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> Runner’s heart rate – zones and maximum heart rate for a runner

Runner’s heart rate – zones and maximum heart rate for a runner

Publish date 29.09.2022

You can read it in 8 minut

Runner’s heart rate – zones and maximum heart rate for a runner

A runner’s heart rate is extremely important. Every runner knows it, and if you are a beginner you have just learned about it. It is the primary indicator that determines the intensity of your run. 

If you want to make your running better, then you need to be aware of it to develop a proper running heart rate and include heart rate zones. However, you need to remember that your run needs to be varied and should not focus on just one heart rate energy zone.

To develop a running plan based precisely on heart rate, it is necessary to determine the heart rate zones, that is, the intensity levels of running training. To develop it well, you need to determine your maximum heart rate, which is individual for each runner. 

Do you want to find out how to do it and learn the advantages, disadvantages, and many other interesting facts about heart rate? If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about a runner’s heart rate. Here we go!  

Runner heart rate - watch

Running based on heart rate

Advantages 

  • adjusting the intensity to increase performance,
  • adjusting the intensity of training to meet the needs of the body, 
  • recovery during training with reduced activity than standard, 
  • determines optimal running workouts based on knowledge of your own body,
  • do not frustrate the runner, 
  • improves fitness,
  • improve your running technique. 

Disadvantages

  • Poor measurement of maximum heart rate can translate into a lack of results from running workouts.
  • Maximum exercise heart rate is genetically determined. 
  • A runner’s maximum heart rate can vary depending on various factors, e.g. weather, and stress. 
  • The maximum heart rate is different for different disciplines. A different HRmax will be for the person who is cycling and different during running training. 

What is resting heart rate? 

If we talk about heart rate, then you can know about resting heart rate and maximum heart rate. Now we will deal with the former. How and when to calculate it?

The resting heart rate is calculated during rest, which lasts more than 10 minutes. You should measure your heart rate when your body is completely calm. This will give you the correct measurement. This is most often done right after waking up, when the body is rested and has not performed any activities before. 

The measurement is taken for one minute – it is the number of vibrations that counts. You can measure with a heart rate monitor or with your fingers – counting how many vibrations you feel under your fingertips.

What’s a normal resting heart rate?

Surely you are wondering what’s a normal resting heart rate when it comes to the average person. The answer, however, will not be clear-cut, since it all depends on what age you are and whether you are physically active. 

However, it should be noted that it is accepted that the appropriate heart rate for an adult is in the range of 70-80 beats per minute. 

This number applies to the average person. However, it is different for a runner. Wondering what the runner’s heart rate is when they are experienced? By doing the sport, the pulse will be up to 40-50 beats per minute. I think that You are certainly surprised by this. 

What is it related to?

Well, it all lies in one of the most important organs in our body – the heart. If you have been training for many years, the heart can increase its volume. What does this mean? The chambers in the heart enlarge, which pump more blood when the heart contracts. 

Why should I know what my resting heart rate is?

  • It will help you determine your level of training,
  • Can help you notice if you are overtrained and need a rest from exercise or running,
  • Will help you diagnose hypertension – if your heart rate is elevated for a long time, it can indicate not only hypertension but also sugar problems, and respiratory and nervous system diseases. 
  • You can calculate your oxygen ceiling – deduct your aerobic capacity (you also need to know your maximum heart rate). 

What is the maximum heart rate? 

You already know what resting heart rate is and how to calculate it. Now it’s time for maximum heart rate. Surely you are asking yourself questions: what is the maximum heart rate, and how can I calculate it? I’ll introduce you to everything in a moment. 

Maximum heart rate is the number of heartbeats per minute during maximum effort. It is the pulse rate you reach when you are giving it your all and running at max effort. 

How to calculate maximum heart rate?

You may think to yourself “Ok simple matter, I will count them quickly“. However, it is not as simple as you think. All because measurements can be inaccurate. What’s more, heart rate is a variable parameter and is related to many other factors that affect your body, such as stress. 

Runner heart rate - maximum

Sally Edwards’ formula

However, there is a formula that will allow you to know your maximum heart rate. This formula is due to Sally Edwards. An American woman who is one of the pioneers of an endurance triathlon. However, it too comes with an error of about 5%. 

So, how to calculate maximum heart rate

The formula for women:

maximum heart rate = 210 – (0.5 x age) – (0.022 x weight*)

The formula for men: 

maximum heart rate = 210 – (0.5 x age) – (0.022 x weight*) + 4

* weight in kilograms

Laboratory test

However, this formula is not the only way. If you want to check your maximum heart rate very accurately, then you can use laboratory tests. You may laugh, but this is a very good way to have your maximum heart rate clearly and shown under the guidance of specialists. 

You can perform such a test on a treadmill, as well as in the field. Of course, the surface on which you run can also make a difference to your maximum heart rate. Therefore, when performing the test on a treadmill, it should be done at an incline on the ground.

Heart rate monitor

As in the case of resting heart rate you could do without a heart rate monitor and use your fingers – in case of maximum heart rate you need it. Thanks to this device, you can receive accurate measurements of heart rate. 

How to measure maximum heart rate?

First method

  1. Do a warm-up for a few minutes to prepare your muscles for running.
  2. Set a route for yourself of 1000 m (1 km).
  3. Increase your running speed every 100 m.

For taking this measurement, you also need to know your own body and capabilities to determine the maximum level of effort achievable at a given stage. 

Second method

Sometimes you may find that a 1000 m run may be too short to determine your maximum heart rate. Therefore, change the distance run to time. Run for about 5-10 minutes, which will allow you to gradually accelerate to your maximum speed. 

5 Heart rate zones in running 

  1. 50-60% Tmax
  2. 60-70% Tmax
  3. 70-80% Tmax
  4. 80-90% Tmax 
  5. 90-100% Tmax

Individual heart rate zones – characteristics 

Runner heart rate - zones
  1. Very low intensity – active regeneration

Improves health and recovery – recovery training, cooling the body after training 

This is the level that is advisable for beginners – those starting their running adventure. It allows you to breathe freely without shortness of breath, which many beginning runners are ashamed of when running in public. Remember, there is nothing to be ashamed of. You are just starting, it will get better with time. 

But is this heart rate zone only for beginners?

No, it is good for all runners. Why? It does not strain the muscles and allows for active recovery training. It is advisable after endurance training. 

  1. Low intensity – endurance

Burn fat and improve endurance – regular and longer workouts 

Indicated for training at a constant intensity for longer distances. This is the range that allows you to:

  • building fitness
  • endurance 
  • running for long training units without putting your muscles under strain.
  1. Moderate intensity – pace

Improving aerobic endurance – moderately long workouts 

This level is characterized by moderate fatigue. It is also a range that:

  • supports muscle building,
  • improves aerobic capacity (VO2max),

However, when entering this zone, be careful not to stay in it too long. Runners often focus most of their training in this zone. 

“But why can’t I train in this zone all the time? Moderate intensity is ideal.”

The answer is simple. Staying too long and doing workouts in this zone makes your muscles more fatigued, and you also don’t see results from your workouts.

  1. High-intensity – lactate sub-test

Improving fitness – intervals and short workouts 

This is the level referred to as the lactate subthreshold, which is the point at which the body works at increased levels of lactic acid. In this range, the body begins to focus on muscle strength – using carbohydrates to do so. 

In this heart rate zone:

  • the body’s efficiency increases, 
  • muscle endurance increases,
  • breathing begins to accelerate. 
  1. Maximum intensity – lactate threshold

Speed training – short intervals 

Recommended for experienced athletes who want to improve maximum performance. This is the level at which the body reaches maximum capacity.

This is the most intense range, reaching around 100% of maximum heart rate. It is very taxing, so it should not be the basis of running, but a supplement to it. It is associated with low, insufficient oxygenation of the body and often insufficient breathing. 

Heart rate zones – what should you remember?

Remember not to challenge yourself too much. Build your strength and endurance slowly. If you are a beginner, then start at lower heart rate zones. Build an aerobic base first, and then run more and more intensively. 

If you are a professional runner, then you should target higher zones, of course. However, beware of zone number 3. As we mentioned earlier, many athletes stay in this zone and do not improve their performance. Avoid it! 

How to plan running workouts based on heart rate? 

  • Beginner runner 

Beginners do not have good fitness. Therefore, such a person should focus on the first 3 zones. With each workout, the intensity of running can be slowly increased to reach 3 zones. 

However, at the very beginning, the condition should be earned, and the focus should be on zone 1 and zone 2 – this way the runner will not get tired as quickly and will be able to exercise longer. The runner must also remember to monitor the heart rate and watch how it changes throughout the workout. 

  • Experienced runner 

The runner has been running for a long time, which means that he has grown in fitness, but his results are stagnant. He may have stopped in unfortunate zone number 3, where, after some time, the exercises do not work. It may be that up to now the runner has been adjusting his training to one zone, not using the potential of the higher ranges. For this reason, it is a good idea to diversify the training with range 4 or 5 and increase the intensity of running. 

Remember, however, that everything depends on your fitness and endurance. Each training arrangement should be approached individually. You are the one who knows best how much you can afford and how intense and long the training should be. 

Now you know the most crucial information about a runner’s heart rate. We found out – what is the maximum heart rate, how to calculate maximum heart rate and what are the heart rate zones. Now you have to calculate your resting and maximum heart rate and make your running more effective. 

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