Determining your ideal heart will let you gauge if you are in the fat-burning zone. Run too fast and you risk burning up your main fuel of complex carbohydrates too quickly; run too slowly and you will not burn enough calories. A host of different manufacturers now offer quality monitors to read your heart rate as you run, as do most health club treadmills.
Max Heart Rate
To find your ideal heart rate, you must first determine what your maximum heart rate is when you are running or exercising. The classic formula for doing this is subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you are 30 years old, your max heart rate is 190.
Staying at your maximum heart rate most of the time will not burn more fat and will also exhaust your main fuel supply of glycogen or complex carbohydrates. You will tire without burning any of your reserve tank of body fat.
Average Training Heart Rate
Determine your average heart rate during a typical run, such as when you put in your daily miles. To figure this average training pace heart rate, subtract you resting heart from your maximum rate, multiply by 75 percent and add your resting rate.
Resting heart rate = 60
Max heart rate = 190
190 – 60 = 130
130 x .75 = 97.5
97.5 + 60 = 157.5
Your average training heart rate is then 157.5, which burns a fair amount of calories.
Long, Steady Distance Runs
If your main goal is to burn fat while running, slow down. Most new runners think running hard will burn the most fat, but the fact is running an a steady pace over a long, slow distance is the best way to lose weight. Running faster means a higher heart rate, which makes your muscles burn your main fuel supply of complex carbohydrates while your fat just sits there unused. Learn to use up your reserve fat by slowing down your pace and heart rate.
Fitness Level and Heart Rate
Your ideal heart rate also depends on your fitness level. While the method above works for most people at first, runners and athletes who have been at it for years and already have a solid level of fitness will find they need to make adjustments. This can only be accomplished by experimenting on your own by varying your pace during a run and monitoring your heart rate and exertion level.
Burn Some Fat
Maintaining your daily, average training run heart rate is a good place to start, but consider running slower for longer periods of time if you want to lose more weight. If your daily training run heart rate is 157, you might try running at only 65 percent or 144.5, and instead of running six miles, go for seven or eight. Any heart rate formula is only a starting point, and you will need to adjust and experiment to figure the rate that works best for you.
About this Author
Karl Gruber has been a freelance writer for 25 years, penning articles in various publications in Central Ohio. From 1996 to 1997, he successfully ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks. Gruber has also written a book about his marathon running, a sport he also coaches and competes in. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Ohio State University