High heart rate whilst running: Hello everyone... - Bridge to 10K

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High heart rate whilst running

RuddyRunning profile image

Hello everyone I was wondering if you could give me some advice. I finished C25K about a year ago and have been running fairly irregularly since. At least weekly but rarely as much as 3 times a week. I tend to run for between 30 to 40 mins (I usually cover about 5k in 40 mins) and whilst I get quite tired I don't feel like I'm going at my full effort and can usually keep on going to the end.

I invested in a Garmin watch a couple of months ago as I was curious to see more stats.

My watch keeps telling me to do an easy pace with a heart rate of 125bpm but I just can't seem to keep it low. Within less than a minute I'm already up to 140 bpm and then spend the majority of the rest of my run at 160 to 165 bpm. I always come home looking like a red 🍅. Whilst the heat doesn't help to be fair I looked like that after running in the snow last February, so I imagine my heart rate was high then too but I didn't have the Garmin at that time.

I would really like to experience a nice easy run and I would imagine a HR of 125 bpm must feel lovely but it really seems impossible for me to be able to run slow enough to keep within that zone for 20 seconds, let alone a whole run.

In some ways I wish I was still running blissfully unaware of how high my heart rate is as now I'm not sure how concerned I should be. (I'm 54 yrs old).

Btw my other heart stats seem okay, resting hr is average 53 and my recovery hr after today's run was 42 which seems okay.

I would be very grateful for any thoughts you might have, or strategies to make me go even slower as I don't know how to.

Many thanks

32 Replies
Sandraj39 profile image

Firstly, there are regular posts on here expressing the same worries - I think if you search you will be reassured that you are not alone!

Your average heart rate is similar to mine (I am 56) and we are both still standing! I had the same worries when I first acquired the hr monitor on my Garmin. My heart rate goes quite high occasionally but never for very long.

Others who understand this better than me will hopefully explain ( and I am of course not medically trained, so if you are concerned do check with your GP) but some of us do naturally have a higher heart rate when exercising than others. I think key, is how you feel; if you were hitting your max hr you would know, as it would be difficult to sustain that pace and effort. How well your HR recovers is also a factor.

I never look at my hr during a run (distance, pace and time is enough for me!) and this has served me well over the last few years. I do look at my stats after a run of course but can now put this in to some context. It is possible to change the settings for your HR zones on Garmin to better reflect what is normal for you.

Hope you find other answers here reassuring and are able to enjoy your running again! 🙂

Thanks for your reply Sandra. And its good to hear others have similar experience. I seem to keep reading about people who manage to keep at an average of 125 bpm and I would imagine that feels lovely and relaxing. It would also be nice to come home not looking like I've just done an ultra marathon across the Sahara! 🍅

Grannyhugs profile image

When I got my garmin almost 2 years ago I was horrified as my HR was way way higher than your max. Then after consulting doctor, and actually thinking about it, I realised garmin HR bands didn’t work for me so I changed the max HR to 190, I can run at higher HR without many side affects. A good average HR for me is mid 150 and garmin likes that so much he puts me in my 20’s. I’m closer to 60! I did slow down my running so average 7:15 km and that helps, I also don’t run in very hot weather. Happy running 🤗

Thanks for your reassurance grannyhugs. I suppose I just felt a bit disheartened that after running for a year and actually covering less distance in my runs than when I first graduated that the runs weren't becoming any easier. But I'll keep going.

Grannyhugs profile image
GrannyhugsAmbassador in reply to RuddyRunning

Try slower runs, it takes a while to get used to it but the pay off is you finish your run the same colour as you started it and get on with your day as if the run hadn’t happened. Do some speed work now and then to check how close to your target you are but continuing to attempt fast runs every time isn’t what the Olympic athletes do🤗

I'm really trying to run slow but can't seem to manage any slower without stopping. When I go any slower I seem to loose all rhythm and momentum. I may give jeffing a try. Thanks

Grannyhugs profile image
GrannyhugsAmbassador in reply to RuddyRunning

😂 I feel for you 🤗

rayvinloon profile image
rayvinloonGraduate10 in reply to RuddyRunning

I had the same concerns too what I do is forget time and pace and try roughly to keep my HR, for me, between 135 and 145 (even that is supposed to be in the top end of my HR for my age) when I'm running and I've learnt to adjust my pace slightly as required

