Log in
Couch to 5K
76,318 members107,863 posts

Worried about my heart rate!

I completed the couch25k yesterday!Feeling very pleased with myself but need some advice. I’ve just had my 61st birthday and was given a fitness watch just in time for my final run. I was shocked to find that my average heart bpm was 156 for the 30 minutes! I l know that wrist monitors are not always accurate but still...! I do find it very strenuous but seem to recover quite quickly. According to the experts my maximum heart rate is about 160 (220 - age), and it’s recommended that you work at 50 to 85% of that number. Which for me is about 130 at the most. My question is, how many of you runners around my age, manage it without going over 130 bpm? Sorry for such a long post!

18 Replies
oldestnewest

I am 62 and in the recent past I have run for over an hour with my heart rate in the mid 150s.

Unless you establish what your actual maximum heart rate is ( as opposed to the average that you quote) then it is impossible to know whether you are spending too much time in a high zone.

I have never bothered to establish my max HR, but have always felt fine and my recovery time is pretty good. Over the last few months I have had treatment in hospital and all the checks on my heart indicate that it is in very good condition.

Averages are just that, so some are going to be on extremes of the ranges, both for resting HR and maximum HR. My resting HR is normally below 50, so I just assume I have a greater HR range than average, as you may well have.

Unless you feel unwell, I would not be too concerned, though mentioning it to your GP may give you some reassurance.

While some use HR monitors to aid training, without finding the datum of your actual max HR, it is only ever going to be a rough guide. You certainly don't need to know to run C25K workouts.

Congratulations on your graduation. You may find this guide to post C25K running helpful healthunlocked.com/couchto5...…….what-next

3 likes
Reply

Glad to hear this! I feel very well and considerably fitter generally after doing theC25k, but still find running for 30 minutes very hard even running at my slowest possible pace. Looking at th figures again, they show peak heart pace at 175 going uphill! I shall carry on, but give the hills a miss until I'm a bit fitter! Thank you!

1 like
Reply

I think IannodaTruffe has given you great advice... I have no idea of my heart rate.. I just run:)

1 like
Reply

Yes, I shall not let myself become obsessed with the numbers, and just listen to my body and enjoy the buzz that I get! Thank you!

2 likes
Reply

I got a watch with a HR wrist monitor last week. I'm 52 so my maximum should be 168bpm but when I did Parkrun on Saturday it said my average HR was 165 with a max of 184. I felt fine and recovered fine so either the monitor is not accurate or else as Iannoda said these averages don't really mean anything. As long as we feel ok and don't have any ill effects I guess we will survive. It will be interesting to see if the HR comes down as I get fitter though. Good luck and keep running :-)

1 like
Reply

Yes, I think you've got it nailed! I'm just going to enjoy it and walk up the hills for a while. But it does make you think that the maximum heart rate figures thing does not make a lot of sense as you get older!

Thank you, and good luck with your running!

Reply

Oh Lord my heart beats at 86 if I am sat on a garden chair. It always has beat fast.

Last week I bought a monitor and it reached 178 on my last run and117 while I was teaching class 5 and they are a good class, God knows what it will peak at with the horrors of Class 4 on Wednesday!!!

PS I am 57

1 like
Reply

Your case illustrates my point............there is a wide range of perfectly healthy resting and maximum heart rates and averages do not show the diversity.

A low resting heart rate is supposedly a sign of a trained athlete, but not all elite athletes have the same resting heart rate and some do not have particularly low resting heart rates, despite their ability and extensive training.

My low resting heart rate is an indicator that my heart is in reasonable condition, but I am certainly not a well honed athlete and I assume that it has been that way all my life.

2 likes
Reply

So glad I'm not alone! Not going to worry any more that I'll drop dead while running! Thank you! And good luck with Class 4!

