Heart rate whilst running: I'm part way through... - Couch to 5K

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Heart rate whilst running

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate

I'm part way through C25K - just completed Week 5 with a 20 minute run.

At age 62 I think I need to be careful not to overdo it, and I watch my heart rate as I am running on a Garmin Forerunner 235.

I've read on the Web that at my age 158 bpm is my recommended Max HR, and that I should aim to be around 65% to 75% of my Max HR whilst exercising. 65 - 75% of 158 bpm being around 103 - 119 bpm. To me that seems ridiculously conservative?

Today when I ran 20 minutes for the first time, it felt comfortable, and I averaged 5.7 mph with an average heart rate of 144 bpm and a max of 164 bpm. Whenever my HR went above 148 bpm I would slow down to bring it back down.

Although I am overweight with a BMI around 29 and 140 over 90 blood pressure, according to the Garmin my aerobic fitness is excellent (V02 max of 45), and I had an ultrasound heart scan last year which showed my heart function as "perfect".

Just wondering if there are others in a similar to position to me, and if they have thoughts or experiences they would like to share?

24 Replies
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damienair
damienairGraduate

Ignorance is bliss. I don’t bother with any of that malarkey. Just go out and run at a nice relaxed comfortable pace. Don’t analyse stats.

When I started 2 years ago my resting heart rate was about 80-85 bpm. Now after consistently running 5K 3 times per week my resting heart rate is 55 bpm.

I have a Garmin Forerunner 35 and I just look at pace and distance. Heart rate calculations are just approximately calculated and are not accurate so don’t worry about it.

Damien

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate
in reply to damienair

Thanks for the feedback - much appreciated! Very impressed that 5K has become a regular thing for you and the benefits you've derived from that. If I can emulate that I would be very happy.

Unfortunately I am a data junkie - buying the Garmin was the spark I needed to start the programme, and I pore over all the data it provides like an excited child.

I know I am very competitive with myself and being able to monitor the data will I hope prevent me from doing too much too soon and getting injured.

I try to take the data with a pinch of salt. It does show my resting heart rate as around 60 bpm which is consistent with readings taken by my GP. If I stay off the red wine my resting rate drops around 10 bpm - but I do so love a glass or two of red.

I have heard that heart rate straps are more accurate, and if I can stick with the programme I plan to buy myself one as a Christmas pressie.

damienair
damienairGraduate
in reply to ForbiddenPlanet

You can get lost in data and read too much into it.

Just run, when you graduate run 30 mins x 3 times per week for about 6 weeks. Then work up to 5K x 3 times per week. Try parkrun, the stats from that are amazing if your a data nerd, oh my God you’ll go mad. Try improving your parkrun finish times each week.

You will naturally improve your health. I’m running now over 2 years. In the last year I have lost 2.5 stone, became healthier and happier than I was in my 20’s, I’m 45. My BMI is in the healthy range, I’m fit, my blood pressure is 120 over 80, resting heart rate of 55 bpm and cholesterol is too in the healthy range.

The health benefits are fantastic. Just keep running. Don’t focus on heart rate data whilst running. There is no need. When your running 5K comfortably and if you want to run a little faster, then just train to run a little faster. None of us on this forum are triathletes on a world stage so the data from your Garmin watch won’t be a key feature for your running. Even calories burnt is a guesstimate.

Damien

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate
in reply to damienair

Thanks - that is very helpful. I almost said "more helpful than you may realise" - but then realised I would be talking nonsense as you are relating your own experience and the terrific longer term benefit you have accrued.

Particularly helpful to me as I've got this far quite comfortably. Today seemed like it would be the first run of any length, at 20 minutes, and having completed that it seemed I could see quite clearly to the end of the programme. But where to next? What comes after C25K? I am enjoying the safe structure it provides. So to hear of your longer term experience and the structure you have used, and the benefit you've derived is quite inspiring.

Must say after today's 20 minute run I feel fantastic - this running lark could become addictive!

damienair
damienairGraduate
in reply to ForbiddenPlanet

Well done. I found that the C25K plan became so much more enjoyable from week 7 onwards. I love 5K, it’s my favourite distance. I have also trained up to 15K for a few 10K races, but I much prefer 5K and I’m a huge fan of parkrun. My first parkrun finish time was just over 39 minutes. I’ve worked at getting faster through interval training and I brought my parkrun PB time down to 25:36. My next goal is to be able to go below 25 minutes.

Everyone goes on a different journey after C25K, marathons, half marathons 10K and 5K. Most important thing is to just keep running. And your right, it becomes very addictive. Best wishes for your own journey.

Damien

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate
in reply to damienair

I can only say thank you again, Damien. Sharing your experience has been very valuable to me.

Cheers,

Tony.

GoogleMe
GoogleMeGraduate

Hmmm, a lot to unpack there!

You've chosen the Couch to 5K programme... that takes care of everything (including keeping yourself safe).

