Beginner Aerobic Base Question

Hello - apologies if this should be in the beginner forum.

I really started running on 1st January 2014, with the initial goal of a sub 20 5km, although now I have the running bug. When I started I couldn't run 2km without dying, and now I am running 12km in 53 minutes and at 20 miles per week. I am now aiming to run the Sydney City to Surf in sub 60 minutes (14km, in 5 months time).

My question is around my aerobic base. When I start running with my Garmin 405CX w/HR monitor, my heart rate within 30 seconds is ~155bpm. I understand that *my* aerobic training is zone is 145bpm. I really struggle to keep at 145bpm, often spiking to 151bpm/160bpm. Should I stop and walk to ensure that I get back into the zone? I am looking at continuing my aerobic base training for another 10 weeks, hopefully running for 5-7 hours per weeks in my aerobic training zone.

My current aerobic base speed is 10:30 miles, which I am also assuming will come down as my technique and aerobic base improves. I have had running lessons this year, and I do struggle to run with the form that I have been taught and stick


  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    people that know a lot more than will probably answer, but some are a little busy in London image or LSRing image

    building up a base of slow lots of slow miles should help to bring it down, if you are worried about it. Maybe run further in your long runs and start off a bit slower if you want to run in x zone, then going out basing it on time defeats the object of your Long runs.

    so errrr ummm if you are worried about heart zones set your watch to only show heart rate and run to that and ignore the time until your heart rate is where you want it to be.

  • that's what I've been doing - all it shows is the HR. I only look at the times when it syncs to Garmin Connect. It just feels like I'm wasting my time, because I get home and don't feel like I have done any exercise.

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    It works, look at things like the HADD thread that's all about building your aerobic base. image 

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    If it's so easy that you feel like you haven't done anything that's perfect. Indeed the HADD training thread is a good place to start. 

  • Apologies - one final question.

    Some mornings I only have time for a cheeky 30 mins - is there much point to this in terms building my base. Are the best results when grooving on longer runs?
  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    Good choice. I think the 'hadd' idea is to keep your heartrate down around 70% of max and build towards one hour (or better yet 10 miles) like that. ie dead flat heart rate and not having to slow your pace to keep it that way, plus you want to finish feeling like you could go again with the same result if a particularly sadistic coach told you to do so.

    You speed up a tad when you have mastered a pace like this, and/or see lower heartrate at that pace. Truth be told I'm still in this phase, trying to become a 50 mile/week runner without getting injured. I did take a break to focus on a marathon though.

    Later on one adds other key elements - lactate threshold running, speedwork etc. I dont think Hadd has a monopoly on this by the way.


  • Slow definitely works. That was the advice given to me when I started running properly in October. I was training for a half marathon (hastings) in march this year and went from nothing to running as much as I could (ignored the advice not to do that) at comfortable pace with no speed work at all. Including the race I covered exactly 500 miles and took my PB from 1.49 down to 1.35. At the end of many of the sessions I felt like I had done nothing at all. Probably could've done even better but got carried away and ran the first 3 miles at 6.30 pace!
  • Training like this took me in the last 6 months from someone who struggled to run 3 times a week without getting injured to someone who can run 50 mile weeks without getting injured.

    from personal experience:

    - ensure that you have the right HR calculation, this is really important.  If you are using a % of HR Max, ensure that you have your Max HR measured Properly.  The 220-age formula usually used is very inaccurate - for example I had mine measured in a lab on a treadmill (backed up by wearing a HRM for flat out 5 k races) and it is 193.  The standard formula says it should be 180 and if I were to set my HR zones on that basis I would have to walk! I read Phil Maffetones book and used his simple formula (google it) for aerobic base HR and it worked well.

    - it takes  time to show results training like this, and in my experience (backed up by some reading on the subject) volume makes a big difference.  Low volume meaning slow progression. I trained steadily going from 20-30-40 miles a week and I saw very slow progress until I started getting 30-40 miles and 5 runs a week after which my aerobic pace dropped from 10:30 to around 9:15 in about 3 months and my fitness rocketed.  Of course everyone is different, the key is to take it slow as if you ramp up volume too quickly you will just get injured and be back to square one.

    - results did not seem linear for me e.g I seemed to be making no improvement for 4-6 weeks and then suddenly I would be looking at my pace and thinking "wow, where dis that improvement come from?"

    - training this way made a huge difference to training for my second marathon, for my first I was always injured, I could really "feel" the base I had when I started training for my second and I was able to execute and recover from training much better.

    - getting home feeling like you have not done anything is how it should feel.  you should almost feel more refreshed than before you started.....


  • Thanks for the excellent replies.

    My aerobic range is approximately 145bpm. I just finished a 12km run with an average of 147bpm. Given that the 145 is approximate, I feel like this isn't a big deal - until I get properly tested?

    I have read that going above the aerobic range slips into "no mans land" where you don't really train either aerobic or anaerobic. My run generally ranges between 142-151bpm.

    After I determine my max aerobic range - assuming that it's 145bpm - just how bad would it be to average 147bpm. Would I be significantly better to train at, say, 142bpm - or would I perhaps only lose a little bit of the gains. I am struggling to find a response to this.


  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    jr2408 - on the Max HR can you tell me a bit about how the test went. Also when you look at your 5k race data, do you go by the highest spikes in your heart trace or (say) the highest HR you sustained for some period of time.

