Heart Rate for Endurance Activities

by Tina
(Abita Springs Louisiana)

I enjoy triathlons and want to add completing a half marathon and a full marathon to next year's goals. I am 52 years old and a very slow runner.

I like the idea of using a heart rate monitor for training but have found that to stay within my 75% - 65% MHR training zone, I am walking about half of the time.

Ultimately I would like to complete both the half and full by jogging the entire time within that zone.

Is that a reasonable goal?

Also, what is the avg HR or recommended HR zone for non-competitive endurance activities?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Tina,
Thanks for your running training question.

You are using the 65-75% of your maximum heart rate as your jogging/slow run zone.

It is an easy mistake to make, but you are not applying the theory completely correctly.

The Karvonen heart rate monitor training method uses this 60/65%-75% as the slow running / easy running zone, but as a difference of maximum and rest heart rate.

By means of an example:
Suppose your maximum heart rate is 170.
And your rest heart rate is 70.
(Your values may be different)

The difference between the maximum heart rate and the rest heart rate is 100.

The way you calculate your jogging zone is as follows:

Rest Heart Rate + 60-75% of difference between Maximum Heart Rate and Rest Heart Rate

So, the lower threshold would be:
70 + 60%*100 = 70 + 60 = 130

The higher threshold would be:
70 + 75%*100 = 70 + 70 = 145

So, that's quite a bit faster than what you are doing now.

Another method of calculating your heart rate running zones is the Zoladz method.

Both these methods will produce different results, some slightly, sometimes a bit more.

So feel free to use the "scientific" method to establish approximate thresholds, but also use a good dosis of common sense. The speed you want to run at is "conversational pace", i.e. a pace at which you'd be able to maintain a conversation with someone if they were to run with you.

So work out what that "conversational pace" means in terms of your heart rate thresholds and then use those for your running training and races.

Hope this helps.
And best of luck with completing next year's running goals!

Kind regards,

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