What Heart Rate % for Half Marathon

I have got to the stage where I can train  for a long slow run of 14 miles at a pace of 11.30 min/mile whilst keeping my working heart rate at 70%. 

 Does anyone have any idea what % WHR or pace I am likely to be able to maintain in a half marathon actually in a race?


  • I would say ignore HR during a race.

    In my experiance, the HR you can maintain on a training session, and the HR you actually get in a race bears no relevance at all, my HR is way higher in races than in even my fastest training sessions.

    Your best bet is too remember percieved effort during your training runs, and use that in a race.

  • The other thing to consider is what rate you are using to work out your 70% figure.

    If you're basing it on 220 minus your age, it's probably not accurate anyway.

  • too true wilkie, was talking to a 55 year road cyclist  t'other day who has a MHR of 187.
  • why does everyone assume on these heart rate forums that nobody has bothered to find their max. I certainly have and min bears no reltion to 220 - my age. my actual max is 16 beats higher.
  • JJ

    Many thanks


  • Becky...If you can run at 11:30/miles at 70% of your max then........

    I predict you will be able to do a half in close to 2hrs, which would be just over 9mm.

    Do you do any sessions at this pace? If not try a 6miler at what Johnny J says at 85% of your MHR.

    One session/week (tempo) at 90% MHR for 20-30mins would do you alot of good too.

    Total respect for doing 14miles at 11:30/miles, 2hrs 40mins is a serious session, well done.

  • No offence intended BB - it's just that there are often threads by people worried that they are 'overdoing' it because their heart rate is going 'too high' compared to the 220-age formula.

    Your original post didn't make it clear, so I thought I'd ask.

  • I can't really offer advice as such, but if it's of interest, I did a half marathon recently which was no more than a beat or 2 away from 173 when my max is 186 and resting rate is 46. All my long runs were done at 70% of WHR.

  • carb depletion will occur much faster at 85% compared to 70% so make sure you have a good feel for your nutrition strategy during the race. you may need a lot more gels etc.

  • Virgil...that half sounded tough, you must have felt like dying! ...93% of max, total respect!
  • not sure I could do 93% and keep it up.  Did 3 miles last night at between 85% -87% and it was tough.  Felt heavy legged but maintained 10 min mile pace.  I think I'll be pleased with anything better than 2.15 for the half.
  • Im 35 and ran at least half of my 8 mile run this morning at 96% of my theoretical maximum. Usually i train at 75 - 85% of max, my aerobic zone, but today I was pushing myself a bit to beat my record but actually felt fairly comfortable at this intensity. So it shows you, your theoretical maximum is just that - a theory.. In practice your bodies capabilities are dependent on so many other factors - training, illness, diet, sleep, etc.  I use a heart rate monitor every time i exercise but i also listen to my body and what its telling me.

    Oh and when cycling i have regularly got my heart rate close to 200bpm but i wouldnt recommend this for everyone to try. Everyone will be different and some hearts might explode!

  • Theres a massive difference in running 4 miles at 96% and 13.1miles.

    Your max. is a fact, not theory. You cannot train it to get higher, like you can your lactate threshold, VO max, etc.

    If you are feeling strong and fresh you will be able to run closer to your max, than if you are tired or ill.

  • I tend to find I can put a bit more in during a race compared to training, plus I suppose the adrenaline and general excitement/stress of a race always gets you up a few beats.

  • feel the pain! wrote (see)

    Theres a massive difference in running 4 miles at 96% and 13.1miles.

    Your max. is a fact, not theory. You cannot train it to get higher, like you can your lactate threshold, VO max, etc.

    If you are feeling strong and fresh you will be able to run closer to your max, than if you are tired or ill.

    My max is a fact? Arent all facts only true until they are disproven? Isnt it arrogant to declare absolute knowledge? The world is flat so im told...

    Armstrong won his 7th tour at age 33, he shouldnt have let his heart pass 187bpm according to the theory but he was actually capable of reaching much higher rates than that.  All depends on individual physiology im sure you agree.

