Running on plants. Heart rate training. July recap.


I normally only do a fitness recap at the bottom of my food posts but lately I’ve gotten so many emails about running, being vegan, inspiration and what in the world am I training for.  I thought I would take a moment and answer some questions in a blog post.

Thanks Chelsy for the awesome tank.

I’ve been working with RUNEMZ also known as Emily, for about a year or so.  She is not only my IG bestie but my running inspiration without a doubt!  Now we haven’t been working on a formal training plan but she serves as one heck of a sounding board and advisor.  She also sees things in people that they don’t see in themselves or maybe things we don’t want to see in ourselves.  Meaning potential.  Let me correct that… meaning CRAZY potential.  Okay so I have her in one ear and a local running guru that I just happened to talk to at a swim meet in the beginning of our season in my other ear.  So let me start there…

One random Saturday early in June I met up with an old swimming friend/parent.  He is an avid runner.  I started telling him about my erratic heart rate at the marathon I did in March.  He looked me straight in the eyes and said “You need to train your engine.”  Wait, what?  Then he began to explain.  Take my running back to low and slow.  Get my heart rate down – like majorly down there.  But my normal heart rate running is around 189-210.  He almost fell over.  He was abrupt in explaining that if I don’t get it down – even adding walking into the mix – I wouldn’t be doing this much longer.  Okay.  We’ve had three local runners pass away within the past few years (all in their 40’s) and one just last week.  I’m listening.

I digested his information.  I talked to Emily.  I pondered this data.  But no speed?  What if my pace went to something I didn’t think was good enough?  What if I couldn’t get my heart rate down?  What if I had to walk?  What if… okay so I headed out and figured I would give it a try.  What did I have to lose?

I’m a researcher.  I figured out ranges I needed to be in and thought I would just try to get it around 150-165 and see if it was possible.  And with that I headed out.  I ran.  I watched only my heart rate and distance paying NO attention to the speed.  I slowed down when I had to and stopped when necessary. Each run, I worked on this and it became a game to me.  How low could I go?  Then I started to notice that my Garmin would give me two things that I really became interested in… one, my TE or training effect and my hours of recovery.  Well the training effect chart is below:


My number had always been in the 5’s.  Oh crap – clearly this wasn’t good!  Now I get what my friend was talking about.  Low and slow.  So my goal… 3’s if possible and 4’s only.  And guess what happened?  Every run that concluded ended with really short recovery times.  Why?  Well, my heart wasn’t beaten down like my old normal runs.  And the other benefit… I started to love running.  I mean I like running and I need it but I really started to love it.  Really LOVE it.  So Emily said to slowly add distance and knowing me… that’s just what I did.

Each week I add only a mile onto my long run.  So 15, 16, 17 and on.  Last weekend I got to run 18 on a trail that I absolutely loved.  My weekly mileage has been at 50 consistently for June/July.  I knew August I would be doing a bit of a step down in training and then bouncing back up again.  But I just finished July with my highest mileage ever!


So my mind had to let go of the “speed thing” completely.  I had to run low and slow to build my heart, to love the run and just to do it.  I started not to care about how fast I ran… I stopped having those cement leg days.  I wasn’t hating the run anymore.  And then after my 18 miler on Sunday my recovery was 24 hours.  What? Really?!  And I felt great.  Another bonus… my REM sleep has shot through the roof.  I used to get 2 hours of REM and now get 6-7 hours of restful, awesome sleep.  Seriously… have I found nirvana or what?

So I run slower but my heart is happier.  I’m running long distances and smiling the whole way.  Now running 18 miles or more is still hard – don’t get me wrong…  but when you get to actually look around and take it in – running is so therapeutic.  This training isn’t for everyone.  For those who want the coveted 6 minute mile etc.  I don’t. I used to and did it but it wasn’t getting me anywhere.  Now I’m warming up around mile 8-10 and look forward to how far I can go.

Now what am I training for?  Another dose of reality I discussed with Emily.  I hate races.  Yes.  I. Said.  That.  I just really hate them.  So I am training for something but what… stay tuned.

Now onto the fuel? I eat a lot of fruits and veggies.  Lots and lots of carbs (hello watermelon, nectarines, peaches, berries and grapes).  I still don’t eat prior to a run (yes, I know this is bad) but fuel with Vega Energizer and Recovery.  I also live on Vega Sport smoothies with kale and spinach as well as their mint bars, which are heavenly.  Beans, rice, jalapeños, hummus… you name it I’m probably eating it right now. Normal practice is not eating after 6pm.  I go to bed early and hate feeling overstuffed.  And drink lots of water.

