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Heart Rate Training - beginners guide

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  • Murph_D wrote: »
    I reckon my LT is around 89-90% of max HR. Sounds like your numbers are off somewhere alright. Maybe it’s your max that’s higher than you think?

    That's a possibility but i seem to have a bit of consistency around the 175-176 mark. I've never worn my chest strap in a race but i wore it for the recent 1m TT and i did a max hr field test with it in recent months also. I hit 175 in the field test and 176 in the 1m TT. My most recent race is the Dublin City HM last Sept and i hit 175 at the end of that albeit a reading from my watch. My LTHR is supposedly 166. Maybe both metrics are a little off :o




  • I've been thinking about trying HR training for a while and have found this thread invaluable. I've been running for a few years but have never managed to fully complete a training cycle, mostly because I get injured/burnt out, and end up dropping mileage. I thought my easy pace was truly easy - we're talking 11 minute miles - but have since realised that almost all my 'slow' runs were probably smack bang in the middle of zone 3, and I never really ran at an easy pace. I was also finding it harder and harder to achieve fast paces in 5ks, that would have been manageable a couple of years ago.
    So I've been experimenting for the past few weeks, have bought the 80/20 book, and am starting the Level 3 half marathon plan today. I set up the HR zones using a couple of different methods (Kavroenen among others), mostly using 187 as my max HR (have seen this a few times in races and hard sessions), so I've set up my zones based on this.
    I've run every day for the past three weeks using HR training, between 35 and 40 miles a week, and feeling good. I've realised that I now feel completely different to how I finishing an easy run before. The hard stuff is still hard, but I'm recovering quicker. My zone 2 miles are generally between 12 and 13 minutes miles, which before would have horrified me, but because I'm feeling good and running more I don't mind as much. I'm trying to incorporate a lot of hills into my easy runs as I'm planning on trail running over the summer - this means I've to slow down further and sometimes walk, and that's fine too.
    I'm exploring more random trails in the Phoenix Park as I'm not worried about paces. So far it's been working well.
    I'm aware I'm still in the middle of novelty territory but looking forward to seeing how this goes. Thanks for all the great tips in here!

    Heart Rate Training - 3 months in

    I thought I’d do a general update to let people know how I’m getting on with HR training in case it was something that they were thinking of. A little bit of this is a repeat of what I said above!
    TLDR I’m a convert.

    I’d followed a pattern for years of starting plans and losing motivation/getting injured at different points. The last plan I followed to the letter was the Hal Higdon Half marathon plan when I first started running about 8 years ago! I rarely went a week without running, and would generally do between 3 and 5 runs a week with mileage anything from 10-35 depending on the time of year. Times over the past year or so I’d stalled. I’d started the Hanson’s HM plan at Christmas and was really enjoying it - but then got sick over Christmas, missed a week, and really struggled to get back. I seemed to be slowing and couldn’t seem to push through.

    I’ve always known about keeping easy days easy - and overall thought I was, my easy paces were in the region of 11-11.30m minute miling, so I thought I HAD to be running easy.
    I’d read a little on here about HR training, and liked the idea, so decided to give it a go. I dug out an old HR monitor, and started playing around with my HR in May - immediately realising that my HR on my ‘easy’ runs was way higher than it should be.

    I set my HR zones based on a bit of messing, previous races, resting HR - and think they’re pretty accurate. Read most of Matt Fitzgerald’s book; picked a race (the lamented ECO Trail Race) and at the beginning of June, off I went. Mother of God though, I was crawling. The first couple of months I was stopping to walk. Easy miles (Zone 2) were 12.00-13.00 which really shocked me. Zone 1 were mostly walking. Progress was glacial and things seemed to get worse before they slowly slowly started to improve. I was probably about 8 weeks in before I started to see my paces slightly improve. I knew things were better though, cause I was running every day, without it feeling like a huge challenge. Throughout the plan I used, I averaged 35-45 miles a week. Really enjoyed the speedier stuff, and didn’t stress about not hitting the paces if I was hitting Zone 4/Zone 5 consistently as I knew I was still pushing myself as hard as I was able for on a particular day.

