Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Training

Knowing the difference between anaerobic and aerobic training can make all the difference when it comes to running to your potential on race day.

When you learn how to train at the appropriate level, you can change your training for the better, and by understanding what each of these terms mean, you will be able to put that into practice.

In this article, we’re going to break down the difference between the two in-depth so you can better target your training.

To get started, let’s keep it simple.

At the heart of aerobic and anaerobic training is the following science; to exercise, your body needs to break down sugar and convert it to glycogen, so it can be used as energy or fuel.

When the body has an adequate supply of oxygen for this process, we call it aerobic respiration.

When there is not enough oxygen, for example when you are running hard at the end of a 5k, this is called anaerobic respiration.

Each of these have difference effects on the body.

What is aerobic running

Aerobic running or respiration occurs when your body has sufficient oxygen – like when you run easy miles with your friends. Each time you breathe in, your body efficiently uses all the oxygen it needs to power the muscles, and you exhale out what your body does not need.

When you are “running aerobically”, your muscles have enough oxygen to produce all the energy they need to perform.

The waste products of aerobic respiration are carbon dioxide and water. These byproducts are easily expelled through the simple act of breathing. This is why your breath is carbon dioxide rich and moist.

Aerobic running is extremely important to your training as a runner, and will allow your body to become stronger, while recovering from harder bouts of exercise.

What is anaerobic running

Anaerobic respiration occurs when there is NOT sufficient oxygen present.

In this instance, the muscles do not have enough oxygen to create the energy you are demanding (usually from an increase in pace that is faster than your body is able to sustain, for example sprinting at the finish).

When running anaerobically, the muscles begin to break down sugar, but instead of producing just CO2 and water, they also produce excessive amounts of lactate.

Unfortunately, lactate is more difficult to reconvert back into energy and has a downside compared to exhaling out water and CO2. In the absence of oxygen, your body can’t clean up the extra hydrogen ion created by lactate and this is what causes that burning feeling in your muscles.

Many runners sabotage their training by allowing their long runs and easy runs to become anaerobic, and this can sacrifice future races, as well as future workouts.

Why knowing the difference between aerobic and anaerobic is crucial for runners

The importance of understanding these definitions will save your racing.

If you begin to run too hard in the middle of a workout or the start of a race, your body goes into an anaerobic state, producing lactate.

If you “go anaerobic” early in a race, you will fatigue sooner, and your ability to maintain pace will take a nosedive. Lactate pools in your muscles, and you will have to slow dramatically to get your body back into an aerobic state. Your PR is out the window and you will be struggling before the halfway mark of your race.

For those running the marathon, learning the difference between aerobic running and anaerobic running is absolutely critical.

The faster you run, the more energy you burn – just like a car burning fuel on a highway. During the marathon, your body needs to conserve as much fuel as possible; if you run faster than your aerobic threshold (the point at which you switch from running primarily using aerobic respiration to running anaerobically) you will burn through your fuel stores faster, and more than likely bonk before you finish.

Read more about the science behind glycogen depletion and bonking and how to fuel for a marathon to prevent bonking.

How to learn to run aerobically when you need to

Learning to establish and feel your anaerobic and aerobic pace is a really important skill if you want to start racing faster.

The easiest way to test whether you’re running aerobically is to perform what is called the “talk test”. While running, try to speak to someone (or yourself if alone) out-loud. If you can get out a short paragraph without too much trouble (i.e. you can convey a detailed thought, but you’re not quoting Shakespeare) you’re running aerobically. If you can only get out one sentence before you start grasping for breath, you’re running too hard – slow down.

Exclusive bonus: For a more scientific assessment, you can download our amazingly helpful calculator. We’ll tell you exactly what pace and heart rate will keep you running aerobically. Download it free here

If you have questions about what your “aerobic” and “anaerobic” pace is, or how to practice feeling it, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, we would be happy to help!

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References

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142 Responses on “Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Training

  1. IM VERY INTERESTED IN THIS TOPIC, AEROBIC AND ANAEROBIC.
    IVE BEEN RUNNING FOR A LONG TIME BUT I KNOW NOW THAT IVE
    ALWAYS RUN ANAEROBICALLY…
    THE EASY DAYS ARE VERY HARD TO DO BECAUSE I HAVE TO RUN TOOOOOO
    SLOW TO BE IN THE AEROBIC ZONE…ITS KIND OF FRUSTRATING BECAUSE
    I FEEL LIKE RUNNING FASTER.

    I READ THAT THE WAY TO IMPROVE AEROBIC CAPACITY IS BY RUNNING
    WITHIN THAT ZONE BUT TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH IS NOT A CONFORTABLE
    PACE.
    I RUN 3 DAYS ANAEROBICALLY AND 2 DAYS WEIGHT TRAINING AND 45 MIN OF SLOW RUNNING.

    LATELY I DECIDED NOT TO USE MY POLAR…I ONLY USE IT THE DAYS I GET ON
    THE STATIONARY BIKE (1 DAY A WEEK)

    IF YOU HAVE ANY COMMENT I WOULD APPRECIATE IT…
    THANK YOU

    SUSAN SANTOS

    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks for the question, you raise a very good point about aerobic training. It is a little difficult to be very specific about your situation without knowing all the data, but I will do my best.

      First, running aerobically will and should feel slow, because it is designed to be comfortable. Most runners I begin working with are amazed at the pace they have to run to maintain a heart rate in the aerobic zone. Part of this comes from a misconception that they are running much slower than the others around them. However, the average pace for most runners is in the 11 min per mile range. So, if you’re running anywhere in the 10min – 12 min range, you’re not running “slow” by general standards. If you’re running slower than 12min a mile, you’re still not running slow as this pace still puts you in the second largest majority of average paces.

      The trick with aerobic running, or any training for that matter, is to be patient. Consistent aerobic running will strengthen your aerobic system, heart, lungs, and muscles, to handle faster training paces and longer runs. Try giving yourself two weeks at what you know is your aerobic pace. Since you have a heart rate monitor, this would be roughly 70-80% of your maximum heart rate. After just two weeks, look at your pace and watch how much your pace has dropped naturally as you stay within that 70-80%.

      One of the largest benefits of aerobic running is that it allows you to run longer and more often, since you’re not gasping for air or sore the next morning. This means that you can burn more total calories and lose more weight, which is a major goal for most runners at any level.

      My advice to you would be to try and be patient for just 3 or 4 weeks. Run at your aerobic zone (70-80% max heart rate) and watch your pace start creeping down naturally every two weeks. Make 3 of your running days aerobic days and one o them an anaerobic day so you can switch things up and enjoy the feeling of running faster. After 3 or 4 weeks, you’ll start to notice your pace coming down and you’ll be more comfortable running in this range.

      I hope this info helps. This is a very complicated topic with many factors that influence and change – goals, fat burning, calculating pace, terrain – that I hope to explore in upcoming blog posts.

      Again, thanks for the question!

      Jeff

  2. I’m just getting started with heart monitor training because of information you’ve written. I completed a 9 week 5K training program successfully and began running regularly (3-5 times per week). All of a sudden, I cannot even run a mile at my normal pace without feeling completely out of breath! I’ve had all the medical tests done and there’s nothing wrong. The only thing that I think could make sense is what you describe. I’m hoping the heart monitor training will help me as I really want to continue with my running.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for your comment and I am glad to hear that my article helped you. I will be writing a series of blog posts on heart rate training within the week. Please check back soon to read!

  3. Great info!

    I’m fairly new to running. I have been very frustrated since I started last year because it seemed like I am always fighting fatigue, soreness, et al. One of my goals (someday) is to do a half marathon, but finishing a 10K has been hard enough.

    After purchasing a heart rate monitor last week, I’ve discovered I’ve been in the anaerobic zone all along! No wonder!

    I’m looking forward to running tomorrow. I’m going to attempt to run within my aerobic zone. I think it will be quite difficult like Susan Santos said above. I’m used to running in the 7-8:00/m pace.

    Looking forward to being able to run longer and more often!

    • Thanks for the comment, Andy. I am really happy the article helped point out exactly where you were having the issues and you have a better feel for the aerobic vs anaerobic training zones.

      As I mentioned to Susan, don’t be intimidated if your aerobic pace is “slow” right now. Just give it three to four weeks and you’ll start to notice a big difference. It won’t be long after that you’ll be able to creep your pace up while staying in the aerobic zone.

      Good luck on your upcoming runs and keep checking back as we publish more info.

    • Good question, Scott. A tempo run is neither, or both, depending on how you look at it. Tempo runs engage both energy systems. You’re not fully aerobic, which is why your body is producing large amounts of lactic acid. However, you’re not completely aerobic because you can clear most of that lactate.

