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running and Heart Rate Zones


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I apologize ahead of time for the length. This is pasted from a question I asked in my report. Bottom line...what should my workout look like as far as times spent in zone 2, 3 and 4 for a beginning runner run\walking 3-4 times a week for 2.7 miles and walking 2.7 miles 2 days a week. Goal is to lose weight, be able to run a 5k with no walking and improve overall fitness. (after that I want to work on increasing speed and distance even more). Here are my thoughts so far...PS I have a heart rate monitor.

So I know via field test my MHR is 194. I know that in the "fat burning" zone you utilize 85% fat for fuel and 50% in aerobic. But i agree with you in that eventually your body has to replenish it's stores anyway so calories in calories out. and I read about a study that said something like the subcutaneous fat was lost at higher rates post workout at higher intensities and therefore made up for the lower percentage during the workout. 
My confusion comes in because I was reading about base training and like you said the body learns how to better use it's fat reserves for energy. Should I workout in the fat burning zone for a few weeks to train my body's metabolism. Would I reap benefits from spending perhaps a third of the time in fat burn and the rest of the time in aerobic and anaerobic zones, should I forget fat burning and stick to higher intensities. I've read about people having an issue where they can easily get to there anaerobic threshold but have shortchanged themselves by not training their aerobic base and thereby hurt their efficiency. 
"Why is this important? The more work you perform aerobically, or in the presence of oxygen, the more efficient you are. Prolonged aerobic training produces muscular adaptations that improve oxygen transport to the muscles, reduces the rate of lactate formation, improves the rate of lactate removal and increases energy production and utilization. These adaptations occur slowly over time. Fat is a primary fuel source for the aerobic energy system. Over the course of a base period your body learns to break down and utilize fat as an energy source more efficiently. As an added bonus, this adaptation helps post-exercise fat metabolism as well.'
So what should my run look like in terms of time in each zone(my question mark button stopped working fyi)

I'm am still working toward running 5k, Zombies, Run 5k is a couch to 5k program. I'm on week 2 there are 8 weeks. So Should I aim for the anaerobic zone, for me that would be 168 to 182 (I think that is using a formula that takes your resting heart rate and therefore overall fitness level into account.). Good tip on looking at recovery time, I'll be doing that for tomorrows run. I start feeling like I can't sustain it long around 170 (which is the anaerobic zone according to my numbers). What I did for part of my working is run until I was around 174 and then walk until it dropped to 164 and then run again etc...This is actually tottering between aerobic upper level and anaerobic. Should I do like 5 min in zone 2, 15 in zone 3, 10 in zone 4 or something like that or should I aim for one zone per workout with maybe recovery days in zone 2, 2\3 run days in zone 3 and 1\3 run days in zone 4...

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I think you are over thinking this and making it more difficult than it needs to be.

I am not a runner but did try the C25K program once and didn't last 3 days because I don't enjoy running.  With that said the couch program is designed to build your endurance and because it is an "interval" training program it uses all the basics of a good cardio and endurance program from day one.

In the ACE personal trainer manual in summary states that interval training ( few repetitions of higher intensity exercise followed by recovery periods) promotes similar improvements in VO2 max and fitness as steady state cardio, and it is a more time efficient method of training, but may not be appropriate for deconditioned clients.  Also says interval training also provides additional benefits beyond the aerobic and anearobic adaptions and improves lactate threshold.  these adaptations enhance the ability to sustain higher intensities and longer periods.  then it goes on to discuss the slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fiber adaptations also.  

So I am gathering from your information you are new to cardio conditioning training in which case doing a warm up ( which the C25K does) then do aerobic intervals high intensity for 3 min followed by a recovery interval for twice as long.  Again if I remember the C25K program this is what it has you do.  So each time you are working out you are increasing the amount of time running and building up to a steady run of 5K.  

I think learning to run and being intuned to your body is key.  

I have a HRM and use it often.  some days my perceived rate of exertion is telling me I'm working out in the 85% zone, only to look at my HRM and my heart rate is only in zone 2.  I'll be short of breath and feeling like I'm going to die, yet my HRM says you aren't even working out yet!  Then there are other days I feel fine, yet my HRM has me maxed out in the 150's ( I'm 53)

I think it is important just to allow some days you are going to just do a slower pace and then other days try to push yourself hard.  Keep building up the time running vs time recovering and just follow the program as written and don't worry about heart rates.

Also I will add I hate the "fat burning zone" ignore it- it is really a deceptive term.  If you want to lose weight it is a matter of just not eating more calories than you burn.  Also in the ACE PT course it says if goal is for someone to lose weight interval training is far more effective.  You burn more calories in less time 

I stopped doing regular cardio years ago and strictly do interval training and lift weights and have had the best success in losing body fat.

 

For me, when I was just starting to run, I made the most progress running anaerobically.  I'm not sure but it seems to me that's what the C25K program is kinda based on anyway with the run-walk intervals.  Once you progress from being able to run 5k at all (huffing and puffing and feeling like you'll die at the end), then you progress to running it in your aerobic zone, then you progress to doing more anaerobic work to increase your speed.  If you want to increase your distance, that's more aerobic work over a longer time period.

That's been my experience, anyway.

As a new runner, 80-90% of your time should be spent in zone 2. You don't have the musculoskeletal adaptations you need to spend significant time in higher zones. Those will take years to develop (really; one of the adaptations is new capillaries in your legs). Give it a good six months of easy running; find your pace, get your body used to running for 30+ minutes at a stretch, and do your first race. Then look into speedwork.

Lysistrata makes a good point that it can feel anaerobic at first. But that's the point of C25K; helping you to find the middle ground between walking and OMG TOO MUCH RUN OW.

As a seasoned runner  ...  I have no idea what my max HR is  ...  or what any zone is.  I just run.

Yesterday some of us ran the Houston marathon and others ran the half.  It was cold, raining and miserable.  Some got blisters from too many miles in wet socks.

This morning, the 5 of us ran our usual 6 1/2 mile run.  Mostly at MP +30 seconds with the last 2 miles at MP -40 seconds.  Just like any other day.

Yet none of them think in terms of zones.  We just run.  I think it is easy to over think running.

Original Post by cpa_pfs:

As a seasoned runner  ...  I have no idea what my max HR is  ...  or what any zone is.  I just run.

Yesterday some of us ran the Houston marathon and others ran the half.  It was cold, raining and miserable.  Some got blisters from too many miles in wet socks.

This morning, the 5 of us ran our usual 6 1/2 mile run.  Mostly at MP +30 seconds with the last 2 miles at MP -40 seconds.  Just like any other day.

Yet none of them think in terms of zones.  We just run.  I think it is easy to over think running.

These are zones.

Edit to add:

Zones can be define either by Input (heart rate) or Output (pace).  For each Heart Rate Zone (input) there will be a corresponding Pace (output) and vise versa.  

OP don't worry too much about zones at this point.  Use a program like C25K to build your base.  Once you've have an established base you can use zone training to get faster and to peak for targeted events.  For now you just need to run.

I do t have a hrm. I'm doing c25k and I just run when I'm told, And walk when I'm told. I sweat, I get out of breath, I'm losing weight. Combined with the weight training, I'm also building muscle. All this and I have no idea what's going on internally.
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