How to Calculate Heart Rate Training Zones for Runners?

You want to take your training to the next level and that means you need to go faster. But you’re not sure. How fast should I go? What are training zones? How do I figure out my training zones?

You want to take your training to the next level and that means you need to go faster. But you’re not sure. How fast should I go? What are training zones? How do I figure out my training zones? Well, I’m Jesse Funk and on today’s episode of Runner’s High, I’m going to give you the quick and easy way to figure out what exactly your training zones are.

As always, before we get going, if you haven’t subscribed yet, hit that subscribe button in the bottom right-hand corner. Stick around with me for more episodes of Runner’s High, where we talk about everything running from how to figure out your training zones to what to do if you gotta go poop on the trail. I actually haven’t done that one yet. But if you want to see that video, subscribe, stick around, maybe I’ll do it just for you.

Now, we’re talking about ideal training zones. If you have been around a while, you probably aren’t watching this video because you already know how to do this. But if you have been around a while and you don’t know or you’re new to the sport, you’re wondering how do these guys know -- how do these guys and gals know how to run at a certain pace?

Well, the easiest and simplest way to do that is use a running pace calculator. Now, most of these running pace calculators are going to be based off of Jack Daniels running tables or something similar that benchmarks various training pieces to various race paces.

So, first, you got to figure out what’s your latest race pace. I will leave a link down in the description below that can jump you over to this training pace calculator, or I might eventually put together a better training pace calculator on our website. In either case, it may look different by the time you’re using it, or it maybe the same thing. But I’m going to minimize my screen here shortly and we’re going to go on to the training pace calculator so you can see what that looks like.

Now, we brought it up, we’re looking at it, what do you do? I’m just going to use a 5K time. I’m going to take a guess because I haven’t raced lately. I’m actually just getting back into running after having a stress fracture and having to take a few weeks off. So, I’m going to guess right now, my 5K time’s probably somewhere around 18 minutes. So, let’s go ahead and put that in the calculator. So, all I have to do is hit five, we’re already on kilometers.

So, 5K, five kilometers, and then 18 minutes. All I do is enter 18 in this middle section right here, and then hit calculate. And here all of my training paces. 7:29 for my long run pace. That’s actually pretty close to what I’m doing nowadays, somewhere around seven to 7:15 most days. A little bit faster sometimes but that’s pretty average. So, my race pace, maybe slightly faster than 18. Or maybe I need to slow down. In any case, this is how you figure out the quick way of what to do.

Now, if you want a more accurate personal pacing strategy, there is another way to do this. And that other way is actually to take your heart rate and work off of heart rate training zones. There are pluses and minuses to both systems. But if you’re using heart rate training, then you know that you’re working on your physiological adaptation in any given moment.

So, if you’re stressed, fatigued, tired, and your heart rate is jacked way up, then you know this training pace is not going to work for me today. You will eventually learn through RPE or rate of perceived exertion that is not always going to be perfect for you. And you don’t always have to take your heart rate to know hey, this is just not the thing for me today.

Sometimes, for me, my heart rate will be low, but I will be zonked. I just cannot go any faster. And that is often something that happens to me when I’m coming back in from offseason or I’m simply tired muscularly. I’ve worked very, very hard, and I just have no muscle glycogen left, or my muscles are torn up too much and they can’t produce power. Then I can’t even push my heart rate up because my cardio system is in better shape than my muscles are able to take advantage of.

Now, I’ve already done a video on this so I won’t re-explain everything and how to figure that out in this video. But here at the end of this video, I will link to it. And go to that video, check that out if you want to know about how to figure out your heart rate training zones and how to train off of heart rate.

Regardless of which method you choose to use or whether you’re going to use both, you’re going to be well suited to figure out exactly how fast you need to go from various training paces. Now, if you don’t yet understand what the training paces are, what they’re for, then hit subscribe, stick around on this channel.

I’ve covered these things before. I did a mini-series on what the various training tempos are for, when to use them. So, you’ll want to hit subscribe, stick around, and go check out those videos here in a few minutes. Now, again, coming up on the screen shortly should be that video about heart rate training and how to figure out those zones if you want to check that out. And as always, I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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