HR exceeding the MAF MAX HR once MAF MAX HR is reached.

by Laura
(San Francisco, California, US)

I have never been much of a runner except in my early years, opting instead for other forms of fitness but have always admired the stamina, endurance, and discipline of runners. I was not an athlete but always in good shape and was an early adopter of heart-rate monitors. Unfortunately, starting in my 40's I began experiencing a long slow decline in health due to a medical condition that was largely undetectable and undiagnosable for about 15 years. Thankfully, after years of failed treatments and several surgeries, I've substantially recovered but still have to take medications on a daily basis and probably will for the rest of my life. I'm female, now 58, and as stated earlier, on multiple daily medications but are not related to cardiac-disease or diabetes, if that matters.

I'm using the walk/run and the MAF method to build-up conditioning which severely suffered during my illness. Using the MAF method I've calculated my MAF HR range to be 104 low and 114 high. When I'm "training" which feels a little silly to say at my level of fitness I can walk for miles and miles and never get above 104 unless going up hills, but increasing my pace to a slow jog gets my HR to 114 very quickly about 30 seconds.

My problem is that once my HR reaches 114 I return to a walking pace but my HR continues beyond 114 for several seconds before coming back down. I call this "HR carry-over". After about 30 seconds my HR returns to 104. The duration of the carry-over and recovery increases as the session continues. It seems like HR carry-over is normal but I don't know if HR carry-over is factored into the MAF method or not. Am I supposed to slow to a walk before MAF MAX HR in anticipation of the carry-over effect or should do I change to a walk once I hit MAF MAX HR? Please advise.

Thank you in advance.


Nicole's Reply:
Hi Laura, thanks for your question. I'm glad that your health issues are under control now and that you are able to get running and walking again.
Regarding MAF training, the main thing is to try and not go over your max MAF HR. Sometimes it is unavoidable but your aim should always be to be under your MAF HR.
If you find that it takes a while to get your HR down once you have gone over, you may find it easier to start slowing down (perhaps slowing to a walk), when you can see that you are 2-3 beats near to it. The "carry-over" as you describe, gets more pronounced as they session goes on because your body fatigues. Again with practice and time and as your health improves, you should see the carry-over improve too.
Hills are always tricky and anticipating the effects of the slope can be difficult but again it is a question of practice and seeing how your body copes. I still have to walk a lot of hills but I have mastered a fast walk ;).

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