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Fitness Levels using HRM

When I go for a run my HR is constantly over 140 no matter how slow I go, (Well above walking pace I mean)

When I go what I expect to be a reasonable pace. It shoots up to about 150-155, even to 160.

However I feel fine, yet for me to train at an easy level which is 130-139. I need to be virtually walking.

Hope that makes sense.

My question is, do people who use a HRM find this also. Or have I got a heart defect lol.

Do peoples HRM give reading that your heart is pumping like mad, yet you feel fine?


  • WellaWella Posts: 188

    This is a hot topic for me at the moment. I'll explain why.

    Me and mate from work ran the Paris Marathon on Sunday. I'm 31 and therefore have a max HR of 189, my resting HR on the morning of the race was 48. My mate is 26 so his max is 194 and his resting rate was 58.

    It was a first attempt at a marathon for both of us and the temperature reached 28C. Hardly ideal for such an event.

    As soon as we started running my HR reached 140 and 10km had passed before it reached 150. As the race wore on and the temperature rose my HR went up and steadied at around 163. My max HR was 171 for the "sprint finish" and my average for the whole race was 153 so I was quite impressed. Finished in 4hr 21min.

    My mate however started running and his HR went straight to 160 and gradually rose to 170+. His average was 177 and his maximum was 190!

    He finished in 4hr 13min.

    We're both of good fitness but its strange the my younger mate had such a high HR and maintained it for so long. He's now worried that he might have a problem yet he ran a marathon and felt fine throughout.

    Looking at your figures I wouldn't be too concerned, especially as they are so similar to mine and I'm not!

    Wouldn't mind hearing others views though.
  • BoycieBoycie Posts: 189

    I'd be suprised if you have a heart defect, you just have your training zones worked out wrong. I suspect you are working out your training zones from age related heart rate max, i.e. 220-age=HRmax. This can be very inaccurate, with large variations between same aged individuals (my age related HRmax is 187 bpm, whereas my actual is 193 bpm and the variation can be greater than that). The only way to be totally sure of your HRmax is to be tested for it. A good way to train with heart rate is to combine it with percieved exertion (how you feel when you train). I set my steady state runs at between 150-160 bpm. There are yet more accurate ways of determining zones which I'm sure most training manuals will give advice on.

    As for your previous question, you are absolutely right. Different sports require different types of fitness, a olympic weight lifter and marathon runner use very differnt types of fitness.

  • I have the same thing Jason, when I'm jogging at an easy pace my HR is around 160 yet I feel fine, can hold a conversation and keep going like a duracell bunny. I did a test a while back that estimated my max HR as 208, can;t remember the exacts but it involved a 20m shuttle, like the bleep test, you did 5mins warm up then started doing shuttles at max possible intensity checking your HR after each one and resting for 10s, it helps if you have a mate shouting at you to keep running, keep doing shuttles until you physically cant go on (this is where the mate comes in as shouts of encouragement will help you keep going) think your max HR was you HR at the very end +10% could be talking utter rubbish here but i think thats it.

  • Jason

    What you need to calculate is your anaebolic threshold.

    This is the rate your heart needs to be going when you start to breath heavily. My A threshold is about 150 although it depends on what sport I am doing.

    A good way of calculating is get on a treadmill with a mate holding your hr monitor and slowly jack up the speed. As you start to run faster you should move above your threshold. Your partner should be able to calculate this from checking how heavily you are breathing. They record the hr and this would be around a threshold.

    Get hold of the triathletes training bible they describe it a lot simpler than me!
  • Heart Rate Training seems to be one of the most popular yet contentious ways for people to train. There are too many ways to theoretically calculate it (all accused of being inaccurate) and doing a max HR test seems to be so fraught with danger that I've never been brave enough to try. After getting hold of a fewJoe Friel articles from the web and then buying a couple of his books I'd adopted a slightly different approach...that of Lactate Threshold based training.

    For me, it's much easier to perform the test (30min treadmill time trial) and following the tables in the books your various zones are simply obtainable. It really has worked for me and made the whole thing a lot simpler. It can work for the bike too but I simply based my bike threshold as 7 beats down on the run level. As my bike is poor in relation to the run I think the zones might be too high but at the level I'm taking part (as opposed to competing!) what the hell

    I appreciate it does work for everyone but it suits me down to the ground.
  • JasonBJasonB Posts: 303
    Very great replies. Thanks.
  • AndyAAndyA Posts: 14
    You could also try some 'Talk Tests' for checking exertion level during training, these are a bit low tech but help prevent you from running into tress whilst goggling your HRM!!!...

    You need to learn a long ish sentence that you then attempt to say out loud, without drawing breath, whilst training. You can then correlate how far you get through the sentence with the session you're doing (and your curent HR if you want). You can just count out loud and see how far you get, but a silly sentence is more fun!!

    This is an indirect measure of oxygen demand (by talking you are reducing oxygen transfer to your blood; sooner or later the system demands more oxygen and a breathe reflex is initiated).
  • LuckyLucky Posts: 137
    All interesting stuff, I was going to post something similar this morning, my running HR seems to be around the 165 - 175 mark (age 32) and it just stays there, like the JasonB if I run / walk to the HR zones my pace would that of chasing a tortoise.... (so I tend to ignore it)

    I do track my HR, but I run at a pace that feels comfortable for me, rather than running to the HR zones.
  • JasonBJasonB Posts: 303
    Yeah Lucky. Somebody who thinks the same and has a heart the same as mine.

