Train smarter, not harder, part 2.


For the first few weeks of the 12-week plan, the workouts seem “easy”. It’s the first step in building your aerobic base and training your muscles to burn fat across a wider range of exercise intensities and heart rates. At lower intensities, your body is pretty good at burning fat, which is the most efficient fuel it can burn. When intensity increases, your body burns more carbs. Since this form of fuel is stored in the muscles and is in limited supply, you can exhaust your storehouse if you work out too hard, too fast. Repeat this pattern too often and you set yourself up for overtraining injuries and sickness. 

Here are some notes from the early weeks of my training with my Forerunner 305 using the New Leaf workouts.

Weeks 1 and 2: I have to admit, I’m having doubts about this training. Training in zone 1 and 2? How can I possibly improve my fitness and running performance when I’m moving this slow and still stopping to walk in order to get my heart rate down? Runners are impatient souls by nature, and we run partly because it’s such an efficient form of exercise. But I’m definitely burning a higher percentage of fat calories in the lower zones. When I hit zone 3, fat cals drop to near 0. So I guess the purpose of this training is to improve my heart rate zones so my body will burn more fat cals throughout a workout, improving my efficiency overall.

Week 3 and 4: I’m getting used to the idea of running slower and longer. At the very least, I’m cutting my chances for injury. And since I still deal with lingering pain from a metatarsal stress fracture 1 year ago, keeping injuries at bay is a big deal. I keep the ugly old “cam walker” cast where I can see it as a reminder to what can happen when you break the 10% mileage increase rule and do most of your running on pavement. I’m also discovering one of the biggest benefits to this training program — motivation. Having my workouts scheduled by date and loaded to my Forerunner keeps me accountable. I don’t want to get behind in my plan, so I make a point to run my scheduled workouts, even when my time is short or when the weather doesn’t cooperate. I’d rather adjust my run than have to double-up on workouts the next week.

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