Heart Rate Training Marathon

by Shawn, Answer by Marius
(South Carolina)

Heart rate training for the marathon is a great way of boosting your endurance in a controlled matter. Shawn sent this question :

I've read through your site on heart rate training and am intrigued by it. However, I don't understand how to apply the concept to a "standard" mileage chart for marathon training. Can you help cure my ignorance?

Hi Shawn, this is how it works :

In your marathon training you want two things ;

1) A controlled alternation between your easy and hard training days.

2) Variation in your training, but where the main portion of the training is at an intensity that gives you "the best benefit"

What heart rate training does when you are marathon training is to make sure that you run easy enough on the easy runs, which should be below 70 % of maximum heart rate. My experience is that most go above this on their easy run.

The result ?

Not enough recovery before the hard sessions and a sure way to "overtraining" and "underperforming".

On the hard training days on the other hand, you use a heart rate monitor to control how hard is ideal to run. For most sessions this is between 80 and 87 % of maximum heart rate. Now, this is a training zone that is hard to determine without the "help" of something like a heart rate monitor. With a heart rate monitor, however, this is real easy.

If you want to do heart rate training, I have a whole section about this in the 100 day plan for marathon training : Marathon Training There you will also find the full outline in a day to day schedule to your question.

Best of luck with your training !

Kind regards,

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