Just started to use HRT monitor on runtastic. My max heart rate I think should be 179. I am 41 and my resting HR is 45. Just ran 15k this morning and according to the data I was in redline (defined as 90-100% of maximum heart rate) for 54% of my run and 29% in anaerobic. I was not running too fast and I run about 30-40k a week. Reading up on it many posts advise against longish periods in this zone. Am I putting my body under undue strain?

2 Answers 2


220 - Age for maximum heart rate is one of the worst myths in sports. Your maximum heart rate may be less than 179, or it may be much more. For example, I am currently in my late 40's, and I regularly hit in the high 190's on hill sprint cycling workouts.

There are various step tests and self administered tests that you can do outlined on the web, I would encourage you to do one of these to see where you might fall.

I would say that with a resting heart rate of 45 and history of running 30-40k per week that 179 is probably not anywhere near your true maximum. It does suggest that you had some factors that were raising your heart rate, I would "expect" your heart rate to be in the 140's for a typical 15k effort, but that's a wild stab as everyone is very different in exercise response.

  • Great answer. I knew a woman who could comfortably talk when her heartrate was 210. She had a small heart. Jan 19, 2015 at 2:23
  • I disagree with the comment that "179 is probably not anywhere near your true maximum." My RHR is 40, but my MHR is probably ~175 bpm and I'm 38. Likely, I have a bigger heart, so the volume pumped per beat is larger.. thus the lower max. Jan 22, 2015 at 20:50
  • @GeoffHutchison - I have seen HR's spike in the low 210's in the last couple years and I am 48. If he is exercising comfortably at 179, he is probably well under (25+ bpm) his theoretical maximum. And while you have a larger heart, that doesn't mean that your maximum is ~ 175. Unless you've done a clinical stress test, no way to really accurately tell. All it means is that for equivalent workloads, you generally have a lower HR than the guy next to you with a smaller hear.
    – JohnP
    Jan 22, 2015 at 21:33
  • @JohnP All I'm saying is that your answer is great, except that phrase. You (and likely the OP) may have much higher max HR. Some less-trained people may have trouble hitting their max, but a true max HR is genetic and has nothing to do with training volume or RHR. I've compared semi-pro marathoners and there's quite a distribution. Jan 23, 2015 at 4:03
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    @GeoffHutchison - We are saying the same thing in different ways. :)
    – JohnP
    Jan 23, 2015 at 14:37

I agree with doing a self-administered test. The tough ones aren't fun, but you'll know the truth.

  • Run a 5k race or time trial hard, running the last 1k-800m increasingly faster. Sprint hard to the end.
  • Find a long, hard hill (e.g., ~2 minutes from bottom to top). Run up it 2-3 times. Push hard as you get to the top.
  • Run 2km on a track, increasing pace with each lap. On the last lap, try to accelerate with each 100m section until you're running a full-out maximum sprint.

Obviously it helps if you have a training group or partner to help push you with one of these efforts. You should be able to take the max HR from a workout like this and add a few bpm to get a "true" max. (Let's assume that it's really hard to truly max out in a workout vs. a race.)

I'm 37 with a resting HR of ~40 bpm and found my max was probably around 175 bpm.

But I've used the various "training zone" percentage ranges and they match up really well with perceived effort. Take your real max HR and subtract your resting HR to get the "heart rate reserve" (HRR):

  • Zone 1: 60 to 70%; very comfortable effort; use this for warmup and cooldown
  • Zone 2: 70 to 80%; comfortable enough to hold a conversation; most training is done here
  • Zone 3: 81 to 93%; “comfortably hard” effort; you may be able to say short, broken sentences.
  • Zone 4: 94 to 100%; hard effort; the pace is sustainable, but conversation is a few words at a time. For most people this is around 5-K pace.

The key for me is that these threshold and tempo ranges match up really well with tempo and threshold workouts.

  • Well written answer, thanks for contributing.
    – Eric
    Jan 19, 2015 at 16:59

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