Today I’m going to tell you about five zones. These zones are based on a book called 80/20 Running, by Matt Fitzgerald. It’s a good book that I highly recommend. I’m going to describe each zone going backward from five to one–five being the hardest zone, and one being the easiest. Once we cover the zones, I’ve got some good news for you.
Zone Five (High Intensity) – This zone is an all out sprint. You hold nothing back. This is how fast you would run with a bear chasing you. You’ll be able to run at this pace for maybe one minute, but that’s it.
Zone Four (High Intensity) – This is an intense pace. You’re way out of your comfort zone. You might be able to keep this pace up for six or seven minutes, but it’s very difficult, but physically and mentally.
Zone Three (Moderate Intensity) – This is the first zone where you can run for a few miles. It’s still a good pace. It’s likely the pace you spend most of your time in when you go out for a run. You find it difficult to talk while running this pace because you’re breathing hard. You feel like you could keep this pace for about thirty minutes.
Zone Two (Low intensity) – Finally a comfortable pace! You’re not holding back, but neither are you pushing. You can talk fairly easily, though you still breath hard. You could probably keep this pace for an hour because it’s not too bad.
Zone One (Low intensity) – This is a very slow pace. You can talk effortlessly. You feel like you’re holding yourself back. It’s hard to run this slow because you have to remind yourself to slow down. You feel like you could run at this pace almost indefinitely.
Those are the zones. And now, the good news I told you about? For the first three-six months, we’re not going to leave zone one. Don’t get too excited. After a few runs, you’re going to be cursing my name, but we’ll get to that later.
Zone one is a very slow pace. You’re going to feel silly running at this pace. But I don’t want you to leave it for several months. I’ll explain why later. The important thing to remember is that we’re not just talking about an easy way to get into running. You shouldn’t run in zone one because you want to ease into running. You should run in zone one because it’s the best way to train.
Elite athletes spend 80 percent of their time running in Zones one and two, not because they’re lazy, but because it will make them the most proficient at their sport. It’s not often that the easiest way to do something also happens to be the best way to do it, but in running, it’s true.
The descriptions for each zone are a bit fuzzy. Your body is a machine, so we need to put some numbers to all of this information. In fact, in the next post, I’m going to tell you the most important number you’ll need to know for the next three to six months. It’s a number you’ll come to loathe.
Up Next: The Magic Number