Running vs Cycling Heart Rate

Any good book on running will likely talk about training by heart rate zone. While the exact boundaries and definitions of the zones may differ between sources, the general idea is that exercising while your heart rate is in different zones will provide different benefits and physiological adaptations in your body. Training at 60-70% of maximum heart rate helps you lose weight without being too taxing. Long workouts at 80-90% of max heart rate improve endurance and the body’s ability to cope with accumulating lactate in the blood. Intervals at 90-100% of MHR stress the body’s aerobic capacity, but can be exhausting. This kind of structured exercise based on heart rate zone is the cornerstone of many training plans. This is old news.

What’s new to me is how the mode of exercise figures into this picture. Most runners would probably agree that jogging at 60-70% of max heart rate is fairly easy: they can carry on a conversation without trouble, and maintain that heart rate for over an hour. But for some people, reaching the same heart rate while swimming or cycling may feel much more difficult, or even nearly impossible. Why?

My curiosity on this question grew out of two recent purchases: a home spinning bike and a heart rate monitor. I took the HRM on some runs around the neighborhood, and found that a subjectively “easy” running pace raised my HR into the 140s. In the 150s, the required effort felt moderate, and the boundary where “hard” began was around 160. A short sprint or uphill charge pushed it well into the 170s. For a typical easy run of a few miles, my average HR was 152 or so.

Then I tried the HRM on some spin bike workouts. I’d already been using the spin bike for a few months, setting the resistance so the subjective effort felt similar to my runs. I was stunned to discover that the spin bike barely raised my HR to 100. What?!

I cranked up the resistance, trying to bring my HR to the same 140-150 zone as my easy runs, but the effort required felt extreme. It was like sprinting up a steep hill. My legs turned into blocks of stone, and I couldn’t keep going for more than a couple of minutes. Just for fun (this is fun?) I tried an all-out sprint with the bike at a high resistance setting, and found that I simply couldn’t push my HR beyond 162 on the bike, even as I was gasping for breath and sweating a river. After much experimentation, I finally settled on a resistance level that felt subjectively like a hard run, but still only raised my HR into the 125-130 range.

sf-b1001-exercise-bike

Explanation Please

What the heck is going on here? Why was the heart rate on the bike so different than the heart rate while running, when working at the same level of perceived effort? And what does the discrepancy say about the best way to combine training for running and cycling?

I did some research, and found that many other people have observed the same discrepancy between running and cycling heart rates, though mine was a bigger difference than most. This discussion mentions a 5% difference or ~10 beats per minute, this triathlon site refers to a 15 bpm difference in max heart rate, and this article talks about the discrepancy at length but doesn’t give any specific numbers. Intriguingly, though, it does mention that the discrepancy appears largest among runners with little cycling experience, and that pro triathletes with lots of cycling and running experience show little discrepancy in heart rate between the two activities.

Unfortunately, I never found any source that gave a really satisfactory answer for the discrepancy, but there are two general theories that come close to an answer when they’re combined. Theory #1 seems to be that fewer muscles are used while cycling vs running, so the demand for oxygen isn’t as high, and the heart doesn’t need to beat as fast. Theory #2 is that the leg muscles of a runner-turned-cyclist are comparatively weak, and it’s ultimately muscle power that limits cycling performance, not aerobic capacity. Taking a step back, these theories could almost be viewed as two sides of the same coin. In essence, they’re both saying that the ability of the heart to pump oxygenated blood to the leg muscles is not what determines the upper limit of cycling performance (and presumably perceived effort). More succinctly: cycling is a strength activity, not an aerobic activity.

Regardless of why the heart rate discrepancy exists, the real question for runner/cyclists is what to do about it. For somebody like me who’s primarily a runner, but uses the spin bike to supplement my training, should I structure the bike workouts to match the heart rate of my runs, or match their perceived effort level? Again, I couldn’t find a really great answer to this question, and the triathlon site was the only source that even partly addressed the question. Their recommendation is to establish a unique max HR for each sport, which will likely be lower for cycling than for running, and then to calculate sport-specific heart rate zones. That’s more-or-less the same as training for the same perceived effort in each sport. In my case and in my present condition, that’s really my only choice anyway, since cycling at a HR of 150+ is too difficult for me to maintain for more than a couple of minutes.

