This might be your first try at running or an attempt to improve on what you already do. The less sport you have done recently, the more you can expect to improve your distances and speeds. The following words should give you a little overview of the importance of the heart rate to your training and give you an introduction to different training types.


The heart rate is one of the key components of your training, in order to optimally control different training areas. Personally, I highly suggest that you purchase a heart rate monitor. There are various models, but you can a decent one starting at around Euro 100,00. If you do not want to buy one, there are different possibilities, in order to determine your heart rate.

The two opposite poles of the pulse are the resting pulse and the maximum pulse. As the name suggests, the resting pulse indicates the resting heart rate, which lies between 50 and 100 for a healthy adult. Endurance athletes can fall below this value and reach minimum values of 30 beats per minute. On the other hand, the maximum pulse is the upper limit that our heart can reach. It is a very individual value and depends on age, gender, genetic predisposition, training condition and daily form. Due to the high variability, it is not possible to make exact statements about whether a high maximum heart rate is good or bad. For instance, in my case, I was born with a naturally low beating heart, so that my pulse does not beat fast than 170 beats per minute.

On the other hand, in order to determine the maximum pulse, it requires a so-called performance diagnosis. In this case, you are running on a treadmill that is subject to an increase in speed every four minutes until you are reaching your maximum speed and call to stop the test. At this point, your pulse is being measured and counts as the maximum pulse. In the end, your doctor will hand you an exact overview of your heart rates and ideal training zones.

Since not everyone wants to do a performance diagnostics, which can also be quite expensive, there are different calculation methods that try to approximately determine the maximum heart rate. The most common calculation is:

  • Maximum pulse = 220 – Age

It is frequently used, very simple, but therefore also pretty inaccurate. Instead, the formula after Sally Edwards is a bit more precise and includes the variables gender, age and body weight in the calculation:

  • Men: Maximum pulse = 214 - 0.5 × age - 0.11 × body weight in kg

  • Women: Maximum pulse = 210 - 0,5 × age - 0,11 × body weight in k

Alternatively, you can also click the link below, in order to calculate you heart rate.


After you have determined your minimum and maximum heart rate, you can define your optimal training zones. They are expressed as a percentage of the maximum heart rate and are categorized in five different groups:

  • RECOM (Regeneration and Compensation)

    • 50-60% HR max.: Health zone. Strengthening of the cardiovascular system. Ideal for beginners.

  • BE1 (Basic Endurance 1)

    • 60-70% HR max.: Fat metabolism zone. Maximum burning of calories from fat. Strengthening the cardiovascular system and improving fitness.

  • BE2 (Basic Endurance 2)

    • 70-80% HR max.: Aerobic zone. Improves breathing and circulation. Ideal for increasing endurance.

  • BE3 (Basic Endurance 3)

    • 80-90% HR max.: Anaerobic Zone. Body can no longer meet oxygen demand. Competitive athletes train in this area at short stints for maximum increase in performance.

  • CSE (Competition-specific Endurance)

    • 90-100% HR max.: Approaching the maximum heart rate. Danger for the heart of recreational athletes!

It becomes clear that the right training pulse always depends on the training unit. If you are a beginner and want to strengthen your cardiovascular system first, the Health Zone (RECOM) would be the right pulse zone. However, if you want to improve your speed, training in the Anaerobic Zone (GA2) would make sense. In addition, the training also depends on the type of sport that you are practicing. A sprinter will do more anaerobic training than a marathon runner for whom the aerobic zone is more important.


If you want to run at your best, you have got to do a variety of workouts. Below I have listed eight basic types of runs that are commonly practiced among runners.

Recovery Run (RECOM / BE1)
A recovery run is a relatively short run performed at an easy pace. Recovery runs serve to add a little mileage to a runner’s training without taking away from performance in the harder, more important workouts that precede and follow them. Recovery runs are best done as the next run after a hard workout. Do your recovery runs as slowly as necessary to feel relatively comfortable despite lingering fatigue from your previous run.

