running at a high HR for extended periods

I have been running seriously for about 6 years now and have done 10 HM races. My age is 54 and my max HR is about 175 and RHR sits as low as 32 when I am relaxed. I tend to run 75% of the time at an aerobic pace with HR in the 130 - 135 range. Once a week I go with a younger colleague and its more high intensity. between 5 - 9 mile runs usually at a much quicker pace than my more relaxed runs, but you need some high intensity right? 

Last night we did a 5 miler and I averaged sub 8 min miles (good for me) but HR was averaging 159 over the whole run and peaking out at 175. I am training for a HM in spring and would love to be able to average sub 8 min miles but am worried that doing 13.1 miles at this sort of pace could be to much. Is it?

I have done HMs as I said but its only recently that I have had the luxury of being able to monitor HR regularly.


    James - if your HR peaked at 175 on your fast 5 miler then your MHR is probably a fair bit higher than 175.   If you reached your MHR in training you would feel like throwing up/or almost in need of oxygen.

    But there's no reason that with training you could improve on your HM PB.  Lots of slow aerobic training runs and some faster work too.  You don't say what your weekly mileage is, you may need to increase that to improve your endurance. 
  • thanks, weekly mileage is about 20, done nearly 1000 miles this year so far. I tried to gauge MHR by running all out up a well known killer hill and felt like you described and my HR was showing 176.
    james - your weekly mileage is quite low if you want to improve your half marathon time.   Maybe start to increase your mileage gradually and that will improve your ability to hold pace over longer distances.
  • time is a factor and given weather and available light, winter running time is sometimes limited. During summer months my average was about 35. How many miles per week would you suggest and how far should my runs be?
    james - I don't know by how much you are planning to improve your half marathon PB, maybe find yourself a training plan for a half that fits in with the rest of your life, work/family etc.
  • best I've ever done is 1:51 and I would be really pleased to get in the 1:40's even if its 1:49:59 kind of a bucket list thing I guess. As you say training plan. I was just worried about over doing it. Those 2 poor lads in their 20'2 and 30's in Cardiff kinda made me think a bit more.
    james - I don't think the fatalities at Cardiff were due to overtraining, more likely to be a heart condition that they were unaware of.

    And if you train properly then you train your heart too and you are more likely to reach your goal time without any distress.

    I just put on the RW race calculator your 5 mile run, with a time of 39 minutes and it forecasts that you could do a half in 1:48, so that's a very achievable target for you.

  • thanks will try it
  • GobiGobi ✭✭✭
    James - I'm 48 and just raced for about 40 mins with my average at 172 for the last 12 mins peaking at 179. 

    If your are healthy as said train and enjoy.
  • Thanks, I have been motivated to up my weekly mileage now. Just been out for a steadyish 9 miler and achieved an average speed of 8:58 without really ntrying so with some tweaks and not being afraid of extended high HR sections I can begin to think about the Anglesey half in March.
    James - that's great, now you have the confidence and goal you'll make great progress.  As your training progresses you'll find that you can run faster at the same HR, therefore with less effort.   Make sure that 80% of your training is at easy or long run pace, that's what builds the endurance.
  • just tried something. weather awful just now but I have a decent treadmill which I use often in my garage. 5 miles at a pace quicker than any outside run I have done with a small incline to compensate. To my surprise I managed 5 miles in 37 minutes, no HRM on my wrist, I just carried on as long as I felt ok. Breathing was not out of control so I figure that means my heart is not overworking. 
    James - I wish you would stop worrying about your heart 'overworking'.   Our bodies won't let our hearts do that, we run out of puff/energy and slow down.   Where have you got this idea of overworking a heart from?

    I didn't realise you had a wrist sensor HRM, they are not as accurate as a chest strap and you will get random readings.  They are accurate at rest but not during exercise.

    That's a good run on the treadmill, you can certainly get that HM PB next year 
  • I guess I picked up the wrong idea. My brother keeps on at me saying I'm pushing too hard and telling me things like "I'm not coming to your funeral" As he is older than me I assumed he was right I suppose. The forerunner HRM is quite good but as you say it can be random at times. When you look at the trace over a run its easy to see where it goes wrong, big spikes where theres no hills for instance. Did an 8 miler with an old work mate who is younger than me today, I did say we'd take it easy but ended up averaging 8.20/m and we were chatting as we ran so I think positive things are happening. Thanks for all the help and reassurances.
    James - if you are still  worried then you could always ask your doctor's advice re a medical or ECG.   I take it your brother is not a runner.

    Enjoy your running, you're doing really well.
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