Unfortunately I find this answer vaguely unsettling. If I do a spin bike workout at the same level of perceived effort as my easy runs, and my HR during the workout is only 120, what part of my body am I actually strengthening? Will I get any meaningful aerobic benefit out of it? Or am I just training cycling-specific muscles, which isn’t a goal at all? I’m going to keep digging and see what more I can learn.

34 thoughts on “Running vs Cycling Heart Rate

  1. In contrast, I found your article because I am primarily a cyclist who has thrown some running into my training as summer approaches and I found huge spikes in my heart rate while running in comparison to when I am in a spin class.

    At age 58 my max HR should be about 162. I can get to 160 on the bike when increasing the tension for a standing climb near the end of the class. It needs to be an extended climb and I have to work hard to get there and, for the moment, have not broken through the 160 mark.

    When doing sprints on the treadmill on various gradients up to 6% at a speed of 8.5 mph…30 secs on/30 secs off….1 min on/1 min off …I had a jump last weekend to 188.
    Dramatically higher than normal and much higher than the max for my age.

    That is what led me to finding your article. Personally, I train in the winter so as to be ready for the summer but also with the goal of improving my VO2 and to do that, of course, one needs to do HIIT training to push the heart. So,….If you are going to cycle/spin I would suggest that you do a ride that turns up the tension to try and replicate climbing as you would on a real ride. If 160 is your max, your legs are screaming and you are gasping for breath and the spin is structured so you get to enjoy that feeling a number of times you are working properly. To cruise along at a HR of 120 won’t do much for you.

  2. How confident are you that your max HR is 162? Have you tested it? As you probably know, the 220 minus age formula is only a very rough estimate, which is fairly accurate on average for a group of people, but the max HR for any specific person can vary widely.

    220 minus age isn’t even a very good formula, it’s just the easiest to remember. From what I’ve read, a better estimate is HRmax = 205.8 − (0.685 × age), and that still has a standard deviation of 6.4 bpm.

    • I have started to wonder that myself over the last few weeks. Not being a runner I am reluctant to take my VO2 test on a treadmill rather than a bike. During my tests my HR has hit only 160. On an a 2km climb last summer with grades of over 10% I reached 163.

      I have used the formula you mention and it takes my max to just over 166. If the HR monitor was correct at 188 that would be a significant difference over the various formulas. Is that normal? It would suggest that the calculations used aren’t really relevant at all.

      • Max HR is not activity dependent. Max HR refers to your physiology. If you see a HR higher than your predicted HR then your observed max HR is your true max HR. 188 would be outside the “normal” range but it is not unbelievable. I have a good friend who is 64 and has a verified max HR of 205. Your method of testing on the treadmill is a reasonable method. Don’t believe a single spike of 188 but do you see a gradual buildup into the mid 180s. If you do, this is your max HR you should use in any calculations. Remember that Max HR has nothing to do with your conditioning. It is a genetic thing and should go down approximately one beat per year.

  3. I could certainly believe your true max HR is higher than 166, but 188 seems unlikely. My guess is that 188 was a flakey reading. That would put you more than 3 standard deviations away from the expected max HR for your age, in the 99.7% percentile.

    Doing a max HR test isn’t fun, and I’ve never done one either. But in general you want to do a short, very hard effort after you’ve already been working hard for quite a while. So on the bike, maybe something like a 60 second all-out sprint at the end of a 10 minute very hard climb. But consider that your max HR for cycling may be lower than your max HR for running – which is really the point of the essay above. To test max HR for running, typically you’d do some kind of interval session. Try something like a warm-up, then running for 3 minutes at 100% effort, jog for 2 minutes, then another 3 minutes at 100% effort.

    • That was my opinion as well; that there was a difference based on the activities and was glad to find your article last week since it coincided with what was happening. Once I uploaded the data I was just glad that I was still around to look at it. 🙂

      Will have my third spin/treadmill class tomorrow and will be monitoring the HR monitor more closely than I did last week to see how it behaves. The running we do is intervals so is in line with what you are suggesting.

      Thanks for your time.

  4. Have now managed to hit 165 for a max HR by either doing an extended series of standing climbs with each climb lifting the HR to a higher level and then a big push on the last one or a long standing climb (yesterday was 15 min with the heart rate over 150 for over 12 min) with as much effort as the legs have left in the last minute to push the heart.

    Haven’t done any running lately to get another comparitive.

  5. My background is in rowing but these days I do a lot of running as well as cycling and swimming, (triathlons etc.). My heart rates are similar for rowing and running but much lower for cycling and swimming, probably 20bpm.

