Aerobic Activity is the Foundation to Your Health and Fitness (Part 1)

Aerobic is one of those fitness terms that doesn’t get much respect these days. An analogy is the late Rodney Dangerfield in a sweaty T-shirt on the treadmill at the gym. (No, that gross-out movie was never made, but a working title might have been called “Humping Iron.”) The fitness term du jour is “cardio,” yet it’s nothing more than a generalized and rather useless idea of the heart and lungs being forced to work extra hard. Cardio is an imprecise and misleading term. Instead, runners need to know what going aerobic means. Why? Because building a healthy fitness and fat-burning conditioning base starts with training the body in an aerobic state. It’s not about “feel the burn” or “no pain, no gain.” To help runners better understand this important (and overlooked) aspect of training, the Natural Running Center is proud to present the first of a six-part series by Dr. Steve Gangemi, aka the Sock Doc, on the basic principles of aerobic training. — Bill Katovsky


Part I: Aerobic Activity Is the Foundation to Your Health and Fitness

by the Sock Doc

Aerobic activity will kill you. Aerobic activity will give you a heart attack. Aerobic activity will deplete your sex hormone levels and age you. Aerobic activity will waste away your muscles. Don’t do aerobic activity!

Headlines such as these have been circulating like wildfire lately. I’m not sure exactly why there’s more now – perhaps it’s due to the huge increase in people who are entering and running half or full marathons; I’ll get to them in Part V of this series.  Several CrossFit aficionados and various well-known personal trainers are anti-aerobic and they feel that you have to kick your own butt day in, day out, to achieve results (strength, power, and a ripped body). I’ll give you my take based off personal experience, professional experience, research, and knowledge gained from those who know more than me about various subject matters.Whether you’re an endurance athlete, strength athlete, or a little bit of both I hope there’s something you will learn. Even though I come from a deep endurance background, I’m not going to say aerobic training is the ideal way to train all the time, (because it isn’t). But aerobic exercise sure isn’t going to wreck your health and strength if done properly. Actually, it’s much the opposite. There’s a time for it all more or less.

What Exactly Do You Mean By Cardio?

To start off with, most people are using the word “cardio” to describe what they think is aerobic conditioning. A”cardio” activity can be either aerobic or anaerobic, depending on the level of effort and exertion required for that individual to do the exercise. Often people train “cardio” anaerobically – they are exercising at a high intensity. These people have neglected to develop a key component of their health and fitness – the aerobic system. Calling anything endurance “cardio” is just as wrong as calling everything you lift, carry, or throw “weight lifting.” It’s a generalized non-specific term. Just as cardio can mean walking 100 meters or running a marathon, weight lifting can mean carrying your laundry from your wash room to your bedroom or it could mean deadlifting three times your body weight. So let’s talk aerobic and anaerobic when it comes to “cardio.” If we don’t do so I might have nightmares of Richard Simmons in his running shorts. Nobody wants that.

Aerobic Capacity: Building a Solid Foundation

Your aerobic system provides a solid foundation for good health. It is the system that predominately moves you efficiently through the day as these muscles support your overall posture. Training your aerobic system will increase mitochondria in your muscle cells to generate energy (ATP) and increase capillary vascularization for increased oxygen utilization. These mitochondria burn fat and glucose (sugar), but they’re much more efficient using fat as energy over glucose – twelve times more. In general, Type I, red, slow twitch muscle fibers are aerobic and burn primarily fat for energy.

Aerobic conditioning is also a necessary foundation of virtually all training. Some exception could possibly be made for sprinting less than 200 meters (one time, no repeats), but most activities or sports will best be performed with a well developed aerobic system. The longer an event, the more your body will rely on the aerobic system. A strong aerobic base will even benefit one’s recovery in-between sets of strength training as well as anaerobic interval training too.

