Little person #1 has Vacation Bible School this week which means if I want to get in a run in the mornings I have to leave the house early in order to be back in time to get the three of them ready and get her there by 9. This morning she was in NO MOOD to sit in the stroller. I don’t want to make her hate running with me so when she gets like this I don’t take them running. I called my mother-in-law and asked her if she minded watching the boys so I could head to my favorite path to get a run in.

I headed out at 10am for my first heart rate run. The goal of the run was to keep my heart rate under 152. Admittedly I don’t know very much about heart rate training and have a lot to learn. I don’t plan on doing all of my training this way but I want to incorporate it into some of my weekly runs.

I think because my stroller runs are always hard I am not really taking it easy on any of my runs. It might feel like easy mentally, and pace wise, but maybe it’s not easy enough for my body to recover enough to put in the miles I want to be running or to run my tempos as fast as I would like. The option to slow down on my stroller runs isn’t really there. I have one pace when I run with the stroller and it’s GO PACE. Meaning I just go – if I slow down too much it actually becomes near impossible to push them up hills. I use my momentum to propel me up hills – slowing down on them is not an option at this point.

According to the easiest way to figure out your max heart rate with out actually doing a test [I plan to do this when I have the time] is one of these three options:

Simple Formulaic Estimation of the MHR Based on Age:In general, this method will provide reasonable accuracy for about 80% of runners, but it should almost invariably be supplemented with an actual test. Typically, one of three simple formulas is used to estimate one’s maximum heart rate.

Formula #1: The first formula involves simply subtracting your age from the number 220 (for men) or from 226 (for women). This method is preferred for beginning runners, those who have been leading a sedentary lifestyle. Simple Heart Zones Calculator

Formula #2:The second formula is very similar, but is preferable for those who are already quite active. For this formula, simply subtract half of your age from the number 205.

Formula #3: The third formula runs along the same vein as the two preceding it. For men, subtract 80% of your age from the number 214. For women, subtract 70% of your age from the number 209.


I used formula #2 and came up with 190 as my max. I’ve tested my resting heart rate before it came to 61. I tested it again this morning and it was 61. I’m going to keep testing it in the morning because it seems like if I am fit it should be lower? Who knows…..

I then plugged in those numbers into this hand little calculator on – – and got my ranges.

I wanted to keep it in the fat burning zone for this run – 139 – 152 which would put me in the 60% – 70% of my target heart rate.

I’m not sure if I need to keep my easy runs in the fat burning zone or the aerobic zone – but either way this run felt near IMPOSSIBLE.

I felt off the entire time. My legs wanted to go. I had no stroller to push and every time I found myself getting in a groove and inching down into the low 8’s and high 7’s I had to pull back. My heart rate was climbing out of the zone I wanted to be in while running those paces.

I know the 10 miles would have been easier if I was running faster. I would have NEVER thought I would ever make a statement like that. A 10 mile run easier if I was running in the 7’s rather than the 8’s and 9’s?

I felt like my body was being dragged down by a heavy weight at this pace – when I would start to speed up I felt like I was floating. I did not enjoy this run one single bit. Okay that’s a lie – I did enjoy that it was a solo longer run, on my favorite path, during the day time and it was beautiful out. The pace was no fun.

I’m still not sure I like it but I’ll give most anything a try once so I am willing to stick with it to see if I will see results.

What are your thoughts on heart rate training? [again I’m asking cause I REALLY care what you have to say – your comments/thoughts help me :) ]

A friendly reminder that you can vote once a day! [click the picture]


  1. I started using my hr monitor after my marathon as a way to maintain a base over the summer. I used the 180-age formula and have stayed under this max for most of my runs the past month now. My pace is improving, although it was hard at first to run that slow. My recovery between runs has been better too. It’s been great as a summer tool because I can’t run that fast in this heat, and it gives me something to focus on. Hopefully it makes me faster for fall running!

  2. If you are coming off from a layoff keeping Z1 or aerobic pace should be difficult.
    However I would recommend a test to determine
    your actuals. My max is 205 vs 187 from one of the

    You can also crosscheck with avg HR from races
    5K pace avg is close to threshold, etc.

    Hope this helps a bit.

  3. I’ve been told that the formula to calculate max HR is not accurate for athletes. Better yet is a test that sports places can do (or I had one rough test recommended for me – warmup and then run as hard as you can maintain the pace for 8min. Avr. pace for those 8min is the threshold for you. Or .. the avr HR of the 2nd mile of a 5k where the 2st mile is a warmup and 3rd mile is a lesser effort).

    And its not always true that the more fit you are the lower your resting HR is. I’ve known super athletes with sub-3 marathons to have a resting HR of 64, which is the same as mine with a 5:30 time.

    Because I’m super super slow and always trying to see how to get faster while training for a marathon at the same time, I was advised to do HR training. To make sure that I push myself in the tempo runs and also that I don’t push too much during the long slow runs. Apparently running in the right zones also help you recover faster.

    (I’d tag-team with you to discover more about HR training … if I can find my HR strap that I misplaced 3 weeks ago!)

