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Ideal heart rate for 5K races

MAR 25, 2022

Minute 1: Use heart rate to guide your 5K pace

If your training includes a whole bunch of NASCAR sessions – lots of left turns around a track – you may have a shorter left leg, but a very good sense of pacing. For the rest of us who neglect the track in favor of trails and roads, finding the right race pace feels like a Goldilocks problem – sometimes too fast, sometimes too slow, and rarely just right. It’s hard to know on any given day just how hard to push pace. That’s not a big deal on a normal training day, but if it’s race day and you’re only going 5K, there’s not a lot of time to course correct. An increasing number of runners and coaches believe that pacing according to heart rate can provide a more versatile metric that offers instant feedback on your performance. Take a look at this new story from Canadian Running: “What should your heart rate be during a 5K race?” To make sure you don’t go too fast out of the gate, aim to keep your heart rate between 80% and 90% of its maximum, which is roughly determined by subtracting your age from 220. It can help to perform a short warmup just before you run to smooth your transition into the intense exertion that comes with racing. Depending on your goals, the nature of your warmup will change, and you can see 2 different options in “How to warm up properly before a 5k race: The essential 5k warm up routine.” If you like to start fast and carry that speed through the whole race, your warmup should have an emphasis on dynamic stretches and strides. That way, your muscles are primed to fire away from the starting line. If you prefer to go at a steadier pace, or gradually increase as you get into the race, your warmup can primarily be a light jog. For a few more race day tips to perfect your routine, read “7 Running Experts on How to Achieve 5K Race-Day Success.”

Minute 2: Black beans are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals

Opting for plant-based protein can not only lower your risk of cancer, it can also lessen your impact on the environment. According to Forbes magazine, “the meat and dairy industries create 7.1 gigatons of greenhouses gases annually,” or nearly 15% of human-generated emissions. Even if they love Mother Nature, athletes often worry that by reducing their meat intake, they won’t receive adequate amounts of protein and amino acids necessary for muscle growth. There’s one non-meat offering in particular that can reassure athletes on this front: black beans. See the details in this new Healthline story: “Are Black Beans Healthy? Nutrition, Benefits, and More.” For starters, one cup of black beans contains 15 grams of protein, meaning it doesn’t take much to reach the maximum amount of protein your body can absorb in one sitting, which is roughly 20 to 25 grams. For more on that topic, read “How much protein can your body absorb?” In addition to protein, black beans are packed with vitamins and minerals. Folate, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B6 are all present, and combined with their high fiber content, these beans promote heart health, digestion, and blood sugar levels. How do they compare to similar foods? Well, they’re quite similar to pinto beans, as you can see in “Are Pinto Beans Healthy? Here's What a Dietitian Has to Say.” If we’re really splitting hairs, black beans come out on top overall, but if you’re struggling to get your B vitamins, pinto is the way to go according to “Black Beans vs Pinto Beans.” Our favorite way to consume black beans is when they are part of a Mexican-inspired meal, but that means they are often paired with lots of goopy cheese, fried food and cervezas. For tips on your next culinary journey south of the border, check out WebMD’s list of “Best and Worst Mexican Dishes for Your Health.” #BeanCounter

Minute 3: Tips for a more effective core workout

We think “the core” is aptly named, given how central it is to a runner’s form and fitness. Despite its importance, we often don’t give core exercises the attention and planning they deserve. Your approach to core training should be varied in the same way your running is, so to do that, you should consider the tips in “How to Establish a Core Strength Routine You'll Actually Stick To.” For any other kind of strength training, it’s common practice to increase the weight you lift week after week, so why not for core exercises? By performing weighted ab exercises, you give yourself the ability to drive your progress with greater resistance. Take a look at the “Top 5 Weighted Abs Exercises for a Lean, Shredded Core” for a few ideas. Another overlooked dimension of core training is the importance of variety. The truth is, crunches alone aren't going to cut it. There are several muscles that make up the core: abdominals, obliques, spinal erectors, and more. To hit them all, throw some side planks, leg lifts, and bird dogs into your routine. There’s a good video and write-up of these and other movements in this “10-Minute Core Workout Routine for Runners.”

Minute 4: Spring is the perfect season to start trail running

One of the best ways to get more enjoyment out of running is to do it in a place you love. Returning to the same trail can be like a sentimental visit to your old neighborhood, but it also provides a good way to measure your progress, comparing times week after week. As an homage to the power of finding the perfect path to run, Brendon Leonard shares his experience in “A Love Letter to My Favorite Trail” in Outside. What started as a fun way to spend an afternoon, Brendon went from hiking the Mt. Sentinel M Trail, to running it every few weeks, and he says it’s helped him get in better shape now, at age 42, than he was at 24. After gaining so much from the trail, he decided to give back, joining a volunteer team that helps with maintenance. We can all follow in his footsteps by following this piece from iRunFar: “A Trail Runner’s Guide to Caring for the Trails.” When visiting with a group, it’s important to move in a single file line, as stepping on the edges of the trail can damage non-durable surfaces, causing it to widen and erode. Not to mention, staying in the center of a trail helps reduce your risk for encountering ticks and other pests, which is especially important this season with the “Mysterious Heartland virus shows up in Georgia ticks.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Running through calf soreness is an experience many runners face at some point in their careers. To avoid unnecessary discomfort watch out for uneven terrain, poorly-fitting shoes, and rapid increases in training volume. Even still, some calf soreness is inevitable, so for a guide to managing this discomfort, read: “Calf Soreness After Running – Guide To Treating And Preventing Calf Pain.”

  • To get a good night’s sleep, all you have to do is tire yourself out with exercise, right? Well, sometimes it’s not that simple. Daily exercise will help regulate your energy levels, but there are ways it can actually prevent you from falling asleep too, especially if you work out later in the day. Changes to body temperature, hormones, and your nervous system all occur during intense exercise, impeding your ability to wind down. If you think your sleep troubles could be exercise related, then read “Why Do I Have Trouble Sleeping After a Hard Workout?

  • Liz Lemon once posed this fitness question on 30 Rock: “Why are my arms so weak? It’s like I did that pushup last year for nothing!” Well, Liz, you may have overlooked the most important rule in training – consistency is essential to making progress. At the start of a training cycle, your initial enthusiasm makes it easier to adhere to a plan, but once that initial buzz dies down, it’s on you to find motivational strategies to keep getting after it. If you’re looking to inject some fire back into your routine, follow these “Five fitness tips to keep you motivated.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Disney crushes the sports movie genre: Miracle, Remember the Titans, Cool Runnings. Not only are they based on true stories, they are also family friendly, with nary an F bomb in sight. If you don’t believe how good Mickey & Co. are at their craft, check out: “10 Best Disney Sports Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes)” As runners, we absolutely love one of the films on this list, McFarland, USA. The 2015 movie traces the true story of McFarland High School’s journey from a start-up team of rag tag runners to an eventual 24 consecutive state titles in cross country. While nothing can top the Herb Brooks pre-game speech in Miracle, Kevin Costner’s character comes close in McFarland (video here.) The film chronicles McFarland’s very first attempt at putting together a team, and their ability to overcome the odds and achieve unlikely victories. If watching the trailer below doesn’t get you fired up to head out for a run, you may be in need of defibrillation.


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