Running Using Heart Rate

Training by heart rate can be a very effective way to make sure you are training at the appropriate intensity and in the appropriate energy system for a given workout. If heart rate training is not for you, see the "Running in Zones" section to learn more about how you can run by feel.

The most accurate way to get your zones is to go to a testing facility. Since that probably isn't something you are looking to do, there are a couple of alternatives that can get pretty you close:

  • Many modern heart rate monitors can estimate your Lactate threshold (and also zones). For example, many Garmin products have a guided test that guides you through a protocol and estimates based on collected data. This is a very easy method and can get you a good enough value to calculate your own zones, or use the zones the device for you.
  • If your device doesn't do this for you, it's possible to estimate your Lactate Threshold by doing a 30 minute time trial. And with that, zones that will be good enough to train by.

See the 30-minute time trial instructions down below. Select a calculation method to get started.


  Zone 1 Zone 2 Zone 3 Zone 4 Zone 5  Max
Description: RecoveryEnduranceIntensive EnduranceLactate ThresholdVO2 MaxAnaerobic EnduranceAnaerobic Capacity
Intensity: Very lowLow-ModerateModerateModerate-HighHighVery highMax
Perceived Exersion: 4 - 56789to10
Heart Rate Range: -------

         Note: Keep in mind for all heart rate zones it takes time to get into that zone. Make sure the "feel" of the intensity matches your effort.

30 Minute Time Trial

  1. Go to a track (or very flat course) and take your heart rate monitor
  2. Warm up for 10 - 15 minutes, starting at a very light pace and increasing to a moderate pace. Stretch if desired.
  3. Now, run your best 30 minute pace. Make sure to keep a consistent pace for the entire duration. That is, don't start off too fast and slow down. Keep the same pace the entire time. Record the entire 30 minutes with your heart rate monitor, but press the "Lap" button after the first 10 minutes, letting the last 20 minutes go until the end . You want the last 20 minutes to be a lap that has its own average heart rate.

Your average heart rate for the last 20 minutes will be a close estimate to your Lactate Threshold