How to Find Your Average Running Heart Rate


Have you wondered how much effort you exert in any given run? Some runners can tell just by feel and whether they’re panting after a workout, otherwise known as RPE or rate of perceived exertion. For the rest of us, our heart rate is a helpful measurement to pay attention to. 

Finding your average heart rate during runs can help you structure speed and intensity of workouts appropriately. Understanding how heart rate works, how to measure it, and finding your average can help you become a better runner and get more out of each training session.

How Does Running Affect Your Heart Rate?

Exercising increases your heart rate because muscles require more oxygen when put under more stress. Your heart’s responsibility is to move blood, carrying oxygen, throughout your body. The more oxygen your body requires, the faster your heart needs to pump. Running is a form of exercise that has a high cardiovascular demand.

What is the Ideal Heart Rate For Running?

Before you can determine the ideal heart rate for exercising, it’s important to determine your maximum heart rate. Medical conditions, age and fitness level play key roles in determining your maximum heart rate. The American Heart Association (AHA) has a target heart-rate chart that can help you differentiate between safe and risky heart rates.

How to Calculate Your Target Training Heart Rate

While the AHA chart provides more detail, the simple calculation for maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. A 50-year-old should have a maximum heart rate of 170 beats per minute (220 – 50 = 170 beats per minute). 

If headed out for a training run, keep your running heart rate at 50% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. So as an example, the 50-year-old woman should have a heart rate between 85 and 144 beats per minute. 

Average Target Heart Rate Zones While Running

Your target heart rate for a run depends on your age and what running zone you want to focus on for the day. Zone 1 is an easier pace, while a Zone 5 heartbeat is for intense workouts. Here’s the breakdown of each zone:

  • Zone 1 = 50%-60% of your max heart rate
  • Zone 2 = 60%-70% of your max heart rate
  • Zone 3 = 70%-80% of your max heart rate
  • Zone 4 = 80%-90% of your max heart rate
  • Zone 5 = 90%-100% of your max heart rate 

Zone 5 is not recommended for most runners. It only makes sense to hit this Zone during races or very short high-intensity workouts, and even then, you should be extremely careful. While your heart may be able to reach 90% of its maximum heart rate, the demand on your body to achieve the rate may exceed its capabilities. 

Age In YearsMax. Heart RateAvg. Target Running Heart RateAvg. Zone 1 HRAvg. Zone 2 HRAvg. Zone 3 HRAvg. Zone 4 HRAvg. Zone 5 HR

7 Factors That Affect Your Heart Rate While Running

Any exercise will increase your heart rate, but other factors also come into play. You have no control over some of the factors on this list, but you can take protective measures in other areas to maintain a healthy heart rate during your runs.  


As people age, maximum heart rate decreases. The decline is more significant during exercise.  People at any age will have similar heart rates when they are at rest.

Weight and Fitness Level

Your weight and fitness level each play a role in your average heart rate. Being overweight puts more stress on the body and will increase your average heartbeats per minute. Having a higher level of cardiovascular fitness means your heart is more effective at circulating blood through your veins into your muscles. A more efficient heart reduces the average beats per minute at higher levels of exertion and will help a runner achieve more impressive time and stamina. 


Dehydration increases your heart rate because you have less blood flowing through your body. The heart compensates by beating faster. This is one of the reasons it is dangerous to run in hot weather. The more you sweat, the quicker you’ll become dehydrated and should plan a stop or two on longer runs.

Health and Medications

A healthier person needs fewer heartbeats per minute and can run long distances. If you take medications, you may have a higher heart rate before you start your run. Some medications speed up the heart. You may have to run a slower time after taking medications to avoid having too many beats per minute.

Environmental Factors

Weather that is too warm or too cold will increase your heart rate. Cold weather increases your heart rate because your body needs to pump more blood to stay warm. Warmer climates also increase your heart rate because you get dehydrated sooner. The temperature sweet spot is 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Caffeine Intake

Caffeine intake increases your heart rate by a few beats per minute. Caffeine has many advantages for runners that can help them achieve faster times. But you should keep the elevated heart rate in mind. It isn’t dramatic, but it is something to remember.

Tracking Your Heart Rate While Running or Exercising

Tracking your heart rate during runs and exercises can help you stay safe and avoid overexerting yourself. Spending too much time in Zone 4 will prevent you from running hard the next day. Some runners stay in Zone 2 for most of the week to recover and be more prepared for higher-effort sessions. You can use a Garmin watch, a Coros watch, a heart rate monitor, or a similar device to track your average beats per minute. Runners can upload these entries into Strava to store historical data and have it accessible at a moment’s notice.

Using Heart Rate to Guide Your Running

Recording data on your heart rate can help you run more effectively and stay safe during each session. Workouts can get strenuous, and it’s important to find the right balance between safety and getting stronger. Training your heart rate can help with your training and put you in a better position for your next half marathon.


Is 170 a high heart rate when working out?

170 is a high heart rate for most athletes. It’s in Zone 4 for people in their 20s, and some people can only achieve 170 beats per minute at Zone 5, depending on their ages.

What is a dangerously high heart rate while running?

Most athletes should avoid exercising at Zone 5, and you shouldn’t exercise at Zone 4 every day.

Why do runners have a lower resting heart rate?

Runners have lower resting heart rates because they have conditioned their bodies to run under less than desirable circumstances such as extremely warm or cold weather.

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