Heart Rates – Surprisingly High

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  • #46619

    Not sure if this should go in the general training forum. Since I’m female, I thought I’d start here.

    Background: recently took two months of light/no cardio due to achilles tendonitis. When I returned to regular exercise (~10+ hours of mountain running and hiking per week) my heart rate monitor was spiking oddly – it would go from 140 to 170 seemingly randomly, even when running downhill. I supposedly have asthma (not diagnosed until 28) and do have trouble breathing through my nose no matter my level of exertion.

    I recently went through metabolic testing (indoor treadmill test with lactate measurement) to get a grasp on what was going on. According the test the top of my zone 1 is 178 bpm – which seems crazy high for a 31 year old woman with 10+ years of mountain travel (backpacking guiding, ski touring, mountain running) base. My resting heart rate is ~55 bpm.

    Is it possible that my aerobic threshold could really be this high? Is a high heart rate like this more typical of women? My husband’s aerobic threshold is sub-145. I was tested two days before starting my period … could this have an effect?

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    Anonymous on #46624

    That does seem like a high zone one, but with a long background in mountain travel, I’m sure you built up your aerobic base. My first question is if you use a chest strap with your monitor or is it wrist-based? If wrist-based, it’s not trustworthy. If it spikes like that with a chest strap, you’ll still benefit greatly by doing lower intensity aerobic work. I would start with 150-155 for the majority of your running with will give you a larger range to work in. I have asthma as well, but breathing through my nose just took practice. It’s harder if you haven’t developed your diaphragmatic breathing but will really improve your capacity using primarily your diaphragm instead of chest and intercostal muscles.

    HR isn’t as variable with the cycle as other things like caffeine or sugar.

    Diana on #46908

    Hi Alison,

    I’m intrigued by your comment about the benefits of nose breathing improving capacity. Do you mean breathing/lung capacity? Can you elaborate on that?

    Before I began running consistently and training I almost always breathed through my nose on my runs. Then when I began training a friend told me that it gives you less oxygen and makes running harder, so I retrained myself to breathe through my mouth. Now I am contemplating bringing back the nose breathe runs for some of my aerobic base training. Do you do all or most of your aerobic base training breathing through your nose? I’d love to hear about the benefits.

    Thank you

    Jane Mackay on #48208

    Hi Diana,
    I can’t speak to the science, but I always breathe through my nose unless I’m really pushing hard — which I rarely do because I’ve still got a long way to go to build up my aerobic base. I feel like if I breathe through my mouth I get more oxygen, but it doesn’t go to the right places. Not sure if I can explain it better than that. As soon as I can, I switch back to breathing through my nose. I am much more comfortable breathing through my nose when running, power hiking uphill, etc.

    Haley, as far as learning to breathe through your nose, you could find yoga helpful, if you’re not already a regular yoga practitioner. I fully credit yoga with ‘teaching me how to breathe’. I started doing yoga at least 3x/ week (I now do a 10-min routine to start every day to keep myself limber — I turned 50 in August) when I was 37 and it has had a profound effect on my freedom of movement — muscular, respiratory and every other way. Occasionally I think about how my body would be serving me if I hadn’t started doing yoga 13 years ago and continued to practice regularly, and I shudder to think of the alternative.

    I wish you the best in figuring out what’s going on with your heart rate. My zone two top is around 135, so you can count yourself lucky! 🙂


    jstowman on #48912

    I did metabolic testing last Feb (39yro) my resting is 55, my aerobic threshold is 165 (zone3) and my Anaerobic threshold is 183 (zone5). my HR runs really high and my resting is very low. I am in Denver CO and am a mountain climber high altitude peaks here, not sure if that has anything to do with it but i do train with a chest strap and average on uphill climbing is more in the 160-180.
    I tend to run higher then most my friends do, never really though much about it.

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