    One of my main take aways is that low motivation is a symptom of slightly overdoing it. Now that I know what my runs are going to feel like, I’m not apprehensive going in, or wrecked coming out. I haven’t been injured (touch lots of wood), although I’ve been trying a little strength work and think that’s probably helped too. I’m now looking for a race to target that might even actually go ahead and going to try a plan to get me there - debating between Hanson’s and repeating the 80/20 plan - but will definitely be using heart rate training to monitor my training. Also considering just moving to trails for a few months, but tempted to see if I can build on my speed.

    Just to mention, I’ve also changed my nutrition a bit - I’ve been following Renee McGregor on instagram, and have started eating more before and immediately after running, so maybe that’s been helping too.

    I hadn’t run for a couple of days and did a 45 minute run this morning - Zone 2 was 10.30 - 10.50 minute miles.

    Thanks to everyone on here - I haven’t interacted that much, but following other people’s logs has greatly helped me figure out what I should be doing!




  • I am looking for some advice. I based my current max HR on an average of 3 hard runs 5K distance ( 184 ).

    I use a Garmin watch with Heart rate sensor and I can borrow a Garmin chest strap which would likely give me a more accurate reading if I can figure out a good way to test my max HR before I start Heart zone training.

    Can anyone tell me a test you did or followed to gauge your max HR? I read different options varying from running flat out on a flat surface 3 x 3mins to jogging for 15mins & then 3 runs flat out up a hill but there was no mention about the distance or the elevation?




  • Klopp wrote: »
    I am looking for some advice. I based my current max HR on an average of 3 hard runs 5K distance ( 184 ).

    I use a Garmin watch with Heart rate sensor and I can borrow a Garmin chest strap which would likely give me a more accurate reading if I can figure out a good way to test my max HR before I start Heart zone training.

    Can anyone tell me a test you did or followed to gauge your max HR? I read different options varying from running flat out on a flat surface 3 x 3mins to jogging for 15mins & then 3 runs flat out up a hill but there was no mention about the distance or the elevation?


    Max from 3x 5ks is probably not bad. Were you all out on them? You can get your max hr from a 30 minute run but you need to to go for it, stepping the effort up again and again until you cannot give more.

    Start easy and build over the first 10 minutes to a pace you think you can hold for 20 mins or your 5k pace. At 15mins push on. You will need to mentally set in. At 20 mins push on again. You might be in pain, like you can only hold for another minute. Just keep holding that effort. If you get to 25min then push again. Don't worry if you start to slow down while giving it everything you have. The objective is to find your max heart rate. Ideally you will hit that max near enough the 30 mins.

    Good thing about a test like this is that you will likely establish your max hr and your approx lactate threshold (the average of the last 20mins)




  • Klopp wrote: »
    I am looking for some advice. I based my current max HR on an average of 3 hard runs 5K distance ( 184 ).

    The max HR should be the maximum value, not an average one.

    Using 5Ks is perfectly fine but take the single highest reading as your max HR, and you might even add a few beats to that unless you ran so hard in your 5k that you were sustaining an all-out sprint. My own highest ever HR reading came at the end of a 5k with an uphill finish where I fought tooth and nail with another runner for the line. We both lay on the grass for a couple of minutes afterwards desperately trying to get some air in. If you felt any better than that you haven't quite hit you max HR yet.

    Obviously, if there is a momentary spike in your HR reading then you ignore that, that's some artifact by the HRM rather than a true reading. But of any believable reading, you take the highest value.


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  • Max from 3x 5ks is probably not bad. Were you all out on them? You can get your max hr from a 30 minute run but you need to to go for it, stepping the effort up again and again until you cannot give more.

    Start easy and build over the first 10 minutes to a pace you think you can hold for 20 mins or your 5k pace. At 15mins push on. You will need to mentally set in. At 20 mins push on again. You might be in pain, like you can only hold for another minute. Just keep holding that effort. If you get to 25min then push again. Don't worry if you start to slow down while giving it everything you have. The objective is to find your max heart rate. Ideally you will hit that max near enough the 30 mins.

