The basis for how you determine your target heart rate may not be exactly correct.
In the past when I figured out the heart rates I should be training at, I used training zones like the ones listed below and described by Sports Coach Brian Mac:
The Energy Efficient/Recovery Zone – 60% to 70%
The Aerobic Zone – 70% to 80%
The Anaerobic Zone – 80% to 90%
The Red Line Zone 90% to 100%
It’s only been recent that I was shown that our zones are not accurately arrived at by simply multiplying our maximum heart rate by percentages. Andrew, of Downeast Running, introduced me to the Karnoven Method for determining accurate heart rate training targets.
Wikipedia does an excellent job of describing the Karnoven Method:
Target Heart Rate = ((Maximum Heart Rate – Resting Heart Rate) × %Intensity) + Resting Heart Rate
So, for someone with a Maximum Heart Rate of 180 and a Resting Heart Rate of 70 we have two examples:
For A 50% Target Heart Rate: ((180 − 70) × 0.50) + 70 = 125 bpm
For a 85% Target Heart Rate: ((180 − 70) × 0.85) + 70 = 163 bpm
I can say from personal experience that the Karnoven Method target heart rates feel right compared to using the Max Heart Rate x % formula I used previously. I found that staying under the 80% aerobic zone target using the standard method was difficult—the pace felt too slow under that method which put my target heart rate at 160 beats per minute. But, with the Karnoven Method, my target became 170—a heart rate which allowed me to run at a faster pace while still carrying on a conversation—an often used indicator of appropriate aerobic effort.
And how does all this help you become a better runner? Take a look at this article by Jeff for the answer and then give the formula a try. I suspect you won’t be disappointed.
Was this article a bit ahead of the learning curve for you? Don’t worry because next week we’ll talk about the basics around Resting Heart Rate, Maximum Heart Rate and how to measure them.