Heart Rate Zone Calculator | 2:19 Marathoner Tips

October 3, 2022

Are you seeking more information about using a heart rate zone calculator? If so, welcome to Nutrition Geeks. I am glad you have made it here. The best heart rate calculator I normally use is is located Calculator Soup. It is simple, gets to the point and gives you an overall estimate of the heart rates you should aim at. Running success comes from training properly at the adequate intensities. The problem is far too many runners run too easy too often. The result is they miss their time goals and are unable to sustain goal race pace long enough.

I have created training plans and running courses built to help runner succeed. I was very fortunate to have been coached by 3 of the world's top distance running coaches. The end goal when it comes to to heart rate monitor is to improve the athlete's lactate tolerance. We want to sustain goal race pace longer and slow down less than our competition.

Easy running is important. That being said, aerobic running will not teach you to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. So, you have to train sufficiently and fast enough for adaptation to occur. You also need to be jogging on easy days to ensure that adaptation from the hard training takes effect. Remember, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to physiologically adapt to any stress being placed on it. So, the first step is to use the heart rate zone calculator, calculate your paces and focus on staying in those heart rate zones.

How Do I Calculate My Heart Rate Zones?

The most well-known method is to subtract your age from 220. How accurate this is? Well, there are better methods. The best way is to run an all-out 400m or 800m on the track and get your heart rate after you are done. Of course, there are other methods which are even more accurate. The most accurate, when you are fit, is to get a vo2 max stress test completed. Dr. Randy Wilbur, a world-renowned exercise physiologist, tested me at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

heart rate zone calculator
Coach Pennington undergoing Vo2 max stress test

You can see the picture taken of me undergoing that test above. They basically run you to exhaustion and test your blood lactate levels at varying intensities. Your vo2 max is your body's maximum oxygen uptake. We run between 95 to 105 percent of our maximum heart rate running at these intensities. The greatest benefit of workouts spent at these intensities is it helps lessen the demand of your goal race pace.

You will be able to hand the pace more efficiently. More importantly, get from the start to finish line in record time and set a new personal best. We definitely want that result.

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What Heart Rate Zone Should I Be in to Burn Fat?

It will depend on the age of the athlete. You want to be anywhere from 55 to 65% of your maximum heart rate to be in the fat burning zone. I would highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I regularly use the Garmin 245. It helps me to stay in the correct heart rate zones the heart rate zone calculator provides to me. Again, to drop substantial time off of your current best you have to train at higher intensities throughout the week.

Remember, quality is what matters more than volume. You can be running high mileage and still never set a new personal best for your chosen distance. The reason being is you simply are spending too many miles or kilometers at too aerobic of an effort. The world's top distance runners run between 35 to 40 percent of their weekly mileage at or below their anaerobic threshold. We run between 85 to 89 percent of max heart rate running at these intensities.

Is it Better to Be in Fat Burn or Cardio Intensity?

It is better to train at faster paces as you will burn more calories than fat burning effort. In addition, you will get a larger physiological boost by training above 85 percent of max heart rate. Again, if your goal is to race your chosen distance more effect and sustain race pace longer, faster training matters most. I have created running courses and training plans built specifically to help runners drop time.

I share the exact tactics that helped me drop my marathon PR from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. In addition, how I dropped substantial time off of my other personal bests. You are more than welcome to visit our about page if you would like to know more about my racing history. My overall goal now with nutritiongeeks.com and our sister site rundreamachieve.com is to help more runners earn new personal bests.

How to Be a Stronger Runner

Focus first on building your aerobic base mileage foundation. The key tactic is not to rush your fitness. I always tell my athletes that a longer build up is better than a shorter one. The optimal time to train for most races is 16 weeks and preferably up to 20 to 24 weeks. Again, you don't want to be in a rush. There are far too many runners who try to get ready in a matter of 8 to 12 weeks. Of course, you can get in legitimate shape in this time frame.

That being said, if you are seeking excellence I would strongly consider 16 to 24 weeks. You can click on any of the green buttons on this post to learn more about our running resources. Longer tempo runs are also essential. Remember, the longer you train at your lactate threshold effort, the better off you are going to be. Why do the world's best runners make it look so easy? They are putting in quality mileage and not running slow too often.

Run Faster Long Runs

Have you been running long and slow every single weekend for your long runs? If so, stop doing that. Yes, you still want to run slow but just not every weekend. How did I go from being a 2:43:36 marathoner down to 2:19:35? Faster, varied paced long runs. The heart rate zone calculator mentioned in the first paragraph will give you your intensities. Once you have them then we need to start focusing on training at those heart rate zones.

Below are some examples of faster long runs I was doing prior to breaking the 2:20 marathon barrier. Of course, you can adjust paces to match your own goals. My reason for sharing this is just to share with you what these types of long runs look like. Remember, always run the following week's long run nice and slow. The real adaptation occurs during the rest period after your hard training is completed.

  • 2 mile jog, 7 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 6 miles@6:00 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:05, 2 mile jog (23 miles)
  • 1 mile jog, 10 miles@5:25 mile pace, 2 mile jog, 5 miles@5:55 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:15, 1 mile jog (21 miles)

The following weeks' long run would be running around 9 minute mile pace for 18 to 23 miles.

Mentally Rehearse

How much time have you devoted to mental training in your past training? I ask that because most runners only focus on physical training and bypass this critical step. Do you want to drop significant time off of your current personal best times? If so, start implementing mental training into your routine. You don't need to spend more than 10 minutes daily doing this.

I would suggest rehearsing in your mind getting across the finish line in record time when you first get up in the morning. You can also do this when you go to bed at night. So, see yourself passing people and running strong. You will, over several weeks, have trained your subconscious mind to produce the result you are seeking. So many runners miss this essential part of training.

JOG on Easy Days

You already have the discipline to run fast, do speed workouts and long runs. That being said, you also have to take that same discipline and apply it to your recovery days. There is only so many times you can push the body hard before diminished returns occur. Again, I want you to get a new personal best in all of your race distances. I built training plans and running courses for this very reason.

My aim is to teach you the same tactics and strategies that the world's top runners and coaches taught to me. I trained with sub 2:10 marathoners who would run 9 minute mile pace on their easy days. Remember, these are athletes that can run under 5 minute mile pace for 26.2 miles. So, if they can slow down then so can you and I.

Closing Thoughts

I hope that this post on the heart rate zone calculator has been helpful to you. More importantly, that the tools I have shared with you in this post will help you set a new personal best. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I focus on producing at least 2 new videos there, weekly to help runners such as yourself get to the next level.

So, to recap, focus on your build up first of at least 4 weeks of easy, aerobic mileage. Do 1, vo2 max workout per week, 1 tempo run and 1 long run. Don't run long and slow every single weekend. The training plans and running courses I have created take the guesswork out of your preparation. So, you will be doing the right workouts specific to your own race goals. More importantly, you will know why you are doing them. I hope that the running tips shared in this post help you to make the next big leap in your racing.

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