Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Using Heart Rate Zones for planning a weekly running program

Okay, we've gone through how to determine what our heart rate zones, MHR, RHR and anaerobic thresholds are. The obvious question is how do we apply this in a running program?

Well, here's the good news. Armed with this information, you now have everything you need to never waste one day running wondering if you are doing too little, too much or just enough effort in your running each day. Sound like this is worth knowing? Let's apply time tested training from the elite athletes and apply them to our training.

Simple rule to start with that can be applied to world class athletes as well as to the everyday runner. I call it the 70/20/10 rule. 70 percent of all your miles run should be at your 70% zone or less. 20% should be at 70-85% of your zone, and 10% [or less] should be done at 85% plus. There are some tweaks we will have to make, depending on what distance race you are training for, but overall, this is a pretty good rule to follow.

In the 1980s, Jess Jarver, an Australian track coach, came up with a hard/easy formula for all major distances. This formula was to give the runner a definitive guide on how much of their weekly mileage should be done in an aerobic vs. and anaerobic state. The distances and the ratios are as follows:

Distance    Aerobic/Anaerobic Ratio

¼ mile        18.5%/81.5%

½ mile        35%/64%

Mile        52.5%/47.5%

5K        80%/20%

10K        90%/10%

Marathon    97.5%/2.5%

Although, his study was silent on the Half Marathon distance, I've found the right ratio to be a 95%/5% aerobic/anaerobic blend.

There have been many studies done since, yet the ratios have remained relatively the same except for the 5K and lower distances. (For example, the anaerobic percentage is smaller - 16% for the 5K) I'm assuming most runners are running in the 5K and longer races, so these ratios are important in planning your weekly workouts.

Let's use an example of a runner that is training for a 10K race and putting in 30 miles a week in their training. Applying Jarver's formula, it would tell us that 3 miles of the 30 miles (10%) should be done in the anaerobic state. So to apply this to our heart rate discussion, this would mean that the heart rate should be in the 85% or higher range for 3 miles each week. Using my 70/20/10 rule, it would also mean that 6 miles should be in the 70-85% range, and 21 miles at 70% or less.

So to put this in a weekly schedule, Tuesday could be a speed workout of 12 - ¼ mile at 85%-max heart rate (with a 15 minute warm-up and 10 minute cool-down and ¼ mile walk breaks). Thursday a Tempo Workout of 6 miles (with a similar warm-up and cool-down). The weekend long run of 10-12 miles and all other days in the week at 70% or less of heart rate.

I hope the past week's discussion on heart rate training was useful in planning your running program. I'm sure you will have questions as you apply the discussion to your training. Feel free to contact me at marathonmadman@gmail.com with any questions as you incorporate it into your training.

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