Determining Heart Rate at anaerobic threshold

by Angelos

How to determine the anaerobic threshold.

"Hi Marius,

I have a question regarding the heart rate at anaerobic/lactate threshold.

You wrote that anaerobic threshold appears somewhere between 80% and 87% of max heart rate. But in general two runners with the same max heart rate could have different threshold paces and subsequently different threshold heart rates.

Let's assume that two runners have both max heart rate 180 but runner 1 is less trained than runner 2.Anaerobic threshold appears in runner 1 at 82% of max Heart Rate(148)where in runner 2 the threshold appears at 86% of max Hear Rate(155).

If the anaerobic threshold zone for both is 80-87% of max hear rate(144-157)then it seems to me that training at this zone is much more difficult for runner1, comparing to runner 2.Would that cause any harm to runner 1?

Finally, do you consider as an alternative to find a field test to determine the AT hear rate and if yes , then which could be that test?

Best regards,


Answer : Hi Angelos, you are right that the anaerobic threshold is different from runner to runner, but more importantly it also differs for a given runner on a day to day basis, from training period to training period, - even if the runner does the workout in the morning or afternoon the same day (can be up to 10 beats different in heart rate)

I've done of 5000 blood lactate tests on myself while at the same time running with a heart rate monitor. As you know, the blood lactate measurements it the most accurate way to do this.

Point is : heart rate IS inaccurate to some extent BUT at the same time MOST runners will vary somewhere between 80 to 87 % at a given time. So this is a good zone to do this type of work.

If you need to have it more accurately, you have to 1) take a lactate test, you find most running labs offering these 2) then measure lactate on different types of sessions for at least a time period of 4-6 weeks to somewhat find "your pattern". I would say, though, it is much more important to structure the training well instead of getting too fixed with this at this point. I generally say this is important only if you want to hit sub 2:30 and down and/or run more than 7-8 times a week.

All the best,

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Heart rate zones and max heart rate

by Annette

Heart rate and the anaerobic threshold :

"Hi Marius,

My max heart rate is around 195

When talking about zone 3 and 4, as I have understood most people have their anaerobic threshold around 87,5% of VoMax

This would mean that I would find my zone 3 around 155 – 170 and zone 4 (up to 92%) around 171-179

During my 5-6 minutes intervals I have no problem working with a heart rate around 177 and I normally run my half marathon with 175-177 in heart rate.

After these races I have never felt that I have built up any acid as I never have been sore in my legs after the race. I also experience this in my interval training.

I feel that the given training zones often is too low and I wonder if you would recommend me to correct the zones according to my anaerobic threshold?

I once took a test to find my maximum heart rate etc. and they told me that my threshold is around 180.

Best regards


Answer: Hi Annette, and thanks for the question.

My well-balanced guess here is that your maximum heart rate is measured too low. It likely is around 200-203, which will make more sense.

That will give you the anaerobic threshold around 175-177, which is along with your half marathon time and is much closer to the 180 you were given after the test.

I see this often, that the maximum heart rate of runners is under-estimated. Usually, you can add about 5-8 beats to what you have at a maxium hard session (type at the end of a max effort 45 sec run, 15 sec rest x 10-15) done in the evening, uphill to find your "real" max HR.

So in your case I would definately change this according to that.

All the best,

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Max Heart Rate vs. Lactic Threshold Heart Rate

by Scott, answer by Marius
(Milwaukee, WI, USA)

What is the best to base your heart rate training on : maximum heart rate or tested heart rate zone on the lactate threshold ?


I recently purchased your program and am enjoying it. I have read a lot about basing heart rate zones on the lactic threshold heart rate (LTHR) rather than maximum heart rate. What is your opinion on this? "

Answer: Hi Scott and thank you for the question.

I've done over 5500 lacate acid tests for the threshold through my own running career and matched it to heart rate as I always run with both.

This is my take on your question :
Basing it on maximum heart rate is more than good enough (and probably the best way) but if your level in the marathon reaches 2:10 to 2:15 you want to switch over to using a lacate acid meter instead for more accuracy.