    For example, a threshold pace for me running or rowing is around 143 – 150, this is higher than what I can get my max to when Cycling or Swimming.

    I believe this is due to:
    1. Cycling is really working your legs only and does not recruit enough muscle groups to fully stress your cardio vascular system as rowing and running does.
    2. Swimming you are in a horizontal position, the water supports your body weight, I believe this reduces the stress on your body; also while you are working your upper body hard your legs are working moderately; also you are limited by how often you can breath between strokes.

    That said, some people I know clock high heart rates when cycling, e.g. 150bpm as a steady state, while 120bpm will be a similar intensity for me.

    I am a big athlete (typical rower) and have low resting and max HR and have always found it strange that I clock such low HRs when cycling, I feel there is some science around this that is difficult to find on the web.

    Interested in other peoples comments – James

  6. I actually have the opposite experience. Running I am able to push my heart rate to about 170, but in really hard spinning classes doing intervals I have been able to push my heart rate up to 178 which I think must be very close to my max heart rate although I have never had it measured. To get to this heart rate level I have to stand biking. Sitting, I am not able to get my heart rate much higher than 160. That is as expected since I am able to bike with a significantly higher resistance standing than sitting.

  7. I wrote this article a few years ago. I have been using a HRM since 1990. I guess I am an early adaptor. It made me competitive in the 45-49 age group back in the 1990’s.

    http://www.fasterthanforty.com/how-jeff-galloway-and-a-heart-rate-monitor-saved-a-runner/

    You really need to have an idea of what your true max is. It’s not based on an age formula. It based on how high you’re able to get your heart rate during a specific workout designed to max you out.

    At age 45 I reached 200 plus on several occasions and regularly hit 194-95.

    Then I used this formula. Max minus resting times effort plus resting.

    So an easy 70% run was 195-50 x .70 plus 50. = 151

    There are various max workouts on the web. Me? I could just go do a set of 400’s gradually increasing the effort until my HR wouldn’t go any higher. Usually it took 6-7 to hit my max.

  8. The reason you rarely can get your cycling HR up as high as your running HR is mass. You have to propel your body mass up and down and forward using your legs when you run. You don’t have a device ( a cycle ) to aid you. I am told the elliptigo gets a person closer but it is not quite the same as running. Some top class cyclist have achieved very high heart rates but this is a rarity. I’ve experimented with the bike in the past. My bike max was right around 160. My running max was 195.

  9. “The reason you rarely can get your cycling HR up as high as your running HR is mass. You have to propel your body mass up and down and forward using your legs when you run. You don’t have a device ( a cycle ) to aid you.”

    True, the bike gives a mechanical advantage, but I don’t think that explains why max HR is different on the bike. It explains why HR will be lower when biking 8 MPH vs running 8 MPH, but that’s a different question.

    From what I can tell, fewer muscles are used while cycling vs running, so the demand for oxygen isn’t as high, and it’s ultimately muscle power that limits cycling performance instead of aerobic capacity. So for most people going 100% effort on the bike, leg strength fails before they ever get to the max HR achieved in other sports. But for a pro cyclist with huge leg muscles, they should be able to hit nearly the same max HR biking and running.

  10. This is always a question among serious athletes that do multiple sports. First, your MHR is the same for each activity, i.e. it’s the same for running, cycling, crawling, you name it. And I have never seen a study that demonstrated the ability to raise ones MHR with any training. Second, your AT (anaerobic threshold) is different depending on the activity. Third, your perceived intensity will be different depending on your activity and your level of experience with that activity.

    The first point is basic physiology. Your max is your max and will drop when you get older but the rate in which it drops with age can be significantly slowed with consistent elevated HR training. The second point has to do with how much muscle is involved in the activity and also the athletes conditioning in the activity. Running uses slightly more muscle than biking, and using a machine like the Precore AMT that also uses the push and pull of the arms will yield a higher AT than running. You have the ability to train in any activity and raise your AT for that activity (muscles become more efficient at utilizing ATP, more capillaries, etc.). The third point is based on experience. If you cycle but don’t normally run, running at your cruising cycling HR will feel like your pulling a bus behind you, very intense.

