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3074 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Feb 15, 2009 11:25 AM by DaisyO
DaisyO Rookie 6 posts since
Feb 13, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

Feb 13, 2009 9:28 PM

Heart Rate Training Zone Concerns

I have recently started running in an effort to run my first 5K (couch to 5K program from I was not a couch potatoe before I started the program - and was already doing 4 to 5 hours cardio a week.


My question is this:

When I do the running segments of this program (I'm on week 4), my HR gets way up there (I'm 39, my estimated max HR by the charts is 181). Usually by the end of the running segment, my HR is up to 168 - so OVER 90%.


I'm not worried that I am in the "anaerobic zone" and not burning fat - I'm doing this to build my running endurance not burn fat. (I spend an additional 30 to 45 minutes in a "fat burning zone" after I have completed the couch to 5K workout for that day to make sure I am still getting the "aerobic" benefit of my cardio)


What I am worried about: how dangerous is this? And if it is dangerous and I need to build up my cardiac capacity so that I can do the running without my HR going this high, what's the best way to do that - I am assuming you do this with cardio - but then should I be doing it at the higher end of a safe heart rate?


Looking to hear from informed people.



  • runupit Rookie 1 posts since
    Feb 14, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Feb 14, 2009 8:46 AM (in response to DaisyO)
    Re: Heart Rate Training Zone Concerns

    Here is what I know about heart rate zones and training. Please check it against what other advice you might receive since there is so much ad hoc advice around and post back.


    First you have to determine what your real max heart rate is. I do this by running a mile on a slightly downhill trail and then up a half mile hill on  paved road as fast as I can go. On the third loop, wearing my heart rate monitor, I check what number I've reached at the top of the hill. That is my max heart rate. You can use other methods but establishing your real max heart rate is the first step.




    You then take the max and establish zones. 90-100% of max is speedwork, 80-90% tempo, 70-80% long runs.




    Using this system I can tell both how fast I am running and what type of run I am doing on a given course.




    With time your heart rate will decline. The most dramatic decline comes with dramatic improvements in fitness. Last Summer after much speed work I found my heart rate on the track which often came within 95% of max was coming in at 90% of max. My times were getting faster but my heart rate was getting lower. I wasn't able to hit my max heart rate anymore. So I was getting fitter.




    When you first start running and you are doing your first race, don't be surprised if your heart rate gets to its max at the finish line --- if you are not bonked before then.




    My advice is this, while it is great to know exactly what your max heart rate is, you might want to confine your pushing yourself up to your max to a limited amount of speed work on the track under the supervision of a coach or an experienced group of fellow athletes.




    You want to enjoy your races. That means good preparation.




    As an older runner I definitely saw my doctor before starting intensive training and have consulted with him repeatedly since whenever I tried a longer race. My doctor is a triathlete so he knows all about what we go through in getting fit.




    You should have a lot of fun getting into your program this early in the season, but remember base building is an important winter activity.

  • TIME LORD Amateur 26 posts since
    Aug 26, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Feb 14, 2009 10:18 PM (in response to DaisyO)
    Re: Heart Rate Training Zone Concerns


    Most charts use the 220-age rule. The standard deviation of the 220-age calculation is  ( according to Physiology of Fitness by B. J Sharkey)  /-12 beats which means that 68% of people will have a heart rate within one standard deviation , or 12 beats either side of the figure indicated by that rule.  For example , say you are 30 then your MHR is 190  by the rule 220-age rule.  In reality 68 % of  30 year olds would have a heart rate between 178 (190-12) and 202 (19012).  Like the poster said above the only accurate way to determione MHR is to a maximal test.  However once you get over 40 everyone starts getting cautious about recommending maximal tests , ie no one wants a test subject to collapse durinmg the test. The general advice is if you are not used to hard maximal exercise and not a youngster to only attempt the maximal test under professional supervision. Even if you are fit the advice is not to attempt a maximal test if you have had any sort of  viral infection within recent months.   If you plan to train within a specific zone or percentage of max then be aware that your day to day heart rate will be affected by many things such as how well recovered you are from the last session, general tiredness, hydration, infection , etc etc etc



  • spicegeek Community Moderator 2,563 posts since
    Jan 14, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Feb 15, 2009 6:42 AM (in response to DaisyO)
    Re: Heart Rate Training Zone Concerns


    I you feel comfortable - i.e you can talk but not sing during the running portions - and you you are not gasping for breath by the walk portions you are fine - I`m a couple of years older than you - I just ran an entire half marathon with ny heart rate in the low 160`s -






    The main question is how do you feel during the running sections ?



    NYC Marathon          Nov 1 2009     -   4:03:13 ( 9:17 mm )

    NYC Half Marathon   Aug 16 2009   -   1:55:38 ( 8:49 mm )

    1 mile -  7:07                             10K     - 52:58 ( 8:32 mm)

    4 mile - 31:35 ( 7:53 mm)          8K      - 42:28 ( 8:32 mm)

    15K -     1:22:02 ( 8:49 mm)

    Find the Half Marathon Team on FACEBOOK

  • Pete Staehling Amateur 12 posts since
    Oct 31, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Feb 15, 2009 7:44 AM (in response to DaisyO)
    Re: Heart Rate Training Zone Concerns

    I wouldn't put much stock in the MHR estimated by a chart or formula it can be way off.  Personally I would either test to see what my MHR is or forget HR and just go by perceived effort. I wouldn't recommend that for someone who isn't already in fairly good shape do a test for MHR, especially if they aren't a youngster.  If you can carry on a conversation while you run you are at an easy pace.

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