Zone training

track run

Zone training has been a big thing over the past few years especially when it comes to heart rate monitors. But what does training in the zone really mean?

Here is the theory: Training too hard or not hard enough gets you the same results, nothing. There are essentially four zones of training. In order to train efficiently you need to stay in zone two most of the time and reserve zone four for those sprints to the finish or pushes to crest a hill.

Zone two is the aerobic zone where you are using body fat and oxygen as your primary sources of energy. Zone four is anaerobic and primarily uses stored sugars. Zone three training doesn’t help you run faster or longer.

If you want to train in the Zone you have to know you max heart rate and then calculate where your heart rate should be in each zone. In order to calculate your heart rate zones you have to estimate your maximum heart rate. To get an estimate of your max heart rate you subtract your age from 220. So for example, I am 33, 220-33= 187. My maximum heart rate is 187.

With your maximum heart rate, you can calculate each zone. In zone four, your heart rate is between 90-95% of your maximum heart rate. For example, to get my zone for I take the 187 and multiply it by 0.9 which gets me 168, next I multiply the 187 by 0.95 which gets me 176. So for me, zone four is between 168-176 beats per minute.

You can do this to get all of the heart rate zones. Zone three is 86-89%. Zone two is 75-85%. Zone one is 65-74%.  Heart rate monitors are not expensive and are easy to use.

But is this the best way to think about training? Probably not. Any training program or theory that breaks down into training specific areas or systems creates limitations. The body’s systems do not work outside of one another. They work together. Training them separately is most helpful to beginning runners, who see the biggest gains. Experienced runners don’t see as many gains. Here is an article all about this if you are interested.

Running is a full mind and body experience. Training different systems or muscle groups is good, but remember that in the end you have to put it all together in one smooth synchronized motion.


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