Thank you it's really interesting and encouraging to hear that other people have similar concerns and how they get around them. I just haven't been able to adjust my pace sufficiently (yet) to be able to have much control over it. But I'll keep trying.

rayvinloon profile image
rayvinloonGraduate10 in reply to RuddyRunning

Good luck 👍 and happy running

Maz1103 profile image

I've always worried about a high heart rate when running, even though my resting is only 52 (I'm 57) so I've been trying low heart rate running for the last couple of months. I just had to go really slow to keep it in zone 2 and 3 (maximum of 150 for me) and even walk for a couple of minutes if it went over. With practice I can keep it down quite easily for 3k now before it goes over 140 and a bit faster than when I first started (still slower than my previous natural pace). It's just taken practice and patience. Most of my runs have an average heart rate of about 135 when I go slow.

I started by just doing it for 30 minutes, then when I felt more comfortable at a slower pace, increased to 35, then 40 minutes. The hot weather made it more difficult but I will persevere

I ignored the 220 minus age formula and worked my own zones out based on heart rate reserve, although my max is an educated guess based on the highest I've seen

I do sometimes worry I'll never be able to speed up again, so test myself every now and again.

RuddyRunning profile image
RuddyRunning in reply to Maz1103

Thanks for this, it's very interesting and quite encouraging. It would seem that you have done this more through 'training' your heart, a bit like trying to train and pull back an over excitable dog who keeps pulling at the lead. This is quite counter intuitive ie not expecting your heart rate to gradually improve with greater fitness.

I will keep trying and maybe just stop running and walk whenever my heart rate goes above desired level. But I fear I will be walking a lot more than running, at least to start with anyway.

Thank you

nowster profile image

Similarly, I have a high HR when doing strenuous running.

Last Saturday during parkrun my HR peaked at 197bpm (for 30s right at the end).

The following day I did 10km and it was an average 165bpm for the bulk of it.

I'm 52, and the usual formula says my max HR should be 158bpm!

RuddyRunning profile image
RuddyRunning in reply to nowster

Thanks for your reply Nowster. Are you able to run at a low heart rate when you want to and aren't pushing yourself? Because that is what I would like to be able to do. I don't mind my heart rate being high if I'm trying to run strenuously, but it rises very quickly even when I'm attempting an 'easy' supposedly recovery run. I don't seem to have any control over it. And a nice slow relaxing run sounds very appealing.

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate10 in reply to RuddyRunning

What I found was that on much longer runs (eg. 15km) in cool weather I was setting into things better and my HR was bumbling around the 150-ish level.

Hills are the great stressors for me though. Once I've run a climb the HR will crank up and refuse to go down. (Unless I walk. Slow running doesn't help it.)

Chesterlove profile image
ChesterloveGraduate10 in reply to nowster

That sounds very similar to me. Very reassuring!

Cmoi profile image

I only wear my Garmin when I'm running, haven't yet bothered to adjust the heart rate setting, and never look at heart rate while I'm running. I run a lot of hills and trails so I'm usually too busy trying to stay on my feet!

Maximum heart rate recorded is 178bpm, average varies a lot, from 145-ish to 160-ish. I'm 60, so that makes nonsense (unsurprisingly) of the 220 minus age formula! Garmin thinks I'm 20, so is clearly deluded.

For me personally, and where I am with running at the moment, trying to run to a given heart rate would stress me enormously and undermine my self-belief, which isn't great at the best of times. I'm not decrying the benefits others get from low heart rate training, but it just isn't for me right now.

RuddyRunning profile image
RuddyRunning in reply to Cmoi

Thanks for this, and you are quite right of course, I probably shouldn't let it distract me. I have given it maybe too much attention because when I press run button at the beginning of my run my watch makes a suggestion to run for a specified length of time and HR. And because I'm more than happy for it to take the lead in our running relationship I accept the challenge and then it keeps buzzing me when I'm over the agreed rate which is all the time. And sometimes I get a screen message along the lines of "well done for completing this, you obviously had to work really hard throughout but you came through" (I paraphrase but something like that.) And this gets me thinking there is obviously another probably easier way of doing this, and if that's the case I think I'd like to try that version for a while. But I can't seem to do it any other way.

I think you should feel very proud of yourself for running on hills and trails, I don't think I could manage it.

Cmoi profile image
CmoiGraduate10 in reply to RuddyRunning

Thanks RuddyRunning. I live in France's Massif Central, where hills aren't optional, so I did them from the start of C25K.

