Which zone for marathon race? | 80/20 Endurance

Which zone for marathon race?

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  • #14667
    Simon Neill

    Hi, I just got a new threshold update from TP (it jumped from 158 to 170) which leads me to question which zone should I target for my marathon race as it’s in just 10 days time? I read on TP that it should be in the “high aerobic” zone for the marathon but the same term is not used in the TP heart rate zones. eg., Zone 4: SubThreshold. Zone 5A: SuperThreshold. Zone 5B: Aerobic Capacity. I have my target pace in mind already but would like to relate that to the right HR zone. My first time to post a question here so apologies if this is already explained elsewhere (I did look) or if the answer is obvious!
    Cheers, Simon


    For a race, I would go by pace, power, or even RPE, rather than heart rate. The excitement of the race alone will likely make your heart rate higher than usual, which won’t necessarily correlate with your level of fatigue. For my last marathon, which was well executed, my average heart rate was at the bottom of zone X. During training, the same type of run would have had my average HR lower by about 10 BPM.

    That’s just my take on it. 🙂


    Hey Simon,

    I had the same question. I went by feel mostly during the race. I figured out during the first few miles a comfortable pace and stuck to that.

    I found this helpful, too, while training and mentally preparing for a race.

    Race Pacing

    And I read multiple times (and it actually sank in) … don’t make the rookie mistake and go too fast out of the gate. Good luck.


    My last race was with average heart rate of top end zone y and half of the time in zone 4. Alan is right about heart rate. In race environment your HR will be higher anyway and won’t give you reliable data.
    I had my goal time and pace and around 3km into the race I found a running partner with a tempo that was good for me. If I would have gone only by HR I would not have finished with a massive PR. I ran mostly by pace and feel.


    Putting that way sounds funny. Of course you will have an elevated heart rate! You’re there to race, not train. Agreed. Go by feel and find a comfortable or comfortably hard pace to run at and go by that.

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