Many people, especially many “athletes” are running long distances with a very poor aerobic system, relying heavily on their anaerobic system to get them through their training. This anaerobic training is their “cardio” and it’s very, very unhealthy, which is part of the reason so many point to “cardio” as harmful to one’s health, especially when it comes to the immune and hormonal systems. So these anti-aerobic “cardio” gurus cite studies such as the one in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology in April 2004, “Intensive Swimming Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress and Reproductive Dysfunction in Male Wistar Rats: Protective Role of Alpha-Tocopherol Succinate” to back up their claims. Well, if you’re making a rat (or a human) swim intensively for three hours a day, five days a week yeah there is going to be oxidative stress and hormonal dysfunction. (As a side note in this study, the researchers noted the free radical damage could be protected with vitamin E.)

But this doesn’t mean aerobic “cardio” is bad. Swimming intensely for three hours (gotta be a long time for a rat) is going to tax the anaerobic system pretty significantly. This is not “aerobic” – it’s chronic anaerobic “cardio.” When you’re constantly using your anaerobic system more than your aerobic system, it puts a major stress to your entire body – your nervous system, cardiovascular system, hormonal system, immune system, and digestive system – pretty much all of it. For example, if you’re out for a long run, say 30-60 minutes, and your aerobic system is very poor, then you might be running at say 70% anaerobic and 30% aerobic. But if you develop your aerobic system, then at that same pace you could flip the energy utilization to 70% aerobic, 30% anaerobic. You’re a much more efficient athlete. This is evident when using a heart rate monitor { see sidebar at end of article} and seeing your HR lower at a given pace/exertion level than what it once was in weeks or months previously. If you have access to an exercise physiology lab and a gas analyzer you can measure your respiratory quotient – the level of aerobic (fat burning) vs. anaerobic (sugar burning) – occurring during your run or other workout.

Anaerobic Conditioning: Are You Ready? Probably Not

Type II, white, fast twitch muscle fibers are primarily anaerobic, (some are a mix of both fast and slow twitch), – they burn sugar and creatine phosphate and are more for power and speed. They’ll increase your mitochondria too, but the anaerobic system will fatigue much quicker than the aerobic system. High intensity workouts tend to be predominately anaerobic as is much of strength training due to various Type II muscle fibers being utilized and developed rather than Type I aerobic fibers. This however is a generalization, as some forms of strength training can also develop the aerobic system. Anaerobic activity incurs oxygen debt and a build-up of lactic acid; muscle imbalances and fatigue can result if continued. Muscle imbalances can been verified through certain manual muscle testing evaluations, (it’s a very accurate neurological assessment when performed correctly), as well as by visual inspection – one hip higher than the other or one shoulder rotated inwards, for example. Pain, poor performance, and injury often result from chronic muscle imbalances.

Essentially, you’re almost always using both systems, (the exception would be an all out sprint), depending on several factors which will be discussed later – exercise, diet, and lifestyle (overall stress levels). Anaerobic endurance and strength is essential in many circumstances and sports, but it is the aerobic system that will provide you with the endurance to work, play, think, sleep, and go several hours without food. Oh yeah, without a healthy aerobic system you won’t be a star in the sack – impotence and premature ejaculation for men and lack of sex drive as well as the inability to achieve an orgasm for both sexes is partly dependent on a healthy aerobic system (many other factors too).

Training Truly Aerobically

The line between predominantly aerobic and predominantly anaerobic is determined by your lactate threshold (LT).  Below the LT you will be more aerobic than anaerobic, and above you will be more anaerobic than aerobic. True aerobic training is focused around lower-effort training zones 2 and 3, not the typical 3+ zone most are training their chronic “cardio” in. The “180-Age Formula” is also a great way to determine your aerobic training zone. Finding your heart rate zone is discussed more in Part II. Training around your LT too often is not a wise idea. Some call this area the “Red Line” or “Black hole” – it’s a great way to overtrain and should be left for hard days (hard group rides/runs) or racing days. A conditioned athlete may be able to endure this rate of exertion for well over one hour; whereas an unconditioned weekend warrior may be lucky to withstand fifteen minutes. Therefore, anaerobic training is often best performed as shorter, hard interval training above your lactic threshold, well into the anaerobic realm of training. This is where High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has its place. This will be discussed next in Part II along with developing your aerobic system regardless of your sport or goals.


