What Is Normal Heart Rate When Running?

You might be alarmed when your heart races during a run and wonder, “What is normal heart rate when running?” Let’s learn more about entering the cardio range.

When I started to take running seriously, one of the first things I was told to do by nearly every personal trainer I talked to was to track my heart rate. It’s fairly basic knowledge that running increases your heart rate, and I figured that if I could get my heart rate up to a high enough level, I would know how fast I was supposed to run. So, what is a normal heart rate when running?

Everyone is different, so no two runners will have the same heart rate. When running, a person should have a goal to get their heart rate at or above the cardio range. This range can be calculated by first determining a person’s resting and maximum heart rate.

The cardio range is typically between 90 to 120 beats per minute.

Resting Heart Rate

What is normal heart rate when running?
The average resting heart rate for an adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute

Generally speaking, there are three zones that your heart rate should fall into. The exact rates for each of these zones, however, will differ from person to person.  

In fact, there is no exact right resting heart rate. The average resting heart rate for an adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. That’s a large range, and it’s not uncommon for a person’s resting heart rate to fluctuate by as much as twenty beats per minute throughout a day in which they perform no type of cardio exercise.

Overall health, time of day, and even salt and caffeine consumption can have a huge effect on this number. In general, however, resting heart rates are typically lower for runners than for the general population.

For this reason, it is generally recommended that a person take several different readings of their resting heart rate. This number will become critical for calculating your ideal cardio rate and your max heart rate.

How To Calculate Your Max Heart Rate

How to calculate your max heart rate?
This calculation does not apply to people who have cardiovascular problems

A person’s maximum heart rate is most easily calculated by subtracting a runner’s age from 220. A 40-year-old runner, for example, should have a maximum heart rate of 180 beats per minute. This is the calculation recommended by the CDC.

The maximum heart rate is not the highest heart rate that a person can achieve, but rather it is the highest heart rate that they should achieve. While it is possible for a person’s heart rate to go over this level, it is generally not recommended.

Essentially, the maximum heart rate is the level of maximum safe stress on the heart. Even for a healthy person, a heart rate over this range could lead to long-term cardiovascular problems or even a heart attack. If you see your heart rate go above this level, reduce your speed or activity until your heart rate reduces.

It’s important to realize that this calculation does not apply to people who have cardiovascular problems. In many cases, doctors will give their patients a different max heart rate value. If your doctor has done this, use the doctor’s number.

How To Calculate Your Ideal Cardio Rate

A person’s ideal cardio rate sometimes referred to as a cardio range, is typically calculated by first computing a reserve heart rate. This is found by subtracting the maximum heart rate from the resting heart rate.

The low end of the cardio range is found by multiplying this reserve heart rate by 0.6, then adding the resting heart rate to this number. The high end of the cardio zone is found by multiplying the reserve heart rate by 0.84, then adding the resting heart rate to this number.

A woman running in a thread mill
When running, a person should ideally keep their heart rate in this cardio range

When running, a person should ideally keep their heart rate in this cardio range. This range is designed to strengthen the heart muscle while not putting undue stress on the heart. Ideally, aim to keep your heart rate in this zone for at least thirty minutes.

If this is too difficult, or the runner is new to the sport, aim to keep the heart rate in the fat-burn zone. This zone starts at 0.4 multiplied by the reserve heart rate plus the resting heart rate. 

While the ultimate goal is to increase the heart rate to the cardio zone, the fat burn zone can still provide a lot of cardiovascular benefits. If you liked this post, you might also be interested in learning about endurance running or cross-country running.