Heart rate training

Hi all,

As previously mentioned in another post, I have the delight of training in very hot and humid conditions, so I’m thinking I need to bin off pace and focus on training in certain HR zones, to get the best benefit and actually keep going longer than 30 mins!

To that end, I’m a little at a loss as to which zone to target. I’m a new runner and just wanting to build my ‘fitness’ and endurance. I’m 42 and saw a measured HR of 185 during a CrossFit workout recently, so assuming my max is somewhere around 190. Resting is now somewhere between 55-60.

Ive been aiming for zone 3, based on Max HR, so 133-152 for my goals, but have since read that there are better ways to target (use of threshold for example) but not sure exactly where to start there.. One method told me to subtract my age from 180 and keep below that - meant an upper limit of 138, so basically walking in this heat!

also, I’m occasionally doing a steady state session on an indoor spin bike - should I just hit the same HR zone to improve my fitness or does it change massively on a bike?

Thanks in advance!


  • Hi DN,
    I'm very new to this also, still at the jogging phase, but HR training is something I've been looking at. The rate you define 180-age I think is the Maff formula where you take that figure for me its 180-55 125, I subtract another 10 beats to give me 115 this is then my upper limit, so 105 to 115 is my Maff target HR, this burns mainly fat calories so its aerobic training to give a good base, but I try to do 80/20 with 80 % zone 2 and 20% tempo zone 4/5 of my training but have extended mileage for 80% aerobic to 1 1/2 -2 hour sessions with 20% anaerobic to just over an hour sessions, just been out and done just over 6 miles in zone 4/5 in 1:06 mins - so still very slow compared to others but as said, have only just started the jogging phase so need to work up but aerobic pace is 15.50 pace/mile with walking/jogging  in zone 2 and anaerobic pace for me is 11.50 pace/mile in zone 4/5.

    I think as my heart becomes better conditioned, the pace should increase but the HR will lower according to what I've read but zone 2 for me is very slow with many walking bits especially up hills for me at the moment .

    Initially I started for weight loss and have done very well losing 4 stone but will continue for better fitness now.

    I think the lower the HR zone, the better aerobic so even Zone 1 will benefit for recovery cool down, but I think you burn more overall calories at a higher intensity Zone 4/5 but burn more carbs than fat at this level.

    I think that's about it, I think you need to swap and change zones each work out to get an overall work out but its better for me to build a good base fitness as just starting out for a few months then maybe add another zone 4/5 session per week later.
    Good luck and regards Paul.
  • Hi dn12345,
    I think your spot on reducing intensity over the summer, keeping an eye on HR is a good way to do this. Knowing what your Max HR is somewhat important to determine what exactly your personal 'easy' pace is though. Just be mindful if using a wrist based HR sensor - they aren't perfect and often give crazy high, or low readings. Going off 190 seems reasonable though, and keeping most runs under 150 sounds good to me.

    When I started (and sometimes still now to be honest!) I didn't really walk at all, just stopped for a minute or so as and when. For example I used to run a mile, stop and stretch a little, then carry on for another 2-3 miles. Over time just try and reduce the stops, walking would work too though, really doesn't matter.

    I wouldn't worry about zones, threshold runs or intervals just yet either, just run easy, run somewhere hilly. Maybe once or twice a week 'give it some', progressive runs are also great - start nice and slow and aim to finish fast. I also think a frequent test/time trial are good to gauge fitness, I used to use parkruns every couple of weeks and certainly at the beginning its nice to see the improvements, gets harder after a while though!.
  • Thanks for the replies guys! 

    Yeah, I’ve decided to give Maffetone a go, so am sitting at 128-138 for all runs at the moment - clocked a 12:30 min mile this morning, which was depressing! That said, it will help me build my base and then, after a few weeks, I’ll head down the 80/20 route, so 1 a week where I go for it (should also coincide with the end of the Middle Eastern  summer!)
  • Hi dn,
    Nice 1, I'm still very slow on the Maff formula just done 7 mile in 2 hours so still painfully slow but kept my HR average at 112 with my Maff HR at 105 -115 so nicely in the middle, but yes I do 3 days at low HR Zone 2 and 1 day at tempo Zone 4/5 then repeat the 3 days at Zone 2.
    Take care and enjoy the running my zone 2 pace is over 15 min/mile but gradually got my tempo pace to around 11:30 min/mile so I will continue at this schedule until my pace stops increasing and then try something else I think.
  • That’s really good that you’re seeing some improvement in pace :) I think I’ll do that; do away with the standard weekly template and just do 3 MAF runs then a quicker one. From what I’ve read, he says absolutely no anaerobic Training should take place whilst building a base, but I’m into my strength training so will continue to do that - it never raises heart rate out of aerobic zone, so I think that’s ok?!
  • Is it the norm with heart rate training for the pace to tail off?

    i/e set watch to train in Zone 4, obviously starts quick but as the distance increases the hear rater stays in that zone but pace slowly decreases?
  • Hi Jez,
    yes think so as you get through your run, you begin to tire, but as the training has gone on, I feel it getting harder to get into Zone 5 for short bursts, so think I must be getting a little fitter than I was when I first started the Jogging cause need to really increase the effort to hit Zone 5 and now just hit it when climbing/jogging  uphill but mostly do 3 easy/1 hard days now so Zone 2 for 3 days, then moderate/hard Zone 3, 4 and 5 for 1 day, the weightloss is now steady at 4 1/2 stone so very happy where my Jogging is at the moment and try to ease into each day as not to get any injuries especially now I'm 55 so worry about injuries but feeling a lot slimmer/fitter than I have ever been and not having to go out and bury myself, just nice and steady as she goes!!!
  • So its worth doing 1 or 2 runs a week in zone /2/3 even though it'll feel quite slow?
  • Hi Jez,
    Yes I think so, I do 3 easy zone 2/ days around 1 hour 30 mins and 1 day at zone 3/4 and a little effort in zone 5, so 3 easy days followed by 1 hard day of around 45 mins, so shorter but higher intensity think that's how to spread the load , been looking at 80/20 running with 80% low intensity and 20% moderate/high intensity, think I'll keep at it, but the weight loss has come to a halt now but seem to be putting enough effort in, but at my age it's jogging rather than running but it's still doing me good and the low HR training is very beneficial at keeping the injuries away.
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