Heart rate zones - Danger Zone

Hi all I am a complete newbie to running and want to get a few bits clear in my mind. A few crititcal piece of information: I started a running programme "couch to 5k" 6 weeks ago. At the start I weighed 235.7lbs and would consume on average 2200-2750 calories per day. My BMI was 31.96. Yes I was very unfit and needed a change At present I am now on week 6 of the programme, running 25 mins in appx 7.16 min per km. I am currently at 222.8lbs and my BMI is 30.21. I also keep a strict food diet that I try to keep to 1490 calories net per day ( on average I am at 1632 gross) Overall I am feeling great from all the activity and have the bonus of feeling better in my clothes. However I am slightly worried that my heart rate is very high (I monitor it with a polar HRH) and towards the end of a 25 min run I am regularly getting into the 90-95% max heart rate zone). I know I should be aimining to keep it below 85 but I am really not running very fast if I slowed down I would be walking. Am I doing something wrong ? The programme is now solid running whereas when it started there were walks built into the run, so I could recover a little, but now it is all running. Also is my weight loss right I would have thought that it would have dropped off far quicker especially considering that I have done so little for e last 10 years, and have reduced my calories by at least 500 calories a day Any advice or help would be great


  • You're hrm is working on a theoretical max hr. 220-your age.

    This is way out for a lot of people.

    Bin it and run at a pace that you could chat at.
  • You've lost a stone in 6 weeks? That's excellent progress. Best to aim for no more than 3lbs loss per week at first and then as you get closer to your healthy weight, it mightbe as little as 1lb per week. That's a healthy and safe way to go about losing excess weight. If you lose more than a couple of lbs per week, it's likely to be muscle as well as fat, which you really don't want!

    And Cougie's right about the HR thing. Almost everybody runs too fast at first. Slow down! It might seem to you like you're barely moving, but if you can't chat fairly comfortably, you're going too fast. If you slow down to nearly walking pace, so be it. Just make sure it's a brisk bustle and not a stroll, stick at it, and in time you'll get quicker and quicker while still able to chat. The 'chatting pace' thing is much easier if you actually have someone to chat to, so if you can find a running buddy all the better.

    Keep it up and congrats on having done so well already! image

  • Thanks for the advice and help. Will slow it down as at present speed would be lucky if I could dial 999 lol yet alone have a conversation !!!!

    Thanks so much
  • Zack, ti's great that you're running and taking control of your health at thesame time.  RWD is right - you've done brilliantly to lose that weight in so little time and any faster would not be healthy.  It's not uncommon for weight loss to slow right down to  1 lb a week and then leaner you get, the slow the weight loss. Max heart rate zones are practically meaningless. Your maximum heart rate is just that - it doesn't follow a formula.  

    Basically, if you're primarily running for weight control reasons right now, it doesn't matter how fast you run and if you felt that your pulse was too high, you could slow down a bit.  Even jogging at a little above walking pace will still have benefits for you and you will be able to sustain this for longer.

    If you have a garmin or similar, you'll probably find that you spend exactly the same calories running a mile or walking a mile.   In the first case, the intensity is high but the duration shorter, and in the second case, vice versa.

    Thanks for posting and let us know how you're getting on image

  • I'm roughly the weight you were at and my Hr is very high and in usually high. I went to docs and they are happy as its always the same mac no matter what I do. I can chat when jogging yet its high. Don't worry unless you think it's hurting. If you can slow down more see if it helps. You can always get checke by docs if your really worried. I think the fact we are heavier this is the main reason it's high.
  • @ultra cougie is right about the 220-age thing...it's nonesense.

    you will NOT be running at 95% of your max HR ... if you were you would be burning lots of carbs from your muscles and leaving well alone the fat you really want to burn.


    so as the others say run slower at a speed where you can just talk. probably your HR will be at a guess in your 140s...of course there could be a fault with your HRM as well.



    Better 5k, Duathlon and Triathlon
    More: http://the5krunner.com 
    Goals: 82% Age Graded 5k and an open water Triathlon.

  • Zack well done you are doing the right thing to reduce weight - reducing your intake and exercising.

    As you get fitter you will probably find that you control your diet better than someone just on a diet. If you are putting all that effort in to running you won't want to waste it by eating junk. It's a virtuous circle. I'm not going to eat junk then I can run better. I'm running better so I'm not going back to the junk and spoiling what I'm achieving.

    I agree with all the others - slow it down. Go too hard and you are more likely to get injured. Losing the weight will be much harder if you are stuck on the sofa. You are making dramatic changes to your body, make sure you listen to it.

    Good luck and enjoy the journey

  • Well it was 3 weeks ago that i posted my question and thanks to the quick responses and advice it has made a big difference. 

    I have now managed to complete my first 5K albeit by myself image in 31min have now integrated core excercises (Squats, Push Ups, Lift Rises etc) into my routine which tbh for the first week hurt like a ... well you know what i mean.  But overall i am feeling a hell of a lot better.


    Many thanks to everyone for the kind words of encouragement it really makes a big difference. 

  • As you keep making progress Zack, you need to understand that the advice given to a complete newbie to training doesn't work very well for someone who's body has begun to adapt to the training stresses.

    There comes a time when more intense training - where you do find it difficult to say more than a word or two - are quite necessary and a helpful, maybe even enjoyable image part of training.

    So mot of your efforts should be at lower heart rates, where you can talk in long phrases. But sometimes, say once a week at the moment, you may want to lift the intensity of your training for a period, so that you do experience breathlessness. Of course, it's up to you to judge how hard you do that work for and how difficult you make it. We are only faceless people on the Internet and you have no idea what our skill/ experience/ motivation is when we type stuff. You have to manage what you can do.

    Good luck and keep going. In a years time you will feel so much better if you carry on this path image

  • Ok thank for the advice and caution ???? is there any recommended training plans that any one knows of.

    Once again thanks
  • Hi, I have just joined this group so that I can thank you for the comments above, which set my heart and mind at rest.

    I haven't run in a race for about 30 years and hadn't run at all for around 10 years. In that time I snapped a tendon, severly damaged my ligaments, unbeknowingly broke my big toe, dislocated my heel and got arthritis all in the same foot.

    I'm now 63 and I have the desire to run again. I prepared by losing 20kg in weight and doing strength exercises and some long walks and just last week I started working out on a treadmill, which has a built in heart rate monitor, and was pleasantly surprised that I could actually run still. I was concerned because running at just 8-9 kph would send me into the danger zone (over 140 BPM) after just a few minutes. I'm on my own but I'm definitely going to talk to myself and feel confident that I can do so with ease.

    Aside from my foot, which is holding up well, I have no other health worries, so I'm keen to push on.

    David in Japan

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