Using a Heart Rate Monitor

From the weekend exerciser to the professional athlete, heart rate monitors are the most ideal way to make your workouts much more effective, thereby increasing your fitness level while creating a healthier lifestyle. In my opinion, everybody should be wearing a HR monitor every time they exercise.

A heart rate monitor allows you to monitor your heart rate with a quick glance at a wristwatch that is constantly receiving your heart rate from a wireless transmitter belt worn around the lower part of your chest.

Today’s heart rate monitors come with a wide variety of functions and are extremely affordable. The one thing all heart rate monitors do is what gives them their name – they monitor your heart rate, so you don’t have to continuously stop to take your heart rate or guess at what it might be. Simple heart rate monitors will usually just give you an accurate heart rate display on the wristwatch. Some will tell the time of day and/or have a stopwatch function, allowing the user to get by with wearing just one watch while exercising. Other functions of heart rate monitors include a countdown timer, lap counter, back light illumination, target zone settings with audible out-of-zone alarm, time in training zone display, average heart rate display, and day/date calendar. Some monitors are even capable of downloading your workout information into your personal computer with the use of an interface adapter. Polar and Garmin are two companies that make great monitors.

Heart rate monitors work the best when a runner, cyclist, or triathlete knows how to properly use them. Putting the monitor on to see your heart rate can be interesting and fun, but it will be most valuable to your health and fitness program if you know how to properly monitor your heart. The maximum aerobic heart rate formula developed by Dr. Phil Maffetone is a great way to help you determine at what heart rate you should be exercising most often.

Follow the guidelines below to see what HR you should be exercising at.

1)Subtract your age from 180
2)Modify this number by choosing below:

a.If you have or are recovering from a major illness or if you are on medication, subtract an additional 10
b.If you have not exercised before or have been exercising but have been injured, sick, going “down hill” or have asthma or allergies, subtract an additional 5
c.If you have been exercising for more than two years and making progress without any problems, add 5
d.If you have been exercising for up to two years without any significant problems, then keep the result of 180 – your age

Now that you have your Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate number, it is important that you exercise accordingly with a proper warm up and cool down.
•    Warm-Up for 10-15 minutes at a heart rate of 10-15 beats below your Max HR.
•    Exercise at an intensity 0-5 beats below your max heart rate, but not over
•    Cool-Down for 10-15 minutes at a HR similar to the warm-up, but now with decreasing intensity.

If you plan to exercise only 20-30 minutes, your workout will be a warm-up and cool-down.

This formula is ideal if you’re starting an exercise program and is also perfect for any experienced athlete as it correlates with their aerobic training zone

43 Responses to “Aerobic Activity is the Foundation to Your Health and Fitness (Part 1)”

  1. David W says:

    Dr Mark you may cover more of this HR questions in your future posts but what zone will you be running in at your marathon pace 2 or 3? What would you guess the top Kenyan HR would be at their marathon pace? I have a heart rate monitor I use and I like the data but to run under my zone 2 or 3 around 142 I would have to jog at a 10 + minute pace vs my normal and desired sub 8 minute. Is this typical?

    • Sock Doc says:

      David, – I’ll answer this since I wrote the article. Most athletes will run a marathon in Zone 2/3 – I’d say definitely Zone 3 on inclines/hills and closer towards the end. But even a high Zone 3 too soon could result in bonking and a DNF.

      If your aerobic zone (142 HR) is a 10+ minute mile yet you want to run a sub 8 minute mile – well, honestly that is a very common, and very foolish thing most athletes do. That’s why the majority of them are injured and unhealthy.

      You may want to read all the Sock Doc Principles especially #5 to understand my point.

      • David W says:

        Soc Doc,
        Sorry I must have looked at something from Dr. Mark. Thanks for your contributions.

        Would it be accurate that the Kenyans, for example, have developed such a huge aerobic base that they are running in zone 2 sub 4:40 mile pace?

        Yesterday it was interesting how much more comfortable I felt running in a short 5k charity run since I have begun to build this base. I was still running at much too high a zone but from 6 months ago I can sense a difference in endurance.

