I'm a pure running newbie. Bought my first pair of (minimalist) shoes in September 2013 and started off running 10 minutes per outing ! Gradually increased distances and ran my first 5K in September 2014. Now I can run an hour without difficulty if I keep my HR low. I ran the 20 minutes test and found a surprisingly low HR value of 156. So my HRZ2 is 124-133 which is so low that it's practically impossible for me to remain in that zone while working on cadence for example.
So today I am wondering if my HRZ2 range is really correct. What should a long HRZ2 run feel like ? These runs practically demand no effort for me at the moment and I often have to walk 20 seconds or so to get my HR back in the zone. Is this normal? I worry that I am undertraining.
Eric, I can't thank you enough for your book.

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Hi Carolynn, though I would always defer to Eric with this sort of question, when I first started TCI strategic running foundation I too had trouble staying in HRZ2, sometimes I still do. I asked the same question of Eric asking if it was ok to walk so as to lower my HR then start running again. Eric's reply was it was fine to do this & it is very important to run in this zone to get your mitacondria multiplying. Hope I've helped

Hi Robert ! Thanks for replying !

So you too have the impression of giving very little effort during a HRZ2 run ?

Yes, & where I live is very hilly, nothing like Jackson Hole but hilly enough so that nearly all of my runs have a hill or 2 in them. This means when I'm doing a zone 2 run & my RH creeps up I walk to bring it down. It now takes a lot less time for my HR to lower than it use to, so this is another indicator of your improvement. How great is a HR monitor, until last year I'd never ran with one & now it's integral to what you do.

OK thanks. I'll be patient then. I admit I was feeling a bit frustrated during those runs.

Luckily for me, Grenoble is one of the flattest cities I know, even if it's in the Alps !

GREAT stuff here you guys and great answers Robert.  When first starting, zone 2 will feel super frustrating, but as I mention in TCI, this frustration is mainly due to inefficiencies.  You WILL improve, so stay patient.  This is the best and easiest way to improve across the board.  Your speed will improve, at an easy effort, which translates to faster efforts.  And this zone 2 work will really help you dial into form/tech/cadence/foot strike - all helping you to run better, easier = efficient.

And, as you get into the program, zone 2 will eventually do recovery and the appropriate effort to allow for more and consistent Kilos/miles - which again, creates efficiency, the holy grail. 

Your WILL NOT under train, as there are much harder/challenging workouts to come, this early part just helps prepare you.  Trust me, things will get much harder and you will look forward to your zone 2 days.

And this just in from Conor:

Hi Eric,

Just to let you know..... during this year I did your program from the Cool Impossible  and ran 3:53 in the Dublin City marathon last Monday. This was 1 minute per kilometer faster than my time of 4:36 last year - great training programs! Thanks!

Hope this helps - E

Thanks for your answer Eric. So if I understand correctly, as I continue with the program, I should observe that my average speed will gradually increase during HRZ2 runs? This is what you mean by increasing efficiency ?

I also have a zillion questions concerning running form details. First, when the forefoot comes into contact with the ground, I've observed that there are many possibilities : I can come into contact with either the outer, central or inner part of my forefoot. Which is correct and should there be any lateral movement at all of the foot ? For now I've assumed that I should come into contact with the central part and avoid all lateral movements but I prefer to check with you. For me, this is important because it clearly modifies the alignment of the knee with respect to my hip joint.

So next comes my question concerning the placement of the knee with respect to the forefoot impact point. For now, I try to place my knees as directly above the impact point as possible but I observed that my left knee has a tendency to rotate inwards. So I'm working with my left hip joint trying to control this lateral knee movement. But again, I don't know if this is really correct or not.

Maybe I am being too nitpicky with all of my questions but I really want to avoid injuries in both the hip and knee joints. Thanks !

You got it.  Efficiency is the name of the game and incorporate SO many things other than just speed.  I would go back a reread some of the chapters, which I suggest in the book, to reinforce what you are now doing out on your run.  As you reread, you will pick up on things that might not have seemed important during the first reading that now make sense.  I think this will really help with the run form as well.  There are so many coaching points in each chapter, that again, might not seem very important - but now that you have the big picture, will bring things together.

So yes, you have it right on your run form questions.  Land on your forefoot, in the center.  The slant board work will REALLY help you develop that later stability in the feet that is so so important for all of this.  Again, go back and reread the strength chapter and see  now how all of that relates to run form.

Never too nitpicky - it will reward you!!


Eric has made a vital point in the past that we should train like a martial artist, meaning practice, practice, practice. Never be satisfied, all ways want to improve, be nit, picky as you put it, stove to be the best you can be, to have perfect form.

Carolynn, I'd like to share my own experiences, if it helps you see Eric's plan in action. I decided back in April to run in HRZ 2 only, after dealing with injury after injury. My mile times seemed VERY slow- I would joke to myself that I could power walk faster than I was running. But it is now more than 6 months later and I have taken 3 minutes of my mile time. No speed workouts, no hills, just running in HRZ 2 and letting my body adapt. I share this in hopes that it helps you be patient with the process and to know that it WILL work. :)

Love this Karen - thanks for adding your success!

Hi again - I forgot to mention in my last response.  Carolynn, you will probably improve rather quickly, so you might want to test again in 30 days, as you will probably experience a shift in HR zones.

Also, here is a great post by Margot.  I have been coaching her for 10 years and you know her well from the last chapter of the Cool Impossible.

Rocking in Zone 2

Wow, thanks everyone for sharing your experience. It almost sounds too good to be true.

Karen, 3 minutes off your mile time ? That's amazing !

OK, I will program a new test in a month. Thanks.


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