Heart rate zones (argh!)

The gyms are closed and I've recently picked up running again; while I'm only really interested in 5k distances, I've started including a long slow run of 10k at the weekend.  Heart rate zones are apparently the thing to watch for this, as you don't get the same aerobic benefits if you go too hard.

But I'm really struggling to keep my heart rate low on the long runs, regardless of pace - it just keeps gradually creeping up!  Last week I did some testing for later comparison:

1mile at 7:03mM with a peak HR of 165 (max effort).
3k at 7:18 pace with a peak of 166 (max effort).
10k at 8:48 pace with a peak of 185 (regular run).

Here's today's 10k where I just left my Garmin on the zone screen and kept reducing my pace as the HR went up.  It made little to no difference!  For the last half mile or so I consciously tried to relax my chest and other muscles, which seemed to drop it 20bpm immediately - I don't know if that was the Garmin getting it wrong.

Is it normal for longer runs to have a slow relenting increase in heart rate regardless of exertion?  I wasn't remotely tired or worn out.


    It's called cardiac drift and means your aerobic fitness is poor or you're running too fast.

    But I assume you're using a chest strap.   Wrist monitors are only reliable at rest, so when you're not moving.  Data from wrist monitors is unreliable and is no use to you if you want decent stats.  If you want to train properly using your HRM you will need to get a chest strap.
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    Thanks Shades :). Now I know what is called!

    I'd considered my fitness to be really decent, but hey ho. I've ordered a chest strap and I'll maybe take a small bottle of water with me for the longer slow runs.

    I'll keep an eye on it and see if it improves.
    edited April 2020
    Grenage - the stats that some runners have had using a wrist sensor has sent a few to seek medical advice as the figures scared them.  Turned out to be rogue data.

    You should get a pleasant surprise when you use the chest strap and get some useful data.
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    I look forward to something more reliable :). Thankfully I recently had my heart checked to rule something else out.

    I guess I'd probably have collapsed in last year's marathon if there was a real issue.
  • YnnecYnnec ✭✭✭
    Entirely with Shades on the inaccuracy of wrist based HRMs.

    This is good for calculating running heart rate zones when you're sorted:


    Just toggle to Heart Rate Reserve and enter you Maximum Heart Rate and Resting Heart Rate. 
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    Thanks Ynnec, I'll give it a whirl. I eagerly await the sensor's arrival.
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Definitely the chest strap will help, Grenage. Don't get too worried about the initial results to stay within the zone. When I first tried HRZ training I was having to go so slowly to stay within the zone I was being overtaken by old women on zimmer frames. It was very frustrating to begin with, but enormously satisfying to see the improvement after sticking with it.
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    Cheers Guarddog :) Yes it was very frustrating when my pace was 7mK and the rate wasn't going down (then dropped 20 points when home was in sight)
  • I'm quite interested in this too (not looking to hijack yor thread mind!), as I dug out my old polar HRM and was out on a 10k trail run the other day (I only remembered to press it again to start recording the workout 15 mins in ha) but it recorded an average HR @94% of my max (176bpm) for 41mins.

    I am 33, so max 'should' be 187, and on that run it recorded a max of 186 on a particularly steep hill that I sprinted as fast as possible, but aside from that it didn't feel like a particularly strenuous run.

    Everything I'm reading about zones is saying I absolutely shouldn't be able to sustain 90-100% HR for more than a couple of minutes but I'm literally staying in that zone the whole run! So is it a case of poor health (I'm at my heaviest right now at 92kg) or is this just a quirk?

    I'm purchasing a new polar H10 chest strap so I can pair it with phone apps and track HR and have more info than just average & max, but what HR does at various paces and elevation changes and might post a new thread to track this with different faster runs etc.
    thecleanerleon - max heart rate calculators don't work for a lot of folk.  Obviously your max is a lot higher than 187.  

    What you need to do is do a max heart rate test, not pleasant but only needs to be done once and while you are at your heaviest and not at your fittest this is the time that it's easier to get near your max in a test.  

    If you don't throw up at the end of the test then add another 5bpm to the highest recording during the test, you will then have an accurate max figure and you can calculate your heart training zones from that.

    you can google how to do a max test.  

  • NWCBNWCB ✭✭✭
    Hi Shades... sorry to hijack the thread, but would you recommend doing this test shortly after recovering from an injury?

    I don't want to injure myself again by doing the max HR test, but also feel that i need to know my max HR to train effectively in future.
    NWCB - it's a bit risky to try the test if you've just recovered from the injury.   It depends what the injury was.   

    One of the commonest methods of the max test is hill reps so the effort is in the uphill, steepest hill you can find so it's possible to do that without getting injured again as what you're putting to the test is your heart and lungs.   But as I said does depend on what your injury was.

    You're right, to train effectively with an HRM you do need to know your MHR.  I train using Hadd's method which is based on % of MHR not WHR (working heart rate).  I think Garmin etc calculate training zones on WHR, not sure.
  • Thanks shades, I will do that this week.

    I just received my polar H10 so will be eager to test it out, what's handy is I can set my phone off and then not need to look as the hrm can pair simultaneously to the phone and my old polar watch.

