Heart Rate CalculatorAn easy-to-use calculator that will help you determine your optimal HR training zones

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Resting Heart Rate

1. Find yourself a quite room where you can lie down and rest.
2. Make sure you have a watch or clock that is easy to see.
3. Relax and breathe deeply for 1 minute, allowing yourself to get completely calm
4. Find your pulse, either on your neck, just under your chin or with your wrist
5. Count the number of times your heart beats for 20 seconds. Multiple this number by 3 and you have your resting heart rate in beats per minute (bpm)

Recovery Training Zone

The recovery training zone is the heart rate and pace you should do the majority of your running days at. For any schedule that has “easy” next to the mileage total, this is the zone you should target for maximum effectiveness. The recovery training zone is important because it gives your body the chance to mend itself from the hard workouts. Most new runners run their recovery runs far too fast. This puts them into what I call “the grey zone” of training. They aren’t running slow enough to allow proper recovery, but they aren’t running fast enough to get any real benefits. Running in the recovery zone should feel easy.

Aerobic training Zone

The aerobic training zone is the sweet spot for marathon training and developing your cardiovascular system. Your marathon pace should fall on the higher end of your aerobic training zone. The pace adds just enough stress to your breathing that it will feel comfortably hard and you could hold the pace, if needed indefinitely. You should run your long runs at the lower end of this range, with the option to creep faster towards the end of the run if you’re feeling good. In addition, if you’re training schedule calls for a “steady run”, this would be best accomplished at the high end of this heart rate zone.

Lactate Threshold Zone

The Lactate Threshold zone is more universally called a tempo run. Basically, you’re looking to run just on the edge of your lactate threshold, which is the point at which your body can no longer process and get rid of the lactic acid that your muscles are producing from running and the lactic acid starts to flood your system. Heart rate training is a great tool for lactate threshold training because it helps you stay on the proper side of that fine line between just enough lactic acid production and too much.

Anaerobic Training Zone

The anaerobic training zone is most commonly referred to as speed work or VO2 max work. VO2 max is a complicated physiological process that should have, and will soon, its own post. To be the most simplistic I can get without being “wrong”, VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen you can consume and process when exercising. Heart rate training in this zone is near maximum and you should only be able to run at 2 or 3 minutes maximum before your body gives out.

Learn More About Heart Rate Training

1. Caveats to heart rate training