Heart Rate here we go again!

Sorry to raise this again, it seems so many people ask the same questions so forgive me.

I understand the basic idea of RHR and MHR I think, and at my age the basic calculation works out at 157. (I'm 63)

Now I appreciate that it is much better to work out my real MHR except when i look at the websites talking about stress tests they seem to be full of dire warnings for those who are a little older. I have been running on a tread mill and can easily go over 140 (measured with a belt)  which the machine doesn't like but I feel fine. I can keep running in the 140-150 range.

Can I assume that my MHR is higher than my average? Am I doing myself any harm if I let my heart stay at this?

Any observations would be welcome.


  • My heartrate is always much higher than it apparently should be and I'm 22. I'm no expert but I imagine it will get lower the fitter you become.

  • How did you work out your max heart rate?

    You are not dead yet so things can't be that bad.
  • I haven't monitored it recently since I started road running but when I used to use the treadmill there was a chart which showed the average for your age and height. Definitely still alive so I think it's OK! 

  • As it says, it's an average. So it's not really telling you that much.
  • Thanks for the responses.

    I calculated the MHR with the simple formula 220 minus age.

    But as I said reading about a stress test seemed to give all kinds of warnings that it isn't something I should do lightly.

    I think my basic questions are:

    Is their a simpler way I can assess my MHR rather than the general value for my age?

    Am I safe in thinking that if I can still run comfortably with a higher HR than I  theoretically should is it OK?

  • The only way to find your MHR is by doing a stress test. Which as you say you're not comfortable doing. 

    You could do an improvised stress test over several weeks. Each time you go out warm up and do a few miles finishing with a hard sprint. Each time make the sprint harder. 

    Your calculated max is fairly meaningless. It's very individual.

    I've settled on a figure obtained from a few 10k and half marathon finishing sprints over a few years. 

  • Phil find a hill run up and down it a couple of times as hard as you can with your HRM if you feel shit stop! If not see what it says at the end. If you feel you can go harder then do it again.

    It's not perfect but if it's nice n high then it will give you a ballpark
  • Phil

    Here's a link to other ways of calculating your MHR - but to be honest they all come out more or less the same.

    Here's another link to training zones (at eh bottom of the page)

    Also remember most training zones are based on + or - 10%, so if your calculated HR is a little out, it makes little difference.

    Your average HR may a little high, but its not that bad. If you figure out what 60% (zone 2) rate is and stay in that- rather than worrying about speed - you'll find after a few weeks/months your speed will have picked up but your HR will remain in Zone 2.

    Good luck

  • Thanks for the advice.

    I'm still here!

  • Your max heart rate as per formula is 157. I'm guessing that to hit that you are going flat out. My question is, why would you want to.

    According to the formula, mine is 170. I did a test and the max i could hit was 168, but i was at the absolute maximum effort for a few seconds, totally gasping for air. In hindsight i'm not sure it was a good idea. When i run it's anywhere between 140 and the low 150's. If i head towards 160, i slow down a bit.

    In short, i'm saying keep an eye on your heart rate, but listen to your body. You know what an easy run is, and what a hard run is. There's no need to go near your MHR, and i also think its not a good idea.

    Andrew Marr, the BBC bloke recently had a stroke. He was trying that fad which was based around short bursts of very high intensity workouts.

  • Paul. The calculated is a guide and is practically useless. Marr did something which he admits was stupid, went for a spin class having done no exercise in the last 15years. 

    I'm 44 my calculated max is 176, this is my avarage 5K HR! I've peaked at 190. 

    Take it easy for a year gradually pushing then do a test. Early in your training your lungs and legs will run out well before you hit max HR. 

    A 48 year old guy at work went for a spin class two weeks ago. He 'died' 4 times in the ambulance and had a 1% chance of survival. Lucky chap. Or silly/unlucky depending on how you look at it. 

  • No. I'm not going flat out with a heart rate at 150. So if my body is not objecting is this OK to stick 140 -150?


  • Yes. It's fine. The only reason to do a max test is if you want to use your HRM as an effective training aid. Without knowing your own personal max the readings you're getting are meaningless at the moment. Although you will see yourself getting faster for the same HR as you get fitter over time. 

  • Thanks guys for this information.

    Is it a matter of weeks or months or years before seeing any appreciable improvement?

  • Probably a few months. More likely you'll start to notice your times drop but your heart rate staying the same. All sorts of factors affect your heart rate from how much coffee you've drunk, how much sleep you've had, whether you have an illness, whether its hot or cold outside, how much training you've done recently. 

    What HRM do you have? Can you download the data to a program along with other GPS type data?

  • Rather than pushing yourself to a point of stress why not try to work out zones, i.e. perceived rate of exertion, so 5 out of 10, 6 out of 10 etc.  I guess most of us run normal general aerobic runs at between 6 & 7, tempo at about 8, VO2 stuff above 9.  Best on a treadmill as it gets rid of the variables, different inclines, surfaces, wind etc.

  • This is all great and reassuring.


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