  4. I’m in the military, and a big part of that is our PT test. It seems like no matter how I train, I am not able to get my 2 mile run time down anywhere near any of my peers. I can train five days a week for six months and only improve to about a 15:45 2-mile run time. Everyone else I know runs in the 13:00 to 14:00 minute range with very little training. The PT test scores are very important in the military, and it has become extremely frustrating for me, as it severely affects my career.

    Do you have any suggestions on the best way to train for a 2-mile run? Would you consider this an aerobic or anaerobic run? What would be the best way to pace myself when taking the test (i.e. start fast, or start slower then increase my pace)?

    • Hi Dallin, thank you for the comment and sorry you’ve struggled with the PT test. I can definitely understand how imoprtant it is.

      The 2 mile is primarily aerobic (check out the data here, 3k is 200m less than 2 miles): http://runnersconnect.net/running-training-articles/the-importance-of-aerobic-running/. As you can see, 80% of the energy requirements come from the aerobic system. This means building your aerobic capacity will have a great impact on your 2 mile times.

      As for specific workouts, here is a great article that details how to train for a 5k: http://runnersconnect.net/running-training-articles/5k-specific-training/. The principles for the 2 kile are the same – start with 8 x 200m at your goal pace and try to increase that to 2 x 1 mile at goal 2 mile pace over the course of your training.

      Interestingly, I just sent a race plan to a runner who I coach training for the PT test. Here is what I sent him: Run a very easy 10 min w/u, 10 minutes of easy stretching and then 2 x 30 sec stride at 7:30 pace starting about 35-45 minutes before the test if you can. The warm-up will help you control your breathing and get your HR ready for the test, just like when we do the hard workouts.

      Obviously, you’ll have the sprints and strength work before the actual 1.5 mile run. With the training you’ve done, you should exit those feeling better than you have in the past. Before the 1.5 go time, try to put your hands on your head and get as much breath as you can and get your HR down. Every test I’ve coached someone for has had different times between the exercises, but hopefully you’ll have some breathing room.

      I want you to focus on running patient and conservative the first ½ mile; this is critical. Interestingly, every world record from the 1500 meters to the marathon has been set running negative splits – running the first half of the race slightly slower than the second half. This means that if you want to ensure that you run the fastest time possible, you don’t want to run the first 800 too fast. With the adrenaline and competition, this can be difficult and will require focus. Luckily, you’ve had lots of practice with the pacing, so use your internal clock and your effort to measure.

      After 800 meters, the pace is going to start getting hard; it’s part of racing and event distance of 1.5 miles, so prepare for it mentally. Keep you mind and body relaxed. Look within yourself and focus on you. Think confident thoughts and repeat confident mantras to yourself; “I am fast, this feels good” or “I am strong”. Every time you feel tired or feel the pace slip, repeat to yourself that you need to refocus and concentrate and get back on pace. When you start to feel the pace slip, use the hammers and surges you’ve done in training to get back on and stay on pace.

      Attack the last 800 and again, use the hammers and surges. Attack the race and don’t think about what you have left, just dig down and go.

      Hope that helps, Dallin.

  5. Hi! Really interesting stuff. I consistently have a high heart rate when I train in the gym: I can’t wear my HRM outside as I’ve lost the watch but my husband ran with me today and told me off for being out of breath going up hill! I’m training for Kielder marathon which is an off-road and very hilly marathon: normally I do triathlon. Like your first commenter I find it really hard running what feels like ‘too slowly’ and in fact I quite often have to stop and wait for my normal training partner for the marathon – but maybe she’s got it right – though I don’t think I’m anaerobic other than on hills. In triathlon I do quite well in my age group (I’m 50 – I was 2nd in my last race) and I’m now wondering if I might do even better if I could manage to slow up a bit (in triathlon I tend to take the swim steady, push on the bike (as that’s my strongest discipline) and then try to take the run fairly steady, though I always find the run hard). It is so, so hard training ‘slow’ though….

    • Hi Sarah, apologies for the extremely delayed reply. A lot of runners struggle with the easier runs more than they struggle with the harder workouts because they do not feel it is doing anything, but it is extremely important to your recovery. Our most recent post was actually on this topic, and if you have not already read it, you may find it very helpful. How did your marathon end up going? Hopefully you have learned how to pace your runs a little, and the triathlon is still going well for you! Let us know if we can be of any assistance….and it will not be years before you hear from us again, promise :)

  6. Coach:

    What about something a little shorter? My daughter is starting high school this year and really wants to focus on 800 meters. I run halfs and have run a couple of fulls but don’t really have advice for this distance. What do you suggest as a regime to balance aerobic/anaerobic and be successful ath this distance?

    • Good question, Mike. The 800 is largely an anaerobic event, although there is still an important aerobic component (60% aerobic, 40% anaerobic). For long-term progress (think years) aerobic development through mileage is going to help tremendously while the shorter, anaerobic stuff is going to help more in the short-term. If she wants to focus on the 800, she should run cross country in the fall for an aerobic base (she’ll do good miles training for the 5k) and then start doing more anaerobic work once the track season starts. This would allow her to balance both and focus on the anaerobic work when it matters most. Hope that helps.

  7. Hello, my name is Cathy, 28 yrs. old but about to turn 29 in Oct. I have about 25 days to pass a 2 mile run under 20 mins. And I am glad to have come across this thread. For me, whether it is aerobic oe anaerobic I just dislike running these days, lol But during my younger days, I didn’t mind and I actually loved our sprint workouts in high school for track (I wasn’t a sprinter though, I was a thrower). any advice on how to achieve my goal in 25 days? Because I tried running a mile not too long ago on a track and after 2 laps I was getting winded. I’ve been going to aerobic classes at my gym and have been weight lifting, but I suppose not running enough. I feel scared when I think of 2 miles, but I know I can definitely complete 1 mile, it’s the additional mile I’m very worried about. Suggestions and advice are welcome, and I would very much appreciate a response. Thank you for your time. P.S. I am starting w/ a trainer tonight and I’m going to show him the article “Aerobic vs. Anaerobic training”. Again, thank you.

    • Hi Cathy,

      My advice would be to break up the runs for now so you can complete three miles at a time. This will make two miles seem less intimidating. For example, run 6 x 800 meters and take a walk break of 2-3 minutes between each one. The next week try 4 x 1200 meters and then 3 x 1 mile. Then try 1.5 miles or 2 mile straight. This should help you progress and get over the mental hurdle.

  8. HI! I really like this article. I’m 17 and I ran high school indoor and outdoor track for the first time last year. The main reason I am contacting you is because I have been pretty confused on what to do in the off season. I really want to come back next season (starts in November) alot faster. I run the mile and the 800, so I learned from your link that they are mainly aerobic races. I started running again around a month ago after my swim season ended, and I have been doing 4.5 to 5 miles at a 9 to 9:15ishish per mile pace 4-5 days a week. I am not gasping for air, but I am a little out of breath, breathing at a 3 to 3 cadence. I then read this article. Last week, after reading this, I ran 6 days for 4.5 miles at a 10:30ish pace and felt as I wasn’t working as hard, but that it was definitely aerobic. What do you think I should be doing to try to improve my race times by November? Our team practices start then and that is when we do all the short intervals and anaerobic workouts so I’ve heard that aerobic fitness is what you should try to build in the off season before practices start. If you could help me out it’d be much appreciated. Thanks, Chris

  9. HI! I really like this article. I’m 17 and I ran high school indoor and outdoor track for the first time last year. The main reason I am contacting you is because I have been pretty confused on what to do in the off season. I really want to come back next season (starts in November) alot faster. I run the mile and the 800, so I learned from your link that they are mainly aerobic races. I started running again around a month ago after my swim season ended, and I have been doing 4.5 to 5 miles at a 9 to 9:15ishish per mile pace 4-5 days a week. I am not gasping for air, but I am a little out of breath, breathing at a 3 to 3 cadence. I then read this article. Last week, after reading this, I ran 6 days for 4.5 miles at a 10:30ish pace and felt as I wasn’t working as hard, but that it was definitely aerobic. What do you think I should be doing to try to improve my race times by November? Our team practices start then and that is when we do all the short intervals and anaerobic workouts so I’ve heard that aerobic fitness is what you should try to build in the off season before practices start. If you could help me out it’d be much appreciated. Thanks, Chris

    • Hi Chris,

      Glad you enjoyed the article. I think slowing your pace down and putting as many miles as you can handle, along with some basic strength and ancillary work is the best thing you can do. Try to increase your mileage by about 3 miles per week (adding about 1 mile to three of your runs each week) and then take a rest week every 4th week. Throw in some core work: http://runnersconnect.net/runners-core-workout/ and you should be in great shape come indoor track season.

