Heart rate - I don't get it!

I always run too fast and end up getting injured because of it. So to solve this problem I bought a garmin 305. Today I planned on doing a 4 mile easy run at around 9min/mile pace. Although I found it quite difficult to run this slow, I seemed to be getting the hang of it by the end of the run. However, although I felt really comfortable throughout the run my heart rate was really high, generally above 180 bpm. My MHR, calculated from age, should be around 185, so I really don't know what's going on. I realise that this method of calculating MHR is not the best, but it can't be totally out, can it? Any suggestions as to what's going on?


  • My first reaction would be to double check your HRM.

    Wear in when not exercising and compare it with a manual read of your pulse and see what (if any) difference there was.

    It's a whilse since i have used one, but I used to find that you sometimes got bizarre readings if the monitor battery was on it's way out or that you hadn't fitted the monitor strap correctly.  

  • Yes, your MHR can be wildy inaccurate if calculated from a formula. Try doing a  test (whilst exercising flat out) to see what your true max is.
  • If the HRM was showing a consistent reading it's probably accurate.  Much more likely that your true max HR is way in excess of 185, since the formula is as good as useless. If you can comfortably maintain HR of 180 your max is likely 200+ (which is perfectly normal), but you definitely need to do a max HR test to get a more accurate idea.
  • Thanks for the replies. It looks like I'm going to have to bite the bullet and do a test to find my true max HR - I've been avoiding it as it sounds painful! So, now I have to look for some steep hills.......
  • PhilPub; I don't agree. A max HR of above 200 is exceptional. Youngsters will achieve this but it is not the norm.

    HRMs can be unreliable. My treadmill console will display my HR when I am not wearing the  chest monitor! When I do, the rate can fluctuate wildly. So they are not the beeznees but once they 'settle down' can be very informative. Many on this site use them and benefit. 

  • Treadmill - I agree that 200+ isn't the norm as such, i.e. the vast majority of people have a max that's lower, but I meant that it's 'normal' in a sense of nothing to worry about, and I do know older runners who have a very high max.  I took it from the faithfulred's original post, and HR being 'generally above 180' during a comfortable run, that their max is way above what the formula says, and not just a blip on the HRM.  They are funny things though.  For some reason my HRM decides after I've taken my chest strap off that HR is 30. image
  • I think the important thing is that the formulae do not work for everyone. As a 48 year old male, my MHR should be 172 in fact, it's 196. so there's a good chance that had I done a max test at 40 I too would have been over 200. I use a Suunto t6 HRM and find it to9 be totally accurate when compared to manual readings. Incidentally my RHR is 35 which is quite unusual at the other end.

    As you said Faithfulred no alternative but head for those nasty hills!! 

  • I'm a 36 year old female and my max is 200.  Gleened from hill tests and generally confirmed by other runs.  I probably run 10 min mile at around 185bpm.
  • As PP says above but at the start of some of my runs the readings are all over the place, worth making sure that it is wet enough where the contact points are and in the right place, but I reckon your still going to have to find some steep hills to find out for definate!
  • or if you have any short races coming up and wear the HRM you are more likely to push yourself more at the end of a race and achieve a more accurate MHR
  • I've just started using a HRM and my resting HR is 60bpm

    The MHR formula (220-age ) says i should have a MHR of about 180bpm but the most i can get it up to is 167bpm.

    does this sound normal? The connections seem good and there are no fluctuations in the readings.

    Its a suunto6.

    Has anyone had problems getting this make to download training programs runs ect.. onto the computer?

    your feedback would be much appreciated.

  • Hi all,

    checked my HR 1st thing this morning and it was down to 50 BPM.

    And sorted out the computer by downloading a program off windows web site.image

    Happy now.

  • faithfulred,

    Check the strap, as you can get an innacurate reading if the strap is too loose or not sufficiently wet. My one gives an impossibly high reading if the strap is loose.

    I also agree that the various age formulae is only a rough guide. 

  • I'm 33 (for a few more days anyhow) and my max HR is 207!!  My resting heart rate is around 50 and running at 8.30 min miles will giveme a HR of 185bpm and I'm comfy with that....start to feel a bit yuck at 195bpm though.

  • Hi

    Am a newcomer to the site but interested on how you tested your max HR at 207.  I am 36 yrs old and have hit a max of 208 on a rowing ergo about 2 years ago, used to row a lot then, but have started training for my first marathon and still messing about with my HR ranges..?  I can run for an hour quite comfortably at 175, and hit 196 doing a sprint this morning, not so comfortable.

    Would my max HR have changed in 2 years, I accept quite a lazy two years!! 

  • J Hall - Your heart rate max is different for different sports, nothing to worry about

    faithfulred - If you have a Garmin 305 I would disregard your HR completely and focus on pace instead IMO. HR readings can fluctuate so much dependant on weather conditions, how tired you are, how stressed you are, hills, descent etc that I would focus purely on pace. Setting yourself pace targets for your runs is much better as the Garmin allows you to see what your average is at any point and you can speed up or slow down accordingly. After a while I reckon you will have a good measure of what a certain pace "feels" like and you'll run more on "feel" and less with one eye constantly checking your GPS watch.

    The Garmin is great for tempo sessions and long, steady runs where you need to run at a set pace for a set time period. Heart rate will lag behind effort too much to be completely accurate whereas you can see what pace you are at as it changes immediately....

  • My garmin regularly shows heartrate spikes way into superhuman levels, especially it would appear if there are more garmin wearers in the vicinity. Sometimes when standing around waiting for races to start or after the start when everybody is still bunched together it shows my heartrate doing all sorts of wierd and wonderful things.
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