Maximum Heartrate

Good evening everyone, I have a question regarding my maximum heartrate which I wondered whether anyone could answer.

I know the formula of 220 - age, 46 for me gives me 174. Last summer though, my Garmin measured me a max figure of 185 (although to be fair I was trying to run up a mountain at the time!). I have downloaded a HR half-marathon schedule off this site and I put in 185 as my max HR. I have to do intervals at 97-99% max HR and I just cannot seem to get my HR up to 185 now. When I hit 170 I really really feel the need to stop! Is this because I'm getting fitter so my max is lowering or am I just being lazy?

I started running in feb last year and have gone from 30 secs of running at a time to being able to run for a couple of hours so I guess you could say I've improved some (looks around proudly image )

If it helps, my resting HR is 47.



  • Hi Julia - first off - well done on the improvement - thats fantastic !

    Your MHR really shouldnt fluctuate that much - certainly not by 15 bpm in such a short time.
    The calculation can be a load of rubbish - so lets ignore that.

    When you hit 185 - was it a gradual build to it - or was it just a sudden jump ? You do get 'spikes' from time to time on HRMs and thats not a true reading.

    A Max Heart Rate test is an absolute git to do - you want to push yourself as hard as you possibly can. You need to be fully refreshed before starting off, and then you need to have a good warm up and then preferably run up a hill several times until you really want to throw up.

    If you're not pushing that hard - then you wont get a true reading.

    What training plan has you doing intervals that hard ? I really dont think that there is a benefit in pushing so close to your MHR - I doubt I could do more than one interval at that intensity ?
  • The 220 - age formula is widely regarded as being too generic to be of any real use.
  • I don't actually remember hitting the 185 mark, it is only now, only checking the totals for my Garmin that i find it and it coincides with being on holiday in the Lake District. The graph looks like quite a sudden jump up though. The nearest highest is 180, on the same holiday.

    I got the training plan from this site, it's a Garmin ready to download half marathon plan for a sub 2.30 (although i'm not sure i'll achieve that, 2.45 best in practise so far) . At one point it asks for 10 x 200m at 93-97% of max HR. Gulp. Had to do 6 x 400m today and ended up just 'doing my best' as they used to say at school!

    PS I have not reached the point of throwing up yet thank goodness! image

  • Eek!

     That looks more like a sub 2.30 marathon!

     Your schedule seems unrealistic for that half time.  Lots of runners would struggle to do 10 x 200 at almost max HR. 

     Maybe do a different schedule or as you say just 'do your best'!  It is better to do 5 good quality intervals than 10 with the last 5 being rubbish!

     Good luck with your half - which one and when?image

  • That is a good point - it must be for a full marathon ?
  • Julia, I got a reading of 195 the other day and I'm 49,

    This was not a true reading. Heart monitors can give false readings especialy when passing high voltage cables.

    Even thogh I knew better, I did let myself think that maybe I was getting a younger heart as I got older.

  • I've had readings of up to 207 on mine! Even the one you hold onto in the gym has given me a reading of 195 during a long run... which is ludicrous.

    You have to ask yourself what you are using the HR monitor for.
  • Good morning eveyone!

    Iluvsunshine (me too!) It's definitely a half marathon schedule, although I have subsequently realised it was sub 2.15 and being of an ambitious nature (and rather stupid) I decided to upgrade to the sub 2.00 as it didn't seem a great deal harder. My half is Brentwood in Essex on the 15 March.

    Hi Cougie, the plan gets worse, on the 3rd march it wants 10 x 800. oooeeer that's 5 miles at HR 97-99% max.

    Jon and Paul they are high readings! At the ladies gym where I work we have a HR stepper and that gives ridiculous readings sometimes! I've decided to just do the intervals to the best of my ability, slowly increase the speed over the 800m and try and peak in the 170's at the end of each.

    I guess the plan was written for and 18 yo male rather that a 46yo 3 stone overweight woman who's only been running a year!


  • Just have to stop myself becoming a anorak anyone? image
  • Sweeeeet baby jeeeesus - step away from that training plan !

    5 miles at 98% of MHR in a session ?????

    The thing is - that the MHR is the MHR so its as hard to reach for an 18 year old elite as it is for the average Joanna Public.

    My Pb for a half is 1.24 - and theres no way I'd be training as hard as your plan.

