There are a lot of runners that don’t understand the reasons for training using a plan that is based on heart rate zones. We’ll explain how heart rate based training can help improve your performance on race day!
Many times runners don’t understand that despite running 3-5 times a week, they never seem to get any faster. They are probably running at the same speed, so come race day, they’ll run at the speed they’ve been training. In order to improve your running, you need to increase your intensity during your training. The best way of measuring intensity is through heart rate. When we say you need to increase your intensity, we don’t mean all your runs need to be increased. There are times where you want to decrease. That’s why it’s important to follow a training plan to maximize the benefits of training with heart rate zones. There are plenty of watches available to measure and record your heart rate.
Most training plans have 4-5 heart rate zones (there are different methodology in determining zones). In order for the training to be effective, you need to determine your Maximum Heart Rate. For a long time, a simple formula was used to determine your Maximum Heart Rate. Take 220 subtract your age and you get your Maximum Heart Rate. This is not the best way to determine your MHR, but it’s a good place to start. If you really want to accurately determine your MHR, you’ll need to either work with a coach or go through a lab to get tested.
There are plenty of training plans that can be found online. If you own a Garmin watch, you can download training plans for free through Garmin Connect.
Regardless of the training plan used, the key in all these plans is to vary your intensity during the week to maximize your training. Hard efforts are designed to add stress to the body. Combine that with easy efforts and you’ll allow the body to recover and become stronger. Training for longer distances and the plan may call for more Zone 2 & 3 to improve your endurance.
Unless you have hired a coach, selecting a training plan that is based on heart rate, is one of the best ways to improve your running performance and minimize your chances of injury.
Regardless of your goals whether it’s going faster or longer, using heart rate will insure you reach your goal.