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How do you train to heart rate?

May 19, 2011
Polar Heart Rate Monitor

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Shortly after my marathon Renske Winters, a friend of mine who is a veteran Marathon skater (& by the way you are a veteran at 35 years old!) advised me that if I had been wearing a heart meter I would have known if I could have pushed harder in the last stages of the marathon.

This set me thinking.

I have long since abandoned my heart meter as it peeps at all sorts of times and its VERY uncomfortable. In short its too big for me and so rubs me. A triathlon friend suggested that I purchase one that pops into my bra. ANOTHER friend of mine who is a seamstress, fell about laughing that I had not thought about STITCHING it to shorten it! Of course not it really never enters my head to sew…

Anyway – long story short – I decided to take a serious look at what I should do.

What a mine field! All sorts of calculations involving age, sex – all different ones attributed to their “inventers” such as Kavolen and Zoladz – I really cannot believe that EVERY 43 year (whoops)/44 year old women has the SAME maximum heart rate – fat, thin, short, tall – how can that work?

From the various calculations (see sites attached) I came out at between 151 – 180 – bit of a difference.

There is a simple calculator offered by runnersweb. It calculates zone and VO2 Max. Again – the latter can be measured so I am a bit sceptical about the calculation. That said it was easy. I came out at 178 max with “easy”training (60-75%) – 132 – 149 and “hard” (85-90%) 160 – 166. My Vo2 max apparently should be 166 – 178….

I rather like the stress test idea – warm up for 15 mins and then run at a pace that has a high tempo but that you can hold for 10 mins and that’s your max heart rate (MHR)…this one can be further complicated by e.g.:

1. find a hill (that’s a good one in NL)

2. begin 5 mins from the hill and then hit the hill at 85% MHR (ehmmm… exactly how can I know that if the point of the exercise is to determine MHR???)

3. keep your pace as you go up the hill and keep your eye on your heart monitor for the highest rate.

This article did make sense as it recommends testing yourself every 6 months (common sense tells me that this should be more frequently if you are improving your fitness). Interestingly it also mentions that you have different max. heart rates for different disciplines…

This also makes sense to me as I think that I find it harder to push my heart rate up when I am spinning to anywhere near where I can get it running.  It does, alas, mean that I will also need to devise a way to determine it for spinning.

If I take a look at the highest HR that I have experienced in my runs then its somewhere in the area of 191 and I know that I have occasionally hit 203 after a heavy sprint – that said I would not keep that up for 10 mins!

In conclusion I will use 191 – if anyone has other suggestions and experiences – please let me know!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Charlie permalink
    May 23, 2011 1:26 pm

    Trying to determine my heart rate at the end of a marathon?? Much too complicated for me. I can’t even remember my name at the end of a marathon.

    • May 23, 2011 8:57 pm

      hi Charlie,
      thanks for the comment – very realistic.
      To be serious for a moment, I think the point is that if you run to your heart rate then you will actually finish the marathon in a better state!
      I am consulting some experts on this and will re-blog with results of this investigation over the w/e. I will even test it in my 10 mile run in the Zuidas run in Amsterdam on Sunday.
      Best wishes

      • charlie permalink
        May 24, 2011 10:06 pm

        I’m sure you are on to something. Many experienced runners talk and write about target- heart-rate. I look forward to your next report.

        Best regards,



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