Zone 2 training is something I get asked about quite often. You may have heard us talk about it in the quick tip segment of MTA podcast episode 178.
Many people find that they have to slow way down or even add walking intervals to keep their heart rate in Zone 2.
This can be frustrating but it reflects the state of your aerobic system and the fact that a better endurance base needs to be built. So give it time!
With regular Zone 2 training your speed will start to increase while keeping your heart rate down. But this process can take 3-6 months (depending on your starting point) so it’s important to have patience.
After this 3-6 month period when the progress you’ve made in Zone 2 has reached a plateau you can add in speed work again while keeping your easy runs in Zone 2 (similar to using the 80/20 method of easy/hard training).
The Maffetone Calculation
If you’re interested in using Zone 2 training it’s important to figure out what your Zone 2 numbers are because there are a variety of metrics out there.
The most accurate is getting a V02 max test done in an exercise laboratory. However, you can get a decent estimate by using the Maffetone calculation of 180-age= upper number of Zone 2.
To read more about the Maffetone method including the rationale behind it and frequently asked questions see www.philmaffetone.com/180-formula/
If you have a Garmin watch you may notice that Zone 3 there correlates more closely to Maffetone Zone 2.
Wearing a heart rate monitor and using heart rate training gives us information on how our body is functioning while running so that we can adjust the intensity accordingly to develop better cardiovascular endurance.
Simply put, a healthy aerobic system helps us run more effectively. Signs of a poor aerobic system can include higher body fat, performance plateaus, injuries, fatigue, and less than ideal health.
I wrote a much longer blog post about heart rate training in the past for those who want to dig deeper.
photo credit: Charlotte Vogel from Noun Project