80\20 zones and Training Peaks

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    Hi David,

    I have a little bit of confusion on how 8020 zones are mapped to TP graphs and statistics it gives.
    According to 30 minutes LTHR field test I have 172 bpm threshold. According to calculator I have following 2 and X zones:

    Zone 1: 121 – 139
    Zone 2: 139 – 155
    Zone X: 155 – 163
    Zone 3: 163 – 172
    Zone Y: 172 – 175
    Zone 4: 175 – 181
    Zone 5: 181 – +

    And tricky part is if I’ll be running exactly at 155 bpm will it fall into Zone 2 or Zone X within training peaks, and 172 will fall under Zone 3 or Y? As all the other methods use +1 step, and the one 8020 proposes is overlapping.

    Why I’m interested is also to be able to configure my watches that has only 5 zones and ability to put lower threshold. I found a topic that would perfectly fit me that was for Polar: https://www.8020endurance.com/topic/confusion-polar-hr-set-up-for-80-20-plan/ and fine to use that.

    Zone 1 watch = Zone 1 80\20
    Zone 2 watch = Zone 2 80\20
    Zone 3 watch = Zone X 80\20 to avoid
    Zone 4 watch = Zone 3 80\20 still can be used for Tempo runs or long intervals
    Zone 5 watch = Zone Y\4\5 as they are short and I’m always using pace to control that and HR rarely gets there within that short intervals

    But as I cannot configure overlapping zones on my watches. In my case shall I define as zones:
    172 till let it be 200 as I need to put maxHR as obligatory field on my watches


    173-till 200

    Probably 1 bpm is not that important and I’m going into details, but I see that I often run on a border between zones and want to understand how that works in TP to adjust my watches correctly.

    Thank you in advance!

    David Warden


    This is a great observation. First, a little background:

    TrainingPeaks only allows for integers to be entered when defining zones. Meaning, we can only use 81-90% for Zone 2, we can’t use 81.00-89.99% (actually, most training platforms, not just TP have this restriction).

    This means the plan author has one of two choices: either the zones have to overlap, or there has to be a 1% gap between zones. We can either have Zone 2 end at 90% or 89% of LTHR. If Zone X starts at 90%, then there is either a 1% gap, or Zone 2 and X share 1% of the zone at 90% LTHR.

    Given this choice, the author has to choose to either have the zone duplicate data (as when you are performing at exactly 90%) or completely miss data (when you are performing at 89.01 to 89.99%). With those two choices, most coaches choose to overlap and include both sets of data instead of missing data.

    So, yes, this means that when your HR is exactly at 90% of LTHR, it is being recorded as both Zone 2 and Zone X (remember, the alternative is not recording anything zone at all).

    The time you end up spending at exactly the point that zones overlap is so small, I would not worry about it. But, yes, this means that when you do a workout of exactly 60 minutes, you may find that time in all zones equals 60 minutes and 45 seconds, with that 45 seconds being the times you spent in the point where zones overlap.

    However, this is really only an issue with HR, not with Pace or Power. When you you go from a Zone 1 recovery to a Zone 5 interval, your HR must pass through all zones. It has to go from Zone 1, to Zone 2, to Zone X, 3, Y, and 4 before it hits Zone 5. This increases the changes that you will have duplicate data. But, when you Pace or Power, going from Zone 1 to Zone 5 is almost instantaneous. Sure, the reality is that you do hit each Zone from 1 to 5, but it happens so fast that your device (sampling at about 1 data point per second) will very rarely capture you in anything other than Zone 1 and then Zone 5, with maybe one zone in between since it takes about 2 seconds to go from Zone 1 to 5.

    Whew! Another long answer from David!

    Regarding your proposed 5-zone solution, if your device requires MaxHR and not LTHR, I’m a bit stumped. I’m not sure what to do.