I've avoided guided runs and watch-based training programmes as I don't respond well to being told what to do by some program that knows nothing about my environment. I find run data a mixed blessing too, as I can all too easily get obsessed with improvement, to the detriment of enjoyment.

Happy running, whatever that means to you!

RuddyRunning profile image
RuddyRunning in reply to Cmoi

Thank you, you make some very good points which I will bare in mind.

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate10 in reply to Cmoi

I look at run data afterwards to go, "Golly gosh!¹ Did I really do that there?" or, "So that's why I felt tired after that point!"


¹ Or something to that effect.

RuddyRunning profile image
RuddyRunning in reply to nowster

Yes it's interesting to look at it afterwards. I think I'll try some jeffing for a bit, some people seem to enjoy that. I have been a bit loath to try it in the past because I don't want to lose the ability to run for 30 mins non-stop. But I'm curious to see if you can 'train' and over time hold back your heart like that. I'll let you know how I get on. Thanks

Cmoi profile image
CmoiGraduate10 in reply to nowster

Definitely that nowster. Though for me it's overall proof; not so much "Photos or it didn't happen!" as "If it's not on Strava/Garmin it didn't happen!"

RunWillie profile image
RunWillieGraduate10 in reply to Cmoi

I was thinking of you yesterday Cmoi We went on a trail run and hit a massive incline which I could barely walk up. Respect ❤️🏃‍♀️

Cmoi profile image
CmoiGraduate10 in reply to RunWillie

Thanks RunWillie, that's so kind. Happy running to you!

Speedy60 profile image

If you're confident you don't have any serious underlying health conditions, you might find it less stressful to ignore the stats and concentrate on how you feel. If you can talk in sentences (or could if you wanted to), that's your easy pace. If you're sentences are in short bursts, that's your tempo run. If you feel you could barely speak, that's your max.

Of course, if you own a Garmin, it's hard to ignore the stats (I really enjoy the stats on mine). But you really need to have the zones set personalised to you. There's information in this article on how to work them out. Also, a wrist monitor isn't that accurate, you really need a chest monitor if you get serious about heart rate running.

I think heart rate training is really helpful, but I struggled with it. I often had to walk to get my heart rate back within range. I know the whole point is that, given time, I would be able to go faster for the same output, but I got fed up with Mrs Garmin warning me to slow down when I was having fun, so I never stuck with it long enough. I'm just happy that my recovery time is good and my resting heart rate generally in the 40s. Good luck.


Thank you so much for your reply. I think I'll give the heart rate training a go because I would like to have some 'easy' run days. But for me that will mean trying the jeffing thing because I can't seem to run and control my heart rate at the same time, I will just have to keep walking to get it back to a low level and then start up again. It will be interesting to see if this will help eventually.I'll let you know how I get on.

Speedy60 profile image
Speedy60Graduate10 in reply to RuddyRunning

Good luck. I don't think it's unusual to walk to bring your heart rate down to begin with. If you have more patience than me, you should gradually be able to increase your pace and keep your heart rate low. It can take quite a while to see results though, and be prepared for things like hot weather, tiredness and alcohol consumption to cause short term blips. 👍

Maz1103 profile image
Maz1103Graduate10 in reply to Speedy60

I'm so relieved you've said your resting heart rate is in the 40s. Mine has dropped to 50 and I've been panicking that it will get slower and slower til it stops !!!

Speedy60 profile image
Speedy60Graduate10 in reply to Maz1103

Oh goodness no! Mine was about 60 before I was a runner. It has gradually gone down as I've got fitter, although I can still tell if I've lost sleep or been drinking alcohol. Mid 40s isn't unusual if you're fit. Obviously, I should say, if you have any concerns, you should speak to a doctor, but I've heard so many new runners doing that and being told congratulations!

Maz1103 profile image
Maz1103Graduate10 in reply to Speedy60

Mine was always low anyway (58 ish) but even after several wines last night its 50. I suppose after a year of 3 or 4 runs a week its gone down. Like you its higher if I don't sleep well. I feel fine so that should be the judge !!

Chesterlove profile image

I’m 53 and usually run at about 175bpm but got to 188 at Parkrun today (too high for me). I’m not sure it’s that easy to determine what’s right for whom. The advice on here is alsways to run at a pace you can talk easily.

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