      Good luck with the season!

  10. Hi Chris,

    This article was a massive shock to me!
    I was primarily a 10km runner (pb 30:26) and I have always run on the premise that you have to run fast to get fast! Until I started doing interval and fartlek training my times were around the 34 to 35.
    Surely 10km at my pace are in the anaerobic bracket or does this mean i just run faster in the aerobic than most. (sorry to sound like i am gloating but I have no other way to put it)

    Cheers!

    • Thanks for the comment, Nathan. You’re correct in a way. Think of training like building a house. The aerobic training is the foundation and the anaerobic training is the roof. Training aerobically will allow you to build a bigger and bigger foundation, which is the necessary component to building a spectacular mansion. However, it’s still just a foundation – not very spectacular. When you want to show off and really make your running fitness count, you can start doing the speed work and put the roof on an impressive house. However, if you don’t spend any time developing the foundation first, all you get when you start doing anaerobic work is a flimsy, unimpressive building/peak.

  11. Hi,
    I am really happy to have come across your article as I have been reading a lot about heart rate zones and running at an aerobic pace. I am 39 years old which means running aerobically is approximately at 150 bpm. Problem is this pace is almost speed walking for me. I have a resting heart rate of 63 and I have reached a maximum HR of 194 during a very short sprint. I can bring it down to 138 in a minute. If I laugh I hit 130bpm. It has been very difficult to control my heart rate during my 5 km run as I have been running at 173bpm average. I try to stop more often and even slow down more but the lowest I can bring it down to is 165. I can have a normal conversation at 169 bpm. I run 2-3 times per week, do yoga 4 times and bike at an avg of 24km/hr. My question is I am wondering if this is a sign that my heart is out of shape and if it means I should do more speed walking to get it in shape? Thx…. Souzi

    • Hi Souzi, I would try some run/walking and try to extend the amount of time you can exercise. The longer each session you can work the aerobic system, the faster you will improve. So, start with something like 3 mins running, 7 mins walking for 40-50 minutes. Adjust the run/walk ratios to keep your HR in the 150-160 range – so they might get shorter as you get farther into the run. Over time, you should notice the ratios coming more in favor of the run as you get longer. Hope that helps.

  12. Coach,
    Great article, I have been running for 4 years now. Right now I am 30 years old. I have completed several half marathons, one with PR 1hr 28min. I was in the best shape last year and attempted a marathon. Everything was going great, I could smell the finish line, but on mile 21 cramps in legs (everywhere) took over, and shut down my race. Finished at 3hr 50min with pain in legs and in bruises from falling down when my legs would give out . ( I will never forget those last five miles)
    My average pace is 7:30/ 7:45 no matter how long I run (8 miles or 20miles), while running this dreadful marathon I was pacing myself to run slow, I was trying to keep my HR below 165, all my normal runs are averaging 170/173.
    Is there a way to train to gain these extra miles, without taking a step back and working on aerobic training pace. In my next marathon (next fall) should I just run slower for couple more mile in the beginning and then speed up to my regular pace. And if so how should I split my marathon % wise. (Aerobic Anaerobic)
    Thanks for any tips on how to concur my next marathon.
    John.

  13. Thank you for a great article. I realize that I have been labouring for a couple of years without seeing improvement in my cardio capacity because I have been training in the anaerobic zone throughout. I am 43 years old. My resting heartrate is 58 but zooms up very quickly to over 170, even 180, when exercising. I recover fast but am so frustrated that it doesn’t seem to get easier. I cross into the upper zones almost right away when I start running. I am going to start from scratch and follow your advice. My question: do you recommend a really painfully slow pace or, instead, using a walk/run method to keep in the recovery or aerobic zones? Or a brisk walk?

    • Thanks for the comment, Lynne. From a training perspective, it doesn’t matter which you choose (super slow pace or run/walk) as both with accomplish the same goal of building that aerobic system. Personally, I find run/walk to work better. First, it’s very tough to run slow all the time, so run/walk tends to be more comfortable/fun. Second, the run/walk also helps give your legs a bit of a “rest” which usually means you can go further and get results faster. Good luck!

  14. Hi-i’ve just picked up running again. I have and will always do a mile in the morning-everyday. as before I run a block-walk a block etc. now I’ve started running that block-stopping-catching my breath and running the next block. is there an advantage ether way? can’t figure it out.
    thanks
    stan in san fran

    • I would probably slow your pace so that you can run the entire mile without stopping. You’ll definitely get a lot more bang for your buck long-term if you can increase your total time running to 30 minutes. Scientifically, the aerobic system is most benefited by runs between 30 and 90 minutes. So, 30 minutes is a good initial threshold to hit.

  15. I am 49 years and unfortunately not at the same level of running as above I just run for my ‘sanity’. I have entered the Great South Run (10miles) next Sunday I have been training regularly but to be honest I’m not convinced I will be able to run the whole race. Did a 10k yesterday avg 10.5 min mile but really struggled and suffered my usual long run migraine 2 hours later. I am dreading Sunday, I would love to be able to run the whole course but now my confidence has gone downhill.
    Any last minute advice? Thanks
    (Great site by the way)

    • Hi Mandy, I would try slowing down. 10:30 pace is pretty quick for a new runner. Slow the pace down to 11 or 12 minutes a mile (slower is better) and you’ll be able to finish the race running. Also, try drinking more fluids and electrolytes. Most likely, this is the cause of your headaches.

  16. Hi Jeff,

    I have similar questions as a few others posted. I have been running 5 days a week for the past year and I have lost 55 pounds, most of which came off in the first 5 months and i’ve kept off since. I started at a 12:30 pace and I now generally run between a 9:30 and 10 min pace on all of my training runs and races – just sort of depends on the day. I recently got a heart rate monitor and I am running at about 85% of my max, which I assume is the anaerobic zone. All my runs are typically in this zone. I would like to get faster though I am more interested in figuring out why I can’t run slower and get to the aerobic zone. The other day, I told my husband I was going to run slow. So I headed out for my run and I thought I was running slow – I ended up doing 8 miles, no stopping, though a bit tired at the end. When I checked my paces, I was running on average a 9:40 pace, which felt comfortable, yet my HR was 85% of max on average. My question is why is my HR max so high yet I feel very comfortable at that speed. I know I would feel even more comfortable at a lower speed, but I am afraid I won’t improve my times if I don’t run faster. If HR max means you’re pushing yourself why doesn’t it feel like that when I’m running at 85% of max? Any help would be great as the whole heart rate thing is new to me! Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Jackie, thanks for the question. First, while 85% of max heart rate sounds like a lot, it’s really at the upper limit of the aerobic threshold. The aerobic training zone occurs between 78 and 85% of your max HR. Certainly, you can run a little slower than this and still get the same aerobic building benefits.

      The balancing point comes at what pace/effort/HR can you run the most at. By far, the best way to become a better runner is to run more. While there are obviously scheduling and structural (muscles, tendons) issues as well, whatever pace allows you to run as much as you can will make you the better runner. Meaning, 60 minutes at 60% of your MHR is better than 40 mins at 85% of your MHR. Hope that makes sense and helps.

  17. Hey coach,
    I love this article. What do you think elite runner’s aerobic paces are? From previous comments it sounds like all these average runners including myself have aerobic paces of 10 or 11 minutes a mile and slower. Are those elite guys putting in most of their 80+ mpw running very slowly?
    -Thanks a ton, Blake.

    • Hey Blake, glad you enjoyed the article. I was a 13:59 5k runner and my easy, aerobic pace was between 6:30 and 7:00 minutes a mile. You’re right though, the average for most runners, especially new runners, is between 10-12 minute miles.

  18. Hi, I’ve been running now for four years, I’m 51 years young, I’m very frustrated as as hard as I try I can only manage a couple of miles and I’m exhausted due mainly to lack of oxygen eg cannot breath . I’ve had health checks and all is well.. Good diet don’t smoke or drink.. You would think after running 3 times a week for many years my stamina would have improved but if anything it’s got worse.. Many thanks Ethan .

    • Hi Ethan,

      I highly suggest you slow the pace of your runs down and possible implement a run/walk. That should allow you run more than a few miles and start making some progress.

