USA Triathlon Multisport Zone, February 22, 2016
Every workout needs to be done with a specific purpose in mind, and planned. Training, whether done on your own or following a coaching plan, typically has three dimensions: frequency, duration and intensity. Frequency is how often, and duration how long — distance, e.g., a 1,000-meter swim in the pool, or time, e.g., a one-hour run. Intensity is harder to quantify, but basically means how hard.
Rating of Perceived Exertion, or RPE, is one way of measuring the intensity of a workout. If you do not use a heart rate monitor, then it is the method to determine what intensity zone you are in, and where you need to be.
The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion is a 1 to 20 scale; for our purposes, we will focus on the 6 to 20 range. The range was developed because it represents about 10% of the heart rate experienced by a moderately fit 20-something person. In other words, 6 = 60 bpm, or roughly a resting heart rate (no exertion), and 20 = 200 bpm, or maximum heart rate.
Most training plans are based on Intensity. Intensity is described by five training zones, Zone 1 to Zone 5. Many triathlon training plans divide the top zone in three: Zone 5a, 5b, and 5c. Athletes can use these zones to "tune" each workout for the best results.
The zones are set based on percentages of generally one of three values:
Obviously, the best way to get your maximum heart rate, and thereby your heart rate training zones, is through a treadmill or bike trainer test. Some health clubs offer this service, as do many university and college athletic departments. However, you can come up with a fairly good estimation of your training zones by using the Karvonen Method:
Mark Allen is well known as one of the "Big 4" of Triathlon’s early days, and won the Ironman World Championship (a.k.a. Hawaii Ironman) six times. An early proponent of training by heart rate, his somewhat unique training zone calculation is used by many athletes.
LiveStrong.com, Feb 1, 2014
Checking your heart rate after walking just one mile may not seem to be very useful. But it can provide useful information, for both the new exerciser and for the recreational athlete. If you are just starting an exercise program, particularly a walk program, it can indicate if you are exercising efficiently. For the athlete, it can provide a measurement of aerobic capacity, called VO2 max, which traditionally has required an expensive laboratory test.