The “runner fever” has made it more and more that we wear shoes and run, regardless of our age or our previous physical condition. It is undeniable that running has numerous health benefits: it improves cardiorespiratory capacity, helps control body weight, increases muscle mass, prevents osteoporosis and reduces stress; But the unfortunate cases of sudden deaths during popular races have unleashed an avalanche of questions among runners. What is my maximum heart rate? What heart rate should be trained? Do I need a medical examination before I start running?
What is the maximum heart rate (MHR)?
The maximum heart rate is the highest number of beats the heart can reach in one minute. The FCM is individual (each heart supports a different maximum workload) and variable (depends on training, age, gender, environmental situation …). Classically the FCM = 220 lpm – age has been defined. However, this calculation of the MHR is not very precise in athletes, since they are more physically fit.
The most accurate technique to determine the maximum heart rate in the runner, as well as its aerobic or anaerobic threshold, is ergometry with oxygen consumption. This test consists of performing a programmed exercise on a treadmill or a stationary bike while analyzing the electrocardiogram and exhaled gases. The advantages are the individualized and actual calculation of the different heart rate thresholds; The main drawback is accessibility and cost.
That is why numerous formulas have been developed that allow athletes to estimate their FCM without medical tests. The most precise formula for calculating the athlete’s FCM is the one used by Tanaka: FCM man = 208.75 – (0.73 x age) and FCM woman = 208.1 – (0.77 x age).
What heart rate should be trained?
There are different zones of training according to the heart rate achieved with the exercise that define the type of performance that is obtained and help to schedule the training.
Zone 1 (50-60% FCM): Very soft. It is ideal for heating and recovery.
Zone 2 (60-70% FCM): Smooth or QUEMAGRASA zone. It improves aerobic endurance and presents the best metabolic profile for body fat loss.
Zone 3 (70-80% FCM): Moderate or AEROPHIC zone. It improves cardiac, pulmonary and circulatory capacity. It is the optimal area for cardiovascular training.
Zone 4 (80-90% FCM): Intense or ANAEROBIC zone (muscles begin to produce lactic acid). It increases anaerobic tolerance and improves resistance at high speeds. But when training at this frequency we are overloading our body so it is not recommended to maintain this intensity more than 5-10 minutes.
Zone 5 (90-100% FCM): Very intense, maximum or danger zone. It improves sprint speed and tones the neuromuscular system. Do not keep more than 2 minutes.
The heart rate calculation in the different training zones is performed using the Karvonen formula:% Target heart rate = ((maximum HR – rest HR) x% intensity) + HR rest. To calculate the resting heart rate, the pulse must be taken in full rest, so it is recommended to note the value of the heart rate in the morning when we have not yet got out of bed. Regarding the calculation of the training area there are numerous calculators on the internet but it is quite simple; For example, if the maximum heart rate is 190 bpm and at rest the frequency is 50 bpm, to train at an intensity of 70% = ((190 – 50) x 0.70) + 50 = 148 bpm.
It is important to remember that the aerobic threshold (cardiovascular improvement) stands at 75% FCM and anaerobic (lactic acid production) at 85% FCM, since it is the basis for planning our workouts. For long runs, a heart rate of 60-75% FCM is recommended, for average workouts 75-85% FCM, with FC> 85% FCM being reserved for the series.
When to perform a medical examination?
The goal of a medical examination in athletes would be to prevent sudden death. It is estimated that there are 1-3 deaths per 100,000 athletes, with a different etiology depending on age: while> 35 years the most common cause is arteriosclerotic disease (myocardial infarction), in athletes <35 years of age Hereditary cardiomyopathies (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, right ventricular arrhythmogenic dysplasia), and congenital anomalies are the most frequent etiologies. It is a controversial subject and in which no consensus has yet been established between the different cardiological or sports societies.
Article written by our Cardiologist Noelia Urueña of the Clinical University Hospital of Valladolid.
Runner and sports fan, you already have half marathons
Thank you very much Noelia for your professionalism, advice and kindness.