I am a former in shape-now out of shape male weighing 227lbs. Recently I bought a heart rate monitor and took off for a 5k run;

At an average pace of 6:27/km it felt challenging. I would not have been able to 'hold a conversation' and I felt like my saliva/swallowing was getting in the way of my breathing.

According the some online calculations I would have been in HR Zone 5 for about 98% of the run, which I have read is bad.

Do I just need to slow down, or is it possible I am running inefficient? It seems like I am already at just over walking pace...


  • 2
    Most max heart rate calculators use the 220-age formula which is not very accurate at all. Base your assessment on your subjective experience instead.
    – Mårten
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 11:29
  • I'm similar size and often have 180+ average bpm runs. The only way to learn your threshold is to test it - either with a doctor in a stress test or by yourself by accumulating data points (e.g. running as often as possible over the next several months at different intensities). I prefer the latter. :)
    – mattsolar
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 20:42
  • PS, "out of shape" plus a sub-20 minute 5k don't usually go hand-in-hand. Congrats.
    – mattsolar
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 20:42
  • You should go by conversation pace when you are building up a base. If you can not hold a conversation, you probably are going to fast. Might seem slow, but not every run is a tempo/race pace run like people believe to be true. Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 18:12

1 Answer 1


For your running efficiency, do some reading on prose running and how to control your breathing. With practice, active and resting heart rates will go down sooner rather than later. A doctor would probably best be able to answer whether or not your heart rate is too high. If this is the case, start with shorter distances and work your way up. I was in a similar situation about 4 years ago, but I started at only a mile at a 12 min/mi pace, weighing in at about 235 lbs. Worked my way up in distance by about 10% per week. Six months later of running 4 to 6 days per week, I was down to 195 lbs and ran my first 10k at 8 min/mi. Stick with it, and things will go well.

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