Now I still have a long road ahead of me getting my heart rate lower and lower but stay tuned to watch my progress.




— Knead to Cook

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    1. Jen, This journey has taught me so much. Mainly stop comparing myself. Enjoy this incredible world we live in and embrace the moment. It is so much more fun to run slower and longer – too bad it took me going through so much to get here. Nirvana. oxo

    1. Oh my friend I knew we were connected in some way. I’ve enjoyed the journey so much more at a slower pace and after all… if you run 20, 30 or 40 miles – does the pace seriously matter that much? I rather enjoy the journey and take it all in. Maybe age is the key to wisdom. 🙂 oxo

  1. Thank you for sharing this. The heart rate method that you are doing is great. I’ve been reading about it — Phil Maffatone’s book to be precise but the nutrition -meat -is a bit of s problem for me. He believes in running using fat for fuel and having the speed at a low heart rate which you need to train for. I’ve been trying but eating has been my problem. I’m glad you wrote this and I will continue on my vegan nutrition. I was struggling with incorporating meat. Thank you again for being a great inspiration.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. The heart rate method that you are doing is great. I’ve been reading about it — Phil Maffatone’s book to be precise but the nutrition -meat -is a bit of s problem for me. The book and information is great– don’t get me wrong but I would prefer to be a vegan. He believes in running using fat for fuel and having the speed at a low heart rate which you need to train for. I’ve been training but eating has been my problem. I’m glad you wrote this and I will continue on my vegan nutrition. I was struggling with incorporating meat. Thank you again for being a great inspiration.

    1. Ingrid, I ran my second marathon (vegan this time) with my crazy heart rate over an hour faster than when I was a carnivore. You don’t need meat. Veggies and fruits all the way girl. You’re doing a great job. 🙂 oxox

  3. Hi Robin!

    You’ve inspired me to keep up with my daily 2-3 mile walking. Now, I’m trying to start jogging (using an app). I’m starting slow because I know that if you work too hard, you’re just tearing down your fitness level instead of building it up. But I never really understood this until I experienced the effects of simply walking longer distances at a slower pace (instead of tirelessly jumping around like a maniac in a boring exercise classes that I dreaded). Over the year, I increased my fitness level merely by walking. Who would’ve thunk it? Reading this made me understand how it applies to running. Now it’s time to bump up my game. Yesterday, was a hot one here in Boston. So I headed to the gym in my building (I never like using the treadmill, UGH!). But, I figured I’d do my “couch potato to runner app session” there..following the heart rate training idea. It helped me so so so much! I enjoyed the running sessions so much more than before! I slowed it way down when I needed to (during the walking breaks). I look forward to running again without dread. lol! I never ever thought I’d say that… or ever run at all. lol! So that’s my new gig. Using the app and doing the training so I can enjoy it more. I try to eat lots of plant based veggie and vegan food. I’m half Lebanese. It comes very natural to me and my peeps. Most of the world doesn’t consume meat in mass amounts. It’s not kind to ourselves, animals or the planet. My Middle Eastern and Asian friends think Americans are crazy with the gigantic steaks some of us eat. It blows their minds. Anyway, I’m rambling on way too long here. I just wanted to thank you very much! Oh ..and as a thank you…here’s a recipe for you…it’s an easy Indian chickpea curry with spinach, coconut milk and lots of good things… Thanks again Robin! xx ~ Jill

    1. It may be my jet lag but your message brought me to tears. This is why I wrote this post from my heart. I’m blessed. And I’ll be popping over to the recipe shortly. oxo

  4. Hi Robin:
    Thank you! I follow your posts and am a vegan runner and walker, (longest race a 10k), but place more value on overall health and found this information really helpful. I plan to increase my running with purpose. Thanks, Robin.

    1. Sandra, This makes me so happy. I have to tell you that I’ve enjoyed this journey so much – seriously to the point of tears. It has been such an evolution that I look forward to continuing. oxo

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this information. This has really encouraged me and inspired me to focus on my heart rate and not time. As a competitor I get wrapped up in time and as I get older (ugh) I can feel myself getting defeated mentally and more injuries are arising. Looking forward to trying this out!!

    1. Stephanie, I totally get it but as I sit here at 43 years old, I’m really appreciating the journey. I ran 20 on Thursday and ran 6 on Friday because I felt so good. This never happens on beaten down legs. I’m loving distance over speed and have learned that I don’t need to prove myself or speed to anyone I actually care about 🙂 Go you!!

  6. You may have heard of Dr. Phil Maffetone and his unusual training philosophy which, put simply, suggests that running slow almost exclusively will make you faster. Yoast WordPress SEO plugin.