Base Run (BE1)
A base run is a relatively short to moderate-length run undertaken at a runner’s natural pace. While individual base runs are not meant to be challenging, they are meant to be done frequently, and in the aggregate they stimulate big improvements in aerobic capacity, endurance, and running economy. Base runs will make up a bulk of your weekly training mileage. If you are training for a trail run, you can add vertical meters to this session.

Long Run (BE1 – BE2)
Generally, a long run is a base run that lasts long enough to leave a runner moderately to severely fatigued. The function of a long run is to increase raw endurance. The distance or duration required to achieve this effect depends on your current level of endurance. As a general rule, your longest run should be long enough to give you confidence that raw endurance will not limit you in races. Similar to the above, go for a run in the woods, hills or mountains and add vertical meters to a session.  

Progression Run (BE1 – BE3)
A progression run is a run that begins at a runner’s natural pace and ends with a faster segment at anywhere from marathon down to 10K pace. These runs are generally intended to be moderately challenging—harder than base runs but easier than most threshold and interval runs.

Fartlek (BE2 – BE3)
A fartlek workout is a base run that mixes in intervals of varying duration or distance. It is a good way to begin the process of developing efficiency and fatigue resistance at faster speeds in the early phases of the training cycle, or to get a moderate dose of fast running later in the training cycle in addition to the larger doses provided by tempo/threshold and interval workouts.

Hill Repeats (BE2 – BE3)
Hill repeats are repeated short segments of hard uphill running. They increase aerobic power, high-intensity fatigue resistance, pain tolerance, and run-specific strength. The ideal hill on which to run hill repeats features a steady, moderate gradient of 4 to 6 percent. Hill repetitions are typically done at the end of the base-building period as a relatively safe way to introduce harder high-intensity training into the program.

Tempo Run (BE3)
A tempo run is a sustained effort at lactate threshold intensity, which is the fastest pace that can be sustained for one hour in highly fit runners and the fastest pace that can be sustained for 20 minutes in less fit runners. Tempo or threshold runs serve to increase the speed you can sustain for a prolonged period of time and to increase the time you can sustain that relatively fast pace. There is a specific type of tempo run that is known as a marathon-pace run. A prolonged run at marathon pace is a good workout to perform at a very challenging level in the final weeks of preparation for a marathon, after you have established adequate raw endurance with long runs and longer progression runs featuring smaller amounts of marathon-pace running.

Intervals (BE1 – BE3)
Interval workouts consist of repeated shorter segments of fast running separated by slow jogging or standing recoveries. This format enables a runner to pack faster running into a single workout than he could with a single prolonged fast effort to exhaustion. Interval workouts are typically subcategorized as short intervals and long intervals, and are ideally performed on the track or long and flat straights. Long intervals are 600 to 1,200-meter segments run in the range of 5K race pace with easy jogging recoveries between them. They are an excellent means of progressively developing efficiency and fatigue resistance at fast running speeds. Short intervals are 100 to 400m segments run at roughly 1,500m race pace or faster. They boost speed, running economy, fatigue resistance at fast speeds and pain tolerance. Distance runners typically use shorter, faster intervals earlier in the training cycle to increase their pure speed and then move to slightly longer, endurance-based intervals to improve fatigue resistance.


The less active you have been before, the more likely you are to hurt yourself by doing too much running, too soon. Listen to your body and use pain as your guide. Most injuries are musculoskeletal, meaning that we recover rapidly when we take days off or use other appropriate methods to improve the pain, such as ice treatment.

Along the same lines, it is important to warm up and cool down before each session. A proper training unit begins with running slowly to ease your body into the session and ends with stretching after your run when your muscles are warm and ready to be stretched. In addition to your running routine, I recommend to add upper body strengthening and balance exercise to your agenda to improve your core body strengthen, as well as training your legs for faster pace and longer distance.