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Having Difficulty with Zone 2 Running

by Ric

I am a 44yr old male triathlete. I am trying Zone 2 running for the 1st time and I am struggling very much. I feel like I am running too slow.

I know my max heart rate should be 176 and at 70% my heart rate should be 123 and at 75% it should be at 132 and at 80% it should be at 140.

So here is where the problem begins. I am a comfortable 8:30 min mile runner and currently running at 7:02 min mile at race pace. but I am finding it very hard to stay at Zone 2.

Every time I get a comfortable stride going I have to slow down. I am currently running at about 10:30-11:00 min miles. What am I doing wrong?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Rik,
Thanks for your question about running with your heart rate monitor in zone 2.

There can be a few different issues here:

1) Your maximum heart rate. You are saying your maximum heart rate is 176. How have you established this? It is exactly 220 minus your age, which is only an estimate of maximum heart rate, your max may be quite a bit higher than that.

Also see my Maximum Heart Rate-page.

2) The method you are using. You are referring to heart rate percentages, which is at the percentages you are referring to sounding like you are using the Karvonen method of determining your heart rate zones.

The Karvonen method uses not only maximum heart rate, but also Rest Heart Rate. I have got the feeling you are not using your rest heart rate in the calculation.

3) Relying solely on the heart rate monitor. Running with a heart rate monitor can be a good thing. Especially for tempo runs for example. Tempo runs can, especially when you are well trained, quickly turn into interval running because you feel so good and you feel like pushing yourself.

However, your Zone 2 running is your easy pace, the pace at which you should be able to have a conversation. You don't need a heart rate monitor for this zone necessarily. At the moment it sounds like your heart rate monitor is frustrating you. So, next time you go for a run, leave the heart rate monitor at home. Go by feel.

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Run at the pace at which you'd be able to still talk to someone. Test yourself during the run. If you go to fast, slow down.

By the way, don't talk too loud to yourself in busier areas, you may get funny looks... :)

Hope this helps.
Best of luck with your running and your triathlons.
Kind regards,

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