Resting Heart Rate: Long- vs Medium-distance (Read 99 times)

Sultan of slug

    A friend of mine is a startlingly good rower, who rowed in college and now competes on a city team at regional and national races. His boat has won multiple national races, sometimes against boats that boast Olympic rowers. Like me, this fellow is in his late 20s.


    Given that he's in devastatingly better all-around shape than I am, I was surprised to learn that his resting pulse* is in the mid- to upper-40s. This seems high for a well conditioned athlete. I've fallen out of shape due to injury and am just now starting to run 20-mile weeks, and my resting pulse is in the mid-40s as well. When I was training for a marathon last summer/fall, it was often below 40. And I only ran a 3:09.


    My friend rows races ranging from 1 km to 6 km. Regional- or national-class rowers clock 6 km on a rowing machine around or under 20:00, from what I've gathered. Other distances seem to closely mirror fast-ish running times for the equivalent races.


    This got me thinking about why long distance runners' resting heart rates are so low. For you runners who compete in races that last anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes, what kind of resting heart rates do you have? Is a low heart rate a function of running, and something that even shorter-distance runners can easily achieve? Or do slower long-distance runners like me have lower resting pulses than serious middle-distance runners?


    Curious as to others' experiences with this.


    *(For clarification, by "resting" heart rate I mean what some call "ambient" heart rate - not your pulse upon waking, but just sitting around at work or at home.)

      There's way too much individual difference in RHR to read anything into your rower friend's RHR versus yours. In general, resting heart rates below 50 are really rare except in adult athletes. You and your buddy are both near the low end of the normal range.


      My resting heart rate is generally 46-48 and my marathon PR is 20 minutes faster than yours.

      Runners run.

      Latent Runner

        My resting heart rate is, and always has been low.  As a teenage track and cross-country runner I had a doctor try and put me in the hospital for tests one time when I came in with a bad case of poison ivy.  Why?  My RHR was something like 35.  At the same time, my younger brother (all of one year younger), who also ran track and cross-country was typically beating along in the mid to high 50s.


        Now some 40 years later my RHR is typically in the low to mid 40s, in spite of the fact that I am rather overweight (I still run in spite of the weight), and my brother, who is probably in slightly better shape than me, has an RHR in the mid 60s.


        I guess the best conclusion one can draw from all of this is pretty much what mikeymike said, "There's way too much individual difference in RHR to read anything into your rower friend's RHR versus yours."

        Fat old man PRs:

        • 1-mile (point to point, gravity assist): 5:50
        • 2-mile: 13:49
        • 5K (gravity assist last mile): 21:31
        • 5-Mile: 37:24
        • 10K (first 10K of my Half Marathon): 48:16
        • 10-Mile (first 10 miles of my Half Marathon): 1:17:40
        • Half Marathon: 1:42:13