUDS DON’T STAY IN MY EARS unless it’s cold outside and I am wearing earmuffs that, in addition to keeping my ears warm, help hold them securely in place. This situation is a double-down on a potentially unsafe practice, especially in high traffic situations on city streets and isolated areas in which muggings might occur.
Wearing the in-ear ‘marshmallow’ style or 'jelly' (silicone) buds is similarly risky for me, drowning out sounds that I might need to hear to stay healthy and whole. Plus, they tend to make annoying squeaking sounds when worn in my ears (anybody else have this problem?).
Whether listening to music while exercising is good or harmful for the body and soul is not the issue here. It could be a topic for debate if you feel strongly about being mindful of physical signals during workouts versus needing tunes to increase or maintain pace activity.
It’s about wearing a headphone set that can help with accessing a phone or device for any number of reasons. Sometimes I listen to app updates on pace and mileage during training runs/walks that require multiple changes over the course of a session. Other times I listen to audiobooks, especially on long easy runs. Most times I want to be alerted when family or friends attempt to connect.
Whatever your reasons for needing headphones, a bone conduction set may work when other types don’t deliver good results, under circumstances in which high-quality music sound is not terribly important and awareness of outside situations is wise.
The Aftershokz™ Air set I recently purchased employs Bluetooth™ technology, which allows amazingly easy listening and phone conversations without in-ear components or dangling microphones I haven’t tried other brands (or wired versions) and am not offering an endorsement of Aftershokz™ products over others. This set works well enough for my purposes.
Now I can look forward to a summer of running/walking in weather nice enough that earmuffs won't be necessary.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
IT'S EARNED RUNS' 2020 SUMMER CHALLENGE PLANNING TIME
NOTE: FOR ALL SUMMER CHALLENGES, INCLUDING THE “RUN-WALK-BIKE ACROSS AMERICA 2020”, EARNED RUNS will be using blog posts from Summer 2019 for Summer 2020.
Rather than modify language to reflect changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which will be different from place-to-place and time-to time across the globe, we chose to go with links to the optimistic and enthusiastic posts of the preceding year.
The dates in the posts will be inaccurate, but that shouldn’t affect your ability to to get going and enjoy the outdoors in the coming months.
Have fun and take care to follow precautions issued by the health organizations and local /state/national officials.
Check the RESOURCES page for information and materials on each challenge under the heading of SUMMER CHALLENGES 2020!
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
THE LAST MONDAY OF MAY is the Memorial Day Holiday in the USA, which marks the unofficial start of summer vacation season here. The Northern Hemisphere is beginning a wonderful period of long and bright daylight hours and warm weather. A shift of one to several weeks to frame an earlier or later time period would work just as well for those not inclined by nationality in otherparts of the world to recognize these specific celebrations.
Regardless of the day used to mark the beginning of the season, now is the time to plan a summer physical activity schedule.
School may have or soon will be dismissed for students for the entire summer or an inter-session break. Workplaces may be putting off regular meetings that interfere with the enjoyment of long weekends or extended noon lunch hours until after Labor Day. It’s a ideal opportunity for some to adopt a more relaxed and fun approach to exercise.
Why stick with a the same old, year-round workout/running/walking/bicycling, or swimming routines? Consider challenging yourself to try something new. It needn’t be the most physically demanding feat. Just different and a bit adventurous FOR YOU.
Ideally your challenges should take advantage of the great outdoors and the 'socialize-ability' (made-up word) of a season which entices many more of us to be out and about at all times of the day and evening. Think about trying hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, fat-tire or gravel biking, golfing, and open water swimming instead of grinding out 20-50 weekly miles of continuous running, walking, or cycling. Re-format indoor workouts and take them outside when possible.
Throughout the month of May, Earned Runs will highlight some activities in which you may be interested in participating. The Unites States' Memorial Day, falling on May 27 this year, will be identified in most cases as the ‘kick-off‘ date, but an alternate start will work just as well if scheduling is an issue or cultural differences make another date more appropriate.
The goal is to PLAN now, so the precious early days of summer aren’t squandered because of inattention and procrastination. Commit now to developing a solid program for yourself.
Like a summer camp or a playground/pool might do for children and adolescents on vacation from school, populate the calendar with specific adventures and workouts on specific days that might be paired with socially fun gatherings like beer runs, urban art tours, or even outdoor movie nights (plan to walk to the venue).
Below is a simple list, a draft preview, of potential Earned Runs 2019 Summer Challenges. The first 3 activities on the list were introduced in 2016 but confined to running. The 4TH challenge was added in 2017 for walkers. Two other challenges were added in 2018 and where possible challenges were adapted to include running/walking/cycling/fitness activities. Changes may be made this year as well as the final 2019 Summer Challenge line-up is still in development.
- Run/Walk/Cycle Across America
- Fastest 5K (or a string of FUN 5Ks)
- Summer Series Sweep
- Buddy Up
- Obstacle Course
If you have not yet printed or requested FREE Earned Runs Bibs (you’ll receive 4), do so soon. Bibs can be used to run/walk/cycle personally designed races, for training purposes, and for charting progress toward a challenge fitness goal. They can be used to motivate and inspire too.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
SUMMER PLANNING: SHOW-HOLES, SCHOOL-HOLES, TRAINING-HOLES
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON YOUR 2020 SUMMER OF COVID-19 VACATION?
