HR, Pace, or Power for 10K Beginner without running experience?

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    I just joined the 80/20 10K Level 0 plan. I have no experience in running, but have been working on HIIT, kickboxing, and other high intensity workouts. I did a few 5K running recently. I was able to finish them without stopping. Finishing time was about 31 minutes, average pace was around 9:30 – 10 per mile, but my heart rate was really high in zone 5 (averagely about 170 bpm).

    I tried to jog in zone 2 heart rate before I joined the 80/20 training plan. My pace was extremely slow, slower than my zone 2 pace. I had to walk a lot to keep my heart rate down.

    I understand pace or power training is preferred. Is this the case for a novice like me? Based upon my test runs, even in a 30 minute run, my heart rate would go to zone X or zone 3 if I want to keep my pace in zone 2. I plan to start my first 80/20 training today, but not sure what I should use given my experience level.


    David Warden


    Thanks for using our plans and welcome to the 80/20 family!

    For a novice, using Pace or Power over HR is even more important. The variability of HR is more pronounced in a new runner. It takes time and experience for HR to “settle down” and become more reliable as your aerobic fitness matures. Even then, HR will always be unreliable.

    HR for a novice reminds me of a newborn baby. At first, the sleep schedule is…no schedule at all. Totally unreliable. After a few months, a relatively stable schedule takes place, but there will still be a few 2am feedings that throw things off.

    But, I’m obligated to always ask athletes when they bring up the delta between HR and Pace: how and when did you establish your LTHR and threshold pace? If not done correctly, HR and Pace will never align. If done correctly, HR and Pace will sometimes align. Our protocols for finding LTHR and threshold pace are listed in Intensity Guidelines for Running.



    Hi David,

    That’s very helpful! I can see my LTHR is wrong. I will update it through a test run, and use pace to train. I followed my first pace training plan yesterday and felt good about the cardio load and where my zone 2 pace is. Thanks very much for the information!


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