# Heart rate question (Read 1809 times)

Dimitri Minaev

Hi. First, some background. I'm 43. Until 10 years ago I ran about 8 km three days a week. Then I damaged my knee and had to stop my exercises. My second problem was tobacco smoking, but I solved this problem two years ago. This year I read about the forefoot strike running and this was a real saver. I tried running in this new manner and my knee felt healthy, so I thought I could resume running.

A popular Russian running web-site (skirun.ru, and yes, I'm from Russia) says that the maximum heart rate for a beginning runner is 120 bpm. That is, if you run as slowly as you can and your pulse is more than 120, it means your heart is not ready for running. Keep exercising without exceeding this rate till your heart gets accustomed to the stress. When you can run for about 30 minutes keeping your heart rate under 120 bpm, you can start training seriously, use various training plans, and so on.

So, I went and bought a heart monitor. I felt really disappointed when I learned that even when I jog as slowly as possible, the pulse is about 135. My "normal" running speed corresponds to 150 bpm. To keep the pulse under 120, I had to switch from running to walking about half of the time.

What is your opinion on that notion? Does it really mean I am not fit for running and should train at 120? Do you know other ways to train the heart besides cyclic sports? Something one can do while at work?

Thank you.

Does it really mean I am not fit for running and should train at 120? Do you know other ways to train the heart besides cyclic sports? Something one can do while at work?

No.  It does not mean you are not fit for running at all.  Heart rate is very sensitive matter and very indivisual.  Some of the elite runners actually have rather high heart rate (60+ per minute).  As you probably know, a popular for maximum heart rate, from which you'll draw Target HR, is 220 minus your age.  But this is an old formula; personally, I like (220 - age - RHR) X 75% + RHR (*RHR=Resting Heart Rate).  At least, this formula take into consideration of your current fitness level in a form of RHR.  This iS the Target HR, by the way; and I'd say the range being +/-10 beats.  120 is quite low and, to say beginning runner's HR should stay 120, without taking into consideration of the runner's age or current fitness level is quite rough.

They usually say, when doing interval training, you should take recovery jog or walk until your HR comes down to 120.  I usually start the next one when it comes down to about 140.  This seems right to me (and with me).  So it's quite individual and should NOT be something that's strictly adhered to.

You might want to check out Maffetone method which is quite popular here at RunningAhead (fondly konwn as MAF).  Personally, I don't do it and I'm not particularly fond of it because, according to this, if your HR goes up beyond a certain guide-line, for example if you're going up the hill, you should stop and walk so it won't exceed.  That sort of takes fun out of it.  But I believe it's a very safe way to begin with.  Remember one of the Golden Rules: "If in doubt, do less."

You might want to check out Maffetone method which is quite popular here at RunningAhead (fondly konwn as MAF).  Personally, I don't do it and I'm not particularly fond of it because, according to this, if your HR goes up beyond a certain guide-line, for example if you're going up the hill, you should stop and walk so it won't exceed.  That sort of takes fun out of it.  But I believe it's a very safe way to begin with.  Remember one of the Golden Rules: "If in doubt, do less."

I'm also a "new beginning" runner, 31 years old male (from neighboring Finland btw). I started out walking for a few weeks (since my arm was broken back then and I didn't want to risk its recovery). Then I increased my speed using the Karvonen formula (I tested my max heart rate running) and according to a book I read on heart rate training I set my easy running at a rate of 70-80%. The equation to get your lower heart rate limit with this method:

(MHR-RHR) x 0,7 + RHR

MHR = Maximum heart rate

RHR = Resting heart rate in the morning

I got some nice improvement. But my 5k and 10k speed wouldn't carry over to the half marathon distance. I was way slower at the half marathon than I should have been based on my 5k and 10k speed. That indicated to me that my aerobic base is totally insufficient.

So I have now, since my goal is to finish an 8-day Ultra running event i the Alps in the fall of 2012, settled for the Maffetone method. For me it means 180 - 31 (age) - 5 (subtraction since my training has been very inconsistent for the last two years) = 144 bpm. I now do all my training at or below that heart rate. Occasionally it drifts above, I then slow down or switch to walking. I have seen some improvement, but I have trained this way for only a couple of weeks, so it's a bit too early to draw any definite conclusions.

You will find a lot of helpful information on the Maffetone method (and similar) in the low heart rate training group forum. And a lot of testimonies that the method works. I trust it works, even if it is not a super duper fun party in the beginning as it's a bit of a hit on the ego to jog so slowly.

Your MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) heart rate would be 180 - 43 - 5 = 132 bpm. Subtract another ten if you are on medication. The idea is to build up your heart and metabolism to support higher running speeds. Speed at MAF should increase with time and consistent training.

Running Blog: On my two feet

Scout7

CPT Curmudgeon

OK, I'm going to take things in a different direction.

Let me start off by asking you a question:

When you run, do you feel good?  In other words, when you were running previously, how did your body feel, and how was your effort level?

In my opinion, if you try a new method based on a website's advice, and you find that it makes your running miserable, you throw out the method and go with what's been working.

If knowing your heartrate doesn't give you anything but negativity, you will learn to equate running with negativity, and that tends to suck all of the fun and joy out of it, and you will eventually stop doing it (I can directly attest to the truth in this statement).

Dimitri Minaev

Thank you, it all sounds very interesting. I haven't heard of Maffetone method before and the explanations look convincing. At least, there's some theory behind it. The monitor may become annoying if it stops me from running as fast as I want, but I could give this method a try for a month, maybe. If the results don't improve, I can give it up. Besides, if I choose the target rate at around 132-135 (somewhat self-confidently, maybe), it'll be much more comfortable than those today's 120.

Scout7, ten years ago I loved running and my knee betrayed me exactly when I thought I could run for hours and still enjoy it. So, yes, I ran faster than I ran today and my body felt good. But, on the other hand, I felt that I make almost no progress. I could run thirty minutes a day or two hours a day, that would make no difference. I still cannot understand how people can run faster than I do. But they do and I have to find out how they (you) do it!

I have no negative sentiments about wearing a heart rate monitor, but, of course, I wouldn't like it to put limits on how I run.

Thank you all!

Scout7

CPT Curmudgeon

You felt that you made no progress?  Why did you feel that way?  Did you enter races and see no improvement in your race times?  Did you not discover that you could run further and/or faster than you previously could?

Or were you always comparing your results to someone else?

Commrade, here is a LHR group of mainly Maffers that will give you some really good information on Low Heart Rate training. There are some very knowledgeable people that frequent the group for you to ask all the HR questions you want.

The pain that hurts the worse is the imagined pain. One of the most difficult arts of racing is learning to ignore the imagined pain and just live with the present pain (which is always bearable.) - Jeff

2014 Goals:

Stay healthy

Enjoy life

Dimitri Minaev

Scout7,

I recorded my own results, but they almost didn't change from month to month. I could run a bit further, but I couldn't run faster. I tried to, but my legs just wouldn't turn faster It could be a bad running form or it could be incoherent training. Or both, of course

BurnToast,

Thanks, I will definitely come by when I digest all those articles that I've found. I am just beginning to understand how the method is supposed to work. I think I should have studied medicine, not computers, in the university

Scout7

CPT Curmudgeon

Sounds like it could have been more a product of your training, but that's mere supposition on my part; it just looks like a complaint I've seen in the past from people, and usually it turns out that there's almost no variation in their training efforts.

I have nothing against heart rate training; I think it is a perfectly viable method.  I do not agree with using a mathematical formula to determine target heart rate numbers, though.  I prefer to use numbers that have been determine from a field test.

I train by HR whenever possible.  In fact, I'm a data junkie.  But I'm not tied to the Maffetone way, or any way other than my way.

As such, I try to maintain a comfortable HR at all times (140s, to low 150s).  I happen to bike and swim as well, and when I transition from one sport to the other in a short period of time, it's very difficult to know and feel your perceived level of effort.  Rather than measuring speed, or my perceived level of effort, I measure HR.

This topic of discussion leads to dialogue within this community, and there are many here that speak of running by a perceived level of effort that is comfortable.  They're right.  Some tend to guide you away from HR training, and I know there's merit to their words, but I prefer my way.

As a newer runner, you may not know what a comfortable "level of effort" is.  You may think that it's all hard and all high effort.  As such, a monitor will assist you as you begin your journey into this addictive sport.

Personally, I wouldn't be caught up in a given method (ie. Maffetone), but if it works, do it..  Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it!

Cheers,
Brian

2017 Goals:

#1: Do what I can do (200+ training days, 200+ aerobic hours).

#2: Race shape (1/2 marathon, 2 half Ironmans, marathon)

#3: Prepare for 2018

Scout7

CPT Curmudgeon

I *knew* it.

Triathlete and data junkie seem to be part and parcel.

I *knew* it.

Triathlete and data junkie seem to be part and parcel.

The pain that hurts the worse is the imagined pain. One of the most difficult arts of racing is learning to ignore the imagined pain and just live with the present pain (which is always bearable.) - Jeff

2014 Goals:

Stay healthy

Enjoy life

I *knew* it.

Triathlete and data junkie seem to be part and parcel.

Yes, there is a method to my madness, or do I mean a reason for my madness...

2017 Goals:

#1: Do what I can do (200+ training days, 200+ aerobic hours).

#2: Race shape (1/2 marathon, 2 half Ironmans, marathon)

#3: Prepare for 2018

Scout7

CPT Curmudgeon