Heart Rate - Percentage or Limits

HI Everyone,

I am on week 3 of the C25K and I am trying to follow the program as closely as possible.  At 46yo, 95Kg for 1,76 I have a "solid" build for which a few Kilos less would do me the world of good... I stopped smoking and gained 12 Kilos in less than 1 year,  my goal is to return to approx 83 Kilos.

My question : I have followed the advice to determine my MHR, RHR and HRR( karvonen Method).      171, 60, 111.  ( The 171 was calculated after running uphill, the Karvonen method game me 174 which is very close)...

I know the I should be working in the 65% to 80% range which should keep me in the Aerobic range.

My question is as follows .  Should I remain strictly within the range when running or is some excess allowed?  I live in a hilly region and it is almost impossible to remain under the 80% when running uphill.  

Is the importance to remain strictly within the limits during the run or to finish with an average that lies between the limits over the whole run ?

It is not unusual for me to be above 90% on the uphill sections and to finish the run with  a 75% average.

Cheers Roy




  • Personally I think this is quite ok especially if the terrain is unhelpful. But its been discussed quite a few times before and some advocate throttling right back on hills to stay within your prescribed range.

  • Roy, great that you're being so scientific, but it can be a bit of a pain, too.

    You are right in that I would not take your max heart rate from the Karvonen formula.  Your max heart rate is your max heart rate and cannot be determined by any formula.  As this is such a crucial measure in your calculations, you are better of discovering what it really is and plugging that figure in instead - and you've done that, so good.

    To answer your question, you are better off moderating your speed on these hills to remain within the relevant zone.  90% is way too high, approaching a competition level of performance, and is not relevant to the zone training that you are doing. Even 65% is fine.  You will be able to do this for longer and also, your recovery will be shorter after the effort, leaving you fresher for the next session. 


  • Hi Roy, newbie here as well and I began trying to stay within the 'Zones' but found myself walking almost as much as running (I also live in what I'd call a hilly area). I perservered for a while and can now jog to the top of most 'hills' without my HR going too high and will recover with a brisk walk at the top now rather than on the way up. 

    I'm hoping that in the next month or so I'll be able to run continously with slower jogs up the hills and do think limiting my HR has helped with overall stamina and most definately with recovery although I'm still a long way from running a 10k without stopping.

  • I have been working at 70% for recovery run based on the Karvonen (141bpm for me) and to start with I was having to slow down to a walk quite often to get my rate back down. Now 3 weeks down the line I can keep to this pace and am running almost all the time. Bit by bit your heart gets better and you get faster. Before using a HRM I was probably running up in the 80%'s so my recovery run was not really a recovery run at all. 

    I live in the Cairngorms so we have plenty of hills and I accept around 145-150 bpm on a recovery run. Any higher and I start walking knowing that before long I will be able to run them more. Alternatively I make the hillier days my harder days when I am aiming to be around 85-90%

  • Thanks Folks,

    I did not want to drop back to a walk but now I realise that there are several of you who have been through the same situation.  I am surpised to learn just how challenging it can be to remain with the correct zones..

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