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A Runner's Heart Rate

by
author image Kim Nunley
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.
A Runner's Heart Rate
A runner stopping to check his heart rate with a smart watch. Photo Credit blyjak/iStock/Getty Images

The heart function of a runner is instrumental in the athlete’s performance. It handles your blood system, providing your body with oxygenated blood and delivering deoxygenated blood to the lungs. As you run, the need for blood and oxygen significant increases. A consistent running program will develop the strength and endurance of the heart, training it to function more efficiently. You can use an online heart rate calculator, such as one provided by the Running For Fitness website, to determine what your heart rate should be during your different training runs.

Function

As you run, your heart rate increases in order to meet the demand of providing enough oxygen and fuel to your working tissues. Your heart responds to the intensity of your run, progressively increasing its beat rate as you increase the intensity of your workouts, until it hits a plateau. To find your maximum heart rate, begin by subtracting your age from 220. A 30-year-old's maximum heart rate equals 190, while a 55-year-old's equals 165 beats per minute

Behavior

Running heart rate can vary between individuals. How fast your heart beats while you're running depends on genetics, age and your cardiovascular health. As you improve your physical fitness, your body becomes more efficient and is better able to deliver fuel to the working muscles. This means that as you improve your fitness, your heart rate will decrease, because it doesn’t need to beat as fast to provide the same amount of oxygen and fuel.

Long Slow Runs

Long, slow runs are used by runners to develop muscle and cardiovascular endurance. Longer runs are typically completed at a slower speed, which is less intensive on your body. Your heart rate should remain at 60 to 70 percent of its maximum heart rate, which at age 30 is between 114 and 133 beats per minute and at age 55 is between 99 and 116 beats per minute. During these runs, your heart learns how to better pump blood to your muscles.

Aerobic Runs

Aerobic runs are typically of moderate length and are the most effective at developing your cardiovascular fitness. Running at about 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate is the best to increase your cardiorespiratory system, teaching your body how to acquire, transport and deliver oxygen to your tissues. At age 30, your heart rate remains between 133 to 152 beats per minute during aerobic runs, while by age 55, your heart rate should be between 116 and 132 beats per minute.

Anaerobic Runs

Anaerobic runs are very difficult to sustain and are therefore typically shorter in length. During these high-intensity workouts, your body is unable to keep up with the production of lactic acid. Your body must use more immediate sources of energy, which are provided by carbohydrates, but are in limited supply. These runs are effective in improving your overall running performance and also teaching your body how to handle high intensity situations, such as sprinting at the end of a race. Your heart rate is at about 80 to 90 percent of its maximum heart rate, which equates to about 152 to 171 beats per minute when you're 30 and between 132 and 149 beats per minute when you're 55.

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