    Good thing about a test like this is that you will likely establish your max hr and your approx lactate threshold (the average of the last 20mins)

    Thanks shotgunmcos. When I did my 3 x 5K beginning of the year I started off slow and gradually built up my speed and tried holding it flat from 1.5k hard on my 3 attempts but couldn't maintain the pace, had to slow down and jog and go again. I haven't done a test since the beginning of the year. Going on your advice and building up the pace to 10mins > increase at 15mins and again at 20 sounds like the right approach and more achievable.




  • I'd suggest getting your own chest strap if training by heart rate, the wrist based is pants.




  • Wottle wrote: »
    I'd suggest getting your own chest strap if training by heart rate, the wrist based is pants.


    Thanks and i agree. I am going to borrow one for now and use over the next few weeks.




  • I never used to bother much with heart rate (I have a Garmin Forerunner 235 and the heart rate seem pretty accurate and steady to me) but lately, I decided to do all my recovery runs with just the heart rate display and keeping it around the Easy to low Aerobic area (about 120 bpm for me). I must say I enjoy that switch because:

    - it slows me down on days I feel great
    - it makes recovery runs ok even when tired
    - on days you are tired, recovery is still recovery, you are just naturally slower
    - I can run on grass which is slower than tarmac without worrying about hitting my pace since there is none to target
    - it is easier mentally, you really don't care about pace
    - your pace is not affected by trees, building as the HR display is not affected by them (unlike the pace indicator)

    My recovery runs are now all true recovery whereas before I was silly enough to try to hit my recovery pace even if my body was telling me otherwise. We are nearly all guilty of running recovery runs too fast, using HR takes the guessing out of the way. It is a great break from the tyranny of hitting the right pace.

    I recommend it, for recovery at least.




  • echancrure wrote: »
    I never used to bother much with heart rate (I have a Garmin Forerunner 235 and the heart rate seem pretty accurate and steady to me) but lately, I decided to do all my recovery runs with just the heart rate display and keeping it around the Easy to low Aerobic area (about 120 bpm for me). I must say I enjoy that switch because:


    I did this myself yesterday and would echo your sentiments, made the run my recovery run more enjoyable and easier. It has made my decision to switch my training to HRT and give it a proper run ( no pun intended ) over the next 3 months.


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  • So to see progression is important in HR training. It show that it is working or that you are not doing it right.

    I used to do the following test every few months. It was easy enough to do very comparable.

    Turn on autolap to 1 Mile

    10 mins warmup
    Press lap
    1M @ 140bpm
    1M @ 150bpm
    1M @ 160bpm
    1M @ 170bpm
    1M @ 180bpm
    600m flat out

    Then you should get a table with avg pace and HR for each set. Note it and compare it to the next test.




  • rom wrote: »
    So to see progression is important in HR training. It show that it is working or that you are not doing it right.

    I used to do the following test every few months. It was easy enough to do very comparable.

    Turn on autolap to 1 Mile

    10 mins warmup
    Press lap
    1M @ 140bpm
    1M @ 150bpm
    1M @ 160bpm
    1M @ 170bpm
    1M @ 180bpm
    600m flat out

    Then you should get a table with avg pace and HR for each set. Note it and compare it to the next test.

    That looks absolutely awful :/

    I've always like the MAF test.

    You set a HR target (180-age, or 180-age+5), set a 30 minute timer, and you cover as much distance as possible in that time at that HR cap.

    It's a nice way to see improvements in pure aerobic capacity.




  • rom wrote: »
    So to see progression is important in HR training. It show that it is working or that you are not doing it right.

    I used to do the following test every few months. It was easy enough to do very comparable.

    Turn on autolap to 1 Mile

    10 mins warmup
    Press lap
    1M @ 140bpm
    1M @ 150bpm
    1M @ 160bpm
    1M @ 170bpm
    1M @ 180bpm
    600m flat out

    Then you should get a table with avg pace and HR for each set. Note it and compare it to the next test.

    Hmm might try this as I feel I have been getting slower recently despite going by HR on most of my runs this year (I think).




  • Question for the more experienced training-by-HR-folks.

