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Heart Rate Training Basics

January 08, 2024 4 min read

What are Heart Rate Training Zones

If you want to become a better runner, knowing your resting heart rate, training zones and recovery heart rate will help you excel at running. Heart rate training helps you to recover better, lets you know when you need to rest, enhances performance and tells you when you need to speed up and slow down.

Heart Rate Zones are set up in a series of 5 zones. From Resting Heart Rate (your heart rate at rest) to your Maximum Heart Rate (your heart rate going as hard as you can!). The most accurate way to test your heart rate zones are through a VO2 MAX test. Since this test isn’t readily available we can more easily use a RPE Chart as seen below to guide your training. If you have a heart rate capabilities on your smart watch, even better!


The following is an explanation of the 5 Heart Rate Training Zones. Hate math? Click here to get your numbers immediately and begin to incorporate heart rate training into your routine today!

ZONE 1- VERY EASY @50-60% of Your MAX HEART RATE(MHR) How do you get your MAX HEART RATE? Take 220 – your age= Maximum Heart Rate

Zone one is reserved for warm-up and recovery. Intensity will be very low.


Zone 2 is reserved for those easy or long run days. This is when we can incorporate the “talk test” which is that you are running at a pace you could hold a conversation. This is the hardest zone for endurance athletes as your instincts may tell you to run faster but you must try to keep that slow and easy pace.


Zone 3 is where the “tempo run” may come in. This pace is where strength and speed is developed. Runs in this zone should last anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Conversations should be hard to come by as you would only be able to speak a few words at a time. Be careful though as many runners tend to over train by spending too much time in this zone.


Zone 4 is where your training would consist of INTERVAL and FARTLEK runs. This is where your body improves it Lactate Threshold. The speed here is so intense that you’d be only covering maybe a 3 miles or completing 1 mile repeats. This zone works more of your FAST TWITCH, sprint muscles and other runs work your slow twitch muscles (we are all born with a different amount of these).


Zone 5 can only be worked in 5 minute or less increments of time because of the intensity level of speed. This speed would be used while doing 200 or 400 repeats where you are allowing rest in between each interval. This is also the speed you would think of when you are running towards the finish line!

What is a “Good” Heart Rate Training Zone?

This will all depend on the purpose of each individual workout and your overall goal. Heart rate zones can also be affected by








Heart rate can change day to day. This is why you want to get started with heart rate observation right away so you can see how these different things affect your body. It will make you more in sync with your body and will also help guide your training plan.

A morning run

How to Use My Zone for Training

Understand that 80% of your training should be done in Zone 1 and Zone 2. This can be tough when first starting out. It’s important to mix your training plan with easy run days, with hills, tempos and intervals. It’s a lot to take in if you are learning how to balance a plan with strength training and recovery days too. If feeling overwhelmed it would be good time to reach out to a group coaching or individual coaching program like my RUN WITH PURPOSE PROJECT or I can coach you 1 on 1 too.

Resting Heart Rate & Running

Your resting heart rate is an important indicator to identify if your training plan is actually working or can help you identify if your overtraining. The average persons resting heart rate is between 80-100. Elite athletes resting heart rate can drop to close to 40 bpm but the average “runners” resting heart rate is between 50-70 bpm (beats per minute).

-If your resting heart rate is increasing it can be a sign of illness or overtraining

-If your resting heart rate is decreasing it’s a sign that you are getting more fit

-If it drops alarmingly fast it too can be a sign of overtraining or illness

BOTTOM LINE? Go HARD on hard days, and go slow on easy days. I’m not talking kinda slow, I mean slow. Do you need a watch that measures your heart rate? No you don’t, BUT if you really want to be a better runner, I’d highly suggest it!

Please share if your like what you are seeing or if you think it can help someone else!

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