What happens to your heart rate when running a marathon?

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What does a marathon run do to your heart?

It’s obvious to highlight that heart rate (beats per minute) increases significantly during exercise, let alone when you’re running a marathon.

And while few runners actually target or think about a specific heart rate threshold during a run, there are so many variables that can affect it – such as pace, body temperature, energy levels (carbs and glycogen stores) and the weather on the day.

Last Friday, it’s fair to say most of us experienced the cardiovascular drift – a natural, progressive increase in heart rate when running. But, even if you were running at a constant pace, there can still be change with ups and downs in your heart rate as the following statistics show.

My average resting heart rate, according to my Garmin Forerunner 35, is around 44 bpm and during my Dubai Marathon run (overall finishing time 3:33:39) – my heart rate hit a peak of 186 around the half-marathon mark and my average was 167.

My average pace per km between the startline and 30km was between 4.20 and 4.60, before injuries took their toll and my speed decreased during the last phase of the race.

But for the bulk of the marathon, as the graphs below help to illustrate, my aerobic threshold zone (80-85% of your maximum heart rate) was close to my overall average.

Basically, the quicker you run – the faster this tends to be. For elite athletes – they will be hitting the summit of their maximum zone for a lengthy part of the distance.

GRAPH 1 – MY AVERAGE AND MAXIMUM HEART RATE

GRAPH 2 – THE WHITE LINE SHOWS MY AVERAGE

My heart rate plummeted towards the backend of the race.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Basically, the more time you are immersed in your aerobic threshold – the more you are getting out of yourself, using your energy in the right way, maximising your effort and managing fatigue levels.

Having an idea of your training threshold and keeping track of it is a good thing, but getting bogged down by statistics isn’t the way forward.

Continue to focus on your nutrition, training, routine and running goals – and your training threshold should look after itself.

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Inner Fight: Top 5 supplements

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#360fit: GuavaPass's healthy habits tips

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Stay fit and healthy with these key pieces of information.

Individuals who are in the best shape are also the most knowledgeable when it comes to nurturing healthy habits. When it comes down to fitness and health, results don’t lie! Here’s a shortlist of the best practices fit people know to do.

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Habit #1 – Hydration is key

There are a variety of drinks we can consume, water being the most essential (here are ways to avoid getting bored of water). Athletes and fit individuals alike know there’s more to hydration than just regular H2O – such as how vital it is to replenish electrolytes when thinking about optimizing our performance and recovery. Drinking the recommended amount of water is important as it will help you take charge of portions and it is obviously an essential component to basic body functions.

Habit #2 – Sleep is treasured

Our muscles require rest. Our body needs rest. Performance and optimizing on the work you put in when you sweat is also about proper recovery. Along with other underrated methods of recovery, sleep is one of the best recovery methods there is. Being disciplined about how much sleep and the quality of sleep we get is important.

Habit #3 – Quality is what matters most when it comes to food

From the world’s best athletes to babies, there’s no denying what we feed our bodies impacts everything about how our body functions. The quality of food matters so much more than people would like to admit, and the number of calories consumed should not be the primary focus because calorie counting is a fad.

Habit #4 – It’s not about perfection, it’s about a lifestyle

There are truths to achieving success in your health. The key shift is making health and fitness a lifestyle. They’re not yo-yo dieting and switching up their eating habits every few weeks or months. People who make health and fitness their life adjust their eating and workout habits to what best fits them. The most important awareness is understanding that you can’t be perfect all the time.

In other words, having a donut or some cookies isn’t going to lead them into a downward spiral of guilt. Missing one week of workouts isn’t that much of a concern because taking a break is sometimes just what you need.

It’s not about sticking to a strict and unrealistic regiment. It’s about finding what works best for you. It’s about making healthier choices and committing to healthier habits most of the time.

Habit #5 – Health and fitness is a social thing

Surround yourself with other like minded individuals. Social relevance is something that tends to be overlooked, but including a social element is what will help transition your commitment into a lifestyle. Wouldn’t it be easier to commit to a routine if you workout with a friend? Or have a group of friends who stick to the same routine? If more of your friends are inviting you to Saturday morning bootcamps instead of boozy brunches, do you think it’ll be easier to make healthier choices?

“Social relevance is something that tends to be overlooked, but including a social element is what will help transition your commitment into a lifestyle.”

This article was written by Tasha Kolonas on the Guava Pass Blog.

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