Couch to 5K
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Wk X Run N - spinning - 150 bpm pulse

I need to do some more research on the approximate interpretation of various pulse rates as a metric for effort level, but the last look I had said 150 was closer to my aerobic level than the 140 I've been sticking to up to now for fear of damaging the engine. Certainly compared to other perceived efforts (mainly from exercise under coercion of various kinds when I was young) it felt like work, but nowhere near any lethal threshold, so I just stuck with it as much as possible. I hope that's a reasonable approach.

I've been way, way beyond what "150" feels like before, but it never felt like it was doing any good. And I'm guessing that up till now, my running effort has seldom bumped this level of exertion (regardless of what the pulse reading might be), yet that somewhat less intense effort has carried me along nicely. Put it this way: Never before at any time in my life have I been running along thinking about something else for a while before realising that I'm running along as I think of that something else. I suppose I must have been fitter for having being tortured for many hours a day for a very long time (and actually I could move to the lesser extreme of rugby practices, rugby matches, and the desperate struggle to keep up with the rest of the scrum for 80 minutes, or fartleks the teachers didn't dare risk calling fartleks in case of silliness breaking out.) I must surely have been fitter, but it never took me to a point where I was running along nice and relaxed, and just enjoying it. So this crude little "theory" is something like, "less is more", I suppose. Moving along in a gentle progression in the c25k way can take you further than pushing all the limits. Really. Because this way you can reach a point where you don't want to avoid exercise at all costs.

Oh, I'm forgetting to report on the spinning progress. I went spinning today. It was OK because there's this heart monitor you can play with, and I don't mind dripping sweat everywhere, it turns out. That should do quite adequately for a "spin report".

5 Replies


I have done a fair bit of "playing around" with a HRM and a fair bit of research about using them. They ARE a fantastic piece of equipment to use - BUT we really need to have a reasonably close approximation of our max HR and resting HR to be able to use them. Even then - they are only a guide because every "trainer" on the Internet who talks about HR "zones" uses different % numbers to calculate those zones. And those that use the HRR - heart rate reserve numbers which take into account current physical fitness through the use of the resting HR use even different %'s and resulting numbers. So, even if we knew our Max HR absolutely, there is still a lot of room to manouvre when calculating the zones.

There are many formulas which supposedly calculate our maxHR. They also give different results ! :) And even if one was the absolutely most accurate - it still only gives an "average" for a given age - so if you and I were the same age , we could still each have a maxHR that varies by up to 20 between us!!

For me, I have averaged out the numbers which come from a number of these formulas - and on a few occasions I have noted my HR at parkrun when I have "sprinted" as fast as I can for the last 100 metres or so after the 5K run and felt like I was about to throw up!! From all this, I reckon that my maxHR is somewhere between 160-165 - as opposed to the 152 that the old formula of 220 - age gives me.

So - for me , an easy workout with HR between about 124-128 - seems to coincide rather well with the idea of 75-80% for "easy" . 65-70% for a very slow recovery activity = between 110 - 120 and, at these numbers, I find running to be a bit "painful" physically. 136 = approx 85% for me - this is a good "steady state" figure - comfortably hard, as in a tempo run. 144-154 = 90%+ which is 5K race pace for me. 100% can only be sustained for a VERY short time!! - for me , a matter of seconds!! :)


Hmm - the above was so drawn out!!!

A summary of "me" - based on a 160-165 max HR and 51 resting HR

below 105 - walking

110-120 - really slow and painful "running"

120-130 - an easy pace that I can do for quite a long time - I often find that I can get along at a faster pace in this band by using run/walk, which is how I am training for a HM

130-140 -- steady state running - reasonable pace - comfortably hard - tempo running

140-150 - 5K pace for the first 4K

150-160+ - 5k pace in last 1K :) - fall across the line utterly exhausted and struggling to gain control of breathing. I usually have to keep walking for a few hundred metres , I cannot stop otherwise I will be sick!!


Thanks Bazza. Looks like I need to do a bit more research on this. At the moment I've just used the crude figures you mention some of the formulas produce, as a rough guide to where I need to be careful that I don't go into too much overload, and then tried out a slight increase. I think with a combination of this kind of experimentation, and at some point trying to establish what my actual maximum is (OW!), and then calculating from there, using things like reserve heart capacity, I'll eventually get a better heart rate based set of target effort levels to try to sustain, moving forward.

Either that, or maybe I'll get brave one day, and try Rignold's eye-popping effort metric. :-) I do have a (small) amount of energy to play with for at least some of the time spinning.


If you have the energy to play with, or are able to focus on your HRM while spinning, you are not doing it properly. In Spin you should really only have two different heart rates to worry about - flat out max eyeballs bulging and deperately trying to recover.

I would hugely recommend this book on the subject of traing by heart rate zone:

I would also massively reccoend the author's two works of fiction 'Once a Runner' and 'Again to Carthage', which are not only among my fave running books, but high on my favourite books of any kind list. Although I digress slightly.


Thanks. I'm not so sure I'm yet ready to return to the experience of eyeballs bulging (or even desperately trying to recover), and I don't think I'm psychologically capable of making myself hurry along there, but I'll make the mental note, and haul it out again, occasionally, and then be a good boy and edge a bit further toward best practice.

I did read that with spin it's not a good idea to try to hit a cycling cadence, because of the flywheel's excessive role in fast spinning. I've accordingly dialed in more pressure, and have dropped the revs down to about 70 - 75 (which would approach 150 bpm in footfall cadence - somewhat slow). There's lots of time to find out about all these things, anyway.


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