How Can You Use Your Heart Rate For Your Running Workouts?

Close up of a white smart watch with health app icon on the screen

All of us have access to an incredibly sophisticated, individualised training tool to fine-tune your running workouts – your heart. Specifically, your heart rate offers a wealth of information runners can use. Using your heart rate to optimise your running workouts isn’t a new idea, but one that is terribly underutilised. Below, we explain how you can use it effectively.

Know Your Maximum Heart Rate

Before starting heart rate training, you need to know what your max heart rate is. There are a variety of different methods to estimate this, the most common being subtracting your age from 220. However, these estimates are often inaccurate, especially for older individuals. Factors such as fitness level, genetics, dehydration, heat, altitude, time of day and natural variation can all influence heart rate by up to 20 per cent.

The best approach to finding your true max heart rate is with a treadmill stress test in a lab. You can replicate this by using your own heart-rate monitor. Start with a warm-up kilometre, followed by another at a comfortably hard pace, then slowly increase your speed over 400 metres before running a final 400 metres as fast as you can. The highest number on your monitor will be close to your max heart rate.

Your Heart Training Zones

Once you know your max heart rate, you can find your training zones by multiplying this figure by a percentage. For example, if your max heart rate is 195, you can multiply that by 0.6 and 0.7 to find your zone 1 range (117 to 136 in this case). Here are the rest of the zones, as created by Janet Hamilton of the coaching website Running Strong:

  • Zone 1 (60 to 70%) – A comfortable effort used for warm-ups and cool downs.
  • Zone 2 (70 to 80%) – Used for a majority of training, this zone takes effort, but you can still hold a conversation.
  • Zone 3 (81 to 93%) – A harder effort where you can only manage to talk in short, broken sentences.
  • Zone 4 (94 to 100%) – A very hard effort that you can sustain but only lets you speak a few words at a time.

Each zone has a purpose, and where you choose to spend time depends on your goals. For example, someone training for a marathon will probably spend more time training in zones 1 and 2 as a marathon requires a moderate pace over a long period.

Benefits of Heart Rate Training

Heart rate training allows you to regulate the intensity of your running workouts, reducing the risk of fatigue or overtraining. It means you can train smarter by recovering properly in time between each of your runs. It also means you can accurately track your efforts during high intensity sessions, and moderate the influence of other factors like heat and humidity. Heart rate training is great for tempo runs, where getting your exertion level right is essential to benefit from your workout.

Health Services in Melbourne

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of services including physiotherapy, massage, clinical Pilates, yoga and more in multiple locations in Melbourne. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our centrally based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.

How To Train For Your First Half Marathon Or Marathon

Male runner’s feet participating in marathon

Doing your first marathon or half marathon is a great way to challenge yourself. You might be trying to get healthier, fulfil a new year’s resolution, support a friend who is participating, raise money for a charity or simply want to test your limits. Either way, preparation is vital.

Getting Started

Whether you’re running a half marathon (21.1km) or a full one (42.195km), running a marathon for the first time is a significant effort that requires training. The first thing is to know your limits. These distances put you at a much higher risk for injury than any casual jog. One of the most common causes of injury is building weekly mileage too soon, too quickly.

You should get used to running 5 to 10 km regularly to prepare physically and mentally, especially in the case of a full marathon. You should also pick the right kind of event. Marathons range from quiet, low-key fun runs to spectator-line urban races with a much more competitive spirit.

Key Elements to Marathon Training

The most important aspects of first marathon training are:

  • Base mileage – building your weekly mileage over time by running three to five times every week.
  • Practising long distance – going on gradually longer runs every 7 to 10 days to help your body adjust to longer distances. For example, running 10 km the first weekend, 12 km the following weekend, etc.
  • Speed work – practising tempo runs and intervals with heart rate training to increase your cardio capacity.
  • Rest – ensuring you get adequate rest and recovery time to prevent injuries and burnout.

Finding the Right Training Plan

You need to find the right training plan to get you from your current fitness level to being able to run the half or full marathon. Consult a professional or do some research to find something suitable for you. Your training plan should take into account your experience and background, helping you build up your cardiovascular fitness and get you to the starting line motivated and in excellent shape. Avoid plans that include significant increases in frequency or mileage. It must be feasible for you.

Get a Running Buddy

One of the best ways to motivate yourself and prepare for your first marathon is to get a running partner. When you are training and preparing on your own, it’s easy to get carried away making excuses for avoiding sticking to your training plan. The accountability a running buddy gives you can make a huge difference in how well prepared you are, physically and mentally.

