Marathon finish heart rate (Read 1248 times)

    Hi all,


    I ran the Ottawa marathon yesterday.  It all went well.  Weather was fine, I was in a better shape than I expected, and PR'd by 6 minutes.  Yeah!  But that's not the topic of my post.


    I ran with the Garmin and the heart-rate monitor.  I started a bit faster than I originally planned, but really, I felt comfortable, and the heart-rate monitor confirmed it, bouncing around 160 bpm until around km 30 or so.  I kicked it up a bit at that point, sending the HR progressively a bit higher, 165, 170.  That was pretty much my plan, start slow, and go progressively faster.  I did not quite manage to do the flying finish I was hoping for in the last 2 Ks, but really I was very happy with my day, and went home beaming...


    ... until I sat down home and checked the downloaded race data.  In the last km, the HR had twin spikes at 210!  The numbers shocked me.  I should say that I am 47, that I had a max heart rate recorded at 190 when doing a pseudo VO2 max test done under protocol on a threadmill.  So according to the Garmin, for a few minutes I suddenly sent my heart up to 20 bpm above its max.   Did I come unwittingly close to becoming that guy who collapses right before the finish line?  The thought, honestly, troubles me.


    I had not noticed a problem on the course.  I had a glance at some point in the last stretch which indicated 186, but that was not impossibly high, and I was not paying much attention to the numbers any more, more to the 500 m or so to the finish line, let's get this done.


    I don't worship the Garmin.  Clearly, occasionally, there is noise, in either speed or heart rate, bogus spikes, or even longer duration aberrations when wet or due to static, which I ignore.  But what do you think about this?  Was the HRM acting a bit flaky, going without warning from 170s to 210?  Was it accurate, but not to worry, going beyond max is something that happens now and then?  Or was the heart really dangerously overclocking and should I show this to a cardiologist and at least be very, very careful about my effort level and going near max heart rate?


    Any thoughts on this?

      Wow that is scary. I have used a Garmin for years and have never seen any kind of activity like that! I do get high readings 220+ at the start of a run but that is only if I neglect to get my chest wet before I head out. Once I get a little sweat going it seems to be bang on? Any chance there was some other interference? Vaseline on the contacts? Otherwise you might want to show your doctor the heart rate graph and ask for more tests?

      2016 Goals

      2000 miles

      Get ready for my 2nd Boston Marathon

      No race goals, just stay healthy and work on flexibility and strength. 



        Looks more like a lost connection.  Those things are not medical devices.


          Garmin heart rate monitors are definitely not medical diagnostic tools. If you think you have a problem see a cardiologist - but, doing so on the basis of a couple of spikes is not something that *I* would do. You say that you didn't notice a problem on the course.


          I am afraid if you want re-assurance you can trust, you need more than a forum can offer. People do drop dead near the finish line - although not that often. Looking at the odds, my experience is that Garmin heart rate monitors malfunction much more often than human hearts do.....and I have lost a colleague to sudden death at the end of a 10 km race, and I narrowly missed seeing  the death this year at the London Marathon. But, I have seen hundreds of weird Garmin traces.....

          Petco Run/Walk/Wag 5k

            +1 on the lost connection or even static electricity. I get weird spikes from my Garmin all the time - seems to depend on tightness of strap, and other factors. It doesn't bother me and I'm post heart attack. I wouldn't worry about it unless it happens continually during training runs at steady pacing

            bob e v
            2014 goals: keep on running! Is there anything more than that?

            Complete the last 3 races in the Austin Distance Challenge, Rogue 30k, 3M Half, Austin Full

            Break the 1000 mi barrier!

            History: blessed heart attack 3/15/2008; c25k july 2008 first 5k 10/26/2008 on 62nd birthday.

              I get that kind of crazy-Garmin-HR stuff on training runs frequently.


              Congrats on your PR!

              "I want you to pray as if everything depends on it, but I want you to prepare yourself as if everything depends on you."

              -- Dick LeBeau

                I had the same thing in my last marathon, so I went from the finish line straight to the med tent.  The doctor on duty, a marathoner herself, checked my actual heart rate.  It was about 2/3 of the Garmin heart rate.  She did say that if my true heart rate was that high, I would not have been standing up, much less running.  And that marathon was a two minute PR. 


