Given the ridiculous reality that we’ve been living in for 2020, there is a silver lining in seeing so many more people out on our beloved paseos. Any given day there are plenty of people putting one foot in front of the next. Not everyone is fast, not everyone runs well and not everyone looks like they are having a good time, but they are out there. And that’s the first step to being a runner.
Now that more people have gotten into the quiet life of a runner, what comes next? With the exception of some of the world’s elite, races in 2020 have all been cancelled. Hence my incredible but not-planned Boston by way of Santa Clarita Marathon a few weeks ago. Many of our lives used to be dictated by upcoming races and training. How do we stay motivated now?
The first way to stay engaged in your running is to take this opportunity to better understand it. Have you ever stopped to really consider things like VO2 max? Heart rate training? I have completed 13 marathons and 5 ultras and I have no idea what those terms mean to my running. So I looked them up.
VO2 max refers to your maximum oxygen intake while exercising, and the higher the number the better. Garmin primarily uses VO2 max to rate your running, which is why these smokier days have led to a consistent reading of “unproductive” in my running. (A note out to the people at Garmin – telling someone she’s unproductive after ten miles is NOT cool.)
Your oxygen levels are also at play when referring to your heart rate in running. Finding your VO2 max comes around 90% of your maximum heart rate – basically a sprint. It’s not a rate that can be sustained over longer periods of time, but it’s good to know where that level is. Around 80% you’ll find your anaerobic threshold, or your high impact level. This is what we are referring to in a HIIT class, and very often in the sprinting portion of a cardio class. (Hopefully coming back soon!) Dropping to 70% is likely the area where you find your medium and long distance runs and is a great space for endurance training. Lower levels begin to use the “fat burning” space, though they’ll offer less calorie burn after the run has ended. Each level has something great, and all are useful components to a runner.
Even if you have only ever run for the swag, there are still races out there for you. Virtual runs have become all the rage in this crazy year, and you can find your own race for anything. Run for the beer? There’s a virtual race and a medal for you. Run for the Catalina Wine Mixer? We did, and now have the shirt and medal to prove it. Run for Scooby Doo? That’s our 10K this weekend, and it supports St. Jude’s Medical Center.
Hopefully we are headed into a new year of races and events. If you’ve never competed in a race, there is nothing quite like it.