Advice on running to Heart rate

Just getting in to heart rate training but need advice as to how I monitor it in practice. I have a gramin with everything set up.

If I want to run in a, say, 70-80% MRH zone, what happens if the route is hilly? Clearly my HR is going to rise, and probably above the 80%. So, so I ensure I slow RIGHT down on the hills to prevent this, or do I ignore this and just makesure the flat bit are in the right zone. I'm thinking even walking briskly up a hill might elevate my HR past 80%.


  • Some experts will come along later, I hope (because I'm interested)... but from my reading, I think that technically you should indeed slow RIGHT down.. possibly walking to stay within your target limit.  But many  people say don't be quite so rigid if you want to keep running... run slowly and minimise the amount of time (and by how much) you're over the target limit.

  • A bit of one and a bit of the other, IMO, i.e. when you get to a hill, slow down by shortening your stride but let your HR climb a little for the sake of being able to keep running.  You're not going to negate the overall purpose of the run by going a few beats over for a short time.  On the other hand if the hill is really steep and you get knackered trying to keep running by all means break into a walk.  Same thing applies for going downhill - don't do your knees in desperately trying to keep above a minimum heart rate, just use the hill to keep a sensible pace going whilst getting your breath back from the uphill.  HR might drop by 15-20bpm but will soon level out when you get on the flat.

  • It's average heart rate you are looking for so some changes in elevation don't make a huge difference, unless they are really long ups or downs. If you are going to be really strict on the rates I think you need to be on fairly flat surfaces.  The more you do it though you will develop a feel for heart rate and and how it equates to your various running paces.  I would think the HADD thread will have some real experts on it, worth a read. 

  • Thanks guys. That was my gut feeling -not to obsess too much about it on short hills, and just keep an eye on the aveage.

  • I'd slow the pace a bit running up hill - but not massively. Dont forget that its easier running down - so you should be slightly higher running up to make up for the lower HR on the way down ?
  • TeknikTeknik ✭✭✭

    The big issue for the aerobically challenged is that once your HR spikes up (e.g. by keeping to pace uphill), it takes ages to calm down again - so you could spend large sections of your week at too high a HR / wrong zone / not improving your aerobic base.

    The normal advice from Hadd followers is to avoid the hills until your base is good enough that HR spikes are lower and are short lived.  Failing that, run at the lower end (70% to 75%) and allow yourself hill spikes up to 80% (set the alarm, and slow down to avoid going higher).

  • avoiding hills is not always easy........i wish i couldimage

  • TeknikTeknik ✭✭✭

    serenimage...move to Essex.  I call anything with a 50m ascent "hilly"....shu'aarp...

  • I've read that 70 -80% is the idea aerobic zone and 80-90% the ideal anerobic zone, but is that a % of MHR or WRH?

  • TeknikTeknik ✭✭✭

    For me (we are all individuals...) 70-75%max is ideal aerobic for easy / long runs

    80-83%max is top end aerobic (sub lactate threshold), or "MP".  With training this could be a % or two higher.

    Anything above that, your anaerobic system has kicked in and you're burning large amounts of glycogen.

    Different coaches quote varying zones, but I tend to do nearly everything below 75%max; one 10 miler at 83%max aiming at zero drift (MP); any speed work is above 90%max...but I tend to CBA on that stuff.image

  • I understand the zones, but are the % based on MHR or WRH. If you use the wrong one you could be working in the wrong zone. For examaple, 77% WHR is the eqivivelant of about 82% MHR.

  • TeknikTeknik ✭✭✭
    I was quoting Max...
  • TeknikTeknik ✭✭✭
    ...where "max" = MHR image
  • The zones should be treated as a guide only - we are all unique and the general guidelines you see for heart rate zones out there are just that - general and guidelines.

    If you read anywhere that you must stay at an exact heart rate or an exact heart rate intensity then take that advice with a big grain of salt and modify it based on all the other signs your body is giving you.

    Your aerobic zone might be anywhere from 65-80% , threshold anywhere from 80-95% and VO2 anywhere from 90 -100 %.

    Re running hills , average heart rate isn't the main thing. You could go way over your aerobic zone going uphill and then way under going down but averages out in the zone. What you have effectively done is a tempo session and a long warm down. That's not an aerobic session just because the average is in your aerobic zone .

    Heart rate is to the be all and end all of training intensity , its a guide and should be used as just that unless you have a LOT of experience and are running a flat course.

    So if you want to do an aerobic run , when you get to a hill , if its any more that a very short one slow down , to a walk if you have to because if you don't you aren't training your aerobic system .

    Each run should have a purpose , if the purpose is to develop aerobic fitness then you should stay aerobic .
  • Thanks Andrew -understood.

  • Ive recently started using a heart rate monitor, and have used the book by John L Parker jr.  It clearly states that the ranges are to be stayed within so you must slow down on a hill otherwise you are doing a differnet type of run than you planned ie an aerobic base run.

    To calculate your values you need to know your resting pulse - in the morning is best, and your Max heart rate   .....a short hard interval session on a hill does the trick image.

    So for aerobic base - the bottom end of the toothpaste tube! - you should stay under 70% of the difference.  Example rest pulse 55, Max 183 therefore difference is 128.  70% of 128 is 90.  Add back on your resting pulse gives me a 145bpm recovery or base run.  The theory is to improve the oxygen delivery efficiency or the ability of your muscles to absorb/uptake oxygen [anerobic improves oxygen intake via your CV system]

    I use my HRM range beeper for the recovery/base runs my runkeeper app does the rest for me.

  • PS - running at 70% MHR starts painfully slowly with lots of walking and abject frustration!!  Im led to belive this is temporary and after 4 or so weeks Ill be jogging along at reasonable pace    .....Ill let you know!!

  • If the aerobic zone is generally considered to be 70 -80% MHR, and you run nearer the 70% range for 4 weeks I expect your pace to increase for the same BMP -but then what, do you start running at 80% (still aerobic) for a few more weeks before doing some lactate threshold runs?

  • Im training to 70% MHR which is the base level.  I dont run this all the time but mostly to start with.  I will include intervals and hills and steady/fast pace runs later but still use the base level to have a proper 'easy' day in a easy/hard type training cycle.

  • TeknikTeknik ✭✭✭

    Shoes there are many schools of thought on all this, but I would really advise joining the Hadd thread

    There are a few very experienced guys on there who can guide you through what to do week on week.  Good luckimage

  • Thanks Teknik. Will do

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