How to Calculate Heart Rate Training Zones for Runners?

If you haven't been here with me before on the channel, I'm Jessie Funk. And this is a show I like to call Runner's High where we talk about all the little things that you need to know to be the best runner you can be. And today, we're going to talk about heart rate training.
How to Calculate Heart Rate Training Zones for Runners?

If you haven't been here with me before on the channel, I'm Jessie Funk. And this is a show I like to call Runner's High where we talk about all the little things that you need to know to be the best runner you can be. And today, we're going to talk about heart rate training. But not just her right training in general, I'm going to show you exactly how you can calculate your heart rate training zones.

So, I'm having some numbers here next to my head, so you can follow along with me. Hopefully, I won't get too mathy. But it's actually pretty straightforward. When you see the text, you see what we're doing. So, for me, in particular, we're going to run my numbers so you can see what this looks like in actuality. So, as of shooting this video, maybe ?? 00:51> the future, I'm not anymore.

But as I'm shooting this video, I'm 31 years old. That means 220 minus 31 is 189. So, my max heart rate is estimated to be 189. Now I know from experience it’s probably closer to 200. But that's because I have a long, long history of fitness and you know, staying kind of at the peak of my game. So, for this example, we're going to use that 189.

Now, each of these heart rate zones correlates to an effort. There are five zones, and they each are 10% different. This will all make a little more sense here in a second. So, zone one, which is a very casual, hey, we’re going out for a walk, something like that, that's going to be 50 to 60% of your max heart rate. So, for me, in particular, using that 189, it's going to be 95 to 113 beats per minute.

So, that 50 to 60, that's that 10%. And we're going to go up 10% per zone. So, zone two is 60 to 70% of your max heart rate, or for me, 113 to 132 beats per minute, go up to zone three, 70 to 80%. Again, 132 to 151 beats per minute. Then we go into zone four 80-90 is 151 to 270 beats per minute. And finally, zone five, this is their maximal effort, 90 to 100% or 170 to 189 for me, in particular.

Obviously, when you're doing this math, you have to do it for you, for your age, for yourself. But the math is gonna follow similarly. How do you figure that out if you want to put it into a calculator, go to 20 minus your age. So, in my case, like we said, 189. And to figure out those percentages, you have to multiply it by point, and then the 10s digit of the percentage.

So, to make that more visually clear, when I'm trying to figure out 50%, I would do 189 times point five. Or 60% 189 times point six, 70%, 189 times point seven. Now, you're going to come up with some probably fractions, some decimals in there. But you can either round up or down. It's just a ballpark. Right? So, we're just using it as a ballpark.

Now, when you get into training, if you don't have a heart rate monitor, the quick way to use heart rate is actually to take a 10-second count of that heart rate. By doing that, take your fingers up to your neck here where you can feel your pulse, you’re going to watch your watch, start the count at zero and count for 10 seconds. Now, how does that correlate to those numbers we just calculated?

You have to divide all those numbers by six. Again, use your trusty calculator. Dividing by six is not easy for everybody in their heads. But that's going to give you a nice number where you can take a 10 count during exercise to know this is exactly where I am.

And the reason you take that 10 count instead of counting for an entire minute is because your body will recover during that minute of standing there. So, it's going to give you a lower number that's less accurate than if you take that 10-second window. Obviously, if you have a heart rate monitor, then you don't have to worry about any of this. Heart rate training can be used for a lot of different things.

I've done a previous video on this, which I will link to at the end of this video. But it's important to note, if you have a kind of series of data points in your training, and you notice your heart rate spike, you are probably training too much. And that means it spikes for the same effort level.

Now, I told you about that field test you can do to figure out what your max heart rate is. And the field test is important if you want to be more accurate about your zones. Again, if you're beginning, if you're just starting out, you don't have that history of fitness, then it's all going to work out in the wash as we like to say.

But if you want to be more accurate, and you have some history of fitness, then this is a good test you can do. This test actually comes from Polar. They make heart rate monitors and all kinds of tech gadgets.

So, what you do is you find a hill, which takes you roughly two minutes to get up. Somewhere from easy to medium pace, two minutes to get to the top. You're going to go from the bottom to the top in an effort that's going to take you roughly, you could sustain that effort for 20 minutes. So, I would consider this a threshold to a high threshold kind of pace.

So, for me, a 20-minute effort would be slightly slower than 5K. So, my 5K right now is probably mid 17’s or so. So, maybe I'm talking even slightly slower than 10K pace for me. I like to relate paces to races sometimes because of my history in the sport. But if you can figure out what it's like a medium to-- medium-hard slightly. That kind of pace is what you want, that 20 minute pace.

So, you go up that first time, come back down. Now we're going to go up a second time. Except this time, you're going to go harder. You want to do a three-minute effort pace. So, you want to be able to get up the hill, it's going to be difficult, but you're going to want to feel like you'd only go maybe another half a hill if you had to keep climbing. If it was, you know, you had the ability to keep going, as in the hill didn’t end, you can only go another halfway up.

Once you've done that second rep, come back down to the bottom, let your heart rate recover 30 to 40 beats per minute. And then now is the time for our last effort. This is where we're going to get our heart rate, that max heart rate count. You're going to go halfway up the hill, absolutely as hard as you can go. So, one-minute effort, absolute maximal effort.

When you stop, take that 10-second count, unless you've got a heart rate monitor, that's going to give you your max heart rate. And remember, take that 10 seconds, then multiply it by six, that's going to give you your beats per minute, your max beats per minute. You can go back and figure out all of those zones. That gives you a better indication, hey, I need to be training this, that today. This is where my heart rate needs to be.

Once you figure this all out, you're set up. And if you're new to the sport, these things are going to adjust over time. So, come back, visit it maybe again in six months. See, hey, max heart rate has changed or I feel more comfortable in this zone, those kinds of things. That video I did on heart rate previously should be popping up on the screen here shortly. I cover a little bit on calculation, but I talk more about it as well. So, click on that. Stick around with me. And as always, I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.

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