  19. Omg!!! Just the site I needed. I have weight trained for past four years and rhr is 58. My daughters best friend died this summer from cystic fibrosis and so i wanted to run a 10 mile in her memory. Five weeks later I am so dis heartened as I am exhausedted. I hate every step and can’t breath after 8 mins. But your site has given me hope!!!!! I need to slow down and stop trying to push . What a relief. I CAN do this . Thank u so much!,,,,

  20. Is it possible for a person to just never improve their aerobic capacity? I have been trying low-heart rate training from last March-the end of July. I started speed work then, a little, and hurt my IT band. I “ran” a marathon in 5:48. I’m SO discouraged. I have to plod along at 16 minute miles. I never seem to get any faster, although I know it has worked for other people. Is there a point where I should just give up and assume I was never meant to be a runner?

    • Hi Gail,

      Sorry to hear about your struggles. How long are your runs when you do go out? You’re right, people typically do improve over that period of time you’ve been training. That’s not to say it won’t work for you – I’ve never met a person it didn’t work for – but maybe your particular body just needs a different approach to be successful.

  21. My longest run before the marathon was 20 miles. That’s another thing–all this low-heart rate stuff is supposed to prevent injuries, but I injured my IT band anyway. I am working with a coach, and she said not to let my HR go over 150. So, from last March until late July I tried to be really good about it and never let it get over 150. When it did, I walked a bit to let it come back down. Then I did some speed work–I think I did 3 or 4 5K’s–my best time was 28 minutes. Then I hurt my IT band so my taper was 4 weeks instead of 3 and I missed one long run. I was averaging about 35-40 miles a week, with the peak being 50. So, she said to do the marathon based on pace instead of heart rate. Well, I stuck with the 4:30 group for about 3.5 miles and my HR was already up to 180. I ran okay until about mile 9, and then…I just didn’t. I walked a lot. I wanted to quit really bad, but I didn’t. Anyway, so now (after about 2 months off running) when I do three mile runs my average pace is 16 minutes. I’m thinking of just quiting altogether. This sucks. I did work pretty hard to prepare for the marathon, and in the end it was just a massive disappointment.

  22. Pingback: Kikay Runner » Ask Kikay Runner: How to Run Non-stop in Races

  23. When you are running on a treadmill with no incline, I was told you are running anareobically and burning muscle, not fat. So in order to burn fat, you have to set the incline up as high as it can go and “walk” as fast as you can. Do you know this to be true?

  24. Hi, Outdoor track season is coming up and I have been running for the past 6 weeks. I’m sure running aerobically is going to help start off the season great! I was wondering how far/long I should be running to prepare the best for my events (800m and 1600m)?

    • Benny, I would follow the advice of your coach. I can’t really provide guidance because I don’t know your age or training history, so it’s impossible to suggest an appropriate volume for you.

  25. Hi! Great article! I actually have a question about swimming, but I think the same principles apply. My 17 year old daughter has been a competitive swimmer for 11 years. In the last few months she has had some sporadic periods of becoming faint and feeling like her muscles, most notably legs, shutting down at the peak of the hardest set at practice. I suspect from reading that this is when she has crossed the “anaerobic threshold” or remained above it for too long. There were no long-term results from each episode, other than repeatedly having to miss the “main set” of practice. In the last couple of weeks, however, she has experienced what i believe is the onset of overtraining, i.e. sudden, vastly reduced performance, a much higher heart rate for much slower paces, etc. I should also mention that her bloodwork is all normal, no hypoglycemia, adequate hydration and carb replacement during exercise, and she had a full cardio workup that was all normal due to the near-fainting . The docs are stumped. Preceeding her first episodes in the fall the she had a period of about a month with high stress and reduced sleep.

    So my question is, prior to the most recent overtraining, could this occasional faintness at the peak of practice be a result of combined stress and fatigue and overdoing it at practice? She is not one to back down and take it easier just because she didn’t get enough sleep. And then did continuing to train at that level push her into overtraining? She does sleep an adequate amount now, but her regular practice schedule is six days a week with three mornings of doubles, which is common for high school and collegiate swimmers. I hope you will answer this even though it is swimming-related because I haven’t found any answers in swimming research. Thanks!

    • Hi Annie,

      Unfortunately, It sounds like your daughter might simply be overtrained. The only way to tell chemically is to measure catecholamine excretion (CK levels). However, she exhibits all the other signs. I don’t know much about swimming at all, so I don’t know what the performance signs are, but I imagine they mimic what she’s going through. I would definitely suggest some rest, and maybe a prolonged break from extended training since this seems to be her second bout. Sorry IO couldn’t be more helpful.

  26. Great information… I have just started running for general fitness on a treadmill. I have no race objectives to train for, but I to have a HRM. My HRM is telling me for my age (39) that I’m in anerobic for my run (12 min/mile). I have slowly increased my distance/time since I started in Dec 2012 to 1.1 miles running, then I walk/run after for a total distance of 2.4 miles total of 35 min w/ cool down.

    My problem is the first commenter: to keep in the aerobic zone (124-135 for me) I feel unnatural. My legs want to take me faster, but if I dial down to 4.5 mph (instead of 5 mph) it just feels weird and wrong.

    Besides running outdoors is there any ideas how to get rid of that weird feeling of imbalance in my stride?

    Thanks!,
    Kathy

  27. This is good discussion on the pros/cons of training in the correct HR zone to achieve the best possibe results. Aerobic for endurance athletes and anaerobic for the shorter sprint type races.

    I have been running for a long time but never switched to HR based training until I started training for Ironman distance triathlons. It took me a long time to build up an aerobic based that would allow me to log miles in the approriate zone while continuing anaerobic tempo (10KM) and intervals workouts (>800m). After 2 years of training with HR (in both aerobic and anaerobic zones), I have noticed that my overall marathon speed has decreased by a significant amount. I used to run sub-5 mins kms and now I’m having trouble maintaining a 5:30/km pace.

    I know that to run faster race pace efforts, you need to run faster training workouts. Is there some kind of change to my tempo/interval workouts that I’m missing? If so, I’d be interested in your thoughts on where I should be focusing my anaerobic efforts.

    Thanks,

    Jeff

    • Hi Jeff,

      Glad you enjoyed the article. Not quite sure I understand your question. Are you saying that when you do tempo runs and anaerobic workouts that you’re not in the right HR zones at goal race pace?

      • Both of my tempo and interval runs are always in Zone 4. I’m more worried about the pace for being in that zone. My previous race pace efforts (which are slightly slower than tempo) were at a significanlty faster pace than I can I sustain now despite building quite a large aerobic base. I guess the question is where did my speed go? I feel like a I’ve invested a lot of time to build endurance at the cost of speed.

    • Two possible thoughts.

      (1) I am not a big fan of HR training personally. One issue is that “zones” and MHR and RHR might not always go according to formulas. Have you had your MHR and RHR truly tested or are you using a formula?

      (2) Energy systems (like lactate threshold and anaerobic training) can decrease when you don’t use them or work on them. Perhaps they are just a little “behind” your aerobic fitness. Check out this article for a little more in-depth: http://runnersconnect.net/running-training-articles/rethinking-the-traditional-training-model/

  28. Nice article Jeff Sir. I’ve a question. Does running anaerobically have a side effect on the digestive system? I ask this because my running seems to not have sped up my metabolism as it’s supposed to. I’ve problems in digestion which vanish during the days I don’t run. Reading your article has made me speculate if that’s a result of my anaerobic running. (What do you think about the reason behind this problem?)
    So, should I run aerobically for ‘some’ time before including anaerobic running in my regime? Would it develop the metabolism strong enough to bear the stresses of anaerobic running? Also, please recommend the duration for my aerobic running.
    I’m 17 and a half years old male, started running in May 2012 but regularly only since Jan 2013.
    Height – 6’1’’; weight – 65 kg.
    Have been sedentary for 7/8 years before May 2012.
    Always eat healthy, rarely any junk food.

    • Hi Prateek, apologies for the delayed reply! It would be better to build a base through aerobic running before you add in anaerobic training, but yes, it is likely that anaerobic running sped up your metabolism. When you say you have side effects, is this increased hunger? This is not necessarily a bad thing, and should not damage your digestive system. If it makes you uncomfortable, then it probably would be best to start with aerobic running for a while. Hopefully you have found your way by now, but if you need any other help, please let us know!

  29. Hi, I have read your article and would like to get your advice for my 14 year old daughter.

    Her softball team (highly competitive travel team) has an 8 minute mile for players to be starters for their team. It is a team of 13-15 year old girls and most of them were able to run under the 8 minute except for four, my daughter being one of them. I spoke to her PE teacher at school who has timed all the kids for state testing and she was completely shocked that her PR time was 11:04. She said she runs it for her class under 10 usually.

