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25th January 2019 - Run With Pace, Not Heart Rate

During my last five years of coaching, the only runners I’ve seen consistently improve their running times are the ones who train to pace, not heart rate.

Most, if not all of our running is all about finishing a certain distance within a certain time and the most commonly used running metric is minutes per mile or minutes per kilometre.

Pace is an external measure of how fast you are moving over the ground and has nothing to do with what colour your socks are or how well you slept last night. Heart rate is an internal biological measurement and is highly variable - hydration, weather, posture, nutrition, fatigue, stress, excitement and body temperature are just a few examples of things which can greatly affect your heart rate.

Time and time again I see coaches telling their athletes to run at specific heart rates.

The longer you run, the higher your heart rate will rise (cardiac drift) and therefore, if you’re running to a specific heart rate, you’re going to be running slower and slower to maintain that specific heart rate.

Don’t believe me – then have a go at running a 45-minute 10k or a 2-hour half marathon using nothing but your heart rate – good luck with that.

I also see many coaches using the same heart rate training zones used for cycling - why? Your cycling heart rate training zones and running heart rate training zones are completely different and can be up to 15 beats per minute different. This will probably mean that you’re running in the wrong zone.

Next time your coach gives you’re a heart rate run session – ask him to explain why?

My advice:

1) Stop using your HR monitor when you run.

2) Go and run. Sometimes at an easy pace, sometimes at your 10k pace, sometimes at your 5k pace.

3) Go back to number 2.

Still don’t believe me? Then Google “Jack Daniels Running Formula”. Not only is he known as one of the best running coaches in the world, his method works.

Not only that, there’s a very good reason why the best triathlete coaches in the world use pace and not heart rate for run training.

Want to know more about running with pace – then please get in touch. Just like training with power on the bike (and garlic bread) – it really is the future.

Coach Pat.