Unable to run if trying to stay within correct zone

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    Hi, I am 33 years old and weigh about 169lbs (77kg)
    I have been going to the gym frequently for the last few years but running is brand new to me but I am excited to learn and improve.

    I purchased the Half Marathon Level 0 plan and did my first session today.

    Currently I could probably run (jog) for about 20 min before I get too tired and have to stop. During these jogs/runs my heart rate is around 170 which I now know is too high.

    Problem is that when I try to stay within zone 1 or 2 I am unable to jog and have to walk to maintain a resonable heart rate.

    If I put treadmill to around 7km/h (jog) I will have a heart rate of around 155.

    I am in no discomfort at that heart rate and can hold a conversation whilst jogging.

    Now the question is what do I do? Stick with the plan and just accept that I have to walk and hopefully one day be able to jog and progress to run or do I accept a higher heart rate for the sake of me actually doing some running?


    Have you done a lactate threshold test or are you using your HRmax to determine training zones?


    I am also curious about this topic, as I have similar situation. (I’m 36, 78kg)
    I set my LTHR and FTP based on my last year 10km result (7:00min/km and avg HR is 170bpm)

    Now I started HM level 0 using Pace intensity plan. I can maintain the pace within the zone, but it looks like my HR is much too high (avg 163)

    Should I reduce the FTP ?
    Below is my recent run result:


    Casper: David will probably give you a better answer on this, but if i where you i would do a 30 min LTHR/TP, before changing any of my zones: https://www.8020endurance.com/intensity-guidelines-for-8020-running/

    From my experience, a 10k wont really give you the same results as a proper test. For all we know, your LTHR is higher than what you reached on your 10k run. Also that 10k run was last year, thats a long time ago.

    If it turns out that your zones doesnt change much after doing the test, then i would consider ignoring HR and start using Pace alone. HR is the least effective way to mesure intensity.

    David Warden

    Casper and H,

    Three thoughts:

    – Per Erik’s observation, let’s first establish how you determined your LTHR. It could be that your assumed LTHR is far too low, and so your other zones would follow and be difficult to maintain. However….
    – …170 is really high for an easy run, so unless your LTHR is like 190 HR just may not be the right intensity measure for you at this time.
    – As Casper. discovered, staying in Pace zones does not include the same challenges as HR zones. I recommend using Pace as a primary measure and HR as a secondary measure in general due to HR being inconsistent and influenced by external factors. Consider switching go to Pace and let yourself ignore HR for a few weeks.
    – If you choose to still use HR, then it’s OK to have your lower limit be a jog. Meaning, even you still have a really high HR then remain jogging as a lower limit. An exception is recovery intervals (rest intervals after a Zone 3+ interval) where walking is acceptable.
    – If you choose to use Pace as primary and HR as secondary, you can set an upper limit of a 2-zone span before slowing down. For example, if you are running Zone 2 by Pace, and your HR drifts into Zone X, that’s OK. If it drifts into Zone 3, slow down. This technique may not work for you yet, H, until your HR zones are clearly defined, and even settle a bit.

    And, it is true that with correct training, your cardio vascular system will learn to be more efficient and your HR will naturally get lower when exercising. In fact, give the plan 3 months, and report back here. I’m confident your HR issue will have disappeared.

    Casper, I took a look at your workout file. It’s not a perfect workout to use (it’s an RF2) but I would suggest your LTHR is actually 175, not 170 from this one workout alone. Do the formal test when you can (30-minute TT).



    Thanks a lot for detail answer, Erik & David.
    I will ignore HR for 1 month then. Will update the result afterward.



    Have a question concerning this as well. Planning a LTHR this weekend which will give me my running zones. I understand your thoughts on pace vs. HR and the issues with HR. Where do your LTHR test numbers fit with regards to being aerobic or anaerobic. Is performing the majority of your training in an aerobic heart rate zone something you subscribe to or are you not concerned with this as long as your pace intensity follows your 80/20 plan.

    David Warden


    True anaerobic (“without oxygen”) intensity can only be sustained for about 75 seconds. Therefore, there is very little anaerobic intensity used for any endurance athlete. 80/20 Zone 5 is the only zone that is anaerobic.

    We prefer not using the term anaerobic, but instead the terms maximal, submaximal and supramaximal. These buckets represent intensity relative to VO2max. While ventilatory threshold is still our polestar for identifying the dividing line between low and moderate intensity, we then use VO2 as a way to split up the 3 high intensity zones. In 80/20 terms, it would look like this:

    Zone 1 – Aerobic
    Zone 2 – Aerobic
    Zone X – Aerobic
    Zone 3 – submaximal
    Zone Y – submaximal
    Zone 4 – maximal
    Zone 5 – supramaximal

    Furthermore, the distribution of intensity in our plans would look something like this (it depends on the distance and level):

    Zone 1 – 40%
    Zone 2 – 40%
    Zone X – 0%
    Zone 3 – 12%
    Zone Y – 0%
    Zone 4 – 5%
    Zone 5 – 3%

    I hope this answers your question? But the short answer is that we spend a lot of time in the aerobic zone (80%).



    Thank you, David.

    That was exactly the detailed answer I was looking for. Much appreciated.

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