        I am in this for the long term and plan to run my first marathon at age 45 this year after continuing to build the base.

        Thanks Soc Doc! look forward to many more articles by you.

        • Sock Doc says:

          Yes I’m sure the Kenyans and any athlete with superior aerobic function is running in an aerobic zone 2-3.

          Good to hear that you already see such progress. Yes if you’re in it for the long term and want to run when you’re 80 then you build the aerobic base.

          • David W says:

            I just ran my last half this weekend above zone 2-3. No more. My 1;52 was not fun and as I watched my HR stay at 170+ I told myself to remember this feeling because it would be the last. I am starting over this evening and going back to the basics and I don’t care how long it takes and how slow I have to go. I love the feeling of running in the 2-3 zone and hate zone 5+!

            As an overlay I am convinced I must also clean up my diet and the Paleo approach seems like a good place to begin. I am wondering about the carb component. This is a dumb question but if I am in zone 2-3 I am buring mostly fat and not sugar so in theory would a 1/3-1/3-1/3 of carb, protein and good fat not suit for preparation for a marathon? If I am staying aerobic how much sugar/carb do I really need? Shouldn’t I be training my body to stay in 2-3 and be more efficient than dumping in more sugars. I had carbo loaded up to the race and used one gel in the race but I just hated the feeling of my sugar levels all over the place. I wonder if I am missing something?

  2. Cheryl says:

    I have been following this site as well as SocDoc and have read Dr. Maffetone’s Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. After attending one of Blaise Deboise’ courses last June I began my running transition into a natural running form (after many years off followed by a successful bout of sprint triathlons followed by several years of injuries–now known simply as muscle imbalances). I have been working hard at form and establishing my aerobic base using a heart rate monitor. My pace has improved from 10:15 min/mile to 8:55 min/mile. I have high hopes for completing a half marathon this spring and a full in the fall. But, now I feel quite lost as how to train for this. I understand that at some point I need to add in some anaerobic training, but in using the heart rate training, how high is a target rate for my 135 aerobic target? AND can you recommend a training schedule that takes into account the importance of heart rate monitoring and uses this as a guide?

    • Sock Doc says:

      Cheryl, you don’t “need” to add in anaerobic, but you can if you’re healthy enough to do so. You’ve already seen a significant decrease in your times staying aerobic, so you should continue to train that way as long as you keep making noticeable improvements. If you start to plateau then you can consider adding in some anaerobic intervals.

      Training schedules are specific for the individual so those will never be discussed, other than in a very general format.

      • Cheryl says:

        Thanks, but can you give me a guideline regarding an anaerobic heart rate (if you’d call it that). For example if I decide to do some faster anaerobic training (tempo runs or intervals), how high is safe or good if my aerobic target is 135?

        It’s easy to get caught up in the training schedule topic and then think that I am not doing the right type of training (i.e. Chicago Marathon’s website has 4 month training programs to help prepare for their race)

        Thanks for guidance!

  3. Bryan says:

    Well, Aerobic is indeed really helpful. I do aerobics before I do weight lift to make sure that I will get a body that has very little body fat for better looking abs.

  4. Nicolas says:

    Great article.

    I’ve been applying this to my training have have seen constant improvement in speed. I’ve gone from very slow to slow(!) and I don’t even need to walk uphill anymore. You mention that “Training your aerobic system will increase mitochondria in your muscle cells to generate energy (ATP) and increase capillary vascularization for increased oxygen utilization.”

    Does this apply to all muscle cells or just the cells of those muscles used in running (in my case).

  5. Sock Doc says:

    David (from above) “This is a dumb question but if I am in zone 2-3 I am buring mostly fat and not sugar so in theory would a 1/3-1/3-1/3 of carb, protein and good fat not suit for preparation for a marathon?…”
    In Zone 2 you should be burning more fat than sugar – but not “mostly fat” – and in zone 3 it would be even less. The only way to know the exact numbers for sure is to have a lab test done to measure RQ (this is also discussed in the SD Principles). In Zone 2 you might be 65/35 F/C and in Zone 3 you might be closer to 50/50. Other factors come into play too, also discussed.
    If you’re training for endurance races, and even other events too, then a diet of at least 50% is usually recommended. Personally I’m around 60% fat, 25% protein, 15% carbs.

