Listen to Your Heart

9 May

Heart Rate Monitors.  I have never had such a fickle relationship with any one piece of equipment before.

I was first introduced to heart rate monitors at a fitness conference in college.  The polar people had a really awesome deal on heart rate monitor watches and I thought it was so awesome how you could actually figure out how many calories you were burning while doing any type of workout.  So I bought my first one.  Throughout college I went through stages with my heart rate monitor and matching pink polar watch.


I would wear my watch and monitor all the time and loved to know how many calories I was burning in different types of workouts.  I also used it to do elliptical heart rate intervals a lot because it made them more challenging.  Being a kinesiology major I knew the basics of heart rate zones and what my training zones were.

When I started running more the past few months I stopped wearing my monitor as much.  For some reason when I run I automatically have a really high heart rate, even at a very easy effort.  I’ve talked to a doctor about it before and they said the only cause would be low iron levels but my levels weren’t that low.  No one really seems to know why this happens and it is only with running.  Within 5 minutes of running my heart rate would be in the 180’s and stay there the whole time, sometimes creeping up to the 190’s during hard workouts.  This was frustrating because I wouldn’t feel like I was exerting myself that much but yet my heart rate was telling me I was working much harder then I actually was.

 According to the standard formula which is 220-age my Max heart rate should be 198 and working at 65-85% (standard fitness recommendations for cardio exercise) of that would mean I need to stay in a heart rate zone of 129-168.

I  have a monitor that goes with my Garmin as well and I did notice that after awhile my heart rate took longer to jump up but my averages were still always in the 180s.  I reviewed all my runs that I actually wore my monitor on from December to March and it looks like the average was a HR of 183 for most of them.  This would be 92% of my theoretical max heart rate.  There is NO way I would be able to do all of that running at that high of an effort and not be totally drained.

So what is up with these monitors? Am I getting inaccurate readings? Is my max heart rate just actually way higher than 198? Should I make myself run way slower just to stay in a lower heart rate zone even though I am not feeling like it is a hard effort?

These are the questions I just do not know the answers too and therefore make me want to not wear a monitor at all because I feel like my body just works at its own speed when it comes to running.  Put me on an elliptical and my heart rate will be a perfect 160 the whole time at a hard effort.

Do you use a heart rate monitor?

What are your normal heart rate averages when you work out?

Any idea why running makes my heart rate go up so much higher?

5 Responses to “Listen to Your Heart”

  1. Allison @ Runs A Latte May 9, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    I also have the Garmin HRM. I’ve used it a few times, but honestly, I got sick of having one more piece of equipment attached to me.

    Have you ever had a treadmill stress test? This might be a great way for a doctor to actually see what you heart’s doing during strenuous activity. It might be worthwhile to at least put your mind at ease – you obviously don’t want to mess around with your heart. That way if something is unusual, a doctor will act on it.

    I had to have one last year after a scare with my heart. It’s pretty painless, especially when you’re in shape.

  2. movesnmunchies May 9, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    ah u just reminded me to use a HRM.. I have the garmin one.. im really intrigued as to how it would go for me! WOW .. your monitors must be off! cuz if your heart rate is that high at a chill pace.. it cant be ur max!.. very interesting!

  3. Sarah S @RunningOnWords May 9, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    I have the same problem with an extraordinarily high HR at a slow run. When I was recovering in HR medic tent my HRM said 120s but the medic said my pulse was under 100. It might have been because I was laying down, but that seemed strange to me. I’m curious to see what other people think about the accuracy.

  4. Amy @ Second City Randomness May 9, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    I actually don’t wear one at all. I had the Nike+, but need to calibrate it with my new shoes (they’re not Nike and the little “thingie” I bought that keeps it on the shoe is clearly not working out well).

  5. journeytostrong May 11, 2011 at 1:27 am #

    I don’t think that all people can use the standard 220 minus age formula. The gym that I used to go to could do a test on you. I think it was called a Cardio Point test (done through My max heart rate was always a bit higher than the standard formula. I think it could be a YMMV issue.

    I do have the same issue when running as well though. HR tends to be higher than what I feel like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: