Hello, I am 6'6", ~220 lbs. I have always been an athlete (basketball, triple-jump) and I have had exercised induced asthma since I was three. In the last year I have started training for and completed a sprint triathlon and a marathon. I probably have below-average endurance, as I was always a fast-twitch type athlete.
That's the background. My issue is that no matter what it is, and no matter how well I feel, my HR goes off the "chart" as soon as i start exerting even minimal effort. I know you are supposed to train at a certain level and I try to keep it low, but I end up "running" at about a 12:40 pace to keep my HR under 150-160.
My question is should i be concerned about a looking heart attack, or is it okay to have my HR up around 180-190 extended periods (1-2 hours, sometimes 3 on the bike)? Or do I just have to keep on training my heart to calm down and be more efficient, and if so, how do i accomplish this?
Thanks for any help!
You don't give us your age, your overall physical condition, etc., which makes it impossible and reckless to give you anything other than our own experiences.
Until this last year when I started running seriously again after many years of running once a week or so, my HR would climb to 180 + while runnning less than 30 minutes. I thought that this was great because (1) I was able to exercise at this level and (2) it was much higher than my "maximum heart rate." (A rule of thumb, which I think is wildly inaccurate, is that a person's maximum heartrate is 220 - age). In 2010 I decided to get serious about my running again. Over the last year, and in particular the last two or three months, my HR during exercise is much lower than it was a year ago when exercising at the same exertion level. It is my sense that the HR has dropped because my body and circulatory system have adapted to pump more blood with fewer heartbeats.
Regardless, I got to this point by running when my HR was reaching 180+. My EKGs have always been normal, even though the doctor said last time that my EKG showed that I was a "trained athlete."
So, for what it's worth, I would recommend that you get an EKG (easy and cheap) and, if you have a clean bill of health, train. If you are like me, the HR will become more "normal" as you develop your endurance.
On the other hand, I am aware of certain coaches who recommend training by HR instead of perceived effort. When getting in shape I couldn't stand "shuffling" to keep a low HR, so I followed my inclination and body and trained at a faster pace and higher HR.
"Victory through attrition!"
Charleston Half-Marathon 1/15/2011 -- 1:52:03
The Scream! Half-Marathon 7/16/2011 -- 1:56:00
I am 32 and have been training for about a year off and on. Like I said I worked with teams clubs to get ready for the tri and marathon and would consider myself in great (not excellent) overall physical condition.
Your answer was pretty much what I have been doing, just listening to my legs and lungs vice the HR monitor. I actually took a physical before starting last year and EKG's, blood, etc. were all normal. I'll just look for that HR to drop off over the next few months!
You really need to know your (true) maximum heart rate (MHR) to make any sense of this. Your heart rate, by itself, is unlikely to cause problems, unless there are other factors that contribute. OK, speculation next. Since you can exercise at that rate for several hours, it implies that this is no more than 80% - 85% of your MHR, which would put your MHR around 220. But you should get tested to be sure. If you google "maximum heart rate" you can find self-test methods to get a good idea of your MHR, or you can pay $$$ and get tested in a lab.