Here I have tried to summarize and simplify the basic principles of using zones to help make things a bit clearer for you.
Firstly lets simplify things and break it down into only 2 zones.
The first being your base zone which should form 75-80% of your training volume.
The aim of this zone is to improve your oxygen transport system making the body as efficient as it can be.
For this to happen your heart rate should not rise above 80% of max. Your pace or power is irrelevant here as we are looking for a physiological response so setting up heart rate zones is critical.
This is the zone that will make you faster which is why training with a heart rate monitor is critical!
Do you find yourself training too much at that moderately hard level?
Do you feel like you are continually accumulating fatigue week after week, and as a result are suffering with niggling injuries, feeling stale and on the verge of burnout?
Are you actually slowing down?
If this sounds familiar then this information is very relevant to you!
The best way to work out your heart rate for this zone is to use your Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) which is
Max Heart Rate – Resting Heart Rate.
Let’s say I wanted to work at 70% HR. My max is 180 and my RHR is 50
(70% of HRR) + RHR = My Heart Rate Cap for the session.
(70% of 130) + 50 = 141
It doesn’t matter what power I put out for the session for it to have the training effect I want, as long as my heart rate stays below this figure!
Trust me this takes discipline and you have to trust the process. It took me a while to change my mentatlity from chasing and hitting power targets to actually slowing down – but now I can feel and understand the long term benefits it will have in building the foundation, it is second nature and I really look forward to these sessions.
A typical session might be 3x15 mins at 65% max heart rate with 90s recovery or 4x10 mins at 80% if you wanted to work at the top of this zone. A recovery session would be at 50% of HR.
The second zone is sustained power and this is where we take the heart rate cap off and train to power. Heart rate is still important in monitoring your response to the training session, but power determines the intensity with the aim of progressively increasing your ability to sustain power for longer. The intensity and duration of these should be determined by the phase of training you are in or your race target if you are close to a race.
IIf you need some help setting up these zones and advice on putting this into a sustainable progressive training plan which gets you results whilst keeping you injury free, then please feel free to contact me. Online plans are available to help ensure you don’t waste valuable time training for too long and the wrong intensity. You will be surprised just how little training you need to be doing to get faster, and how much more time you will have for your family and yourself.