Heart Rate Training

I mentioned this on another thread that someone had similar issues on.  I'm doing easy / slow runs, my perceived rate of exertion feels correct ie I can hold a conversation comfortably for the entire duration and my pace is consistent with the ones the VDot app recommends, but my average heart rate sits at about 83.5% ie zone 4, on some steep hills will stray into zone 5.  If I was to try and sit consistently in zone 3 I'd need to be doing lots of walking to bring that heart rate down.  I've estimate my MRH at 185 which is a peak I'd took in some recent hard intervals, I'm 42 male and about 185lb's.

Interestingly enough the intervals I do based on 185 and 10/10 exertion seem to come in around 93% ish average and the threshold intervals I did some were around late 80's.  Question is am I over training on my slow runs?  I thought the max heart rate could be too low but judging by my effort on intervals and threshold I'd say it isn't.


  • I'd look to do a proper max heart rate test, Its not the same as intervals, With intervals you want to be able to repeat them again and again,. THe MHR basically you wont want to repeat.

    Your true MHR is prob higher and everything would fall into place once that's sorted.
  • Think the treadmill on the gym may have a heart rate test on, I've read up on a couple of primitive ones too eg, warm up ten mins, run 400M at a quick pace but not max effort and then 400M all out but on the last 100M look for the highest spike in heart rate.

  • Have you got an evil friend to shout at you and goad you on ?
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭

    Or a tiger to chase you?image


  • On a treadmill? Blimey -you could end up flying off the back of it !image

  • I like the treadmill as can't cheat on the pace lol! I'm evil myself so can shout and goad myself on image

  • Sol2Sol2 ✭✭✭
    You do need a real world max test. This will not be easy. Usually people can't push themselves hard enough to get there. That said, I don't think you should be doing it on a treadmill. That would be dangerous. Try 5 hill repeats, each about 2-3 minutes. After a solid warm up, run the first rep easy, jog down but not slowly, then increase the effort level of each, so the 4th will leave you almost staggering at the top - then do another rep harder! You'll see your max there.

    After you have your max, you have work to do. I suspect that your aerobic system is not well trained. Tell me, over the course of an hour-long easy run, does your HR rise?

    But the fix is easy. Lots of miles. All easy. And longer is better. Start at 80%MHR. You should see your pace at 80% increase in a few weeks. Then drop all your runs to 75% for several weeks. Until you can run comfortably at 70% without rising heart rate. Probably faster than you are running now at 80.

    What this does, is increase mitochondria and capillaries in the muscles. This is vital to allow the working muscles to grab the oxygen out of the blood. You will not be getting these benefits running too fast. It will take some time, but it's worth it.
  • Hi Sol, I'm fairly new to running so not too fit really, my 5k pb is 28 mins and 10K 63 mins although I ran these 5 months ago and am confident I could knock a few mins off both.  I'm doing the GNR in September and have a pipe dream of a sub 2 hour time!

    I'm trying to find a way of screen shotting my heart rate screen but can't.  Basically there's a datum line on the Garmin Connect IQ heart rate screen and up to about 30 mins my heart rate is all below the line, the next twenty minutes are really hilly and then it shoots right up the graph in spurts for about twenty mins above that line and then for the last 45 mins it comes back down but stays above the datum.

    I only run three times a week, normally do a long slow one, then some threshold intervals and then some fast intervals, should I drop one of the other sessions for another slow run and maybe to the threshold / interval as alternate weeks?

  • Sol2Sol2 ✭✭✭
    If you're new, you won't get much out of a HR max test. Your legs and lungs will max out long before your heart does! Or, you could still do the test, but add 5 beats to the max you see on it. Reevaluate in a few months.

    Don't worry about your times. With time and the right training, they'll tumble. Now, to do it properly will take patience. Are you willing?

    There are very fast gains to be made running fast intervals. Acompanied by fatigue and high risk of injury, followed by a plateau.

    Long term, however, there are much greater gains made just running easy. Run as easy as you can and increase your mileage weekly 10% no more than 15%, cutting back every 4th week or so, consolidating your gains. Your long runs should not be more than 30% of your weekly mileage. Until you can run comfortably at 70%, any faster running will delay your progress. So tempos are not necessary and intervals can be harmful to the aerobic process. Just always ensure that you can comfortably chat with a running buddy. Don't worry - your pace will still improve like this.