    My daughter gets so worked up about this run every time she tests for it (once a week); I think she is mentally taking herself out. So to see how much of this is mental or physical, I ran/walked a mile today to see what my time was, I got 12:08. I am 38, I haven’t ran in 3 years and over weight, but wanted to prove to her that she can do this if I can. I didn’t make the 8 minutes marker, but I am willing to do whatever it takes to help her achieve this. Lead by example I guess is what I am going to do. I will reach it with her.

    She has been running a mile everyday or at least every other day on the treadmill and the time is different then when she runs outside. In her three failed attempts of making the 8 min. her coach has made a slight change to the 8 min marker for the girls that haven’t been able to make the time. He has made it that if each girl cuts their time by 10 seconds each week (or makes the 8 min) they are eligible that weekend to start. I think that is attainable. But all my daughter can see is the 8 minute mark; she can not focus on the 10 seconds. Says that she can’t breathe, her side hurts she has to use the restroom. Something different each time she runs the test. All kinds of things to have to explain why her time was not any better.

    Her running is fast, then she walks at almost no pace (I suggested a slow jog or brisk walk) and then runs fast again when testing. She runs on the treadmill at home with hardly any walking and gets a much better time, according to her and my mother who is there with her after school. She has been doing this running for the last 3 weeks and time is not better.

    She plays sports all year, volleyball basketball and softball. She is 5’8 1/2, 154 lbs; I don’t think she is out of shape. Do you feel this is a mental block, out of shape or both? What could you suggest that she does to better prepare her physically and mentally to attain the 10 second cut each week for her time. Some of the messages I read hit on a little of this, but I am so puzzled here. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you!

    • Hi Yvonne, sorry for the delayed reply, and hopefully you have found a solution by this point, but we would be happy to help if you do still need it! Just let us know, and I promise you will not have to wait for a reply :) Hope your daughter is still enjoying softball!

  30. Hi, thanks for the article!
    I was wondering if you could help me with my Biology assignment :
    Unlike sprinters, marathon runners train to avoid anaerobic respiration while running. How are these training methods different and what is their relationship to metabolic processes?

    • Hi Sally, hopefully your biology assignment is long handed in by now, but if we can be of assistance to any other projects, or if you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out, and this time we will get you an answer long before your paper is due :)

  31. I am 38 years old and I’ve been running for just about a year ~ which is really the first time in my entire life that I have done any sort of exercise! I live in Chicago, so when weather worked in my favor, I would run twice a week and if not, I tried for at least once a week. When I first started, it was rather haphazard and I believe I was running a 14 min/mile with a run/walk sort of “tempo”.

    I have been fairly consistent in my running. Each run is about 3 miles. I now run a more controlled 12 min/mile, with no walking.

    My initial motivation was weight loss. Which has not happened. Not even a pound. I feel healthier and really great. And now I run because I enjoy the sport, but still, a little weight loss would be nice (I am a medium/large framed 5′ 7″ and I weigh 168 lbs). I bought a Polar hrm and found that I was running mostly in an anaerobic state, according to the charts. So I’ve slowed it down a bit to try to keep my heart rate under 180 but really, for my age and resting heart rate, that’s still considered anaerobic.

    Unless I walk at a brisk pace INSTEAD of run, especially between mile 2 and mile 3, there is no way to get my heart rate under 175. AND I feel great. I can run at my slowish pace at 180 heart rate for quite some time.

    I don’t know what to do. I like running. Not fast walking. But I am currently blaming this anaerobic pace for my non-weight loss. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    • Take it from someone who is now 42 and been running for about 2 years. I’m 6’2″ and was 240ish. I lost over 15 lbs in the last two months by continuing to run between 15-20mi per week (same as I had been doing) and watched my CALORIC INTAKE. I was actually gaining weight before because of bad diet and not increasing my caloric burn and the fact I was gaining muscle in my legs.

      I’d recommend tracking your running with something like EndoMondo and then your calories with MyFitnessPal. They will link together and really help. I’m not starving myself either. Eat heathier on the non-running days and then watch your eating on your running days.

      I typically burn around 1000cals/hr which is around a 10k run for me.

      Do whatever you can to keep in that Aerobic zone – it does help, even if you are slow.

    • Hello, apologies for the delayed reply, but Brian gave you some great advice there, and hopefully you have been able to put it into practice. Has running become nay easier for you? We have many wonderful articles that would help you feel more confident if you need them, but if you are still having a difficult time, feel free to reach out, and we would be happy to help!

  32. I am a 60 year old runner trying to break 2:30 for the 800 meter,what should my weekly workout be….my best 400 is 66 seconds.Thanks for all your help and knowledge

    • Hello, hopefully you have accomplished your goal by now, and that is a great time for a 400, so you should be very proud! We have plenty of articles about how to train to your potential, if you are still looking for some assistance, please let us know!

  33. Pingback: New 10km record. | Flat soles

  34. I’m returning to running after an injury. I’ve been back to running for over a month. A co-worker was talking about training zones the other day. I’ve never really paid any intention to that. I just use the HR% from my watch. After reading about it I decided to use the zones. Now keep in mind it’s hot and humid here in Georgia. Due to my work schedule I only get to run in the afternoons. I’m trying to keep my zone at 3 and there are 5 zones on my Garmin. By mile 2 out of 4, my zone was 4.8. I slowed my pace as much as I could without walking. What training can I do to reduce the zone that I’m in so I can be a more efficient runner? I want my next marathon to be my best PR.

    • Hi Ben, I apologize for the delayed reply. Hopefully you have found an answer to your question by now, but if you are still looking for information, we have lots of articles to hopefully help you get there. If you would like any further information, please respond to this message and we would he happy to help! Hope you reached that PR :)

  35. My 17 year old daughter has been having breathing troubles while exercizing for the last 3 years. Within the last year and a half its worsened so I’ve taken her to the allergist, pulmonologist, ent, and cardiologist. The cardiologist said she has been exercizing in her anarobic zone and should keep her heart rate down to 140. When her heart rate rises, her lung function drops 10%. She is struggling to keep her heart rate at 140, and the monitor we purchased doesn’t seem to work although we spent about $130 dollars on it. My questions are 1) is the heart rate too low, 2) is there a heart monitor you recommend, and 3) would running in an anarobic state cause her lung function to drop?

    • Hi Deborah, sorry for the delayed reply. I am hoping your daughter is feeling much better by now. If you are still looking for information, we would be happy to help, just respond to this message. If you have other topics you are interested in, we have a lot of articles for you to assist with your daughters training (or your own). Hopefully she is enjoying running a lot more!

  36. I’m trying to increase my aerobic capacity by running slowly. I run on a treadmill and use a heart rate monitor to track my runs and heart rate during my runs. I’m a 52 year old male with a resting heart rate of 44 bpm.

    Like some of your other runners, I feel like I’m running very slow, but I’m patient. My problem is that when running on the treadmill I set the speed to 12 min/mile pace. Then even at this slow rate, my heart rate eventually exceeds my target heart rate increasing to above 149 bpm. Although it only goes up to 154 bpm, I’m afraid I’m leaving my target heart rate. I don’t want to slow down any further. Will this greatly effect my training efforts? On an hour long run as much as 20 minutes will be above 149 bpm. Please advise.

  37. Hi Jeff,
    I’m a young runner, age 22, still running in college and I wanted advice for what I can do to improve my 8k/10k times. Right now, my base mileage is currently 67. I’ve been doing tempo’s and fartleks for the first quarter of my summer, May 12th to June 15th. June 16th to July 7th I’ve been replacing fartleks to progressives. My questions are: What should I focus on the most when it comes to these long distance types for Cross Country? Simply advice as all I need.

    • Hi Chase, apologies for the delay in responding. Hopefully you have been able to make the progress you hoped you would make by now. If we can be of assistance, please let us know, and I promise it will not take over a year to reply this time :)

  38. Dear sir I am going to selection for police I need to run 1.6 km in 6.5 minute what will my speed of first pace and give me tip s run fast currently am running 5 min for 1 km

  39. I just came across this article and I can’t thank you enough for your time and guidance. I’m a relatively new “returning” runner. I used to run a lot in the military and then had a bad back injury and was told I’d never walk again. That was 20 years ago. I’ve started running recently because my wife runs and I honestly missed it but old habits die hard. I push myself too hard. Last night I ran and exceeded my 100% Heart Rate and I got dizzy and almost blacked out. That’s too much.

    It’s been hard for me to balance my speed and heart rate and feel like I’m getting anything done. I completed a “couch to 5k” program and finished 4 weeks early. Ran a 5K with a time of 29:05. (Not bad for a beat up Vet)

    Your article has helped me realize that I need to “dial it down” a notch or three. I don’t really have any questions, I just wanted to say THANK YOU!

