Beginner at running - how to control heart rate?

  • dcmacguy

    Posts: 102

    Dec 06, 2011 4:42 AM GMT
    I'm afraid this may come off as a bit stupid and rambling, but I could use some advice here. I figure a little background might help.

    I started working out back in July about 3-4x a week. Cardio for the first month to get my endurance up, and then started working in weights a couple of times a week. I'm starting to see some results, but have started hitting cardio up hard the past 2 weeks to try to start burning more fat.

    I've had horrible form - I used to pronate and get shin splits on the treadmill. I tried several pairs of shoes, bought a good pair of Brooks that seemed to help but was still having issues. On a whim I decided to try my Vibrams and instantly felt better - no shin splits and my form seems to be straightening up.

    Tonight, I was on the treadmill walking, and when a good song came on I got the urge to run - so I kicked it up to about 4.8 mph and ran for a couple of minutes. It was amazing - I was striking with the balls of my feet without trying, and it just felt right. I noticed though that it didn't take long at all for my heart rate to get up to 170-175. I know my target heart rate is supposed to be about 143 during my cardo per my trainer - so I think I am out of whack somewhere. I really want to get into running, but don't want to do something to hurt myself - is this something I can expect to start coming down as I get more into running, or is this okay?

    I'm 29, 6'2 and 258lb - my BMI was 24% about a month ago and I can tell a noticeable difference from then. I was closing in on 31% when I started, so I have made some decent progress. I want to run a 5K in June, so I have some reasonable goals set.
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    Dec 06, 2011 6:55 AM GMT
    Hi dcmacguy

    I also run in Vibrams and got very excited about how great and natural they felt. You need to resist the temptation to run too hard or too long in them, though, as it takes a while for your muscles to adapt to the different way of running - you don't want a broken bone in your foot.

    Your heart rate should become more steady as you become fitter, and it should drop to a normal level quicker after a workout. Your trainer probably knows his/her stuff, so ithat target heart rate is probably good, but pushing yourself harder from time to time shouldn't be a major problem in short bursts.

    I think you should just try to make steady progress. Working up to 5km will be a solid achievement and should be achievable. This will probably be the toughest phase for you - once you get to 5km, the step up to 10km or more will be easier.

    Take it easy.
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    Dec 06, 2011 12:50 PM GMT
    I agree it will take time for your heart rate to adjust. What you could do is try and find a speed and incline which will keep your heart rate at your target. Stay at the rate until you notice your heart not even reaching your target rate. Then increase slowly until you reach the speed and distance you want. This does take a while but its less stress on the body. I find too that if your legs become sore use the elliptical its much more low impact.
  • dcmacguy

    Posts: 102

    Dec 06, 2011 1:31 PM GMT
    Perfect... this is exactly the stuff I was hoping to hear.

    Regarding running in the Vibrams - I'll definitely take it slow/watch what I am doing. I don't want to screw myself up - they feel so much better than my regular shoes so I want to be able to continue to use them.

    I'll take it slow - going to try the incline/speed changes tonight. This is getting addicting.
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    Dec 06, 2011 1:33 PM GMT
    Personally, I run outside or use the "Random" setting on the treadmill when inside so as to vary the incline automatically without me having to mess with it. Just go a little slower to keep your heartrate without the suggested range, then pick it up a little every week.
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    Dec 06, 2011 2:01 PM GMT
    The heart is just a big muscle. Like other muscles it too needs to be stressed some to get stronger. You should be somewhat winded after a good run/walk - if you are not then you aren't pushing yourself enough. Don't be afraid to pick up the speed occasionally.
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    Dec 07, 2011 8:27 PM GMT
    runnerza saidHi dcmacguy

    [Vibrams] You need to resist the temptation to run too hard or too long in them, though, as it takes a while for your muscles to adapt to the different way of running - you don't want a broken bone in your foot.

    Take it easy.


    icon_evil.gificon_twisted.gificon_evil.gificon_twisted.gificon_evil.gificon_twisted.gif

    As you do more cardio, your heart will respond. Work that muscle and soon you will find your heart rate will adjust and so will your body. I would pay more attention to your feet and foot placement than anything. Cardio works that muscle, but pride and excitement can mess up those tarsals and metatarsals.

    In general, just listen to your body and when it says, "stop" just listen. Welcome to the world of Vibrams.
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    Dec 07, 2011 8:49 PM GMT
    With my body, if I push until I reach 170bpm then rest, I will bounce off of 178 before it drops again. I don't recommend doing this. But, a stress test by a Cardiologist, their 10-lead EKG machine can guestimate your max heartrate. FWIW.


    I'm a big fan of the Precor or StarTrak treadmills that have the Polar-brand chest strap receivers for heart rate. You can find this equipment at Best Buy, sometimes at Target, and sometimes by the suppliments and headphones at 24hr fitness. Best Buy definitely stocks the straps without the watch, saving you about $60.