    3 years ago i would have been able to run a half marathon at 96%. But it was about that time that i was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, my lungs now have scarring and i take prednisolone. My max HR has definitely dropped. So 4 miles at 96% (and 7 minute miles) is an achievement for me. My mind is strong but my body lets me down.

  • I think it's true to say that your maxHR reduces with age and in your case injury, but it will never increase?.

    maxHR is just that, the max rate your heart can achieve, and taken in that context, you can never exceed YOUR maxHR.

  • Shane.. you compare your max with the earth being flat...interesting!

    I'm a massive fan of Armstrong, but even he had a max. He may have performed very close to his max, but I can assure you he didn't go over it!

  • Glad i have entertained you!!

  • entertained...no, just slightly amused.

    While I'm here...You claim to have run a half at 96% (or was capable of). I ran a 10K at 96% once and I thought I was dying.  I set off way to fast and hung on for the last 2miles at 1mm slower than the 1st 4miles. There is no way I could do this for 13.1miles. Every physiological literature I've read supports my thoughts.

    96% is in your VOmax range and therefore higher than your lactate threshold. Perhaps you should get in touch with a university, because you maybe setting new standards!

  • Never said i had run a half marathon at 96% of my maximum, only that i think i was capable of that pre-illness. Let me tell you why i think it is possible, though I have to talk about when i was a cyclist.

    According to my records, in September 2004, when i was 31 years old, i did my last time trial with my racing club, it was a 'very hilly' 50 miler through shropshire and mid wales and i completed the course in 2hrs 16mins. My average heart rate for that ride was 172bpm but over the final hour, when the route went skywards, i was up near 180bpm for most of that time, with an average pedalling cadence of 98rpm, and burning legs.

    Taking the textbook theory that our maximum is 220 minus our age then my max should have been 189bpm and that means when i was cycling at 179/180bpm i was apparently working at 95% of my maximum. However, on that day my heartrate actually maxed at 198bpm. The highest i have ever got my heart rate was the previous year when it reached 201bpm in a pursuit of someone up a hill.

    You see why i say the theory for working out maximum heartrate is just a theory. I was capable of going 12 beats higher than i was supposed to which must have made me 19 years old! On that basis my working at 180bpm is actually only 89% of my true maximum.

    Back to running. It was also at this time (4 years ago) that i was running about a 6 minute mile but only over short distances because my focus was mainly on cycling. I was also 3kg lighter than i am now. I dont know for sure what i could have achieved in a half marathon and i guess i never will as the repercussions of my illness means my lungs are 15% less efficient than they were. But if i had never got ill i would definitely be taking you up on the challenge!!

  • 220 - your age is a guide, it as proven many times to be inaccurate. Your max is unique to you.

    Cycling too cannot be compared to running, running is far more stressful on the body.

  • There are several ways to find your max heart rate.

    I've never done one of the officially recognised tests, but I know that I've worked bl00dy hard in my club training runs and on my own and the max I get is 178 bpm.

    220 - 47 (my age) = 173

    So for me it's fairly close and I base all my efforts on 178.

    I have never raced using my heart rate as a guide. As has been said here - race depending on how you feel - BUT err on the side of caution for the first 5-6 miles.

    I've not done a half yet but hope to later this year and that will be my strategy.

    Good luck 

  • Feel the pain,

    Interesting that you dont think that running can be compared to cycling, when in fact we are talking about heartrates not the type of activity. Well you seem to know everything about everything so i guess theres no point arguing with you! Running is indeed stressful on the body, but the most pain ive ever felt is through cycling.

     Bye for now...

  • Shane...... if you're using heart rate to help your training then why are you p1ssing about with the 220 - age nonsense.  220 - age is nothing but a wild guess so go and find out what your max actually is, then you'll be able to do some useful heart rate training.
  • There is no 'textbook theory' about the oft-quoted 220-age equation. There is a range of about +/-15 around the figure you get from it, in other words its best ignored.

    Your maximum heart rate is just that - the highest YOUR heart rate goes. For examply I did a BUPA fitness assessment at age 23 and achieved a VO2max of 65 at a heart rate of 186. I've never managed to exceed that figure.

    The source for the +/- 15 is 'Exercise and Sports Cardiology' By Paul D. Thompson McGraw-Hill 2001

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