Advice please

As I've posted before I've completed W7R1 but am very slow. I have read that one shouldn't exceed a heart rate of 220-age which for me is 159. I think I could increase my pace but am trying to keep to 159 bpm so when I exceed 159 I slow down until I get bpm down. I'd really appreciate the advice/thoughts of others on this matter. By the way, I don't have any heart problems and have no history of heart disease in the family.



Featured Content

Join the NHS Couch to 5K community

Couch to 5K has been designed to get you off the couch and running 5km in just 9 weeks

Start today!

Featured by HealthUnlocked

14 Replies

oldest β€’ newest
  • I am by no means an expert, so you should really check out running sites, so take this with a pinch of salt.

    According to a colleague of mine who is a keen athlete (running and cycling), the 220-your age is pretty meaningless, as it's a "one size fits all" formula that was originally proposed by Polar as a means of calibrating their heart rate meters.

    I believe athletes who want to work out their personal bpm zones for workouts determine it empirically - one's max heart rate can be determined by running flat out up a hill. I read somewhere that if you go above your max heart rate you'll just slow down gasping for breath very soon. But if you can sustain a fast pace, eg for a minute then your "max heart rate" is determined by what it was then. I guess it could be that one's max heart rate could be much less than the 220 minus age. I'm following Mark Beaumont's "round the world in 80 days" cycle attempt & it reports his average heart rate during the day. Even on a day at altitude with about 2000 meters climbing, his average heart rate during the 240 km cycle ride was reported to be just 97 beats per minute! Clearly his heart is so big and strong that it beats really slowly! He's in his 30's so the formula says his max hr should be 180-190, but I doubt if he could get his big strong heart beating as fast as that!

    So I would say ( with some caution ) that if you don't experience discomfort or complete breathlessness then you haven't reached your personal max heart rate.

    The other day I had a go on a treadmill and wound it up to a pace of less than 6 min/km, which would be required for 5k in 30 mins. I was able to sustain this for about 2 minutes with no ill effects, and recovered breath quickly. My heart rate (on the treadmill) went up to 165 bpm, whereas the formula says 161.

    My colleague says it's self-limiting, you physically can't go higher than your max rate for more than a few seconds.

    But please don't take my word for it, but read around and google how to determine your maximum heart rate, before doing anything rash.

  • Thank you, this is really helpful and I'll certainly google running sites as you suggest.

  • You are doing so well.. is there a reason why you want to speed up? Just curious :)

  • Good question! It sounds stupid even to me but I really don't know the answer! My targets are 1) to complete the programme then 2)to run outside 3)to do a park run 4)to join a running club and I sort of feel that to expose myself to others I ought to be able to 'keep up' or I'd be a liability. Sounds naff I know especially as I'm really delighted to have got so far but probably due to lack of confidence in doing something so new at post 60.

  • No... not silly.. fair enough...:)

    You will complete the programme, without speed...:) As for running outside... folk are really too busy to notice you or if they do stare, they are jealous or wishing, because they are runners too.. that they were out there:)

    Park run... all ages, levels of ability walkers and runners too... Running Club... a good one should make you feel valued whatever level you are at... and as for exposing yourself and keeping up... well.....:)

    I think you are doing amazingly and you need to start believing it... I started at 65... now 67 running up to 10 K... and I do not give a hoot about what anyone thinks about my running or my speed:)

    This is my journey... just as yours belongs to you... You obviously have the choice, but if I was you... do it at your speed and do it your way... if you want to, after Graduation, to speed up fine.... but do it because you want to... :)

    I have used this once today in a reply... it is a good one..

    "This is your journey, your body, your mind, and your spirit. Dig deep, own it and start doing things for you and by you."

  • Thank you, you offer such good advice. I'll keep at the programme and will remember slow slow and slower!!

  • Go you... we will do this together! :)

  • You are the same age as me so we should in theory have the same maximum heart rate, which is the figure arrived at by the rather crude 220- age . I can run for an hour at 6:00m/k pace with my heart rate at approximately 159 BPM, which would not be possible if that was indeed my max HR. I suspect that my max HR is nearer 180 BPM, which my monitor occasionally shoots up to soon after starting a run.

    You should be running well below your max HR, probably 75%, most of the time. However, if you can't accurately establish your true max HR, there is little point using a HRM for training purposes. I only occasionally put mine on to see if there have been significant changes over time.

    We are all different. I seem to have a wide active heart range, from 45 resting to, as I said, 180. Whether that is good or bad I have never worked out, but what I have realised is that an HRM may provide lots of fascinating stats but if you don't know what they mean and you feel well while running, then they are best ignored.

  • Thank you, what you say makes a lot of sense.

  • I'm grateful to those who have responded with such thoughtful and useful advice. I feel very reassured and what I foolishly forgot to mention is that whilst I do slow down to bring my BPM to 159 I have been afraid that if I exceed the number I may do heart damage by straining it. I now have a much clearer understanding and will happily plod on! Oldfloss you always say our tread should kiss the ground, my tread at my speed is more of a smooch but I'm happy with that because I CAN RUN FOR 25 MINUTES!!!!!

  • Everyone is different. My max heart rate is 188 and I'm 50, I have a resting heart rate of 59 so I don't fit the bill for the normal calculations. I personally would not try to ascertain your maximum heart rate while going through the program, it is hard work building up to the maximum and it takes a toll on me, I only ever go there during events, once you get there every inch of your body will try and get you out of it because it is not a comfortable place to run. I know that after four years of running, I think caution should be used when trying to ascertain your maximum heart rate while your still building up and learning how your body responds. As time goes on you will naturally find how much you can push yourself and eventually you will find a maximum heart rate but I do believe knowing and keeping within your limits right now will help you in the longer run

  • Max heart rate is indeed a bit of a nonsense. I have a heart condition that has seen my heart rate go way up over 300 during 'episodes'. i'm not in any way suggesting that s a sustainable rate even during extreme exercise, but given that it's more than twice my supposed 'Maximum' the idea of the 'Maximum' seems pretty pointless.

    But in day to day terms I tend to run at around 140/14 at a moderate jog. However when i am doing HIIT and really gassy Crossfit workouts it regular spikes up to 190/195 for brief periods when I am redlining the effort.

    It is almost always something I can gauge quite easily without consulting my heart monitor however: not the actual number but the effort and 'heart zone'. If I am cruising along at a steady rate, I am aware that I feel quite comfortable. If I am bending the needle into the red, I am very aware of the fact and that I can't sustain that for very long. Our bodies are generally very good at self regulating.

  • Thanks, that's really helpful

  • Well I am an expert at running slow. No idea about heart rate as don't have the gizmo to monitor it. I am 60 this year, overweight and very unfit (before I started this program). I am out of breath at the end of my runs, and red of face but I don't push it so much that I'm bent double or gasping for air. Oldfloss gives such good advice about taking it slow. We will get there in the end.

You may also like...