  • Long slow runs build base fitness and stamina.  There really are no short cuts.  I used to hate the slow run because it felt like I wasn't putting any effort in.  Then after a while, you notice a jump in distance/speed for the same time and perceived effort.

    Sometimes it's good to put the numbers aside and just run on how you feel.  We can all have bad days, where our HR's are all over the place, or the wind is in our faces.  It can be difficult to ignore the technology we have at our disposal these days, with GPS tracking and HRM's which can all be uploaded to a fancy ap that tells us that today we ran 0.3% better than yesterday.  Ron Hill didn't have all this at his disposal, and still mananged to break 2:10 for the marathon.

    I would be good to do an experiment where you stick your GPS/HRM on at the start of an LSR, switch it off at the end, then upload it without looking at/analysing the numbers.  You could do this over a 2 months or so of running progressively longer runs (no more than 10% distance increase per week) at level 5 or 6 (on a scale of 0 -10 perceived effort; 0 being sat on your bum doing nothing, 10 being max effort).  In fact this would make a good project for someone doing a sports science degree.

    The results would be interesting. 


  • Sjhuk - I am no expert on this but I would not sweat about a few beats either way.  Your HRM will not be completely precise and your HR has a natural variability anyway depending on temperature etc, just keep it there or thereabouts.

    Nayan - i had VO2 max, lactate threshold and max HR tested at the London metropolitan university.  The max HR was determined by a controlled exhaustion test on a treadmill, with the speed being steadily ramped up until you reach your limit.  I have read elsewhere that your HR at the end of a hard run 5k is close to your max HR and that seems to be the case for me assuming I "sprint" the finish.

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    I was thinking about going to london met For just that actually. Ive been relying on max hr tests I'd tried. However from some recent data it seems by max hr might be different to what I had been using.  

  • This is a great discusion. I understand the basics of base and HADD training but what I don't quite grasp is the next stage up.

    After establishing base, when we train for a race do we just put all these easy, low HR runs to one side and do the same mix of Speedwork/Tempos etc as we might have done anyway - or do some of the disciplines continue? Also what would happen if instead of including higher HR (anaerobic) runs in our training schedule leading up to a marathon we just stuck to low HR training - would that mean one would only be capable of running a marathon in the aerobic range?

    From what I can understand running a marathon at low HR/aerobic range makes more sense as we're burning fat rather than glycogen. Is this right?



  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    HADD's first stage takes as long as it takes and in his view isnt complete until you are running a good 50 miles a week like that. I suppose patience there is key since you want to build up the mileage gradually and give your joints and tendons etc a chance to keep up with your upgraded cardio system without breaking down

    The idea is that once you have completed that part of the puzzle, you then turn your atttention to improving the point at which lactate accumulates faster than you can clear / shuttle it to other muscles that can use it. Reason being that if that balance tips, you start to burn a lot more glycogen. Fine for a 5k - not so good for a marathon.

    Hadd scheme is to then reduce volume a bit but turn some of the running into tempo paced stuff just below his measure of lactate threshold, and then to bring this pace up in a controlled way.

    Hadd doesnt care for speedwork so much but says that if you want to then go down that route (presumably becasuse he think only in terms of marathon and thinks speedwork only really matters for shorter distances) you will be well prepared for it.

    Other approaches seem to have a mix of aerobic+tempo+speedwork from the outset. I suppose thats a major philosophical difference. Otherwise for a begginner the recipe is pretty simple - build up mileage gradually without going all out too often. Specialise with a choice of training approach later on



  • Dr.DanDr.Dan ✭✭✭

    Hadd base training involves doing two 10M mid week runs at 80-83% maxHR ... it's not lung busting but it certainly isn't just easy running either.

  • SEdanSEdan ✭✭✭
    Dr.Dan wrote (see)

    Hadd base training involves doing two 10M mid week runs at 80-83% maxHR ... it's not lung busting but it certainly isn't just easy running either.


    Interestingly I was doing a 10m MLR at something like Pfitz's suggested MP + 10% to 20% today and that came out at average 80% max HR for me.  

  • Thanks for the replies.

    If you're following the HADD method do you do these two 80% runs from the very start? Isn't that spoiling all the gains from the low HR training - or are these basically recovery runs then?

    My ambition is running a marathon at a low HR but posting what I'd consider a decent time for me (3:45 - 4). Currently I'm a long way off that - on my runs under 70% I'm running at about 11 minute miles but I'm not really applying any science or method to it really, just keeping the HR low. 

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    The start is a pure base building phase. Once that's in place folks introduce the sub lactate threshold 'tempo' runs. These latter ones serve to improve the pace and effort level sustainable for a long duration. 

    You could run a marathon at an easy effort level sure.  Most want to run at the hardest effort level they can, subject to the constraint if staying aerobic though.

  • Dr.DanDr.Dan ✭✭✭

    No, the sub-LT sessions are part of the base phase. And they are not tempo sessions ... they are at a lower effort than classic tempo pace.

    Johnny2323 wrote (see)

    Thanks for the replies.

    If you're following the HADD method do you do these two 80% runs from the very start? Isn't that spoiling all the gains from the low HR training - or are these basically recovery runs then?

    There are a few links at the start of the Hadd thread ... this one is good as it tells you how to build in the subLTs.

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    Ah I had been wondering about that  - by tempo you mean like a brief section (but longer than an interval) in the middle of a run right?

  • Dr.DanDr.Dan ✭✭✭

    No, tempo pace is the pace that you can maintain for 1 hour ... usually between 15K pace and HM pace ... you can estimate it from race times using this.


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