The 18th and last week of the Half Marathon + ‘SAINTS DAYS’ Training Plan, which spanned January to mid-May, has been completed. Participant runners and walkers will have accomplished their long-distance goal race and should be in recovery mode for 2-3 weeks.
After finishing a long training plan, initially I tend to be elated and relieved, only to experience a subsequent let-down. This feeling is comparable to the sadness of a “show-hole”, the slang term said to have been invented by Amazon Fire to describe the sense of emptiness that follows the ending of a favorite TV series.
‘Training holes’ can occur upon the completion of multi-month programs designed to prepare for big competitions like ultras, triathlons, marathons, half marathons and obstacle course events. Both show-holes and training-holes and are nothing to laugh about (well, maybe just a little). They are periods of time in which our schedules are in some ways uncomfortably uncluttered and there no longer is a programming slot or a daily workout to which other weekly activities are anchored. As much as there was to complain about, the absence of such commitments creates a void.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE SUMMER OF COVID-19?
Many elementary school children and their parents must annually deal with a ‘school-hole’ at the end of the academic year, and faced with a wide-open summer. Some break up the long stretch between June and the end of August with a variety of music, sport, or theater camps. Or schedule stays with distant relatives. High school and college students take summer classes, enroll in travel-abroad study programs, or secure jobs to earn needed funds. Friends and families break up the roughly 15-week period with weekend trips and vacations, both spontaneous and advance-planned.
Not his summer. Training holes are the least of our problems.
Daily test-positive infection case and death counts remind us that straying from quarantine recommendations may jeopardize health. The layering on of global health emergency-generated stay-at-home orders with government mandated restrictions on schools, businesses, restaurants, organized sports, and entertainment has compounded feelings that attempting to enjoy the summer of 2020 might be a lost cause.
We’re not sure what activities, other than virtual, will be allowed or safe. There is cautious hope that scattered attempts to re-open the world are successful and further easing might be possible. However, we are warned the situation potentially can worsen as fall approaches! Uncertainty about the immediate, near, and distant future saps strength, enthusiasm, and motivation.
In normal times, adults without children at home might not feel the need to construct a summer fitness activity schedule for themselves.
However, at any age lack of planned fitness activities can lead some to experience anxiety about exactly how to enjoy these “carefree” days and how not to miss out (FOMO); even mental health can be affected. Spontaneity isn’t easy; it can be stressful to come up with novel recreational opportunities on the fly.
At a normal summer’s end there’s potential for even more disappointment to set in when, retrospectively, nothing fun, exciting, or even mildly awesome took place that would help write that classic elementary school report, “What did you do on your summer vacation
In this abnormal “2020 Summer of COVID-19”, it may be critical to physical and mental health to establish a season long plan and follow a routine for exercise.
In previous non-COVID years Earned Runs has suggested that to fill an ordinary ‘training-hole’, activities that ‘challenge’ old routines should receive top consideration,
In the “2020 Summer of Covid-19” Earned Runs believes it is especially important to motivation and morale to change exercise activities that were used to fill fitness needs in the first months of the pandemic shutdown.
For example, if you walked or ran without a goal achievement or training plan in the first months of March-April-May you might:
Rather than expecting to test yourself over months with a grueling challenge, take it easy this summer. Expend enough effort to feel you are routinely physically active and not losing fitness ground, but frequently enough that you are able to tally multiple regular sessions in a log (or on a free Earned Runs Competition Bib). In September you’ll enjoy looking back at a season’s accomplishments, and write that report (“What I did on my summer vacation”)
Follow a relaxed but firm, no-cheating schedule that allows you to enjoy the time you are active. Consider injecting a bit of learning into virtual event efforts by ‘exploring’ the special locales in which they ordinarily would be held. Search for virtual events in small scenic towns as well as big famous cities around the world.
Another way to shake-up the summer might be to simply change the time of day in which you work-out, if possible, given that work schedules have been disrupted by the pandemic.
Attempt to become a morning exerciser if previously hitting the gym or road after work in the late day or evening. Take strength workouts outside to the beach or park in the early hours of the day before the crowds arrive. Bring a few different resistance bands or dumbbell weights, and use benches and picnic tables to perform various exercises.
Earned Runs will highlight several 2020 SUMMER CHALLENGES that might appeal to the kid in you that still wants this stressful summer to be special and magical. There will be a follow-up post to help planning. Check the RESOURCES page for materials.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
THE ABSTRACT OF THE SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE, “Nutritional strategies for maintaining muscle mass and strength from middle-age to later life: a narrative review” in the February 2020 issue of the journal Maturitassummarizes the results of a review by scientists looking for evidence that early nutritional interventions might improve later life circumstances when it comes to preserving muscle. Athletes looking to enjoy their sport as masters might wish to take note.
The findings of a number of scientific studies were examined in this study and discussed to help guide future dietary prescriptions aimed at maintaining muscle tissue and strength in individuals as they age, or perhaps, even reversing losses.
