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Heart Rate Training

This is a tricky one to answer from the other side of a computer, but just anted some advice. Having devoured Joe Friels Triathlon Bible I'm trying to follow the training plan — I've done a few triathlons but never really trained seriously until now.

To cut a long story short, I really struggle to stay in Zone 1-2 and even Zone 3 when jogging — I'm not sure if I'm just unfit or it's because I need to be running painfully slow to stay in the zones. Any advice or experiences would be helpful.

My max heart rate is around 200 resting 60/65, so I'm aiming at 140-150 Zone 2 and 150-160 for zone 3.




  • My understanding is that if you are doing base training or your schedule specifies Z1-2 then you need to run as slowly as needs be to keep it at that level. If you have to walk the hills then walk them to keep the HR down. You will not get the benefits of early base training if you exceed the zone too often. Higher HR and speedwork can come later once the 'base' is built ... slowly :)

    I'm sure others will have an opposite take on this but this is my take on it.


  • scott298scott298 Posts: 122
    When on a long run I just keep to a comfortable pace!

    I only use a heart rate moniter on a long bike, to help pace me.

    so many times on a 70+mile ride have I gotten carried away and burnt out with 10 miles to go, not fun and gets cold in the winter struggling to move ya legs [&:]
  • Thanks guys, I've also read another thread on the same within the forum, looks like I've been doing too much high intensity training so my fitness isn't where i should be.

    Guess I'll have to be patient and jog slow until I improve. Thanks or the feedback.


  • When you say that your max heart rate is 200, do you say that because you have done the 220 - your age = max sum or because you've had a running VO2 max test done?

    Only reason I ask is that when I go out for a long slow run my heart rate will be around 150-160 and I can just about talk at that rate. I run with 2 other guys who are of similar age and fitness (i.e. within 30secs of each other in a 10k race) and one of them would be dying at 160 whilst the other can chat away quite happily at 160 but wouldn't be able to run as fast as us. In order for him to be at the same pace and level of breathlessness as me his heart rate will be closer to 170.

    Obviously all of this is fairly unscientific (and someone may blow me down in flames) but the point I am trying to make is that perceived effort e.g. about a 6 on a 1-10 scale or being able to talk but not easily, is also a good measure of how hard you are working. And, if you are trying for long slow runs, so long as you feel like your are running within yourself and could talk then you are probably doing pretty well and whatever your heart rate happens to be, well maybe that is your Long/Slow/Distance heart rate.

    If you haven't already and are able to get a VO2 max test done then I would definitely do so and you will know once and for all what your max, and thus what your aerobic/anaerobic thresholds are.

    Hope this hasn't muddied the waters further.
  • BoycieBoycie Posts: 189
    There is some pretty good advice handed out here and I would like to add a bit to it.

    Firstly HR training is an excellent way to train but you can get bogged down in it and if you stick to it too religiously it can be detrimental. Cheezypees is bang on by trying to take some of the science out of it. I use HR training for most of my sessions but only as a guide and sometimes ignore it completly if I feel like pushing it, and always couple it with percieved exertion.

    Secondly, as Cheezypees mentioned you may have calculated your zones wrong in the first place, age based HR zones are notoriously innacurrate. However there is no need to go for a full VO2max test as they are expensive, but a measure of HR max can be done in the gym under the supervision of an instructor, just make sure they know what they are doing.

    Thirdly, don't be too suprised if your zone 1-2 sessions feel too easy, it is well reported that when athletes train at these low intensities they feel as though they are cheating. The idea is to increase the volume to gain the benefits.

    Fourth, your HR can fluctuate from day to day according to all sorts of different variables, i.e. how well rested you are, illness, previous training etc. What you do one day may effect your body in different ways to another day. Unfortunatley this just confuses things.

    Hope this helps a little, HR training isn't an exact science, so take advice from your readings, but it's how you interpret them to suit you best is what will help you get the most out of it.


  • Hi all.

    My wife bought me a heart rate monitor for Xmas (after many heavy hints, from me) I have used it on a couple of runs, along with the foot pod. I have roughly worked my max heart rate, at 172. I am 52 years of age, and have been doing triathlons for the last 5 years.

    The first couple of runs, I tried to stick to 170 bpm. I felt like had plenty left ? Tonight, I have done 1 of my regular 4.5 mile runs, wearing the monitor, but did not look at it. I pushed myself and did the run in 31 minutes, this is my typical time, when I push myself. I have looked at the data, on my PC and my heart rate peaked at 190, for approximatly 75% of the run, I was between 180 to 183 bpm.

    Am I overdoing it (I was not absoulutley knackered after the run) or do I need to aim for a higher max heart rate ?
  • BoycieBoycie Posts: 189
    Don't worry you're not over doing it, as long as you except that this is a high tempo run. It sounds as though you have worked out your MHR by age which as I mentioned earlier is very innacurate. The theory for this is that after the age of 20 your HR decreases by one beat every year. Endurance training attenuates this and the fitter you are at an older age increases this inaccuracy. The very fact that you reached a HR higher than your max demonstrates this.

    One word of warning though is that interference with HR monitors i.e. magnetic fields can affect the reading on HR monitors. It can either cut it out totally so that your HR reads zero or show a very high HR (I've had HRM's of 250 on easy runs). I doubt this is the case for you.

  • Thanks for the advice, I actually found this formula from the Karvonen method quite useful:

    Example: The athlete's MHR is 180 and their RHR is 60 - determine the 70% value

    * MHR - RHR = 180 - 60 = 120

    * 70% of 120 = 84

    * 84 + RHR = 84 + 60 = 144 bpm

    Seemed more accurate than just 60% max etc, it's the first time I've really trained using a HRM — and I have to say I was pretty sceptical as I'm really impatient (I mean, what could every coach in the world know that I don't?).

    Having said that sticking fairly doggedly to running under 158bpm (since using the above fomula) I've noticed within a couple of weeks that my heart rate is already dropping, so my pace to keep the same bpm is gradually decreasing. It's really encouraged me.

    In answer to previous questions I've just guestimated my Max HR, I can get it up to around 200 at a good sprint. The 220 'subtract your age' formula seemed way off for someone who's used to training regularly and knocks out the odd Olympic. It would have made my max 187. I think that would have made zone 1 and 2 around 110 bpm's, which I can get up to with a hearty sneeze.


  • Best way to find out your max is to exercise till you eyes pop out, then when you come around you look at what it recorded on the monitor. I am 26 and i know from a bad experience that my max is about 194.
  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    We test it quite similar like gater1981. We test max heart rate at our club twice a year. We do it like this: after a good warmup with some sprints at the end, we do a 5 minute all out effort on the track.Last half minute is killing you(it really helps to be with other club members and a yelling coach to push you). Max heart rate is found this way.

    You should only do this test when you're really up to it, cause it's quite heavy.

    Greets, Benny
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