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My Heart Rate is Too High when I Run

Question: I'm 30 years old, and in v. good physical condition. I've been a runner for about five years (usu run @ 20 miles/week) and also cross-train and do a lot of yoga. For the last few months I've had a heart rate monitor and my HR seems way too high -- during an average run (usu. 35-45 minutes), I spend almost all but the first five minutes between 180 and 190. This is clearly above recommended levels I've seen, but I feel good -- upwards of 185 I am def. pushing hard but I'd say it's 7-8 on a 10 pt. exertion scale. around 180 just feels good and normal -- I can talk or watch tv. My occasional partner (33y-o very fit male), running at the same pace and perceived exertion level, rarely breaks 160. I'm not running super-fast either -- usu. 8 min-8:30 miles. Also I should mention that I don't think this is a recent thing -- in the past my HR has always seemed high when I'd take my pulse manually at the end of workouts. Just sitting around, for instance typing this letter, my HR is about 80 so it seems elevated a bit all the time. Do I need to be worried about this, or do some people just naturally have higher heart rates? Is it really worth changing my workout to fall in line with charts when I'd probably have to stop running (which I love) and just walk at a fast pace to get my pulse to stay within suggested guidelines? Thanks!

Answer: Emmy, You probably have a naturally high heart rate, which is nothing to worry about. Here are things you should watch for: a feeling of burn-out, unusual tiredness, elevated morning heartrate (before you get out of bed in the morning, check your heartrate, and days it is higher, take a rest day.), or injuries. If you don't feel any of these things, you should be fine, but I still recommend doing a couple of runs per week at a lower intensity. Based on your average 180 - 190 bpm, limit your upper range to no higher than 150 bpm for your usual 35 to 45 minutes. If you do experience some of the signs of overtraining, you probably need to include more rest days and/or active recovery days, doing cardiovascular activities you enjoy (other than running) at a lower intensity. Also, you would probably want to limit your running intensity. Keep up with your body's recovery efficiency by tracking your morning heartrate. Try this: (At first this will feel wrong and difficult to do, but you will most likely feel great at the end of the workout) On a treadmill, set the speed to between 3.7 and 3.9 and run super-slow, paying attention to relaxing your shoulders, wrists, ankles and even your breathing. I know this is slower than walking speed, but it's refreshing and can loosen up your legs and your upper body. If you try it, let me know how it affects you. Keep up the yoga. It's the best thing you can do to avoid injury. Thanks,

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