    I'm starting to spot a trend whereby I'll get much more return in terms of pace from the same HR in an evening session compared to a morning session.

    I'm told that this is a bit of a "a thing" with some people - anyone else got this going on? If so, is there any way to compensate ?




  • ReeReeG wrote: »
    Hmm might try this as I feel I have been getting slower recently despite going by HR on most of my runs this year (I think).

    On a flat as surface as possible, track would be the best.




  • Duanington wrote: »
    Question for the more experienced training-by-HR-folks.

    I'm starting to spot a trend whereby I'll get much more return in terms of pace from the same HR in an evening session compared to a morning session.

    I'm told that this is a bit of a "a thing" with some people - anyone else got this going on? If so, is there any way to compensate ?

    Yeah I've noticed it myself. For me, the body just hasn't woken up fully so seems like I have to put in more effort to achieve the same pace. That being said I have noticed on easy long runs that my HR can be lower than usual early morning for same pace so it seems to affect me for sessions more than anything else.

    I haven't come up with any smart way to compensate other than heading out later and making sure I'm better rested the night before a session (which isn't always easy). Getting some liquids into you first thing might also help.




  • Yeah I've noticed it myself. For me, the body just hasn't woken up fully so seems like I have to put in more effort to achieve the same pace. That being said I have noticed on easy long runs that my HR can be lower than usual early morning for same pace so it seems to affect me for sessions more than anything else.

    I haven't come up with any smart way to compensate other than heading out later and making sure I'm better rested the night before a session (which isn't always easy). Getting some liquids into you first thing might also help.

    Cheers P, from what I read - dehydration (overnight) is one of the main causes so the water tip makes sense




  • Yeah I've noticed it myself. For me, the body just hasn't woken up fully so seems like I have to put in more effort to achieve the same pace. That being said I have noticed on easy long runs that my HR can be lower than usual early morning for same pace so it seems to affect me for sessions more than anything else.

    I haven't come up with any smart way to compensate other than heading out later and making sure I'm better rested the night before a session (which isn't always easy). Getting some liquids into you first thing might also help.

    There's some data in strength training and bodybuilding that suggests evening training is more effective from a muscle/strength gain point of view.

    As that's typically higher threshold motor unit work, it might make sense that interval / fast paced work would be better suited to the evening and easier slower work could be done either time.

    I've seen 4/11 as being a good general lifting rule before too - the ideal time to train is either 4 hours after you wake, or 11 hours after.




  • Duanington wrote: »
    Question for the more experienced training-by-HR-folks.

    I'm starting to spot a trend whereby I'll get much more return in terms of pace from the same HR in an evening session compared to a morning session.

    I'm told that this is a bit of a "a thing" with some people - anyone else got this going on? If so, is there any way to compensate ?

    I always noticed that but never worried much about it. I've read on several occasions that your body just isn't working at full capacity for the first few hours after sleep.




  • I always noticed that but never worried much about it. I've read on several occasions that your body just isn't working at full capacity for the first few hours after sleep.

    Thanks - yeah, not particularly worried - more curious to see how common it is.


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  • Duanington wrote: »
    Question for the more experienced training-by-HR-folks.

    I'm starting to spot a trend whereby I'll get much more return in terms of pace from the same HR in an evening session compared to a morning session.

    I'm told that this is a bit of a "a thing" with some people - anyone else got this going on? If so, is there any way to compensate ?

    I’ve actually found the exact opposite! I’m much faster for the same effort in the mornings than the afternoons! Can be 30-60 seconds faster per km.




  • I think "beginners guide" could be removed from the thread title at this stage. It's a great overall HR training discussion IMO.

    LOL, this is a good point. TBH I skimmed a good bit. I was directed here from my own thread and it started out quite good but it got pretty intense for a while.

    So to bring it back down to earth here is a few simple questions as I am going to take the plunge and try the low HR training method. Zone 2 training. But rightly or wrongly I'm going to keep with my current plan, goal to complete 5k in 30 mins, 4 week left! After that, a week off, test my max HR properly and then a low HR Training plan.

