Listen to your heart

Ένας αγώνας για όλους

Running and heart rate
One of the first questions that arise when one first starts to run is how fast one should run. Most people make a mistake to start running as fast as they can, which results, in just a few minutes, in just being able to walk or, in the worst case scenario, in finding themselves sitting down and trying to pull themselves together, with their heart pounding and ready to "burst" from pressure.

Since you still lack the necessary experience to figure out what is right, you need a "guide" to show you what is the ideal running intensity for you so as to have the best results, not to get tired in vain and to avoid injuries.

Calculating the intensity and exercise zones
This guide is the heart rate, that is your cardiac frequency or simply your pulse. By calculating your heart rate you can assess the intensity of your exercise by essentially setting the goals of each training.

In order to be able to do so, you will have to know the maximum value of your Heart Rate (HRmax). This way you will be able to calculate the intensity of each exercise as its percentage. It is possible to calculate the HRmax value using a simple formula, 220 minus your age, or by means of an ergometric test.
So, a 35 year old human has an HRmax value of 185 pulses per minute (ppm) according to the previous formula, which practically leads to the following correspondences:

  • 60% is 111 ppm.
  • 70% is 130 ppm
  • 80% is 148 ppm
  • 85% is 157 ppm
  • 90% is 166.5 ppm

This way, the training "zones" are set according to the pulses, as follows:

Zone A
For weight control or weight loss and slight improvement of the endurance, 60-70% or 111 - 130 ppm.
Zone B
For greater improvement of the endurance and aerobic capacity, 70-80% or 130 -148 ppm.
Zone C
For improvement of high endurance, 85-90% or 157 -166 ppm.

Rule of thumb
This practically means that, in the example above, if you want to lose weight and burn fat you should run at an intensity that corresponds to between 111 and 130 pulses. Of course, as this intensity is low, you should cover a greater distance or run for a long time (over 40 minutes) so as to have the necessary results.

Now, if you want to improve your endurance faster and more effectively, you will have to run at 70-80% of your HRmax. Initially, you should not run too long at this intensity. Also, remember that you should always properly warm up before increasing the pace of your running.

In case you are running for a long time and you want to improve your endurance even further, every second or third training session you can run at intensities that correspond to 85-90% of your HRmax. It is imperative to warm up before the actual exercise, while it is best to run at this intensity at intervals, that is for a specific period of time, then rest for some time before resuming running. For example, you can have 5 6 runs at that intensity, 1 minute long each, with intervals of walking for 1-2 minutes.

Learn how to measure
So far so good, but how does one measure their heart rate? The most effective method is using a heart rate monitor. These are special watches that connect to a chest belt which measures the heart beats per minute and sends the data to the watch, displaying the current heart rate.

If you cannot use a heart rate monitor, you can measure your pulse yourself. How? What you need is to locate your heart beat by means of your radial artery, by placing two fingers of your right hand in the internal side of your left wrist, one-two centimeters above your hand. Count the number of pulses for ten seconds and then multiply by six. This way you will calculate your current heart rate. You can do that either stopping in the middle of running or immediately after it is finished, so as to ensure you run with the correct intensity.

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