Training at low heart rate

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01/02/2009 at 13:06


A while ago I remember reading an article in RW on training at a very low HR in order to build up a good base fitness. I've had a couple of months of very sporadic training, due to injury, illness and generally feeling demotivated, and having just been given an HR monitor I think this could be a good way of getting back into some proper running. I'm hoping this would get me back to a level where I can reintroduce speedwork etc without just getting injured again straight away.

But I can't remember the specifics- does anyone know anything about this type of training, or where I can find the article? Have tried searching the site but no luck.


01/02/2009 at 19:53

Not sure about the RW article, but this is worth a look, as is this.

01/02/2009 at 20:44

Thanks CM, that is really useful.

Has anyone tried this, and what did you think?

From reading those articles, I think I'm going to fall into precisely the trap that the author warns about, which is feeling like you're not working hard enough at the specified heart rate. Using the formula given, my max HR for an aerobic workout would be 153, which does seem very low- I think I would be barely moving! But if it really works, I guess it is worth the feelings of guilt over not exerting myself enough.

01/02/2009 at 21:05

Haven't looked at those links Harri but in my experience it works. I started training to HR in September of last year to build a good base for my first IM in the summer. Since then I've done all my training in in Zones 1-2 (up to 85% of maximum) and I'm now doing 2 hour + runs at 9 minute mile pace in Zone 2 which was previously unheard of for me. 

01/02/2009 at 23:08

Harri - have just posted this useful link on the other active HR thread:

 I started HR training at the beg of January.  I have pretty accurate measures of my max and min HR's (the former via some horrible hills) and have determined that my 70% WHR is 155.  This currently translates into approx 11 minute miles which horrifies me as I completed both a half marathon and a 10 miler at arounf the 9mm pace. 

However, I understand that 65-70% WHR is about 2 mins slower than your expected race pace. I am determined to give it another month to see if my easy run pace improves. Apparently it takes a while to see the difference. 

 Aviator - how long did it take you to see a change in your performance?

02/02/2009 at 15:07

Thanks both. Sounds like it is worth doing then.

Stump    pirate
02/02/2009 at 15:10

you could try a search on here for threads by Pantman.

Pantman was a serious devotee of the low hr training and he could really motor at low HR's

05/02/2009 at 15:35

I've had a quick look at the 'Pantman' threads, and was thinking of giving it a go. But, who is he/what's his background? Sorry if that's a stupid question!

I've been running less than a year, and even though I've been doing up to 25-30 miles a week, to my horror and upon reading these threads, I've now faced the reality that I HAVE been overtraining. I've been totally maxing out my HR on every run between 150-180+ bpm, and my speed has been very sporadic, with no consistency in my speed. Until last week, I managed an easy 10miler at 12mm, according to my Garmin with an average HR of 85bpm? Not sure how accurate that is. Since then I've kept my pace to 12mm and doing 4-6 milers.

The one thing I have noticed lately, is that when my HR rate gets to about 150+bpm, which is meant to be at a 'steady' pace, I can't sustain it for that long, hence why my speed is all over the place.

How do I improve this? Thanks.

Edited: 05/02/2009 at 15:37
05/02/2009 at 16:30
Look up Pantman, search for "Hadd's long-distance training" on google and also look at work by Arthur Lydiard/The Lydiard Foundation.

I personally found it great for weight loss, and increasing mileage without injury.
05/02/2009 at 16:34

An average HR of 85bpm?!?! Really? My resting rate is 54, but just walking around I would be up in the 80s somewhere.  I don't think I could get it much under 120 and still be jogging.

Do you know your max and resting rates? Just out of interest really, I don't really know much about this!

PSC    pirate
05/02/2009 at 16:54

Here you go folks... read this.  Knowing your max HR is critical and ideally your resting HR too.  The 220 - age formular for MHR is crap.  It's based on statistical norms, and none of us is "average" (coz we are all runners innit)! 

Once you know what your HR range is, you can then work out your lactic acid threshold and train at accurate training zones thereafter.  Check your MHR at regular intervals (as you become fitter it may alter and certainly will over a long period of time with age).  Your LA threshold will certainly alter (up) if you follow Hadds basetraining approach.

Please post how you get on with doing your MHR test - it always makes great reading

PSC    pirate
05/02/2009 at 16:56
there was also a terrific Base Training Thread a year or so ago - I think that this was it.  Start at the beginning and work forward - there is some excellent stuff in there.
05/02/2009 at 18:30

This is all great, thanks for all the info.

