Alex Hueston, Running, young health management

Lesson 3: Making Friends with Zone 1 and Zone 2

It’s been 4 weeks straight of using 80/20 running and I have to say I am noticing significant change! For measuring progress I always run with my Garmin 920XT watch and my Polar HR chest strap. For the first time I have been able to run 7x/week consistently without feeling signs of progressive physical or mental fatigue. Along with that I am getting faster within each of my target zones.

Zone 1 - Meeting for the first time

As an example at the beginning I felt like I couldn’t even walk faster than a 10 min/km without getting into a high zone 1 as well as whenever I tried to break into a “shuffle” I immediately moved into zone 2. This seemed to likely due to multiple factors: First, I had not been running before so my aerobic conditioning was low. Secondly, I was very mentally unfamiliar with the concept of doing any form of moving and trying to keep my heart rate under 120 BPM (my zone 1 limit). Therefore, physically I had not developed any running technique besides walking to move in zone 1 so at the beginning my gate felt very clumsy. Through trial and error and practice I found a mental sweet spot that allowed me to start “running” in zone 1. For me, thinking about getting to that point where running makes more sense than walking was where I found I could start to “run” in zone 1. Granted, when I started I was still in a 10:30 min/km pace but already I can now run in zone 1 at a 9-9:30 min/km pace without too much difficulty.

Zone 2 - Making friends with an acquaintance

Zone 2 running has also changed quite dramatically in the past month with average pace increasing by about 30 seconds from 7:45 min/km to 7:15 min/km at the top of the zone. Running in this state consistently has become quite meditative. The majority of the run I find myself focusing on trying to relax and calm everything down though I still find myself drifting into zone 3 occasionally when I get paced focused. Having 40 minutes a day on average to “calm down” has also been very helpful to my life outside of running.

Key take-aways


  • I have ran more consistently than I ever have in the past
  • I have not felt progressive fatigue due to the training mentally or physically
  • Pace has increased within each zone


  • Running feels "smoother" and likely resulting in improved running economy
  • Running is more enjoyable and I look forward to my runs rather than treating them as a chore.

What's coming next week?

With the Royal Victoria Half Marathon set for October 10, 2021 and less than 2 weeks away I will be going into detail about how training will change coming up to a race and some common do's and don'ts I have learned the hard way.


Take it Easy!


Click on the link if you want to pick up a copy of 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald today!

Alex Hueston

Alex Hueston


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