General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better Rss Feed  
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2019-05-05 10:18 AM

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Subject: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
After several years hiatus from triathlon, I'm back in! Just finished 2nd week of 12 week plan to get me to race day for a super short sprint (1/4 mi swim, 10 mi bike, 3 mi run). I am trying out this whole HR training thing, and have found staying slow enough in Zone 2 to be quite challenging. Lots of walk breaks, the slowest shuffly run, and granny gearing it up hills (it's very hilly where I live) and still finding my HR spike into Zone 3 or even 4 on steep hills when on the bike. Swim seems to be easiest to stay in Zone 2 but I find myself practicing a LOT of patience. I've had to stop running with friends because I'm just too slow.

I remember years and years ago that I used a HR monitor strap and had my best run season ever. Then I accidentally washed the dang thing and it no longer worked, so I did the Bad Thing of trying to go harder and faster each time I got out there. I just got a new device in March so in the last week and a half I've been giving myself over to the wisdom of Zone 2 efforts.

But it's soooooo sloooooow.

Please give me your anecdotal "evidence" that this is going to be good for me? Please give me hope I"ll see results soon and will be able to do what people actually describe as running.

p.s. I should probably update my signature. Wow. It's been a while.


2019-05-05 8:29 PM
in reply to: GreenMtnLabbit


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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
Welcome back!

I think the biggest thing with zone 2 training is it forces you to be disciplined. Your body will eventually become more efficient and you will see your paces improve while staying in zone 2. The other thing is it allows you to really recover well and be ready for your harder sessions. I slip into the “comfortably hard” zone too much and never fully recover and can’t hit my hard effort numbers consistently. Zone 2 training will help you avoid that pattern. It will also help you avoid injury after such a long hiatus as well.

I’ve followed lots of athlete success stories where they really sing the praises of zone 2 training.

Good luck!
2019-05-06 9:50 AM
in reply to: Parkland

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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
Thanks. I'm thinking all this holding back will be good mental discipline, too!
I was very pleasantly surprised at how good my legs felt after an easy 90 minutes on the bike yesterday. My husband did a long, easy, easy run and for the first time thought, "oh, I can see how a marathon might be possible!"
2019-05-06 10:49 AM
in reply to: GreenMtnLabbit

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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
Yep... every athlete I have coached or given advice to has this exact issue.

It's the next phase of triathlon.

Phase 1 first timer
Phase 2 just train distance
Phase 3 start using HR training

Once you get into Phase 3, you have to trust the plan and it won't happen over night.

I do tell my athletes that the can at least jog and don't have to walk, but VERY slow.
2019-05-06 11:05 AM
in reply to: GreenMtnLabbit

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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
I think I'm in a similar boat, I've been fairly fit in the past and am now getting into triathlon, trying Z2 training. Last week I went out for a 5 mi. zone 2 run (long run) and returned home 10.5 mi. later. I had gotten to my turn around point and thought "Wow this is nice, I want to keep going."

My heart rate seems to spike into 140s-150s for no reason for the first 20-30 min. If I hold my pace (about 11:30 per mi.) my heart rate eventually settles in. Similarly, I had a run planned as 10 min warmup, 5 strides, easy for time. I decided to do all but the strides in Z2, and after 3-4 strides my heart rate again settled in. Just something I've noticed.

Also I do my best to focus on form while Z2 running.
2019-05-07 9:46 AM
in reply to: GreenMtnLabbit

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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better

I'm all for Zone 2 run training for the majority of run training...at least until you work up to weekly base mileages of around 20 miles.  If those 20 mile weeks leave you feeling beat up...keep it easy until it doesn't.

I think its easier to get away from zone 2 efforts on the bike/swim since the recovery cost isn't as high. 



2019-05-07 10:56 AM
in reply to: GreenMtnLabbit

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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better

Keep plugging away...one day, the magic will just "happen"...you will have that run where you feel like you turned the corner and zone 2 will be what zone 3 used to be     However, if you are doing a sprint, are you adding in some "quality" aka speedwork or intervals once a week?   

2019-05-09 7:40 AM
in reply to: Mimir98

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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
Originally posted by Mimir98

Keep plugging away...one day, the magic will just "happen"...you will have that run where you feel like you turned the corner and zone 2 will be what zone 3 used to be     However, if you are doing a sprint, are you adding in some "quality" aka speedwork or intervals once a week?   




Thanks for the tips, everyone.