I am a month into my HR training now.  My true MHR seems to be around 197 (highest recorded figure even after a number of hard sessions of really horrendous hills work and some of crippling speedwork).  This is opposed to 180 using a formula approach.  My current resting is 51.

 I am still finding the 70%  MHR (around 155bpm) hard to stick to, and find it quite dispiriting running at around 11 mm, but hopefully that will improve soon.  My speedwork went really well this week, tho' and am hoping to see an improvement in my tempo runs. 

 Will keep posting - hope others trying this out will do too.

05/02/2009 at 19:08

Hi Tams,

I have been base training for while now and it is going well.  My MHR is 205 and my RHR is 49.  I completed the Bristol HM last year with a PB of 2:17 which is around 10:20m/m and my comfortable long run training was always around 10:50m/m but when I started base training I had to slow right down to almost 14m/m to keep under 70%.  Within 6wks I am now back up to almost 11m/m staying under 70%.

I have now started running 2 of my 4 runs a week at 70-80% and I will soon move into the stamina phase of my training and start adding in some steady-state and tempo runs.

I built my own plan using the work of Arthur Lydiard and the MacMillan Running website and it is working well for me.  It may not suit everyone but it worth a try.  I think someone may have linked you to Arthur Lydiard already but here is a link to the MacMillan site.

Good luck with everything, I look forward to hearing how you get on

05/02/2009 at 19:43

Having read this thread and most of the linked articles, I have to say I am finding it fascinating. It certainly appears to go against the grain that slower can equal faster.

 May have to give it a try.

05/02/2009 at 19:43

Having read this thread and most of the linked articles, I have to say I am finding it fascinating. It certainly appears to go against the grain that slower can equal faster.

However, I've just calculated my current 5k and 10 PB's per the formula in Hadd's approach, there is less than the 16 secs per mile difference between the two times.

My 5k pace is 8:17m/m meaning my 10k should bein the region of an 8:33m/m. It's actually 8:21 for the 10k. Anyone any idea what this means?

Edited: 05/02/2009 at 20:12
05/02/2009 at 22:32


I think it may just be a natural difference.  By that I mean that most people are predisposed towards either speed or endurance. 

Also, there will always be a degree of variance from the norm so what Hadd's approach suggests is that your 10K time should be 8:33m/m give or take a little depending on your natural predisposal to speed or endurance.

I hope this makes sense and I am also hope someone will correct me if I am wrong?

05/02/2009 at 23:33
Ideally, you would need at least 3 of the 4 distances to get any meaningful data from the comparison. A good 5k runner is likely to be at least a fairly good 10k runner, but might be weaker over a 1/2 marathon or marathon.
Keeby wrote (see)

Having read this thread and most of the linked articles, I have to say I am finding it fascinating. It certainly appears to go against the grain that slower can equal faster.

It only works that way to a certain extent. A base training approach involves building a strong base of aerobic endurance through low to moderate-intensity training. This might make you faster in races, depending on your training background and previous level of fitness. What it's really designed to do, though, is to give you a higher level of conditioning so that when you add the speedwork onto the aerobic base the end result is improved times.

05/02/2009 at 23:50

i'm stunned how close my times come to the mcmillan calculator.  All times shown below are based on times achieved in the past year:

I used 52'44" for a June08 10K for the calculations

800m McMillian predictor  3:42.9 to 3:53.2 ; actual splits (this week during training) 3:43 to 3:51

3 miles McMillian predictor 24:28 ; best training in past year 25:0

10 miles  McMillian predictor 1:28:21  ; last race time (October 08) 1:28:39

13.1 miles  McMillian predictor  1:57:20; last race time (March 08) 1:57:57

06/02/2009 at 16:13

Harri777 - Here it is....according to my Garmin, as I said before not sure HOW accurate that is! The maximum was when I did a quick sprint up a hill, just to see how it felt!! LOL!! I must say though, that it was a lovely run, albeit slow and unlike my other runs, I didn't feel like snoozing after!!

Date: 2009-01-27
Start time: 11:12:57

Distance: 16.10 KM ( 10.00 Miles )
Duration: 2:00:34

Average HR: 85 ( 45.9 percent of Max )
Maximum HR: 179 ( 96.8 percent of Max )

Average speed: 7:29 per KM
Average speed: 12:03 per mile

PSC - It is INDEED fascinating reading, and I'm only up to page 30......there's 580 pages of it!!! Arrggghh!! 


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