    • Hi Beta, glad you enjoyed the article, and we were able to help you realize. I apologize for the delay in congratulating you, but hopefully your running is still going very well! Keep up the good work :)

  40. I have always had a difficult time calculating my Max HR – I want to get a VO2 Max test done but I don’t know where I can get one that isn’t going to cost a few hundred dollars. I have a heart rate monitor which will register a HR near 200 when I’m working really hard (as a note, my resting HR is 49) but I recently completed a half marathon with a HR of 175bpm for the whole race. Although the pace was quite challenging, I can’t believe that I was anaerobic for 90 minutes – but it is equally hard to believe that my Max HR is 220+ (using the 70-80% rule to reverse calculate Max HR).

    I am in the midst of marathon training at the moment and I race in 6 weeks; I’m hoping to run sub 7min miles as my average pace but my HR jumps to 175+ at that pace. I’m currently doing my long runs at an 8:30 pace and keeping my HR below 165 (usually below 160) but I don’t seem to be able to increase my tempo without my heart rate climbing as well. How can you increase your pace without HR climbing – as a 2:22 marathoner surely your HR was above 160 for that race?!

    I appreciate your help as I would really like to avoid a brutal wall at 17 or 18 miles!

    Jerad

    • A VO2max test won’t help with heart rate, but if you’re really concerned and want to run by heart rate consider getting a graded exercise test, which will give you your real max HR and then you can accurately create your percentages.

  41. Thanks for the info.
    I am training for long distance events, specifically Ironman races.
    My aerobic zone is terribly slow…it’s improving, but what can I do to get my long race pace to competitive levels? Do I simply continue to run on the aerobic zone and just wait to get faster?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Jerry, thanks for your comment. I hope your ironman training is going well, and you have made some big improvements since reading this post. We have a lot of great articles that you could read about running if you are still interested, or if you have a specific question, we would be happy to help! Just reply to this comment, and I promise you won’t have to wait as long for a response this time :)

  42. I started running a few months ago and just finished my first official 5K with a 19:40 time. I am pleased with the time but would like to get down to 19 min or below. The 19:40 made me completely out of breath at the end and I couldn’t help but notice that the others ahead of me seemed to be running fairly easy [at least that’s how they appeared]. To get a faster time for my next 5K, should I be building up a better aerobic base? Currently, for my longer training runs, I run 6 miles at a 7:50 pace [can’t run too much longer mainly due to time constraints]. On other training days, I am doing 30/30 intervals for 10 intervals and plan to work my way up to eventually 18 or 20 intervals. [I also do 4 mile tempo runs]

    Should I be running slower and farther on my longer training days? Do the intervals help with a faster 5K as well? How can I train to be able to break my current 5K PR or sustain my 5K PR race pace [6:20] for longer distances? I would eventually like to run a 10K and then a 15K at that pace but I currently need to run much slower. My PR for 10k during training is a 7:35 pace, but that was tough for me.
    Thanks!

  43. Coach Jeff, I don’t understand why you should train slow all the time? I read an article that said if you train slow, you will always run slow… My average pace is 6min/ km – and I am never out of breath during the run. I do have some lactic build-up, but use foam rollers to get rid of this. Would it be better to rather do 2 long, slow runs a week and just one day’s interval/ fartlek training?
    I did my first 21km this weekend in a time of 2hrs 8mins…

  44. Great article. I have been running about 2 years and use a heart rate monitor most of the time, but it annoys me when I am trying to run faster because my heart rate gets very high. I am 28 year old female. I have run 2 half marathons with both times right at 3 hours. I have to slow down to 14 minute mile just to keep my heart below 160, and people can walk that fast. I try to do intervals on the treadmill to increase my speed. My “fast” intervals are only 5mph, and my heart rate stays around 180-190 during my 30-minute interval runs. My question for you is, even after these runs, my muscles never feel sore. I never feel that lactic acid “burn.” Does this mean I am not really going anaerobic If I don’t get the burning/ sore feeling in my legs? I feel like my 4.3 mph running is not accomplishing much, and I have not been able to improve my speed over the past 2 years of running 10- 15 miles a week. Thanks!

    • Hi Kristen, apologies for the delay. Hoping you know the answer to your question by now, but if your heart rate is getting all the way up to 180-190 you are most likely making it into anaerobic running, especially if you are doing intervals. The lactic acid build up will come from running at a pace that your body cannot maintain, so you are probably just not running quite fast enough. If you need any other help, please let us know!

  45. Hello,
    I’m not so sure I really understand this the right way. Are you pretty much saying that when you train you should figure out how fast you can run while staying in your aerobic zone (which is where you don’t get out of breath or cramp), and maintain that speed for a lot of your run. You said if you have a HR monitor and you stay within your 70-80% HR range, your “pace” will go down. Is this your HR or your running speed? If your HR went down then you would not be in the 70-80% range anymore, but if your speed went down then wouldn’t that mean you weren’t improving?

    Also one more question: is the shuttle run test/beep test/pacer test (which I think measures your anaerobic threshold), where you run back and forth, good as a stamina workout? Or just as a test?
    Thanks.

  46. Coach,
    I’m 45 years old and started running abt 2 years ago. I’ve always done some sports and have always been in reasonable physical condition.
    In these last 2 years I trained regularly (40-60km/week) and increased my distances and improved my pace significantly. I did some 8 half marathons (PB 1h40) and 3 marathons (PB 3h31).
    I did two very detailed medical evaluations (one each year) and found that my HR goes well above the average but no problems of any kind were detected. It seems that it’s just my own normal HR: I have an standard 55-60bpm (if sitting and quite I can measure 45-50) but when I run at my comfortable pace I go to 160-170bpm. According to the results of my exams (which included breath measurements, etc), I enter anaerobical at 175bpm and have a very good recover rate (HR drops to 120 while walking in the 2 minutes after the run).
    Ok, now my issue: whenever I will star any race, my HR jumps to 150 just before it starts, even if not even running at all. Not sure if it’s some adrenaline discharge but it’s always the same. It does not happen when training – I can keep it between 160-170 even in long runs of 20km at 5:00 min per km – but I find it hard to do so in the runs because I start at a very high HR, even before the “go!”.
    Take my last marathon (3 weeks ago): my goal was to reach the 3h30 (I finished my previous 2 in abt 3h45) and I run comfortably at that pace, when training, always in aerobic state. But because I was already at high bpm, I did the whole run in anaerobic (or so I think): 1st km with average of 178bpm and the whole run very close to this (final average 179bpm). I never felt any of the muscle pain that some runners refer from accumulation of lactic acid but I felt poorly in the last km and found it very difficult to keep the pace (I missed my goal because I stopped a couple times in the last 7km).
    Since I don’t think there’s any way to reduce the adrenaline kick in the start (and this is strange because I’m a calm guy and don’t feel nervous at all), is there any way of bring the breath back to aerobic during the race without compromising too much on the pace? (I want the Sun and the rain, as we say here, and I presume this is not possible…).
    Many thanks for your comments and congratulations on the site, which I found out just these days.
    Kind regards,
    Joao Coelho
    (Portugal)

    • Hi Joao, I am sorry for the delay, and hoping that by now you have found a way to feel better about your racing and the adrenaline is a natural response, so you are right, there is not much you can do there. It could possibly be that you go out a little too fast, and your body is not able to maintain that pace, even though you are not quite getting to an anaerobic state. If we can still assist you, please reach out, and we would be happy to help! Best of luck, and thank you for the kind words!

  47. Hi Jeff, I’m 37 and currently training for my first marathon (Antwerp – 27/4/’14). I can do a 10K in 43m weekly (HR: 180) and did the 1/2 marathon (Brussels) in 1h50m. My max HR will still be around 195. I’m still wondering if I’m training enough on aerobe side. Yesterday I did 17k run in 1h30 at HR160 and it felt a bit slow. So it looks like my threshold might be a bit higher then normal hence my question: will I still benefit from running at a HR <150? which I would have around 6:30/k pace…

    I can only run about 3 times per week as I still play volleybal and squash as well on a weekly basis.

    Kind regards, Arnd (Belgium)

    • Hi Arnd, I am sorry for the delayed response, hopefully you have found an answer to your question by now, but if not, please reach out, and we would be happy to help. Hope you are still enjoying your running, and keeping up with the cross training :)

  48. Thanks for all your info.

    It was two years ago when I met my first marathon with 41 degrees and cold steady rain. At mile 25 I basically walked and trotted to the finish. Having only been running for about 2 years, I had never heard of heart rate training. I was training to finish nothing else. I crossed the line at 4:20.

