Figuring out HRmax accurately from race performance

As someone who shies away from the concept of making myself run 'til I'm sick to determine my maximum heart rate, I've been pondering how to get a good estimate (without the unreliable age-related formulae), and I've had a thought. I'm certain that this thought must have been thought a million times before by a million people but.....

Can we assume that over, say, a 10K race that everyone (or everyone who's giving it everything) will be working at a certain average percentage of working heart rate (this percentage will depend on race distance - less for longer races)? If we can, and we know our resting HR, then determining our max HR is trivial. Isn't it? Or do people race at vastly differing %WHR?


  • Why do you want to know?

    Simply run up a steep hill twice with all you have then you measure your HR.

    If you have time to think about your HR in 10k then you know that you don't run hard enough :)
  • Steep hill? I live in Cambridgeshire!

  • Swerve, the average HR for a 10km race is around the 85% range of working HR. If you rested before your 10km race and ran it fairly hard, then do a flat out last KM that should give you a reading somewnere near your max HR.
    I spotted my max whilst doing the St Ives Dairy Crest in CAMBS on the hill up to the airfield.
  • Cheers, Dangly. Is the 85% your own experience or is it a generally-known thing? And if so, is there data anywhere online or in books for other distances?

    By the way, I never go to St Ives as I get nosebleeds from the altitude. And it's almost Huntingdonshire anyway. ;-)
  • Go on the treadmill instead and put world record pace on. Try to stay on the belt as long as you can and then jump of the belt with your last effort and measure your HR, that's then your max. HR :)
  • Average HR for a 10k is normally about yoy LT - I have a very high ave HR for 10K race

    Do a maximum test if you want to know MHR
  • Max test is great fun (no administer, no to do) - put a matress at the back of the treadmill and just crank it up every few min... Lovely!
  • Thought I'd get my max HR at tonight's 5k track race but ran it so easy I never got above 10k pace!
  • The often recommended book: Heart Monitor Training for Compleat Idiots, by John L Parker recommends:
    1 mile - 98-100%
    5km - 90%
    10km - 85%
    1/2M - 80%
    marathon - 75%

    I've found that these figures are about right for me. For the last mile/km of a race i ignore the monitor and just give it all i have left.
  • Might be a bit OTT but I just found this site -
  • If I stop improving and am down for a break near Cambridge...then maybe.
    Chaos, did you spot that one of the medics on staff is a DOCTOR SPEED!... brilliant name in the circumstances.
  • Just plugged those numbers (Dangly Spice) into my 10K and half performances (for which I wore a monitor, so have average heart rate), and got 199.5 in both cases.
    So the formula is self-consistent. I reckon my actual max is more like 192 or so, so that doesn't fit so well (especially when I think that I could have run both races a couple of beats higher). Those figures are more useful (for me) for saying "if I can run a half at XXX heart rate, and reckon that was flat out, what should I go for a 10K at?". The answer seems to be about 7.5 beats higher, and that's quite useful for someone like me with limited racing experience. I don't wear a heart rate monitor for all my races, but I do find it useful in some to make sure I'm keeping the effort on - I either plan to run at a particular heart rate.
  • Continuing the max heart rate theme. I'm 29 and so various formulas indicate a predicted max heart rate of 190. However the maximum I've measured, recorded by 3mins flat out then short rest and repeat, was 170 which seems quite a way off. Has anyone else had this experience?
  • I hit 200 on my hill session yesterday (10th rep). Felt happy about it considering my advanced years (34). Must be largely genetic and perhaps not a great indicator of performance...?
    I read recently that MHR falls very little with age if you keep training
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