follow your heart

Ok that sounded cliche, but I couldn’t help myself! Over the last several months I’ve started subscribing to the idea of heart rate training. I used to take my pulse after all my workouts, but rarely would I calculate how hard I was pushing myself or compare my workout’s intensities. The one thing I hear over and over again from professionals is that runners should slow down. For most of our runs anyways. So I have begun incorporating the use of a heart rate monitor to spell out my effort level loud and clear and subscribing to Heart Rate Zone Training. At times it can be frustrating. After researching Zone Training I have discovered recovery runs are to be done in Zone 2. This is extremely difficult because Zone 2 is somewhere between a very slow jog and walk for me. And cardiac drift causes me to barely be able to jog at all towards the end of my workout! I’m thinking, however, once I start adding in more difficult speed and hills it will really start to pay off. Also, in my opinion, using the equation with Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) will garner more accurate Zones for me. Right now I am just using the standard MaxHR of 220-age. So here is a little breakdown so you can get familiar with the definitions of the Zones, if you don’t already know.

Zone 1-warm up, brisk walking pace for me. 60-70% of MaxHR. My calculations: 220(standard value)-30(my age) =190(MaxHR) 190•.6=114 190•.7= 133 so my Zone 1 is between 114-133. I won’t do this math through the rest of the Zones, but did so you know you can carry it out accurately if you’d like.

Zone 2-easy, able-to-carry-on-a-conversation pace. 70-80% of MaxHR. Recovery runs should be in this Zone. 3-ish days/week.

Zone 3-comfortably hard Zone. Long runs are typically in this range. Breathing is a bit harder, but conversation is still doable, just a bit labored. 80-90% of MaxHR. I sometimes feel like I can still carry on a solid conversation in this zone (calculating my specs). This is why I feel using my HRR might be more accurate. We’ll see. 1-ish days/week.

Zone 4-hard effort. Conversations are 1-word answers. 90-100% Max HR. Speed work, tempo runs. This is where lactate threshold can be improved upon. 1-ish days/week.

Zone 5-all out, guns ablazin! You’re not talkin’ here and you’re only holding this pace for a short period. Hard hill sprints, finish line final final push, etc. 100+% of MaxHR. 1-ish days/week.

So I’m excited to see if incorporating actual “recovery runs” helps me stay more injury resistant. Since I NEVER ran at this pace previously. We’re talking 11:30-14:00 min/mil pace. It’s absolute torture. But I’m confident this will quicken once I’ve been adding in more speed work for a while. I will keep y’all posted.

That’s about it! Have any of you used HR training? How did it go for you? Anyone else calculate your Zones using Heart Rate Reserve? Did that change your Zones? I am eager to hear your experiences!

8 thoughts on “follow your heart

    1. Hey yeah! In all honestly I haven’t been able to do all these types of workouts for several weeks (besides Zone 2 and 3). I hope I can get back to my regular training soon because I have another marathon coming up! So this is theory for me right now too sort of, but it was going well when I first began this type of training! I felt much more powerful when doing speed work and less worn out from day to day because of more quality recovery and rest. I screwed up my knee on a recent downhill run and have been mostly rehabbing. I’ve written about it in several recent posts because it has been so discouraging and have been back and forth with regular training for a while now 😔 but I still definitely believe in this strategy and will be back to implementing speed work and other workouts in the coming weeks again! Fingers crossed. Right at this moment I’ve been doing a lot of strength training, stretching, foam rolling and starting to do yoga again. Wish me luck! Any suggestions for ITBS?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve been doing some heart rate training as well. It’s slow-going but I think it’s making me a bit of a faster runner (though not by a lot). I guess the main thing for me is to make sure I’m not pushing too hard during my recovery runs, like you mentioned.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it definitely allows for more thorough recovery! I definitely don’t feel as rundown as I have in the past for many of my runs and notice I am able to be much more powerful for speed work. We’ll see! Haha

      Liked by 1 person

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