  4. I think HR training can be good in general to make sure you aren’t running too hard on easy days, but I find my HR doesn’t match the charts at all (my max HR is higher than charts would suggest). So, I don’t run with a monitor, but instead check my breathing on easy days. And yes, I know what you mean about going with the stroller. There is really just one pace, especially on hilly routes, and you can’t ever really take it “easy” with that thing. Glad you were able to get a solo 10!

  5. While my Husband was a personal trainer at LIFETIME fitness I had my VO2max tested by New Leaf. The trainer doing the test (who was certified in VO2max testing) then sat down with my and explained the results and my specific HR zones. I Exclusively used HR zones to train for the San Diego Marathon in 2007. I can remember The fat burning zone feeling incredibly slow and frustrating. I wish I had had the McMillan pace calculator at the time so I compare the paces (btw how did your paces compare?). I also remeber it being incredibly hard for me to hit the target HR for tempo and speed work. (I have a low resting HR and it seemed so hard to get it up to the 170-80’s i felt like i was dying!) I ended up not doing very well in San Diego ( other factors like hills and heat/humidity were contributed). I think during my training I was too focused on HR that I never ran by “feel” so I was never pushing myself when I needed to, even though I followed a specific plan. After that I abandoned HR training. I think though that now that I’m a smarter runner with more experience I could use it as a supplant to my training. But I would love to do the VO2max test again and see where I’m at; it’s one of the most accurate ways to get your HR zones.

  6. I generally just have done 220 minus my age, but I really don’t worry about HR zones, I’m definitely more about training for paces. With HR training it is such a variable an you really need a doctor or sports person to test. New Leaf Fitness is like $100 – $150 at many different gyms. They will actually give you a file to put into your Garmin (depends on the garmin) for all your different zones.

  7. I use my heart rate monitor all the time when I run outside and when I do tougher workouts on the treadmill. It helps me remember to really slow down for my recovery runs. I find it especially helpful during the hot summer months because I know I have to run slower because of the heat so I can use my heart rate to run at an equivalent effort.

    Through running with the monitor at races I’ve figured out what my general max. heart rate is, and I use a formula that uses the heart rate reserve (the different between max. heart rate and your resting heart rate) to calculate my training zones. It’s working well for me so far!

  8. Is she doing the ‘Sky’ VBC? We’re doing that in my church this week, I’m doing the teaching and it’s amazing!!! Except I have to be out the house for 8am with my little man to be ready…and I’ve been up at ridiculous o’clock to run in the mornings!! AAAAGH.

  9. I started training for an ultra a few weeks ago. Running slow is no joke! After training for marathons and including speed work every week, I thought training for an ultra would be a piece of cake. Wrong! All that time on your feet makes a tremendous difference. I’m exhausted all the time. My legs feel tired all the time. I have a whole new found respect for people that walk HMs and marathons!

  10. I started wearing my heart rate strap for pretty much every run shortly after I bought my Garmin last year. I did a little bit of research on heart rate zones, and used that as a starting point. Now, a year later, after doing pretty much every run (usually 3-5 per week) and a few races (5K to half marathon), I’m getting a pretty good idea of what my heart rate should be for different types of runs/races – what I can sustain over a certain distance to achieve my desired results (easy run, race, tempo, etc). But everyone is different, and while various formulas are a good starting point, you really have to figure out what works FOR YOU, and that takes time. I like running by heart rate because there are so many variables – how I’m feeling that day, if I ate the right food to give me ample energy, weather (hot, humid, windy, etc), if I’m tired from the previous day’s workout, etc. Focusing on heart rate helps me adjust my pace for THAT day and THAT workout. And I don’t beat myself up if my pace is slower one day.

  11. I haven’t done a heart rate run, but sometimes I slow down to run with my husband and I agree with you – it’s tough! It’s harder to slow down and be off your pace! I’m excited to see how this works out for you.

  12. Those calculators do not work for everyone, and based on your paces, they do not work for you. I think it’s slightly off and you could be going faster– although not a lot faster given the weather. A few things to consider:
    1. When it’s hot out (over 70 degrees) you will get heart rate drift. Some people say that you can run up to 5 BPM higher than your target zone and still be okay, but I prefer to keep it very easy and stay within my prescribed zone anyway. This is probably what was happening to you.
    2. If you want to really get serious about HR training, get a V02 max test. They are about $150-$175, but the data is very valuable. (You may already know this, but it involves running on a treadmill with a mask and measures your intake/output and corresponding heart rates). You will know your exact zones for you instead of having to guess and maybe doing all your training in the wrong zone!
    3. I really believe in HR training and because you run with a stroller and it’s hard for you to truly go easy, you really do need to be doing these HR runs in zone 2 when you are without the stroller. So kudos to you for recognizing that!
    4. For reference, my resting HR is about 45-50, and I am 33. My zone 2, based on V02 max test, is 151-162. Yours could be a lot higher than you think!

  13. I started working with a coach that using heart rate training last March, and love it. I admit it was a struggle at first to learn how to run slow, but I’ve gotten so much faster thanks to all of those long, slow runs. We did an LT test to figure out each zone.

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