    Really you'd be better off ditching it and getting say - 3 runs in a week of 7 or 8 miles. One long run of 10 - 12 miles and about two sessions of interval stuff.

    Is there a link to this garmin program cos it seems to have been written by monkeys ? And EVIL monkeys at that !
  • Definitely evil! image It's on this site as well, perhaps I should 'report the plan to the moderator'!

    I'm happy with the rest of it, 1 long slow run which is gradually increasing, 9  miles this week. 1 run which is 3 or 4 miles with HR in the 150's and another short easy run so I think I'll just 'do my best' on the interval bit.

    Went out after my last post and did 6 lots of 800m which i just wound up slowly, first 400 in the 150's then 160's and hurtled the last few hundred feet to try and hit 170, hit a max of 174 at one point which I feel is high enough image

    I am so glad to hear your reponse Cougie, I expect to be an hour or so slower than you but I am just so amazed to realise that I am capable of running this far or indeed running at all having spent most of my life around 16 stone (12 9 this morning hurrah) that just to finish will be fantastic image

    By the way, what does being a pirate mean? Do you have a wooden leg? Makes that 1.24 half even more impressive image 

  • Maybe you are running "fast" at what the Garmin schedules calls"fast - shorter than 5 km speed" just because you are doing intervals and you think that is the one that applies. But there is also "fast - 5 km speed" and "fast - 10 km speed" (if I remember correctly)

    When doing intervals with the garmin schedule for marathon I always interpret "fast" to mean the 10 km speed or at the top end of it, that is to say 'only' 90% to 94% of MHR, unless it says otherwise, in other words, the zone 5 above 4 "threshold". My interpretation could be wrong of course, but at least I survive to do the intervals.

    Another way to interpret it is to look at say week 13 of the 4:00 marathon schedule. In the pace range it says a 1 mile interval in about 8 mins. If you look at the pace guides for that schedule, that is just into the 5 km pace (93 to 97%), not the sub-5k pace (96-99%)

     So maybe 93 to 95% is fair enough for fast on a half or full mara programme. The worst that happens is I do my marathon intervals slightly slow at 93% not 95% - bummer - I'm really sad about that -not! I'd rather go that way than lose motivation by being totallly knackered.

  • Hi Steve, yup, I've got the schedule printed out and I can see there's 2 sorts of fast pace, 10k and 5k, sadly though at the start of each interval my Garmin is after the 5k pace as it shows 'run 0.5 miles at 97-99%' . Boo hoo image

    I simply cannot manage that for a whole half a mile and definitely not several times with only 200m to recover! At the end of the day I have now taken the view that I want to enjoy my running and not dread tuesday intervals. Also it's my first half marathon and just to be able to run the whole way should be a big enough achievement for me, I just have 7 weeks to improve my speed/stamina/strength etc. so I can only do my best. I'm aiming to just max out as high as i can on each interval without having a heart attack! My average, comfortable pace on a long run is around the 12 min mile pace which is why I picked a HR training schedule rather than a pace one, that way I have not had to worry about speed and I know I'm doing the best I can for my body. I have to stop myself becoming HR obsessed! image

    I've done one 10k race before (1.09 and I can't remember the seconds) and a few 5K's, best at 33 mins so realistically expect to be around 2.30 for my half marathon. I've covered 13 miles once in training so far and did 2.45 but that was in about october so hopefully I've come on a bit since then.

    Got my race number yesterday and a timing chip, first time I've had one of those!

  • I feel for you. I had to run 3 x 12 mins fast / 3 min jog-down on wk 10 of 16 wk/4hr mara programme yesterday. I ran them at 90, 91 and 93% when I look back at the record. That was quite enough. (I was ankle deep in slush and snow so I did it on HR and time, not distance and HR.)

    I had a quick look last night at the book chapter in the Competitive Runner and although there was a lot of detail it seemed fair enough to aim at 10k to 5k speed.

  • Hi Johnny, the schedule is a Garmin compatable ready to download one,If you type 'Garmin training schedule ' into the search bar a link appears. The one you describe sounds much better, more like what I'm managing to achieve!.

    Steve I feel for you too! Although I know it's good to push up the HR sometimes it feels revolting doesn't it! Why do we do it I sometimes wonder? Why do I get home dripping with sweat and spend all day aching and yet still enjoy the feeling and go out and do it again? I think it's 'because i can'. image

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