Slower, faster. Sub 30 mins at 70%

Since graduating, I have become an absolute convert to the heart zone method of training. On days I am doing intervals or high intensity stuff I make sure I am getting up to 90%+, but on all my long runs and 'easy run' days, I religiously keep below 70% of maximum exertion. Being an oldish gimmer, this means a max of 145bpm. At first I was astonished at how quickly my heart gets up to that mark, and just how much I had to slow down to keep it under. My 5k went from 28 minutes in week 8 (admittedly this was at an unsustainable pace that left me gasping and not enjoying myself) to 33.30 when I first slowed my pace down a bit in W9 to 38 minutes when I stuck to the 70% rule. On the plus side, at 70% I felt like I could carrying on running for as long as my legs held out and still carry on a conversation, rather than wheezing along like an emphasymic brontosaurus in labour in a tar pond.

This evening, after Spin and Kettlebells at the gym, I decided to take the dog for a cooldown run. It was drizzling and the light was fading but she needed the exercise so heart monitor on and off we set. For some reason I find it quite easy to jog after doing a hard gym session. Perhaps because the legs are already well warmed up. I really was in recovery mode though, so kept as close to 143 as I could all the way.

Because I am frequently checking the hrm, I just have the Garmin set to display that, so have no idea of time/distance covered as I run, other than the lap bleeps. So I was incredibly surprised when I finished to find I had done the full 5k (5.12 to be precise) in 29.43, and that was with a couple of stops to hold the dog while mountain bikers whizzed past. I was not consciously running faster. I was just dawdling along in brain neutral mode.

I am convinced this improvement is down to the zone method. Work as hard as possible on the hard days and super-easy the rest of the time.

I am also still amazed that I can now run for 30 minutes and consider it 'easy', considering it was only 4 months ago that 60 seconds of running was pretty much maximum exertion.


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11 Replies

  • Great going. How did you ascertain your max heart rate?

  • What Garmin are you using? Does it give you an aural warning if you exceed your set maximum?How well can you hear that warning if it comes from the wrist(especially if it is on a road with vehicles nearby)?

  • I just consider myself lucky if my heart is still beating at the end of my runs. Can't be arsed with all the technology. Just me and Laura on my very ancient ipod. That's the way we like it :)

  • I used the Karvonen method to calculate my zones. I can't remember the exact formula for the max rate. It was 206 - age then some weird multiples of resting rate subtracted from the number you first thought of or something. It was in John L Parker's excellent Heart Rate Monitoring for the Compleat Idiot, which is a book I cannot recommend highly enough (and likewise his two novels which are the best books i have read this year, running-related or otherwise). I will look up the formula and post it tomorrow.

    I have a Garmin 410, which I don't think does anything fancier hrm-wise than just display my rate, at least not that I have found, although I am a bit Luddite with it tbh. I am getting pretty good at sensing when I am nudging over the limit now, actually, which I guess is the ideal thing. The bleeps it makes for laps and my 'virtual running partner' are pretty audible, although I am running in the middle of a nature reserve or in woods, so no traffic noise to contend with, and I don't have music/ipod or anything so can't really comment there, I'm afraid.

    I think the 410 is an older model - I bought it on Ebay as couldn't afford a new one, and it does the job very well, especially now Garmin have finally sorted out the connectivity issues with their tracker.

  • Take your age from 220, that gives you 100%. From there it's easy to calculate 70%

    E.G. if you are fifty, 220-50=170, 70% of 170 is 119. That's one way of working it out anyway.

  • hee hee usitorloseit, that was - and still is - my philosophy. As I was working my way through C25K I didn't need technology to tell me whether I was improving - I recognised progress as not wanting to cry or vomit during a run ; ) I am running with Laura on the C25K+ now and still have the odd run where I am just glad to have survived......

  • Same here my max heart rate was 194 during C25K which isn't bad for a 52 year old. I am being a bit more careful since I got my Garmin to try to keep the training effect under 5 which is overreaching. That's a pretty good definition of me on B210K - overreaching but I am nearly there now.

  • Excellent! I'm training for my very first 10k and using my heart monitor. I need to build endurance /stamina and finally speed. I'm finding monitoring is making me more aware of my body. And not over exerting it when it's not yet ready hopefully avoiding injury. I'm looking forward to not noticing 30mins thou!

  • I've never thought of using an HRM to proactively determine the amount of effort being put into a run, but reading your description it certainly makes sense. Something to consider. Thank you :)

  • Okay, the formula I used for my max heart rate was 205- half my age, and for calculating my Recovery Ceiling (the 70%) was:

    (MAX - Resting HR) x 0.7 + (Resting HR)

    It is interesting to note that your max heart rate does not change relative to your fitness, nor, by that token is it higher for great athletes and lower for poor ones. Your resting heart rate, however, does. And noticably. I took my resting heart rate back at the outset of this adventure (well, doctors did - I had a minor stroke), and have been keeping an eye on it regularly, even before I splashed out on the gimcrack technological overload of the Garmin - my wife is a nurse and I have been careful to make sure I am not overdoing things. Along with the other body changes, by resting heart rate is now 7 bpm lower than it was in February.

    As to 'being arsed with all the technology', I think we all are running for our own reasons, and whatever works for you personally, is king. I don't like to run with music - i find it distracts me from the enjoyment of the running, but I don't disparage those who do. I prefer running alone - it gives me a bit of free headspace and is almost like meditating, but I know plenty of others who enjoy the cameraderie of running with groups or a partner. Some of us are looking to increase our distances to 10k, half or full marathon (an would-be ultrarunners on here?), others to nail the speediest 5k they can, many more just to keep going for a healthy 5k a few times a week, and probably some who just see it as a means to an end to lose some weight or whatever. All of these goals are equally worthwhile and valid and there is no 'right way', only the 'right way for you'.

  • That is really encouraging. I am only just in week 5 and cannot imagine running 30mins, let alone finding it easy, but like you, I really struggled with 60 secs at the beginning, so here's hoping I will be fit like you one day if I stick with the programme!

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