    I agree with you. Even though there is great advise from everybody. I know when I go for a run, I think i have to get back before my best time. The storm off ignoring my HRM.

    Although from reading things, this is the slow route to get fitter, and faster. THe HRM is maybe not the quickest, but is the best way

  • BoycieBoycie Posts: 189
    This does seem to be a contentious point. The key to using a HR monitor effectively is making sure you know what your training zones are to start with, which is the tricky part. The comments about infomation like lactate threshold are right, but you still need to monitior where you are working in relation to it, and a HR monitor is very useful for that if you know what your lactate threshold is. There is no doubt that training with a HR monitor is very useful if you have the right infomation, for example it can stop you from going too hard when you should be taking it steady. This may not throw up any useful suggestions, but if you know how to use it properly they do work.

  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    Previous replies all point to the lactate threshold heart rate and how to find it,the old 220 minus your age is hit and miss and any money to spend on an accurate fitness test is spent on the physio or the latest gear to gather dust in the spare room.The best method I have come across is a simple treadmill test that you can do with the help of someone to make notes. Your heartrate will increase directly proportionally to work rate up to your lactate threashold.So start the treadmill at a slow pace and make a note of your HR,increase the pace and again note the HR after a couple of minutes.Keep increasing the pace and noting the HR until you feel that any further increase would be liable to be hazardous to your health.Now plot the data on a graph and a straight line should appear (if it looks like a mountain stage on the tour de France go to the doctors) the line will then start to curve as your HR meets its max ,it is at the point of inflection (the point when the straight line starts to curve)that will give you your lactate threshold.Easy.Hope this helps or confuses things further.
  • Gav1857Gav1857 Posts: 8
    I've not had an HRM for very long and have been surprised at how high my HR goes when I'm running. Even on what I thought were my long slow recovery runs, I've found I tend to jog at c. 160 and have to really concerntrate to keep it down below that. On my short, faster runs (c. 30 mins) I average c. 170+...

    I'd begun to wonder about just how reliable the 220-age max calculation was and it seems I need to try one of these tests. I notice a recommendation for the Triathlete's Bible... Is this a useful starting point for HRM training? I'd like to brush up on a bit of the theory behind it and would welcome any suggestions for good reading material.

  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    Hi Gav,do not worry about your high HR when running,when my body starts any exercise it seems to miss the initial aerobic phase and jumps to the anaerobic phase for a few minutes before settling down.Once you have calculated your lactate threshold you can work out your various percentages and work zones,in order to keep within these zones walking is not uncommon in order to keep the HR down.As you get fitter and more efficient then the amount of walking will decrease,if you choose to use a HRM then keep within the zones otherwise it becomes pointless.As for books I would hate to recommend the decisive edition.Polar the HRM manufacturers do a basic edition,or if you are looking for a training program there is 'Be iron fit' by Don Fink.It is more Ironman distance related but does contain useful bits of info.
  • The training bible is a very good book but can be quite complex in places. Joe Friel also does a specific HRM training book too.


    I use the HRM method all the time and it really suits me, but it's not for everyone.
  • pigletpiglet Posts: 86
    Was interested to read all your posts about HR monitors and fitness levels. I am 41yr so I think theoretically I should have a max about 179. However I can happily keep my HR at 175 and even get a few words out. When I push it to the point where I can't talk at all and am really thinking- "I'll blow a fuse if I go harder"- then my HR is in the region of 200. I don't have a heart defect and my resting Hr is 48-50. My husband can't get his HR over 165max. So we all seem to be very different.

    So, I have not bothered with a HR monitor for years now. But having read your posts I wonder if I should.

    Is it possible to get a monitor that doesn't use a chest strap? We have one that came with our treadmill but I never use it as it hurts my ribs/chest. It also gets sweaty and falls down to my waist- not much use.

    Do the wrist units work? Any recomendations would be appreciated.[:)]
  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    Hi Piglet,wrist units are not as accurate as chest mounted ones,they do manufacture sports bras that allow hrm chest straps to be inserted in them which may make it more comfortable,a google search or try www.yoga-ez.com .As you mentioned everyone is different so the 220 minus your age is not accurate so try the 'conconi test' again a google search will give you multiple links.Hope this helps.
  • hound doghound dog Posts: 293
    piglet wrote:

    However I can happily keep my HR at 175 and even get a few words out. When I push it to the point where I can't talk at all and am really thinking- "I'll blow a fuse if I go harder"- then my HR is in the region of 200. I don't have a heart defect and my resting Hr is 48-50.

    That really is interesting piglet, i too am 41 with a resting HR of 50 but can only reach a max of 185 [:-]. Out of curiousity,How did you measure it?

    Jon.Es info is very helpful Im going to give treadmill test a go for sure, although I would find it very hard to walk for the sake of keeping HR down to a certain level.
  • pigletpiglet Posts: 86
    Hi Hound dog- I measured my heart rate at the gym using one of their Hr monitors attched to the crsoo tariner (and did it again on teh treadmill). This was before my last bought of knee surgery and could run OK. Now I can only cycle, swim or row so bit stuck for HR measurement. Will check out that website about bra HR models.

    The other thing I noticed (and my gym instructor did too) - was that the HR monitors I have used have a lot of problem reading my HR. That's because I have a ectopic beat in my heart rhythm- basically it pauses then rushes for a few beats then goes back to steady, then repeats it again. My "pause" is so long that the HR flips out and says the signal is lost.

    So that's probably another reason why I have stayed away from them.

    Thanks for the advice guys- I'll do some googling.


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