Increased heart rate after a week off

  • Creator
  • #56677

    Hi everyone,

    after about 1 year of consistent training I recently had 1 week completely off from any kind of physical activity.

    Of course, during this last year I structured my training plan as much sustainable as possible, following a 3:1 weeks (on:recovery) ratio as well as allowing myself some additional days off here and there whenever I felt too tired.

    From my experience, whenever I restart training from a considerable amount of time off, I usually get high heart rate values compared to my standard.

    I always tend to take a gradual restart, so the first 2 weeks are usually easy runs only with maybe some 30/30 later in the week (pacing myself conservatively).
    As expected I have higher heart rates even on the easiest run of the week.

    I now restarted training but what I see is that even after 2 weeks my heart rate keeps staying high, too high I would say.
    I can log peak rates during an easy run which were kind of zone 3 during my on-season.
    I estimated that I gained something like +8/9 bpm compared to my standard and I also noticed that my rest heart rate is slightly increased.

    Now, here is my question: how can I understand if this is too much?
    Normally, after how many weeks is the heart rate expected to go back to its standard values?
    Is there any metric to establish if this increase is abnormal?


Posted In: Mountain Running

  • Participant
    cogburner on #56872

    There are a couple of things at play, but the main one is a decrease in blood plasma volume. Especially if you completely take time off. You basically diuresed out your fitness.

    There are ways to mitigate this during rest weeks like sauna, wearing a lot of warm clothes during exercise, or making sure you have at least one (short) higher intensity day.

    How quickly you return to normal training HR values depends on heat, how hard you train, how fresh you are, etc. but should be closer to normal after a week or two with a couple of workouts and long sessions completed. HR values are very individual but 8-9 bpm does not sound excessive, especially if you completely took time off, as noted above.

    uphill_dhamma on #56940

    hey cogburner, thanks for your reply.

    these are all interesting points.

    you talk about a blood plasma decrease.
    I’m super ignorant (and of course not a doctor), but I guess this could be noticed from some values on a blood test.

    I’m asking this this because I recently got one after the week off.

    Shashi on #56957

    I just started my third cycle of Uphill Athlete training and have taken one-two week off between cycles. Although on the initial one or two workouts I might see a higher heart rate, I am back to normal in the second week or so.

    Let us know how your next week goes and I can request Scott to chime in if it is still high.

    rich.b on #57022

    Making ‘good’ use of a coffee break, I spent some time searching the research literature on Web of Science. I was curious because the amount increase in HR seemed high (from the perspective of my n=1).
    That said, most studies following detraining of endurance athletes often look at 2 week or longer intervals, and in those studies the average is typically 3-6 beat increase – but higher values like yours are also reported. Even with a taper HR apparently will increase.

    An older, well-cited review paper:
    Zavorsky (2000) Evidence and Possible Mechanisms of Altered Maximum Heart Rate With Endurance Training and Tapering. Sports Med 29:13-26.

    cogburner on #57162

    You’d see it in Hct most clearly since it is by definition the volume percentage of RBCs (RBCs/(total blood vol)). Assuming RBCs are constant, more plasma volume causes Hct to go down, and vice versa. So you would expect to see a higher Hct value than before you took a break, theoretically.

    Unfortunately, things like acute hydration status, food/electrolyte intake, time of day, and even if your blood was drawn sitting or supine (or even if/how long you were standing in the waiting room before) can change Hct by several points, so to start to compare properly these would need to be similar as possible. But it might still be possible if you have several prior blood tests to compare to.

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