the zen of zone one

Today’s plan called for an hour-long zone one pedal. It’s a rainy and overcast Saturday morning and the pleasure of just getting on my bike and pedalling wherever I wanted, letting my mind wander was a wonderful contrast to the vigorous zone two and three workouts of the week.

I’m still in the base training phase. I’m training to train, as opposed to training to race. One of the principles of base training is to increase cardiovascular endurance and spending time in zone one is a good way to do this and to promote recovery from other, more vigorous workouts.

Zone one on the bike is 81% of lactate threshold heartrate (see here for information on determining LTHR) and it’s surprisingly hard to keep the heartrate down so low. There’s always the desire to go a little faster, pedal a little harder up hill, and generally do whatever it takes to get the endorphins that inevitably come from hard cardiovascular exercise. But that’s not the point of zone one. The point of zone one is recovery, not stress. It’s a technique used to produce an adaptive response to the overexertion of other training days; to move the muscles to flush out lactic acid; and to get oxygenated blood flowing through the body. Furthermore, zone one can be quite meditative. This morning, it was just a chance to pedal around town, spin my legs and check out the lakes, trees and wildlife that exist in such abundance in beautiful Whistler.

Joe Friel’s heartrate zones are as follows (LTHR = lactate threshold heartrate):

Run Zones
Zone 1 Less than 85% of LTHR
Zone 2 85% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 94% of LTHR
Zone 4 95% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

Bike Zones
Zone 1 Less than 81% of LTHR
Zone 2 81% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 93% of LTHR
Zone 4 94% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

 

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