Coggan vs Friel Heart Rate Zones

Im attempting a proper winter base of running for the first time so was calculating an appropriate HR to stay beneath. I had previously used Coggan’s Zone Calculator so used this and then cross referenced with Joe Friels Training Bible. The results for lower end zones are markedly different and have left me really confused!

Average HR for recent 20minute test - 184bpm
Estimate Heart Rate Threshold 184bpm - 5% = 175bpm

Coggan - below 119bpm Friel - below 142bpm

Coggan - 120-145bpm Friel - 143-154bpm

Where on earth should I pitch base with this level of professional variance?


Paging @joex :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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My max heart rate is about the same and I’d say you’d want to be somewhere between the two!

Recovery < 130bpm
Endurance 130-150bpm

Or thereabouts

I’m not sure I could even run with HR < 119 :joy:

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I’d do some test runs or, if you have it, look back at previous data. You’ll know which runs were done at proper Z2 level, take a look at avg hr for those runs.

I run very high on HR. Similar to Rob’s point, but more extreme i.e. I did an easy Z2 run yesterday but it was about 160bpm. I couldn’t run at all at 130 or 140.

So I have had to adapt my own zones, as all the general formulae just don’t work for me.


Maffatone system. 180 minus age, plus 5 for no injuries. 49 years old gives me 136.

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I’ve always preferred the systems that use Heart Rate Reserve then add back in your resting heart rate.
Is it Karvonnen (Sp) the best known one?

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The thing to note is that these are general guidelines not hard demarcations. Those zones for Friel look too high to me but on this blog he uses LTHR to set zones not max Joe Friel - Setting zones.

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Thanks for the replies everyone, a general consensus is always useful!

@pacha just for the record, I have used LTHR to set both zones, I didn’t mention max HR anywhere which for me is currently 195. Seems to be quite high aged 39 but it’s a number I see regularly when interval training or at the end of a tough 5k race



Just breathe through your nose


Fitzgerald 80/20 calc had you at 130-145 for recovery and 145-165 for aerobic based on 184bpm 20 minute test.

You might find this thread useful - or not. I tried setting up with Friel stuff last year.

and running, never. No such thing as recovery runs.

just have a chat with @JibberJim that will be aerobic :wink:

I would review historical data and work it out from there but if I take my THR is around 170 and I struggle to keep HR below 140’s but 140-150 Im not working hard. once Im over about 155 I can feel the efforts creeping up.


I used to agree with you on this but now I’ve changed my mind. I’ve had a lot of problems with tight calves after hard and/or hilly runs and in the last couple of years I’ve found that doing frequent short easy runs (10-15 mins morning and evening) after a hard/hilly run helps me recover. My theory is that putting a small amount of stimulus into the muscles stops them going into complete shutdown recovery mode.


That sounds very dogmatic…

along with mobilising the the muscles, it also encourages more oxygen and nutrients to aid recovery…

…but specifically any running halts muscle repair, right? Which I think is what most people associate the word recovery with.

Why does running halt muscle repair?

Because you’re using the muscles that would otherwise be repairing?

That would be any exercise then wouldn’t it?

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It depends as always, but it does stress muscles and when you can swim or ride a bike then it seems like a choice that can be better.