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate
in reply to GoogleMe

I guess there is a lot in there. I do want to learn to drill into the data as much as possible and understand all the parameters and how they relate to me.

My ultimate goal is to get my blood pressure down to 120 over 80 or less. It has been averaging around 140 over 90 for the last ten years or so, which my GP classes as a chronic long term condition, and I would prefer to correct this as much as I can through natural means rather than going on medication. And I am a data nerd!

GoogleMe
GoogleMeGraduate
in reply to ForbiddenPlanet

Maybe the data addiction is something to be corrected through natural means too...

And also the competitiveness...

(It makes no more sense to say "That's just how I am" than to assume you can't do anything about BMI or BP)

The experience of the forum seems to be, generally speaking, that the benefits unfold in a more organic fashion and the most usual risks of overdoing it are musculo-skeletal and not measured by your tech (although post-graduation knowing your distance will help you progress safely) The other risk (again one often experienced by forum members) is of tripping over and fiddling with the tech will increase the risk of that!

The data is tremendous fun so long as it empowers you but does seem to work best when you keep it till after Week 9 Run 3.

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate
in reply to GoogleMe

I agree it is quite reasonable to suggest I could cure my data addiction and also my competitiveness, but I really enjoy both those things, and if I can find a way to integrate them with running, that would really work well for me. As it is I hope they will help me turn running into a game, which I know is a good motivator for me.

I recall being told in economics 101 that the behaviour of people in an economy is regarded as difficult to change, and I fear that is true of me in spades.

Hi. My heart rate is ALWAYS high when I run. My resting h/r is about 58-60 and at my standard plodding along pace (which is considerably slower than yours ~ 12mins per mile) my h/r is about 168-178.

I feel fine when I'm at this pace, not out of breath, dizzy, shaky... So I'm inclined to ignore it. It's always been this way and as I don't feel any effects of it I shrug it off. The graph looks a little scary when I'm in zone 5 for the whole run but there's nothing I can do about it 😁

I'd say, if you feel ok at your pace, then don't sweat the h/r.

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate
in reply to Fatgirlslim19

Thanks - my RHR is about the same as yours - unless I manage to give up red wine - which is not realistic!

Good to hear of your experience. I must admit I am conflicted over the HR Zone thing. On the one hand I think I should look to run at a lower HR, but on the other, a high HR surely indicates "vigorous" exercise, which in moderation, is supposed to be good for you, and, to me, appears to be a key advantage that running has over hiking.

Fatgirlslim19
Fatgirlslim19Graduate
in reply to ForbiddenPlanet

A little red wine is good for you 😉 and it doesn't seem like your resting h/r needs to be lowered, so I wouldn't feel the need to drop the occasional glass of wine for that reason. I've looked at the training zones and cannot see a way I could train in them if I wanted to move at all. Personally, although I know you like the statistics side of things, I wouldn't pay too much attention to it, or maybe just observe and see how it goes. But don't worry.

John_W
John_WAmbassador

Hi,

Have a look at the Phil Maffetone MAF method :-)

John

John_W
John_WAmbassador

If you're only just doing Week 5 (well done by the way), then HR at this stage , unless you have medical conditions that need taking into account, is pretty much an irrelevant measurement.

Disclaimer: I too am a data-junkie when it comes to running, but I've been running for nearly 5 years since doing C25K and have completed 1 marathon and several HMs. So I feel qualified to comment. And I *LOVE* my HR data - I really do! I've got spreadsheets with % HR, paces for specific HRs etc etc.

You should NOT be measuring your effort at the moment by your HR - save that for when you've completed C25K and have consolidated for a few months.

Instead measure your effort by your breathing - the most important thing is to keep your pace VERY easy and you measure that by your your breathing rate. If it *feels* easy, then great. The point is to keep to a 'conversational' pace throughout, i.e. a pace where you can actually comfortably talk at. It's that simple. And if it feels "ridiculously conservative" to you, then that's perfect. Keep it that way all the way through to Week 9 and beyond for a while.

Unless... you're actually training for something?? Like a National 1500m race or something?? ;-)

Otherwise... what's the rush? Your average HR for each C25K run should decrease as you get fitter and that fitness increases quite quickly on the program.

Good luck!

John

PS The Phil Maffetone Method... you won't thank me... it involves running/jogging *really* slowly to a specific HR range based on your age - and for months!

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate
in reply to John_W

Thanks for such a detailed reply and I appreciate the opportunity to learn from your deep experience. And nice to know there are other data junkies out there! For me looking at the data gamifies the activity, and from past experience I know that if I can turn something into a game that provides strong motivation for me. Even though I shouldn't be looking at the data this early I love doing it and on a dark wet morning - like at 7 am today - it makes the whole thing fun for me.

I am a mere neophyte and I know I have a lot to learn. I have just looked at some MAF material on the web. Seems like there's a lot to absorb!

John_W
John_WAmbassador
in reply to ForbiddenPlanet

Be careful of 'gamifying' the activity. I suspect that way lies ruin, i.e. injury.

