Thursday, 31 May 2012 07:21

Training: How to Determine Your Heart Rate Zone By Cindy Stonesmith

Have a hard workout or a race coming up? Don’t forget to wear your heart rate monitor!

If you’re a runner chances are you’ve heard people talking about what Heart Rate Zone they’re currently running in. Or what Heart Rate Zone they hit on their last tempo or hill interval workout. This language may sound foreign to you at first but knowing and using correct Heart Rate Zones for training can be the performance benefit you’ve been looking for. Using correct heart rate zones can assist you in setting up a training plan that provides instant feedback to intensity of workout, running economy, hydration levels, and accumulative training effect. Heart Rate training will also assist with realistic race pace and splits when setting goals as well as assist with prevention of injuries and overtraining.

The following 10k field test will provide you with the information to get you started with using your Heart Rate monitor and GPS watch to its fullest potential:

Field test -This test is best if performed during a 10k race. This field test can also be performed on a treadmill or on a designated running trail or path. If done outside you’ll need an uninterrupted section of road or trail that you can maintain a consistent pace for the entire 10k. Data capture is best done with use of lap function of your heart rate monitor. You will need to record average heart rate for a 10k or 60 min. interval.

Warm-up -10-15minutes at a very easy conversational pace, include 2-3 x 60sec strides to slightly above your 10k goal pace. This will help raise heart rate and prepare your legs for your 10k effort.

Test Phase -After warm-up, start your GPS lap button to record a 10k route. Run at a pace that you can maintain a consistent 10k (6.2miles) or 60 minute effort. Run your 10k at a broken conversation effort. Meaning you can talk but you have to take breaths between words. You will not feel like carrying on an in-depth conversation. Use your lap function to capture average heart rate for the first and second 5k effort of your 10k run.

Cool down-10-15min minutes easy allow heart rate to drop to 120bpm before stopping workout.

Heart Rate estimated zones– Using the average heart rate of your last 5k effort as the start of your Lactate Threshold (Zone 4) you can now map out your estimated heart rate zones. Using an average HR of 160 as an example follow the steps below:

Calculating zones:
Heart Rate Zones
Zone 1 <120bpm
Zone 2 – 120-139bpm
Zone 3 – 140 – 159bpm
Zone 4 – 160 – 170bpm
Zone 5 >171

1. 160bpm is the start of Lactate Threshold or Z4
2. Add ten to 160 to get the range for Z4 160-170
3. Next subtract 20 from 160 to get the Z3 140-159
4. Next subtract 20 from 140 to get the Z2 120-139
5. Next will be Z1 which is anything below <120
6. Next will be Z5 which is anything above Z4 or >171

Program your new heart rate zones in your watch for each access! And we will review each zone and its function and purpose in the future through On The Trails articles.

Happy Trails,
Cindy Stonesmith
Running Endurance Coach

Cindy Stonesmith CMT ACSM/HFS
Owner and Endurance Running Coach