Skip navigation

4904 Views 10 Replies Latest reply: Sep 4, 2010 2:26 PM by SlogOn
TMachen Pro 114 posts since
Jul 22, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

Aug 25, 2010 4:22 AM

Target Heart Rate?

I just got a new Garmin 301xt w/ heart rate monitor and ran today for the first time with the hr monitor.  I looked at some online calculators and they said my hr zone is 125-152 (one site said up to 161).


According to my Garmin my HR avg'd 169 and max'd at 184.  Admittedly, I felt pretty crappy the whole run. I'm coming down with a cold and had to stop a few times to cough.


I've been running for about a year and avg ~10:30 pace for runs more than 3 miles and I run 11-20 miles/week and bike about once a week. I'm training for a half marathon Oct 2 and have run a handful of races from 5K to 10K plus 1 half marathon.


So what should I aim for in terms of hr? Should I stop and walk when exceed that rate? Or keep going provided I feel ok?

~ Tracy

My blog about Life and other stuff

Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim.

Be patient and tough; some day this pain will be useful to you.


  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Aug 25, 2010 6:41 AM (in response to TMachen)
    Re: Target Heart Rate?

    This is not a simple topic, unfortunately.  You really need to know your maximum heart rate for any of the rest to make sense, and the typical formulas (220 minus age, for instance) are only accurate for about half the population.  Zones are typically calculated as a percentage of maximum.  Probably a better way is the Karvonen method, which uses "resting heart rate plus percentage of (maximum minus resting)".  But then you have to know your resting heart rate too. (That's fairly easy.  Take your pulse before you get out of bed in the morning.)


    Here's a couple articles that outline the basics.,7120,s6-238-267--1039-0,00.html

    You may also want to find a book on the subject at your local book store.  I have Precision Heartrate Training (Burke).  Another possibility is Total Heartrate Training (Friel), but I haven't read that one.


    All that said, illness will make your heartrate tend to run higher, as will fever.  It will also run higher in warmer weather, or if you are dehydrated, and of course, with higher exertion or faster pace.


    Have fun with it.




  • Surfing_Vol Legend 848 posts since
    Nov 6, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Aug 25, 2010 7:52 AM (in response to TMachen)
    Re: Target Heart Rate?

    T --


    I run with a heart rate monitor now, and not without frustration.


    First, my actual maximum heart rate must have remained almost constant over the last 30 years.  When trying to establish the max HR, I consistently have HRs 10-20 bpm higher than 220 - age.  I think that much of the advice is not based on scientific research. So my advice is to test yourself to determine your own maximum HR.  I seem to recall that one test involves running several 200M runs at full effort (after a warm up) and measuring your HR after the last.  Don't be surprised if your max HR is better than 220 - age.


    Second, your HR will be higher at the same effort level in hot and humid weather than during cooler weather.  My understanding is that the heart beats faster in part because your body is trying to shed exercise-induced heat.  My experience this summer is that I can't get my HR down once I am warmed up without slowing to a walk.  If your heart is beating faster due to heat rather than due to exercise, should you slow down?  Here, I think that you should trust yourself and your perceived effort.  If the HR and level of exercise are not bothering you, then maybe you should continue with your level of perceived effort, regardless of what the HR monitor says.  On the other hand, if the run feels too hard, walk to get your HR down.


    I believe that the HR issue may diminish if not disappear once the weather gets cooler.


    In the meanwhile, use your HR monitor as a training aid, not as a dictator.  Ultimately, you have to learn to trust your body, and the HR monitor is a tool to allow you to help monitor your body.


    Good luck.


    Surfing Vol

    "Victory through attrition!"

    Charleston Half-Marathon 1/15/2011 -- 1:52:03

    The Scream! Half-Marathon 7/16/2011 -- 1:56:00

  • BowieLinda Pro 136 posts since
    Jul 8, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Aug 26, 2010 5:53 AM (in response to TMachen)
    Re: Target Heart Rate?

    Congratulations on the new Garmin!  I'm still shoppin'.


    I read somewhere, that since women's hearts are typically smaller than men's, they will generally need to beat at a higher rate.  So that's YET ANOTHER complication into the mix!



    C25K Training begun (Treadmill) 6/1/10); restarted 7/11/12

    First run OUTDOORS - Club Fun Run 1.75 mile circuit time 26:06:72 on 7/29/10

    Proud C25K Grad, 8/7/10

    College Park Cares 5K Sponsored by Vecna Technologies, Inc. 9/25/10 44:04.4

    Fell off of the regular running routine, experienced the DC Derecho Disaster, and now aiming to get back on track!


    Jug Bay Run for Wildlife 5K 11/3/12

  • Ali-Gator Expert 43 posts since
    Jan 2, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Sep 1, 2010 5:21 PM (in response to TMachen)
    Re: Target Heart Rate?

    First off, Hi Tracy!!  I popped on to see if there was still a Runaway Parents posting, and was happy to see a familiar runaway mom.


    I just got a Garmin 305 and have been too intimidated to try out the heart rate monitor.  It was good to see that you and others have found it more useful as a general guide than as a definite target number.


    Which half are you running on 10/2?  I am running Disney Wine & Dine that night.  If by some chance you are also running that one, let me know & we can try and meet up afterward for a glass of wine at Epcot! 


    If not, good luck on the last month of training!

    3/7/10: Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K  --  28:53

    3/27/10:  March for Misty 5k Fun Run  -- 28:47

    5/1/10: Fiesta of Five Flags 10k -- 1:01:46

    6/5/10:  Billy Bowlegs Night 5k --  27:18

    10/2/10: Epcot Wine & Dine Half Marathon  -- 2:20:53

    Follow my training blog:

  • JasonFitz1 Legend 578 posts since
    Jun 19, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Sep 2, 2010 8:43 AM (in response to TMachen)
    Re: Target Heart Rate?

    Hi Tracy,


    Like many have said, use your HR as a guide but know that it will vary substantially based on the weather, stress, how much sleep you've had, and the terrain. A 10% variability is not unheard of.


    Also keep in mind that the more fit you are, the lower your heart rate. If you've taken a long time off from running or your fitness is low, then your HR is going to be higher. I'd judge your pace just by your perceived effort level instead of what your Garmin says your HR is. Running by feel is definitely the way to go.



    - Fitz.

    Strength Running
  • SlogOn Legend 368 posts since
    Jan 13, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Sep 4, 2010 2:26 PM (in response to JasonFitz1)
    Re: Target Heart Rate?

    Be aware that there's a ton of exercise 'folklore' that over the years, have taken on the patina of gospel truth. A very good book to read is 'Ultimate Fitness' by Gina Kolata who's no slouch when it comes to being an active person. Separately, here's a short article that briefly summarizes what she discovered about maximum heart rate when quizzing the researcher who came up with that formula:





    I don't use target heart rate at all - simply go by how I feel. If I can't gasp out a sentence or two, if I feel I'm going way too hard on any given day - I am; never mind what a heart rate moniter might say. It doesn't take long before you know if you're heading out too hard on a regular or long run, for example. I find there are simply too many variables for me to try to rely on an artificial target & I suspect each individual reacts to the different variables somewhat differently.

    C25K STARTED: 10/12/11



    Excitement is slogging through a spectacular dry lightning storm

More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...