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HR Zones and Running


Long time lurker and drawing a blank. I've got a couple of sprint triathlons under my belt and am moving up to longer with a goal of hitting IM next year late in the season. With that said I'm a long way off, I've read everything I can absorb and Don Fink's Ironfit seems to strike a chord with me so I'm trying that. 

My issue is the timed zone training. I can bike and swim easily enough (easily being subjective) and can maintain the zones needed but on the run...I just can't. 

I'm not a big runner, I've never been able to run for long periods, but even going slow I seem to settle at about 3.9-4.3 no matter how slow I go. Is it just a 'comes with time thing' or should I get a coach to look at my gait etc and see if I'm really inefficient? I'm only doing a few miles at the moment, but it just feels like a bit of a stumbling block. If I can't get the effort levels down then it will be a long haul! Ether way I'll do it, but just wanted some running advice!






  • risris Posts: 1,002

    hi j... glad to see you've stopped lurking a bit...

    i think that for most people the running bit of long steady / restricted heart rate is usually the hardest in the beginning. i know that i struggled with it at first - i thinki walked more than i ran!

    that you can't get your hr down from around the edge of z4, when you want it nearer mid-high z2, suggests that either you aren't using the right numbers (max level being used isn't quite right), or you aren't going slow enough.

    for the first bit - are you using a measured max hr for your zones, or are you using a ratio / value from somewhere else? 

    for the second - you may find you have to go very slowly for a bit. your hr and speed should respond to working to different values reasonably quickly. i think it took 6-8wk for mine to settle out. your body have become used to your hr being up there when you run, so you are going to have to train it to the new arrangement. don't be afraid to plod a bit, as long as your posture/running gait is good then it'll be fine. 


  • Andrew4Andrew4 Posts: 190

    A stupid observation but everyone seems to think "Zone " means the same to everyone, it doesn't. Its worth double checking that the Zone 4 you are running at corresponds with the same percentage of HR Max as those required by your training plan.

    Just as an example some plans have Zone 3 as 70- 80% HR Max whereas other use up to 80% HR Max as Zone 1

  • Thanks guys, z4 is 83%+, I generally dip around 3 but can't for the life of me get into a steady zone 2. I could drop to a walk, but quite apart from the emotional and pyshocological desire not to, it seems to be that cusp of walking/running that is just an ugly boundary. 

    Measurement wise, it's the usual 'age minus' piece. Perhaps I should do a proper calc? 

    I can stick with the current and hope it eases or should I swallow my pride and put some power walking in there? 

    Thanks again!


    117(48%)-133(61%) : Zone 1
    133(61%)-153(78%) : Zone 2
    153(78%)-160(83%) : Zone 3
    160(83%)-171(93%) : Zone 4
    171(93%)-180(100%): Book an ambulance

  • Andrew4Andrew4 Posts: 190

    Based on those zone numbers I would keep at it, leave your ego at the door and accept you may have to go very slow to stay in zone 2.

    I try to operate the 80% below 80% range (i.e. zone 2.4 for you) for my training, i.e. 80% of my sessions will be targeted to stay below 80% max HR and generally don't find this too difficult when working on longer slower sessions on the run so I think with just training this will improve over the coming weeks.

    I also find it helps to really focus on breathing properly and in a relaxed fashion and ensure you are recovering properly, if your body is under stress, be it lack of sleep, a hangover, work stress or training stress your HR will naturally elevate.

  • Thanks Andrew, I'll stick at it and run places where nobody can see me walk

    Appreciate all the feedback 




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