HRM training - Don Fink

Having read Don Fink's "Iron Fit" I have adopted his advice on training with an HRM and staying in zone 2 for the bulk of my runs.

I'm struggling with zone's slaying my normal pace - I can cope with this as I have read about the long term advantages, but the worst thing is that I almost have to walk up larger hills simply to avoid going out of zone 2.

I know my max BPM having tested recently, my zones are bang on - but the book fails to mention how rapidly a reasonably fit person should gain speed within z2 to allow them to stay in the zone and run up hills and at a decent pace.....I'm getting frustrated already and need to be told to stick at it!



  • I'd not worry about going out of your zone for hills - thats pretty much unavoidable. Lets face it - your HR will be lower than that coming down the hill ? 

    By all means try and stick to your base training, but you dont need to abide by it 100%.

  • I try to do it for a coule of months.It's tough, real 'leave your ego at the door' stuff. But you will improve.

    And I DO have to walk up hills when first starting out. Just looking at a hill can be enough it feels! But it does get better, promise.

  • Thank you for the responses all of you.

    I'm going to stick with it and get a little less flustered about keeping rigidly in the zone on hills - "ego at the door" is exactly right.

  • I'm struggling with the same issue, but i'm fairly sure there is a part in the book where Fink says that in a race you will unavoidably fluctuate from mainly aerobic work to mainly anaeorobic for short periods of time (eg: up a hill like you say).  If I'm in zone 2 for at least the majority (circa 80%) of the run I think i've done ok!

  • H0NKH0NK ✭✭✭

    Ive been trying to train to the maffetone formula (180 - age) on and off for a couple of years now, this is lower for me than Finks zone 2.

    for running outside I found it too frustrating to try and stay below on the hills and stopped wearing my heart rate monitor but for the last few months Ive been staying at a Hotel with a Gym during the week and returned to it, I'm now running about 1.5 mph faster on the treadmill for the same heart rate so feel i'm making progress. I now find training indoors at the Maf heart rate quite a hard effort especaiily on the bike. 

    I still allow my heart rate to go up when training outdoors on the hills but it does tend to stay within the Fink zone 2 range now. (based on age calculation rather than a measured maximum heart rate)

    The big advantage for me of training at such a low heart rate is it allowed me to build up distance fairly quickly without injury, and i feel great on it.

    When my Fink training starts proper in December i will do a max heart rate test and attempt to train to his zones.


  • If you do a max heart rate test by, say, running up a hill really hard ... how do you know your rate is at its max? I would be thinking that its max effort, and that actually, my max effort isn't perhaps as hard as my heart might be able to manage.

    I often wonder if I'm not trying hard enough ... isn't your max in your head more than in your heart?

  • Z2 worked for me, my max HR is 190, but occasionally it does go over up to 208 so either I didn't max out when I did the test or I have got fitter, I don't know.
  • Unless I misread, my understanding is that your max hr should not go up as you get fitter and is not in any way a measure of your fitness.

  • No idea really just reading the monitor. :-/
  • H0NKH0NK ✭✭✭

    my understanding is like Khanivore your max rate should not go up as you get fitter. however being more active is likely to slow the rate at which your max heart rate drops  ie less than 1 per year.

    Razor if your measurements of 208 are accurate then that will be your max heart rate (or maybe higher) not 190.

  • It seems the more training I've done the more I can push my HR up to around 208 so maybe I didn't push myself hard enough when I measured it the first timeimage
  • + 1 for MAF / phil mafeton based heart rate caps for running for IM training.

    I started running  regularly 8 years ago.  For the first 4-5, my hr would hit 155 within the first minute, and I would run 5-10k at hr 155 - 165.  I thought I was fit as I was pooped at the end.

    3-4 years ago, IM training started, and I started building a long run from an hour up to 2.5 hrs - at a hr of 135, (per friel / gordo / zone 2 based on a functional threashold hr (aka hard 30 min run ) of 160.  As a result, my HR for a normal 5-10 k training run plumeted to 140-145.  My running partner's garmin HR warning used to go off on an uphill section, and my hr was 145...!!!! wtf?  I had been running with him for the last 5 years.....  my hr fell, his had not......

    so for the last 2 years I have had a MAF HR cap of 143 for all runs - When my daily 45 min runs started off, I was bumping this constantly.  4 months later, (5 runs a week) I really had to concentrate / push to hit 143, and a interval session of MAF -5 / +5 was hard / very hard.   I ended up with 7 min miling at MAF.

    (Every 2 months I do a MAF test - run 5 miles at MAF hr - 143 for me) and see what your mile times are - they will degrade when you start despite the constant HR. When you are really fit, your speed will have increased at the MAF HR, and you will no longer degrade your mins/mile.

    Oh the last thing......

    its an IM  you are training for...... You have just done 5.5 - 7.5 hrs on the bike, and your legs are knackered.   

    How hard / high a HR can you push in an IM marathon.  You will not be doing a tempo workout!
    IM regensburg - I ran a 3.45ish.  the first 2 hours I was at a HR of 150 and all was good, then it got really hard, and my HR (and speed) fell, down to 140.  I just could not go any faster as the legs were so screwed, they could not make the hr rise any more.....

    IM Lanza - I ran 3:49, just ran easy at 140-143 the whole way.  The last 5k was tough but speed did not really suffer....

