HR zones / zonal training

I have a friend that is relatively new to running that is asking my advice on training, and wants to work with HR.

He is not particularly physiologically minded, so i don’t want to confuse him from the off with talk of ATP synthesis, glycolytic systems etc etc. He’s not stupid by any stretch, but i don’t want to just bombard him with in depth scientific explanations and put him off!!!

Does anyone have any links to really nicely written summaries on how to start getting into zonal training, explaining the need of a good base and why etc etc. Rather than me trying to write something from scratch.

Thanks in advance!!


dont over complicate it, do 80% of your sessions able to chat or nose breath, 20% harder as a fartlek so you run parts of a session hard, parts easy (50/50 split there), then collect data at the various paces. The data over time will start to show a pattern. Once you are running 25miles minimum a week consistently and plateau then think about where you want to go from there.


Agree with Hammy. Everyone is different, so it takes time to get to know how a body (HR) responds to exercise; even if he knew his MHR, what % he can work at before it’s anaerobic can still vary greatly.

Just buy a decent sports watch from the off, and let that start collecting data.

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This isn’t too bad:

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He’s been going for a few months now. Biggest week is about 60km, but i think with his work he seems to be a bit up and down on consistency. Running Snowdon Mara in the autumn so he’s not a complete beginner - sorry i should’ve been a bit more clear from the start on that.

That was my initial advice. Don’t get hung up on a single value that you’ve read somewhere. His initial question to me was ‘how do i lower my avg HR’, to which i responded ‘why? to what end’. He made the error of directly correlating low HR to fitness.

So i gave a brief summary of easy runs easy, add in intensity etc etc. Work out your own body then start to apply some science to that.

I sent him this article, as i think it’s a great analogy:

I’m reading their book at the moment, and i think it’s a great read.

But thanks for the advice so far.


So with that sort of mileage he should have some decent knowledge of his body already. Does he race park run / 10k’s etc? I would now advise him to collect data still but do what he is (provided he is improving and getting enough recovery) do a 5k when rested and the average of that will be close the TH2 or “anaerobic” threshold then do easy nose breathing and work above this. From that and data from training he should be able to find a good HR to pace his marathon at and add training at this up to a point he’s doing a mid length run with a good 10miles or so at GMP. The main issue with HR is that heat conditions, fatigue, stress, illness all elevate it so its not always ideal so should guide but not lead his training.

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Yep, that makes sense and was along the lines of where i was going. Though having an avid interest in the physiological side, i do have a tendency to drift into long winded/over complications!


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