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1523 Views 3 Replies Latest reply: Apr 1, 2012 1:50 PM by Balufudus
Balufudus Rookie 29 posts since
Dec 14, 2007
Currently Being Moderated

Mar 30, 2012 5:00 AM

question for anyone using heart rate training: HR zones and races

So I just picked up a book on heart rate (HR) training and will be starting one of the recommended training programs from the book soon. That said, I have been training for the Boston Marathon and have NOT been using HR training.


Everyone knows the advice of NOT starting the marathon too fast. Typically, the advice is to make sure that your pace is not too fast out of the gate.


Does anyone know if it would be acceptable to substitute the recommended marathon race HR of 80-85% (based on my initial internet research) for pace? Assuming that the max HR formula is fairly accurate for me, shouldn't this give me an accurate measure of level of effort?


Or should I just stick with pace?

  • ydiez Pro 161 posts since
    Nov 7, 2011

    I am not an expert in training and so far have only run a few half marathons, so use my advice with caution.


    I used to train for my HMs using the heart rate monitor as reference, one day it broke down and I still haven't got around to replacing it, so since then I have been running using pace time as a reference.


    I would say HR takes into account more factors (nerves, heat...) but most of them are quite constant during training. I prefer looking at the pace per mile so I have an idea on how my finishing time is looking. I use my perception of effort as a safeguard (low pace difficult to keep up with means slow down, for example).

    Current PB:

    5k: 19:53 (December 31st 2014)

    10k : 42:30 (March 9th 2014)

    Half Marathon: 1:32:40 (February 1st 2015)

    Marathon: 3:33:31 (March 15th 2015)

    Completed my first marathon! Feeling like getting some more!

  • thedevotedrunner Legend 439 posts since
    Jul 7, 2009

    The answer would depend on your goal.  If your goal is to finish in a certain time..then you need to run by pace.  Running by HR you may or may not reach your goal pace.  If your goal is to finish well and strong, then yes.  You would simply substitute the marathon pace HR. 


    When training by HR, you will reach the same effort level no matter what the conditions.  If it is 55f, you will run much faster at an 85% HR than if it is 90f. Your effort level, however should be approximately the same. 


    Word of caution, do not rely on the standard max HR formulas (220-age).  They are notoriously inaccurate.  Google "max HR test" and you should get some results on how to find your max HR.  The most reliable way is to get a treadmill test done at a doctors office, but the ones you do yourself are better than the standard formula. 

    Running the straight and narrow,


    "Run because you love it. If you don't, learn to love it. Running will bring things into your life that you could never imagine." - Scott Jurek, Star of "Born To Run"

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