Getting your heart pumping is exhilarating, but where is the line between a healthy heart rate and pushing yourself too far?

Determining your ideal heart rate is a bit tricky. Because every person is unique, some bodies can tolerate higher heart rates while others need a lower, steadier pace to perform effectively.

Finding your ideal maximum heart rate

When measuring your ideal running heart rate an exact formula is difficult to find. However some formulae are highly scientifically test and can we used by most runners. Research shows that your maximum heart rate can be determined by subtracting your age times 0.7 from 208. For those more mathematically minded:

MHR = 208 – 0.7(age)

For example, for a 30 year old woman:

MHR = 208 – 0.7(30)

MHR = 187

So, as a 30 year old woman who is comfortable with a regular maximum heart rate while running, 187 beats per minute is the highest your heart rate should climb.

Tracking your heart rate

Now that you know your ideal maximum heart rate you can adjust your training accordingly. Your maximum heart rate is linked to how hard your body is working. If you train at your maximum HR, in interval training for example, you can expect to only be able to maintain short periods of activity. On the other hand, training below your maximum heart rate (and making sure that you stay below it) will enable you to train for longer.

When your heart rate actually is too high

If you experience sudden increased heart rate, pounding heart beats, chest pain, or dizziness during your “below my maximum HR” workout you should stop what you are doing and see a physician. These symptoms, while more common after the age of 40-45, can happen to anyone and are warning signs. The cause might be exhaustion or you may just be pushing an already high heart rate (stress is often the culprit) too high – but it is always better to be safe.