Marathon Training Using Heart Rate Zones On Longer Efforts [13]

marathon training using heart rate zones

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MARATHON TRAINING USING HEART RATE ZONES

Mark: So we’ve heard about the first two training measures, what’s the third one?

Dave: The third is heart-based training.

Mark: Right, that sounds a bit more technical.

Dave: Absolutely, you’ve hit the nail on the head there!

Before we go into some of the technical challenges let’s have a look at some of the benefits.

Heart Rate While Running Long Distance

Where this comes into its own is it allows incredibly precise and consistent calibration of longer runs to make sure you’re in that training zone.

Even doing some of the longer repeats it allows you to make sure you’re not tailing off in your intensity, and you’re bang on the money while you’re doing that.

You could say you could do the same with effort, but again…

The theme here is using these measures in tandem or triplicate

And having that heart rate reading to back up the effort is quite helpful.

Mark: Yeah.

Controlling Running Pace

Dave: Another huge benefit of heart rate monitoring is it provides that all-important restraint.

Because you can set the thing up so it bleeps if you’re straying, as a lot of runners do, into too fast a run or effort and making sure you stay focused in that training zone.

Resting Heart Rate Fitness Guide

And then the final benefit, is that it provides a little fitness test as soon as you wake up

If you’re able to take your resting heart rate, it’s a fantastic guide to how well you’re feeling that particular day for the session that’s to come later.

So, for example, if it was 10% or more higher than normal you might consider skipping any session altogether…

Just in case you’re going down with something…

Or at least modifying what you do…

And changing what could’ve been a harder session to something a little bit more achievable, given how you feel.

Heart Rate Training Problems

Mark: Heart rate monitoring then sounds like something only someone who is really keen would want to do.

Someone who is technically capable, if I can put it that way, and willing to make the little sacrifices of taking the time to do the measurements.

Dave: What I would say is you’ve got to have that little bit of extra commitment and patience to calibrate the monitor and set it up.

And be absolutely clear what it does for you and what it doesn’t do for you.

Because I’ll tell you what it doesn’t do for you…

It doesn’t work well when you’re trying to do speed efforts as there’s a lag on the readings.

And when you’re doing extremely short intervals it takes too long to catch up and you get erroneous readings.

So this is why I encourage people to be far more intuitive using the effort based measures

To know what zone they’re in based on their own perception of how hard they’re working.

Mark: Right. Okay, well that all sounds well and good.

Dave: And then the other thing is circumstances can throw it off.

If you’ve had a big whack of espresso coffee…

Or it’s extremely hot…

Or believe it or not, even if your mood is a bit down or you’re a bit hyper…

Those things can have added issues in terms of how you’re training.

It is a bit of a faff to set it up.

Sometimes, depending on which measures you use, it could even be quite painful to set it up, if you’re trying to measure your maximum heart rate.

One of the methods I tried a while back when I was doing this was running up a hill several times and then taking a maximum heart rate reading.

It was a really hard session to have to do just to get that kind of measure!

Setting Heart Rate Zones

Mark: Listening to what you’ve been saying it does actually sound even more technical than I thought at the outset!

So what would be the best way to set it up if you wanted to go down that path?

Dave: What I recommend and actually use on my Scheduler Software is something called a threshold heart rate.

This sets the upper and lower limits for each of the training zones that we’re going to be talking about in terms of heart beats per minute.

And in order to get those upper and lower limits you need to run a 30-minute time trial

So run as hard as you can over 30 minutes…

And hit the lap time button on your heart rate monitor after 10 minutes…

So that it takes the average heart rate in beats per minute in the final 20 minutes of that time trial.

And that becomes your threshold heart rate in beats per minute that you can plug in.

My clients plug it into the scheduler and it spits out the upper and lower zones.

Mark: Excellent, so that makes it easier for them if they want to go down the technical route?

Dave: It makes it really simple.

There’s another method you can use that’s more approximate based on maximum heart rate…

And this is simply taking a recent 5k race, and you’ve been using a heart rate monitor on it…

You just take your maximum heart rate on that run (the highest reading you got) and you plug that in to get the zones.

Mark: Oh right.

Dave: But I still think the method I described is a better method.

Mark: Far more accurate.

Dave: Yeah, more accurate.

Please leave any comments below on your experiences with marathon training using heart rate zones in your plan. 

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