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# A "new" way to track fitness?

Hi all,

A lot of the running I do is at a low level of intensity - by which I mean about 20 bpm below my lactate threshold.  Obviously my average HR over a run can vary a bit (usually around 3 bpm either side of my target HR) and that will affect my speed.  That can make it difficult to get a sense of where you are with regards your overall fitness without doing a tempo run or something (which is tricky where I run due to the number of tourists etc.).

I was pondering whether there was some way to correlate your HR and pace to come up with some sort of measure that could be used whether you were doing a tempo run or long slow run or whatever.

I've got some data going back 3 years or so and have worked out that average HR x pace (minutes per mile) gives a number that can be used to compare runs.

Here's a couple of examples....

28th Feb - did 5.8 miles, at 7.48 a mile, average HR = 127 = 68.79

4th Mar - did 7.3m, at 7.52 a mile, average HR = 123 = 67.19

I'm not that fit at the moment...so when I look back to when I was in better shape...

5.98 miles, at 6.37 a mile, average HR 140 = 64.33

So I know that for me, as the multiple gets down towards 60 I'm getting fitter....and it also means that I can predict to a certain extent what HR I will need for a certain pace or vice versa.....

Probably hopelessly flawed as a theory but worth a try...

James

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Elstead -- I think the fact that you have 3 years worth of data is a little bit nerdy; however, I must confess to be quite impressed by your diligence... Without wishing do disrespect your theory I'd have thought that it would be well known whether or not an increase in fitness would lead to a decrease in average HR during running... Although that's not to say that's the way people are typically tracking it.
• ✭✭✭

James, I use this very method, except I monitor "heart beats per mile", mainly because if you use the training log on fetcheveryone it works it out for you.  I find it correlates very well with fitness level and corresponds well with race performance, e.g. lowest beats per mile I've recorded was for an easy run a few days before my current 5k PB.

A couple of caveats I've noticed when comparing across runs:
- I tend to take notice only of minimum distance runs (7 miles is a typical distance for an easy run) because if the run is short, your HR is still climbing for a larger proportion of it
- HR/pace relationship (in my personal experience) is not linear, so bpm tends to be a bit higher for, e.g. tempo runs than for easy runs.

So, the short answer is - yes, it has been done before, and I find it pretty useful!

• Elstead runner wrote (see)

Hi all,

A lot of the running I do is at a low level of intensity - by which I mean about 20 bpm below my lactate threshold.  Obviously my average HR over a run can vary a bit (usually around 3 bpm either side of my target HR) and that will affect my speed.  That can make it difficult to get a sense of where you are with regards your overall fitness without doing a tempo run or something (which is tricky where I run due to the number of tourists etc.).

I was pondering whether there was some way to correlate your HR and pace to come up with some sort of measure that could be used whether you were doing a tempo run or long slow run or whatever.

I've got some data going back 3 years or so and have worked out that average HR x pace (minutes per mile) gives a number that can be used to compare runs.

Here's a couple of examples....

28th Feb - did 5.8 miles, at 7.48 a mile, average HR = 127 = 68.79

4th Mar - did 7.3m, at 7.52 a mile, average HR = 123 = 67.19

I'm not that fit at the moment...so when I look back to when I was in better shape...

5.98 miles, at 6.37 a mile, average HR 140 = 64.33

So I know that for me, as the multiple gets down towards 60 I'm getting fitter....and it also means that I can predict to a certain extent what HR I will need for a certain pace or vice versa.....

Probably hopelessly flawed as a theory but worth a try...

James

You might be far fitter than you think. An average HR over near 6 miles at 6:37 pace being only 140BPM is very impressive.

I wonder how fast you'd run a 10K.......

• Jamie,

My HR is low. Resting HR 43bpm, peak HR is 164. Lactate threshold is about 142-144. Must have a big heart or something.

So that 6.37 wasn't far short of my max pace for a 10k at that time.

One of those weird things. It's always been like that.

James
• Elstead runner wrote (see)
Jamie,

My HR is low. Resting HR 43bpm, peak HR is 164. Lactate threshold is about 142-144. Must have a big heart or something.

So that 6.37 wasn't far short of my max pace for a 10k at that time.

One of those weird things. It's always been like that.
James

Heavens! We really are all different. Makes a mockery of the 220-age rule for max heartrate!

• ✭✭✭

I've used these HR monitors on and off for over 20 years.

Can be difficult to pin down the data in relation to performance due to all the variables involved.

What I've discovered may help older runners in distance races such as 10k's.

Here goes.

When young (say up 30 years of age) I found the peak heart rate is higher. This is well known. What is less known is how quickly the heart can reach those higher rates.

The heart is a pump and the faster it pumps the quicker the oxygen can reach the vital parts. If it pumps slower, then less oxygen supplied at any given moment.

So in a race, a fast HR is good. But when a race starts, your HR is low, not high so there's a time lag until the heart gets up to speed. During this time your body is experiencing some level of oxygen debt.

The younger you are the quicker your heart can accelerate. Maybe less than one minute.

I'm in my 50's and it takes a full 5 minutes of controlled running to get the HR up to race level. All of that time I'm risking oxygen debt if I try to get ambitious.

Just one reason why older runners cannot handle a fast start.

If anyone wonders why birds don't get out of breath its because they raise their HR to max before taking off. Canada Goose HR at rest 70bpm. Just before take off they raise it to 420bpm.

• It's all relative isn't it? I'd just interpret that as "you're not as fit fit as you used to be, because you're old".