    If you are less fit, then the bike will have taken more out of you, and your legs (and heart) will be in an even worse state.  Its then all about efficiency

  • OrangeCannon fantastic post! I am not brave enough to go for heart rate training before my first marathon in April. I am going to run a regular training plan to get me there. However as soon as it is done I will shift straight on to HADD or I will follow the book I bought, A Compleat Idiots Guide to HR Training.

  • This is all a bit technical for me - MAF? Is the take home message from this OC that if you put the time in at Z2 early on you'll end up getting quicker for longer?

  • H0NKH0NK ✭✭✭

    basically yes, low heartrate base training for a period is the way to go.

    Although using the Phil Maffetone recomended max heart rate (180 - age, with a variation according to fitness/previous training) will probably be at the lower end of your zone 2 or maybe Zone 1 for cycling. also he recomends that while base training you never exceed that heart rate which is pretty hard / frustrating to do.

    Orangecannons post makes good sense though and gives me something to think about between now and whenever the Fink plan starts for me in December.

  • Br....

    If you are im training then the mesaage is do your run training at z2.

    Thats the most specific zone for an im marathon.

    If you are marathon training, it diffrrent as you can go a lot harder for 3-5 hrs

    Oh, MAF if the phil mefetone hr cap, based on 180- age +- x bpm for history etc. my coach uses it for all his agegroupers and it works well.

    Gordo byrne (endurance corner), joe friel and even don fink all also use z2 runs. some chuck one tempo workout in there a week with the aim of pushing speed / fitness like intrrval training. its a good idea, just dont do too much of it

    I ended up with an interval session once a week.

    Oh and the odd 5k park run is also nice to do occaisionally for a blow out/ change of pace.
  • are your zones right? If you read Friel's book he bases them on LTHR - which makes more sense IMHO for the sort of stuff we are trying to do.

    Friel refers to extensive and intensive Zone 2 sessions. You are doing the former. The latter will have about 1/3 of the entire session in zone you are probably doing you are probably doing right!

    do a flat out 5k and press the lap button half way around. The avHR for the second half is probably somewhere near your LTHR.



    Better 5k, Duathlon and Triathlon


    Goals: 82% Age Graded 5k and an open water Triathlon.

  • O.rangeCannon,

    Have you ever used MAF principles for cycle training?

    I'm already a believer in it for run training but I never considered it for cycling, I'm actually embarked on a winter of FTP raising workouts which are not in the least Z2 image But your post got me considering the best way to train the bike hence the question.
  • @theevilpixie...your zones are wrong then !! if you are young your HRmax could easily be 220.

    mine was over 200 in my 30s

    this is nothing to shout about as HRmax is NOT a measure of fitness...for that look at HRmin / HRrest

    for FTP based training the most effective 1 hour session i think is at 85% of FTP for 2x20 mins HOWEVER you need to do that on an existing endurance base. Obviously just doing zone 2 work won't help shorter faster distances

  • Good discussion here. Thanks to everyone for contributing thoughts. Never heard of Maffetone before reading this and am now going to readjust my HR training. Previously I thought my zone 2 was upto about 153 (I'm 40 yrs old) and was running upto that threshold. Readin maffetone it seems that I should be running at 140! Going to try it on my next run on Friday - suspect I'll be doing a lot of walking!
  • Crux

    I started IM training using gordo / friel principles to work out my zones, and a oly distance tri bike section with a avg hr of 160. thia gave me a bottom z2 of 129.

    So i started riding at that.... Easy for an hour, pretty tough after 4.

    I am now riding at 135-145.

    However i have bwen riding for 20 years and i find my legs explode before my heart......

    Gordo byrn (search for gordo tips) has lots of ramblings on this - ill find a link

    4 pillars and the stuff on coaching notes on how to train /coach athletes is interesting

    All this is now in enduramce corner as well but i like the early stuff he wrote as well
  • O.rangeCannon - Extravalanza-ing wrote (see)

    I owe you an e-mail. Work has been hectic last month or so, will drop you a line this week. image

  • ....what have I started!?

    Some cracking thoughts in here. Thanks to all of you. I'm going to review the MAF side of things as well. I also need to sort out my goals - IM is one, going sub 3 on a marathon is another and I just don't think the two will mix well in any one year.

    Like others have said, Max HR is a bit of a silly boast - mine has been 210, but I also hit problems after beasting a 10k a few years back and was at 244bpm for long enough that I was rigged up to a cardiogram (?) and it veryfied the 244bpm - a complete freak incident, but it would make my z2 interesting if I went of that!

    I'm working off a recently tested 190 under Fink, but suspect I may have to go lower under MAF...that's walking pace which is soul destroying!

  • OK... call me thick if you like... 

    Not specifically Don Fink but......  I can see an argument for running very slowly, staying out of the aerobic zone, for long periods.  It means you can run further on your long runs and builds up your base endurance.

    But if, on a Saturday morning, I have only 2 hours availabIe...  or perhaps have a plan to run a fixed 20 miles then, if I'm fit enough, is not better to run this in the aerobic zone...  say 75% WHR, rather than 20 miles at 65%?  Surely this works on both endurance and cardiovascular efficiency.

    If I've got it wrong - just tell me without long explanations... I'll just go back and do some more reading.

Sign In or Register to comment.