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The New Age of Smart: Running Within Your Zones

The New Age of Smart: Running Within Your Zones

By: Eric Reiher, Head of Algorithms and Triathlete


The latest science will make your runs more personable, precise and progressive.


“Do you want to run faster? Then you need to slow down.” - Matt Fitzgerald


You may have been training hard for years. You may find yourself pouring blood, sweat and tears into every fast-paced running regiment you find on Pinterest, iPhone applications and the like. But chances are, this “no pain, no gain” concept you’ve learned to swear by isn’t working out so hot. Why? Because you actually need to run slow in order to race fast.


Weird concept, right? Although it may be hard to grasp at first, research proves that in order to enjoy running, improve quickly and avoid overtraining injuries, a runner must oblige by the 80/20 rule. By training 80 percent of your time at a slow pace and 20 percent at a fast pace, a new level of endurance will be experienced allowing you to not only run longer but race faster.




Your slow runs should be below the Ventilatory Threshold (VT), the point where talking begins to be uncomfortable. While prior runners, scientists, and research may argue different definitions of when this point actually happens, the OMbra measures your VT precisely, giving you an exact visual of where you should be training 80 percent of the time.


When a runner runs fast and passes her VT, her breathing starts to accelerate rapidly and her body suddenly requires much more oxygen than previously. With continued acceleration, she will reach her Anaerobic Threshold (AT), the second point where her breathing becomes almost out of control and she has reached a speed unsustainable for a long period of time. Through the measurements of both heart rate and breathing, the OMbra can pinpoint both points of increase in breathing thus giving you personal, accurate biometrics from your run.


Read more about the importance of breathing during your run in “Why Does Breathing Matter?”




These two physiological points are the borders of the three OMsignal Smart Zones. When running below your VT, you are in the Endurance Zone, when between your VT and AT you are in your Race Zone and when running above your AT you are in your Peak Zone. Thanks to patent-pending technology, these zones can be precisely calculated giving every runner personal insights to her biometrics.

Personalized Smart Zones


After five runs with the OMbra, personalized VT and AT thresholds will be calculated for you to view in the OMrun application. For this runner, 151 heartbeats per minute is her VT threshold (the point between Endurance and Peak) and 175 is the AT threshold (the point between Race and Peak).


Realizing How to Target Your Smart Zones is Key to Increased Performance


  • Endurance Zone (blue in chart): This means training at a low-intensity, where you are comfortable in your breathing. This is the best zone to increase overall endurance, maintain speed and burn fat. A runner should ideally spend 80 percent of their training in this zone.

  • Race Zone (green in chart): This means training at a moderate-intensity, where you are able to talk, but not for long. While this is an optimal race pace zone, it is best to avoid in training in order to avoid fatigue and injuries. Save your efforts for the Peak Zone, where your improvement will be greater.

  • Peak Zone (pink in chart): This means training at a high-intensity, where you are gasping for air. This is the best zone to adapt your body and muscles for faster running, but is only beneficial in small doses. Aim to spend 20 percent of your overall training in this zone, but remember to pair it with the other 80 percent of heavy endurance running and ample recovery.

    “Champions are everywhere, you just have to train them properly.” - Arthur Lydiard




    Polar, Garmin, and all other popular devices on the market only measure heart rate zones based on a woman’s age, gender, weight, height, and experience. The problem in this approach is that heart rate is not the end-all-be-all and fails to provide personalized AT and VT threshold measurements.


    The OMbra provides the only technology to calculate your breathing in personalized precision. We acknowledge that apparently similar runners with relative demographics can have incredibly different VT heart rates (as much as 30 heartbeats), and runners require more personalized insights to their runs. By using your breathing patterns to locate your Smart Zones, we use your precise VT and AT measurements to optimize your training.


    Become your own champion today. By using OMsignal’s Smart Zones, you can train slower, race faster and enjoy the process.



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