Seeking tune-up tips (cadence, “true” zone 2, reaching target HR)

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    Hi everyone,
    I’m in week 4 of 18 in the Level 2 marathon training plan (my marathon will be Wineglass on October 1). I did the same training plan last year (for Erie) and loved it. This year I am doing the plan by pace, not HR.

    I’ve gotten some great guidance from coach Leyla during several one-off 8020 coaching consultations (which I enthusiastically recommend—the sessions are always chock-full of great tips). This time, though, I thought I’d post something here on the forum to ask everyone for their tips on several relatively minor issues I’m noticing in the midst of training.

    I’ve always had a low cadence–hovering around 160 bpm–and it got lower during the off-season. I’m trying to build it up again. Leyla had suggested this video which has good tips such as building up cadence in short sprints and setting a target about 10 percent above your present cadence:
    I’d like to ask if other runners have their own tips for improving cadence as well–and when to do it. I’m thinking I’ll focus on cadence during some foundation runs and maybe do some short sprints.

    I’ve found Strava to be a great platform. Many of my friends from my running group are on there and we give a lot of likes to one another after our runs. However, one downside for me is that I may push myself too much on Zone 2 runs to end up with a pace that appears respectable to others. I stay within my Zone 2 range pretty well, but I think I may push it a little too often on the higher end, and they don’t feel like easy runs. My question for other runners is: how does a good Zone 2 run “feel” to you? I know people say that it’s the kind of pace you can run comfortably for long periods of time, but when I do that, I depressingly often find myself somewhere in Zone 1 :-(.
    (My training zones seem accurate, but only Zone 1 feels easy to me.)

    In my hard training runs, such as the hill intervals and fartleks, I often see that I fall well below the target heart rate in the hard intervals. Part of the reason is that these are usually short intervals, surrounded by easy intervals. But since I trained myself last year to start doing more easy runs, I find that I don’t seem to have the “fight” to take things up to 8 or 9 as often as I used to. My body wants to feel more comfortable in the “easy” zone rather than push itself to the hard zone, if that makes sense.

    Any advice and guidance is appreciated! Thank you!!!


    • This topic was modified 10 months ago by benonemusic.

    Nothing to say on cadence, since I don’t feel qualified to say much. I will give you my 2 cents on the rest though.


    ” I stay within my Zone 2 range pretty well, but I think I may push it a little too often on the higher end, and they don’t feel like easy runs’

    I think you already answered yourself here; besides, it is MUCH better to slow down to zone 1 than it is to creep into zone x (or worse, 3).

    Resist the temptation, it might not be easy at first, but you have to make peace with your ego – I have been there, thinking that an average pace above X’/km would be somehow shameful (how silly is that in hindsight?) and worrying about what other people might think.

    Now I don’t give a flying damn anymore, and guess what? It’s just much better 🙂


    Heart rate lags a lot, so I wouldn’t worry about that, better to use pace or power (if available) as a primary metric for intervals.
    As for not having the grit to push it up to 8 or 9, you can use the energy you saved from not pushing too much in the easy days I guess 😀

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by mrossetti.

    Heart rate is a poor indicator of effort for intervals. My last Speed Intervals Run (RLS25) had me in power zones 4&5 for 12 minutes (should have been all in 5, but there was traffic in the park); my heart rate only maxed 3 minutes in zone 3 for the entire workout. If you can use pace or power for these workouts you should do so…

    I’m less convinced with trying to add a few steps per minute to improve cadence; I did it with the Stride Academy and the improvements were temporary plus the turnover does increase the energy requirements even with a reduced stride length. I found it difficult to execute the cadence runs in the recommended zones, it felt unnatural.

    The recommended, the sprints and speed intervals I find to be more effective – form changes and you engage more/different muscles at the higher paces so you gain the right kind of strength & fitness with the intervals.

    Since you are preparing for a marathon it might not be the right time to tweak your plan. A 5k or run faster plan after your marathon would be more effective.


    Thanks for the tips. I agree that it’s best to forget about ego/reputation and just running at a comfortably easy pace. I’ve been relying on HR less lately. Monitoring my HR was particularly useful when I was learning how to run more slowly. I rely mostly on pace nowadays and look at my power readings after my runs when I’m analyzing my effort, but it’s definitely possible I’ll monitor power more as I move forward.

    Increasing cadence actually works for me. Today I used a metronome app and set it to 168 bpm. I was able to stay in sync with the metronome for most of the run. The run was easier and I ran faster. I find that I can train myself to increase cadence, such that it will increase after a little practice, even when not using the metronome. It’s just that I lost my gains from last year, as I slipped back into 160 bpm. Today’s experience was encouraging.

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by benonemusic.
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