  6. David W says:

    Soc Doc,

    Had to share what the amazing transformation of building the aerobic base. Thanks to you and Dr. Mark for the insights!

    I finished the half marathon (1:52) in zone and felt terrible so I decided to change and go back to scratch. I have run a 10k best time of 23 minutes. None of my running has ever been in zone 2/3 for very long and I would say I am a typical running that has been hurt and not really in great shape because I have been almost entirely anaerobic for years.

    So with no expectations and prepared to humble myself to find out my real shape I started 3 days ago. I set the garmin to 142 and started running. It beeped at 2/10 of one mile. And I stopped and walked until it got to 128 HR and then I ran again for 1/10 of a mile and repeated this for a whopping super quick 41 minutes for 3.17 miles! Wow I am in really not very good shape but I felt great afterward. no pain no exhaustion so I decided to run the same length the next day and keep everything else constant. Day two 39:50. Day three 38:25.

    What is fascinating is I never run back to back days because I am exhausted and I am sore and I just don’t feel like it when anaerobically running but now I can’t wait to get back running every night to see where I will finish in time. It is like the body is just building and building more hybrid engines as we go.

    Ultimately I want to run a 5K close to 20 min and be able to run a marathon at 44 years old but only in 2/3 zones.

    This is so much fun and has changed my worldview completely about enjoying running but doing it the right way from scratch.

    I will keep you updated on the progress. Thanks Soc Doc!

  7. Sock Doc says:

    Great to hear David. Nice to run and feel great – not always exhausting yourself, isn’t it.

    • David W says:

      Soc doc,

      I decided to drop my tgt HR back 4 beats to 139 (age 44) just to make sure I was building the base in zone 2 and not 3. It is a subtle difference but oh so much better during and post run/walk. In zone 2 I feel I can carry on a complete conversation for the entire time without being winded. My time went back up to 13 min miles which proves your point that far too many “8 min milers” have no business running at that pace. This is incredibly humbling and frustratingly slow but I know it has to be done the right way and I am staying out of anaerobic mode until I have the correct foundation built.

      One question is it better to keep training at running a 5k as I am doing almost every night until I get down to my 8 min mile target or do say 5 miles and work my aerobic base for that number of miles or does it matter if my goal ultimately is to run a marathon in the next 12 months?

      Thanks Soc Doc!

      • David W says:

        Soc Doc,

        What is the greatest before and after story of patients of yours who have improved their aerobic base most dramatically? 13 minute miles to sub 8 will be my journey:)

        Also, by incorporating in more paleo components to my foods it is remarkable how satiated I feel most of the day. I am in the middle of the 2 week test and the overall well being is fantastic.


  8. David W says:

    Soc Doc,

    It is fantastic that I found you and Dr Mark after years of mistakes and injuries and struggles to run well without a clue really. This process of totally rebuilding the base will take some time but it is very encouraging to see the daily improvements in aerobic function. And as you mention is super fun to run without exhaustion. My dear wife now walks away when I talk to others at recent parties we have attended about anaerobic and aerobic training…..:) two more converts so far!

    Day 4 37:47 with more elevation. But still improving. A bit less than 1/2 walk 1/2 run I think.

  9. Andrew says:


    What’s your take on the wikipedia article section regarding heart rate formulas:

  10. Dr. Gangemi says:

    There’s so many different formulas there and I’d say some work better than others. I see no reason to go past the 3 ways I describe to get your HR zones – they work 100% of the time between the 3 of them.

  11. Brad says:

    With summer nearly here, I’m wondering your thoughts on how heat/humidity affects your heart rate advice. I read in Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger that on low-humidity day with temps in 70s, increase zones by 2-4 beats; high-humidity day in the 70s or low-humidity in the 80s, increase zones by 5-8 beats; on high-humidity day in the 80s, just take it easy.

