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Running Broad Street using the Heart Rate Method

As the saying goes, slow down to smell the roses, or in this case, the cherry blossoms. If your longest race distance to date has been a 10K and you're running the Broad Street Run on May 1, setting-up a plan that will keep you gliding through those extra four miles will make you smart from the start.

The trick is to slow down so that you can (eventually) go faster. Sounds like an oxymoron but actually, it's not. There is proof that blasting out of the gates in a 10-mile race as if you're running a 5K, will set you up for a slow burn or perhaps a fast bonk, depending on when your body tells you you're in overdrive. Here are two methods that will keep you on target.

The Heart Rate Method

Training and racing by heart rate method takes patience. If you're already using this system, you will be ahead of the game because the heart doesn't lie. The number of beats that are pumping out per minute tell a true story.

If you have been training methodically by heart rate (HR), you'll know that when you're running at a certain pace, your beats per minute (BPM) should be within a certain range. From the start of the Broad Street Run to mile three, there are a few short rolling hills where the uphill may increase the number and you will see a drop on the downhill, but that's why having a range is wise. With the pancake-flat course over the next seven miles, the spread should be no more than approximately three beats on either side of the sweet spot. Venture too far in either direction, and you will fall off the plan.

Let's say your goal is to run at 10-minute pace. If your HR during training at this pace was between 160 and 165, then your range for the race should be between 157 (three beats lower than 160) and 168 (three beats higher than 165). The first mile or two may be a little lower and you're apt to be a little slower due to the crowded start, but by mile three near Temple University, you should be settled-in and staying on target. Keep in mind that this is just an example, and each person needs to slot-in numbers that best work for themselves.

Throwing in a little surge here and there will enable you to use slightly different muscles, which don't get used as much when there aren't any hills. When doing this, keep the top number of the range in view, so you don't stray too far from your strategy.

The RPE Method

Your pace can be monitored by assessing the effort that you apply. The Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a numerical scale from six to 10 that enables you to establish your perception of what each pace feels like. The number value is associated with an exertion level within a self-evaluated breathing test. Note that a running effort less than six would be too slow and you might be inclined to be walking instead of running. Taking it one step further, you can include a pace next to each intensity. Using the example in the heart rate method, for a 10-mile race, you might insert your goal of 10-minute pace next to the number value of eight, and continue to apply paces on either side of the scale. I have developed the following RPE scale for runners to determine effort and pace.

By planning ahead with a method that works for you, you'll cross the finish line with a smile on your face, at your goal pace, and with a happy heart.

Coach Mindy is the founder, owner, and head coach of The Running Center, which offers group and private training programs for runners of all abilities. Mindy has coached 12,000 runners since 1992, and is certified by USA Track & Field as a Level 2 running coach, with Level 3 coursework. Born and raised in Philly, she spent over 20 years in NYC, and is proud to be returning to her roots this year.

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