    If your LTHR is 172, then your maxHR will be about 192. So, I’d use the following:

    Zone 1 124-139 80/20 Zone 1)
    Zone 2 140-155 (80/20 Zone 2)
    Zone 3 = 80/20 Zone X
    Zone 4 = 163-172 80/20 Zone 3
    Zone 5 = 173 to 192 80/20 Zone Y, 4, 5.



    Hi David,

    First of all, I’d like to thank you on resolving issue with access to the forum. I’m really very grateful for this.

    And of course thanks for providing really detailed explanation on how training peaks works with 80\20 zones. I believe you are fully correct that I do not need to try to perfectly fit into the zones and worry about overlaps as there will be always some delay for HR while switching from one to another zone.

    But does it mean that if I do not have running power meter like Stryd it’s better to switch to pace based workouts in training peaks? However I’ve programmed my zones absolutely as you suggested now.

    What I was doing before when were using Half Marathon Level 1 plan from the printed book and watches that are able to program notifications on HR or Pace (only one parameter at time) and not able to get workouts direcly fro m TP, only upload completed workouts for analysis:
    SO I was programming workouts manually – Zones up to 3 I was using HR, Zone 4 and 5 pace (however for Zone 5 you just run as for me it’s hard to stare at watches with that pace.
    For intervals and speed play workouts zone 1 (rest) was also programmed by me for pace rather than HR, as for me HR cannot go down to Zone 1 that quickly. So, how to put these trainings into the watches is more or less clear and I used to do that. I just need to remember zones more or less by hard as watches showing not targets but notifications when you are out of zone only (that you need increase or vice versa decrease HR or pace).

    But when I started to use TP as powerful not only planning but analysis platform, I started to think how to analyze my trainings better. I’ve did the LTH 30 min outdoor test recently. Using both HR and pace thresholds from that to calculate zones. And I realized that pace and HR zones are not fully aligned as analytics shows. Pace zones split ratio is always on higher end comparing to HR zones. Even for Z1 and Z2.

    Does that mean that I’m doing trainings wrong and need to switch fully to pace and try to control this parameter rather than HR? But it’s autumn, temp gone down to around 0 degrees Celsius, which is much lower than 1-2 months back and I can even feel that I can run faster with lower HR. Or it means that I’ve did wrong test and pace is not threshold one and shall be higher?

    I just little bit lost on that. My apologies for long message and a lot of questions, just trying to use both plans and TP platform effectively.

    David Warden


    Heart rate is a great method to measure intensity. Thousands of athletes have used HR successfully for decades. But, Pace is just better than HR to measure intensity overall. There are limited circumstances where HR is better than Pace (hills) but Pace is the right choice if you have it.

    It is interesting that you say you had a disconnect between HR and Pace zones. This is common when the 30-minute test is done separately for Pace and HR, but when the test captures both at the same time, they should align. In fact, they must align. The average HR and Pace over that test much both represent the same intensity, and the same ability to perform over 30 minutes. Of course, in later workouts, HR may start to be influenced by external factors, like temperature as you point out, and so HR and Pace can become disconnected later on. This is another reason to switch to Pace.

    So, yes, I would recommend you switch to Pace.



    Hi David,

    THen I will switch to pace for detailed analysis and easier\more correct identification of itensity zones. And probably I need to do LHT tests more frequently (during RT or RFF workouts) at least for first period of trainings.

    Thanks for your patience on answering all these questions and making my understanding of methodology better. I’m really to happy to use that.


    I’ve done something differently on my garmin forerunner for zones just so you know there are multiple ways of doing it.
    My 80/20 zone 1 & 2 I’ve made zone 1 on watch
    Zone x is zone 2 on watch. I know never to run zone 2 on watch
    Zone 3 is zone 3 on watch
    Zone y and 4 is zone 4 on watch. I know to run not low zone 4.
    Zone 5 is zone 5 on watch.
    Also on app store is an 80/20 data field which you enter your lactate value both HR and pace and you select it as a watch face. I use this all the time telling me what zone I’m in. It’s perfect except you can only look at pace or HR and can’t swap between the 2 while running. You select prior which one to view.

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