1 like
Reply

Firstly - the formula commonly used by medicos etc to calculate a persons max HR was only ever designed to indicate an average for a large number of people. Individuals can lie well outside of that average. At age 71, my maxHR is by this standard supposed to be 149. However at parkrun each week my average for the complete 5K is usually in the mid to high 140's and I have regularly see 165+ when I extend myself over the last couple of hundred metres to the finish line. When I am at the gym, I have to tell the treadmill that I am only 55 years of age - otherwise the treadmill has a heart attack!! :)

You can fairly easily and accurately estimate two very important heart rate numbers that will be unique to you. The first is your aerobic threshold and the second is your anaerobic or lactate threshold. If you do a hard parkrun 5k, and basically push yourself for as hard as you can go over the last 20 minutes, the average hr over the last 20 minutes will be close to your anaerobic threshold. You will find that , if fit and trained, you will be able to keep that HR up for around an hour ( or during a 10K race) It is a number that you need to exceed for short periods of time during interval training (say a series of 3 minutes running/3 minutes resting repeats ) during "speed training" and you should run under that number ( but closeish to it) for longer intervals ( say 1 klm run/1 minutes rest) during "stamina training". Take about 20 bpm off that number to give you another number which is your aerobic threshold , a number that you should run below during easy runs and long runs when "endurance training" . So , for me, I regard my weekly parkrun as a stamina training run for the most part, running in a zone between 140-150 ( in fact I have the watch set to sound an alarm over 150bpm) - but I train for "speed" over the last few hundred metres. At other times during the week I plod along slowly under 125-130 BPM, depending on how long I am running for and the terrain. This low HR zone for me results in a slow pace around 8:15 mins per K - my average for parkrun is usually around 6:45 mins per k - so if i cant be bothered wearing my chest type HR belt, I only have to run at below those two paces using an 80/20 rule to feel quite good.

2 likes
Reply

Thank you so much for your interesting and detailed reply! I shall continue plodding along at about 8 mins per k. I can't go any faster at this stage, but hopefully I will get fitter as I am determined to carry on because I enjoy it and feel that my general health has improved by following the programme. Thanks again!

Reply

I am prepared to bet money that you are right now completely capable of running faster than 8 mins per K!!!!! --but not necessarily for 30 minutes or 5K. Do an 8 min per jog for 10 minutes and then , on a flat piece of ground, run a series of maybe 200 metre or 400 metre ( perhaps even 1 Klm) runs at paces faster than 8 mins per k. If you have a Garmin type watch set it to "average pace" and run maybe the first at 7:45, then the next at 7;30 and keep on coming down the pace scale. Do it sensibly with good running form and don't hurt yourself :) I am certain that you will be surprised at how fast you can go.

Reply

That sounds like fun! When you say a series of faster shorter runs, do you mean all on the same day, or over my next few runs?

Reply

As a separate workout day - eg 10 minutes easy slow run, followed by a number of say 200 metre runs with a 1-2 minute rest between them. Try to do say 5 sets on the first attempt at this - always finish when you feel that you have done "enough" but you would be able to if you did ( in other words don't go to exhaustion) . Slowly build up over the week until you can do say 10 sets -- then start all over again with an even faster pace. Many new runners lock themselves into only running at the one pace - quite often because they have done the C25k training which leads them to run non-stop for 30 minutes or 5K. But shorter faster running leads to faster longer runs :) - as well as much longer but much slower runs.

Reply

Thank you! I am going to give it a go!

Reply

Max hr roughly speaking 220minus your age , so for you 159.

When I started couch to 5k my tracker showed that I regularly exceeded the max hr, why wouldn’t it I felt as if I was going to die!.

Yesterday I found the run really tough , but I have just checked now, and my average hr was 156, max 160.

In my early runs that max hr was up to 178.

I did initially get a bit snagged up over these numbers, now I don’t, I see the dropping numbers as a sign of improved fitness.

My resting hr is down about 9 bpm.

You are averaging under your maximum, so I would not be concerned, as long as you feel well carry on enjoying the running 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️

Reply

I think we are around the same stage with our running! It's really helpful to hear this! I think the best plan is to listen to our bodies, and enjoy it! Thank youand good luck!

Reply

Just stumbled onto this thread, thanks everyone for the really great input. This is all very encouraging - think I've been too concerned about my HR! I'll carry on watching it for any significant changes (up or down), but will stop worrying about my calculated "max HR".

Reply

You may also like...