    When I kick this off, should every run be in zone 2?
    Should I alternate and do some faster runs at all or is that a complete no no?
    How far either time or distance should each session be?
    Can you train at low HR too often? Surely not as I might not be doing much more than a brisk walk?
    How many runs per week are needed? I hope to be back playing golf and might not have the opportunity to go out more than a couple of times a week. (I know it contradicts my previous question)
    What about doing other workouts kinda like this on alternate days?

    I would like to get to a stage where I can go out for an odd 3k/5k every so often at somewhere between 5-6mins per km without killing myself. I don't really plan on making running a long term hobby as such (as I'd rather be on the golf course :D). I do expect to be at this for at least 12 weeks to see any benefit. When I get up to pace do I need to keep at it or can I just settle back in to running a couple of times a month at a 90% best effort kinda pace

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  • Hi all! Great thread.

    Took up running last April and loving it .... but have injured myself twice in since starting! Obviously overdoing it :)

    Looking to give Heart Rate Training a try to prevent injuries more than anything else :)
    Also I would like to put some structure around my running ... rest days, recovery runs, long runs etc.

    Just did a 5K with in Zone 3 (150ish BPMs - 45 years of age).
    It felt too slow as most have experienced - but that's the whole point right?

    Can you point me in the direction of a good HR plan for a 10k?
    Or should I just get Matt Fitzgerald's book?

    Thanks!




  • keith_d99 wrote: »
    Hi all! Great thread.

    Took up running last April and loving it .... but have injured myself twice in since starting! Obviously overdoing it :)

    Looking to give Heart Rate Training a try to prevent injuries more than anything else :)
    Also I would like to put some structure around my running ... rest days, recovery runs, long runs etc.

    Just did a 5K with in Zone 3 (150ish BPMs - 45 years of age).
    It felt too slow as most have experienced - but that's the whole point right?

    Can you point me in the direction of a good HR plan for a 10k?
    Or should I just get Matt Fitzgerald's book?

    Thanks!

    Hey Keith, have you done a max HR test to gauge your Max hr? If not, you need to do that first, otherwise you don't know what the correct HR values are for the zones. Zone 3 is more steady/tempo pace, for easy runs you should be in zone 2, but again you need to know the right numbers for this.

    What sort of training have you done to date? How much running do you do weekly at the moment? The answer might drive the response re which plan to start.




  • Hey Keith, have you done a max HR test to gauge your Max hr? If not, you need to do that first, otherwise you don't know what the correct HR values are for the zones. Zone 3 is more steady/tempo pace, for easy runs you should be in zone 2, but again you need to know the right numbers for this.

    What sort of training have you done to date? How much running do you do weekly at the moment? The answer might drive the response re which plan to start.

    Started with a Couch25k last May.

    Since August, I've been doing 5k 3-4 times a week ... building on pace really (not the best approach in hindsight) .. up to about 5k in 27 mins.
    I also went for longer distances at weekend.

    My problem has been injuries, some foot injury and recently a hip flexor injury.

    Looking back at my workouts ... my average BPMs would be up at 170 which would surely be Zone 4/5 for me.

    My motivation is to stay injury free and learn how to run properly :D




  • Seve OB wrote: »
    LOL, this is a good point. TBH I skimmed a good bit. I was directed here from my own thread and it started out quite good but it got pretty intense for a while.

    So to bring it back down to earth here is a few simple questions as I am going to take the plunge and try the low HR training method. Zone 2 training. But rightly or wrongly I'm going to keep with my current plan, goal to complete 5k in 30 mins, 4 week left! After that, a week off, test my max HR properly and then a low HR Training plan.

    When I kick this off, should every run be in zone 2?
    Should I alternate and do some faster runs at all or is that a complete no no?
    How far either time or distance should each session be?
    Can you train at low HR too often? Surely not as I might not be doing much more than a brisk walk?
    How many runs per week are needed? I hope to be back playing golf and might not have the opportunity to go out more than a couple of times a week. (I know it contradicts my previous question)
    What about doing other workouts kinda like this on alternate days?