    With the strap, Precor has a program where it will change incline and/or speed to maintain a constant heartrate. Works pretty well. But, I've also been told to do periodic sprints (run like hell, then rest, lather, rinse, repeat).

    The trick is to not get distracted by a hot guy or something on TV and leave your heartrate low for too long.

    I've never run for any other reason than to lose weight.

    I've lost some weight pursuing 5-6MPH. But, I've Lost More Weight by dropping down to 3mph to 5mph and going for maximum incline.

    Precor is apparently very aware of this, so it guestimates you will burn more calories at the same speed if you increase the incline.

    A trainer informed me that I should be walking on the incline, briskly. If I break out into sprinting or running, the cardio benefit is reduced. His advice has served me well for the last 30lbs... You should feel the burn up and down the back of your legs. Leg and glute development will help you get through more cardio. Doing both is recommended.

    Just need to ship this project at work so I can get back into it.
  • dcmacguy

    Posts: 102

    Dec 08, 2011 1:49 AM GMT
    I'll have to take a look at what treadmills we have at the gym. There are 4 or 5 different models - I have been using a True CS800 for consistency. It doesn't have a wireless heartrate monitor though.

    Yesterday, I was experimenting a bit - I warmed up on the elliptical for a few minutes - pushing myself but was really having to fly on the damn thing to get up to 143. After that, I got on the treadmill - 3.5 incline. I walked briskly for 3 minutes, and then would run at 4.5 for 2, before backing down to a brisk walk for 3. I did this for about 30 minutes - not trying to push it too hard.

    I would get to about 170-175 when running, but could drop down to about 135 during my brisk walk. It felt good, and I didn't feel like I was pushing myself too hard. Today, my calves and glutes are a bit sore/tight, but I feel really good! I've never had an ass - I am genetically devoid. That said, I have been getting some shape back there over the past few months and I hope this supercharges it.

    Eventually, I am thinking that I am going to swap the 3 minute walks for 3 minute runs, and walk on the 2 minute intervals until I get my endurance up. I decided to take a break tonight from everything - it was a long day at work and am going to a core class at the gym tomorrow on my day off.

    Thanks for all of the advice - I feel like this is something I can really get into, so I want to do it right.
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    Dec 08, 2011 4:38 AM GMT
    Good advice all around. A couple more thoughts that haven't surfaced yet --

    1. Your monitor may be malfunctioning sporadically.
    2. There could be a component of dehydration going on, which will push your pulse up faster than during a workout when you're well hydrated.

    Keep up the good work. You should be in race shape long before next June -- think about it.
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    Dec 08, 2011 4:44 AM GMT
    What is the make and model of your heart rate monitor?

    My first heart rate monitor was a cheaper brand. It would get interference constantly and report very high heart rates. The interference can come from power lines, WiFi, other heart rate monitors, or a number of different things. Strangely, it would report normal readings at lower heart rates. It would only go crazy on the higher heart rates.
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    Dec 08, 2011 4:54 AM GMT
    As a decently experienced runner, I'll just go ahead and say ignore the numbers you see on heart rate monitors. The real best way to get the most out of your running is to do it by feel. That's how I did it and it's worked wonders.

    Ideally, your perceived level of exertion during cardio should be that you could technically sustain a conversation with someone while you're doing it, but you'd also sooner opt to not converse. You can talk, but you can't sing.

    In all honesty, I just kinda did interval training and now I can go significantly long distances without needing to rest. My resting heart rate hovers in the low to mid 50s typically. I always thought the magic of running was that it was just something that is very simple to do, no real particular rules about it or any sort of special technique to get the most out of it. It just takes regular practice and it gets easier and easier.
  • dcmacguy

    Posts: 102

    Dec 08, 2011 5:07 AM GMT
    MarathonManiac said
    2. There could be a component of dehydration going on, which will push your pulse up faster than during a workout when you're well hydrated.

    Keep up the good work. You should be in race shape long before next June -- think about it.


    I have thought about this too. I carry a Nalgene with me everywhere, and I usually drink 2 or 3 bottles a day. I do work in a very dry office and am in and out of data centers, so I get parched easily.

    Thanks for the kind words... I'm getting excited over this!
  • dcmacguy

    Posts: 102

    Dec 08, 2011 5:13 AM GMT
    DudeInNOVA saidWhat is the make and model of your heart rate monitor?


    I have been using the one built into the treadmill via hand grips. I know those aren't the most accurate, but I always use the same treadmill for a modicum of consistency. I've been poking around online looking for a heart monitor that will connect to my iPhone since I use it for tracking my food and such - I want to keep everything in one place.

    Actually, that begs a good point. I am going to take a look at the treadmills and see if any of them can use the Polar monitor that RobertF64 mentioned. If they don't have any that are compatible, I will look for other options like an iPhone attachment.