Ridiculously high heart rate, is it safe, or right?

Having just recorded by first half marathon and previous trainging runs, I notice my heart rate rockets up to about 175-185 for the first 5-6 minutes and then settles down to about 150ish for the rest of the run.

On the Loch Leven half marathon this weekend, I got a shock when I downloaded the HRM profile, for the first 3/4 mile my heart rate was above 220bpm peaking at 229bpm, my pace was the same as for the rest of the race, 8min/mile. The heart rate then settle down to about 145bpm for the rest of the race and averaged 149 over the whole distance. he bpm did not rise much even when my pace did, or on hils for which I pace did not really slow.

 These are encouraging, i.e. consta and reasonable low hear rate over the distance, but is my heart safe up at 220+bpm for the a mile?

 Slightly worried, but very encourage, which one should I be, or both?


  • Do you wet the electrodes on the heart rate monitor before running? If you don't it is probable that the monitor does not function properly until such time as you have started to sweat. If you do wet the electrodes then you potentially have a problem which can probably only be determined by taking a medically supervised stress test on a treadmill.

    I have experienced the problem you refer to when I haven't wetted the electrodes.

  • I have tried wetting the electrodes bafore the run, but they do seem to dry out before the start. Anything better to try other than water or saliva?

    Say if the readings are correct, how bad is it? I have tried to get my heart rate this high on the cross-trainer but not got above 185.

  • tricialitttricialitt ✭✭✭
    Did you feel OK?- if so, it's unlikely to be a true reading, if, however you were feeling unusually tired/ puffed/ aware of heartbeat, then it could be rreal, and is probably an abnormal heartbeat- soem other folks on here have posted about a similar problem- (SVT is commonest cause)- try looking at their threads to see if any of it rings true, if so- SEE YOUR GP
  • Felt great all race, never felt my heart rate at all, once it came down it stayed down below 150 all the way to the end, averaging 149 over the whole race.
  • If your heart beat was 229 BPM I think you would know about it, as in you would probably feel exhausted, but if your wetting the electrodes you probably need to check it out. Probably nothing but best to be sure.  My heart rate monitor has on occasion read about 30 beats above my normal average for miles, when this happens I have always adjusted its position ands it gone back to normal.

    If nothing else stress tests are a fun way of finding out how fit you are!

  • I have SVT. If your HR is 220+ - you know about it.image
  • My heart rate monitor does this as well.  It goes haywire for the first few minutes then settles down, I have learned to ignore it.  I can pretty much guess my heart rate and know what it feels like to be above 170.  If you are really worried, then next time you're on a training run and you notice the reading is a bit odd then just stop and take your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply the result by 4 to get your beats/minute.  I suspect you won't be counting 50+ beats. 

    I personally don't worry that much about it but Heartratemonitor.co.uk recommend electro conductive gel for any problems with readings.

  • Thanks everyone for your responses, as I am feeling great and not hurting during the run, my first investigation will be to test the heart rate monitor during the initial period. (Unlikely but if my heart reate is that high I'll see a GP!)
  • The initial rise in heart rate could be due to the amount of adrenaline running through your body at the start of the race, which normally settles down after your body adapts to your running intensity (after about 3-4 minutes). I wouldn't be that concerned about the negligable rise in heart race as your pace or gradient increased, could be a sign of your fitness.
  • I've just started training using my heart rate monitor all the time. Previously I trained by pace and rarely bothered putting my heart rate monitor on. Since I started using it all the time I've noticed several odd readings. Some I think were caused by electrical interference as discussed in the RW heart rate anomaly thread thread. More recently I experienced several runs where my HR appeared unnaturally high in the first couple of kilometres just as described by the originial poster.

    Posting now to say that focussing on ensuring that my HR monitor electrodes are properly wet when starting out seems to have addressed the problem. Thanks for your help people.

  • Just lke when calculators came in and people trusted them blindly, you should calc your HR in your head (from your pulse) if you are really worried, as HRM are notoriously dodgy at times (especially when dry) 229 bpm would be almost 4 beats per second - you could tell approximately by taking your own pulse for 10 seconds while you run.  I found my issues were a combination of dry electrodes (bought conductive gel) and worn HRM belts.  Washing mine after every run in the shower extends its life from  2-3 months to at least 6 I've found (garmin soft belt or Polar which I now use with my garmin watch), I must be on my 4th or 5th belt now.

  • My Garmin often records very high readings for the first few minutes of any run.....around 177-180 BPM. I honestly thinks it initially gets confused by my running cadence which is strangely around that figure.

    Also.....remember in races your monitor might be picking up the odd reading from other competitors with similar equipment.

  • Spikes and dropouts happen, and at this time of year when its cold and dry, it seesms to be at its worst. Take a look at the following link for some solutions using electrode Gels / HR Gels:


    Also make sure you clean the strap as recommended after each use.

    I recently had a lot of problems with the Garmin soft strap. One of Garmins suggestions was to wear cotton clothing!! I gave up on the Garmin soft strap recently because of spikes happening throughout runs. I bought a £10 Polar soft strap and clipped on the garmin transmitter and all is working perfectly.

  • I've had a similar experience and after an ecg and chats on here I decided it doesn't go that high. I posted a worrying HR thread too.

  • I posted the same issue here:


    First thing I do now is wet the sensors and put the strap on, well before getting changed in to my running gear. By the time I warm up and start my Garmin, I now get sensible heart rate readings from start to finish.
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