Help Please Experienced Runners and Heart Rate Monitor Users!

Started the week v pleased with new running toy as was showing good resting heart rate ( tho Bazza pointed out was only part of the story). Yesterday did Stepping Stones run. Looked at data afterwards and found had been running in peak zone the whole time. Much googling later am none the wiser as to whether this is a problem or not. Some articles seemed to suggest that is not worth bothering with HR monitoring at all unless there is a medical issue, but am not quite comfy with that. Have also monitored my dog walks where I do just over 5K an hour and don't get out of fat burning zone. I can't see me extending that much, what with all the sniffing and meeting and greeting. But I do know that I can walk much faster on a treadmill, so am thinking one possible solution is to do fast treadmill walking on non run days to build up in the cardio zone. Any ideas, folks?


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  • Problem will probably lie in the fact that your HRM does not know your TRUE maximum heart rate. For example, If I go to any Doctor or step up on to any treadmill and tell them that I am 70 years old, they will both tell me that my maximum HR is 220-70=150 and that I should not exceed 85% of that (which =127) . Trouble is that I regularly see 165-167 on my HRM at the end of a hard parkrun when I have sprinted the last 100 metres or so as fast as I can go and I have averaged 150 BPM for the entire duration of a 10Klm race!!! Hence 150 is OBVIOUSLY NOT my maximum HR - and I therefore have to tell my HRM that fact and also when I am on a treadmill, I have to tell it that I am only 53 YO instead of 70!!! :) - else the treadmill eventually has a heart attack!! :)

    So - you somehow have to ( safely) determine your true max HR before you can effectively use HR training. One thing that you can easily and safely do at this stage is to monitor your HR as you run and determine a number at which stage you can no longer converse COMPLETELY freely and without hesitation ( even where you can sing or recite poetry!! :) ) - once you start to have to pause to catch a bit of breath for the next bit of conversation, you have reached the upper limit of your zone 2 conversational easy running zone - the point where you should be doing 80% or so of your running. Zone 4 is where you should be doing the remaining 20% of your running - in this zone you cannot talk to anybody at all!!!!

  • Regarding the lower end of the training zones - commonly referred to as fat burning or recovery zone- this is a good zone to do work in , the idea being that it is not a cardio zone where the emphasis is upon improving your cardiavascular system, but rather to lose some weight . So dog walking or treadmill walking is great - BUT it has to be done for quite a long time to really lose much "fat" :) So - consider that zone to be anywhere between a dog walk where you can very easily converse with said dog or other people - up to the point where you start to struggle to have a completely fluid conversation with no quick pauses for breath. This covers both Zone 1 ( fat burning/recovery) and Zone 2 (conversational/easy/longrun) zones - Zone 3 is where you have to concentrate on your breathing, and is the aerobic training zone (often called a grey zone and some trainers encourage to bypass this zone but I believe this recommendation is more for trained competitive runners).

  • Thanks so much for taking the trouble to reply in so much detail! Am not sure have really ever been in the zone where I could not speak, even tho legs and chest tired. Plus, recover quite quickly and do not feel exhausted after run or have "lactic acid feeling" afterwards. Yesterday, had cup of tea after run then two hour dog walk. Feel reassured from this but will definitely get on a treadmill (easier for monitoring) to check out your tests. Cheers, mate!

  • I train with a hrm because my heart rate can run a little high when I run. I agree with Bazza it is useful to work out your personal levels to really get to grips with heart rate training. My resting pulse is 57 and my maximum is 188. At 188 I cannot sustain that pace for long but neither would I want too. My heart rate rises quite quickly which I why I mostly run/walk. I have had my doctors check it out and they are happy with it. My training is a combination of running, run/walk and speed walking. The speed walking puts my heart rate in what most peoples slow run heart rate is. We all are a little different but I must admit I like heart rate monitoring as for me it helps my recovery by not training too hard.

  • Thanks, RFC. That brings a very useful insight to my question. I think I definitely need to find a way to bridge my low level fat burning dog walks and the high level running and a fast walk/ v low speed jog on non running days may be a way forward for me. Mind you, fast walk/ slow jog may be difficult to distinguish. Ah, the benefits and issues of the techie stuff!

  • Bazza is the font of all HRM knowledge on this forum.

  • My new watch is the same! I did a 10k yesterday at what I considered to be a comfortable pace ( I could have a conversation - to myself ๐Ÿ˜œ!) yet my watch told me I was working at the top two zones all the way round. I think it is way off because my my heart rate in my warm up walk was 128 which according to my watch is in the comfort zone ,well I'm not walking 10k to stay at that rate! I think going with your own body works better. You know when you are pushing yourself so I'm going with that proven method for now. Overall my heart rate remained steady throughout which was interesting to look at but I shan't take much notice of the zones from now on.๐Ÿ˜Š

  • Interesting! That is comforting to hear. Think listening to your body is key. Will probably not be able to resist checking the stats tho!

  • When did you graduate? Personally if recently I would work on becoming a regular runner and feeling good about yourself than faffing about with HR training. I do have a HR monitor on my garmin and it's been great to see my HR lower as I become more experienced, but that's as far as it goes. If you are a member of a gym I suggest asking for a plan from them based on you if this is the direction you want to go in. As for what to do, any amount of varied cardiovascular work will benefit your fitness level as long as it's balanced and you aren't increasing too much each week.. Just enjoy it is my advice

  • Yes, only graduated in June. Will resist faffing with the tech as much as poss!

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