Heart Rate and Natural Running

by Kathryn

Hi Dominique

This is my second time asking you some questions and am very thankful for your website and for you taking time to answer my questions. Thank you!!

Question #1 - I have a watch that monitors my heart rate. Is it necessary to monitor my heart rate while doing the beginners running program #3?

You mentioned on your site running at easy pace. I assume I would need to figure out for myself what that is and then use my heart rate monitor?

You also mentioned on your site how to find your max. heart rate (and then finding my different zones like easy pace) - I'm not so sure I want to run fast for .8km, rest for 30 - 45 seconds, and then run full out for another .8km.

I don't know if I could at this point! Any other suggestions that would be accurate?

Question 2 - Today I did the "walk 1 minute/run 4 minutes - 5x". It was a bit of challenge and I felt I had to push myself some. Is this normal, or should it feel easier?

Question 3 - I read your article about natural running. I have a very high arch. Can someone like myself run barefoot (barring weather and underfoot terrain)? Maybe it would be better to try the running shoes recommended to help foster that type of running?

Hope I haven't asked too many questions all at once, but these have been on my mind.

Thanks again! Kathryn

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Kathryn,

Thanks for your running training questions.

Let's try to answer them.

Answer to Question 1 - If you don't feel up to the challenge to find your max heart rate at this point in time with the workout prescribed, then I would not do it.

Maybe after you have worked through Beginners Running Program 3 at some stage you would want to try it, but for now you can go with the standard formula (knowing that it is probably off a few beats) of 220 minus age and run by feel.

Running in the beginners running programs should be at "easy pace", also known as conversational pace. So try to stick to a pace at which you'd be able to talk to someone. So, definitely get to a level that gets you huffing and puffing a little bit, but not so much that you wouldn't be able to speak to someone anymore.

By all means, monitor your heart rate during your runs, but without accurate readings for your maximum heart rate I would not stick to prescribed heart rate zones. Run at a comfortable pace and your heart will most likely be in the right zone!

Answer to Question 2 - It's okay if your run feels a little bit like a struggle. You are pushing yourself to new boundaries so it's only natural that it isn't all easy.

You get good and bad days as well. I sometimes do my long run, come home and feel like I could have gone for twice the distance. And sometimes I do an easy short run and can't push myself forward. It's a matter of how tired you are, how much energy you had before the run, the sleep you get at night, the stress at your job etc.

So don't feel alarmed about one bad run. If the next week every one of those runs feels unnaturally tough, then maybe repeat the week or even go one week back.

Answer to Question 3 - I assume you are referring to my newsletter article about running technique and natural running.

Although I am a fan of the natural running movement, I am not a huge fan of barefoot running. I found for myself that it's not very practical on today's roads and it just really restricts where I can run. There are some great wood chip trails near my house which provide a softer landing, but without footwear they are unbearable.

Hope this helps.
Kind regards,

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