Good advice in this thread so far, but I want to address the fundamental problem with HR training - setting up your zones correctly.
ALL the formulas out there for setting up your HR zones are garbage - at least for a significant percentage of the population. I know far more people who don't fit any formula, no matter how "accurate" it is. And these are people from beginner to multiple Ironman triathletes too.
To me, it sounds like you're one of these people, so you actually need to have a test to get your HR zones set up properly. Like Nancy, I've done a Max HR test and it's definitely not recommended. I much prefer a LT (Lactate threshold - Nancy calls it AT) test to get my zones set up. To do this, make sure you're well rested and hydrated. Warm up well, then run a 30 minute all-out, as fast as you can run. It's easier on the road as then you self-regulate your speed. However, speed is not the issue here. Take the AVERAGE HR over the last 20 minutes (and distance, if you want) and use that as your LTHR. This gives you top Z4. Anything above that is anaerobic. For more info, see Joe Friel's Training Bible series - I got all this from there.
Then set up your HR zones as follows (the bits in brackets are the types of runs I use these zones for and the "talk test"):
Top Z1 (Recovery): LTHR x 0.847 (conversational)
Top Z2 (LSD): LTHR x 0.907 (short sentences)
Top Z3 (Tempo): LTHR x 0.953 (single word answers)
Top Z4 (Cruise intervals): LTHR x 0.99 (can't talk, must run)
Top Z5: (Speed intervals) LTHR x 1.107 (can't talk, will die)
I like to combine my HRM with the "talk test" to make sure my zones are correct. Once you get used to it, the talk test is better than anything out there - I've run several times (and one race) without my HRM and my talk test zones have been bang on with my pace for a given HR zone. This method also estimates max HR pretty well - I have a LTHR of 179 which gives me a max HR of 198. When I got tested it was 196 so I'm close.
The beauty of this method is that your LT can be trainable - over the course of the year I moved my run LT up a couple of bpm and my bike LT up by 4bpm. I re-test every couple of months and readjust my zones to fit. So when you get fitter, do the test again and you'll find that your zones will move up accordingly.
EDITED to add - I do my LSD runs in mid-upper Z2. I find Z1 far too slow for those runs and I don't get why I should be there unless it's a recovery run. But whatever, you'll still get the same (correct me if I'm wrong Nancy!) benefit in Z1 as Z2.
Edited by: WONGERCHI at: 10/14/2008 (13:39)
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