I'm only in week 3 of my 12 week plan. At this point it is a lot of base building, but I do see in the coming weeks, that there's some intervals, and the last part of the plan before the taper has race pace specific workouts.
2019-05-09 12:47 PM
in reply to: #5258397


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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
Glad to hear there is some speed work coming up. That will break the monotony up a bit as well.

I enjoy runs that have a fast finish. The first 4 miles may be slow and steady but that last mile or mile and a half is fun and leaves you feeling like you had a good workout even though 80% of it was slow, steady work.
2019-05-10 8:36 AM
in reply to: TriJayhawkRyan

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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
Originally posted by TriJayhawkRyan


It's the next phase of triathlon.

Phase 1 first timer
Phase 2 just train distance
Phase 3 start using HR training



Yeah....that about sums up my experience to date! Trying to train smarter, not harder.
2019-05-14 2:39 PM
in reply to: Parkland

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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
Up until now I'd be using the Maffetone method of 180 - Your Age and stayed under it for the past few weeks. Today I did a threshold test (as many of you suggested I do - I'm taking your advice!) and used Joe Friel's method of establishing training zones. Previously I'd been staying under 139 bpm and it was soooooooo slow. Now my Zone 2 is a more defined 142-149, which means I'll be able to do less walking and more actual running, hooray! It'll still be slow, but I'm glad I did the test. Well, sort of. It was cold and drizzly, so that wasn't so much fun, but after a few weeks of slow running, it was nice to let loose!

Thanks for the tips, everyone.


2019-05-14 5:58 PM
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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
Yep, 180 minus age is really just a ballpark figure, and tends to work better for people who have been quite sedentary. It also doesn't take account of differences in resting HR between say, men and women, or people of different sizes. For athletes, especially older ones, threshold (as established by accepted performance tests) is usually higher than that. With that metric, it would say my Z2 threshold is 131. Even when in good tri shape, I would not be able to bike much out of Z1, or do any running beyond a very light jog in cool conditions, staying under that. (On the bike, according to threshold tests, my Z2 goes up to 149 BPM, and mid 150's on the run in warm conditions.)

Really, after a while, it's easy to "find" Z2. It's that level when you're clearly doing some exercise that goes beyond warmup/cooldown/ recovery/just get the blood moving level, but (unless it's gone on way too long, like a full IM), it generally feels doable and enjoyable. Z3 is WORK. Might feel good at first, but it takes focused effort to sustain for over about 20-30 minutes, even when in good shape. Not horrible (that's Z4-5), but for sustained effort, not really fun either.

Edited by Hot Runner 2019-05-14 6:02 PM
2019-05-15 11:45 AM
in reply to: GreenMtnLabbit

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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
Originally posted by GreenMtnLabbit

Today I did a threshold test (as many of you suggested I do - I'm taking your advice!) and used Joe Friel's method of establishing training zones.

Thanks for the tips, everyone.


Ok, could someone please refresh my memory as to how to do this? Thanks you so much!!
2019-05-16 9:44 AM
in reply to: TRIMAN413

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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
Originally posted by TRIMAN413

Originally posted by GreenMtnLabbit

Today I did a threshold test (as many of you suggested I do - I'm taking your advice!) and used Joe Friel's method of establishing training zones.

Thanks for the tips, everyone.


Ok, could someone please refresh my memory as to how to do this? Thanks you so much!!


I would have to dig out the details but basically you run all out for 30min but take he average HR of the last 20. From there you establish a threshold heart rate and your zones. There is a link somewhere on this site.

My I suggest an alternative and why I think it's better.

Enter a 5km or 10km race. Race it, have fun. Then take the result, plug it into one of two calculators (Jack Daniel's or McMillan) and get training paces. Not HR, pace.

Why I think it's better.
a) while HR is good, there are shortcomings. It's hard to use HR for any type of speed work because of the lag and drift over time. Calculators will give you paces for things like 1 mile repeats or 1/4 mile repeats that would be difficult to do with HR
b) Do the same distance 5 or 10km races and track your progress.
c) Use the shorter events to help plan and pace longer events.

There is so much more you can do with pace rather than HR.

If you are dead set on doing your long training runs with HR, run at the speed McMillan says to do long runs and see how it translates to HR.

Just an idea.
2019-05-16 12:14 PM
in reply to: GreenMtnLabbit

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Subject: RE: Zone 2 - Tell Me It Gets Better
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