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Heart Rate Training - beginners guide

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  • Lazare wrote: »
    No, your resting HR numbers are great. The typical range for an adult is 60 - 100 bpm. The fitter you are the lower the number.

    That's not accurate. You can't look at two people and determine which is fitter based on their resting heart rates. RHR has a lot to do with heart volume (blood pumped per stroke) and so is mostly genetic.

    This is also why it's impossible to tell the OP whether or not his resting heart rate numbers are "too low" or "just right" without knowing what his/her unfit baseline RHR is.

    What would be an accurate statement is: (Excluding conditions like bradycardia) the lower your own resting heart rate is, the fitter you are. In other words, when your resting heart rate is 40, you're in better shape than when your own resting heart rate is 50. But that wouldn't authorise conclusions about your fitness relative to others based on comparing RHRs.




  • Ah ok. I thought though it was fair to say an athlete, or a fit person would typically have a lower RHR than the average person?




  • Lazare wrote: »
    Ah ok. I thought though it was fair to say an athlete, or a fit person would typically have a lower RHR than the average person?

    In general yes, endurance athletes tend to have a lower HR, and there is a correlation with fitness.

    However, it's not a straightforward correlation, it is perfectly possible to have a slightly higher RHR and actually be fitter. Also, different people have different HRs, and you cannot draw any firm conclusions just by looking at HR.




  • For those with Garmin watches, I recently took an old crane bluetooth chest strap monitor out of retirement, it had stopped connecting to runtastic and endomondo on my phone, so put it away in a drawer. It connected up no problem to my 645 music, it worked grand for heart rate readings during a run but didn't work for a lactate threshold test (needs to be a garmin monitor).

    I checked on CEX's website, as I had got a garmin 30 off them for €50 which worked perfect (I had been worried about second hand battery life) and low and behold they had a garmin run chest strap (that does running dynamics) for only €20, had it delivered and connected straight away, worked perfect for the lactate test. It is the older garmin monitor and was described as the premium strap which doesn't do dynamics (no running man symbol) but the one delivered did, so result. They currently have another one for €20 and a tri strap for €40 so maybe worth either calling in to the shop (George's street branch Dublin) for the €20 strap and checking it out.

    I bought the strap as I plan on using the garmin marathon heart rate training plan for the upcoming Cork marathon.




  • I used heart rate as a guide during most of my marathon training last year. I achieved my goal time and didn't get any injuries that stopped me from running for more than a day or two, but I don't know whether that's down to the heart rate training or some other factor - I think HR training probably did contribute, because slowing down my runs allowed me to get more miles in while staying fresh enough to cope with work and home life and avoiding injury. Training at faster paces used to tire me out a lot.

    Others have mentioned this but it's absolutely essential to get an accurate max HR. My Garmin was calculating mine based on 220-age and gave me an aerobic zone upper threshold of 140 bpm. It was a constant battle to keep my HR below this limit on my long runs early on, and I really felt I was crawling along. Then at some point I realised that even though my Garmin had recorded much higher heart rates for me than the 220-age calculation (e.g. at the end of a race or session) it wasn't incorporating these into my zone calculations. I redid my zones manually based on my actual max heart rate and the upper limit of my aerobic zone rose to 144. Even though this seems like a tiny change, it made things much easier, as I was able to up my easy run pace to one that, while still slow, felt much more comfortable for me.


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  • Did you find you were able to pinpoint a marathon pace HR? Or do you simply need data from previous marathons to figure it out?

    This is something I'm really interested in. I've heard Scullion talk about this, he knows exactly what his MP heart rate is.

    I just think it would be incredibly useful information, particularly at the start of a block, when you're looking to do some MP miles.

    Is there a way to use current race times, and HR at that pace, at shorter distances, to work it out?




  • Lazare wrote: »
    Did you find you were able to pinpoint a marathon pace HR? Or do you simply need data from previous marathons to figure it out?

    This is something I'm really interested in. I've heard Scullion talk about this, he knows exactly what his MP heart rate is.

    I just think it would be incredibly useful information, particularly at the start of a block, when you're looking to do some MP miles.

    Is there a way to use current race times, and HR at that pace, at shorter distances, to work it out?

    P&D gives MP as 79-88% of max.




  • Thanks to Lazare for starting this thread!

    I've struggled for the past few years to return from injury. In that regard I've been very dependent upon 'pace' and 'effort' as guides as to how things are going. Unfortunately I think it results in me subconsciously jumping a step or two ahead of myself, e.g. the "ah sure this is grand, now to up it again ...". Predictable consequences follow!

