I went for a 4-mile run today and monitored my heart rate much more closely than usual. What I found was surprising. For the first 10-15 minutes of the run, which was gently uphill, my heart rate was only around 88-90 bpm. But, on the slightly downhill trip home (the last 10 min of the run), my heart rate was strangely high – in the mid-160s. Normally, my HR doesn't seem to break 170 even during bouts of intense cardio, such as HIIT on the stationary. Throughout the run, I maintained a pretty steady pace and perceived exertion (not intense, a bit faster than comfortable), averaging 7:45 min/mi.

I first suspected that the heart rate monitor was initially only picking up every other heartbeat, since the initial readings were roughly half the later readings. But I verified many of these readings by checking my pulse manually, so I know they're real.

Also, I've had something similar happen occasionally with other cardio activities. Once I manually took my pulse several times after challenging sets of burpees and was shocked to get languid pulses in the 50s given how hard I felt I was working.

If it's relevant, I am not a runner. I do steady-pace running only infrequently – say, 3-4X/month – although I am otherwise quite active. My resting pulse is around 45 bpm.

  • 1
    Can you ask a question?
    – John
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 9:10
  • I agree with @JJosaur, there is no question here. Additionally, it probably needs to be phrased rather carefully, as any likely question about why this happens would be borderline on medical advice.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 14:39

2 Answers 2


There are times when your heart rate monitor will not measure the correct rate. For example if you chest is too dry or two wet or it is moving around and you loose connection. My Garmin HR monitor will often read my initial heart rate at 225 bpm for the first couple of minutes. I know my HR is not that high. (Actually physically counted it once when it read that amount).

I would try another monitor and compare the two. In addition I would think that 90 bpm is a little low for a run rate, especially on an uphill section.

  • But I said I checked the readings against a direct manual measurement (both at my wrist and carotid).
    – half-pass
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 3:24

I gather that your HR device provides you with instantaneous measurements only (no recording feature) since your observations seem to consist of periodic checks of your monitoring device, sanity checked via manual measurement.

I agree that taken together your HR observations seem a bit odd, so would suggest a next step of obtaining a more complete data set -- namely once-per-second measurements of HR for an entire run (from warm-up to cool-down) using a chest strap (for accuracy) HR monitor, obtainable for under $100 if you don't already own one of this type. I would suggest ensuring that whatever monitor you buy uses a wireless communication standard (Bluetooth and ANT+ being the two modern protocols) that your smartphone also has built-in, so that you can cost-effectively use your smartphone as a session recording device -- this saves you the expense of buying a running/GPS watch for recording your HR.

I think you'll end up learning a lot given this granular data, especially if you record several runs on different days and compare/contrast the results.

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