    I would like to get to a stage where I can go out for an odd 3k/5k every so often at somewhere between 5-6mins per km without killing myself. I don't really plan on making running a long term hobby as such (as I'd rather be on the golf course :D). I do expect to be at this for at least 12 weeks to see any benefit. When I get up to pace do I need to keep at it or can I just settle back in to running a couple of times a month at a 90% best effort kinda pace

    Hi Steve, a lot of it depends on what you want to do. I know you say go for an odd 3k/5k every now and again - but how often do you mean? Heart Rate Training is an amazing way of getting some consistency and avoiding injury, and definitely improves fitness - but can be a more long term plan ( months to years). That said you'll probably learn a lot from trying it out.
    As you can see from the thread, the Matt Fitzgerald book has been mentioned a few times and it's worth a look. It has a lot of HR training plans, 5k to the marathon, at three different levels, so you could pick one and crack on. They do include some faster running - but you do have to keep an eye.
    I started HR training last May after running for a few years - I love running, but am really slow and have had problems with injury and consistency. I'd end up blowing up a few weeks into a plan and losing motivation. I've since realised that's probably cause I was pushing myself too hard. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to have to slow down your slow runs from 11 to 12 to 13 minute smiling. Takes weeks to see improvements, but I've never run so consistently and have also stayed motivated.
    I followed a couple of different plans from the book between June and December, and have just started a different plan, but trying to use some of the HR principles.
    Best of luck.




  • keith_d99 wrote: »
    Started with a Couch25k last May.

    Since August, I've been doing 5k 3-4 times a week ... building on pace really (not the best approach in hindsight) .. up to about 5k in 27 mins.
    I also went for longer distances at weekend.

    My problem has been injuries, some foot injury and recently a hip flexor injury.

    Looking back at my workouts ... my average BPMs would be up at 170 which would surely be Zone 4/5 for me.

    My motivation is to stay injury free and learn how to run properly :D

    Hi Keith - yeah, I'd recommend Matt Fitzgerald's book. Parts of it are quite complicated but the plans are nicely divided into different levels and distances and are v achievable. You definitely need to make sure your HR zones are set up properly - there's a couple of suggestions about how to do this in the book or you could try an all out 5k TT.
    Slowing down is really hard, you'll probably end up walking some hills, but there are some faster sessions in the plans too.
    Between HR training and a little bit of strength work, I've had a long stretch injury free now and it's been great!




  • keith_d99 wrote: »
    Started with a Couch25k last May.

    Since August, I've been doing 5k 3-4 times a week ... building on pace really (not the best approach in hindsight) .. up to about 5k in 27 mins.
    I also went for longer distances at weekend.

    My problem has been injuries, some foot injury and recently a hip flexor injury.

    Looking back at my workouts ... my average BPMs would be up at 170 which would surely be Zone 4/5 for me.

    My motivation is to stay injury free and learn how to run properly :D
    Hi Keith - yeah, I'd recommend Matt Fitzgerald's book. Parts of it are quite complicated but the plans are nicely divided into different levels and distances and are v achievable. You definitely need to make sure your HR zones are set up properly - there's a couple of suggestions about how to do this in the book or you could try an all out 5k TT.
    Slowing down is really hard, you'll probably end up walking some hills, but there are some faster sessions in the plans too.
    Between HR training and a little bit of strength work, I've had a long stretch injury free now and it's been great!

    Slowing down will definitely help with the injuries and prevent overtraining. Well done on your progress from couch to 5K! It's great that you're keen to find out the best way to go from here. There's tons of information in here and I'd recommend you read a few of the logs to see how runners have progressed (or learn from their mistakes!).

    +1 to pansophelia's response above.




  • Book ordered ..... Looking forward to starting!

    Thanks for the advice folks


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  • Is there a pinned post on HR training, I’m 52 and 34mins is the best I can do for 5K, running/walking and would like to get sub 30mins......my max heart rate should be 169, I tend to be in zone 4 and 5 for most of the 5k......
    Sorry for a stupid question, I was hoping to find somewhere to start on HR training, I actually find the breathing is what’s really holding me back rather than legs, I also spin cycle so have some fitness.


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