More answers to being a better runner
Q: I AM RUNNING WITH MY IPHONE STRAPPED ON MY ARM AND USING RUNKEEPER TO TRACK DISTANCE AND PACE. DO YOU HAVE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A HEART-RATE MONITOR (HRM)?
A: Most brands make a reasonable heart-rate monitor these days. Garmin and Suunto seem to be the leaders and make accurate, high-quality ones. I run with a Garmin.
If you're price-conscious, you can get it from Decathlon. Aim for one with a chest strap; it is usually more accurate than a wrist-based model.
The other option is a Bluetooth-enabled strap and use it in conjunction with your iPhone and MapMyRun or Runkeeper. It is an accurate and reliable way of capturing all the information you need without too much additional expense.
Over time, your goal is to see your pace increasing at the same heart rate.
Q: I'M A BODYBUILDER, AND I'VE JUST PICKED UP RUNNING. HOW CAN I CONTINUE TO BUILD MUSCLE MASS IF I WILL BE RUNNING REGULARLY AND TRAINING FOR A MARATHON?
A: I have spent most of my career helping people to optimise body composition and shrink down to improve distance-running performance. I am in no way an expert on building muscle, so take what I say with a pinch of salt.
Running doesn't typically lend itself to building muscle. Compare a picture of a sprinter and a marathoner, and it's easy to see what I mean. That said, most of us are not elite athletes logging upwards of 120km a week.
The key to achieving your goal will be finding a balance between running, weight training and nutrition. You'll need to experiment to find what the ideal frequency balance is between distance run and weight lifted. Lift heavy weights rather than lighter ones with more sets and repetitions.
I also suggest running in the morning, lifting in the evening and taking the following day off to recover. Rest days are when your body makes repairs and adaptations to become stronger, fitter and faster.
Lastly, the higher the mileage, the more difficult increasing muscle mass will become, and the more significant role nutrition will play. While I don't typically advocate tracking calories and macros, it may be useful in your case. You may want to consider working with a nutritionist or a registered dietician to be sure your intake is adequate for your two disciplines.
Q: I FOLLOW THE HEART-RATE ZONES ON MY GARMIN WATCH AND RUN REALLY SLOWLY. A 10KM RUN USUALLY HAS ME RUNNING AT 71/2-8MIN/KM. I DO FORCE MYSELF TO GO SLOWER TO KEEP MY HR DOWN BUT, ACCORDING TO MY WATCH, I AM IN ZONES 3-4 FOR THE MAJORITY OF MY RUN. IS THIS AN INACCURACY OF THE WATCH OR AM I SUPER UNFIT?
A: It could be an inaccuracy or feedback that you have an underdeveloped aerobic system. Perhaps it's a combination of both.
If you're serious about getting your zones right, here's what I would recommend:
- Do a lactate test, the gold standard. But it does come with some cost. It is $199 at our Coached Lab.
- Use the HR formula I shared in a previous column. While still a formula, it is the most accurate and straightforward formula I have been able to find.
- Field testing is another way but it is very intense, so I won't recommend it to beginners.
If you have a question for Ben Pulham, visit the run's website and post it in the #AskCoachBen section.