HR Recovery In Intervals | 80/20 Endurance

HR Recovery In Intervals

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  • #10635

    Hey all! Noob here.

    I’m earlyish in the 70.3 Level 2 plan. I want to say week 7 or so in. I just did RC9 and instead of at the track or on a flatter stretch of road, I just ran a typical neighborhood run that is rolling’ish. And I mean like barely. 283ft elevation gain over about 7 miles.

    I felt like the 7min Z3’s were quite manageable – considering ALL my previous runs used to be in Z3. bwahahaha. That said, I could NOT recover in between intervals even with walking by the time the next was ready I was barely getting my HR down. And then I couldn’t even hold Z2 cool down without several walk breaks.

    The whole workout felt like crap – considering I walked practically half the duration and my watch was yelling at me to slow down half the time.

    Are all these moderte/high intensity workouts better performed on a track? I figured the rolling run would be a good idea since my race course will be rolling.

    How does one get that HR to recover more quickly? I’m finding in general I can’t even hold a jog in Z1 (under 130 essentially for me).

    Thanks in advance!

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Hey, Noob! Excellent question. So, heart rate is not a reliable indicator of intensity during active recoveries. The reason is that it lags behind changes in actual intensity. This phenomenon is indeed referred to as cardiac lag. The moment you slow down to a Z1 PACE for an active recovery, you are in Zone 1, no matter what your HR reading is. So just ignore it. While it is possible to go too fast in an active recovery, switching to pace or power monitoring at these times will enable you to avoid this mistake, whereas going by HR will cause you to go too SLOW.


    This is great news. Thank you.

    Regarding the struggle to even hold a run/jog in Z1 which for me is under 135, (for all run workouts), is this common?

    There was a moment going uphill during the last of the intervals today where I almost had to WALK to get my HR down – in Z3!!! Which was totally messing with my head. And it was at that point that I had to wonder if I should be keeping these higher intensity interval runs at the track to better control my HR and get the most out of the workout.

    Matt Fitzgerald

    It is common. I urge you not to allow yourself to become a slave to your HR monitor, or any device. You should be able to train anywhere you please. At some point you might want to make a transition to a Stryd run power meter. They lack some of the major limitations and flaws you’re encountering with HR.


    From the sounds of things, you didn’t do too much (properly) easy running beforehand and ran at Matt’s “moderate intensity rut”. I was the same, but you will find that after a few weeks of 80/20 you will settle into running in the lower zones, without needing to walk every little while. As Matt says though, for interval recoveries, just forget the HR 🙂

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