Are my easy runs “too easy”? (Heart Rate Zones)
My wife bought me an Apple Watch earlier this week, and I’ve been experimenting with using the heart rate zones it measures during my runs.
The majority of my runs are “easy runs” at a slow pace (or long slow runs at a slow pace). I’ve always made an effort to keep my easy runs real easy, at a sort of pace that I feel I can maintain more or less indefinitely. Also, I’m obese, so this is quite a slow pace (~13:30; in truth, it looks more like fast shuffling than running).
Anyway, what I’ve noticed is that when I run at my usual easy pace (based on perceived effort), I’m in Zone 1 the majority of the time, and will perhaps dip into Zone 2 towards the end of the run. For example, this morning I went on an 8.25 mile long run. The pace (avg 13:40) felt easy, but that I was running and not walking. My Zone 2 begins at 136bpm, and during the run I was 128-132bpm for the first 90% of the run, and only broke into Zone 2 for the last ten or so minutes.
I’ve read that in order to improve my aerobic base and burn fat I really should be doing these runs in Zone 2. Now, this isn’t a problem in the sense that if I speed up a little then I can get into Zone 2 and with some effort stay there without drifting into Zone 3 too quickly. Also, I know that the heart rate zones my Apple Watch is producing are likely far from perfect, and I’m certainly not going to completely ignore how my body feels in order to stick to what my watch says my heart rate zone is.
I guess what I’d like to know is, am I doing these runs too slowly? Based on my times in a recent half marathon and a few recent 5ks, which I plugged into a few online calculators, my easy pace is more or less where it should be. But at the same time, this seems to put me in Zone 1 and not Zone 2.