  11. My problem is my heart rate is high when I am doing what I perceive as moderate effort in both running and cycling. I can run at a pace of 12min/mile and my heart rate will be in the low 150s, and to maintain it in the low 150s I have to concentrate on controlled deep breathing otherwise my HR could easily go up to 160. I can increase my pace to 8min/mile and my heart rate will be in the high 170s. even with a heart rate of 160 my perceived effort is moderate, not hard at all. For cycling, moderate effort, its a struggle to keep it as low as 140. Again if I don’t concentrate of my breathing it can easily make it up to 150. And I am just barely breaking a sweat. For both running and cycling (for spinning at least during intervals) my HR can go into the 180s during extreme effort. I am 41 and am active in triathlons and train regularly but I cant help but wonder my low effort HR is so high. I have had people tell me I need to get my low effort HR down, that it is too high. I been trying to find some information on this and I can’t. Its frustrating. I am told I need to run slower and cycle slower to bring my endurance up. but running at 5miles/hour which for me is slow, my HR is still in the 150s. Should I start all over again and walk?
    If anyone has any info that would be great.

    • Rox I have the exact same thing going on. Running my MHR is insanely high. The only way i can be below 150 is walking; simply the motion of running increases my HR. I have been training over a period of just 3 weeks and noticed that my MHR has decreased from about 200 to just 185; I have cycled much longer than running and find that cycling at 160bpm is very very hard but normal when running at a slow speed (5mph).

      Its frustrating trying to find an answer; i am cycling to supplement the running and improve my running

      • A lot of people on here who are seeing high HR while running might want to consider whether the HR readings are accurate. I’m assuming you’re using a “real” monitor like a Garmin or Polar, not the built in ones on equipment.

        I usually wear “technical” gear (synthetic wicking) when working out and when running the static it creates causes my HR readings to go 30-40 BPM higher than they actually are. It doesn’t happen when I’m walking, only jogging/running. For example, my HR at 4.5 mph walk is 80 BPM (reported and actual). At 7 MPH run, it’s around 115 BPM (actual) but with a wicking shirt on it will often read 150 BPM. Take off the shirt and the readout drops right down to the 115 range.

  12. I’ve used a heart rate monitor to try to improve my performance in three different sports: running, rowing and cycling. The experiment was a miserable failure in two of them and it’s fair to say that I very nearly managed a dismal hat-trick.
    I dabbled with an HR monitor during a long career as a club runner and used one occasionally in my training for rowing, so it was no surprise that when I returned to cycling four years ago, I turned to my trusty Cardiosport monitor. No surprise either that I almost fell at the first hurdle

  13. Jason Smith and Rox – I can appreciate your frustration. I presume you have low resting heart rates? Say less than 60. If this is the case – assuming you’ve checked with experts but still cannot get an answer – then I would say it’s just a personal genetic factor and probably a good thing. You haven’t mentioned your MHRs. Is your heart capable of 220? With rates like that, it could well be! If not – if you sprint 100m or do 2 x 800m full effort, and it only raises to 195 or something, then your heart is doing all it can to make you run fast. Essentially it’s just a personal adaptation ie you are getting your heart to perform quite hard or very hard when exercising at any level, and at rest (assuming it’s say <61) you show the signs and benefits of this hard work.

    Last Chance Runner, above, is exactly right. It's not based on age. I would elaborate on that and go further say that a high heart rate is nothing to be afraid of. If my MHR is 200 and I train at 180- 185 for half an hour 5 times a week, that will not heart my heart health at all! The problem is that if I do that, you can bet that I will feel that I have worked hard the day or two days after. Aching, or just fatigue, needing more sleep, etc. This is how an HR monitor can be useful – it can tell us how hard we are working; it can confirm it. However, if your heart operates at 170 when doing an easy run, and you don't experience fatigue, then clearly your body knows best. However – assuming you can run fast and your heart rate increases with speed – you may still be able to establish your own observations that you may find useful.

  14. On the issue of cycling vs running and heart rates, I arrived here as someone who was curious about it too.

    I’ve been in the fitness industry and this is my background info:

    Heavy weight trainer, 26.5 inch legs. Very heavily muscled, 14 and a half stone lean. Very heavy upper body muscle. Running: up to 35 miles a week. Not a natural runner and not a fast one but have done a lot recreationally. 4 and 7 mile runs, some 15s, half marathon time 1.47. Age 32. Max HR measured a few years ago: 200, but that was doing 4 x 100m running sprints so maybe it can go higher using 2 x 800m or something.

    When using any exercise formula or body fat measure, I use “20” as the age and will always will do. It’s not that I don’t concede that at 80 I won’t be able to run as fast – but at that age I doubt I’ll ever use a formula. They are fairly redundant now. I’ll just need to know my measured max HR at 80 as my guide.

