As a triathlon coach, I often get asked about the best ways to improve performance and build endurance. While there are certainly many factors that come into play, one of the most important aspects of training is building a strong aerobic base through zone 2 training.
Zone 2 training refers to exercise done at a moderate intensity, where you can still carry on a conversation but your breathing is a bit labored. It is often referred to as the "sweet spot" for endurance training, as it helps improve your body's ability to use oxygen more efficiently and increases your overall endurance.
The benefits of zone 2 training are numerous. Here are just a few:
Improved cardiovascular health: Zone 2 training helps improve the health of your heart and lungs by increasing the efficiency of oxygen uptake and delivery throughout your body.
Improved fat metabolism: Training in zone 2 helps your body become more efficient at using fat as a fuel source, which can help improve your endurance and overall performance.
Reduced risk of injury: Because zone 2 training is done at a moderate intensity, it puts less stress on your muscles and joints than high-intensity training. This can help reduce the risk of injury and allow you to train more consistently over time.
Improved recovery: Zone 2 training is less taxing on your body than high-intensity training, which means you can recover more quickly between workouts and avoid overtraining.
While there are certainly benefits to training at higher intensities (such as zone 3), the marginal benefits are often not worth the increased risk of injury and longer recovery times. As a coach, I generally recommend that my athletes focus on building a strong aerobic base through zone 2 training before incorporating higher-intensity work.
So how should you structure your training to incorporate zone 2 work? Ideally, you should aim to do the majority of your training in zone 2, with some higher-intensity work sprinkled in. A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 80% of your training to be in zone 2.
To make sure you are staying within the appropriate heart rate zones during your training, I highly recommend using a heart rate monitor like the Garmin HRM Pro Plus. This advanced heart rate monitor can track your heart rate, as well as provide insights into your training load, recovery time, and more. By using a heart rate monitor, you can ensure that you are training at the appropriate intensities for your goals and abilities.
In conclusion, zone 2 training is a crucial component of any triathlete's training plan. By building a strong aerobic base through zone 2 work, you can improve your endurance, reduce the risk of injury, and ultimately become a stronger, more efficient athlete.