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Trouble with 80/20 Training - Heart Rate Zones

6 watchers
Sep 2017
3:29pm, 24 Sep 2017
First-time poster!!
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Hello all - I need some training advice and thought I'd open it out to a forum before I pay a coach to look at it.

I'm an amateur runner looking to speed up and have been working on Matt Fitzgerald's 80/20 5k programme from Training Peaks. I am really struggling with it because I feel like it's having me run far, far too slowly.

My PB for 5k is 19:30 and I right now I'd back myself to go out and run a 20:30 or so without too much difficulty. I would put my recovery run pace at between 9 and 8 minutes per mile and yet the foundation runs are having me run 10 minute miles. This feels so painfully slow and unsatisfying, I just can't see how I'm getting any benefit whatsoever out of this. I keep thinking it must be that my Lactate Threshold hasn't been calculated properly but at 164 it seems probably about right.

Either I need more faith in the plan or something is going quite seriously wrong - somebody please help!

If anybody would be able to help me analyse the data in my Garmin Connect Account or Training Peaks account please let me know!

Many thanks from a frustrated amateur!
Sep 2017
9:22pm, 24 Sep 2017
4819 posts
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I’ll start by saying, I’m no expert, but can I ask, how the pace isn’t calculated? You meantion Lactate Threashold so are you trying to keep your heart rate below a certain% of LT HR?

Just to offer something for you compare against, my 5K PB is 30secs faster than you but I just ran tonight at <70% Max HR and I was running 9:40/mile

Sometimes running slowly, or at least at low heart rate can be beneficial but I can’t tell if it’s good for you.

Do you have a link to the training plan?
Sep 2017
10:20pm, 24 Sep 2017
30758 posts
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If you're using a HRM then something like <75% of max HR is what you're looking for. If you haven't got one then 3 minutes a mile slower than 5k pace is a good rule of thumb.

In other words I agree with chunkywizard. :)
Oct 2017
8:15pm, 2 Oct 2017
735 posts
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And I agree with them too! My last 5K, a couple of months ago, I did in 17:20 (5:34 pace). I do most of my running at 8:00-8:30 pace, so 2:30-3:00 mins/mile slower than my 5K pace. But I think nothing of running paces down to as slow as 11 minute mile pace, if running with others. It's all aerobic training and builds mitochondria. But I do 20% or so of my training at 10K pace or faster (up to around 5:10 pace for short reps). I do very little in the middle. It's called polarised training, and one of the most valuable resources on it is in fact the 'Polarised training' thread here on Fetch (it was the reason I joined). It's very long but well worth trawling through.

So yes, I think you need more faith in the plan! You need to get yourself out of the "no pain, no gain" mindset. Easy running really does work, without hurting! If you don't have a heart rate monitor, a good way of determining what is easy is by seeing whether you can speak reasonably comfortably, in full sentences. You need to set your max pace at the point you start to struggle. Rather than go along talking out loud to myself, I concentrate on my breathing instead - if I can breathe 4 footfalls (L, R, L, R) out, 4 iin, without struggling, I know I've got it about right.
Oct 2017
8:30pm, 2 Oct 2017
31747 posts
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Not familiar with the Training Peaks plan or the 80/20 philosophy BUT I did a 44.06 10k yesterday and my average pace for general runs in September was 9.10/mile and I was slower than that for long runs.

Get used to running relaxed except when you're actively trying to run hard. Listen to music or podcasts, enjoy the peace, do some meditation, whatever. Just don't try to run hard all the time. Avoid the Grey Zone!
Oct 2017
11:41am, 3 Oct 2017
736 posts
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One thing a lot of runners, even experienced club runners, get wrong is the idea that you have to do a lot of training at your target race pace to be able to get your target time in a race. You don't. You should do some running at that pace, for sure, but that's mainly psychological, so you know what it feels like. If you do too much running at that pace in training, you are likely to tire your system out without any greater training gains than if you'd done it slower. Building an aerobic engine with easy pace stuff and spicing that up with a relatively small amount of speedwork is the key.
Oct 2017
12:32pm, 3 Oct 2017
2915 posts
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Grouch-jnr - you have my sympathies, in that I'd feel uninspired at that sort of pace running. Admittedly I have learnt to slow myself down over the last 12-15 months, but nothing in the world could convince me that it was worth my time and effort to run at such slow paces, even if there was a 100% guarantee of a 2 min improvement in a HM PB.

The most important thing about a running plan is that it makes you feel good. Doing it slavishly because you read on a forum or in a magazine that it is good for you sounds a recipe for hating running to me.

I'd rather follow a methodology or plan that complements my mind and my body rather than one which maximises my potential at the expense of enjoyment any day.
Oct 2017
5:02pm, 3 Oct 2017
739 posts
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larkim, 10 minute mile running certainly shouldn't spoil your enjoyment. The OP said "I just can't see how I'm getting any benefit whatsoever out of this". I took that to be his issue, rather than that the running itself was unpleasant. It takes a bit of a leap of faith to believe that you can get faster by running easily, no pushing yourself all the time.

For me, switching to polarised training has been a win-win - I'm running at least as fast as I did before the switch, but enjoying the training a lot more, as most of my running is comfortable.
Oct 2017
5:06pm, 3 Oct 2017
13669 posts
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Fenland (Fenners) Runner
As fabulous stated by Nellers, running slower is not a waste of time. It builds the necessary base. In fact, I've just read an article that suggested forgetting about pace all together and when in base building mode concentrate on time on feet.

That 'grey' are between slower running and fast stuff is the waste of time.

But you have to enjoy your running (some times leaving your ego at the door may help?)
Oct 2017
5:12pm, 3 Oct 2017
2922 posts
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Maybe it shouldn't, but it does, and particularly at this time of year when the oportunities to get out in daylight are few and far between.

I'd positively hate to be out on the roads for any period of time at that sort of pace with any regularity. I'm no longer the sort of person that makes every run a tempo run (I've put those years behind me!), but bimbling along at 8:40/mile last night was about as slow as I can tolerate without me completely losing interest. I'm not decrying its effectiveness, its just a recognition that that wouldn't suit me when I'm spending valuable time away from home and family - its got to interest me too.

With the exception of some trail running where pace isn't consistent with road running, I've only done 1 long run with an average in the 9min/miles as an experiment to see if I could handle it. As a one off, it was mildly interesting mainly as a game to keep HR very low (130 avg vs max 184, so just over 70%), but it was boring as hell! Admittedly I'm not "slow" (just sub 90m half, looking for sub 3:15 marathon), but equally I'm no speed demon.

Horses for courses.

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Maintained by Grouch-jnr
Hello all - I need some training advice and thought I'd open it out to a forum before I pay a c...

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