Run Bike Swim – HR Training Zones – Quick & Definitive Guide to Setting Heart Rate / Pace Zones

For each sport you will need to perform a ‘PROTOCOL TEST’ and revisit that every 4 or 6 weeks. The test I show are all accurate enough to give a meaningful result when comapred to a laboratory test which, let’s face, hardly any of us will be able to do.

Use this spreadsheet Calculator.

I’ve also indicated what other figures (proxy) you could use if you can’t even be bothered to do the suggested protocol test (hmmm!).

There are two types of test: HR Zone Tests or Power/Pace tests. you can use either or both in your training. There are many reasons why you might not use HR (eg it is not meaningful if you do short intervals) and why you might not be able to use power (requires special equipment).

A1. HR Protocol Test – Run

– Unaided or unhindered, go flat out for 30 minutes at race pace.

– Hit the lap counter on your GPS / heart rate device 10 minutes after starting.

– The average HR for the last 20 minutes approximates your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate turnpoint (LTHR)

– proxy: the last 20 minutes of your 10k PB but that is aided, or MAYBE your 5k PB but that is aided and maybe too short).

B1. HR Protocol Test – Bike

– Same as for running, you can use a turbo/trainer if you want

– proxy: the highest 20 minutes average heart rate in any longer ride plus a bit

C1. HR Protocol Test – Swim

– Not available

Now let’s use those figures…

A2. HR Training Zones – Run

Here are your training zones (Friel)

Zone 1 Less than 85% of LTHR
Zone 2 85% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 94% of LTHR
Zone 4 95% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

B2. HR Training Zones – Bike

These are your subtly different bike training zones (Friel)

Zone 1 Less than 81% of LTHR
Zone 2 81% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 93% of LTHR
Zone 4 94% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

That’s it!

The following are power/pace training zones

A3. Power Protocol Test – Bike

– It’s the same test you just did above!

– BUT use the average watts for the entire 30 minute test.

– This gives you your FTPw (Functional threshold Power watts)

B3. Pace Protocol Test – Run

– It’s the same test you just did above!

– BUT use the average pace for the entire 30 minute test.

– This gives you your FTPa (Functional Threshold Power )

C3. Protocol Test – Swim

– Swim 1000m

– Divide the total time taken by 10. This is your T-Time (Friel)

A4. Power Training Zones – Bike

– Training Peaks will give you workouts based on your T-time

Here are your training zones (Friel)

Zone 1 Less than 55% of FTPw
Zone 2 55% to 74% of FTPw
Zone 3 75% to 89% of FTPw
Zone 4 90% to 104% of FTPw
Zone 5 105% to 120% of FTPw
Zone 6 More than 120% of FTPw

B4. Pace Training Zones – RunHere are your training zones (Friel)

Zone 1 Slower than 129% of FTPa
Zone 2 114% to 129% of FTPa
Zone 3 106% to 113% of FTPa
Zone 4 99% to 105% of FTPa
Zone 5a 97% to 100% of FTPa
Zone 5b 90% to 96% of FTPa
Zone 5c Faster than 90% of FTPa

 C4. Pace Training Zones – Swim
– Training Peaks and other plans will use this T-time.
Other Points:
Once you have these basic zones you’re sorted! You can get plans drawn up for your or more easily use widely available plans and/or software. There are other similar and related measures; VDOT, TRIMP, WKO+, TSS, CTL, TSB. these help you consider the effects of fatigue or, perhaps, what pace you should do different length runs for.
I use SportTracks with the Training Load plugin and Garmin based GPS/HR devices. You can get power on a turbo trainer relatively easily without having to go for the expense of a very good trainer and all the paraphanelia that comes with it.
For example you can get a wheel speed/cadence sensor for a Garmin. That gives you speed. SportTracks then has plugins like TrainerPower which has the speed/power curve for your trainer. So you can use speed as a proxy for power. and power can be calculated.
Apparently you can get a USB stick that is ANT+ compatible. this then turns your laptop into a turbo trainer monitor device as there are SportTracks plugins that can use the real-time data generated from your bike/heart.! So your PC can become your real-time training display unit….Cool! Thought I’ve not tried it yet.
I use the HR training zones in SportTracks and use the TrainingLoad plugin to calculate and monitor my levels of fitness and fatigue. Useful stuff.
If you are a runner who cycles then your LTHR will probably be higher for running than cycling.

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