    Even a 5k is more than 90% aerobic, with longer distances being more so. So it makes sense to first train the aerobic system. Then the LT. 3-4 weeks out from a race switch to intervals for more anaerobic speed.
  • Great advice from Sol2.

    Running slow is very difficult for many runners because it doesn't stroke their ego like fast running does. Plus the 'no pain, no gain' mantra is still believed by many.

  • Thanks Shoes that's a great article and great advice Sol.  I ran six mile today and managed to keep the heart rate at 75-80% (it did go up to 84% on some hills) (based on my estimated max rate of 190 bpm which was some really hard intervals where my hr spiked at 185 so have added 5 to get 190bpm), but it was at a pace of 13:45 per mile and it just felt so slow, and I'm ashamed to say wrong.  When I finished I wasn't out of breath and it felt really odd, guess this shows I've been over training for the last six months.  Interestingly every run since I've had the Garmin has shown training effect of 5 which is basically over training, today was 3.6 which according to their ratings is Improves Aerobic Fitness so a good sign.

    Sol what I don't understand is that the long easy runs should constitute 30% of weekly mileage, what should the other 70% actually be.  The article shared by Shoes talks of 80% of mileage at easy pace?

    I'm going to give this a good go, it ties in with some Jack Daniels videos I watched to a degree.


  • Should mention that I'm doing the GNR in September and have a pipe dream of doing sub 2 hours!

  • Sol2Sol2 ✭✭✭
    To estimate a max of 190 sounds reasonable until you have more concrete data to work from.

    The reason I suggested that you run at 80%, is because I suspected that 75% would feel way to slow. It would be normal, after a while of doing dead slow runs, to feel like you're not getting anywhere, there's no way you can be gaining any benefit, etc. Besides, it's kinda demoralising!

    Of course the garmin will give you a TE of 5. Does it give you an estimated recovery time? It'll probably tell you 48 hours or such. That's because it's going off your objective effort level - ie heart rate.

    All of your runs at this stage should be easy. That's 100%. The weekly long run should be not longer than 30% of weekly mileage. A mid-week medium long run is also highly beneficial. Don't worry about the hills too much. Let the HR rise on the hills, but bring it back down on the downhill and flats.

    Another thing. For now, you might feel better measuring your runs by time, rather than miles. Watch the heart rate, not pace.

    I know you have a dream of sub 2 on the GNR. It is highly possible that you could even do much better than that. Just keep at it. Doing the miles will bring the smiles!
  • Cheers, great advice (and btw even 80% feels too slow lol but I realise now have been running too quickly), I'm going to roll with this and see where it goes.  Think I will go by time and hr for the foreseeable future and from what you're saying eventually the pace for that hr will eventually go up, I run on my own so today used singing to check my exertion levels!  I'm guessing that I'm looking to simply get miles in the tank at an easy pace at present, so if I target 30 miles per week my longest run should be 9 miles, I can make up the others as 3 x 7's?  I am pushed for time at the minute with circumstances so guessing any run is a good run?

    Yes the Garmin gives recovery time, previous runs had been TE of 5's and 72 hours recovery, today's 3.6 was 24 hours so am guessing another good pointer.

    What sort of mileage per week should I be doing and how long before the GNR should I start doing the speed work?

    PS I now realise the Threshold training I'd been doing was too fast!

  • Sol2Sol2 ✭✭✭
    You've already decided to go with time and HR, so you don't need to worry about weekly mileage. How much time do you currently invest in your training? Start there, adding 10-15% every week, cutting back every 4th. It's best not to have all the weekday runs the same length - better to mix them up.

    My advice is not really mine. I take it from the training advice of John Hadd, who died a few years ago. I'll send you some quotes.

    "You should understand that you are trying to do a number of things:

    1 Get as much oxygen out of your lungs and into the blood where it binds to as many hemoglobin molecules as you can create.

    2. Pump that blood as fast as possible, in as huge quantities as possible,

    3. to as many muscle fibres as you can reach and get that oxygen into the fibres where it can be used to create energy without lactic acid buildup.

    It might help to think of it like this:

    The oxygen is the product to be delivered.

    The hemoglobin is the fleet of delivery trucks.

    The capillaries surrounding the muscles are the road network.

    Every one is vital for the system to work to its fullest.