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate
in reply to John_W

I agree that there is danger there, and it is something I need to be very careful about. I believe looking at data helps me moderate that. Without data I think I am more likely to behave impulsively and overreach.

Granspeed
GranspeedGraduate

Hi there! Welcome to C25k and to this ever-friendly forum. You’ll find everyone here, from data junkies to run-with-the-flow aficionados, is supportive, friendly and happy to share info without pressure to conform. I’ve found no other site like it! And most of us have gradually become running addicts in one form or another, so be warned about that - you’re probably already on a very slippery slope 🤣🤣.

I’m somewhere in the middle of the pack with data, but have recently had a Garmin 235 come into my life. Very fun. However, even as a graduate, I take all the data with a pinch of salt, and have been well warned to put 2 pinches on the heart rate part. I do notice it’s by far the most variable section - steady on some runs & all over the shop on others. Today I did some speed work in intervals, and the data overlay says clearly that the faster bits near the end coincided with a low, steady heart rate pattern. 🤔🙃 Ok, fine!

So my message would be enjoy, but go by how you feel while you learn how the stats & the real world feelings mesh, especially while everything is new.

Oh and do read the FAQ post by IannodaTruffe (pinned post) if you haven’t already. Full of fascinating info & links.

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate
in reply to Granspeed

Thanks - yes I have noticed strange spikes in the HR data. It does seem to go up just after I've finished putting in some extra effort - though I thought that might be realistic. For example when I run up a flight of steps, it seems to me reasonable that my HR might go up afterwards?

But yes - deffo I need to be sceptical. The data junkie part of me can't wait to add a chest strap to my data collection apparatus. Though also not 100% should be a little better. I do try to look at overall trends in my HR data and ignore what seem like silly outliers.

Thanks for the friendly welcome, and also the mention of the IannodaTruffe FAQ which I hadn't seen - off to read that now!

sTrongFuse
sTrongFuseGraduate

Garmin HR needs to be taken with a pinch of salt (any more than that is bad for the heart). If you're wearing a chest strap, the reading you're getting is probably accurate (I've never used one, but so I've heard). If you're just using the sensor on the watch, then it can be wildly out.

Two things:

1. the 220-Age is simply a guide. Your own max HR can be more or less than this.

2. wrist based HRMs are susceptible to what is known as cadence lock. This is where it loses your pulse (possibly due to tightness/looseness of fit, sweat or a number of other reasons) and locks on to the most regular thing it can find which is either footfall or the swinging of your arms in time with the steps.

If you could hold a conversation while you're running, you're almost certainly doing ok. If your heart leaps through your mouth and spontaneously combusts in front of your eyes, you're probably overdoing things and may want to consider easing off a bit.

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate
in reply to sTrongFuse

Thanks - good to hear background on the Garmin and wrist based HRMs. I am being very cautious with respect to HR simply because of my blood pressure. Although the average is around 140 over 90 it can spike much higher momentarily. On most other indicators I seem ridiculously healthy but because of that one metric I like the idea of being very conservative over HR. Maybe I will prioritise getting a chest strap monitor.

MarkyD
MarkyDGraduate

There is a common misunderstanding about Max Heart Rate. For a reason I never understood, people think that it means the maximum rate at which the heart can operate and you drop down dead if you exceed it. Well that is total nonsense.

The heart is just another muscle and it needs oxygen to work. As the body exerts more energy - either running fast or for sufficiently long - the heart rate increases to pump more blood (carrying oxygen) to the muscles. There is a threshold where the body cannot get any more oxygen into the blood (lung volume and efficiency, air temperature and pressure) and so the heart beat saturates at the max heart rate. No matter what you do, the heart rate can’t get any higher because the heart muscle cannot get more oxygen. Hence Max Heart Rate. You’ll know at this point because of the nausea, dizziness, black spots in your vision and utter exhaustion and risk of collapse.

Just because your Garmin knows your fitness stats, estimates your height, knows your stride/speed/heart rate it can guess your Max Heart Rate. But it is only an estimate.

Ideally you should go for a health screen where your VO2max and Max Heart Rate are measured in a controlled environment with an increasing-effort fitness test on a bike or treadmill. That will give you a baseline figure to enter into the Garmin. Until then, it’s all just a guess and should be ignored.

ForbiddenPlanet
ForbiddenPlanetGraduate
in reply to MarkyD

Thanks for the information. I do just use the figures as guidelines. Give my age and high blood pressure it seems prudent to me that I avoid violent exercise or shocks to my system.

To be honest I think it unlikely I will go to the time and expense of being assessed in a sports science lab. I will probably get an HRM chest strap as the cost seems moderate and analysing the data collected will add to my enjoyment of running. From what I've read on the web with that setup V02 Max estimates may be 95% accurate which is plenty good enough for me.

My ambitions are modest - to have a comfortable routine which I can easily stick to, running 5K 3 times a week at a comfortable speed!

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