    Also, what are your thoughts on the steady heart rate creep as one exercises in the heat and humidity without substantially changing effort?

    Thanks so much for this series of articles. They have been very helpful as I build up to train for a second marathon.

  12. Dr. Gangemi says:

    I think those are good assumptions for the heat and humidity. Obviously it affects everybody differently. You can definitely condition yourself to handle the heat and humidity. I can tell you of the 6 times I raced in Hawaii Ironman I did NOT have a 5-8 bpm increase while out in the 90 degree lava fields – either on the bike or run. So a more conditioned athlete won’t see those changes.

    Same goes for the creeping of the HR as one exercises. That’s called cardiac drift. And again, the more fit (and healthy of course) an athlete is then then less drift they will get.

    • Brad says:

      That’s pretty amazing. As a locally competitive runner living in Greenville, NC it’s nice to have some guidance on summer training – and to know that I can develop a better heat/humidity tolerance.

  13. David W says:

    Soc Doc,

    A bit of update on my journey thanks to you. Finished day 30 of my project and it is a slow go but consistent progress, I think. Day 1 ran 3.17 miles in 41 minutes at 140 avg HR (Age 44) tonight ran 3.17 in 35:45 at 139 AHR. I have lost 8 pounds in the past 30 days. My diet is almost 95% paleo now. Tons of energy, zero injuries and I feel super. I really appreciate you and Dr. Mark for turning me on to your 5 principles combined with Dr Phil it is has been one of the most life changing months in a long while for me.

    In your experience does this progress seem reasonable for 30 days?



    • Dr. Gangemi says:

      HI David – thanks for the update and a great one it is. I’d say those results are above average but not necessarily uncommon – a lot depends on what was limiting your aerobic system initially (usually diet and excess anaerobic). Great work!

      • David W says:

        Hi Dr G,

        Another great update thanks to you and Dr Mark! Day 1 3.17 @ 41 minute @140 HR, day 30 3.17 miles @ 35:45 140HR, Day 50 4 miles 44:23 140 HR. Down 20 lbs now. Super energy. Totally pain free mellow running most everyday.

        Can’t tell you how much I have gained from following your posts and watching the videos. Lifechanging for sure!


  14. David W says:

    Thanks Soc Doc,

    Thanks for the input. If I hadn’t found you and Dr Mark or Dr Phil who knows how injured or worse it would have become! In my case it was both a high carb low fat diet combined with mostly only Anaerobic running all the time. Yesterday I ran my best 5k ever at a bit over 23 min and was still too anaerobic at 7:30 pace but I felt very good throughout. I want to keep working to get to your results of 7:30 pace but but at 140 HR! Man I just can’t imagine how fit you are and others. You said a while back that most 8 min milers have no business running at that pace and you were right. The other change that most people miss is the diet component. Moving away from a large carb component has been so important for me.

    One question I wonder if it matters in your experience to keep running my 5k training test to get down to 7:30 pace at 142 before adding mileage?

    Keep up spreading the word. I think those of us who “get it” will keep the long term in focus of fitness and health. Most people won’t stick with this plan because it is very slow but it is vital to go very slow to go fast IMO. Thanks for all you do.

    • MarkC says:

      thanks for the kind note. you can add mileage at the aerobic heart rate as long as your muscluloskeletal system is ready. most get aerobically and metabolically fit before the structures adapt, and they get hurt.

      the beauty of the mellow running is that you get feedback. since it is relaxed the adrenaline is not up. you feel discomfort if there is any, and can self regulate. There is no pace too slow. My last 2 days running were 10 minutes a mile barefoot. This is all good.

      keep up the progress!


  15. David says:

    I live in Colorado at 8,000 feet. Applying the 180 rule for finding my Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate and using that number with a heart monitor, I find at this altitude it is very difficult to keep my running pace slow enough to stay at or a little below my target HR. At sea level, it is less of a struggle to keep the heart rate down to the prescribed rate. Is there ever any adjustment to the target HR that might need to be made for training at the 8,000 foot altitude?

