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Beginners Program with Heart Rate Monitor

by Pau
(Barcelona, Spain)

How can I adapt your Beginners Program 3 (30 minutes in 12 weeks) to my heart rate monitor? I've been trying to complete your program using my heart rate monitor, but so far unsuccessfully.

What I did was calculate my different zones using the Karvonen method. For this I used a theoretical maximum heart rate according to my age (as I am not yet fit enough to put my heart to the test!), so I understand my calculated limits could be a bit off.

You say that in the beginning running needs to be very easy, so I have been training in Zone 1 only. What I do is I run very slowly until I reach the higher limit (153 bpm), then walk until I reach my lower limit (140 bpm), then start running again, and so on. I have been training like this for a few months now (3 to 4 times a week), and my training sessions usually last from 20 to 35 minutes. I was hoping that over time, as I got fitter, I would need to walk less and less and be able to run longer without hitting my higher limit until, eventually (in 3 months or less), I would be able to run all 30 minutes.

Things haven't gone as I expected though! It's true that I'm able to run more and I walk less without hitting my higher limit now, but it's been months, and if my training lasts for 30 minutes, I still don't run more than 40% of the time, at best! My heart always reaches 153 bpm or even more in no time when I run. I am quite stuck as you can see.

I was wondering, if I should maybe include Zone 2 into my training as well, and keep going as I have, or should I maybe approach the whole thing in a completely different way?

Any help you can give me in this matter will be greatly appreciated!
Your website has been useful for me these last few months, it's been very informative. Thank you for all the great running tips!


Answer by Dominique :

Running with the heart rate monitor can be more of a curse than a blessing for some beginning runners. I know more people who have real trouble keeping their heart rate at a slower pace, even when they feel they are running very easily.

Zone 2 still qualifies as easy running, so if you want to run with the heart rate monitor, definitely include Zone 2, but if I were you, I'd leave the heart rate monitor at home for the beginner running programs.
Just run easily, as you feel it yourself (it should be the pace at which you are
still able to have a conversation), take the walk breaks according to Beginners Running Program 3 and take it from there.

About determining your specific heart rate training zones: it is intense and not recommended for beginning runners. How you do it is described on this page.

Using the theoretical barriers is however also a bit risky, as you might be running too fast or too slow, and that's another reason you should
not rely on your heart rate monitor too much at this point in time.

Rely on how you feel, not the thing around your pulse which wants to tell you how you feel!

Good luck, hope you have a healthy life full of running ahead of you.

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