Heart Rate Training and Speed

Yesterday I completed a metabolic test to set my heart rate zones to improve efficiency and training. I last completed this about 6 or 7 years ago and after only a short time gave up on heart rate training but this time be different. I need (okay want) to get faster and feel this combined with my new strength training is the best way to do it.

The Test

Everything I needed to start (+ a treadmill)

There were a few requirements I needed to work with:
  • no strenuous exercise the day before (easy Tuesday run)
  • no alcohol the day before
  • no coffee that morning (cheated a little on this)
  • eat a small meal
  • not be sick (finally feeling better)
We started with a short walking warm up and progressed to my comfortable run pace (7 mph) at no incline and based on exertion and physiologic factors increased speed and incline to push me with a max at 7.5 mph at 6.0 incline. This was followed by a short walking cool down to return my heart rate to baseline.

The Results
Confirmed what I already knew, I have a pace I can run forever and my medium and fast pace are not much different. So why is this? Well I think some is mental, I hit what is tough and really working and I back down instead of pushing harder and longer. And my VO2 peak is much better while running (46) then cycling (32 in March 2011).
  • Zone 1: 140-149
  • Zone 2: 150-154
  • Zone 3: 155-159
  • Zone 4: 160-169
  • Zone 5: 170-180
The Plan
I found This Article on improving performance in runners. It seems to go along with what we have planned for workouts.
  • Long Runs with intervals in Zone 2 and Zone 3 with about 1/2 running in Zone 1
  • Active Recovery Runs in Zone 1
  • Speed Runs with intervals in Zone 4 and pushing myself more
 I need to get back in the habit of wearing a heart rate monitor and staying in the right zones to reteach my body how to run more efficiently and utilize energy better to allow me to run faster for longer periods.

It will be interesting how this works out as I head into what I hope is a better racing season. My goal is a 1:30 half on September 1st. This was perfect timing as this morning at Boot Camp we were all asked to talk about our accomplishments over the past 6 months and goals. The goals were easy but accomplishments tough, after such a great racing year in 2010-2011 I have struggled with injuries and coming back and feel I haven't accomplished much. I am feeling stronger and ready to make my move so watch out!

Heart Rate Calculator


  1. Interesting. I have a heart rate monitor but have never used it. Good luck on your 1:30 half, that's really fast:)

    1. I actually have a couple HR monitors and total have used them probably less then 5 times! I figure why not give this a try, it seems very logical that it works.

  2. That's really interesting. Thanks for sharing. I have a heart rate monitor but honestly I don't ever remember to use it.

    1. Using a HR monitor is just one more piece to remember when heading out to run, I think once I get in the routine it will just become normal like grabbng shoes :-)

  3. Here is my experience with HRM training:
    I believe that using it is a great way to help with building aerobic endurance. I have never used HRM for running, but I started using it for bike training last year (but then I started riding with a biking buddy and all my good intentions went out the window. I need to dump him and start training solo again.)
    I do not think that it is useful when doing intervals though. There I stick to paces/watts.

    Also, I have used HRM for 4-5 months for bike training and I have seen a very little improvement (improvement meaning lower HR at given watts). It seems to me that it takes quite some time to see the benefits. Especially for someone like me, who has always trained to develop speed not endurance, and therefore I am like a humming bird. I can hold 175+ bpm for 3hours on a bike no problem, but of course it would be better if I were at 150 bpm for the same effort, which is what I am trying to achieve by using HRM. And I have a loooong way to go. It might take me 2-3 years to get there...
    Therefore do not be discouraged if you do not see improvements quickly or if HR training does not help you this season, fall seems too early to see any real benefits.
    But of course you have better aerobic capacity than I do with all your long-distance training in the past few years.

    1. Thanks for the input and good advice. I will need to remember this if I get frustrated with not seeing fast results.


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