I have been running for about 3 years, and using HRM for about 2 of those, so I was bit surprised when suddenly in last 3 months, my HRM has occasionally measured some really high rates at the beginning of a run.

It isn't happening everytime, it appears random, and I can't seem to pin it down to anything in particular.

I have changed batteries, checked HRM, and it seems to be functioning correctly. It's happened on various routes, even going downhill, so I don't think it's interference from anything. 

What basically happens is my HR climbs very quickly to around 220 to 240, and stays at that level from about 2mins to 7mins, and then it drops back to normal levels, around 140-150 for a steady run .

I have done max HR tests in past, and have worn HRM during races, and have never been able to get HR over 190 (191 on one occasion when I could see the clock ticking at the finish line and I was on for a pb image)

I went to see doctor recently, very embarassing turning up with graphs and charts to demonstrate image, but I was slightly concerned. He sent me for an ECG as a precaution (no issues showed up), but otherwise couldn't explain it. He wasn't too concerned, although he thought it wasn't terribly good for me.

He couldn't offer any explanation why this has suddenly started happening. His only suggestion was that it was a "warm up issue", and that I set my garmin to alert me if HR goes over 180, and stop running until to comes down again!

Does this happen to anybody else, and if so, any ideas what triggers it?

Or, is it a faulty Garmin, as was my initial conclusion!!

It's  weird



  • I get similar, I think it's just that heart rate strap picking up a few false signals until the moisture content of your skin has increased.
  • Sounds almost like a poor contact ?

    If I haven't wet the contacts on mine enough, I sometimes get over 200 bpm, and once you start to sweat and wet them properly it calms down

  • Hadn't thought of that. I do always wet the contacts, but perhaps not enough occasionally,

    probably shouldn't confess at this point, that I just give them a quick lick image image

  • a quick link isn't usually good enough I've found - a good wetting under the tap or with a sponge, and rubbing to make sure the water soaks in usually works best
  • Hi bburn plodder - long time!

    Got to confess I'm a "quick lick" man myself and never had any problems with mine, (HRM that is!)

    Having said that, if contact is loose, or not moist enough you will almost always get ridiculously high false readings. Has the belt loosened a bit?

    My wife has trouble with all varieties of HRM when worn with underwirsed bras, or if the hrm gets moved about by nature.....

  • Hi Kicked It, how you doing?

    Are you doing Edinburgh again this year. I'm not, but I have got a marathon planned - Coniston Trail Mara in July. I'm hoping it won't be as hot as Edinburgh last year!!

    Sounds like it's definitely a loose contact, could have saved myself a bit of hassle if I'd consulted the forum first image.

    Looks like I should have done a graph correlating weird readings versus choice of sports bra image

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    I get this, more often in winter than summer. I reckon it's down to static from clothing and/or poor contact initially. It settles down once I break sweat properly.

    I've tried ecg gel for a better contact but it didn't make any difference so I reckon it's down to needing to work up a sweat.

    It's happened with several hrms from various makers, btw.

  • Hi Bburn. I'm still entered for Edinburgh but wont be running. Tore a calf muscle in March and missed most of the last 2 months training so I've had to cancel my accommodation and face up to a DNS!

    Looking to do Chester in October, but at the moment I'm just happy to be running again and on the road to recovery!

    Consiton Trail is a toughy! Any places left? Just started a bit of running in the Lakeland fells in the past few weeks and loving it - particularly how much easier it is on the joints/ muscles etc! Got Kentmere 17k lined up next month provided the leg continues ot get better!

  • Sorry to hear you've been injured KI, but like you say, at least your back out running again.

    I've only just started venturing off raod, but I'm loving it.

    I'll be at Kentmere next month, maybe I'll bump into you there. Are you in the Challenge or the Race?

    Kentmere was my first trail run ever last year, so i'm looking forward to going back to see if I've improved. probably Not !! LOL

    I am starting to panic a bit about Coniston, worrying that I may have bitten off a bit much, but I've entered the Challenge rather than the Race, and I am putting myself under no time pressure whatsoever, just get round, enjoy it and walk the tough bits image 

    I think there are still places left ...................

  • Hi Bburn.

    I think I entered the race but not sure! It was definitely the 17k, and was initially intended to be a motivator after Edinburgh....

    You have really set me off wondering about Coniston now!

    I managed a 14 miler from Stavely up yje Kentmere valley and over the Garburn Pass to Ambleside last week and with the mixed pace etc it didnt feel too bad. . . I'm wondering if all the big miles of marathon trainin gi put in up to March could be salvaged for Coniston...

    As you say, there are no real pressures for a "good time" with a race time at an event like that and just completing is enough.

    hope we found the answer to the HRM issue though!

  • Go on you know you want to image if you can already do a 14miler, then you'll be fine by July.

    Sounds like I have the answer regarding the HRM. Interesting what Mutley said about it being just in the winter, because it only started happening at end of Jan/early Feb.