                As I was about one mile into an easy run this morning, my Garmin heart rate went from 116 up to 165 for about a minute, then back down to 120.  That also was Garmin, not me. 

                I've got a fever...

                  Another vote for poor connection.  I have a Forerunner 305 (or had, until it died) and it would spike the HR when the chest strap connection wasn't good.


                  Aside: I was happy to see you were relying on a "real" value for your max HR, not 220-Age.  When I started reading your post, I thought I was going to have to dig out my old standby article on why 220-Age is crap.

                  On your deathbed, you won't wish that you'd spent more time at the office.  But you will wish that you'd spent more time running.  Because if you had, you wouldn't be on your deathbed.

                    Interesting replies.  My experience with the Garmin HR monitor has been more like what Rick Stone has posted.  Other than the first mile my HR monitor has reported very smooth data throughout my runs.  I wore it on during a marathon a few years ago and there were no spikes even at the end - just a smooth, slight increase the last 5K.  That marathon was one of the reasons I stopped wearing the monitor - didn't seem worthwhile for the uninteresting data I was getting.


                      I get high readings the first mile or so also, its good to know I'm not the only one!


                      I've never seen spikes like that at the end, but it wouldn't surprise me that it would he an error in the Garmin.  Sometimes the belt slides down after a long run, the band gets wet and it gets out of position... Perhaps it just slid down?

                      5K 20:20 9/17/11 13.1 1:36:58 6/12/11 26.2 3:34:19 9/23/2012

                        Rick_Stone: yep there are known issues with heart-rate monitors and I have encountered them before: start running with nothing to conduct, or get suddenly drenched by rain, and the heart-rate you get is garbage.  And then you start to sweat, or the rain stops, and all of a sudden the readings come to their senses.  But I had not seen a case where numbers seem about right, freak out for a couple of minutes for no apparent reason and then get back to expected values.


                        Thanks to all who shared their experiences, it looks like these things happen, so I feel better that it was a case of fluke meeting a slight hypocondriac.  BTW I am getting an echocardiogram this week, so this should catch a heart anomaly I would hope.


                        I can almost hear some more experienced runners here ask why run with a HRM, when you could be running by feel, paying attention to the rich signals your body sends as to your effort level, not this one narrow physiological measure yaddi-yadda.  OK I wish I could do that, but as a still inexperienced runner I like to gather data and compare it with my subjective impressions.   For instance in this race, I started a bit faster than I initially planned.  It was good to see the HRM confirm "yep, don't worry, this is indeed an easy effort, you're on a good day".


                          Yeah but... it didn't really totally work, did it?


                          Learning to do without is a good skill.


                            Yeah but... it didn't really totally work, did it?


                            Learning to do without is a good skill.


                            Didn't work?  Not sure how.  I'm pretty happy with my race and pacing.  I did adjust my plan to the feeling on race day, the HRM I was seeing helped confirm that it was OK to do so, in spite of the disappointing workouts I had had in recent weeks.  But I agree that ideally, which I expect to come with more experience, I should be able to just rely on my judgement.


                            In retrospect, the lesson I learned is rather the importance of knowing the course.  I am not from the city, and I was too careless about that, relying on what I heard as "bah, pretty much all flat".  Which was mostly true, but in fact the first half was rather slightly downhill, and the second half had a few hills and the sun and temperature were out and up.  Ideally, I should have been a bit less easygoing in that first half, and not count on an agressive second half. 


                              I meant... it didn't "totally work" because you started a thread about a weird set of readings which were likely instrumentation error.


                              A PR by 6 minutes is very cool, and if your HRM helped you do that... also very cool.  I was just responding to your last paragraph which sounded like your disclaimer for using a HRM.


                              Tomorrow will be worse

                                Congrats on the finish! I ran the same race and came in 14mins behind you - also a PR for me, but then anything would have been as it was my first ever race


                                Chipping in on the garmin thing, I don't often wear my HR strap, but I've noticed a few times I have HR readings for a km or so - I think what happened was that I picked up someone else's signal when running too close. Given how many people were in that finish stretch, interference from someone else's machine doesn't seem beyond the realm of possibility