The Magic Number

Bad news. Today we have to do a bit of math.

Good news. It’s easy math.

This is taken from Phil Maffetone’s book, The Big Book of Endurance Running. Okay, take the number 180. Now subtract your age. That’s it. That’s your magic number.

So let’s say you’re 40. Thats 180, subtract  40, and your magic number is 140.

What does that number mean? Let me explain.

I told you last time about zones, but the definitions were pretty vague. I used words like, “intense, difficult, comfortable, easy”. That’s good when you’re describing how you feel, but we need to be much more specific than that.

I’ll just break it to you. You need a heart rate monitor.

I know. They’re expensive. But we’re talking about falling in love with running. The benefits of running go on and on and on. Physical benefits. Mental benefits. Muscle, heart, mind, lungs. Here is one study that came out just a few weeks ago. More and more we’re finding out that running helps. A lot.

So, my point? Spending $50 on a heart rate monitor–if it really helps you fall in love–is such a small price to pay. That’s less than you’ll spend on a single visit to the doctor. Just do it. DO IT.

Two quick products I recommend.

Garmin Forerunner 110. This is a great GPS watch that is affordable, and comes with a heart rate monitor. You don’t need GPS, but running becomes SO much more enjoyable when you have one. You can hook up with Strava, race other people virtually, and monitor your progress. Trust me, it’s tons of fun.

If you don’t want a GPS, then I recommend the Polar heart rate monitor. It’s a solid product for just over $50.

Okay, back to the magic number. Let’s say you’re 40, and your magic number is 140. When you run, you need to keep your heart rate at or below 140. It’s as easy as that*.

Let me tell you, this is going to feel slow REALLY slow. I’m going to have many more posts on this, but later. For now, just know, you have to stay at or below this number. 130-140 is where you want to be (if you’re 40). You may start thinking, “I feel good. And this is really slow. I’m in good shape, so I’m going to bump up to 150.” DON’T DO IT. Like I said, more on why this isn’t good later. For now, just trust me. Keep it at that number.

Okay, that’s all for this time. Order that monitor and get started. Go out for a run and find out how hard/easy it is. Don’t overdo it, but at this pace, you may find you can run 2-3 miles in a day. Then do the same thing tomorrow. And the next day. Keep doing it until my next post.

Next up: A Few More Things.

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3 Responses to The Magic Number

  1. Pingback: It’s All About The Zones | The Open Author

  2. dad says:

    How long should we keep our heart rate in that zone(by zone I assume it means our magic number and about 10 below that?)? During this 3 to 6 months do we gradually build it up to a longer period until we are running constantly in that zone? Thank you for all you do and for helping me to remember how fun it is to be in shape.

  3. Robin Jensen says:

    OK, two questions!
    What happens when putting on your socks puts you in the “Zone?” and how often and for how long each week do I exercise? OK that’s three questions, but I’m waiting for an answer so I can know if I’m having fun yet.

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