Intervals: HR zone or pace


Sorry if this has been covered before..

Training for a sub 40 10K.

Ive never measured myself over this distance so don't have a current PB, although I ran 1:28 for the Milton Keynes 1/2 in february.


Is it better to run intervals according to heart rate zone, or pace.

I've jst come back from a session where i set a target pace of 6:00 - 6:15 for each 1000m:

warmed up

5x1000m intervals with 60 sec recovery

Looking at the data I comfortably made my target pace - each interval was 6:04 on average

But my heart rate was 176, which is around 82% of my max.

Should I be aiming to get my HR up to 85-90% for the 1000m, rather than setting a particular pace to run by (although this will inevitably increase my pace for the interval i expect)


Thanks for any help.



  • You have a very high max heart rate.  How did you test it?

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    Intervals are too short a distance for effectively using HR, you're much better off running to pace, based on your race times.  Once you start getting into continuous tempo runs, you can use HR to gauge effort compared to 5k, 10k, threshold, etc. but it'll probably take a mile or so before it starts levelling out.

    That aside, forget HR formulas.  If you've registered 204 twice and regularly go over 190 during interval training, then the 204 looks like a true reading and your max is probably just a lot higher than average (i.e. at least 204!)  My max observed HR is 201 and I'll get into the 190s for intervals as well.

  • +1 with Phil - go with the pace.

    You know what pace you need to run Sub 40 - so you know your intervals need to be faster than that pace to push you.

    HR is tricksier.
  • Well there are your sensible answers. 

    My second comment is: Go for sub 39.  I reckon you've got it in you.

  • Agree with Lou. My HM PB is 1:28:09 and my 10K PB is 39:22 with no special 10K training, all marathon work so I'm sure sub 39 would be doable for you if you concentrated on the distance.

  • I do my intervals based on the pacing predictions provided by the Daniels running formula. Everything based on VDOT. Its worth buying the book.

    But like a few others have said, looking at your workout I think you can smash 39 mins. Don't undersell yourself. Why not start at 6:10 miles and see how it goes on race day?

  • We at wanted to make heart-rate zone training easy. We think heart-rate zone training is a much better way to train than by pace. 

    Click on this one to see why: 

    Click on this one to learn how to work out your zones properly:

  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    Go with pace, but based on your original post you should pick a slightly faster pace next time, e.g. 6:00 or maybe even 5:55.

    I do intervals based on pace, and follow the two basic principles:

    1. Pace should be consistent over all intervals

    2. You should be struggling to maintain that pace on the last interval

    If your pace is inconsistent (i.e start fast and then slow down) then your pace is too fast.  If you complete the last interval "comfortably" then you're pace is too slow as intervals should hurt.


  • How fit do need to be to test my max heart? I'm recovering from a bad ITB problem I developed training for the Kielder marathon. It was my first and i did it in 3hr 56mins54sec so while not exactly Kenyan, I was fitter than the average bear I work with! I'm only back to a few miles though and have had tonsillitis four times since Christmas. Basically, I don't want to end up flat on my back with a knackered leg and wrecked throat.
  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    George, I wouldn't do it if you're at all ill or have injury worries, but then I wouldn't do any intense interval training then either.  A max HR test won't kill you but you do need to feel comfortable that you can push yourself as hard as possible.

  • Cheers Phil. Think I'll wait until I've been injury and illness free for a good couple of months. Thinking of joining a club to void some of the mistakes I've made since I started running three years ago...
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