    As I explained above, a form of training that works one part of the body (the heart), is not also the best system to work another part of the system (the legs).

    The base building you need is to create part 3. the network of capillaries. You need to create so many that every single muscle fibre becomes wrapped in them like vines round a tree. The more there are round a fibre, the more time there will be for the oxygen to transfer over into the muscle cell. The more that fibre can be used without lactic acid buildup and without tiring.

    And long aerobic running is the best way to do this. But note this, your body only recruits enough fibres to develop the power needed to run at the pace you are doing. Some fibres in the muscle are working flat out, while others are totally relaxed. If you want to train enough fibres, then you must go far enough that the first fibres become fuel exhausted, causing your body to rest them and recruit the next set of fibres, then the next...

    As each fibre becomes fuel exhausted, it is stimulated to adapt itself so that it can do the same job BETTER next time (maybe store more fuel to last longer before exhaustion, maybe increase its enzymes to provide more energy at a faster rate...)

    So, as should be obvious, one long run is better than two short ones. It is not enough to run 70mpw if it is made up of 2 x 5 miles every day. Much better to have 3 longer runs of 90 mins, with some shorter work (like runs of 60 mins) in the days in between.

    Another reason for so doing (as the Japanese show us) is that our bodies will not recruit the thicker / stronger fibres until the thinner ones are exhausted... so the long runs are really necessary to get to the thicker (more powerful and usually more anaerobic) fibres. But the pace can be as slow as you want. Even 8 mins/mile is okay, just go further and further. (Note here that Paula's 3000m time improved this year after she moved up to marathon-type training)

    So, run as many miles as you can at approx 1-mile pace plus 2:30-3.00 mins per mile (ie: if 1-mile pace is 4.30, run easy at 7.00-7.30mins/mile).

    Don?t be worrying that you are training slow, yet want to race fast, your body is smart enough to recruit as many of these well-trained aerobic fibres as it needs to generate any running pace required. (Imagine lots of little dudes getting together on a tug-of-war rope; get enough of them at the same time and you can generate substantial power.)

    Now this won?t happen overnight, so your decision to devote only November to this is not long enough. Aim for 8-10 weeks (or as long as poss), and don?t forget to run some of these in the hills. Don?t run t
  • Sol2Sol2 ✭✭✭
    The quote continues:

    Don?t run them hard, but lifting the knees to go uphill will recruit fibres not normally used in running on the flat and come in handy on raceday. Also run offroad if possible, just always easy, able to hold a 90 minute conversation with a running partner.

    In time, a 90 min run will seem "short", and you will know your aerobic system is improving.

    Running once or twice per week (within a 60 min run) at 1-mile pace plus 2.00 mins mile (ie: 6.30 pace for a 4.30 miler) for say 3 x 15 mins with a short jog in between is also good after the first 3-4 weeks. Just always be careful, as I explained above. Do not be impatient, you cannot rush this and it is too easy to do this too fast and achieve very little in the way of development

    Read more: http://www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?thread=42240#ixzz4VXqueC7N

    In the same thread he was asked a question by Mike (similar to your situation) :


    I think you might have some good advice for me. I have been running for 2 years and am now a sophmore in college. I have run 16:19 and 34:19 for 5k and 10k, but I have a strange situation with my heart rate on distance runs. When I run at any pace faster than 8:00-8:30 minutes a mile, my heartrate is well over 160 and often times skies into the 180's.

    I have decided to take your advice and build up my aerobic conditioning. But, this means than all of my running, at least for a while, will be over 8 minutes a mile. I'm not quite sure why my heart rate is so high on easy runs, probably beacause I always ran my distance too hard and was always into my lactate threshold.

    When I am running at 155 now, I am basically walking/shuffling and breathing as if I am walking. I realize improvig this will come with patience and I am willing to give it a shot. averaged 70 miles a week last year, but I now see that most/all of it was way too hard for my current level. If you have any advice, I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

    Read more: http://www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?thread=42240&page=1#ixzz4VXwl36Mc

    The reply:

    Hi Mike,

    Those are good PR's after two years' training.

    You sound like you have a very high HRmax (say, 195+), not unusual in a teenager. In your case it is not necessary to begin at 155HR since this is so slow.

    For now just begin at a STEADY 160 HR, but watch the pace, because it might increase quite quickly at the same HR. (meaning it might move from 8.00m/m to 7.45 to 7.30 all at 160HR in a few short weeks or a month or two).

