HR on recovery runs too low

All you HR fans, what have you found happens with your heart rates on your recovery runs? Increasingly I'm finding it hard to keep my HR high enough on my easy days. Unless I concentrate on running faster, my relaxed pace now works out at around 53-55% WHR which is too low to be of any benefit. Received wisdom seems to suggest it should be at least 60%. Or doesn't it matter on easy days?
Also, whilst I can understand the reason my HR is getting lower, why should it feel harder to run at the same intensity? I'd rather not have to feel I've got to concentrate on my easy days. What have the rest of you found? Is it subjective or objective anyway?


  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Laura, hope this is helpful.

    For my recovery runs I tend to stick to about 65% WHR, however I also do conditioning runs, slightly faster, at between 65% & 70%. The choice depends on how I'm feeling. I've not had any problems sticking to these rates and very rarely have I noticed my HR dropping below 60%. On those occasions when it has dropped below this figure it's either because I have been totally knackered or because I was simply running for fun!

    The only comments I can make are that either: You're training when you should be resting or that the MHR you are using is on the low side.

    Assuming a MHR which is too low can make quite a big difference.

    In my own situation I believe I have a MHR of 181, so 65% WHR equates to 131. If my MHR was actually 195 then this 131 figure would equate to about 58% WHR.

    Do you keep a log, including HR's and if so how long have you been doing it for?

  • Laura

    I'm afraid I still suffer the problem of running a little too fast on recovery days (judged by my HR) - typically in the mid 140's or about 65-70% of MHR (Karvonen). The reason I don't slow further is that it would feel ridiculously slow but at the speed I'm running I do feel fully recovered so objective achieved. I would be less concerned therefore about a recovery HR being too low, if your other indicators (perceived effort etc) tell you that you are running at the right speed for 'recovery'. My own recommendation would be to leave you HRM at home on at least 50% of your easy days so you don't worry about it!

    On why it should feel harder to run at the same intensity - the things I can think of are:
    a) If its hot then HR generally rises e.g. for tempo runs I am 2-4% slower on hot days for the same HR.
    b) If you aren't fully recovered then residual tiredness may be affecting your perceived effort (without necessarily changing your HR) - this would especially be felt during a training phase and you won't get the benefits (probably) until you taper for a race.

  • I knew you HRM die-hards would have some ideas!

    I'm pretty sure my calculation is near enough accurate as I had a max heart rate test at the start of the year, it was 206. I've only reached this during races since.

    When I started using the HRM I was expecting to find that I was running too fast (ie over 70%) some of the time, since that's what the book and everyone on the forum said would happen. In fact I was always running at about 65%. So my guess is that my running economy at that pace is very efficient. (I've changed my training radically to run at different efforts since then).

    That's what I think is happening on my easy days; I'm still running at the same speed as I used to, but the same pace means a very low heart rate - 130-135. At the beginning of this year the same pace would average about 145. Are you sure that if you went out and stuck to the same relaxed pace you're not running at lower HR than you used to? Or put it another way, are you now running recovery runs faster (but at the same HR)?

    Perhaps I am running when I should be resting, I thought maybe it was a normal pattern for the HR to reduce gradually as fitness improves. On my harder days it doesn't, but that's because I'm working at maintaining the effort I've decided to run at.

    I do log my av heart rate for practically every run but as I've only got a basic HRM it's not that helpful for runs where the intensity varies as it only works out the average.

    Your suggestion Martin, of leaving my HRM at home on easy days is probably a good one.

    Thanks for the ideas.

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