    Thanks everyone for your help

  • bburn plodder - this started happening to me about a year ago, just random and all of a sudden.  I tried wetting the contacts and using gel but it still did it.  Then it started happening half way through a run and more regularly so I bought a new HR monitor.  It still happened so I went to my GP (like you with printouts etc!).  He referred me to a Cardiologist and I've just had all the tests done including a stress test, 24 hour monitor and echo.  It was all normal apart from quite a few benign ectopic beats.  The cardiologist told me these things can happen sometimes and may due to a virus.  Ectopic beats can be down to dehydration too.

    A lot of people told me just not worry about it, but when you hear of people falling over in marathons with undiagnosed heart conditions I think its worth getting checked and I'm glad I did, even though I did feel a bit of an idiot sometimes.  Doctors aren't used to people checking their own heart rates regularly either.  He asked me if it happened when I didn't run and couldn't grasp that I don't know that because I don't wear a monitor when I'm sat watching telly.  I'm sure its fine but good luck.


  • That's really interesting Soup Dragon. I'm glad everything is fine for you.

     To be honest the driving force in going to my doctor was my OH.  He was worried I was going to keel over mid run, miles from home on a country lane somewhere. Although actually I'm always less than a mile from home when the funny readings occur! But I must admit, I did start to worry when happened repeatedly.

    I will take all the advice about wetting HRM for good contact, and making sure it's tightly fitted, and monitor for the timebeing. Hopefully that will solve it.

  • Daft question - but to those of you experiencing this - what does it actually FEEL like?

    When I first started running I would sometimes seen 190+, and on one occasion I saw a genuine 201.

    I was running uphill at the time at my absoloute limit, stopped in my tracks and couldnt possibly have gone any further, (Central Governor?), but I could feel my heart banging away as my lungs gasped for air.

    I would guess that if its a genuine reading you are seeing, you may be able to actually feel the heart rattling your ribcage! Failing that, just place a hand over your heart and take a rought pulse reading.

    Does it tally with the HRM?

    Just a thought.

    Coniston... hmmm... 2 months to get back up to 20 mile LSR....... I am talking myself into this!

  • Not a daft question at all.

    It was my thought on first coupleof ocassions. On max HR test, I felt like my heart was going to burst, and "I'm going to die" was running on a continuous loop in my head.

    It doesn't feel like that at all, just the normal slightly yucky first mile or so of running until you get into your stride.

    Re: Coniston, go on .....do it, do it, do it image

  • Does sounf more and mor elike a dodgy HRM than a dodgy ticker hopefully!

    I have the Keswick Half pencilled in for Sunday if my calf holds up to some intervals tonight... If I get through Keswick ok, then I may have a drive down to Consiton and a ponder.......

    I'm aiming to have a go at the Lakeland 50 next year so Consiton would make a lot of sense..... see - I'm talking myself into it!

    I will be blaming you for this Bburn!

  • Same as bp - feels no different from a slow plod, either no real effort or usual toxic 10.  Not gasping like on intervals or anything.  If it wasn't for my HR monitor I wouldn't know anything about it and that makes it difficult to explain things to a doctor.  I don't know either whether the 187 I get is my true max or not.  Highest I've got on hill reps till fit to drop is 179.  The strange thing is that the sudden high readings always go up to 187 so if it was a HR monitor fault you would have thought that it would vary a bit.  But as I don't have any life threatening heart disease I'm not worrying. 

  • Just adding my bit to the mix.

    Sounds more like HRM problem than image problem.

    Re the latter, I caught viral myocarditis last November, and I can assure you that if it was a cardiac issue, you'd know.  Apart from high HR, you'd possibly also have chest pain and severe breathlessness (where you can't get a full breath, no matter how much you try), your heart would seem to be pounding away and you'd feel exceptionally tired - probably unable to continue walking, let alone running.

    The main difference is that with a cardiac problem, when you stopped, the symptoms would subside but only slightly, so instead of stopping and feeling OK (as normal) you'd stop and still feel awful.  Your HR would also respond much more slowly, so you wouldn't see the normal drop in HR that you get once you stop, it would go down, but only by a few bpm.

    You would also experience similar symptoms all the time, not just when exercising but if you've been given the all clear, then I'd just put it down to HRM contact.

  • Thanks Jeepers, that's very reassuring, from somebody who knows.

    I hope you've made a full recovery, I remember you were on the sidelines in Jan, when you were our chief cheerleader in the UK versus USA  competition. image  Are you back running now?

  • Thanks, bbp, I think that things have settled down now.  I'm still waiting for the results of some tests done a few weeks ago, but it looks as though everything is (finally!) back to normal - I started training again just over a week ago - my first time since November.image

    I've lost a lot of fitness, stamina and speed, but it's a relief to be back out there, so I'm just going to take it easy and see how things go. I had hoped that I'd be able to do the NF mara in September, but that might be a bit optimistic.

    There's a lot to be said for HR trainingimage

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