Get the Right Equipment

Ensure you have the right pair of shoes for the marathon. Choose shoes that are comfortable, light and flexible. Visit your local running or sporting store to try on different pairs. Specialised stores that provide advice and let you try out the shoes are best. You should also get high quality socks and other clothing that will ensure you are comfortable for the duration of the event.

Running Health Services in Melbourne

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of services including physiotherapy, massage, clinical Pilates, yoga and more in multiple locations in Melbourne. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our centrally based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.

6 Tips for the Corporate Runner : The Balancing Act

Young woman runner with earphones in city, using smartwatch.

Now more than ever the ability to maintain the desirable work: life balance is becoming increasing difficult. Finding enough time in the busy schedule to complete our necessary (physical and psychological) exercise is tough. 

Below are a few tips to help you maximise your training time and help you stay injury free.


Planning the week in advance

It doesn’t matter whether you are training for a specific event or you are simply the weekend warrior who likes to go out for a few social runs during the week; the importance of planning your week is paramount.

I prefer to plan my week out on a Sunday night (it symbolises the beginning of the working week for me). Open up the smartphone calendar and put those diary entries in – locked in times that are non-negotiable. This is particularly helpful if you are running with a workmate in lunchtime – send a calendar invite so you can both dedicate the time to hitting the running circuit. 


Keep the system ‘moving and grooving’

As has become the case with modern society, so much of our time is spent sitting on our backsides at a desk, in the car, on a train, etc. This is no more prevalent than with corporate runners who spend 8-10+ hours sitting at desks during the day. 

Tightness through the hip flexors and associated restriction in hip extension is a very common problem with running gait. Proper hip function, in particular hip extension, is a critical element of running gait (this is too large a topic to discuss here!) and therefore tightness through the hip flexors, which limits normal hip extension, needs to be prevented. 

To help avoid tightness through the front of the hips and improve flexibility, get up from your desk every 90 minutes, walk to fill up your water bottle, go to the toilet. Above all, make sure you are moving those legs, stretching out the tightness that comes with prolonged seated posture. 

If possible, attempt a few tasks throughout the day while standing up – try holding an informal meeting with your colleague while standing instead of sitting. 


Substitute for H2O

It’s so easy to get caught up in your busy schedule at the office and forget a really important element of the running toolkit – consuming enough water. 

By simply placing a water bottle at your desk you can continue to sip of the precious H2O throughout the day and ensure you are ready to tackle the run fully hydrated. 


Be prepared to let it go

Things can change in the blink of an eye and this is none more evident than in the corporate world. Re-scheduled meetings or deadlines and hastily arranged business trips can impact on our event training plans.

It is normal to miss a session or two during a training program – what we mustn’t do is go chasing the one that got away! If for whatever reason we miss a recovery run or a mid-week long run occasionally that’s ok, don’t go out and try to fit in an extra run on top of another run later in the week. Overloading by adding in extra sessions is likely to lead to injury – resulting in even more missed sessions!


Buddy up

Finding the motivation or energy to go for that midday/lunchtime run is much easier when you have a running buddy to push you through. We are much more likely to stick to what we set out to do if there is someone there to motivate/push us through all those painful moments.


Cool down

So often forgotten when thinking about our running is the important aspect of cooling down – particularly when running during lunchtime or before/after work. We finish our run and step back into the office and before you know it the time has escaped you and you haven’t properly cool down.

Before you head back into the office – dedicate 5 mins after your run to stretch outdoors. This will save you from getting distracted from work related issue and potentially forgetting to stretch and cool down. 


Quick Tips for Marathon Training

Runners run urban marathon in the the city

1 – Look Down

Test out the shoes and socks that you plan on wearing on race day. If the shoes aren’t your regular training shoes, wear them on at least one 12-15 km run at marathon pace. This test run will determine whether you’re likely to develop blisters or get sore feet–before it’s too late. If the shoes bother you on this run, get yourself another pair.

2 – Don’t get greedy 

Try to stick to your training plan in the weeks leading up to the race. You’re not cramming for a test so running more KM’s than you’re used to late in your training can hinder your performance rather than help it. 

3 – Taper

During your final week you should feel like you’re storing up energy, physically and mentally. Keep runs short, try to get good sleep and keep stress at bay. Get work projects under control, decline late night invitations and try to avoid long flights if possible. You should arrive on the start line feeling fresh and ready to smash your goals! 
The Melbourne Marathon is only a couple of weeks away. If you have any questions, niggles or need some more personalised advice get in touch today!