Keeping HR in Z1 | 80/20 Endurance

Keeping HR in Z1

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  • #8624

    I just started doing 80/20. I have a question about how to keep my HR in Z1. I have realized that I rarely, if ever, run in Z1 so this is huge change for me. I have noticed that it is hard to keep my HR in Z1 when running, especially as my run continues and it warms up outside. I’ve found that I end up having to walk to get my HR down in the Z1 range. Is this normal?



    David Warden


    Welcome to 80/20! Yes, this is normal. Let’s dig deeper into your zones, and a possible remedy.

    First, can you confirm how you established your zones? If your LTHR is too low, for example, this will make the ceiling of Zone 1 also be too low. Therefore, the first step is to ensure that what you think is Zone 1 is really Zone 1. Our protocols listed at Getting Started with 80/20 Training are the (only) recommended methods to determine 80/20 zones.

    If we can establish that your Zone 1 (and LTHR) is correct, consider using Pace as a measure instead. If not a wholesale replacement of your zones, at least use pace for Zone 1. You don’t even have to change your plan type, you can just memorize your Zone 1 pace in your head, and use that until your workout hits Zone 2+.

    Next, while the 80/20 threshold between low and moderate pace is based on empirical evidence, the threshold between Zone 1 and 2 is not. Matt and I used our best judgement on the delineation between Zone 1 and 2 (and that delineation point has moved over the years). If you are asked to perform in Zone 1, and are creeping into low Zone 2, that is acceptable. It’s 80/20 training, not 40/40/10/5/5 training. High Zone 1 and low Zone 2 are both low intensity and consistent with the system. We feel that Zone 1 has an important place in training, but not critical if you occasionally miss it.

    There are four uses for Zone 1 in the 80/20 system: warmup, cooldown, interval recovery, and general recovery (RRe and CRe workouts). For the first 3, it really does not matter if you drift into Zone 2, and you can even walk the Zone 1 interval recovery segments to stay in Zone 1. For the Zone 1 RRe and CRe workouts, it does matter that you stay as low as possible, and I’d use Pace for sure in those workouts to remain in Zone 1.

    Finally, most 80/20 athletes find that with time, their ability to maintain Zone 1 becomes easier. This may also be a short-term problem for you.



    Hi David,

    Thanks for the response! I did the LTHR to get my zones, so I’m guessing they are probably pretty accurate. I’m also guessing they will change as my fitness continues to improve. Letting me know it’s OK to creep into Z2 is good to know. I’ll keep working on it and let you know how it goes. I’m only on my 2nd week of the program, but I am loving it. I’m doing Ironman Coeur d’Alene is June 2021 (my 6th Ironman), so I’m doing the maintenance program now since the race is still a ways away. Once I get within the right time window, I will start the actual program. I think this maintenance program is really going to give me a big head start.

    Thanks again,


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