    I've therefore dusted off an old HR strap and am attempting to work out max HR etc. I'm in my late 40s, so the 220-minus-age doesn't work. I'm taking the alternative formula of 205-minus-50%-of-age, which the Garmin doesn't like either.:rolleyes:

    One problem with any attempt at assessing MHR is the adequacy of the equipment itself. Today I lumbered around Tymon Park in a BHAA race. My 'pace-radar' was all over the place and my 'effort-radar' was similarly distorted by the wind factor. So I thought that I'd see how the HRM would go as a guide.

    Alas not much of a guide: it kept telling me I was in 'Zone 5' or 'Zone 6 ... Medic!' :eek: etc. I did attempt to set the thing before the race, but that gave me a resting heart rate of 100 when I knew it was closer to 80-something. Consequently, the average HR of 175 bpm is probably also 15-20% off.

    https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4425955461

    In short, it's no harm to attempt to do quite a few runs with varying degrees of tightness/loseness of the HRM strap, positioning, and perhaps changing the battery if it's old/second-hand equipment. There'd be nothing worse than doing all sorts of elaborate calculations for a training regime if the baseline figures were fundamentally flawed. :o




  • That looks like a pretty accurate trace to be honest and I'd be inclined to treat it as accurate enough. It's purely a heart rate trace and isn't in any way affected by the 20% error in your resting HR. That error would however affect the calculation of the zones which need a fairly accurate resting and max hr figure.




  • Lazare wrote: »
    No, your resting HR numbers are great. The typical range for an adult is 60 - 100 bpm. The fitter you are the lower the number.

    That 60 - 100 is based on sedentary people, active people and athletes fall into your range.

    Means you've got an above average HR reserve with the heart working more efficiently than the average person.
    .
    I was at the doctors during the week and the nurse did a ECG test on me. My resting heart rate was 45 but she was pretty hot :D


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  • :pac:




  • It's well worthwhile, for the sake of precision and ease of mind, to get this tested professionally.

    I had my maxhr tested on a treadmill out in UCD when I was 39 so my theoretical max should have been 181, but it was 173. I often see people my age with much higher heart rates but very few with a lower max! I think it's just genetics.

    And if you're going to do hr training, it really is worth getting a lactate test, rather than going by values in a book. I would recommend Emmett Dunleavy @ perfect pacing - he's very professional and he does them out on the track in Irishtown. It's a very simple procedure and the lactate test will give you HR ranges for a couple of useful thresholds in training.

    **Edit: I see Murph_D has already mentioned Emmett, so just consider this a +1!**




  • Sacksian wrote: »
    It's well worthwhile, for the sake of precision and ease of mind, to get this tested professionally.

    I had my maxhr tested on a treadmill out in UCD when I was 39 so my theoretical max should have been 181, but it was 173. I often see people my age with much higher heart rates but very few with a lower max! I think it's just genetics.

    And if you're going to do hr training, it really is worth getting a lactate test, rather than going by values in a book. I would recommend Emmett Dunleavy @ perfect pacing - he's very professional and he does them out on the track in Irishtown. It's a very simple procedure and the lactate test will give you HR ranges for a couple of useful thresholds in training.

    **Edit: I see Murph_D has already mentioned Emmett, so just consider this a +1!**

    After hearing the ads on the radio for The Beacon I enquired about it and got this response..
    The Beacon wrote:
    Hi Conor,



    I have been an advocate of Hr rate training for many years, not only from a performance point of view but also in terms of ensuring an athlete remains heathy. In addition to Vo2 Max and MHR the testing we are offering will include accurate HR training zones with advice on how best to utilise those zones in training for your chosen events. Your anaerobic threshold will also be accurately identified, which can prove more useful that Vo2 Max. We will also examine your body composition, ie body fat percent and lean muscle mass and resting metabolic rate. So we will have an accurate picture of you both physically and physiologically. The real beauty of the tests is that they are standardised, so can be repeated and results compared at any point to ensure that the correct adaptions are taking place.



    The initial consultation takes approximately 90 min and includes body composition analysis and Vo2 Max test with full explanation of the results. The cost is 250 euro.

    I'm booking myself in mid Feb, just before the base phase ends.




  • Lazare wrote: »
    I'm booking myself in mid Feb, just before the base phase ends.

    Best of luck - if you need one, another option is UCD. I did the full Vo2/lactate lab treadmill test there years ago, with a guy called Romain Denis. I think he is (or used to be) a DSD member. Again, very professional - took about 2 hours. I think he still does the tests in UCD for the athletes. It'd be a bit cheaper than the Beacon.




  • Cool, cheers, I'll look into that.




  • 250 euro? Ouch. For me the E Dunleavy gives you all you need to know for less than half that. Not sure how much value is being added with BMI info etc. But all to their own.




