Heart Rate Not Getting Up to Zones

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  • #7238

    I have a weird scenario, I think.

    I have been on the Level 1 Marathon training plan since March 25th. I have battled with my zones and I think that I finally have them dialed in (close anyway).

    So, today, I have a RSP1 workout:
    5 min warmup
    28 minute Zone 1-2
    4 repeats of Zone 4/Y for 1 minute, then down to Zone 1 for 2 minutes
    Cool down

    As mentioned in the readings, I set my Garmin up so that I could see both my heart rate zone and my pace zone on the same screen. And, I am using the recommended apps from the IQ store.

    Sorry, here is my question. I was able to get up to pace zones during the one minute, but my heart rate never got close to the proper zone.

    I can’t figure out how to post the picture of it, but during those hard zones my heart rate never got above 150.

    Did I not run hard enough, or do I need to adjust already?

    I’m sorry. I should have started this with a disclaimer that I am not a runner. I am training for my first ever marathon, the 45th MCM. I am starting to love running. But, I am having a really hard time getting this plan dialed in.

    Thanks for any help, tips, advice, etc.

    Oh, and Happy Easter to everyone. I hope that you and your family are all safe and healthy.

    David Warden


    This is a common issue when using HR to measure intensity for Zone 4 and 5 intervals. HR is a lagging indicator, not an output or outcome like Pace and Power, so it is not as useful at high, brief intensities. Use Pace as your only measure for Zone 4 and 5. We address this in our Understanding Your 80/20 Run Plan document but I have included the relevant section here for your convenience:

    When using heart rate to measure intensity, you’ll soon discover that your BMP takes 1-2 minutes to “catch up.” As a result, you’ll often not reach the heart rate target during very brief Zone 4 or 5 intervals. Pace and Power are more reliable methods to measure those high intensities. This issue can also be resolved by using the 80/20 Run and Bike Zones Garmin App, where you can have both real-time HR and your custom 80/20 Pace or Power zones displayed on your device at the same time.



    As a follow-up question to the OP’s: In between the zone 4 efforts, is it more important to run at my Z1 pace or actually attempt to get my HR to drop to Z1? Currently I just slow down to Z1 pace but my HR tends to sit around Z2 and ZX and never actually drops to Z1 between the Z4 efforts.

    David Warden

    Chris, for the Zone 4 recovery intervals, there is a liberal lower recovery level. Since the purpose of that recovery interval is to allow you to go hard on the Zone 4 efforts, the most important element is to ensure you are prepared for the next interval.

    That means you can choose the recovery method that best supports this requirement. If you realty need to get your HR down in order to perform the next Zone 4 interval properly, use HR. If HR does not matter, then use Pace.

    Personalty, I walk the first 2 minutes of the 5-minute RAn recovery then jog the remaining 3 minutes. The fitness for the workout is not gained in the recovery interval: the fitness gains from Zone 4 workouts are from the Zone 4 interval, therefore ensure you get the minimum level of rest (either by HR or Pace) to do a quality interval.


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