High heart rate while running-Beginner

I’m a 26 year old male who’s been running for the last 5-6 weeks according to the ‘virtual running mate’ program on Spotify. I’m a total noob to running and my whole life my endurance level isn’t that good, I’ve always done more explosive sports.

While I’m running my heartrate goes up to 180 BPM and stays there even though I’m going at a 6:30 min/km pace, I feel like I cannot go physically slower than that. During the ‘walking phases’ my heartrate goes down to 120-130 after a minute or 2. I cannot have a conversation as well during the running intervals btw.

Now my question is: do I have to start walking when my heart rate goes to high and start jogging again when it’s in a proper heart rate zone, or do I have to continue what I’m doing? There is a lot of conflicting advice on this topic.

Seiler would say you start walking before you get you <3 so high. and try to spend 1 hour or more in lower HR… After few weeks of adaptation (6-8?) you should get faster for the same HR.
It could also possible that your run economy is really bad (maybe too tense in the upper body, maybe other) and for that reason your <3 is too high

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100%….nothing wrong with the run/walk method. I used it successfully to finish 2 Ironmans and qualify for the IM 70.3 Worlds.

You don’t even have to do it based on HR…run a mile, walk a minute. Or if you are still building fitness, run 1/2 mile, walk a minute. Over time, you extend the run phase. Do what works for you and your fitness will increase.


How are you measuring HR? I always find that unless my watch strap is quite tight it’ll read >160BPM instead of 130BPM while i’m just trotting along at 8:30 per mile.

if this isn’t the issue just stick with it. It’ll work itself out when you get more used to the new efforts. Don’t try and push yourself too hard too soon, just let it all happen to you. But equally you don’t “have to…” do anything. You aren’t going to hurt yourself with a high HR, you’ll learn to be amazed at what your body can do… I didn’t start running until i was over 45 (8years ago) and it’s worked out pretty good for me :slight_smile:

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Not a runner, but 06:30/km isn’t exactly beginner pace, or slow, very weird that you can’t run slower than that. That just sounds wrong.

But if you really can’t, walk very briskly instead and see what the HR is then. Over time it should decrease or you can walk even faster at the same HR and at some point you can try jogging again.

There is conflicting advice, and you CAN improve in many ways. For endurance sports like cycling and running, however, there’s a large body of evidence that you should do most of your training volume easy, with about 10% to 20% of your volume done very hard. Same as doing as much Z2 on the bike as you can fit into your schedule, with a couple of high-intensity workouts thrown into each week.

“I can’t run slower” is NOT true. This pace is what your body considers “running” to be. It’s fast and you get breathless. But trust me… my easy pace is 9:30/km and you absolutely can run that slow. :joy: Maybe change the word “run” to “jog” in your mind. Take shorter steps. Don’t get as high off the ground. It may start to feel almost like a shuffle… but you’ll figure it out. An easy run/jog definitely needs to be easy enough that you can have a conversation.

You didn’t mention what your max heart rate is, but “easy” means below 75% of your max HR, ideally below 70%. My max is 186 at 52 years old, so I “run” easy at 9:15/km or so at 135bpm. Once you hit your HR cap, slow down or walk if you need to. When training easy days, pushing above tends to reduce the effectiveness of that workout, not help it.

Yes, initially you’ll do a lot of walking. And you need to learn to run more slowly. In fact, you’ll learn to run at a bunch of different speeds over time. But on easy days, you’re training endurance and running economy, not speed. In the first year or so of running, I did gain a little speed on easy runs (from 10:00/km to 9:30/km) but mostly I went from can’t-run-a-mile to jogging (at 8:55/km) my first half-marathon.

Once you’ve done a few months of this and you can comfortably run/jog 5K without having to take a walking interval, you can add in ONE higher-intensity workout per week. The ideal is a threshold workout, gradually extending how long you can run at threshold.

Don’t force it. Don’t overthink it. It should be fun.

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What other workouts are you doing? Are you fatigued from the bike or gym? How much do you weigh?

What is the terrain/elevation like where you run? It doesn’t take much of an incline to raise HR, so if it’s lots of short punchy hills, that could explain a high HR. Probably even more true if you have a bigger build.

Anyways, you have a few choices…

  • Continue what you’re doing. Nothing wrong with a run/walk cycle like you’re doing today. 180bpm isn’t usually unhealthy for somebody your age - do you happen to know your max HR? It could be as high as 200bpm (don’t rely on the 220-age or other formulas - what’s the highest HR you see in a running sprint mid-workout).
  • Run slower. Yeah, it might be more of a shuffling jog than what fees like a “true run”.
  • Some combo of the above - maybe half run/walk workouts and half really slow jog workouts

Eventually your baseline HR for a slow run will come down. But it takes time. 5-6 weeks is a good start, but I’d expect a few months to really see big gains.

