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Heart rate confusion/concern?

Hello all. I have a concern that I hope someone can help with. I'm 50 years old, my resting heart rate is about 59, but when I run it goes up to about 160 very quickly and stays there for the whole run occasionally peaking at 172. I've read that this isn't good and that I'm at my anaerobic threshold whereas I should be in the 'aerobic' threshold which is 149 tops. How do I get myself down to that?? I always seem to be at about 160 - NB I have only bee running since last October. Before that I couldn't even run for 30 seconds without having to stop! Is this prolonged running at the threshold really bad for me?? Looking forward to some advice as I'm a bit worried that I'm doing myself no good :(

15 Replies

Two quick questions:

1) How do you know your anaerobic/lactic threshold?

2) Do you feel sick/nauseous after running?


Hi Dunder2004!

1) I put my details into

2) No



OK. Any generic calculation including the one used by that calculator is, I am afraid, pretty much worthless. Two people of the same age and gender can easily have maximum heart rates that differ by 30-40bpm.

If you are not feeling nauseous after a run, it is a fairly safe bet that you have not spent a lot of time at/over your actual anaerobic threshold.

There is no substitute for an actual test to establish your actual maximum HR but as a guide to your actual zones, you could try these.

Your Aerobic zone

Try a 5K run at your normal pace (when you see an HR in the 160's). After the 3K mark could you comfortably hold a conversation? If yes, try to speed up a little bit and try again. The point at which you find it difficult to hold a conversation is near the top of your aerobic HR zone.

Your Maximum Heart Rate

The test for measuring this is pretty brutal but as a reasonable proxy you could try running 5K at your fastest/race pace but put in a 'sprint' finish over the last 300m (make sure the finish is not downhill). Your highest HR reading during that 300m will likely be 3-5bpm lower than your Maximum HR.


Thanks very much for your reply! I think I'm going to have to work myself up to that second test though! I will try both and see how things go. It's some comfort to know that if I'm not nauseous either during or after a run then I'm probably not at or over my anaerobic threshold. I volunteered at my local Park Run last week and saw a few people coming in retching and heaving which was quite an eye opener, and not something I would like to be doing at the end of a Park Run, or any other run for that matter!

Thanks again Dunder400


No problem. You are of a similar age to me and based on the figures you have given, I would guess that your max HR is just a tad higher than mine (but a fair bit higher than the calculator suggests), so in the order of 190bpm or so.

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Thank you! This has all been really helpful.


Putting your details into that calculator ( with a max HR of 172) , it gives numbers which make a lot of sense. When you say that your HR gets up to 160 and stays there for the "whole run " , are you talking about when running at parkrun? If so, I would expect this completely - running parkrun in that threshold zone is common for me - and I get into the top Zone 5 at the finish.


A good test also is to see what your HR gets up to when you are walking on the flat as fast as you can go. HR zones are commonly split into 5 different zones - I place this maxHR when walking number at around the middle of my personal Zone 1. Then , after raising your HR as high as it will go by walking as fast as you can on the flat, change your gait from a walking gait to a slow jogging gait. The idea is to basically "run" at the same pace that you were walking fast - but you will see that your HR increases maybe 10-15 beats( because you are now basically leaping into the air :) ) . This places you around the top of your Zone 1 "recovery" zone. A further increase in pace while jogging to a pace on the flat no faster than you can maintain conversationally ( be able to speak long and loud completely freely while running) places me at the top of my Zone 2 aerobic running zone. Zone 3 is also an aerobic zone - but the pace is faster and I can only speak in short sentences. Zone 4 is when I am at parkrun and running fairly hard ( threzhold zone) - can't talk too much at all except maybe call out some quick insults to friends as we pass :) - Zone 5 is anaerobic and I can only do for maybe 3-400 metres as I race to the finish line. If I go for too long in this zone, I will definitely get close to retching or at least completely loose control of my breathing once i have stopped running

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Thanks for all that Bazza! The 160 seems to be more or less a constant whenever I go for a run of 30 minutes of more - the max I have ever run is 1hr 22 and it levelled out at 160 on that one too. NB I haven't been running long so have no longitudinal data to go on! I was just concerned that I might be doing myself some damage if the heart rate is so high for so long? It doesn't feel like I am so maybe I'd better stop stressing and just get on with it!


It would be good for you to finish parkrun as hard as you can go ( almost throwing up at the end) :) - this will get you close to a maximum HR. Close enough anyway for some decent training - remember we don't need to train maximally - sub-maximal training is fine for us plodders. We can leave the maximal training up to the budding olympians. :)


I am happy to leave the maximal training up to anyone else who is prepared to do it! Thanks Bazza1234 - I'll contemplate the throwing up bit as I approach the finish line tomorrow morning ;)


I don't use my hrm much, but when I do I set my Garmin zone at..

Zone 3

Perceived Exertion: Moderate pace, more difficult to hold conversation

% of maximum heart rate: 70-80%

So it bleeps and tells me if I'm too far under or over..

Have you set yours properly?😊


I haven't got a Garmin. I did ask Santa for one for Christmas but he brought me a Fitbit instead which I personally think is a bit rubbish, but it's all I've got!


Fitbits have hrm with zones to not only garmin, so yours has no zones to set?

Be careful, see the report last year on these..


I like the satsuma test! I have almost no faith in the fitbit and am going to consign it to my bedroom drawer until further notice. I am not interested enough in it to fiddle around with zones etc especially considering the lack of faith I have in it already! I think I will go by how I feel. Thank you for all your advice, tips and support :)


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