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Endurance Easy Run HR Question for the pros

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  • Endurance Easy Run HR Question for the pros

    Hello Garmin World: I am a novice runner with a 10K under my belt and avg. about 20-30 miles per week. I have a question for the more experienced runners concerning my endurance/easy runs.

    I prefer to run outdoors and have a few routes that are convenient for me. However, these routes have some long gradual inclines that always sends my HR up to as much as 95% max momentarily.

    My question is what do the pros suggest in terms of pace and/or HR when I run these routes on my easy days. I am under the impression that on my easy days I should not be running so hard as to get my HR to 95% of max. But, for me, in order to keep my HR in the moderate range when I run these inclines I would have to reduce my pace far below what is suggested for my easy runs.

    I am confused because I am not sure if I should be watching my pace or HR more. Should I slow down when I hit the inclines to keep my HR moderate or should I keep the same pace? Once the incline is over and I am back on level ground my HR returns to a more moderate rate.

    One last point to add is that I run early in the morning and I always have an incline in the first mile.

    Thanks very much for your help.

  • #2
    The key to your runs is not pace, but rather the intensity that you run. For your easy runs, you're going to want to slow your pace down to keep your heart rate in the range you're shooting for. As your level of fitness improves over time, you should see your pace increase in relation to your heart rate.

    The guide lines that tell you to run a certain pace in relation to a particular heart rate are exactly that "guide lines" they can't take into account how steep the terrain is that you're running over. Your body really has no idea how "fast" its running, only how hard it has to work to get there.

    Your heart rate and breathing is what determines how much oxygen and blood, flow to your muscles, which in turn, is what determines a hard/training run from an easy/recovery run. From that perspective pace is irrelevant. Train in you're proper heart rate zone, and improvements in your pace will naturally follow.

    At 95% of your maximum heart rate, your muscles will very quickly begin to enter an anerobic state (lack of oxygen) which is what we do with interval training or high intensity training runs. This is what forces muscles to increase their strength and stamina. But they have to have time to recover and rebuild, hence the "easy" or recovery runs.

    You might also consider giving yourself more of a warm up before hitting the hills. Unless you live at the bottom of a valley, (in which case it might be up hill both ways) try reversing your running route, and save the hills until after the first mile. This gives your heart, and blood time to get up to operating temperature, much like allowing your car to warm up before hammering the throttle on the freeway.


    • #3
      Just another point to note - if you are regularly hitting 95% max HR on easy runs maybe you should check that you have your HRmax correctly entered in your profile.

      The standard formulas such as 220 - your age are often way off. For example, I am 40 years old and using the recommended equations for estimating HRmax my value should be around 180. When I race my HR often reaches 195. To get a better assessment of your real HRmax you should test it and update your profile. This can make quite a big difference to your training if you are following a HR based program.

      Doing some hard out hill repeats is a good way of finding your HRmax!


      • #4
        Firstly read this - It gives a good description of how to find your anaerobic threshold. From that you can calculate your HR training zones as follows:

        Lactate Threshold% HR Zone
        65-81 Easy
        82-88 Aerobic
        89-93 Tempo
        94-102 Interval
        103-106+ Maximal

        There are slight variations to this, but since you are working to a range, the 2 or 3 beats difference is largely irrelevant.

        Be advised that training by numbers does not always work. You need to be able to relate perceived intensity to those numbers. Many conditions affect how hard your heart works during training. High temperatures will elevate your heart rate. Trying to maintain a Z2 run could be quite challenging. When fatigued, you may struggle to lift your heart rate to the required zone. In both cases, trying to do so could cause serious problems.

        There are a number of RPE scales out there however, 5 point one ties in quite nicely with 5 HR zones:

        Rate of perceived Exertion (RPE) 5 point scale

        Level 1 No effect, normal lounge lizard mode Easy

        Level 2 Slightly breathless, beginning to sweat, able to talk easily. Most base training Endurance

        Level 3 More breathless, sentences shorter, sweating harder. Up to 90mins training or race Tempo

        Level 4 Breathless, single word conversations, short, hard efforts up to 15 mins or short race Interval

        Level 5 Last thing you want to do is talk. Survival is the key. A couple of minutes before collapsing Max Effort


        • #5
          Thanks very much for the information! Very helpful for a newb like myself. I appreciate your help.

          Thank you