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Discussion Starter #1
Good afternoon!

I am fairly new to running. I started in April after completing couch to 5k and currently run around 25k a week spread over 4 days.

I've been reading up a lot about different types of running (easy/tempo etc...) and I think I have come to realise I was doing most of my runs at a very high intensity.

I enjoyed what I thought were easy run's but by the looks of my heart rate data I have not really done any easy runs at all.

In fact my difficulty now is that if I try to run within the 'easy' range of my heart according to Strava, I have to pretty much walk.

I can run my fastest 5K currently at 24:25 (4:53 pace) for reference, but in order to keep my heart under 150 on an easy run, I have to run at around 6:15k pace and even then it will climb above within about ten minutes.

My average heart rate on an all out run (24:25 5K) is 174bpm with a high of 188bpm

So my questions are:

Is this normal?

Does it even matter if my heart rate is high if it feels easy?

I have read a little about Maffeton and aerobic base training, but that seems to suggest I have to do a few months solidly at super slow paces without any higher intensity to get the benefits? Is this correct?

Can I improve my aerobic capacity by doing a couple of the super slow runs but also do a couple of higher intensity in the same week? or will this ruin the gains I made at the lower intensity?

Sorry for all the questions.

My goal's currently are to get down to 22:30 for my 5K time but not sure what the best thing to do is with easy runs. Feel like I am wasting them if not doing them properly.

Cheers

Ged
 

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The most likely root of this is your knowledge of maximum heart rate. If you are using any kind of paper-based estimate or equation it is not good enough for finding zones. Google a way to get an estimate from actual running or a recent race.
 

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Hi Steve, thanks for the reply!

I have based my max heart rate after looking at my max after a particularily difficult interval session and haven't managed to take it above that yet. It is the closest I think I can get without a lab test but I am open to more accurate ways.

So my max is 188 to the best of my knowledge.

There seems to be several ways to generate zones from this which all give slightly different results. I'm not sure which is the most reliable, but I decided to use Strava's for now and just replaced the standard max number in the settings so I go off that.

Garmins standard zones where way lower for some reason?

Either way whichever zone method I choose to use, Zone 2 seems very tricky to stay in.

So I am very interested to know if I should be perservering with the slow runs which keep me in that zone, and if I should solely be doing these slow runs for a number of months until my pace becomes a bit higher while still staying in Zone 2?

Many thanks

Ged
 

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Check that you have manually entered your max in Strava, otherwise it uses the formula 220-age, which can be plus minus 20. Secondly, I personally am not a Maffetone fan. I prefer to run on the 80/20 principle, which has its own books ;) which eliminates the middle ground in training. 80% training easy, 20% hard. Depending on what you look at the zone 2 for easy is in the 70s%. Yes, it is surprisingly slow to run easy. I tend to end up at around 77% of max unless I really keep an eye on my max, which is ok but a little fast maybe for an easy run. Even little hills can end up in low 80s. For reference, I run marathons on a slope from 81% to 89%, long intervals around 89%, shorter intervals probably 93 to 95%, halves slightly over threshold into 90s. 5 km averaging probably 95 or 96%. That is after several years of running. So yes, do the zone 2 so long as you are sure where it is, but mix in a little hard work and save your energy for those occasions by trying to eliminate the stuff in the middle.
 

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Thanks again for the reply Steve, so you mean your heart rate is 95% of max heart rate on 5k's?

Thanks for the reference heart rate % it means I can compare to mine and see if I'm going too high now on those ones.

Oooh I will look at the 80/20 principle. So much to learn for things like this!

In Strava I had already updated my max (looks like I actually put it in as 190) and gives my zone 2 as 123 - 153. It's just so hard to know which is correct as my Garmin zones are so diffierent! And seem to be different on every calculator I have found so far.

Am i correct in thinking there is no universal methodolgy for determining what zone 2 is?

I think judging by your answer though that it is ok to run slow a few days a week but then fast on others in the same week without ruining the gains you made on the slow runs?

I can't remember where I read it, but I think it suggested that you cannot build your aerobic (Zone 2) capacity while also doing fast runs so you have to dedicate several months of just Zone 2. Maybe that was the Maffetone stuff.

I think that's what I am worried about, basically dedicating time to slow runs without getting the benefit.

I don't have lots of free time and so I want to make sure I am hitting the right areas when I can to get the most benefit.

Thanks again for your help so far.
 

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Have you set your Heart Rate in Garmin Connect?

If you view Garmin Connect on a browser on a PC, then click on the watch icon and select Device Settings. You should be able to create Heart Rate zones based on % of LT. The Heart Rate zones will now work on your Lactate Threshold set by your Garmin, and when you improve, the zones will change as well.