    This past weekend I finished my second marathon. I’m now 54 years old. I spent most of my summer and early training in the 70% hr range but my speed really never increased that greatly. the 6-8 weeks I started thinking of speed work. on race day I started slow. My HR was 148 and my pace was about on target for a 4 :00 hour finish but by the second half, I couldn’t keep under a 10 min pace with my hr in the 158+ range. I finished but at 4:29″48? the weather I’m sure was a factor. No wind, dry and 52 degrees.

    I guess my question is how do I train by heart rate to hit a pace if my heart rate continues to rise with time?

    Thanks

  49. Hi Jeff
    I am fairly new in to endurance sports.
    I started to run and do triathlons 2 years ago after loosing 130lb w a gastric bypass.
    I am doing almost all my training in the aerobic zone (127-137 bpm) My pace is arround 9:30 mile/min.
    Last fall I did my first half marathon. For this year I will do a full marathon and a half ironman.
    My question is if for those distances should I try to race all the time in my aerobic zone or if is ok to go over to anaerobic? And how far can I can anaerobic without risking hitting the wall?
    I am turning 40 next month.
    Thanks

    • Hi Joao, hope you had a great 40th birthday! We apologize for the delay in response, but hopefully that means that you have a marathon and an ironman under your belt. If you have questions, or would like to know more about either, please reach out, we would be happy to help, and have a number of articles to support you!

  50. Hi jeff I did read your articles on aerobic and anaerobic running thank you just have a question how should I approach my upcoming marathon 43.6km that is on the 23th of march reguarding aerobic and anaerobic running this race that I am running is a verry important race it is a qualifying race for comrades 2014 the qualifying time is 5hours believe you know how the bach seeding works in comrades my best time for a marathon is 4h18 that is just over 6min on a km over marathon distance?

    • Hi Tobias, apologies for the delay in response. Hopefully your marathon went well, and you were able to hit that qualifying time. Please let us know if you would like any further information on your training. We have plenty of articles that can also help you with your training!

  51. hi
    im a soccer referee and i have a question about how to train my self to pass cooper test (run 150m in 30 seconds rest 30seconds repeated 20 rounds )
    which is the best for me aerobic or anaerobic running
    thanks

    • Hi Sam, apologies for the delay in response. Hopefully you already passed your cooper test, but if we can help you with anything else running related, please comment back to this, and we would be happy to help!

  52. Hi, i found an inaccuracy that i wanted to clarify; “. . . the scientific fact that to exercise, your body needs to break down sugar and convert it to glycogen so it can be used as energy or fuel.” Glycogen is a long chained sugar that is stored in our muscles by our body, and that one that is being broken down during exercise to be used as an energy source in the form of ATP to be specific.

  53. Some really info i have been reading recently. Having done several marathons and half marathons i am still always learning year on year. Pb for half is 1:38 on 3 occasions and pb for marathon is 3:23.

    I am 34 and most my runs am cruising at 4:17-4:31 per km although i sometimes find this hard (have good days and bad days). Am currently not finding time to do long runs and the longest i have done is a 9 miler in 1:05. My hr is sitting anywhere from 164-174bpm and i usually sprint the end of my runs at approx 18kmph (i do a lot or work on a treadmill and have done this for years with all my runs and do 2 or 3 runs outside a month or so before the event).

    Am wanting to know if i should do long runs at an easy pace which means i fit more miles in or should i do shorter runs at a fast pace? Fast pace i consider to be 13.8-14kph and easy pace at 12 kph (5m/km). Long run = 10-15 miles, short run = < 10 miles. Looking to get around the 3 hour mark for this years edinburgh marathon. I know i need to work on pace but will i achieve the pace required if i cut out short runs and just work on long runs and gradually increase the pace as the days pass by?

    Training is difficult due to family life and my job involves lifting heavy stuff and sometimes up and down lots of stairs (do home delivery shopping for a supermarket chain). Have also started on doing hill training in the form of running up and down stairs in my 8-storey tower block. Did 120 up and 120 down in approx 30mins earlier today.

    Also i have had the dreadd shin splints! Have continued to train through them but have changed trainers and also tubi-gripped both legs and they are both starting to feel better (still waiting on physio appointment from the hospital).

    A lot of info to consider so any reply appreciated. If you need more info on what else i do with my training then feel free to e-mail me. So want to crack the 3 hour marathon.

    • Hi Sean, apologies for the delayed response, but hopefully by now you have beaten that 3 hour barrier. If you are still looking for advice, we would be happy to help, just respond to this comment, and we can point you towards some of our articles that can be very helpful to maximizing your potential. You can also email me tina(at)runnersconnect.net if you would like more information about our coaching that will help you reach that goal!

  54. Hey Coach Jeff!

    Last night I was running with my mate and I’ve noticed she likes to run interval style and is very good at it. Im getting pretty exhausted in that kind of style running whereas she is getting more strenght to run towards the end and i. more exhausted in the beginning. I have a feeling that Id run longer and enjoy it more if we didnt stop all the time as ai have energy to run in the beginning but the stopping is makimg me more exhausted after each stop. (also causes HR to go up and down)… I am an ex figure skater on a competitive level if this brings any clue as to why we are so different kind of runners..also my friend has no background in competitive level of Sports.

    So yes… Id pretty much like to know if its true that one can run longer and faster (maintaining the energy longer) when she is not stopping all the time (Interval training) and also if it is more friendly for your heart not to make your HR go up and down like that? I feel like it is super exhausting for my heart too.

    Also one question, yesterday was the first time running after a long time (7months due to winter). Would you say I could go out running today and try half marathon or 1/4 of a marathon? (Ive run my first half marathon last year within 3 hours) I feel like I have the energy to go running if I just didnt have to stop all the time but is it adviceable to try half marathon after half a year with very little excercise.

    I hope this makes some kind of sense… I kinda just spit all things out that were troubling my mind. Thanks for the answers in advance. Hope this helps others as well!

    • Hi Jen, I apologize for the delay in response. I am sure you have done many runs since you wrote this comment, but if you would still like information, or if you have any other running related questions, we have many great articles to assist you, and would also be happy to help with any specific questions you may have. I promise you will not have to wait this long again for a response :)

  55. So grateful for all this good info.

    I have 2 questions. I’ve been training in my aerobic HR zone now for 2 weeks, which according to your calculator is btwn 143-154.

    1) How do your HR zones from your calculator compare to Mittleman’s MAP, MEP, and SAP HR zones?

    2) for some reason this morning, my HR kept going into the lactate threshold and a bit into anaerobic. At no point did I feel winded. It wasn’t a fluke reading as it stayed that way for a while.

    So I had to walk a bit. (I’ve been running 3 miles a day x 4 or 5 times per week for a few years)

    During the last two weeks I’ve had no problem keeping in my aerobic zone while continuing to jog (around a 12:00 pace – much slower than I was running before beginning this aerobic training. My pace then was 10:00 avg)

    So could things like being tired, hot, fighting off some undetected cold cause my heart rate to increase today without feeling winded?
    What could be other causes?
    Thank you kindly for taking my question!
    Kris

  56. I am training for a 7 mile trail run and the first part climbs up 2500 feet fast and step. i am in good shape and can run pretty fast. how do you think i should train to get my breathing under control for the first part so i am not gassed for the rest of the race. after the 2500 feet its got a few hills and mostly flat. Also explain aerobic and anaerobic if you would please

    • Hi Gary, sorry for the delayed response. Hopefully you have already crushed the race, and know what worked best for you to race. We explained anaerobic and aerobic in the article above, but if you would like to know any more, please let us know, we would be happy to help!

  57. Hi sir i liked ur discussions.I am a physio student.i am having sm doubtts regarding aerobic and anaerobic.I understand diffrance between them but am not getting that in activities of daily living how aero and anaerobic differs.Is it possible that there are some event in body that both aerobic and anaerobics together takes place? or any rule that every activity starts with anaerobic and depends on intensity it becomes in aerobic phase or vice versa.Means how is the balance and coordination takes place in between both?

    • Hi Rohit, thanks for reaching out. Hopefully by now you understand them a little better. If you need any further information, please respond back to this comment, and we will be happy to help you!

  58. I just read this article as it popped up in my google search for overtraining. I am currently suffering (the suffering being mostly psychological!) from this situation after overdoing it and not giving my body adequate resting time between runs. Also, after reading this it is obvious to me that I have been doing way to little aerobic training and way to much anaerobic. After getting the flu and not giving myself time to retract from my training routine and recover from it, it finally hit me… my performance got worse and I could no longer run as fast or for as long as before. After about a month of struggling I gave up and decided to rest. It’s been six weeks now and I have only made a few slow runs as well as I bike and swim (keepin’ it at an easy level) but I still feel tired and exhausted doing those easy runs. So my question is, do you have any advice for me? Patience is not my friend but I do realise that I need it now. Anything else that I should be doing… or not doing?

