Average HR is misleading for exactly what you’re finding: the average might be at the top of zone 2, but it doesn’t reflect the true stress on your body. For an effort to be capacity building, the max heart rate should be the top of zone 2, or as close to that as possible. If you have 50+% of your run above zone 2, you’ll take longer to see the gains of aerobic training. It will take several weeks, but if you’re diligent, you’ll see gains.
Among my regular trail runs is a ~7 mile run with 1200 feet of vertical gain/loss over pretty rough terrain. Takes ~90 minutes, so not a blistering pace. While my average heart rate is top of Z2, obviously that means I spend almost 50% in Z3 and, in the steepest sections, I am in Z4 and Z5 at times. I never stop running throughout, although my pace obvious varies in extremely steep areas (and some places where I am going through streams or fallen trees).
Despite having read the book, I am not sure how to think about this. Does this still count as capacity training or is this a utilization exercise? If capacity training, is the intensity too high even if I, on average, am at the top of Z2?
I do other, lower intensity runs as well where I am in Z1 and Z2 exclusively.
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