Host: Dr. Matt Minard

Episode Summary

Dr. Matt Minard hosts the Omega Sports’ Learn to Run Podcast. By day, he is a Physical Therapist and owner of Learn 2 Run. He enjoys both the physical and mental benefits of running and is passionate about helping others run safely first, then faster.

In this episode, Dr. Minard explains how to increase running efficiency. He does this by using heart rate as a feedback tool to monitor the intensity of exercise and strategically harness the maximum capacity of a runner.

If you prefer to watch this episode, you can!

Heart based training for runners

Top Takeaways

  • “The heart rate goes up with exertion.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]
  • “We can start to give meaning to our effort levels with our heart rate.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]
  • “Heart rate is a powerful feedback tool.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]

Episode Highlights

  • [01:30] Today’s topic is Heart Rate Based Training.
  • [02:30] Understanding the function of the heart and heart rate.
  • [08:07] How to establish training tiers.
  • [19:23] A coal train analogy of the heart rate concept.
  • [24:45] An overview of Today’s topic.

Episode Notes

Today’s discussion focuses on Heart Rate Based Training, which uses heart rate as a tool to learn to run efficiently. This episode will establish your three training tiers and heart rate levels. The goal is to use these levels to pace ourselves.

The heart’s function is to distribute oxygen throughout the body as it pumps blood. Heart rate is a frequency measurement describing how many times the heart beats in one minute. The higher the heart rate, the greater the oxygen demand.

The heart rate increases in response to physical activity, moving from a baseline when you are not active to a much higher rate when running. This is because physical activity increases the need for the muscles to get oxygen. Hence the heart pumps faster to meet that need.

Based on this, we can start correlating heart rate with fatigue to get feedback on how hard we work. Monitoring your heart rate can be done digitally using a heart watch, chest sensor, or other digital methods. With this information, it is possible to strategize speed, distance, and duration of activity to gain maximum results before hitting your exercise limit.

Training tiers

Man checking his watch for his heart rate

Training tiers are a means to organize heart rates into different ranges based on percentages.

The first step is to find out what heart rate value is your 100%. To do this, subtract your age from the number 220. The result is your heart rate value at 100%.

From this, we can extrapolate your heart rate value:

  • 92% to 100% of your heart rate max is an A (Red Zone)
  • 84% to 91% is a B (Yellow Zone)
  • 71-83% is a C (Green Zone)

The higher the tier, the higher the intensity, and the higher the oxygen demand.

There is an inverse relationship between intensity and duration.

  • In the red tier, where there is a high oxygen demand, less time can be spent in this range.
  • Meanwhile, the green tier has a lower oxygen demand, and you can spend more time in this range.

With this, we can predict how long you can maintain an intensity level.

Identifying your heart rate tiers

Apart from the heart rate, it is possible to identify being in the red zone when you can only say one word between breaths. You can get a few words out in the yellow tier, while in the green tier, you can hold a conversation.


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This means that a lot more time can be spent training in the green tier compared to the red.

Identifying heart rate fatigue

After identifying your heart rate ranges for each of these tiers, you need to identify the heart rate at which fatigue sets in. This can be determined using an “exploration run” or a “Peter run,” where you run and try to exert yourself until you get to a point where you have to walk.

When you feel a need to walk, check your heart rate; this is your limit or ceiling heart rate.

Repeat this three times. It is crucial to get to your limit before checking your heart rate, and not the other way around.

The goal is to plan your run so that you hit your limit only at the very end of the run. To do this, you have to identify your baseline or starting point, which is done by subtracting 15 heartbeats from your ceiling or limit heart rate value.

The resulting heart rate value will be your aim at the beginning of your run, while the limit will be your aim at the end.

Tired Runner Breathing, Taking Run Break In Park

Doing this exercise helps you understand when to increase or lower your pace depending on how far you have left to run. Hence, you maximize your effort without burning out too quickly.

To get more information on how to move to get faster immediately, listen to episode 8. To learn more about training strategies, listen to episode 9.

To vote on the next topic that will be discussed, follow Dr. Minard on Instagram. For professional help with running smarter, safer, and faster, check Dr. Minard’s online membership on his website.


Find | Dr. Matt Minard’s LEARN 2 RUN