Zone range selection | 80/20 Endurance

Zone range selection

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    quick question regarding the range of each zone. I am someone who used to fall into the mid-intensity rut given that I am very competitive, specifically with myself. The 80/20 approach to training has been wonderfully liberating, but I still find that I push the limits of each specific zone. I feel that if I fall into the middle of a particular zone, instead of the top, I feel I didn’t work hard enough. Now I know that the philosophy of 80/20 is to SLOW DOWN, and that takes discipline. But my question is this: When training in any prescribed zone, Should I be aiming for the middle of that zone or is it ok that I push for the top of the zone on a regular basis? In a similar vein, when training in any prescribed zone, is the goal to achieve an average HR/Pace/power for that segment, or to never stray outside of that zone at all?

    by way of example, to ensure I am communicating my question properly:

    If I am running a Z1-Z2 workout (Pace), and my zones are Z2: 6:11-7:05 per/km, Z1: 7:05-8:58 per/km. I tend to want an average for each zone of Z2:6:11-6:15 and Z1: 7:05-7:10. As a result, I tend to spend some time in zone X, just enough to bring my average to where I want it.

    Should I stop that, and if so, what should I be aiming for?

    David Warden


    Great question. The goal is to be consistent in a given workout. For example, if the workout is high intensity intervals, it’s better to maintain a consistent output in the low part of the zone, then higher output any many points within the zone. If you can do both: high end of the zone AND consistent output, that’s even better.

    For Zone 1 and Zone 2, same thing. Better to maintain the low or middle of Zone 2 than to be all over Zone 2. Drifting into Zone X with the intent to get back down is just fine. I’d not want to see more than a few minutes in Zone X for any given workout though.

    However, do not use an average to determine compliance with the workout. An average of high Zone 2 with 31 minutes in Zone 2 and 29 minutes in Zone X is not compliant. You should be using total time in Zone X as your measure of success, and that should be a few minutes tops, and 0 is better.

    Also consider that, particularly for the interval workouts, if you find yourself always pushing the upper level, it may be that you have outgrown your zones and it’s time to retest.


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