Point with heart rate is this - you will have daily variations of about 5-7 beats on your lacate threshold so it is really only a matter of "estimate". My personal experience when cross testing athletes on all levels is that they'll hit the zones pretty well, using maximum heart rate as the "reference" for the zones. And I don't think you can get close/more accurate using the lactic treshold heart rate as a reference point instead. The daily statistical variation is too great.

In the 100 day marathon plan I've used my experience with heart rate vs. the 5500 lactate acid tests and composed the sessions (in terms of duration, recovery etc) so that it will be as close as possible to "staying within the right zone", using the max heart rate as that particular reference. This helps the general accuracy of using heart rate as a training tool.

Another problem with using the exact tested lacate threshold for heart rate zones is that these tests are usually done in the labs, inside on the treadmill. Because of the duration of the test (where the LT usually is found quite a bit into the test) + the heat (cardiac drift) and the treadmill itself (higher frequency), you'll find a higher threshold heart rate many times as compared to "outside". So in that case you want to cross test both outside and inside with a lactate acid meter!

Hope this helped abit.

Kind regards and best of luck,


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Maximum Heart Rate - Karvonen

by Omar
(nashville, tn)

Karvonen formula or 205,6 - age for maximum heart rate, which one to use ?

"What's your opinion on the Karvonen Formula HR for the 5 zones? The numbers are much higher than taking actually x% of MHR for each zone. For example, if I apply the following formula Take 205.6 and subtract the result of 0.685 * age, I get 180.94 for MHR since I am 36 yrs old. Hence Zone 1 would be 126.6 bpm. According to Karvonen Formula, zone 1 is 146 bpm since my resting HR is 58 bpm. Can you help me with wich one I should follow?

Answer: Omar, I answered a similar question here : Heart Rate Formula

I always recommend to actually test your maximum heart rate if you are in fair shape already. This is so much more accurate !

If you have trouble pushing yourself enough to the max, my experience is that if you add 5-7 beats to the highest you get on a 20 x 45 sec run 15 sec recovery (see the 100 day plan workouts) if you go "all out" at the end of this session, you are pretty close as well.

IF you must use a formula though, my personal experience is that the 205,6 formula works the best - and I've seen this over and over again when compared directly to Karvonen and then tested the max HR threreafter.

Best of luck,


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High Heart Rates and Low Speed Running

by Rand C
(Calgary Canada)

What is the way to deal with the pace in the 100 day plan versus the speed outlined there ?

"I have recently completed a 1hr 50min half marathon, chapter three shows I should try for the full under 4hrs. I have a max heart rate of 200bpm (tested).

But my heart rates and the paces do not match up anywhere near what you have shown on the chart in the four hour plan. I am about 1min/km slower at any given effort level when compared to the same heart rates. To Run 5:51/km (effort 1)I would be into the effort 3 category (low 150s)-Likewise at 137bpm my pace would be that of walking quickly.

Does that just mean I am more out of shape than I thought? should I start with a slower plan and maybe move up or should i stick with it and move down if necessary? "

Answer:Hi Rand and thank you for the question.

I've touched on this in two previous posts : heart rate and pace and heart race versus pace

The bottom line is : you want to go with heart rate if you can. I've basically only added pace in there that will be correctly related to the slight majority of runners but this varies a great deal based on previous shape, type of runner etc. But heart rate is always a good tool to go with - for anyone.

However, in your case I would do the following : on your easy runs, when you say you have to walk in Effort 1 - I would instead do these as "walk-runs". Meaning you alternate running and walking (and maybe add a few minutes to them). Say run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes, run 7 min, walk 7 min etc. In the walking part, stay in Effort 1 but allow yourself a little bit into Effort 2 on the running part.

Later down the road you will find yourself running comfortably in Effort 1 but this is a good plan at the current time and it usually works really well to combine walk/runs like that.

As for your marathon goal, based on your half marathon time I would go with the 4:00 plan and it can always be adjusted if you need to later down the road.

I wish you all the best with your training !

Kind regards,

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