Optimum heart rates for racing

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12/01/2007 at 12:21
Ah well done you spoted the deliberate mistake 65% not BPM. In basic terms Aerobic means running whilst using a direct oxygen supply from the lungs

Anaerobic is about 80% upwards of your maximum and comes from stored oxygen in your blood and musles. For example you can run 100 metres whilst holding your breath and the time should not be much different to when you are breathing.

If we did not have this ability to store oxygen then we would not be able to run faster than 80% max full stop. This is because oxygen used directly is just not concentrated enough to create that level of performance due to the intence effort of being in that anaerobic zone. The single greatest thing holding a runner back is the ability to transfer oxygen in the blood and deliver it to the musles that is what you are training to improve above all.

The idea of long steady runs (aerobic) ie 75% max heart rate is to get your body strong to begin with and be able to cope with the length of runs that you want to do. Once you reach a certain level of fittness its all about pushing the threshold of your aerobic fittness. For example you can never run in the aerobic zone above 80% max no matter who you are but you can certainly run faster and faster every month inside that zone by gaining fittness of the aerobic nature. The more you raise this level the faster and faster you will get and on top of that you will have extra ability still to get faster from anaerobic speed sessions on top of that.

In a race like a 10k you use about 95% aerobic and 5% anaerobic but dont let the 5% fool you its still important as for me having no anaerobic fittness and on the other hand having peak anaerobic fittness can be a difference of 3 minutes or more in a 10K.

The aerobic fittness is a long hard process of improvement with lots of long runs. But the anaerobic is where you have the power to make a big difference withing a month or 2. This is why you do speed reps, hill reps and tempo runs etc.

One important point is that you should only start doing this kind of training when you feel that you can comfortably do your target milage on a weekly basis in the aerobic zone. You need a good base or if not there are a few problems that can occur like injury or (as i experienced) the bottom falls out of your running and you end up a good 400 metre runner but your stamina fails.

There will be no problem so long as you have a good base and you maintain it whilst doing the next phase of training.

Well I hope I answered your question but feel free to ask anything else.

12/01/2007 at 12:28
Oh yes answer to Scriptor,a long run is 25-30% of your overall weekly milage ie 40 miles a week overall would mean a 10-11 mile long run.
12/01/2007 at 13:39
thanks Mark, but I actually meant how long for your suggestion to find my MHR - "The best way is to find a nice hill thats long and steep and do reps up it." We have some pretty long hills around here! so, a couple hundred yards, half mile....? or in minutes?
12/01/2007 at 14:15
Oh yes how silly of me to miss out the main part of the equasion. The reps should last a minute each. Any less and you dont get the heart rate high enough any more and you get tired and your heart rate goes down anyway.
12/01/2007 at 14:57
Thanks again Mark, I'll have a go tomorrow.
12/01/2007 at 15:04
Heart rate in races is a poor guide as adrenaline etc have a big effect. I remember some research done that suggests there's little, if any, variation in heart rate between distances in races.
08/12/2008 at 21:11

I've followed this with interest...like slow runner I have been using an HRM recently (lucky enough to have been lent An S725 for a few months (but that's another story)) and have found that naturally,  I have been running at an average 154/158 BPM.

I measured my MHR against a half-mile long, two-hundred foot high hill about halfway through a nine-mile run and It came out at 184 BPM. We do have the longest hill in the UK sea-level to 2300 feet in six miles, which is a very nice run but I figured pushing myself up the little one after a good few miles would give a fairly accurate result. I'm 44 and have been running for about three months now.

This means that without meaning to (without HRM) I have been naturally running at about 80/85% max Heart Rate.I'm hoping to do a half-marathon in the spring and have been looking at the traiing plans and they all recommend running at 60-75%MHR. Im already doing 10+ miles at weekends and 6-8 miles before work every other day, do I have to do slower runs?

I feel that it will be harder for me to run slower...does this make sense to anyone?

08/12/2008 at 23:37

Hello Angus and welcome to RW

It will be harder at first to run slower mainly because your body is used to the pace/rate you currently run. But with patience and peserverence you will get there. Don't expect instant results

You have a few good advantages on your side you are a relatively new runner so you will continue to make improvements for many years, but you have to train smart.

Yes do the slower runs but not all at the same pace mix it up a bit but  do keep the majority of your runs at an aerobic pace. We are in the season now where most peple build their pace lots of aerobic runs with perhaps once a week anaerobic session, fartlek hill reps etc

You seem to have built up to a few miles already that looks good. Do this and come spring time i can see you running a good time for your half

You have to be careful not to do too much fast stuff, as this can invite injury you don't want that Once you have built a big enough base for you you can add faster stuff. But don't be in a rush to do so you can get by and run good enough times for a long time on pure aerobic work

Sorry i've been rabbiting on Any further questions just ask

09/12/2008 at 00:08

Thanks for the encouragement

Every answer seems to bring out more questions...but I'll keep asking until I understand, that's usually my way

If running at my present effort (80/85%) gets me nine-minute miles; how will running at a lower effort rate (60-75%) help me to improve my time? I guess I'm thinking I'd like to be able to run seven/eight minute miles: too ambitious maybe

Ah...just read Mark McFarlanes last post...aerobic fitness

I think I'll give it a go...longer, slower.


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