“I’m in the ZONE,”………

“I’m in the zone,”………..Wait, which zone are you in?

My friend and I used to say that we were going to create shirts that said, “I’m running in zone 2 today.”  Or, “I’m really not slow, I’m just in zone 2.”  Why you ask?  Well, if you go from running at a good pace to running in zone 2, you may understand.  Let’s just say that your pace will be noticeably different.

A few years ago, I ran at a pretty high effort level all the time.  I thought that I needed to exert a certain amount of energy in order for it to be a good, quality run.  Boy, was I wrong!  Over the last 2 years, I learned that I don’t have to work so hard to get the results I want.  In fact, most of my runs are at a very enjoyable pace.  Now, if I were just running a 2-3 times a week, it may be different.  But, since I’m running 4-5 times a week, I can run in zone 2 most of the time.

What is zone 2 you ask?  Well, Sally Edwards describes zone 2 below:

Zone 2

60% to 70% of your individual Max HR.

It’s easily reached by jogging slowly. While still a relatively low level of effort, this zone starts training your body to increase the rate of fat release from the cells to the muscles for fuel.Some people call this the “fat burning zone” because up to 85 % of the total calories burned in this zone are fat calories which is equally as important.Fit and unfit people burn fat differently. The more fit you are, the more effectively you use fat to maintain a healthy weight. On the other hand, perhaps you’ve been exercising vigorously, but not losing the weight you expected to. Could be you’ve been working too hard and need to drop back to this zone and exercise longer. To burn more total calories you’ll need to exercise for more time in this zone.

Do you want to read about the other zones?  This article has a lot of great information.


While I’m trying to train smarter and stay in zone 2, I do find myself working a little too hard on some of these hills while running the trails.  I think that it’s time to wear my HR monitor again and really pay attention to what I’m doing.

My favorite part of zone 2 training is that my recovery is so much quicker than when I go out and run at a higher zone.  Here are some other tid bits about zone 2 training……..

What can we expect from Zone 2 training?

The athlete training in Zone 2 is likely to experience the following:

  • Requires a little concentration to maintain in the upper part of the zone
  • Breathing more regular than at low effort (zone 1) but conversation can be continued whilst riding.
  • A low sensation of leg effort whilst exercising, but awareness of ‘having done something’ immediately post ride
  • Quick recovery, and can soon repeat the same effort (as long as nutrition is taken care of).

Taken from this site:  http://www.pbscience.com/training-articles/factsheets/570-training-in-zone-2.html

In order to figure out which zone you are in, you can use either chart.  They vary a bit and you’ll have to decide which one fits your body best.  The first is from Sally Edwards and the second is from a different source.  I tend to fit into the second chart better than the first one.


% of Heart Range

Enter Your  heart Rate
Range for Each Zone


50%-60%   – bpm

(example 90 to 108 BPM)


60%-70%   – bpm


70%-80%   – bpm


80%-90%   – bpm


90%-100% – bpm

Here are the zones and the percentage of max HR from a different source:  http://www.raf.mod.uk/raftriathlon/rafcms/mediafiles/498BDA28_1143_D71E_4627EBDF0F3C498A.pdf

Zone 1  recovery  60-65%

Zone 2  extensive endurance  66-70%

Zone 3  intensive endurance  71-75%

Zone 4  threshold zone   76-80%

Zone 5a  threshold zone  81-85%

Zone 5b  anaerobic  86-95%

Zone 5c  power  96-100%

I wouldn’t say that I am completely training by the different zones.  However, I was able to learn what the different zones were and how I feel in each zone and then use that information to my advantage.  After all, why work harder than I need to?  There is a time and place to exert a high level of energy.  The rest of the time, I’ll work less, enjoy my run and let my body recover so it is ready to give it’s all on race day.

Do you pay attention to your Heart Rate and the different Zones?  Are you running too hard?  Can you have a full conversation during your run?

3 thoughts on ““I’m in the ZONE,”………

  1. Excellent info, explains why I’ve dropped so much weight so quickly. Since 10/2012, I’ve lost about 35 lbs. I’m running a lot, but at a real easy pace. Been thinking I should train harder, but I like these results.

    • Great job on getting out there and running! I’m glad you are happy with your progress. Zone 2 is great for several reasons as you have seen 1 reason. I like zone 2 because I recover so much quicker. However, I do get out there and work hard (zone 4+) when I am building my speed. So, there’s definitely a time and a place for harder work/faster paces. 🙂

      • Yep. I’m seeing a need to add tempo runs and speed runs to my repertoire to up my pace. So far though, I just want to drop the flab. I could lose another 20 lbs before I need to worry about speed and pace. What I need to add in even more is strength training.

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