Your target running heart rate may vary depending on your age and fitness level. Other factors like heat, humidity, and stress levels can also affect your heart rate.

Your heart rate, or pulse, is measured in beats per minute (bpm).

During aerobic exercise like running, your heart rate increases. As your pace and work rate increase, so does your heart rate. Blood circulates to your muscles so they can get the oxygen and nutrients they need to keep going.

Your heart rate during exercise is a good measurement of how hard you’re working.

Keep reading to learn more about how to calculate your target heart rate for running.

The average heart rate while running is different for each person due to several factors, such as:

  • Age: As you get older, your target heart rate during physical activity gets lower.
  • Fitness level: A physically active person may have a lower resting heart rate than someone more sedentary because their heart muscle is stronger and doesn’t need to work as hard to beat.
  • Air temperature: In hot and humid temperatures, your heart may beat 5 to 10 more times per minute to pump more blood.
  • Medication use: Some medications like beta blockers may slow your heart rate, while high dosages of thyroid medication may raise it.
  • Emotions: Some emotions like stress, excitement, and anger may slow or quicken your heart rate.

To determine your ideal running heart rate, you’ll first need to calculate your maximum heart rate. To do this, subtract your age from 220, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For example, if you’re 30 years old, your maximum heart rate is 190 bpm.

It’s important to note that this is just a guide. Your maximum heart rate may vary depending on several factors, such as underlying health conditions.

Next, to determine your ideal running heart rate, you’ll have to figure out the intensity you’re aiming for, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

For moderate-intensity exercise like brisk walking, aim for a heart rate of 50–75% of your maximum heart rate. For vigorous activity like running, aim for 70–85% of your maximum heart rate.

The table below highlights the approximate target heart rates in bpm for moderate and vigorous activities, based on age and maximum heart rate, according to the AHA.

It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional if you’re living with a heart condition. They could help establish the best target heart rates for you.

Age in yearsMaximum heart rate (bpm)Target heart rate (bpm) 50–75%Target heart rate (bpm) 70–85%

Monitoring your heart rate while you run can help you achieve your goals. For example, if your heart rate is too low for your desired intensity, you need to push harder. If it’s too high, you may need to slow down.

Using a heart rate monitor can help you keep track of your heart rate during exercise.

It’s important to note that your heart rate may be 15 to 20 bpm higher or lower than the numbers above.

Exceeding your maximum heart rate for long periods may pose several health risks, especially if you have an underlying cardiovascular condition.

A 2002 study of recreational hockey players found that those who continuously exceeded their target and maximum heart rates while playing had poor recovery rates after exercise. They also increased their risk for cardiac events like arrhythmias, chest pain, and discomfort.

Some symptoms that your heart rate is too high may include:

If your heart rate is too high or you experience these symptoms while running, it’s important to slow down to a more comfortable pace.

A 2020 study suggests spending up to 9% of your total weekly training time above 90% of your maximum heart rate. This is to help avoid overtraining and to maximize the benefits of exercise.

Heart rate zone training relies on bpm as a guide for how fast you should run, instead of pace per mile.

Heart rate training uses 5 zones based on your maximum heart rate. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, these zones include:

  • (1) Very light: Less than 57% of maximum heart rate.
  • (2) Light: 57–63% of maximum heart rate.
  • (3) Moderate: 64–76% of maximum heart rate.
  • (4) Vigorous: 77–95% of maximum heart rate.
  • (5) Maximal: 96–100% of maximum heart rate.

Depending on your goals, you may spend time training in different zones.

For example, marathon runners who focus on keeping a steady pace for many miles may want to spend more time in zones 1 to 3.

If you’re training for a shorter race like 5 kilometers, you may want to spend more time training in zones 3 to 4.

Elite athletes and sprinters may focus more of their training in zones 4 and 5.

Use a heart rate monitor to keep track of your training. If you’re continuously working in zone 4 or higher, it may be best to slow down and gradually build your pace.

A professional trainer or running coach may help you determine a workout schedule based on your goals.

What is a normal heart rate for a runner?

Your ideal target heart rate for running will depend on several factors, such as your age, fitness level, and underlying health conditions. An average range for brisk walking or light jogging is between 50–75% of your maximum heart rate, while running is 70–85%.

Is a heart rate of 170 bad while running?

A heart rate of 170 bpm is at the upper limit for people age 20 years old. If you’re older than this, a heart rate of 170 bpm may indicate that you’re overexerting yourself. That said, it’s best to speak with a healthcare professional about the ideal heart rates for you.

Is 175 heart rate bad when running?

A heart rate of 175 bpm is a relatively high number for people of any age. It’s best to slow your running pace down until you reach your ideal target heart rate.

Is a heart rate of 180 high when running?

A heart rate of 180 bpm when running is considered high. Slow your pace down until you reach your ideal target heart rate.

Heart rate training can be an effective way to measure how hard your body is working while running. Remember not to push yourself to the point of complete exhaustion when training.

Trying to keep your heart rate up in a comfortable zone can be challenging. Work with a running coach or fitness professional to design workouts at an appropriate level for you.

Always see a doctor before starting a new running or fitness routine.