Why Is My Heart Rate Too Low?

by Mehike
(Estonia, Tallinn)

I run about 100-140km per week. I'm a 37y old man. In the previous week I was in a sports medicine centre to test my VO2max and more. My VO2max is 68 and max heart rate 185, aerobic threshold is 157, anaerobic treshold is 174.

Heart Rate Zones:

Zone 1: 179-183 - max zone
Zone 2: 165-179 - hard zone
Zone 3: 149-165 - moderate zone
Zone 4: 122-149 - recovery

Lactate was
speed: 8 10 12 14 15 16 (km/h)
lactate: 1,6 1,6 1,7 3,7 6,2 10,1
pulse: 123 135 146 158 174 180

All stuff is good or very good but in training I can't run so fast and my heart rate is too low. Yesterday I run 10km tempo in 14,3km/h (4:12min/km) and my average heart rate is 152 and I can't run more speedily.

In the previous week I did 3x1,5km, 3min pause in between, 3km tempo
1x 3:40min/km 1,5km, average heart rate was 159
2x 3:39min/km 1,5km, average heart rate was 165
3x 3:39min/km 1,5km, average heart rate was 166

And another training:
4x1600m, 60sec jog in between, about 5km tempo
1x 3:47min/km 1,6km, average heart rate 157
2x 3:52min/km 1,6km, average heart rate 161
3x 3:53min/km 1,6km, average heart rate 160
4x 3:55min/km 1,6km, average heart rate 160

And another:
3x3,2km, 90sec jog in between, 10km tempo
1x 4:03min/km, 3,2km, heart rate 162
2x 4:06min/km, 3,2km, heart rate 163
3x 4:07min/km, 3,2km, heart rate 164

1 month ago 14km average tempo 4:16min/km, average heart rate 158. right now 10km 4:12min/km tempo, heart rate average 152 but can't go faster to increase heart rate - this is smaller than my aerobic treshold, I don't understand this... -> my heart is very good/strong but my muscles don't allow more...

My trainings are 1 long run per week, and structure is 1 hard + 1 easy recovery day.

In my hard days I can't run more than Zone 3, not enough speed....!????

I do some strides at the end of my hard days (not my long run day)

Some training days I do 8x400 1500km/tempo + 60sec jog in between (about 3:22min/km) (average heart rates is 155, 159, 162, 164, 164, 165, 165, 166) or 8x200 800m/tempo + 60sec jog in between (about average 3:05min/km) (average heart rates is 152, 154, 156, 159, 161, 162, 161, 164) and tempos 10km. My long runs is 21-36km.

But I can't do training in my zone 2 or zone 1, not enough speed, what I can do for this?

Answer by Dom:

Thanks for your running training question. This is one of the few times I almost feel unqualified to provide my opinion. You run more than I do and it looks like you are faster as well!

It is great you are providing so much information. Those lactate tests are really interesting, also for others who read this and who might not be familiar with them: it is very visible where your aerobic threshold is by seeing where the lactate really starts building up.

What I find interesting is that in the test you were able to raise your heart rate when you were pushed to do so on the treadmill, yet in your training you are not getting there.

How do you feel when you do these tough sessions? Do you feel like you are pushing yourself past your lactate threshold? You know, heart rate is a funny thing, so when doing your running I would rather (also) go by feel, rather than by heart rate.

If you feel like you do, could it be that your heart rate monitor is not registering correctly? Did you use the same heart rate monitor in the test as you normally do? Could you test with another heart rate monitor?

If you feel like you don't, you need to find ways to push yourself over your lactate threshold. Could you for example try treadmill sessions at a high speed?

Another aspect of your running you have not mentioned (maybe the only thing you are not measuring yet!), is what your stride rate is. On the treadmill you might have been pushed past what you are normally comfortable with. I would definitely add strides as part of finishing off your easy days for a few months and see where that takes you.

I am not sure if I have answered your question, but I hope I have thrown up some questions which may lead to you getting an answer!

Best of luck.

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