Heart Rate training with a cold.

Having a cold is no joke. Especially if you are a man. The minute you get a sniffle or a cough you get zero sympathy from anything remotely female. “Oh, man flu then?” No it’s not man flu its just a cold, but it doesn’t make my nose run any less, head ache any less, cough any less.

Having a cold and trying to do heart rate training is definitely no joke. As I found to my cost this week. I think that my heart must be trying to fight the cold all on its own – judging by my heart rate!

My run on Monday was a 45 minute run at 141-147bpm. As I hadn’t been on a trail for a while I decided to go over the meadows again. I should have realised that things would be difficult when I finished my warm up. I glanced down at my watch to start the run and saw to my horror that my heart rate was already at 145!! Needless to say I had no sooner started running than my watch started beeping at me to slow down and I had to start walking. I had only gone about 200 yards and I was already walking for some distance to get the rate back down.

After I had gone about half a mile I realised that keeping the heart rate within the zone was going to be extremely difficult. So I decided to keep my run down to a sort of shuffle but with some semblance of a run rather than walk. I worked on the basis of a perceived level of effort rather than the actual level.

The meadow was full of water at the start and full of mud along the wooded track. Very sloppy and wet. My watch was almost constantly screaming at me that I was over the relevant zone as I shuffle ran along the trail.

I was shocked at my half-way point as I couldn’t believe how little distance I seem to have gone. My return journey was just as laboured although I did finally managed to get myself down in the right zone.

I finished with an average heart rate of 148bpm and average pace of just over 16.5 minute mile. I would probably have been better off if I had walked!! I was still working on the principal of “But it doesn’t matter” but, if I am honest, it did matter a bit.


My Heart Rate should have been between the two black lines

My Heart Rate should have been between the two black lines

The next day I took the dog out with me for a 50minute run at 141-147. Again, I presume due to the cold, my watch kept beeping at me. Having realised that I was not going to beat the heart racing due to the cold I again adopted the perceived level of effort and tried my best to keep the rate down.

Having the dog walking alongside me as I “ran” was not doing my self-esteem any good at all. At least she had the good grace to pant every now and then just for effect.

I stayed off the trails and ran the paths and alleys of Abbeymead. I think that this helped a bit as I finished with an average pace of 13.51 minute mile, while keeping an average heart rate at 146bpm.

After a day shift on Wednesday I decided to take the dog out again for my 30 minute run. It was a bit cooler, it being evening, and I was running in some new trainers.

My XT wings had finally given up the ghost, the sole having dearly departed from the upper. So I had bought some Salomon Crossmax trainers which had arrived on Wednesday morning.

I have never had a problem with running in Salomon trainers and they have always been very comfortable. So what went wrong with the Crossmax I have no idea. My right inner arch was uncomfortable just from doing the warm up walk. By the time I started running both sides of the middle of my right foot were aching and after a mile or so the left arch began aching. The trainers themselves were comfortable but I have no idea why they were hurting.

I struggled on like a brave little soldier and put up with the increasing discomfort. I ran a loop around Abbeymead, past the Tesco Express and back home. There must have been something about the new trainers (other than the pain) because my heart rate average ended up as 143bpm and my pace was 12.09. Amazing that in three days, because of the time of day, having a cold and running on tarmac rather than slushy mud, for the same amount of effort I had cut my pace by over four minutes a mile. Mind you I don’t know that I can continue in these trainers. They are definitely going to have to go. Someone will get a nice little ebay bargain!

I had planned out a rough route in Mapmyrun for my 9 miler on Friday. This run was to be in the 147-153 bpm zone. So, by rights, my pace should be quicker.

I realised by the time that I finished my warm up walk that things were not going to be going my way. With a starting heart rate of 147 I set off and was soon being told by my watch to slow down. I soon fell into the shuffling run that had served me so well at the start of the week.

Quite a few times my heart rate went above the upper limit and stayed there. It was a real struggle to bring it down again, but, using the perceived level thingy, I managed to keep going without walking.

I went through the alleys to Upton St Leonard before crossing the motorway back into Abbeymead. I did start to notice a pattern that as I became aware that my breathing was beginning to get a bit heavier, my watch warned me shortly after. Noticing it, however, did not stop me going over.

I continued through Abbeymead and onto the main road around Robinswood Hill. After about four miles, I was warm enough to take off my windproof. The act of taking the windproof off and shoving it in my backpack, whilst running was enough to send my heart rate up over 165bpm. It took some serious shuffle running over about a mile to bring it back down again.

I turned towards Whaddon and started the long climb up at the side of the hill. I would have thought that the descent on the other side would have allowed me to increase my pace but the increase was minor. As I reached Whaddon I turned off the road and went cross country, following the Glevum Way. This took me across muddy fields and around the side of Robinswood Hill Golf Course before going across more muddy fields and into Upton St Leonards. From there it was a shuffle run back through the alleys before the watch told me that I had reached the nine mile point, about a quarter of a mile from home.

When the watch went off I finally broke into a walk, but my legs felt really energized. My cool down walk was very brisk and I kept it going for about 10 minutes before I reached home.

Mapmyrun manipulation showed my distance as still nine miles. My heart rate average was 154bpm (just outside the zone) and my pace was exactly 15 minute mile. It had taken me 2 ¼ hours to do nine miles. I could have fast walked that.

Initially I was gutted that it had taken so long. But when I looked back on it later I realised that firstly, I had run more miles in one go than I had ever run before. Secondly, I had done it without walking for any distance, and thirdly, I had run non-stop for 2 ¼ hours!! Not so bad after all I suppose. Although I do hope things improve on the aerobic base front soon.

I would be grateful for any tips on keeping the heart rate down while running. Or is it just one of those things that it will eventually come down if I stick at it?



  1. Thanks for your comments on shoes, as I said this is my second pair in less than 3 years and less than 100 mile a pair, expensive! Have emailed Salamon and will take shoes back to Cotswold. I need new shoes quickly as got Ex to Ax in 3weeks.
    Well done for sticking to HRM I am doing similar and it seems to work for me, focus is on steady runs, mine are working out at 10 mm mile for my 6 mile training runs and 12mm for longer than 10miles, longest run has been yesterday 14.29miles.
    Have posted on runners forum asking about shoes, had 1reply so far with similar shoe problem.
    Keep running !

  2. Had a response from Salamon, the shoes have 2year warranty, need to take back to where they were bought, or with receipt or evidence of purchase e.g credit card bill showing amount paid.
    Sadly probably can’t find mine, but will try anyway at £90! Still think there is serious ‘material not fit for purpose’ / design fault

  3. Thanks for the info Ian. Unfortunately, if I am honest, they may be more than two years old. That said though, it has not been two years of regular running in them, as I generally used them for muddy trails and used my XT wings for less muddy and dry runs. There is obviously something wrong that they start to give out so early.

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