Thanks for the advice everyone! I guess I will start walking when my heartrate is too high then. I will also try to lower my pace even further! Hopefully then my heartrate doesn’t go as high as it does right now.

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Try to establish a max heart rate… over time being able to reference certain energy systems and workout types to a percent of max HR is very useful.

This is not an urgent matter at all, mind you, just something that’s useful. But at some point, and when you’re comfortable and safe putting out that kind of effort (at your age, no real risk of a heart attack but you could certainly pull a muscle or something), warm up really well and haul ass for a max sprint or two. Note the absolute highest HR you see and use that as your max HR.

Advice from a long time runner and Coach… you are over thinking it. When you are just starting it is important to learn to “run by feel.” Turn off the heart rate monitor and don’t look at GPS until after your run. Try to find a zone that is a “comfortable hard.” Not too easy but not hard either.

When I started decades ago I had a mile loop in the neighborhood I would run. Then I progressed to two laps. Then found a three mile loop. When my son started running we started with a 1 min “jog” and a 1 min walk. We added 30 seconds to the run portion every day (running 3-5 times a week) until we got up to a 3 mile run without walking. There’s many ways to get to where you are going, just be sure to start at a pace that is within yourself. As you build up strength and endurance your pace will improve.

If you have trail access try to run on forest trails. Hills will help you build strength and strength = speed. When you have a good base add in some strides a couple times a week and start building a “long run” every week or so.

Best of luck to you!


@Ivar_Kleber when I started endurance sport I was in exactly the same situation as you. I could not run slow enough to keep my HR from red-lining. I weighed way over 120kg and even 200m was an endurance event for me. Two things helped me.

#1 I followed a couch-to-5k program. There was nothing special about it other than it provided a steady progression of increased run time until I could complete a 5k. I was eventually able to run a full 5k without stopping & I remember my first 5k time to this day: 38 minutes & 48 seconds.

#2 I bought a bike. I could go out and ride for an hour at a steady heart rate no problem.

Eventually I was able to accumulate enough fitness to complete a sprint triathlon! Some guy at that triathlon beat me by 32 minutes. :smiley: This year at that same triathlon, I was able to finish ahead of that same guy by a couple minutes and win my age group. After more than a decade of steady work.

So it gets better, for sure! Just keep making steady progress and remain injury free.

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You didn’t answer the question about how you are measuring HR. I know with my Garmin Fenix that my HR readings are horribly inaccurate in my more relaxed paces. It only works when I am going hard, or walking (or, on the bicycle). Your pace fits pretty firmly into my “relaxed” pace and when it likes to report artificially high.

Heh… I hear you. I’m only four-ish years into this, but I started at 110kg (still at 110kg) and my first 5K race (last year) was 41:16. Completed a sprint tri in 2021 in about 2:27:53. Couldn’t really swim yet (still can’t swim), and those 800m in the water took 36:23. There were people finishing their bike leg as I was getting out of the water. :joy:

Now my best 5K is still only 38:26 because I haven’t lost the excess fat, but I have a LOT more endurance. First half-marathon done last October, will do the full New York Marathon this coming November. Did one 7-hour bike ride with 1400m of climbing. I’m much stronger and happier. And as I keep working, power will continue to increase. As I gradually take some weight off, the speed will come.

But critically: I’m 52 years old and had spent 30 YEARS at a desk without doing any sports.

You have all the time in the world, @Ivar_Kleber. I’m literally twice your age. So just be consistent… get your exercise in, six days a week, including a little strength training with free weights, remain injury-free, and don’t stop. You’ll be able to do anything you want, it’ll just take a couple of years to get there.

@AgingCannon @Ivar_Kleber you are going to have SO MUCH FUN. It’s going to be literally year after year of getting better.

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10 years ago was the last time I ran, at a Sales Kickoff 5k run, and somehow with absolutely no training I did 0:29:15 and then felt it for the next 5 days LOL. Good thing we had to sit in meetings all day, and socially drink at night.

9 years ago I power walked a half marathon at 2:59:58 but had to jog the last minute to break 3 hours. Thats when I decided to take up road cycling. Toggled this to a run so Strava would give me some splits and PRs:

Shoot, guess I stopped a couple times. Power walking except for the end. Guess I remembered Strava’s hero bar:

Crushed right now… I guess thats not too shabby for a 90-95kg old dude, do I have to try again? Cycling is soooo much easier on my body!

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