Running in the zones!

(Southport UK)

Where to stay in the different running zones :

"Hi Marius,
When training at the different work levels should one try and stay at the upper level of each zone; ie in the 2.45 plan Level 3 is from Marathon to 1/2 marathon pace, so I guess what I'm asking will best results be had by staying at the upper level of each zone or should you go by feel ie on a good day hold the upper level of each zone, but if say you feel a big tired stay closer to the lower level of each zone?"

Answer: Hi Rick, excellent question!

My advice is this : on most days (the "average day"), start at the lower end of the zone and work yourself up - and then from about half way through stay in the higher end stabile for the remaining of the workouts. On "tired days" you can stay in the lower end the whole session and maybe only push a bit up in the last 5-10 minutes. Now, if you feel great a particular day -usually identified with running fast AND getting heart rate fast up without any effort - then stay flat at the higher end the whole session. I've tested this with lactate testing and this makes it the most accurate in terms of actual lactate on the blood tests.

I wish you all the best with your training,
Kind regards,

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Pace early in the marathon schedule

by Bob Scott
(Atlanta, Georgia, US)

When the pace is off and you are early in the marathon schedule.

"I am following the plan for a sub 4:00 marathon using my heart rate monitor to meet the effort levels during the training. My pace, however, is much slower than the pace shown in the table corresponding to the corresponding effort level. Can I expect that to improve or am I stuck at actually running a slower marathon?"

Answer Hi Bob, it usually takes a little bit of time to get used to the training so no worries ! Stick to your heart rate monitor and evaluate your pace right around week 7-8. Then if you plan a half marathon at week 11 as it is set up for you, that will give you the exact time you want to aim at in the actual marathon.

But you are working this the right way - do run with heart rate but notice your pace and see it improve in the weeks to come !

Kind regards,

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Can not keep up with the pace

by Hege
(Sandefjord, Norway)

What to do if you cannot keep the pace in the first part of the program :

"Hello Marius
I have just started using your program. Today I ran the first lesson in week 1 in the sub 4 program. It consisted of 4x800 m (zone 4) and 400 m rec (zone 2).
I can not keep the pace of 3 minutes in 800 meters..... You have an alternative if you can not run it on a track. I became concerned because I had to use about 3 min 50 sec on my 800 meters.
Do I need to worry?? Change program? I ran in New York in 2007 in 3.59.05.

Best regards Hege"

Answer Hi Hege, I've touched on this in a few previous answers. There is no need to worry.

You have two options :

1. Change over to running with effort or heart rate for a while - then see where you are at in the upcoming races (and not worry about pace until then). IF this seems too much off in terms of goal time (especially the 10k/half marathon in there) you may consider switching schedule.

2. Changing over now, then race the races and go back to the goal schedule after that if you perform according to that.

It is a matter of perferance, really - though option one may be the preferred one for many. But either way, remember that the schedules are 100 % flexible so that you can switch over any time:) And they all have the same system so that you are ensured the progress you want - no matter what your goal time.

I wish you all the best,

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Heart rate always goes to E3/E4 instead of E1

by Bogdan
(Iasi, Romania)

To train with heart rate or speed ; and the Effort 1 being Effort 3 with heart rate (vs. speed)

"Hi Marius,

I am on the week 6 of the training schedule and I am slightly puzzled by my heart rate. I have been training for the 3:30 schedule, and I was doing it by the speed zones.
Recently I have acquired a garmin watch, with a heart rate monitor, and my heart rate seems to by defying the HR zones for the given speeds.
In fact it seems my HR goes into the E3/E4 zone, regardless of the type of training.
After 5 minutes of running with the E1 speed, my heart is already in the E3 HR zone.
After 10 minutes, I am well set in the E4 zone and then in the next hour it seems to stay around 170-173bpm which is the upper E4 zone.
The E3/E4 training sessions seem to quickly take my HR well into the Zone 5 (175-182 bpm).
Today I had my 5k run test, and my Max HR was 193, with an average HR of 182 (which would be the upper limit of E5)
The difference is that the easy runs are easy runs (meaning the legs might get tired, but not me or my lungs), while the 5k run nearly drained all my energy.
The 5k time indicated that I am in the right time zone for the marathon training so I am not sure what am I supposed to do.
Should I continue to train using the speed zones? Should I focus on the HR zones? The problem is that it seems that the only way to stay in the E1 zone is to run 25% slower than the E1 speed zone.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I could use your input on this. I actually feel good following the speed zones, they seem to be fitting me at the moment, the reason I am asking is because my heart rate zones seem to be kind of way too compact."

Answer:Hi Bogdan, and thanks for your question.

First of all, are you 100 % sure that you have the correct max HR ? From what it seems, you mayhave one that is 5-10 beats higher.

Having said that : since you've already trained with speed so far with success I would continue doing this through the schedule. And not worry about heart rate. Then, for your next marathon, take a max HR test when you are in good shape and see 100 % what this is. Then train with heart rate for the next marathon.

I strongly suggest sticking to either speed OR heart rate throughout the schedule. Though I'm generally a fan of heart rate training, if you can follow the speed in the 100 day plan well ; you will still get some of the varations we are after ; even though the intensity may push itself a little high on some runs ; and tend to stay a bit much within the same range, like in your case.

Having said that, on the easy runs - from what you write, I would suggest running just that little bit slower on these, 15-20 %. That will help you recover faster, especially in the harder weeks to come. Effort 1 has quite a bit of variation in it from person to person - some run very economically in it compared to the higher zone ; but in your case you may float better at the higher speeds.

Congrats on the 5k - that you are right at target pace now is a great indication of the work done so far :)

I wish you all the best,


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