    • MarkC says:


      no….you go slower at altitude to make the same adaptations. many elites go to altitude to try to find an advantage and often end up overtraining. now on a long climb i think it is OK to go above this a bit, but keep it really relaxed, focus on breathing, and recover on the flats. i learned this method when i lived in Colorado.

  16. David says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the reply. I used this method of aerobic training here in CO at this altitude with much success as part of my road bike work a few years ago. But when I recently got back to running after a lull of eight years, I found in order to stay in the target HR, I have to drop to a walk or not much more than a shuffle and was struggling to maintain what felt like a running rhythm and form. I will work on this as you suggest for a few months and see where it goes. In CO do you know of a person or program I might reach out to for developing the grace and flow I see in skilled runners. I am in the Aspen area but could make it to Boulder if needed.

    Your site is really a wealth of great reference.
    Thanks much,

  17. David W says:

    Thanks Dr Mark,

    That’s right. I remember now reading that advice you mentioned earlier somewhere. Makes perfect sense. Slow and easy and gradual.

    It is remarkable to hear that someone who can run a 5 min pace does some training at 10 min miles. Can’t wait to feel what it will be like to run at 7:30 in zone 2 for a marathon!

    My wife now walks away when this topic comes up:) Sharing this worldview in an effort to help broken down anaerobic runners is important. A whole lotta folks in KY now know Dr Mark and the Soc Doc for sure.

    Great info. Keep up the great work.

  18. Tim Clark says:

    Here’s a problem I don’t seem to be able to get past that maybe someone can help with. I’ve spent years living and hiking in the Western North Carolina mountains so I’ve built up pretty good leg strength and endurance for long hikes. I’ve just started running again after many years and I’ve been spending a lot of time on learning to do it correctly this time. This site has been a terrific help for me for doing this. However, I’ve found that as soon as I find my most comfortable running form I’m running at too fast a pace and I can’t keep it up for very long. When I try to slow down-shorter stride, less arm motion, etc. my comfortable form disappears and I start bouncing up and down. So…big question is…how do you run at a slow, comfortable pace, while maintaining really good form? Seems to me that the idea of get up to 180 strides/minute is almost impossible to do without going into the anaerobic zone.

  19. David W says:

    Another great update thanks to you and Dr Mark! Day 1 3.17 @ 41 minute @140 HR, day 30 3.17 miles @ 35:45 140HR, Day 50 4 miles 44:23 140 HR. Down 20 lbs now. Day 65 5 miles 54:14 142 HR.

    Love Mellow running Dr G and Dr Mark!!

  20. jenna says:

    So I have been trying to keep my heart rate around 137 (43 yrs old, long time runner but recovering from a non-running injury). One thing that I get confused with is keeping the cadence high and maintaining the low heart rate–it seems as if I am running in place! Is this normal? I don’t want to cause a different injury from ‘jogging’ at such a slow pace.

    And would you advise staying at around that hr for hills, or is it okay to go higher and recover? I think I would have to walk!

    • MarkC says:


      nice qucik and elastic cadence will lower HR. you do not need to become rigid. if HR drifts up a bit up the hill that is OK. just recover at the top. you many need to walk the steep ones. this is OK.


  21. Travis B says:

    Finally a good description of aerobic base training thank you. IF someone was cycling as well, would you alter the zones (aerobic max/limit of zone 2) for cycling?


  22. Brian says:

    Mark, or whoever can answer my question,

    I am a going to be a junior in highschool next year and my goal is to run college. The past few summers I have put in about 40+ miles a week at a pretty solid pace and by the time the season begins I feel great. When the actual season began I was bothered by injuries (back and knees) which both continually got worse and eventually sidelined me (3 races in 2011, 2 in 2012). Even in those races I haven’t put down a decent time compared to the level I was running at throughout the summer. (My time were +17:30 while my training partners and kids I used to beat are >16:30)It kills me to watch this happen and I know I can go so much faster if I’m healthy. I have read about injury prevention and I think a lot of my problems stem from inflexibility. I’m starting to learn about aerobic training and I would like to get your opinions on whether or not this type of training would help me prevent injury/drop time. Any tips or advice?


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