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Platau in performace & Heart Rate zone training

I am 47 and have been doing Tri for two years but have never trained to HR, relying of perceived exertion to moderate by training.  I take part in Olympic and the occasional Sprint with my P.B. for Standard being 2:32:00 and Sprint 1:09 and manage to train for between 6 and 8 hrs a week.  My training is mixed intensity and lightly structured, ignoring technique I seem to have reached a platau in terms of improvements in all three disciplines.

So I did some reading and my new HR training watch arrived a few days ago and had its first outing last night.  I decided to go for an easy 10K which I would normally percieve as, what I understand to be, "Zone2"

The lowest my HR got to was 130Bpm on a slight downhill section, it averaged around 138 and recorded a max of 146 climbing a slight hill!  Now if you take the 220-age model my theorhetical max HR is 173 so when climbing the slight hill at a rate of exertion at which I could have had an easy conversation my HR was at 84%?????????  even the 130Bpm figure is 75%.  Based upon these readings and to keep in zone two I would need to be walking, probably backwards!

I must admit I am a little concerned and worried that if I get to 84% on an easy effort what is happening when I am running a 21minute 5K, flat out!  I know thats not fast for some of you but for me it is!  Whereas before I would just go and do that as part of my speed work I am now not so sure I want to know what the HR monitor might tell me!

Purely based upon percisved exertion and back calculating from the lower 130Bpm figure and assuming that this is at the top of Z2, then my predicted Max HR would be 130/65x100=200 is it possible that the 220 minus age model is that far out? Not sure if it is relevant but my resting HR has been as low as 44Bpm but is almost always at or below 50Bpm.

Any advice/experience or insight would be greatfully received, thank you!


  • risris Posts: 1,002

    if you are going to spend that much time on detail then you need to make sure that the maxhr figure you are using is accurate for you, and 220 -age quite possibly isn't.

    do separate bike, run (and swim if needed) max tests as they may vary to each discipline, then you can set pace/intensity correctly.

    what i would say is that when i started doing z2 work it was pretty much fast walking pace while running and i soon adapted.  

  • Monty 1967Monty 1967 Posts: 10

    Thanks ris,

    Sorry about the detail, I am and engineer I cant help it!  It just seems a little counter intuitive to get performance gains from going so slow, but I guess you are saying I need to go back a bit in order to go forward? How long did it take you to adapt and see the gains/improvement?

    Thanks Again


  • risris Posts: 1,002

    don't apologise for the detail! it was more to point out that if you base the detail on a rule of thumb then you get rule of thumb variance. get a precise figure and work forward from there. max hr tests are no-ones idea of fun, but without them the %-ages may be too far out.

    i can't remember how long it took (it was part of a maffetone type experiment over a winter - 3mo almost solely at z2), my recollection was that at the end of it made most of the gains, but it may have taken a lot less than that. i was doing nothing but z2, though, and not mixing it in with anything more intense.

    one of my recollections was trying to ride at an entirely arbitrary

  • bathtubbathtub Posts: 280

    The more research you do online the more confusing it can become as there is a lot of different advice and also lots of different percentages  for training zones depending on which article you are reading. That's not to say that any one is right or wrong its just that there are different methods and calculations to work out different zones.

    Having said that I follow a lot of Joe Friel's advice , he recommends a lactate threshold test to determine HR zones, as opposed to a max heart rate test, its explained in detail in this link


    Happy Training

  • Monty 1967Monty 1967 Posts: 10

    Thanks Bathtub,

    I have Joe Friel's Training Bible on my birthday list, fingers crossed!


  • Just started zone 2 training, feels very counterintuitive. Here is a link worth reading http://ironfam.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/zone-2-training-worksbut-not-today.html?m=1 .check out mark Allens website., a few good articles on there about the topic.
  • tomg1tomg1 Posts: 17

    This is really interesting advice everyone, thanks for sharing this. Does anyone have any similar detail on specific training for Sprint distance? My knees can't take anything more than a Sprint and my understanding of the literature is that Z2 training is great for 70.3 and Iron distance, but not so effective for the short, sharp (and sweet) events?

  • Even though most of the benefits are said to be for the longer distances, the fact that you're making your engine more efficient must help on the std and sprint distances. At the moment it takes very little effort for my heart rate to get over 80%, that doesn't feel right to me.. Which is why I'm trying this training
  • Monty 1967Monty 1967 Posts: 10

    Thanks for all the links and advice! Quick update on my efforts to get into Z2 which is encouraging for me and those others finding it difficult!

    i did a 5.0 mile flat run on Saturday and managed to average Z3.1,even though i averaged 13min miles, close but no cigar and very frustrating but better than my last effort!

    the breakthrough came this morning when i took my young daughter for a 8.00mile MTB it took us 1:36hrs but as I wasn't "training" i managed to achieve Z1.3 thats the bike sorted at least!

    All the best

  • Monty 1967Monty 1967 Posts: 10

    Another update - things appear to be improving on the Z2 run front, managed 5.5miles last night at Zone 2.8 still frustrating as hell at 12min+pace but it looks like my Z2 performance is already improving.  One thing I noticed was that for the first 1/2mile I needed to walk a little to keep below the Z3 threshold but once I had warmed up this seemed to not be a problem and I could control HR by slowing a little on inclines.

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