The Science of Running – Part 2

During the “The Science of Running” clinic, Singaporean top athlete Adrian Mok discussed about “Heart Rate Training for Running”. I was a few minutes late for the talk but was still able to take note of a lot of important points from his presentation. I can say that the items he talked about are very useful for me and something that I can really apply to my trainings. You see folks, I have a Polar RS200SD watch but I haven’t really gotten to using the full features of its heart rate monitor since I do not really know how to. The talk gave me a clearer idea on how I should be using it. Hmmm that and with the help of my coach, I think I can start training with the benefits of a heart rate monitor.

the clinic attendees ;)

the clinic attendees 😉

Here are some of my notes/learnings from the said talk (some may not be verbatim to Adrian’s words):

Adrian Mok as he talks about Heart Rate Monitoring

Adrian Mok as he talks about Heart Rate Monitoring

  • Training with a heart rate monitor enables us to train at the right intensity.
  • To enable us to train at the right intensity, we need to know what our heart rate is and follow a proper training program with a mix of speed or interval workouts, tempo runs, recovery runs and longer runs all done in our target heart rate zone.
  • We should also determine our maximum heart rate. The ways to be able to determine our maximum heart rate are through:
    • Clinical Tests – treadmill or bicycle stress test by a cardiologist or an exercise physiologist
    • Field conditions in time trails – supervised by an experienced coach or an exercise physiologist
  • To get your predicted Max HR, there are also two ways:
    • by using the most common formula of 220 – age (result is in beats per minute)
    • by doing the fitness test as prescribed for Polar S-series watch users wherein both the VO2 max and the Max HR will be obtained
  • If you haven’t been exercising for a while your heart rate may jack up very very high. This is because your whole cardiovascular system has not yet adapted to the stress that training brings. In this case, walking is ok and one should not push yourself too hard.
  • Training with a heart rate monitor is all about sports zones. There are actually 5 heart rate zones:
    • Zone 1 – Very Light Intensity (50 – 60% of the Maximum Heart Rate)
      • warm-ups and warm-downs are usually done in HR Zone 1
      • possible recoveries are also in zone 1 to help speed up recovery after a heavy training or workout
      • low intensitytraining helps get the blood flow into the muscles
      • a lot of people make the mistake of working-out without doing warm-ups this is bad because you need to have blood circulation before a workout
      • if you don’t have time for stretching, it can be skipped but warm-ups are always necessary
      • a sign that your body is already warmed-up and is ready for more exercise is when you start to sweat.
      • in colder climate countries,  it is harder because longer warm-ups are needed to be able to get the same effect
    • Zone 2 – Light Intensity (60 – 70% of the Maximum Heart Rate)
      • very easy; with this intensity you can still speak in full sentences without the words breaking-up
      • features an aerobic training exercise which is simply the body’s use of oxygen in generating energy
      • best for marathon training
      • best for those who lose weight because aerobic exercises burns body fat
      • works on fat metabolism
    • Zone 3 – Moderate Intensity (70 – 80% of the Maximum Heart Rate)
      • comfort zone for most people
      • improves fitness level
      • still an aerobic training but higher in intensity that zones 1 and 2
      • intensity wherein you push somewhat hard but still not hard enough
      • best for running marathons
      • best for long distance runs
    • Zone 4 – Hard Intensity (80 – 90% of the Maximum Heart Rate)
      • intensity wherein the body becomes very effective
      • features an anaerobic training wherein the body doesn’t make use of the oxygen anymore
      • downside is starting with this level of intensity, lactic acid is produced
      • this is best for people who want to train harder
      • one just have to teach the body to adapt to this zone for when it does, running in this zone won’t make the runner feel uncomfortable
      • good also for interval track workouts
    • Zone 5 – Maximum Intensity (90 – 100% of the Maximum Heart Rate)
      • for peak performance/workouts
      • best for short distance runners; sprinters
      • anaerobic training at the highest intensity level
while explaining about heart rate zones

while explaining about heart rate zones

  • Elite runners usually doesn’t make use of heart rate monitors because they are so good in guessing/telling what their body needs/wants
  • Training/Running in the treadmill is not hard enough
  • The use of heart rate monitors helps improve your training
  • If your body becomes stuck in training in a particular sports zone, it is a sign that your body is fatigued
  • It is important also to know in which zone your body is comfortable in
  • Heart rate monitors are useful in checking/knowing how fast you can recover and how fit you are through the recovery heart rate
  • If  the heart rate recovered fast then one is fit; if the heart rate took time to recover, the body is tired and needs rest
  • The body needs rest especially after training hard
  • Training in zone 5 day before a race day is not recommended because the body needs to recover from a high intensity training
  • Intensity of workouts should be varied and one best way to do it is by heart rate monitoring
  • If you want to workout/train harder, intensify your intervals and tempo runs more
  • Low intensity training usually equates to higher volume
  • In training, it is important to write down your goal, break it down and make sure that it is realistic
  • Know your comfort zone and choose a workout that suits you best

Speaker’s Profile : ADRIAN MOK


As an accomplished athlete in endurance sports, Adrian has represented Singapore for triathlon on a national level. His best achievements include running marathons among the top local men’s category and winning the age-group in triathlons. In 2002, He was part of the team in Singapore who attempted the Eco Challenge in Fiji, which is commonly known as the toughest race on earth. His accolades of ultra endurance attempt includes representing Singapore for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in 2004 and running 168km around Singapore. Despite his hectic schedule, he continues to find time pursuing sports competitively.

Adrian manages the Polar subsidiary in Singapore as the GM and the Area Manager for the Asia Pacific region. Literally walking his talk, he frequent gives seminar and motivates corporate audience. Having successful build some key sports brand in Singapore, Adrian speaks with deep passion on sports.

Adrian also conceptualized the first night and ultra marathon event in Singapore . The addidas Sundown Marathon has received raving success from participants. Overcoming many challenges, he is also the person who have brought Aviva Ironman 70.3 into Singapore as one of the most spectacular sports event that is staged in the city.

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