    In any case, as an experienced runner I can get my HR to 200 by running…. and 151 by cycling……hill sprint (80 very steep, very slow) intervals…… the same pattern as you guys. With the cycling, I use leg strength, and i have it in abundance. Strength to propel 15 stone of weight including non-used upper body weight. I do not think the difference between running and cycling has anything to do with strength. I think the point about running being a mechanical advantage has nothing to do with it – unless we are saying that the point at which you switch the effort of the legs is some kind of pause? You go your hardest and fastest on either.

    How do I feel with cycling and spinning interval sprints compared to running? Cycling feels like I am breathing so, so hard and my heart is beating through my chest. Yes my legs feel heavy and burning, and yes if I repeat enough times I feel nauseas. How do running sprints compare? The elevated breathing is there – maybe just as much – but it’s more significant AFTER the run (oxygen debt probably). The heart coming through the chest – not as noticeable. Heavy, burning legs? Not as much in my lower quad as with cycling, but 80% of that throughout my entire leg! Can I feel nauseas? Yes

    To me, I can feel the difference and it’s the fact that running uses my entire body. From a layman’s point of view it feels like all the sinews in my neck, shoulders and back are being used when sprinting. My calves are tight. My hamstrings and the entire gluteus is very tight. I also have sore abs and diaphragm-area muscles the next day.

    To me it’s clear – when running I’m using my upper body mass, which is only slightly less than eg mass overall. Biceps, shoulders, back and chest are all in repeated use – even in a light jog. With cycling, the upper body does require some enhanced blood supply – yes some for neck tension, grip, etc, but that’s about it. Without the arms swinging, the heart can work as hard as it likes to get blood to the legs, but never reaches maximum because running brings in the arms and therefore the entire upper body into play.

    Hard cycling makes me less fatigued the next day than running does, as this goes hand in hand with the max HR. I think that those who have managed to get their cycling max HR to match their running max HR have simply been able to push and push more blood into their legs for cycling and moreover their bodies have found it necessary to do so. But all things being equal the runner / cyclist or typical triathlete will, of course, supply more blood in maximal running than in maximal cycling.

  15. I have a different experience to offer up. My cycling max is 255 and my running max is 228. I have seen these numbers several times over the past 8 years of using a garmin HRM. I lke cycling more than running…because it is easier. So why is the HRmax higher for cycling? Because I can cheat while running. On a bike going uphill at a 20% gradient if you don’t crank it you’re going to fall over. You can always hold back a little when running even though overall, a greater effort is usually expended. On a stationary bike (I actually just use my same road bike with a Kurt Kinetic trainer) I always measure much less. Also, I don’t agree that max HR is the same for each activity. No matter what you are never going to get to 255 bpm crawling. I agree different muscles are recruited and that must be limiting.

    • Your max HR is 255 and 228 and you have seen it several times over the years….not on a regular basis? Do you come close on a regular basis?

      My Garmin has recorded numbers that high on several occasions as well but it is due to an abnormal reading. I am 60 and I had a high this summer of 167 bpm on numerous occasions while cycling extended climbs on a steep grade.

  16. I am so thankful for this information. I have been a runner (off and on) for 30 years and never paid attention to HR, I just simply ran. Now that I am training for an ironman I have been trying to figure out my HR zones and could not figure out for the life of me why the two sports did not line up, although I suspected it was muscle related. I still do not know what my proper run zones are, but am thankful to know that this is not an abnormal issue.

  17. Go out on an outdoor bicycle and try this. I guarantee the results will be different. I cannot get my heart rate elevated on an indoor trainer, an indoor recumbent, or the indoor cycling unit you have listed above. I am a very competitive runner with a big base and high max heart rate and I have little trouble getting into a high heart rate with a bicycle out on the trails. This requires 20+ mph typically (and I am a lousy cyclist), but the effort isn’t much higher than an easy-medium run after you get past the initial difficulty of the ride.

  18. Hey guys, I love the forum. I’m fairly new to the sports, I’m running, cycling, skipping and using a stand up paddle board. I have a way higher average heart rate after an hours running than I do after an hours rowing on the lake but the calories burnt seem to be very similar with using various calculations, eg heart rate monitor, websites, smartphone apps etc etc.. I personally assume my max heart rate is the same for any sport. What confuses me is if this is correct I could do two hours rowing fairly easy but two hours running is quite tough for me.. Am I training in wrong zones or is rowing more of a work out even though my heart rate is lower ?? I hope someone can point me in some direction here . Thanks in advance.

