Heart Rate Training

IMG_3959I use heart rate training when I run as opposed to pace or speed.  I find it works well for me and means that I run more in tune with my body and how I’m feeling, instead of just trying to run as fast as I can.

I got the idea from Stu Mittleman’s book ‘Slow Burn’ and it has honestly been a life changer for me in the way I run and the way I train.

For more information, read this post I wrote about heart rate training, and see my review of Slow Burn here.

In heart rate training, there are three zones to train in:

  • Aerobic 70-80%
  • Effective 80-85%
  • Anaerobic 85-95%

I’ve made a Heart Rate Zones Calculator that works it out for you, but if you want to know how to manually work it out and want to know more about each zone, then read on…

Here are the indicators for each zone:

I clearly recognise the indicators here from when I go into each zone when I run. And it’s made me really think more about what my heart rate is at when I’m running, so that I don’t under or over do it. (Or I choose, with the help of my heart rate monitor and the zones, when I’ll over or under do it, to be more precise).

Here’s my blog post about different Run Workouts within the different Heart Rate zones….

… How do you work out your Aerobic, Effective and Anaerobic heart rate zones?

You work out your Heart Rate figures for these zones by using your:

  • Age.
  • Level of aerobic activity you partake in.

I’ve made a Heart Rate Zones Calculator that works it out for you,
but here’s the maths behind the calculations:

First, you work out your Effective heart rate zone:

To calculate your initial upper Effective heart rate limit:
180 – your age

For me, my initial upper Effective HR: 180 – 31 = 149

To calculate your initial lower Effective heart rate limit:
Your upper Effective limit – 10

For me, my initial lower Effective HR: 139.

To get your actual Effective HR zone, follow these steps:

  • +10 beats to the lower and upper limits if you do more than 3 hours of aerobic activity a week.
  • +5 beats to the lower and upper limits if you do less than 3 hours of aerobic activity a week, but you are aerobically active.
  • -5 beats to the lower and upper limits if you are just starting out.
  • -10 beats to the lower and upper limits if you are on medication or recovering from a recent illness.

I do more than 3 hours of aerobic activity a week, so I add 10 to my lower and upper numbers:

My lower Effective HR is: 149
My upper Effective HR is: 159

Then you can calculate your Aerobic heart rate:

To calculate your lower Aerobic heart rate zone:

Your lower Effective HR – 20.

For me, my lower Aerobic HR: 149 – 20 = 129.

Then you can calculate your Anaerobic heart rate zone:

Your upper Effective HR + 20.

For me, my upper Anaerobic HR: 159 + 20 = 179.

So for me, my:

Aerobic HR zone is: 129 – 149
Effective HR zone is: 149 – 159
Aerobic HR zone is: 159 – 179

To make it easy to remember, I’ve adjusted them as follows:

Aerobic HR zone is: 130 – 150
Effective HR zone is: 150 – 160
Aerobic HR zone is: 160 – 180

This is approximately the following % of my max heart rate (220 – 31 = 188)

Aerobic HR zone is: 65% – 80%
Effective HR zone is: 80% – 85%
Aerobic HR zone is: 85% – 95%


And based on my Heart Rates in the zones above, I’d say that my most effective heart rate is: 155, between 150 – 160.

See here for my Heart Rate Zones Calculator and here for Heart Rate Zone Workouts.

Note: The above theory is taken from Stu Mittleman’s ‘Slow Burn‘.  Go buy it.  🙂

What about Garmin Training Effect?

You might find me talking about the Garmin Training Effect in my blog … it’s a new feature of the Garmin 610 where your Garmin will give your workout a score from 1-5 and helps you to decide on how you might vary your training accordngly.

‘Using your heart rate’ (and other variables) ‘Training Effect tells you if the exercise you are doing is maintaining your current fitness level or improving it.’ 

It’s become another good indicator for me to let me know how hard I worked and how I can adapt my training.

For more information – see here: Garmin Training Effect

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