50K Race HR Zones

  • Creator
  • #25740

    I will be running my first 50K race in three weeks, with brutal 11.800 ft elevation gain by the way. I’m probably staying 9hrs moving up and down on it. I’d like to know which is the recommended HR zone to aim in this kind of event. Thanks.

Posted In: Mountain Running

  • Participant
    Michael G on #25801

    I would like to know the answer to this as well. With all this training, come race day what is the suggested zone(s) to stay in for best results? Should one adjust given an A, B or C goal event?


    brian on #25803

    I have always been curious as well. So far I have taken a conservative approach on the first half of the race, then made sure I could push when needed on the second half.

    I have only done three 30+ mile mountain races, so am still learning how much I can push the first half and then negative split the second.

    I keep in mind the elevation and my HR zones. I train a sea level and probably only get 10% of training at elevation. I was told that elevation lowers effective VO2 max (don’t care), so I assume it also lowers AeT and AnT (do care), but I don’t know to what extent. I just keep in the low side of the zone I “feel” I can sustain.

    Anonymous on #25806

    Hopefully by race day with all the training you’ve been doing you have developed a good sense of pacing for longer runs and have begun to find the correlation between HR and perceived effort. If so then leave you HR monitor chest strap at home on race day. Pacing is a very difficult thing to learn and to coach. But here are some easy to grasp general guidelines.

    When you start you will feel rested, fresh and ready to go. BUT…..So will everyone else and there is a tendency to get sucked into too fast a pace too early in the race. The is normally a big mistake and here’s why:

    A pace that is too fast, even 15 seconds per mile, in the early miles can easily cost you minutes per mile in the late stages of the race. Having some reserves in the later miles can allow you to advance several places as other runners who DID go out too fast are fading. It is much easier to make up time and places in the last 10 miles than in the first 10 miles.

    Because you will be feeling excited and rested you will need to constrain yourself to an even easier pace that feel right. Adrenaline and endorphins can mask your normal perception of effort. If you are inexperienced I highly recommend this conservative approach. If you don’t trust your perception and need HR to be a limiter then by all means use it. If you are pretty knew to mountain races try to limit the time you drift into Z3 especially on the big climbs to under 60min total in a 50km and no stretches longer 10min in the first 35km. SAve some gas for the end. Spending too much time in Z3 especially early on is what can really slow you to a walk near the end.

    I know of no hard and fast rules but these above guidelines have served me well in coaching racers from 100 miles to a VK to even very short races like a Cross Country skiing sprint 4min long.

    I hope these ideas help.


    Michael G on #25820

    Perfect! That is exactly what I was looking for. Lines up with my previous experience and is the reason I came to TftUA!


    guilherme05 on #25835

    Thank you Scott. It’s really good for a newbie like me have some guidelines to follow on my 1st 50K race. One day I’ll be able to race without a HR strap and use my perceived effort. Your last book is amazing, congrats on that.

    brian on #26361

    Thanks for the tips Scott.

    deadpoint on #26409

    I ran my first 50k this past April and my heart rate averaged at the high end of Z2 low end of Z3 for the duration of 7.5 hours, while maintaining a consistent pace. I can honestly say that without the 20 weeks of training I did leading up the event, thanks Uphill Athlete, that would not have been possible.

Viewing 7 replies - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.