Zone 2 Training – Light Aerobic
First off what is it –  Its an effort that remains pretty easy, that can last a long time and not deprive your body too much
How do we measure the effort
RPE – 4-5 light aerobic%THR Heart rate for run – 85-89% Or below 89%% THR Heart rate for bike 69-83%% of FTP on the bike – 56-75%
Or an effort that in training you can hold pretty easily for around 3 hours and not affect training too much over the next few days – So if your running for a 60 min session and feeling it at the end, your either running at too high intensity or your musculoskeletal system isn’t strong enough to support your frame (thats a different story, but shows how much strength training could help you)
Why is this the main intensity or training zone of a training plan
– Low stress on the muscles and joints. The harder we work the more we tear muscle fibres, hence the higher the stress the more we have to think about recovery after that particular session. Actually low stress can have a positive impact to muscle tissue resilience and adaptation helping them become stronger and less injury prone
– We build more mitochondria. A key fact, the more we have the more oxygen we can take in and utilise for future training. Oxygen takes all nutrients around our body and helps with the lactic acid build up. It also allows us to burn more fat as a fuel
– We work on our aerobic capacity for endurance fitness. Not many athletes know this point or what it’s called. Often referred to as one of the following Lactate threshold 1, ventilatory threshold, or aerobic threshold. This means you are teaching your body and using lactate acid as a fuel and it can help enhance your performance in the long run rather than when your in zone 4 (lactate turn point or threshold) when you building it very quickly and at a point too much for our bodies to deal with
– Energy zones. Take a look at the chart I sent you a couple of days ago. In Zones 1-2 you use a different energy system (fat stores) to Zones 3-5 (carb stores). Why is this vital. Well we are endurance athletes so we want our bodies to perform well for long periods of time (weather that’s nearer 60 mins or 17 hours). In terms of energy stored if you train your body to burn fat as energy then you have access to around 40,000 – 50,000 calories, where as if you train your body to user carbs more, its limited much much more to roughly 2000 calories, A huge difference) This can significantly make your body more efficient for endurance events and also think about this helps you fuel, if your a carb burner then you will have to keep topping up with carbs (gels/sugary drinks etc) and you can’t take it in as quickly as your burning it so the stomach becomes stress and GI issues occur
– It enables you become more efficient in training and be able to do more due to the body not being as fatigued or under recovered
– You can concentrate on key technical points eg posture, running through the big toes etc
How we use it in training
– First off, its the main stay in any training plan, it means you feel good and keep consistent, which is proven to be the main thing in order to progress
– To give you an idea the intensity is lower than a marathon effort, so this is a very key point to focus on, you may still be running at a higher intensity without realising. To put into perspective Ive recently read up on elite Kenyan runners that can hold a marathon pace of around 4.30-5.30 per mile (sometimes even faster). Some training runs come out at above an 8 min mile for this effort, so if your roughly a a 4 hour marathon runner and training at 9 min miles then it could be why you have plateaued, feel tired or possibly seen your running go a little backwards.  Back off and over a course of time you will become more efficient
– Its also important to know how you feel, when we test with out bloods being taken then we have a degree of accuracy but it still may be out, so using RPE is a key aspect, it will help you enjoy the training and actually this is a key point for races, we need to know wha a feeling is like
The key point of this
Most endurance training is low stress, This will allow you to keep training well as you will recover quickly from aerobic sessions, setting you up to work hard in intervals in Key sessions, and then the following sessions wont take as much out of you and the training remains consistent. As we go through phases of training (I’ve already touched on) then there will become more variety in training zone intervals as you will use all of them in events. For example the Prep phase very short, but very tough reps (above lactate threshold 2 effort) ,
Case Study
I really hopes these emails help and have a think to how they can work for you. To give you a good idea how it has helped me and other client here are 2 examples
– Client A ( I wont name names!) Around 2 years ago was training for a marathon, after benchmark testing he set out on his journey. Starting the zone 2 training meant slowing down to around 10.30 per mile pace (on flat routes) some walks were thrown in to maintain the integrity of the session. He was frustrated but knew what was asked and trusted it, not looking at pace as the guide but rather effort, this chap in 7 months managed to come from a 10.30 per mile to 8.15-8.30 per mile for the same HR (huge!!!!) Training consistently and hardly ever getting tired so was able to train well
– Me, Ive been training and racing for years. Last year being a covid affected year, I decided to go to get my lactate profiling and VO2 test done. Well my zones changed a little and knew exactly what I had to do, trusting the new HR zones and heading out and discovering more about my training and intensity, I took 16 mins off my half marathon time. Old Phil would have gone off the blocks so hard than after around 40 mins im just purely surviving, and because of the intensity legs seize up and I can move for a few days! Well I had a good plan going into it, still felt good at mile 12, and was able to recover much quicker than usual and continue to train much quicker tan in my past!
So my question to you is are you surviving or thriving. Trust the process and be patient, this isn’t about getting results in a few weeks, this can help you to continue to progress year after year

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