Will I Be Ready or Will Heart Rate Training Fail Me?

In a little less than three weeks, I will be running the McKenzie River Trail Run, a 50K in Oregon along the McKenzie River.  The McKenzie River is one of the most pristine rivers in Oregon.  The upper reaches are designated as a Scenic and Wild River meaning there are no dams, no human manipulation and is a crystal clear, gorgeous salmon river.

Originating in the Cascade Mountain range, it is a tributary to  the Willamette River, which snakes through the Willamette Valley from Eugene to Portland, creating the lush and fruitful croplands that grace Oregon.  On the west side of the Cascades, the mountain is covered with Douglas Fir trees towering over those who travel beneath.  The trail winds through this forest and we are among the lucky few who will get to traverse down this trail.

McKenzie trail (1)
Piggyback rides are the best way to experience the McKenzie River Trail

This trail is one of my favorites and one the trails that gave me my start as a trail runner.  I feel honored to have the opportunity to do this race.  Even better, it is a celebration of Kenny’s and my 15th wedding anniversary.  Our 15 years of marriage have ups and downs, highs and lows, and only our vow to each other has kept us together through it all.

If you have read my earlier post you will know that I started training with a heart rate monitor earlier this summer in my training for this race.  It has been an interesting journey.  I have ridden this roller coaster with a lot of faith.

In fact, I have seen some benefits which I talked about in an earlier post.   These are valuable no doubt, but the main objective is certainly to gain speed while still running at a lower heart rate.  So the big question is…After two and a half months, have I seen any progress?

The honest truth is – not yet.

I have a route that I have been using as my reference route and tracking my times for this route.  I have been shooting for running this route at least once a month though I have run it more than that.  So far no real improvements in pace.

I was scheduled to do another reference run last week however I ended up getting sick.  Interestingly, when I look back on my runs, I did see a decline in my pace and an increase in my heart rate in the days leading up to being sick.   A good lesson.  Had I paid closer attention to this change, I may have been able to back off or take a rest day before getting sick.

So the improvements haven’t been impressive and but in endurance running, patience is a key aspect that I struggle to embrace completely.   Patience has never been my strongest attribute.  My mother would routinely recite, “Patience is a virtue” at me.  I think she may have even bought me a book with that title….though of course I never read it!

This girl has been the best running companion a girl could have.  She has kept me company on many “slogs”.

I am also not feeling like much of a runner.  The miles have been slow and slower.  I know I am being a smart runner by building a solid foundation but everyone’s ego needs stroked once in a while.  A good tempo run or a fast track workout or a hard hilly trail run feels amazing and leaves a person feeling like Superwoman.

I have asked myself on many occasions whether I will be ready and I really don’t know.   While I do not feel prepared at all for this 50K, I have to trust that I have done something right and just go for it.

After the race, I want to continue with this form of training as I know it is a smart strategy.  I do however plan to incorporate more social runs and tough runs for my mental happiness.  I will strive to find a little more diversity in my running while still honoring my goal to build my aerobic base.

What do you do to find balance within your passions?  How do you incorporate diversity in your running?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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