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If you’re a runner, you’re probably familiar with the concept of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT involves alternating between periods of intense effort and passive recovery. At rest, this process is thought to keep your metabolism ramped up.

Just one high-intensity workout can take up to 24 hours to recover from – this is definitely something I’ve become hyperaware of since wearing my Whoop. A key part of HIIT, when running, is monitoring your heart rate. If you want to run at an optimal level and get the most out of your workout, it’s important to pay attention to your heart rate.

Heart rate monitors have become extremely popular with runners of all levels, from beginners to professionals. The monitoring of heart rate can be useful for tracking the intensity of your workout, as well as for keeping track of important health information.

Heart rate monitors can also help you learn about your resting heart rate and cardiovascular fitness level. If you are a runner who is new to heart rate monitor training, it’s important to learn the basics before you begin using one.

Here’s what you need to know about heart rate training and how it works:

Heart Rate & Strain

The reason why heart rate is so important is that your heart rate is a gauge as to how fit you are and how much strain you are putting on your body with exercise. Whoop actually calculate your strain for individual activities and also as a daily total.

Your heart rate is the most accurate measure of workout intensity, recovery level and long-term progress. 

They say that, “when your heart rate begins to rise, you start building strain. The higher your HR gets and the longer it stays elevated, the more strain you accumulate. In this sense, your strain is calculated based on the length of time you spend in various heart rate zones (percentages of your max heart rate)”.

Increased VO2 Max

As you run, your heart rate increases. Your body demands more oxygen, which means that your VO2 max (the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume per minute) will increase as well.

This is important because VO2 max is used to measure fitness and endurance; it’s a measurement of how much oxygen your body can use during exercise. If you want to improve your running performance by improving your endurance, then knowing how hard to push yourself is vital—and that starts with understanding what VO2 max means for runners.

An increase in VO2 Max means that your body’s ability to transport and use oxygen during exercise has improved.

The most important factor contributing to an increase in your VO2 Max is that your body’s ability to transport and use oxygen during exercise has improved. This means that you can run faster, longer, and more efficiently with less effort.

The increased muscle efficiency achieved through aerobic training results in an increase in the number of capillaries (tiny blood vessels) surrounding your muscles as well as a greater volume of blood flow per minute through those capillaries. In short: There is more oxygen available for every activity you do because there’s simply more blood circulating throughout your body.

By increasing both the amount of oxygen being delivered to working muscles during exercise as well as how efficiently this oxygen is used by those muscles, it allows runners who have been training aerobically for a long time to run faster without having to work harder – which means less stress on joints and ligaments, fewer injuries, etc.

High Heart Rates Can Lead To Poor Performance

When your heart rate is too high, your body will not be able to perform at its best. For example, if you’re running at a pace that’s too fast for you, it might be difficult to breathe properly and sustain the activity. This can lead to poor performance or injury.

  • Heart rate is a measure of exercise intensity: Your heart rate tells you how hard you are working out because it’s directly related to how much oxygen your body needs during exercise. The harder that your muscles are working, the more oxygen they require for them to function properly. Heart rate monitors allow you to track this demand by measuring how fast your heart beats as a result of an activity (such as running).
  • Heart rate monitors help keep track of physical fitness: Monitoring your heart rate throughout various types of exercise helps determine what kind of activities give you the most benefit from each workout session so that over time these activities become more effective at raising overall health standards such as increased endurance levels or lower blood pressure readings when compared with other forms like walking alone.

Heart Rate Zones And What They Mean

The most common formula to calculate heart rate zones is 220 minus your age; which its your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). So if you’re 30 years old, the heart rate zone for aerobic exercise is 170 to 180 beats per minute (BPM). For fat burning, it’s 140 to 150 BPM. But this method of calculation has been shown to be inaccurate.

What does this mean? Well, if you want to get in shape and improve your endurance, you should be exercising in the aerobic training zone. If you want to lose weight or burn more fat (which will help increase your metabolism), then aim for the fat-burning zone.

These days, if you use a device to track your heart rate and upload it to a platform like Training Peaks, they have a variety of different formulas you can use to calculate zones and will update this zones based on your data.

How To Find Your Exercise Heart Rate

Your exercise heart rate is the number of beats per minute (bpm) your heart is pumping while you’re exercising. This number varies depending on the intensity of your activity and can help you gauge how hard you’re working out.

To find your exercise heart rate, there are a few options:

  • Use an HRM device. These watches or strap-on monitors use an electrode to measure your pulse through electrodes on the watch or device itself, then record it digitally.
  • Take your pulse by hand. If a HRM isn’t available, count how many times your thumb beats in 10 seconds and multiply that by 6 to get beats per minute (BPM). For example, if 10 seconds pass and 6 beats occur: 6 X 10 = 60 BPM!

To Optimise Performance, It’s Best To Pay Attention To Heart Rate When Running

As you train, it’s important to pay attention to the amount of effort your body is expending and the intensity of your workouts. The best way to do this is by monitoring your heart rate.

A persons resting heartbeat can vary from about 60 beats per minute (BPM) up to 100 BPM. As a general rule, if you’re exercising at an intensity that feels like moderate exercise (such as brisk walking), then your heart rate should be between 120 and 140 BPM.

If you’re running at an aerobic pace—meaning that you can speak but not sing—then your target range is between 130 and 150 BPM; if running fast enough that talking becomes difficult or impossible, then you want to aim for a number between 155 and 170 BPM.

These heart rate zones are based on percentages of maximum heart rate (MHR). Your MHR is calculated by subtracting age from 220: For example, someone who’s 30 years old would have approximately 180 beats per minute (BPM).

There are also other methods such as the MAF 180 Formula which work with much lower heart rate zones, making your note efficient in the aerobic zone allowing you to burn fat as fuel. This method is probably more suited to female physiology as we are naturally better endurance athletes.

Conclusion

Calculating your heart rate zones can help you stay in the right zone for your training and goals. Knowing how to find your maximum and exercise heart rate will help you more accurately track your progress, especially as you work toward your goals. If you want to hit a new PB, monitoring your heart rate can help keep you from overtraining and getting injured.

A heart rate monitor is a great tool for any runner and I highly recommend you use one when running and training. You will be able to track your progress better and know when to push yourself harder or when to slow down.

Are you a fan of using heart rate when running?

Elle