Couch to 5K
52,586 members84,660 posts

Can finally run with a low HR

Something quite unusual is happening to me ( I think) . I restarted wearing a heart rate monitor about a month ago and basically wear it on every run now. I set it to show "average" HR -- I actually have two HRM's and their average displays are different - one works by starting the stop watch in the watch - and it then averages out HR until the stopwatch is stopped, hence it shows the average HR for the entire run. My other one only averages HR over the past couple of minutes - hence it shows the current "average" HR as you run. This second one is the one I have been using.

Early days of experimentation showed me that my max HR when walking as fast as I can was about 95 -- but as soon as I started to run , however slowly , it immediately leaped up to 120+ . As my absolute MAX HR is around 160, this did not leave much headroom between running very slowly and running flat out.

I have been using one of Jack Daniel's "training for fitness" programmes - one day per week is 30 min easy with 6 "strides" at the end of the run ( at a very slow pace, 1-1:30 mins per K slower than current 5K race pace) , 2 days of tempo runs - about 40 minutes at around 10 seconds per K slower than 5K race pace and a long run at easy pace ( which I use run/walk to do as I have decided that anything over 5K is run/walk for me)

I also gave up drinking coffee about 3 weeks ago.

The unusual thing that is happening to me ( and it has happened for the second time today ) is that I can now run at the very slow easy pace without feeling the pain in my calf muscles that slow running previously induced AND at a low HR below 120 BPM (unheard of for me!!) I can only think that this Jack Daniel's plan is indeed improving my fitness, or it's a culmination happening after a year's running -- OR it's the reduction in caffeine intake.

In any case, I am happy with the development! :)

10 Replies

I agree with KittyKat, coffee is horrible stuff, although I must own up, being a Brit I drink gallons of strong tea every day, and tea has more caffeine than coffee, but it doesn't affect me in the same way.

I'm doing an Asics 10K plan, Bazza, and my runs for the first couple of weeks were meant to be at 9.45 per KM, that kills my knees...


Yes - running slow is hard on the legs . It is strange that it is recommended so much by almost all training plans/trainers ?? I am intending to stick with it for one run per week -- I think that perhaps I am just starting to break through both the pain barrier :) and the HR limit - will have to wait further to see. A lot of this "training" is really meant to build our muscles - it can take years !!

There is a very well known Medical doctor who is a running trainer - Phil Maffetone and he says that we should run long distances at very low heart rate numbers -- for me his "formula" would mean that I have to do long runs at only 112 heart beats per minute . I have tried it in the past and could never get anywhere near so low , but now I am thinking that maybe I can. I had given up his training ideas as unobtainable for me -- but I think I will have to revisit it.


I'm afraid I've just ignored it, I can walk faster than fact, last run I knocked about 30 secs off my KM time...I don't care really if I ever get to 10K in the 6 mins per KM I'm supposed to following this plan, I just needed some kind of structure to my running - too easy to just wimp out and say "I won't do too much today" - every day!


Yes -- but speed/pace is not the major consideration when running slow and easy . The idea is that we do it at the pace specified - we get fitter doing that and eventually we can run at that same pace with less effort - or at a faster pace at the same effort.


You know, I still class myself as a new runner, and as such I'm still playing around with what works for me. I really think that the really slow runs don't suit me, you might have seen my post a few weeks ago about feeling down and gloomy after running, that doesn't seem to happen if I speed up a bit. I'm not talking fast exactly, the other day I averaged 8.15, and had one KM of 8.03...

You try running at 9.45, and tell me if it's possible lol!


Are you doing one of those Asics plans?? They really don't look right to me!!!

I put in my time for a 5k and told it to give me a plan to train for a 10 K . There are 4 paces involved in the plan - Jog, comfortable, intervals and fast. The last two - intervals and fast- seem to me to be correct paces to train at (after considering what the JD, McMillan and Good Run Guide calculators say) - but the first two - jog and comfortable seem to me to be waaaay too slow!! Easy runs and long runs should be about 1-1:30 mins per k slower than race pace. This Asics calculator wants me to do easy runs at 10:18 min per K!!!

I did an easy run this morning at 8:10 per K.


I'm sort of doing it...mine gives me jog and comfortable only. When I did my first couple of runs at the comfortable pace it adjusted the whole programme to comfortable.

When asked for my 5K time the only choices were faster or slower than 30 mins.

I'm quite happy with it as it's just a bit faster than I'm doing now so hope it will speed me up a bit. I have no intention of running any races, just wanted to have something to follow.


I agree entirely that running slowly can be hard. I ran a parkrun a while back with one of my boys in around 34 mins and my legs were killing me at the end.

But don't forget that the various training paces are derived from race pace. So, if you're a relatively new runner then trying to stick to the calculated values makes no sense. For example, if I plug in my 5K PB of 23:18 in to then that gives me a easy run pace of about 6 min/km which is something I can comfortably maintain for an hour. However someone who runs 5K in 40 mins would be looking at 10-10:30 min/km, which is about the speed of a brisk walk.

My advice to anyone with a 5K PB over 30 mins is to ignore calculated pace values and think more in terms of a gentle, sustainable pace for your longer runs. Time rather than distance/speed being the key.


That calculator gives what looks to me to be reasonable training paces, even for easy runs.. My understanding though is that we shouldn't plug PB's into the calculator - but "current" times. So for me, I have run a 5K PB of 32:30 -- but that was almost 6 months ago , in winter. Right now , in a stinking hot summer, I can't seem to get past around 35:00 - so that is the result I plug into the calculator. My understanding then is that the training paces are based upon current fitness levels - not past ones or future desires ones :)


Fortunately (running wise) it's winter in the UK and some of the mild weather we've had recently is perfect for fast running. I take your point though, running hard on a hot day can be tough. Onwards and upwards!


You may also like...