    If you find that this is happening, drop the "easy" HR to just running at 155, and continue to get the miles in. (The pace at 155 HR will continue to improve)

    If you start at 160 HR, then it is okay to run twice per week at 170 HR. Something like 60 mins steady 170 on a Tues and 2 x 30-40 mins at 170 on a Fri.

    Once the pace at 155 becomes more reasonable (sub-8.00m/m) then drop the easy training HR to 150-155 and the steady 170 runs to 160-165 and continue. You should feel the miles becoming easier very quickly.

    Read more: http://www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?thread=42240&page=1#ixzz4VXxkFu39
  • HR training aside - the GNR isn't a great race to target for a time. It's very very busy.
  • Sol2Sol2 ✭✭✭
    That's a good point, Cougie. Might be a good idea to find a smaller local race. There are lots of races everywhere and there's no rush. You could be improving for years.

    Here's a link to a Hadd document for more information if you're interested.


  • I don't train too much at present, say 2 x 1 hour sessions and then a 30 minute one, I've a busy job and wife and 2 kids! Great info though and I'm starting to understand why / how it works. I've listened to a podcast by Matt Fitzgerald and a video, gonna keep running times at heart rate for a month and then check the pace and see if there's improvement and then do another four weeks and check again
  • Sol, just getting back to this mate and a question for you, looking at the quote below, the pace I'm getting from around 80% MHR is way slower than my one mile pace plus 2.30 - 3.00 per mile? It's more like more than 5.00 per mile!  Let me check though what a 1 mile pace is (silly question I know) but I assume it's basically the fastest time one can run a mile in?

    So, run as many miles as you can at approx 1-mile pace plus 2:30-3.00 mins per mile (ie: if 1-mile pace is 4.30, run easy at 7.00-7.30mins/mile).
  • Sol2Sol2 ✭✭✭
    Yea, mile pace is your current fastest one mile pace. Or you could use current 5k pace + 2:30-3:00.

    A great thing you could do to monitor your progress is the test that Hadd recommends. This measures your pace vs different HRs and you keep tracking it every 6 weeks or so.

    Here's a quote from the Document. It'll make a good read!


    I have long used a protocol that consists of repeat runs over 2400m at slowly increasing intensities.

    Go to a track on a windless day, as rested as if for a race, and do the following:

    Run 2400m at a steady 140 HR (Stop 90 secs and record time)

    Run 2400m at a steady 150 HR (Stop 90 secs and record time)

    Run 2400m at a steady 160 HR (Stop 90 secs and record time)

    Run 2400m at a steady 170 HR (Stop 90 secs and record time)

    Run 2400m at a steady 180 HR (Stop 90 secs and record time)

    At all times, adjust the running pace to maintain a stable HR. On each new stage slowly edge the HR up (ie: it is ok if the HR takes the first 600-800m to reach target level), then simply maintain HR. DO NOT start fast and have to slow to maintain target HR.

    And then later, (page 23):

    2. Perform a 2400m test on yourself (from easy training pace to a max of 5bpm higher than your particular HRmarathon- see below).. Once again ensuring you are fit, fresh, rested as if for an important race and all possible variables (wind, etc) are controlled as much as possible. Since you are going to conduct this 2400m test again and again, you must try and ensure that, as much as possible, all tests are done under near identical conditions (or else you start wondering such thoughts as, "am I faster because it was less windy this time?"). Do all you can to control against such doubts having to occur (ie: don't test in gale force winds).

    There's a Hadd thread on this forum - feel free to pop in!
  • Ok cheers, I've been looking at that thread and some of the other information too, it's really intriguing.  Some things are a little puzzling thought, the other week I ran for about 90 mins at about 82% of MRH (before I'd put this thread up) and pace was 3 minutes slower than 5k one, last week I ran for 80 minutes at 77% but pace was slower by 4.39 per minute (than 5k pace).  I'm guessing best advice is to keep focusing on running at 80% until HR tends to be very consistent and then cut back to around 70%?

  • Iprice1974

    I'm having a similar puzzling thoughts with my own stats. My sub 80% runs are SO slow. Been looking into tweaking up my MHR, which helps a little

  • I've wondered about my MHR too, think I'm just going to try and stick to 80% and hopefully might start to see bit more consistency with the variations in HR during training.

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