Training Marathon
Training to run a marathon


Heart Rate Intensity

Heart Rate Intensity

The relationship of the heart rate to the ability of the heart pumping blood is one of many factors that play a role in the difference between runners, the biggest is the runnerís age this determines their maximal heart rate.

Maximal Heart Rate

One way to determine your maximal heart rate is by subtracting your age from 220. This is only a rough estimate and can be off by as much as 25 beats per minute. Another route to try would be to do extreme cardio workout, such as running, for about 4-5 minutes. Be very careful when figuring your maximal heart rate this way, it can be a risky procedure for a person with undiscovered heart disease. It is highly recommend that if you have any doubts about figuring your maximal heart rate you should seek help through a local gym or even the closest cardio clinic.

Your heart rate and stroke volume determines your cardiac output with any aerobic work effort. Hence, your maximal heart rate and your maximal stroke volume influence the biggest role determining your capacity to perform, also known as maximal cardiac output. Your maximal heart rate and your maximal cardiac output will lower with age. Cardiorespiratory fitness levels have little to do with your maximal heart rate but it does affect your stroke volume. This is why a 50 year old that is well trained, can out perform an untrained 30 years old.

Determining Your Appropriate Training Intensity

The heart rate is often used to determine at what intensity of training a person should be. The training schedule we have set forth on this site for you does not state at what pace you should be running because this is set on an individual basis. How fast you should be running is determined by your heart rate and how comfortable you feel at that pace.

Note that a heart rate of 150 would not have the same level of intensity for a 25-year-old and a 50-year-old. For the 25-year-old it would equal about 80% of the maximal heart rate (maximal heart rate 190) and for the 50-year-old it represents about 94% of the maximal heart rate (maximal heart rate = 160). Thus, running at a heart rate of 150 would be problematic for the 50-year-old and the effort would be greater.

For the average individual, the average target heart rate should be 70-80% of the maximal heart rate. As training progresses this heart rate should up hold throughout your long runs in training. Over the course of your training, the pace required to reach your target heart rate will increase with time. This is a result of your stroke volume increasing resulting in your heart not having to pump as often to supply the needed cardiac output.