  • Murph_D wrote: »
    250 euro? Ouch. For me the E Dunleavy gives you all you need to know for less than half that. Not sure how much value is being added with BMI info etc. But all to their own.

    Really? Hmm, ok. I'll get in touch with Emmet then.

    Have just scrolled back to your op in this thread, I missed that last bit first time around.




  • I take a somewhat contrarian view on the lactate threshold testing. Not that I don't think it's useful. Just that there are two problems with it: First, it's expensive enough to have done. Second, lactate threshold, whether considered as a heart rate or a pace, unlike max heart rate, is not a constant. As you get fitter, your lactate threshold is going to go both higher (in terms of a higher HR) and lower (i.e., faster pace at which you reach that heart rate). Indeed the whole point of tempo runs and threshold work in general is to effect exactly those changes so that you can go faster than you previously could without accumulating lactic acid in your muscles.

    So unless you're wealthy enough and have time enough to go have the testing done every couple of weeks or months, you're not really learning anything relevant to where you are now.

    I also believe that with a good running watch and a suitable protocol, you can make the determination on your own and do it as often as you like (though doing the protocol is definitely a tough workout). One I have done a few times is this from here:
    Begin with a warm-up that consists of 15 minutes of easy jogging with a few 15-second surges at the pace you intend to run for the time trial. Next, increase your effort to the highest level you feel you can sustain for 30 minutes and hit the lap button on your heart rate monitor watch. 10 minutes into the time trial, press the lap button again. At the end of the 30-minute time-trial, hit the lap button one last time. Your LTHR is your average heart rate in beats per minute (BPM) for the final 20 minutes of the 30-minute test. The reason we use the last 20 minutes of the 30-minute test is that it often takes up to 10 minutes at lactate threshold effort for heart rate to “catch up” to your output.

    I also have a watch (a Garmin) that calculates LTHR and threshold pace based on tempo runs and intervals and such. It also has a protocol you can do (but I can't vouch for it). But just the numbers it gives me tend to be very close to what I get on the Matt Fitzgerald protocol above.

    Also, after you've been running for a long time, you just have a sense of what going over the lactate threshold feels like. It's that achy sense, in your legs, that tell you that the pace is not sustainable. I guess this is the "relative perceived effort" method but it works too.




  • I understood that your HR at any given effort is a constant.

    So say your threshold HR is measured today at 165, it will always be 165.

    That could be 7 min miles today but 6:30 miles in a years time.

    Am I wrong here?

    Kinda thought that was the whole point.




  • Lazare wrote: »
    I understood that your HR at any given effort is a constant.

    No way is that true. Think of how you're huffing and puffing with your HR off the charts the very first time you go out running. That changes with training.
    So say your threshold HR is measured today at 165, it will always be 165.

    That could be 7 min miles today but 6:30 miles in a years time.

    Am I wrong here?

    Kinda thought that was the whole point.

    I think you are wrong (but I could be wrong :)).

    The lactate threshold is significant because it's the point at which you start accumulating lactic acid in your muscles faster than you can evacuate it. Once you cross it, the lactic acid starts to build up exponentially rather than linearly and you encounter "the bear" (as opposed to "the wall" which is a different problem). Once you have some kind of aerobic base, one of the reasons for tempo runs and interval training is to raise your lactate threshold (as well as raising your V02Max). Raising the lactate threshold can only mean: raising the heart rate and running speed at which you start accumulating lactic acid. Here's a page from Jack Daniels' Running Formula that confirms this. The second paragraph is the important one:

    Screenshot-2020-01-12-at-19-36-23.png

    The "mmol value" he's talking about is the measurement of lactic acid. That's what they're measuring if you do a lactate threshold test. And, with training, the athlete in question got faster at a given lactate level. That means that he pushed up the threshold.

    Look at the change in the inflection point of the BLa line in the early training vs the late. In the early one, it gets markedly steeper at both a lower heart rate and a lower speed than it does in the late one. Here's something else that confirms. This page states:
    As you train, you become more efficient at using lactate as fuel, meaning that you can actually run at a higher heart rate and produce less excess lactate. Therefore, as you get fitter and do more zone 2 training, LTHR should be HIGHER than previously measured. What has happened is that you can now run at a higher intensity (increased heart rate) and uptake lactate more efficiently.

    Simply, to be the best distance runner you can be, you want to have a LTHR at the highest percentage possible of your max heart rate.

    So, it seems pretty clear to me (and this has also been my experience) that, with training you move your LTHR higher and your speed faster (which is the whole point of the training).


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  • This is the way I understand it too. As your training and performance improves, your LT moves into higher ranges of both speed and HR. That's how better marathon runners can hit higher levels of speed and effort without accumulating lactate.

