Why the pulse is so important when runningSpeed is not magic. The pulse plays a major role. Sports scientist Prof. Dr. Jurgen Giebing explains how runners* increase their performance through correct pulse calculation.
Endurance sports like running offer a number of health benefits. These include reduced body fat, accelerated metabolism, improved immune function, and an increase in overall well-being. If we take into account the fact that cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death in our civilized world, it quickly becomes clear that the question is not whether you should do endurance training, but how you should do it.
To answer this question, it makes sense to briefly discuss the components of a training program, the so-called training parameters. They include volume, frequency, density and intensity of the running sessions completed.
Training volume means the total amount of training, for example, the kilometers run per week. Training duration defines the amount of time spent training (usually measured in minutes per week). Training density refers to the time interval between two sessions, and training intensity, in simple terms, defines how strenuous the training is.
The optimal heart rate for running
While the former parameters are relatively easy to measure in terms of kilometers, minutes, days, hours, etc., the latter can be measured in terms of time. express, the calculation of the training intensity is a bit more difficult. This can never be measured directly, but always only indirectly. In endurance training, the training intensity is usually determined by measuring the heart rate.
Now what is the optimal heart rate for running? From time to time, recommendations circulate that describe a certain value, for example 130 beats per minute, as optimal. However, whether it is 130 or some other number, generalized advice does not do justice to the question. The answer depends very much on the training status of the person in question and his or her training goals.
The best way is for the doctor to measure it
First of all, the individual maximum heart rate must be determined. However, this also varies; the individual maximum heart rate can only be determined exactly by measurement – preferably under medical supervision. As an approximation, it can be calculated by men subtracting their age in years from the number 220.
Video: Dr. Matthias Marquardt explains the optimal training heart rate
Rough determination of heart rate for training beginners
– Men: 220 – age – Women: 226 – age
Women subtract their age from the number 226. So for a 26-year-old female athlete, a maximum heart rate of 200 is roughly estimated. This means that at maximum effort, the heart cannot beat more than 200 times per minute.
A 50-year-old man, on the other hand, generally achieves a maximum heart rate of only about 170 beats per minute. These examples show in many respects why a certain value of, for example, 130 beats per minute can never be a recommendation that applies to everyone.
How runners determine their pulse
A general rule of thumb is that the training heart rate should be 60 to 85 percent of the maximum heart rate, whereby beginners* should orient themselves to the lower value of this pulse range, advanced athletes to the upper one.
While this guideline provides the range within which a training session is intense enough to elicit adaptive responses of a desired nature, it does not adequately account for the training state that influences the effectiveness of this guideline.
There is also a rule of thumb for this. This states that beginners should first train at 60 percent of their maximum heart rate and then slowly and progressively increase by five percent every other month. In this way, one increases from 60 to 85 percent within one year. Would have progressed from rookie to advanced after one year of regular training.
Well trained athletes have a low resting heart rate
As acknowledged at the outset, these rules of thumb are relatively general guidelines. However, there are newer guidelines that are a bit more precise and have their key advantage in that they include resting heart rate in the formula.
To put it simply, athletes with good endurance training have a lower resting heart rate than people who hardly ever or never work on their stamina. The inclusion of the resting pulse rate therefore ensures that increasing performance capacity is taken into account appropriately.
To determine the individual target training heart rate, first subtract the age from 220 or 226 and subtract the resting heart rate from this again. The result is then multiplied by a factor. The resting heart rate added back in. This gives the target heart rate.
More precise determination of heart rate for training beginners
– Men: (220 – age – resting heart rate) x 0.6 + resting heart rate = target heart rate – Women: (226 – age – resting heart rate) x 0.6 + resting heart rate = target heart rate
Example: A 35-year-old runner with a resting heart rate of 80 beats per minute, who categorizes himself as a novice runner, has a target heart rate of 143. This is calculated as: (220 – 35 – 80) x 0.6 + 80 = 143
During his training sessions, the amateur athlete tries to stay within a range of 90-110 percent of the target heart rate, which in this example corresponds to 129-157 beats per minute.
The factor is based on training status and ranges from 0.6 to 0.75. So beginners rather use the value of 0.6 and depending on the degree of progress you approach 0.75. Advanced users are those who have already completed at least six months of regular training.
Determine baseline values
Said formulas are more accurate because by including resting heart rate, changing performance and physical fitness are directly incorporated into the calculation of the formula and thus into the determination of training intensity.
Those who exercise regularly and improve their performance ensure the adaptation of the cardiovascular system and thus lower the resting pulse rate. However, if you stop training for a longer period of time, you can observe that the resting heart rate increases again. By taking the resting heart rate into account when calculating the training heart rate, the intensity is optimally aligned with the current performance capacity.
It is best determined immediately after waking up while still lying down, when factors such as stress and caffeine, among others, cannot yet influence pulse rate. If, in addition, the individual maximum pulse is determined exactly (the value replaces that of 220/226 minus age in the above calculation), you will have all the relevant basic values for your training planning in hand.
By using such formulas to determine your own target heart rate, you will also know what speed to choose to stay within the appropriate target heart rate range. This makes it clear: the right running speed is not witchcraft, but can be calculated relatively easily.