Thursday, March 01, 2012

Heart Rate Training

I created some spreadsheet back in 2004 when i was obsessed with being ultra fit. Not that i was ever a strong athlete back in school or growing up, but i was very driven to change that. Some say we can't fight gene and the truth could not be more ironic. None of my family members - from both sides of the parents, were athletic. I intended to change that. I did a lot of reading and research myself. Back in 2004, the National Library and all those health and running books were my point of reference. While many things are more easily available with Internet now and Uncle Google would give you more information that you ever wanted, i believe in old school approach. When i was Bodybuilding back in late 90's, i stuck to basic moves for the whole two years - as i truly believe in the most traditional approach to making things work.
With my health and fitness condition improving, i saw every opportunity for myself to relive those days. And the trusty old spreadsheet i developed back in 2004 shall be my best friend again.
One of the many spreadsheet i developed. :)
Why Heart Rate Training?
It is often easy to just go and run and keep running. After all, those top runners from African countries never had these to help them with. Well, I do not have their gene to ends it with.
Many sedentary people has a resting heart rate between 72bpm and 80bpm. What this really meant is that your heart are pumping at that many beat every single minute. Your heart is working overtime compared to those people that exercises and pumps at 60bpm! If heart has an expiry "beat time", you are likely to "expire" by 16% faster if your heart runs at 72bpm vs 60bpm. How is that for comparison?
I was actively cycling back then as well - being my first love with endurance sports as i hated running. I was exposed to how professional cyclists has resting heart rate of insane sub-40bpm. That is 1 beat every 1.5seconds! That was the same reason why doping was banned in the cycling world because many cyclists died in their sleep - with ultra low heartbeat coupled with thick blood (due to the doping, to carry more oxygen, hence, higher muscular ability), it is accident waiting to happen.
I dream of a sub 60bpm heart rate. It took me almost a year to obtained it. My lowest was at 48bpm when i was at my peak for Ironman 2008 in Langkawi.
The reason for this obsession is with a lower heart rate, a person's athletic ability will be improved as well. My HR register a decent 50bpm when i am sitting down (like now) typing/doing non-stressful work. That is hardly 20% of effort. I still have close to 80% of heart working capability should a vicious dog were to show up suddenly and chase me down (just saying, for example).
The traditional method to determine your maximum heart rate is 220-your age. It is the single most basic way to calculate and serves as a good baseline for anyone picking up sports of any type and to monitor their heart condition.
The spreadsheet i develop took into account the resting heart rate and even some refined calculation using Miller et al Maximum Heart Rate calculation where i first read in one of the sports science book. It is documented in BrianMac webpage as well. Makes good reading if you are interested.
Having said all the above, my training effort for the past months has been riding on the high percentile of 85%-90% of my HRmax where i am pushing my lactate threshold (pardon the misspelling in the 2004 variation) and working on speed.
For endurance purposes, one must keep the HR between 60% to 70%. It is easier said than done. When one person does endurance sports like long distance cycling or running or swimming, the ability to maintain within the same range of heart rate without compromising the speed and performance will increase - which is the very reason why they train hard enough in a systematic way to make their body able to take the stress and demand of the sports.
I will discuss these more in future blog entries, so do come back to check for more. Meanwhile, keep moving forward and do consider to invest in a decent (price and technology) heart rate monitor to help you get started.


  1. But I've maxed out my HR at 204BPM last year. Does that make me 16? LOL!

    It is really difficult for me to run and keep my heart rate at 60-70% of max, because that would equate to a brisk walk for me.

    I really need to learn how to run "slow" :(

  2. U r animal.

    Which HR you using? Or should i ask which Heart you using?

    But that is only indication of how fit you are bro. Fantastic stuff.

    If 60-70% is an issue, it only meant one thing - you have to run longer and further. Your heart is conditioned for anaerobic/sprint exercise typical of a cyclist. Easy to see why as you and the T-clans are animals in Kiara technical trails.

    Which also explained why you can blaze that 1mile in 7:30!

    You are Navy SEAL ready!

  3. How do you lower your HR. On normal days, my HR is about 85...i really want to lower it down. My endurance HR is about 83%. This really sucks as i can't really go any faster. Once it hit 90%, i can't maintain it long enough.

  4. Now if I could only do the required amount of chin ups. Hmmm...

    I'm not a Sprinterlar, Kheng Teik is. Have you seen "Hulk" lately? Hahahah..

    I'm more of a middle distance type of guy. What scares me is I can maintain >180bpm for the duration of a 10KM run. Checked with doctor friend, she says it's the conditioning from all the swimming that we used to do.

    Using the Polar FT40 bro.

  5. Daryl - i believe i am now more at Zen with myself. Not as bitter, but still as fighter cock.

    if there is anything that has changed vastly, it is my diet, and i would like to believe that the cardiovascular health doesn't just happen with exercises, but with good diet as well.

    I last had my full medical done 6months ago, maybe i should go for one, check cholestrol, iron etc etc.

    You already got the basic. You ran as many Marathons as i did that took me that many years (and you did it within 2 years). Keep moving forward!

  6. KL - could be. So, you have advantage of a big chest and lung. Which could had helped with the higher threshold on anaerobic exercise.

    I am envious. I will start holding my breath more now to simulate that condition.

  7. bro, any recommendations for good HR monitor that does not break the bank?

    If possible, I prefer something that I need to wear on my wrist only (without the strap across the chest).

    NRT kallela

  8. Kallela Bro - It is better to spend a bit on a good HR, which will typically cost about RM400. Look for Polar RS300X. So far it has been reliable for me.

    If you do not want anything with strap, MIO has them. Check at Running Lab at Tropicana or at 2XU shop in Gardens. But to be frank, when you are running, it is difficult to Put two fingers on the watch and to get a reading.

  9. thanks bro. I will go take a look at RS300X this weekend.

  10. Kallela - Bro, Runners Circle in Jaya 1, next to UOB bank. THey are distributor for Polar.