Heart Rate Monitor

I've just recently bought a heart rate monitor which has many functions one of which works out your 'ownzone' heart rate and works out a hard, moderate or light heart rate depending on what session i want to do.  I think i'm quite fit and have been running for a while, although not a fast runner. my resting heart rate is around 45-50 beats per minute.  when i run i cant run slow enough to keep heart rate down!  my heart rate averages at about 164 beats on 'normal' run, 168 on 'tempo' run and 170 when i pace up.  i tried to run on moderate setting on a long run but i felt the pace was way to slow to keep heart rate down to 135-155. do you think i need to do some 'slow' runs, will they benefit me? i'm trying to be a faster runner! the ideal would be the same speed with a lower heart rate, how to i achieve that? PS, my max heart rate (working on age basis) should be 178, (220 - age, right?)


  • You can't rely on an HRmax from an age calculation. They can be waaaaay out.
  • Only 4 beats difference between "normal" and "tempo" run?

    I would guess that you are running your normal runs too hard and your tempo runs too slow. Therefore, you are not recovering between you runs, especially before your tempo runs.

    Do try slowing down a little on your easy/recovery runs.

    How often do you run? and for how far/long?

  • I started to look at my heart rate in january, and really try to keep my "slow" runs under 150. In a really short time my resting heart rate has dropped, and I run more consistently at a lower HR than I used to when I run faster sessions.  HR is a fantastic indicator of the real effort you're making.  there's a very good article on this site, you should be able to find it quite easily.

  • HI Sean G, i think you're right, my runs all seem quite hard, with tempo runs a bit harder! i feel like i wont improve unless i push myself.

    i run 3-4 times per week, average run is about one hour.  although i'm increasing my time and mileage for marathon training, i'm up to 2 1/2 hours, my average heart rate was 159, is that still too high for a long run? how often should i run slower? and will it really help bring my heart rate down even on faster runs?

  • Mishmah,

    It is normally advisable to do about 3 to 4 months of base training (running all runs at approx 70% WHR/HRR or approx 45 ot 90 seconds slower than your desired marathon race pace) and then add 1 Tempo run a week into your training schedule.

    It would certainly be useful to find out roughly what your Max HR is to enable your training zones to be more accurately calculated.

    Here is another method for estimating your Max HR:

    Males: 210 - 1/2 your age - 1% of your total body weight (lbs) + 4 = Predicted Maximum Heart Rate

    210 - 1/2 your age - 1% of your total body weight (lbs) + 0 = Predicted Maximum Heart Rate

    This means a male of 45 years with a weight of 190 would have an estimated max heart rate of: 

    210  - 22.5  - 1.9 + 4 = 189 beats per minute.

    In general this formula is fine for most people and is likely to be the most accurate formula within plus or minus 10 beats of the actual maximum heart rate.

    See this!

  • Heart rate will drift for a steady effort - if you are running to a heart rate zone without taking account of that you are actually slowing down over your run.    Better to run to pace than heart rate - though you can use your HRM to determine some rough zones to work in if you take account of the fact heart rate will drift up.   You can also use it to determine fitness by heart rate at different paces.  

    I'd forget about standard formula for max heart rate - I don't think they are anything like accurate enough.    Keep wearing it in short distance races, cross country etc to get a better idea of your max - a longish sprint finish up hill in a 5k should get you fairly close to your max.   

  • Agree with popsider - you definitely need to find your own estimate of max HR. If your HR profile even roughly approximated any of the given formulas based on age, there's no way you could maintain average HR of 159 over a 2.5 hour run unless it was close to an all-out marathon-pace effort. I'd be willing to bet your max is siginificantly higher than 178 - all the more reason to try a few tests.  As popsider suggested, my highest observed HR was at the end of a sprint finish on a 5k. (196, more than 10 beats higher than the 200 minus age formula suggests.)

    And as Sean suggests, if you know your own personal 'zones', you'll have a better idea of the suitable intensities for easy and tempo running. Tis very important to keep the easy runs easy and the hard ones hard!

  • I was lucky enough to be given a Garmin 305 by the wife for Christmas - and so far so good. I've done a treadmill test to work out my max HR and calculated my own zones.

    During my 3-5 minute walking warm up, my HR is <90 BPM but then as soon as I start jogging my HR jumps to 150 within a few seconds - I then find I can keep my HRM in the 150-165 zone for the majority of the workout, regardless of whether its a 3 or 6 miler. Speed isn't great - jogging pace is 10:30 to 11:00 so fairly slow.

    I'm wetting the chest strap before I start, making sure that I'm hydrated, and I get the same pattern on both the treadmill and on the streets.

     Is this normal ?Or do I have a faulty unit ? Or a faulty heart ?

     Any advice appreciated !

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