Pace plan better than HR for me? | 80/20 Endurance

Pace plan better than HR for me?

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  • #9610

    Hi everybody,

    33 year old female here. I’m not a complete beginner at running – finished 9 halfs and then took a year or so break – and followed Galloway training plans for every race above a 10k. I did improve my pace slightly with each half but the last one. My goal is to do at least one marathon.

    After my last half I discovered MAF/8020 and started trying to do low HR training on my own but frustratingly never got over 99% walk/1% run (18 min/mi) – my heart rate would spike constantly and I never get to even break out into a jog for more than 3 meters. I’m pretty sure my zones are right since I’ve done VO2Max/metabolism tests in a lab and both showed 145/146 bpm as my aerobic threshold. I am prone to anxiety in general, as well.

    Is this an indicator that my overall fitness is just not good enough to sustain aerobic running and I should pick a pace plan instead? Would sprinkling in Z1/Z2 bike rides help with building aerobic capacity along with a pace plan? Thanks in advance!

    David Warden


    Thanks for checking in and using our plans. Normally, I’d ask some questions like, what is your LTHR, how did you determine it, when did you determine it… but if you are spiking HR at an 18-minute mile I don’t think we will fix it.

    So, don’t use HR. Use Pace. There is no reason to think you don’t have a good aerobic system, especially given your experience. Some people just have an aerobic system that has elevated HR no matter what. There is nothing wrong with that, except when you try and use it to measure intensity.

    Remember: HR is not an intensity. It is an indicator of how the body is responding to a stimulus, and a bad indicator. Pace and Power are outcomes and outputs, much better measures of intensity.

    It’s possible that after another year of 80/20 training you actually will make a significant shift in your aerobic systems and your HR will stop spiking, and you can go back to HR. My experience is that very few athletes who try Pace ever go back to HR as a primary.



    Hi David,

    Thank you so much for your response. It’s truly heartening to know that I can follow a different plan and not feel like I’m broken for having a high working heart rate. I will give the pace plans a try!

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