    Thank you sincerly!

    Eva.

    • Hi Eva, sorry to hear you were suffering from overtraining, but hopefully by now you are well rested, and feeling much better. How have your runs been going since this time. Sounds like you make the right choice by backing away, and taking it easy for a while. If you are still struggling, or would like any more information, please respond to this comment, and we would be happy to help! Just make sure you learn from this :)

  59. I just ran across your article and am very excited to give the 3-4 week aerobic running a try, with one day a week in the anaerobic zone. My question is how many miles or duration should the runs be in the aerobic zone for the 3-4 weeks? Should I try and put in as many miles as possible or is there a magic number to be shooting for? Lastly, after the 3-4 weeks you mentioned you will start seeing your pace time fall gradually. At this point where should my training evolve to next?

    Thanks a bunch!!

    David

    • Hi David, thank you so much for your comment. Hopefully you have now found what works for you with your training. We would be happy to help if you are still trying to find out about this. Just respond to this comment with your questions, and we would be happy to help. I promise you will not have to wait as long for a response this time :)

  60. Hi, your article is very interesting and i have several questions.

    I am 32yrs, weigh 182lb, Resting hart rate 75, 5’9″ height

    Currently i can run 10K at an average HR of 184 in about 1hr.. which is waaaayyy too high according to your article. However, at the slowest possible jog speed, i am already at 175HR?!? If i slow any further i am basically just walking which is very frustrating since i am trying to improve my runs.

    My question is, should I just walk at the aerobic rate and at some point will my cardio improve so that i can run? or, can i continue to run at the crazy high heart rates and hope to improve slowly…

    I am starting to believe that the heart rate monitor was broken because everywhere i read it says that youu cannot exercise at max hart rate zone for more than a few minutes, but i have tried to different HR monitors and i get same high heart rates… It is definitely tough for me to run and i now see why, but do not know how to improve

    Please let me know what you think.

    Thank you very much for any help you can provide.

    • Hi Jesus, thank you for reaching out, and I apologize for the delay in response. Hopefully you have figured out the heart rate monitor issue, and have found a way of keeping your heart rate down. If you were not able to find answers, or would still like to hear more about this, feel free to respond to this comment, and I will respond promptly to help you with your questions :)

  61. Hi Jeff,

    I have come to find this thread a bit later but I am extremely interested in all of your comments above.

    Like many on the thread I believe I only train anaerobically. I completed by 5th half marathon at the weekend after following a 16 week program of x3 runs a week, one sprint / hill sets, a slower paced shorter run and long weekend run.

    I showed the classic signs you describe, I got a PB of 5, 10, 15km and then hit a brick wall I literally wanted to vomit and crawl into a dark hole at 16km and missed my goal for 21km. As a “fit” 31 year old my HR was 185 for the first half of the race at a 5:30km pace and when I finished hit 193.

    Like the majority if the comments I find it impossible to “run” aerobically. You talk about the aerobic pace but I have to “run” at 7:30 km pace to be in this zone. However after such a drastic last race I believe I need to work on retraining in the right zones.

    I would say I am probably the fittest I have been right now in terms of muscle strength and am worried if I start back training aerobically I will loose a lot of the fitness.

    What would you advice?

    In addition have you seen any research on the effects on the heart of anerobic training? My scans are normal but the cardiologist was unable to shed any light on of it was damaging long term

    Thanks

    Sarah

  62. I have been a competitive runner in the past,,,1:18 HM A serious running accident in 2002 stop my training for a sub 3 h marathon, so this is my first race in 12 years, I started back training last year. I’ve been on a four month HM schedule with long runs of 8,9, and 10 mile runs, 2 runs of 12 miles and 2 runs of 13. The last couple of weeks though I have not had that power feeling even in the early miles. In fact my 13 miler yesterday came off a rest day but my time was 30 minutes slower as I felt weak legs after 5 miles. Have I over-trained, Should I see a MD. My HM is less than 3 weeks away. Any advice would be appreciated……Stephen

    • Hi Stephen, sorry for the delay in response. Sorry to hear about your training setback in 2002. Hopefully by now you are feeling much better, but if you are still feeling overtrained, we would be happy to help you. Please respond to this comment, and we can point you in the right direction. Hopefully that half marathon went well for you :)

  63. Hi Jeff, I have a couple questions regarding heart rates and aerobic vs anaerobic running. First off, I am pretty much a middle of the road runner. I’m 25 years old, 185lbs, and have run up to half marathon distance. Normally my wife and I do 3 5-6 mile runs, a track workout, a set of hill repeats, and 3 strength workouts a week. My 5k is somewhere around a 6:45 pace. I have recently started looking into heart rate zone training after reading about the results of others and have started noting my heart rates. After running 5 miles at moderate pace and then sprinting about 1/4 mile up a steep hill with max effort I could only get my heart rate up to 157 and I felt I was on the verge of passing out. This seems very low for a maximum. I wore a HRM all day at work yesterday and noticed that at times when I had been sitting for a while my heart rate read around 36-40 and even as low as 34 at one point. Does a resting HR of 36 and max HR of 157 seem way too low to you? This would mean I should be doing my aerobic training in the 112-128 range, correct?

    As for the aerobic vs anaerobic running, I was hoping you could clarify something. Once you reach the anaerobic threshold, does you body stay in the anaerobic “mode” for a while afterwards? For example, if you go into an anaerobic zone while running uphill, will your body stay anaerobic for a while afterwards, even if your heart rate drops back down?

    • Hi Alex, apologies for the delay in response. Hopefully you have found answers to your heart rate questions by now, but if you are still looking for answers, we can definitely point you towards the help you need. Just let us know through a reply to this comment :)

  64. Hi Coach,

    Greetings for the day.

    I am 25 year old Indian male athlete (former). My personal best for 800m is 1min 55sec and 400m is 50.4sec. These timings are 5-6 years old. I wish to get back on track and run a 800m and 400m in June 2015. Currently I am working in Dubai, UAE and have joined gym to get in shape before I hit track for my workouts. I request if you could plan my workout so that I could run again with the same efficiency or better.

    Personal best (2008-09)
    200m – 22.8sec
    400m – 50.4sec
    600m – 1min 20 sec
    800m – 1min 55 sec
    1000m – 2min 30 sec

    Your guidance shall be really appreciated.

    Thanks and regards
    Sahil

    P.S. – Please share your personal email id

  65. I tend to blow up in weight between marathons (I know, I know it’s bad). I’ve been training and working to get back in shape but when I went on my last 5k run, my heart rate monitor showed I was in an anaerobic state for 20+ minutes – is that harmful to my body/heart? I always push hard but I’m concerned I may be doing physical damage. Thoughts?

    • Hi Matthew, don’t feel bad about weight gain! It is actually healthy for you to gain some weight post marathon as you do not want to stay at your peak weight year round. That being said, it is good you are trying to get back into shape. You should not be doing any permanent damage to your heart, especially if you have a base from prior training bouts. How long did you take off after your last race? If your body was in danger, it would start to shut down to protect you. I would just be a little careful with your runs for the time being, try to slow down your pace until your fitness comes back. Hope this helps!

  66. Hi Jeff. I am doing your 10 k running plan on runkeeper and you recommend to run the slow runs at 10:10 – 10:50 pace. Is this pace miles/hr or is it Km/hr??
    Thanks a lot.

    • Hi Diana, that will be your pace per mile (min per mile). However, that template at Run Keeper was set up years ago. If you want the more detailed, individualized, updated program, you can sign up through our website (Click on Custom Schedules at the top of this page). There is a 14 day free trial, and most people who sign up are happy to begin paying for the training. We would love you to be one of our happy, new clients! Hope this helps :)

  67. Hi
    Thanks for the very informative article
    I started running predominantly for losing weight. Its been a week and I am concerned over my Heart Rate (HR). I start with a brisk walk for about 200 meters and then start jogging (about 10-12 km/h) until the first KM and my heart rate goes up into high 180s (I am 32). Then I have to slow down until it comes back to 165ish and then I start to jog again. My heart rate goes back into the 180s in less than 300 m and then I have to come back to walking again. I am running/walking for about 3.5 – 4 km. During my first week my avg pace is about 8 min/km which I feel is quite low for my age. But I am concerned if my heart is too weak to support any better pace.

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