Zone Calculator Confusion with Race Pacing Chart | 80/20 Endurance

Zone Calculator Confusion with Race Pacing Chart

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  • #10630

    Hi there,

    earlier today, I was playing around with the new running zone calculator.
    What I found interesting and actually confusing is the following:
    If I would lets say enter a recent 5k of 19min flat, Zone Y would be 6:26-6:33 min/mile, Threshold 6:33 min/mile. So far so good.
    I understood from Matt that the “old” calculator was too aggressive which is also true for the 30min test and therefore the 20min test is recommended (see my other posts about this topic).
    Looking at the pacing chart, it suggest to run a 5k – if experienced – in high zone Y which would mean the 5K would be finished at around 19:57min which is a whooping 57sec slower than the 5k that was used to calculate the zones.
    I’m puzzled.


    Matt Fitzgerald

    Actually, one should not race a 5K in high Zone Y. One should race a 5K as fast as one can. A runner who does the latter may or may not achieve an average pace that falls at the upper end of Zone Y. Some will, some won’t, depending on their ability level. Also, it should be noted that that pace chart is now dated because it was based on the old calculator!

    Speaking more broadly, it’s important to keep in mind that the body operates on time, not distance. A 5K is the same distance for all runners, but some runners take a lot longer to complete a 5K (or any other distance) than others do. Hence, the race is necessarily executed at a lower intensity (zone) by slower runners. For this very reason I’m not a fan of pace charts like the one that confused you. I’ll go ahead and throw Coach David under the bus by saying it was his idea! But he created it with the best of intentions, as 80/20 athletes kept asking us “Which zone should I race in?” To which question MY preferred answer is:

    How to Set a Good Race Time Goal


    Thanks for your swift response Matt.
    I actually agree with your 5K as fast as you can approach and I was only using the 5K example as I thought it explains my thoughts nicely.
    I personally like Coach David’s idea of having a pacing chart, especially for IM or 70.3 to get an idea, etc.
    I only noticed the confusion between the calculator and the chart and wanted to make sure I got it right.
    So please don’t get me wrong, I love your website, the forum and the approach of 80/20. I try to dig in as much as I can by reading what’s online but also your books.
    Thanks for the great work!

    Matt Fitzgerald

    And we love you! Seriously, David and I want everything we do for the 80/20 athlete community to be the best it can possibly be. You are doing us a great service by “digging in” the way you do, and we hope you don’t stop anytime soon!

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