Cheap Running

How hard should I be training ?

How hard you train depends on a number of factors, such as how old you are, whether you're male or female, how overweight (if at all) you are.
If you are embarking on a new fitness regime and you're over 50 years old, overweight or have existing health conditions you should always seek medical advice before beginning.

A great way to train is by monitoring your heart rate while you exercise.   This gives you an idea as to how hard you are working and how your body is responding.   There are a few key measurements and numbers to keep in mind.   These are explained below

Maximum Heart Rate - what is it ?

As the name suggests, this is the maximum level which your heart can reach when exercising.   Note this is not a target and you are not expected to train at this level.

There are a number of ways to calculate your Maximum Heart Rate.   The most simple way is as follows :-

For men,  (220 - Your Age)

For women, (226 - Your Age)

This serves as a basic guide to your Maximum Heart Rate but is not the most accurate with an error margin of as much as 10 and 20 beats per minute .

A better way to calculate your Maximum Heart Rate involves doing some running.   Firstly warm up.   Once warmed (and stretched), run hard for three minutes at an even pace.    Following this, jog for two minutes, then finally run hard again for another three minutes as before.    Your Maximum Heart Rate is the whatever the highest level reached during the final 3 minute run.

What is my Target Heart Rate ?

Your Target Heart Rate is an indicator as to the level you should work at, depending on what you want to achieve and also the type of activity that you are undertaking.   This might be playing a team sport, such as football, or it could be a more gentle routine such as a recovery session.    These activities are separated into different target zones, described below :-

Recover Zone  (50-60% of Maximum Heart Rate) 

Exercising at comfortable level.   Gentle training session

Likely audience and activities

  • Those beginning an exercise program
  • Recovery training as part of an overall program
  • Overweight people - fat burning


Fat Burning Zone (60-70%)

Basic endurance and aerobic capacity.   Improve blood flow and circulation around the body.  At this level, your body needs to work slightly harder to get oxygen to your muscles

Likely audience and activities

  • Recovery running
  • Fat Burning
  • Long distance running


Aerobic Zone (70-80%)

Specifically targeting cardiovascular fitness - this is the body's capacity to move oxygen to the working muscles and get carbon dioxide away from them.

Likely audience and activities

  • Playing Football, hockey or rugby
  • Medium to long distance running
  • Fat burning


Anaerobic Zone (80-90%)

At this level, the heart and lungs are working hard.   The heart is pumping blood to get more oxygen to your muscles.   Your muscles are producing lactic acid.    Your body cannot remove the lactic acid quickly enough.   You start to "feel the burn"

Likely audience and activities

  • Speed training
  • Interval running


"Red Line" or VO2 Max Zone (90-100%)


Normally for those towards the fitter end of the scale - intended for training sessions involving short, sharp activity.   At this level, your body is working at it's maximum oxygen burn rate.    Your breathing hard as your lungs suck in as much fresh oxygen as possible

Likely audience and activities

  • Short sprints
  • Explosive-style exercise


Calculating your Target Heart Rate

Your Target Heart Rate can be derived from your Maximum Heart Rate by using the percentage ranges associated with the Training Zones described above.

For example, if you are targetting the Fat Burning Zone and your Maximum Heart Rate is 180

To find the upper range of your target, take 60% of 180 = 108 beats per minute

To find the lower range of your target, take 70% of 180 = 126 beats per minute