    I have paired it to mapmyfitness, any other apps you guys recommend for solid HR recording with gps map tracking and elevation data?
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    I use smashrun, which can tie into Garmin connect.
  • Thanks I'll join smashrun and pair with MMR, I've also paired elite hrv to the polar H10 and going to do that every morning to try and get a baseline. This stuff is all pretty interesting, especially with enough baseline data, it can help inform if you're coming down with an illness or overtraining. It won't be the be all-end all piece of info. Off the initial test my hrv score is 70 but I'll need a lot more data to figure out a true number.

    I've established my current resting hr is around 54, dropping to about 48 in sleep, seems in general to be healthy enough, time to find hrmax  :#
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    Much more consistent results with the chest monitor. Rather than starting low and creeping up relentlessly, it jumps quickly and stays consistent based on my pace.

    Here's a 10k two weeks ago.

    Now here's today's 10k with the chest monitor.

    Grenage - that's more like it.   As you can see you have some cardiac drift but not much so that's really good. 

    Much more reassuring too to have reliable stats.
  • SBD.SBD. ✭✭✭
    Grenage said:

    Grenage - good to see you've got the HR working.  I've always used a HR monitor, though I've never tried the Hadd training.  What software produced the graph above?
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    Hi Shades; aye it felt really comfortable and the HR sat at 153 for a long time before I upped the pace a little.

    SBD, that's from smashrun.com - I have my Garmin account linked. :)
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    edited May 2020
    I wonder if I might seem your advice again on this HR malarkey.

    I thought I'd give max rate testing a go and used the hadd method of 800m hard, 2 minutes rest, and 400m hard.  My HR peaked at 167.

    While I'm nearly 39 and might have a poor max, that seems low given that I peaked 162 on a relatively easy 10k at the weekend.

    Would I be better off doing a tempo 5k and then gunning it once my HR is already up?

    My resting heart rate is the high 40s when I'm relaxing on the sofa.  I'm not sure resting rate has much bearing on max.

    Grenage - MHR is like your hair colour, it is what it is.   You already have a good low resting heart rate.  RHR doesn't seem to have any correlation with MHR.   RHR will improve (lower) with aerobic training.  MHR remains the same although should in theory decline with age.

    I take it you didn't throw up or need oxygen afterwards?  In which case you can add another 5 bpm.

    Now if you feel that your MHR should be higher then by all means do another test.   A common method is hill reps, a steep long hill and run up as many times until you get to the stage where you can't run any more, usually 3 or 4 times is enough.  

    But you could try a 5k run.  Doing an MHR test is hard and you have to be in the mood for it so if it's a session that suits you then that's fine.

    I started HR training at the age of 47 and I have a low MHR of 160, a good few years later now and my MHR has not declined which I assume is due to my running.   I haven't done a test for years but can still get my HR up to 155 on a good Devon hill, like on Dartmoor, when I know I just can't go any harder.

    Good luck  ;)
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    Thanks again, Shades. :)

    I felt like my heart rate could have gone higher - my legs started to give up quite quickly at that speed but cardio-wise I didn't feel too bad.  I'll take your advice and give the hills a try, and maybe gun it during a 5k if I am feeling good.

    At least I can trust these HR readings.
    Grenage - yes, I know what you mean about feeling that your MHR could have gone higher.   

    You need to do the test when you feel fresh and raring to go.   If you're tired it's very hard to get the HR up.   So maybe after a rest day.

  • It's a bit depressing to read the wrist based heart monitors are not considered accurate as I splashed out recently on a Garmin Venu. I used to have a Polar chest strap but the sensor would never sit right and gave inaccurate readings. If I have to go down that route I'd probably have to get one of the vests you see footballers wearing, and I guess it wouldn't communicate with the watch?
    48 year old beginner running since April 2020
    You could buy a Garmin chest HRM and sync it with your watch.   The Garmin Run chest straps are light and comfortable
  • same here, was using polar chest sensor and just bought apple watch.
    and I hate wearing any chest straps.
    I think I will continue to wear them again.
  • newbie here! I've just started and I was doing very short intervals. I switched to running 3k - not far I know but I'm just trying to get fit again. My max HR is more or less age related, but when I run I go straight into Polar Zone 5 and stay there for 14mins. From what I've read that shouldn't be possible and I should be suffering, but I am just a bit short of breath. Is this ok?
    anesbitt - if you don't know your actual max heart rate, any zones on your watch are meaningless.

    If you've just started running you should be running slowly, at a pace that you're only slightly out of breath, you're trying to improve your aerobic function.
  • @shades. Thanks, I did try to make a measure my max heart rate and it gave roughly the age related one. BTW I am running at a pace that does just get me slightly out of breath. I guess the take away is the I need to have another go at measuring it. I kinda knew this, just wanted other opinions.
    You can Google how to do a MHR test, not pleasant but over very quickly.   If I had to do one again I would opt for the hill reps method.   Don't do a test if you have any health issues.   If you are asthmatic take your inhaler with you just in case. 

    If it turns out that the settings in your watch are the same as your actual MHR then no way should you be running in Zone 5 so you'd need to slow down so that your training is in the aerobic range not the anaerobic range
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