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I'm not a big runner but do a few triathlons and biathlons every year and I notice that my running heart rate is darn near my max heart rate whenever I run. If I want to run in a Z2 or Z3 it's pretty much walking.

I usually only get about 12 weeks of training in before the events, and have usually just said screw it on the run, and peg the heart rate when I train since I'm only out for 10k's at most and can usually get that done in 45-50 mins. I usually run kind of unstructured 3 days a week when I'm working up to this.. mon/wed I'll do shorter 3-4 mile runs, and then on Sundays to the 10k's trying to get faster. I'm just wondering if I'd get more benefit from doing the Z2/Z3(aka walking/speed walking) or if the running distances are just so short that it doesn't matter that I'm in a Z5a/Z5b.

Thanks.
 

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HR zones vary from activity to activity. You'd probably be better off disregarding heart rate.

Arthur Lydiard had a great phrase for how you should feel at the end of your aerobic runs: pleasantly tired. If you are doing them correctly, you should feel that you could run twice as long at the same pace, if necessary.
 

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Benefit comes from how much you are willing to spend actually improving.

Your post seems to sound as if running isn't something you don't want to spend a whole lot of time on. In which case you are probably not running enough mileage to disable yourself with what you are doing...maybe.

I am an advocate of HR training, but over the long run...picking up something for a few months, HR training isn't very useful. By the time you would actually see sustained gains from proper training you would have already put away the running shoes.
 

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I had a similar problem until I found out more precisely what my HR zones were. (Metabolic Testing) When I started running in what was actually zone 1 and 2, it was like you, more of a walk/jog mix. Now after about 16 weeks of running by HR, I can actually run 6+ miles and stay in zone 2 the entire time, except really steep hills, but even then the HR comes down quickly.

I am not fast by any means but I have seen almost a 1-1.5 min/mile improvement at zone 2. You really have to WANT to train by HR and make an effort because it is way too easy to fall back into the old routine of running too hard.

Run more and in the right zone and you will see improvement.
 
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