For example:
My Lactate Threshold is set at 160bpm
  • Zone 1 is 65% to 80%
  • Zone 2 is 80% to 89%
  • Zone 3 is 89% to 95%
  • Zone 4 is 95% to 100%
  • Zone 5 is 100% to 114%
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi Graham, thanks for the reply.

I have the Forerunner 45, which unfortunately does not include this feature. I based my Garmin one on Heart rate reserve eventually, as the standard one based on only my max was even more different from Stravas. Is there anyway to work out my lactate threshold manually?

So far I have found it very very difficult to get a concrete idea of what the easy Zone is to be honest.

I completely get now that it is slower than I initially expected which was a surprise when I first started looking into this, but there is so much variance between apps and websites I'm not sure which to use to get the most benefit.

I have attached a range of heart rate zones based on my Max heart rate and sometimes Heart rate reserve to show how much it can vary depending on what site / app you choose to use.

I'm not sure as I am fairly new to this what is the most respected / established method.

I have also found that Zones and descriptions for zones seem to be used interchangably i.e. Easy zone is 1,2 or 3 depending on source

Garmin's zone descriptions are also very confusing, Zone 2 is called the easy Zone, but Zone 3 is called the aerobic zone and goes on to describe this zone as for easy running o_O

So far, I've just kind of stuck with trying to keep it below 150 on my easy runs. Which is very challenging to say the least :)

The main reason I started looking into zones is I noticed my heart rate was much higher than others I know on Strava, so I thought I would see why.

Thanks!
 

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Not only are the formulas in accurate, but also the numbers change depending upon all sorts of things like the temperature outside and even I think how long you’ve been running.
There are books on it
 

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This is a tricky topic because there are so many different ways of looking at it. Some people go based on heart rate, while others go based on conversational pace. If you can make full sentences while you run, or only need like one of two breaths in longer sentences, you are doing okay. Even if you run alone, try to make sentences to test it. Heart rate training is definitely not ideal.

Also, let's assume that you are training specifically for a 5km run, you should be doing more km's than 25 at your current pace level. I would increase your mileage at low increments (around 3km per week), getting you up to 40-50km per week. It is also important to do a long run per week at some point as well. If you are doing 5x5km runs for your 25km, a long run would be 8-10km, and once you get up to 40-50km, the long run would increase to 15-20km. As for tempo runs, start small. Since you run at a 4:53/km pace, your tempo run should be around 5:00-5:05/km. I would start with maybe 3km tempos (plus a warmup+stretch+cooldown), and work up to 8km as your mileage increases.

Tomorrow morning (Thursday, July 23 - by the time you read this it will likely already be up) I am actually releasing a video on the 8 benefits of building your aerobic base, and this weekend I will be releasing part 2 of the video which deals with exactly how you can build up your aerobic base in a smart manner. If you are interested, please check out my youtube channel, and maybe even subscribe for future helpful videos.


Hope this all helps!
Matthew Twomey
 

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Thanks Phil and Matthew!

Matthew, I don't think the specific aerobic base one is up yet but I have suscribed and look forward to seeing it when it is!

Your pace's for all your runs you mentioned in the intro video are amazing, your marathon pace is currently similar to what I can probably do all out for about 2km!

For some more context for my overall fitness, I played footy until I was 18, then did almost nothing apart from the odd kickabout until January this year when I started couch to 5k. I'm 33 now :oops:

So I have a lot of making up to do!

For the heart rate stuff, I think due to how much the calulators and apps vary, I'm just going to go by the conversational pace thing for the time being and try and ignore my heart rate until I have read up a bit more about it.

I think you are probably right regarding increasing my mileage. For the past 6 weeks or so I have been using the garmin coach feature on my watch, and given it a time goal for a 5K of 22:30 by end of September I think (server currently down so can't check)

It gives me 4 days of runs, but so far they have mostly been easy runs, with the odd interval or time trial thrown in. I am surprised so far at how light it has been on intensity and distance, but I'm guessing this will increase as I get closer to my 'race day'

Right now i'm sure I haven't got any faster though but I'm almost halfway through so i'll give it the benefit of the doubt and see what happens. I would be delighted if I could get towards 22:30.

Sunday's it gives me long runs usually but never over 1 hr so far including warm up and cool down so impossible for me to do over 10k within the current constraints of the garmin coach training plan. But after I have finished I certainly will try!

For the easy runs it gives a goal pace of between 5:25 and 6:03, which I can do easily but If I do it towards 5:25 my heart rate is very high by the end, which is kind of what lead me to looking at heart rates initially after comapring to other peoples heart rates after their easy runs.

Interestingly I have since found some training pace calculators, I'm not sure how much people read into them but it seems to tie in with what I do find kind of easy on my easy runs.

Makes me feel better for having to go as slow as I do.

Would people generally train at the goal PB values, or current PB values? Or are calculators in general not up to much?

Thanks again all for your advice!
 

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