Nutrients discussed include:
Diet will help this process by supplying adequate amounts and types of building materials, as well as substances that allow effective synthesis of muscle tissue and which prevent excessive breakdown. The details of such research studies are what fuel some to follow certain whole food diets or shop for expensive concentrated supplements.
The bottom line appears to be that a magic dietary formulation for saving the muscle we have in middle age as we grow older has yet to be identified. Building and maintaining a healthy amount of muscle is likely always to involve persistent strength training. We will need to work at it over the decades, not just for a season or a specific competition.
Initially I was a bit disappointed by the conclusion; it wasn’t unexpected. Truly amazing findings would have made the headlines last year when the paper was e-published ahead of print. Many of us would have responded and cleared the pharmacy or grocery store shelves of items that promised to deliver easy results.
The hopeful news is that scientists are looking for shortcuts to healthy body function in old age now. They admit that the only proven remedy for too little muscle, up to this point anyway, is exercise. We have a chance to keep what muscle we’ve got if we pay attention to this fact and persevere with resistance training over time. This way we’re covered regardless of the results science delivers.
The thought of needing to strength train FOREVER in order be strong into one’s 80’s and nineties may be discouraging. However, the Earned Runs philosophy of physical activity to achieve significant and meaningful health benefits fits perfectly with this prescription. By committing regularly to consecutive challenges, sometimes planned a year or more in advance, hitting each mark, building on each success, the path to reaching that long-term goal is smoothed and made accessible.
Getting on this path is as easy as requesting a bib set and using to to record a year’s worth of progress and victories.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Alfonso J. Cruz-Jentoft, Bess Dawson Hughes, David Scott, Carrie M. Sanders, Rene Rizzoli. Mauritas 132 (2020) 57-64.
TRAINING PLAN STARTS This is the very last week of the full plan for runners and walkers who decided to train longer. Congratulations to everyone who made it to this point or who ran or walked their race yesterday, today, or on a previous weekend. You committed and persevered.
YAY FOR YOU; WAY TO GO!
Remember to take time to recover from this long-distance endurance race (one day per mile); take a couple of weeks off from hard training runs/walks. Consider mixing up the summer with exercise that doesn’t focus on another endurance race. Earned Runs will be taking the summer “off” from blog posting, so the last few posts in May will offer suggestions.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!
THIS PIECE OF RUNNING/WALKING APPAREL was tested on a half marathon run on a warm-for-Michigan sunny spring day. Not the usual environmental conditions in which I would don a neck gaiter. At first, I pulled it up when I met people on the path coming from the opposite direction and down after they passed. This tactic proved to be too distracting when the path became busy, so I left it up for remainder of the full session.
Clearly, moving continuously and breathing hard for several hours with the Coolnet+ UV protection Buff™ covering my face wasn’t as easy as going without. But I was surprised at how little it bothered me after a while.
I stuck with a familiar brand that hasn't caused irritation after hours of wear in the past. My thought was that the skin of my lower face would ultimately thank me for saving it from the sun exposure of a summer of COVID-19 social distancing.
Various opinions have been put forth regarding the necessity of wearing masks during exercise. My policy is to be prepared to put myself and others at ease during a time when emotions can run high about the dangers of spreading disease.
Compared to efforts made by others dealing with issues related to coronavirus it's not a big deal to put on a summer weight neck gaiter.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: The stretch of the knit material relaxed the fit too much for my size neck/face. Pinching the back of the upper neck opening and wrapping it with a covered elastic band, like a ponytail, narrowed the opening and allowed it to stay put and up for the run's duration. See the smaller image with the pink hair band.
TRAINING STARTS Some of you may be running/walking your virtual or personal half marathon race at the end of this week on Saturday or Sunday. Good luck if you are putting toes to the start line. If not, and you are racing the next weekend May 16 or 17 it’s important to carry on with the taper.
Take time to go review your nutrition plan for the week and night before, and for the day of the race.
In addition to determining pre-race and race-day nutrition, outline a course, and check transportation and parking in advance if you need to travel a short distance. Plan to take water or fluids with you or find safe places to stash containers along the course it in advance. I regularly run/walk personal custom races as an individual, and for the longer distances find that looping past my home allows emergency potty-breaks if needed. My stashes have been ‘removed’ by others on several occasions; best not to leave bottles or food in plain sight.
If you’re running/walking a ‘neighborhood’ race, be prepared to wear a mask or Buff/neckwear that will adequately cover your face when near others. Be aware that you may need to move to the opposite side of the street to respect social distancing recommendations.
Race day is almost here! Let the taper allow you to be fresh for the big effort and get all details settled so your mental focus can be on performance and you can visualize success.
Even if not joining a crowd in a large organized event, I still have experienced nervous anticipation and doubts leading up to the start and in the initial stages of the race. For some reason, mile 3 seems to mark my worst uncertainty, representing the point at which I was sure I would quit. Once passed, my mental focus was regained, and confidence returned; I finished every race.
Stick with your plan, stay the course, and resolve to run/walk each single mile at a time.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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