Am I training too slow?

Hi all,

been on my current schedule for a few weeks now, gradually upping my time/mileage and a bit concerned I’m going too easy as my pace, for a given HR, is not significantly improving.

I tend to run twice a week for around 1:00-1:20, aiming to keep my HR sub 150bpm (estimated aerobic threshold, based on lactate threshold treadmill test) and my pace maintains around 6:30-6:40 per KM. I also do a 2:00 run at this pace on a Sunday. For these runs I’m not out of breath, and barely break a sweat, so am now worried I could be training harder and getting more benefit. I once considered doing Maffetone training, but at my age (43) I’d be ‘running’ at 137 BPM, which would be impossible!<div>
</div><div>As an indication of my max HR, i recently
ran a 5km park run in 23:18 and my HR sat at around 180-185 for the entire run, so I’m wondering if my training HR zones should be higher than the 150 limit I have set?

I am using a garmin instinct with a garmin chest band, so happy with the accuracy of the HR.

any ideas/thoughts welcome, thanks!</div>


    Put your race times through a couple of calculators, such as RW's

    Runner's World's Training Pace Calculator (

    and McMillan's

    McMillan Running - The World's Best Running Calculator

    they will give you a good idea of suitable training paces.

    I would recommend that you race once a month, various distances.   Races are good speed sessions and also will give you good feedback that you're still improving so you'll then know that your training is doing what you want it to do.
  • Thanks Shades. So you would suggest I do my runs more based on pace rather than HR? Luke Humphrey Calc puts my long runs at 5:30-6:30 per KM, and ‘easy’ runs at 6:20-6:50, which is the kind of pace I’m achieving at the moment, I think I’ll experiment with doing my long Sunday run a little quicker and keep my 2 mid week sessions slow, especially as they are on the same day as heavy squat gym sessions.
    Experiment a bit and see how the advised paces are against the HR.   I would be inclined to do one of the shorter runs faster and stick to your existing pace for the long run.

    With the long run you could do two thirds at current HR pace and then increase pace for the last third.
  • That sounds like a good plan - for the long one I guess I don’t want to risk going to anaerobic and burning out early! I’ll try that tomorrow; at least I’ll be nicely warmed up after 1:20 of plodding, thanks.
    Good luck, will be interesting to see how you get on.
  • Didn’t go too much quicker today; ran the full 2 hrs at around 150-155 bpm, which felt good but still not out of breath and felt like I could have kept going all day, which is probably the point? I’m going to aim to run one of my midweek runs (1:20) at a comfortable pace but without looking at my HR, just to see how it goes 
    I know we've had discussions before re HR but I can't remember if you'd done an MHR test to calculate your zones?
  • I’ve not done a ‘proper’ test, so to speak. The most I’ve seen recently is 190, on a uphill sprint finish to a 5km, pushing a pram, so not sure if that’s decent indication. My RHR is 55-60, so I put my HR reserve at 130. From that I got 70% to be 151, so had been using that as my ‘’ max aerobic’. Very happy to be re-educated though as there is considerable semi-conflicting info out there!
    Well I would suggest you do a test, they're not pleasant so when you do your next race, a parkrun is fine go for hell at the finish. 

    I train to % MHR.   Using your figures with a max of 195, just adding on a few beats as you probably didn't feel like throwing up  ;) 70-75% would be 137-146 so you're maybe doing your long run at circa 80% MHR.

    But there are many different training methods even using an HRM, so it's just a matter of finding what you like and suits you.   IMHO training at a lower HR would improve your fitness more, Maffetone is the simplest method, but you would have to go through the initial stages of being very, very patient.    There's a couple of runners on my training thread and their MAF training pace is now around 2 minutes a mile faster than when they started and they were already runners when they started.
  • First of all, what follows is just my opinion, that's all. Feel free to disagree, but politely please. I'm not a professional coach, but I know quite a few who are, and my son has trained with a couple of very good coaches that have the results to prove. Anyway, a lot depends on what you're training for. If you're marathon training then you need lots of slow miles at low HR and for extended periods (long runs), but my personal opinion is that it will do very little to improve your 5K or 10K times (if that's what you're after). Low HR training is probably good for training your body to burn fat, but that's only any good for marathons, if you want to run faster over shorter distances then you have to burn glucose, so fat burning low HR runs are simply 'dead miles' if you're training for 5k or 10K. It's not forcing any adaptations in your body for the required pace. If your max HR is 185 then training at 150 is, in my opinion, way too easy be be giving you any speed/endurance benefit. At my age my max HR is around 170 and I do my 'productive' miles at 150-160 (4:30/km) threshold pace. Easy 'chatty' jogs with my son I tend to run around 130-140bpm at around 5:15/km pace, but I treat those runs as 'social' not really training. I know this will be a contentious comment, but in my opinion, and that's all it is, all this low HR training is BS. It's the latest fad amongst internet 'coaches' who have to come up with something new to continue their 'trade'. Their idea being "train slow, race fast", which goes completely against the old adage that "to run faster you have to run faster". If you try to keep your HR to 120-130 or whatever, you won't actually be running. Your form will be completely wrong, it's inefficient and it trains your body bad habits. If you want to build an aerobic base by low HR training you'd probably be better off doing it on a bike in front of the telly, which is what I do as there's little or no injury risk. If you want to run faster then you have to get your body to adapt to the stresses of running faster, both muscular-skeletal and cardio-vascular. If you run slowly your body will only get better at running that pace for longer distances, not any faster. I have a friend who runs all his miles (around 1200 this year I think)) at low HR, but yet as soon as he tries to increase the pace he's straight up to max HR at exactly the same pace he was running a year ago. Basically his body hasn't adapted to running faster, so while he can keep pumping the miles out at a steady pace he still crashes and burns if he tries to up the pace.
  • Exactly the post I was looking for. Glad I joined.
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