Tag Archives: heart rate

Humid Morning Run

Stepping outside today was like getting into a steam room. My glasses immediately steamed up and I was sweating within seconds. 

That said, it was a beautiful morning and with starting at 5:15am is was truly dark. I had already broken out my running disco lights to make sure others see me although I could just about make out the road surface. 

I tried out a new app today: Polar Beat. It is from Polar, the makers of heartrate monitors and it focuses around tracking your heart rate zones. This is something I’ve been neglecting for a while but is also worth points for me on my company’s health scheme!

I’ve hooked up my Polar account to my Virgin Pulse account and that gets me extra points every time I complete a qualifying exercise. 

The points are far higher than you get for just doing the exercise so it’s worth the hassle of connecting it all up. 

The app is very good and is easy to use. It connected to my (non-polar) Bluetooth heart rate monitor very easily and has useful output about the amount of time in each zone.  

 As you can see above, cool clear graphics. Heart rate zone five is the top one in the bar graph. 

According to the device my average was 161 and my max was 202. It seems unlikely the max was that high and I would put that down to a glitch as I wasn’t running that hard. 

Any way, 5.05 miles run in 42 minutes for an 8:19 pace. Not super fast but at least I got out. 


Heart Rate Reserve: Why Don’t More Sites Mention This?

Why is it that after a two weeks of researching heart rate calculations I find the following information?

I have no idea, but I found this buried in the active.com website, it was on the wiki page for heart rates, and it seems to make complete sense to me. May be I like it because it seems to correlate with my own results, and that shows a bias on my part, but I’m going to document it here for completeness sake.

As I’ve been running I found that my HR zones seem to be calculated too low for the effort I was putting in while running. For example, to keep within the 80% range while running was really difficult as it felt too slow. Putting in sufficient effort to run the pace I require was jumping my HR out of the zone I was supposed to be training in.

Well, it seems like the reason may be that you shouldn’t calculate your zones as percentages of your Maximum Heart Rate (HRMax) but it should be calculated from your Heart Rate Reserve (HRR).

Your HRR is derived by subtracting your resting heart rate from your HRMax. You then use this to calculate the percentages for your zones and add it onto the Resting Heart Rate.

It sounds complicated but here’s a worked example:

My measured HRMax is 189 beats per minute (bpm).
My Resting Heart Rate is 61 bpm.
Therefore, my Heart Rate Reserve is 189-61=128 bpm.

The Heart Rate Reserve is essentially the amount of variation in beats per minute that my heart can support from resting to all out effort. It is this range that should be used for calculating the HR zone in which to train.

If we then calculate 1% of this value (1.28 bpm) we can use this to work out what the HR training zones should be.

My 80% zone would be at (1% HRR * 80) + Resting Heart Rate:
(1.28 * 80) + 61 = 102.4 + 61 = 163.4 bpm.

I know what you are thinking: surely a small change like this does make much difference to the end value? Well, if you compare my 80% value calculated from my HRMax (151 bpm) with this new value of 163.4 bpm, you can see that it is 12.4 bpm different. This is about a 10% off which is equivalent to an entire HR zone range!

Isn’t that fascinating? Why isn’t this info discussed on more pages? Or did I just miss it until now? The wiki page about heart rates says that there wasn’t much research into this but that it was used by Karvonen in a small study.

I will update my HR Calculations page to have this info in the chart.

As for a training update, I didn’t run today as I had a long, tough day at work yesterday topped off with a disturbed night from my daughter, but yesterday’s run was much more aligned with these zones of effort and actually leads me to believe that I could potentially get the speed I need in the appropriate HR zone.

At any rate (excuse the pun) I am looking forward to experimenting and finding out!

Legs of Lead

My body did not want to run today. I guess I haven’t had a proper day off for a while as looking at my workout calendar it shows only three days off this month, and I know two of those were actually playground training days that I don’t put in my tracker.

After yesterday’s run I cycled to and from work, albeit slowly, and today I could feel it in my calves. The additional ballast could be due to increasing the distance from two miles to three, I suppose.

Today felt like a trudge for the first mile while my legs got going and that was reflected in my pace of 7:56. However, I did keep my heart rate mainly in the right zone. I did enjoy the run but only after I’d warmed up.

20130827-060232.jpgI think I need to plan in a rest day and see how that helps my legs, so I’ll probably do that tomorrow. Today I want to ride to the office again because it is such a nice way to start the working day; riding through Valley Forge Historical National Park is stunning at any time of day but is more magical in the early morning.

Heart Rate Zone Training

After a weekend of lighter cross-training (basic body weight lifts, pulls and pushes, monkey climbing, etc. at the playground, and a 42 mile intense Buke ride) it was time to consider my approach for this next few weeks.

Firstly I need to start increasing my distance from two miles. For the next few weeks I’ll work at three mile runs.

Secondly, I want to start noticing and training within the correct heart rate zones otherwise it will be very difficult to increase my mileage significantly.

My wife found another formula for calculating max heart rate on the Runner’s World website that they have tested so I’m going to use that until I calculate my own specific max.

Their formula for men over 40 is 205 -(.5 x age). This gives me an estimated 184 which seems closer to numbers I have observed over the last few weeks. I will add this to my HR formulae table here.

For the run today I tried to stay in the 80-90% HRmax range which equates to 147-165. For my first attempt at this I feel I was quite successful, but at the cost of my speed which fell to a 7:44 pace. I think this was because I was concentrating on HR and not focussing on pushing backwards or lifting legs. I also stopped my metronome partway because trying to keep on that beat pushed my HR up too high. I think my general form was good though.

I did spike out if the range once but only briefly. At the end of the run I didn’t feel over stressed and recovered very quickly.

Follow Your Heart

Here are the results of my investigations into heart rate calculations.20130904-065943.jpg

Note that these are the formulae for men. All of these come with blurry lines around what the max really is, even when measured in a consistent population (men of same age, same fitness level, same sports team, can have wildly different HRmax values). These formulae are based on average populations but that’s the best guide you can have without getting your own custom ratings.

For my age and weight these all give pretty consistent numbers across the key ranges.

It is also clear that my general HR numbers from recent runs are way too high. My two mile runs are generally in the 85-100% range which would be very difficult to maintain over distance.



updated info: Note that I update this set of calculations as I find more info. The Measured HRMax and Heart Rate Reserve columns came from later research and testing. Follow the links for more info on those.

Come Together, Right Now.

I managed to ignore the Blue Moon today and concentrate on my run from the outset. It all came together.

I’ve found that my new running style now feels quite natural and that I don’t have to concentrate on all of the components the whole time. I increased my strides per minute from 188 spm to 190 spm as yesterday I found that I was keeping the cadence easily. I was able to cope with this small change without a problem. I found that my mid foot strike was very natural and that my arms were moving correctly throughout.

This allowed me to start to think about pushing back with my feet, pulling forward with my thighs and increasing my stride length a little, while maintaining the cadence. I think I still need to do some more exercises to build these muscles more, but I’m pretty happy with how I was performing.

My pace for today was 7:01 and two of the half mile segments were at 6:33, so clearly I can still improve.

I think now that I need to start paying attention to stride length and reducing my heart rate. I have been monitoring my HR for a week now during my runs and it is quite high and I suspect would be unsustainable for a longer distance run. It is easily in the max range for most of the run. I hope that increasing the stride length slightly (while ensuring I don’t slip back to a heel strike) will allow me to get to a lower heart rate. Part of this will also be about conditioning and increasing the distance a little may help here.

Let the experiments begin…