    Sam's point about paying for LT testing is fair enough. You can get a pretty good estimate anyway from your race times (especially your 5k time), using various calculators (I wouldn't rely on the Garmin watch and its estimates), In my case, the first LT test I did pretty much confirmed that the pace I was using for threshold tempos was more or less correct. The second test (3 years later) confirmed that those paces were no longer applicable (my LT had deteriorated from concentrating on shorter distances). This was not ideal for my marathon prospects as endurance at faster paces (and higher HR) requires a higher threshold.

    I still found it valuable to have this confirmation, but it's by no means necessary if you trust your own data.




  • Ok, this is pretty mind blowing. To me :)

    The 'Higher than previously measured' bit in particular.

    So, if I'm understanding correctly, we want our LT to rise to our highest possible HR. A HR and an effort that previously would have gassed us but now we can sustain.

    So much to learn.




  • Lazare wrote: »
    Ok, this is pretty mind blowing. To me :)

    The 'Higher than previously measured' bit in particular.

    That just means, with training, it should go up. Not higher than any rate previously measured (like: your max heart rate). Rather: higher than any previously measured LTHR.
    So, if I'm understanding correctly, we want our LT to rise to our highest possible HR. A HR and an effort that previously would have gassed us but now we can sustain.

    Yes. You want your LTHR to rise to the highest percentage of your MHR that you can get it to. Elite marathoners get it to like 95% of MHR, meaning they can just sustain that pace for as long as their glycogen supplies hold out. The mind boggles...




  • I have to agree with Sam here. I do question the real, long term value of it the LT test. I've did that kind of test twice, in a team setting, (i.e. I did not have to pay for it) and both times it was exactly where I expected it to be.

    I always used to train with a HR monitor, and from that I already knew where I was at with regards to my fitness. The LT tests only confirmed that and did not provide any new insights.




  • In a ideal world you should be doing these tests a couple of times a year. This is how most who use them successfully do. Normally done at start of base phase, when people get into more specific training and usually one last time before competition phase (although at that point many are usually veering away from LT workouts and focusing on more specific phases)

    It has it's merits just like any other measurement (pace, effort, time etc) but nothing is infallible. There are coaches who will go so far as to take blood lactates during a session but for us mere mortals we don't all have that luxury.

    There is also a misconception that running above your LT will not develop it. Even reps at 5k and 10k efforts will impact your LT (albeit at varying degree's) so in terms of the usefulness of them even with more dated tests you can still be within proper ranges (just like basing sessions off recent race times)




  • Equalled my Parkrun PB of 23-33 this morning, scarily my watch recorded my highest Max HR of 192

    500994.png

    So should I amend my HR zones (considering at 50 my Max HR should be 170), as my watch has now reset my Max HR to 192. My lactate threshold, again according to my watch is 164, which according to my zones is 80%

    I had hoped to do a garmin training program for the Cork marathon based on HR zones and am now worried that the zones will be incorrect. I was spent at the end of the run but didn't need to lie down, I did feel I was going full tilt mind you.




  • Reg'stoy wrote: »
    So should I amend my HR zones (considering at 50 my Max HR should be 170), as my watch has now reset my Max HR to 192. My lactate threshold, again according to my watch is 164, which according to my zones is 80%

    If you saw a 192, then your max heart rate is at least that. So, yes, recalculate zones on that basis.




  • Reg'stoy wrote: »
    Equalled my Parkrun PB of 23-33 this morning, scarily my watch recorded my highest Max HR of 192

    500994.png

    So should I amend my HR zones (considering at 50 my Max HR should be 170), as my watch has now reset my Max HR to 192. My lactate threshold, again according to my watch is 164, which according to my zones is 80%

    I had hoped to do a garmin training program for the Cork marathon based on HR zones and am now worried that the zones will be incorrect. I was spent at the end of the run but didn't need to lie down, I did feel I was going full tilt mind you.

    It looks like a reasonably good trace, so don't see why you shouldn't trust it, in the absence of any more reliable information. The 220-minus-age formula is useless, as has been often mentioned. I'm older than you and have a max of around 195. So yes, I'd use that max to calibrate your zones.




  • Can anyone tell me why sometimes on the Garmin it's giving a RHR figure that's higher than the actual current rate?

    FR235.

    Get it a lot in the mornings.


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  • Lazare wrote: »
    Can anyone tell me why sometimes on the Garmin it's giving a RHR figure that's higher than the actual current rate?

    FR235.

    Get it a lot in the mornings.

    It takes an average RHR over a rolling 7 days
    https://support.garmin.com/en-IE/?faq=F8YKCB4CJd5PG0DR9ICV3A


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