Heart Rate Zone 2 Primer – Part One

This is Part One of a Three Part Series on Zone 2 Heart Rate Training

I belong to a really great Facebook group call Vinnie Tortorich‘s No Sugar No Grains.  There are always some great discussion and the latest one was on Zone 2 Heart Rate training.  Personally, it’s a subject that I’m very interested in since I feel that a lot of runners run to fast on their slow days, and they don’t run fast enough on their fast days.  What that means is that the runners are always running around the same speed.  Don’t get me wrong, they may make some progress (especially those that are new to running), but that progress will come to a halt pretty quick.

Let me start out my saying that I’m not an expert.  I don’t have an Exercise and Psychology, or even any certifications.  And what I’m going to say is not anything that’s earth shattering or new and improved.  I will regurgitate what I have read from people that I follow, and I will also post one of my training plans.  This training plan is a 16 week training plan that I did for a half marathon that really focuses on Zone 2 Heart Rate training.  And I will also start out by telling you how I figured out my Zone 2.

I use the Maffetone method for determining my Zone 2 heart rate.  To do this you take 180 and subtract your age.  This gives you your maximum heart rate for training.  Your range is 10 beats below that number to that maximum heart rate.  Here’s an example on how to determine your Zone 2.  Let’s say my age is 40.  180 – 40 =140.  So 140 would be my maximum heart rate for training.  My range would be 130 – 140 beats per minute in order to build my aerobic base.

Now, according to Dr. Maffetone there are some exceptions to this.  For example, if you are a well seasoned athlete and have not had an injuries in the last few years, then you could add 5 beats per minute to that range.  Using the same example in the last paragraph, the range for this well seasoned, non-injured athlete would be 135 – 145.

Also, according to Dr. Maffetone if you have been recently injured (within the past year), then you would want to subtract 5 beats per minute.  Again using the example from 2 paragraphs ago, the range for this individual would be 125 – 135 beats per minute.

I had knee surgery about 18 months ago, so I’m doing my range which is 120 – 130.  I will tell you that when I first started my Zone 2 training that it was miserably slow.  In fact, I had to do a lot of walking to keep my heart rate in my range.  It was very frustrating and I hated the idea of “walking” during my running session.  But this made me realize that my aerobic base was terrible.  Why am I telling you this?  I’m letting you know this because you may have the same thing happen.  You may start out in your range, run a few steps and then be out of your range and have to walk.  Don’t be discouraged … It will get better.  I promise.  In fact, in the next paragraph I will show you my progress.

In my very first MAF test, I ran for 5 miles.  This was the time per mile: 15:47, 16:36, 17:25, 17:26, 17:43.  So that means that my average pace per mile was: 16:59.  Remember that I said it was slow and that I had to walk?  Well, there was a lot of walking and I was very frustrated.  But I was determined to focus on building my aerobic base.  So, after 8 weeks I tested again.  And this was my time per mile: 13:07, 13:24, 13:27, 13:44, 13:52.  So that means that my average pace per mile was: 13:30.  So that means that in a period of 8 weeks I was able to reduce my time by 3:29 per mile.  That means that I was able to increase my aerobic base.  After that last test, I started a 10 week program to build up to my next race.  But I did a good solid 8 week program.

Now I supposed you are wondering how did all of that translate into a race situation?  Like I said, I’ve been coming back from a knee injury, so it’s been a long road back.  But I have been feeling much better and have been able to train a lot harder.  So the race before I started my aerobic build, my finish time was 3:13:08 for a half marathon.  After working on my aerobic base for 8 weeks and then doing a 10 week build, my finish time for a half marathon was 2:38:56.  That means that I was able to take over 19 minutes off my time!  That’s not to shabby and I’m looking forward to starting my next aerobic build.  But I plan on doing my Zone 2 Heart Rate training for a little longer so that I can report on my next A race in December.

In Part Two of this Three Part Series I will go over the MAF Test since this is critical so that you can see your progress as you build your aerobic base.  Face it, if you don’t see any improvement you won’t keep it up.

~ by Greg Vick on July 17, 2013.

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