Heart Rate Training – Part 3

Getting your heart rate right when training and racing can be the difference between success and failure.

If you have not read Heart Rate Training 1  and Heart Rate Training 2 then click on these before proceeding.

By now you should have your resting heart rate and max heart rate written down. In part two, you would have learnt the formula to get your different percentages.

Here it is (Max Hr – Resting Hr) x __% + Resting Hr = ______

With than in mind, let’s look at what happens at different percentages.

Easy Running – 50-60% Hr.
Your recovery runs will take place. You should also warm up and warm down in this range. My rule for warming up is to run really slowly until the first beads of sweat appear. At that point your body has begun to thermo regulate and you can up the pace a bit.

Fat Burning – Ultra distance zone – 60-70% Hr
Your long slow distance runs will take place here. (Runners are some of the only people that are advised to regularly do LSD).
In this zone you use fat as your primary fuel source. Since you have more fat reserves than glycogen, you are able to swim/ bike / run for longer periods of time.
This is your primary zone for base building and for long outings. I also find that I think clearly at this zone. For me, training at this zone has all sorts of psychological benefits.

Aerobic Zone – 70-80% Hr.
For the most part, you will be able to hold a conversation at this level. You are now burning a mix of carbs (60%) and fat (40%). Because you will be burning through carbs here, you will not be able to keep up at this speed for too long.
It is suggested that you run a half marathon at approximately 80% of max and a marathon at 75% of your max.
slow 2

You build fitness in this zone, and major changes take place in this zone. Your muscles and heart adapt to make you a stronger & quicker runner.

Threshold Zone – 80-90% Hr.
This is where you want to run at for your tempo runs and longer intervals.
At this point your body will now spend time in both aerobic and anaerobic zones. You will be taking big gulps of air in this zone.


You need to build up your musculoskeletal strength before training in this zone, as this is where runners commonly get injured.

10 K races can be raced at 85% and 5 k races at 90%.

The Red Zone – 90-100% of max.
Strong, injury free runners will venture into this zone for shorter/sprint intervals.
You will typically spend equal times exercising and recovering in this zone.
Make sure that you are in good health and without injury before venturing into this zone.

Hope this helps.


Mike Roscoe.

Mike Roscoe


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