Advice re: fast heart rate

I went on my first Park Run in September 2018 with the goal of running the whole way around. I did, but it took me 39 minutes. I've been averaging about one Park Run every 3 weeks since then and my time is now around 29 minutes. I've been doing the odd another run, but nothing that would constitute a fixed training plan. I was already reasonably fit as I do HIIT and resistance training and walk and cycle everywhere, which obviously helped.

However, I'm concerned that I may have unknowingly been pushing things much too hard. I got a smartwatch for Christmas and was excited to use it for my first Park Run of the year. I looked at the analysis on Strava after I got home and was horrified that my heart rate had AVERAGED at pretty much my max heart rate of 180 and had even peaked at 190. I'm a 39, nearly 40-year-old woman.

Without the heart rate monitor I would never have known. I didn't feel out of breath. It was challenging and I pushed myself, but it felt very manageable. I even ran another 2.5km home from the park.

Should I drop my pace and make sure that I keep my heart rate at a much slower rate? I went for a trial run the other day and kept my heart rate around 155, but I was barely going above walking pace. I think I was going at about 9mins per km.

Obviously, I don't want to endanger myself by pushing myself too hard, but equally I don't want to be overly cautious. Am I just a lot less fit than I thought I was? I'm not experienced enough with running to know the best course of action.

Many thanks for your help!


  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    Perhaps you don't actually know your max HR, until you find that out your concerns are all fairly meaningless. 

     You may want to try something like the field test described as

    because 220 - your age is just a v rough average and none of us is actually average.
    If you are using a wrist sensor HRM, they are only accurate when you are at rest, so for recording your resting heart rate.  They are too inaccurate whilst running to provide any sensible data.   If you want to record accurate data you'll need to get an HRM with a chest strap, they can usually be synced to your GPS watch.   Lots of folk have been alarmed by the stats provided by a wrist sensor HRM.
  • YnnecYnnec ✭✭✭
    edited January 2019
    In agreement with Shades. I've got a Garmin FR 235 and the wrist measurement was ropey to say the least. Defaulted HRM to a Garmin chest strap and it's been spot-on (I use electrode gel for contacts). Also tried a Scosche armband and it was well flakey (I also felt like I wearing the forearm equivalent of an ankle tag).
  • Agree with all of the above, the wrist monitors are not the most accurate. I've gone from as low as 126 average HR on a Parkrun to peaking at about 203. It's difficult to get an accurate assessment and I rarely use it now for reference during runs.

    That being the case there is something to be said for doing Heart Rate Zone training. I did this after picking up too many injuries and after getting over the early frustrations (old ladies on zimmer frames going past me as I tried to keep my HR in the zone) you soon pick up the pace and, more importantly, don't pick up the injuries. If you stick with it you'll see the benefits.
  • I find the first 6 or 7 mins of a run puts my heart rate right the way up on my garmin vivoactive 3.

    Mine is probably because I am trying to get as much air in my lungs as possible in that I have found heavy long breathing helps along with a little warm up.

  • Another vote for ignoring wrist-rate HRM readings. My cadence is usually about 190-200, and my Fenix 3HR has a tendency to somehow switch over mid-run to recording this as heart rate. Very visible on the graph on Garmin Connect afterwards - HR shows a big and instantaneous step up and matches cadence exactly for rest of the run. This happens often enough that I now wear a chest strap on every run, simply because the wrist strap reading is so iffy. It may be that your 180-190 was correct, everyone is different. But I imagine that at that heart rate you would know about it, and would probably be out of breath at least.

    Try a chest HRM (can you borrow one from somewhere, or buy one cheaply?) and see how you get on, I would guess that you'll see markedly different results. And if not, at least you know the reading is accurate.

  • I have a garmen 935 and use the wrist HRM all time for convience and find it ok with no abnormal jumps. I think it may be slighty lower than when used a chest in the past (or maybe i have got fitter) but when i do tough runs i do get close to 180 which is about the highest ever got to with a chest HRM. 
  • TTTT ✭✭✭
    To reiterate, really try and use a chest strap. In my warm up in spin last week I was at 124 HR on my Garmin fenix5, moved on to the chest strap and it dropped to 87, took it myself and it was right. My Garmin can sometimes spike at 243 when I come out of the pool which is totally wrong! 
  • This is exactly the same issue I’m having, I got a polar gps that I get can be a if innacurate but I did my long run today of only 6 miles and like you a comfortable pace and it said I was in “zone 5” for 57 minutes of the run. It then says online that you can only really be in zone 5 for like 5 minutes and I wasn’t just tipping into it I was easily at 95%hr according to the zones and readings it gives. I actually wanted it to push myself to start to do tempo and faster runs but it just seems to be telling me to slow down to a walk
  • I hit 203 regularly which means I should be about 20 - but I'm 49.
    There is a massive spread on these things, away from the 'average'.
    There's also loads of different formulas for how to calculate zones based on heart rates.
    The supplied zones on garmin/polar/strava etc were miles out for me so I punched in my max heart rate and resting heart rate on this handy page

    and I have settled on Karvonen modified for me, as the one that fits closest to my perosnal running experience.
    Then its just a question of customising your zones on your device to reflect the change and you're set
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