A normal heart increases very slowly in size to become a high-performance
organ. What makes this organ capable of above-average levels of performance
is a harmonious balance between the thickening of the muscle walls and the
expansion of the ventricles. This has the great advantage that the amount of oxygen
transported by the bloodstream can be increased up to double the original volume. We
could draw an analogy with the cubic capacity of an automobile engine. If the biological
incentives are strong enough to make your heart grow larger, you may find that you are
cruising along with powerful 2000 cc valves instead of 1300 cc. If you go on to increase
your performance capacity you can even reach 3000 cc. Whatever the case, whether it's
your heart or an internal combustion engine, the larger the cubic displacement, the easier
it is to reach a high performance level, without the wear and tear of revving up the motor
to maximum limits. So keep that pulse rate down!
It is advisable to consult a doctor as soon as possible for a thorough physical
examination, especially if you are over thirty. Above all, ask to be given an electro-
cardiogram to learn how healthy your heart really is, if only so that you can go on training
with a clear conscience.
Now it's time to take a closer look at what we mean by training, especially long-
distance or endurance training. First a dictionary definition: training is the regular
repetition of body movements with the aim of increasing the body's performance capacity
or maintaining it over a relatively long period of time. The particular capacity you train will
be improved: those who practice weight lifting in a fitness studio will increase their muscle
power.It will amaze you to discover what you train when you run. With endurance training,
you improve your resistance to exhaustion. This last sentence bears repetition - aloud,
word for word.
Even a ten-minute daily training program, involving 50 to 70 percent of the
maximumphysical output of an untrained person, will tangibly increase that
person's resistance to exhaustion - within a month. In the late nineteenth century
scientists were already racking their brains to find the correct approach to training. Their
answer still holds true today: small loads are useless, medium- size loads are useful,
heavy loads are dangerous.
To cause a "normal" heart to increase in size it is sufficient to train it a mere ten
minutes per day. Our goal, however, is not to give you a strong heart. What we
want you to do is to place a load on your heart that will cause it to function with "maximum
benefit to health," as defined by today's sports physicians. To achieve this, you should run
for forty-five to sixty minutes three or four times a week. This is our ultimate target.
Never overlook one point: at the beginning, it is not intensity - i.e. speed - that
improves your performance capacity, but solely and exclusively the duration of
the run. If you reduce your speed by ten percent you can double the time you spend running.
Because the pulse rises quickly, especially in beginners, you should make sure that you do
not wind up being short of breath. Allow me, once again, to repeat the advice you must take
to heart: put on the brakes. If you do, you will keep the load on your heart and circulatory
system at fifty to seventy percent, whichis ideal for our purposes.
But watch out, if you put yourself under the wrong sort of strain you will achieve
absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing. If you only run once a week instead of three
times, your heart will not increase its performance capacity, and you will not become physically
fit. Norwill it help if you try to catch up on your jogging backlog in one day and run three times
as long instead of the allotted thirty minutes. Later, when your heart is in good condition, you
will have no trouble taking a long weekend run after a laying off for a week. But at this point it
wouldn't help you in the slightest. You would be wasting your time.
What does it mean to train at fifty to seventy percent capacity? Long ago sports physicians
discovered that each person has an ideal pulse that effectively stimulates his or her heart. The
starting point is your maximum pulse, which is computed by subtracting your age in years from
220. Thus, a thirty-year-old has a maximum pulse of 190. You can write down your own maximum
My maximum pulse is 220 minus _____ = ______
Using this figure and your basic pulse (noted below), you can compute your ideal pulse on the
basis of the following simple formula. The left-hand column shows our thirty-year-old with an
assumed basic pulse of 60 heartbeats per minute. In the right-hand column you can write down
your own figures.
Maximum pulse 190 ....
minus basic pulse 60 ....
yields: 130 ....
of which 2/3 is 87 ....
plus basic pulse 60 ....
yields ideal pulse 147 ....
For our thirty-year-old, 147 is the pulse he or she should reach and maintain as long as possible
when running. It is thus this person's ideal pulse.
My ideal pulse while running is _________
So if you aim to take 45- to 60-minute runs to stay healthy, your ideal pulse will gradually drop
as your basic pulse begins to slow down. Not only can you feel this boost in performance, you
can also measure it in the decrease of your basic pulse. If you want to record your progress in
black on white, write down your figures here:
My basic pulse:
after first week: ....
after first month: ....
after second month: ....
after third month: ....
after fourth month: ....
after fifth month: ....
after sixth month: ....
After a mere six months you can write down the happy results: running lowered my basic pulse
from .... to .... heartbeats per minute, saving me .... heartbeats per hour!
It's getting easier and easier. Now you can already run for ten minutes.
In the next Part Winni Mühlbauer talks about the functions of oxygen in the body.