    • I wold say that your MHR is your MHR but results can vary based on the activity simply because your muscle groups are not equally efficient and the cardio for different exercises varies.

      Tough to equate rowing to running. I can run 2km’s at a decent pace and not come near to my MHR but if I row 1km at a pace of under 2 min per 500 meters my HR will be higher than running. Very difficult to get an apple to apple comparison.

      Your body structure is not equally developed and the cardio demands are different for each activity. The weight lifter who posted above who cannot get his HR above 151 while cycling…I would suggest isn’t doing a difficult ride or despite having strong legs, doesn’t know how to max out on a hill. The disparity of his MHR between running and cycling is too high.

  19. I am complete opposite… I do more cycling than running and easily bring my heart rate to the 180s and live at the top of short steep climb. I can push myself harder on a bike than a run before I choke, but with running my lungs give out before my legs, with cycling my lungs have never come close to giving out. I sprint at the end of a run and can only get into the low 170s.

    When I started cycling I tried to spin faster rather than harder, try to keep my cadence over 90… As you get older this gets harder. Anyways I came upon this forum as I appear to be the exception, I guess it comes down to physique and technique. I do shorter workouts (young kids) about 20km bike rides at about 29km city riding pace and 5 km runs at about 5 min per km pace…..

  20. I’m currently injured with a SF and have been using the bike to try to keep me cardio-fit. And I’ve had the same exact HR vs perceived effort discrepancies on the bike (primarily a runner as well). I’m trying to supplement with the elliptical and that’s a better match for my HR zones, but still not the same as running. Only four more weeks in the boot, but I’d hate to be wasting these weeks literally (and figuratively) spinning my wheels and getting no benefit at all from these workouts.

  21. You can easily hit the same HR. I am 45 and hit 175 on the bike chasing segments and do avg HR 159-160 for an hour. (Zone 4 for me) or I can tool in zone 2 or I can hit 180 doing intervals. I am not sure what your problem is. The HR difference is from sitting down vs. standing. It’s about 5 bpm. Get outside and feel how fun it is to go fast and maybe that fresh air will fuel some desire. I run too btw. Been running almost 30 years riding 5

  22. The reason is because the legs are basically the largest muscles on the body, which have a ton of oxygen and glucose stored in them. They can be worked for a long time before a request for the heart to increase output to provide more oxygen. If you cycle for long enough, I believe there will be a high/ expected bpm.

  23. And I just thought of something! The heart and lungs are connected… Any exercise that requires more breathing will also call for a cardiac increase.

  24. In my humble opinion cycling is less effort than running and cycling off road is harsher on joints than a smooth treadmill.

    I started cycling off road 3 years ago (12 miles per day 6 days a week), A few months ago started running on a treadmill as I’ve had back problems from cycling. I’ve never really managed increase my breathing rate while cycling unless going up hill or cycling flat out sustained which is not always possible, whereas running after 1-2 minute I get breathing rate increase which is why I assume cycling is less effort, it might however be what i am more used to.

    Interruptions to cycling objects in path people etc means having to stop and start on a bike pushing you’re own weight and the bikes weight from full stop over and over, cycling up hill for a long period the bike is working against you putting more strain on back and other joints also the fit of the bike and how it handles bumps when it is caked in mud & not being able to change gears straining more from drag and extra muddy weight and sticking to path.

  25. Hello, great article (& comments)! I have been puzzling the exact same phenomenon! I am a very keen cyclist (20km commute every day) and a reluctant jogger! I have recently purchased a HRM to try and inspire me on my runs, I am training for a 10k, with the aim (once again) to go sub 40min. I too was really surprised to discover this huge difference in HR between a 4:30min/km jog pace (~145bpm) and reasonable effort on the bike (e.g., 35km/h for 1min 40 sec, average HR 121bpm with a peak at 131bpm). The bike stats are from my commute this evening, I was trying to push my HR into my jog zone, but got nowhere near!! I haven’t been using my HRM for very long and have yet to do a long steep climb on the bike, it will be interesting to see what the result is! From a training perspective one thing is very clear for me, when I DO go jogging (for a few weeks) my cycling fitness improves dramatically! The only reason to keep jogging 😉

    Once again, great article!

    Bryn.

  26. It’s interesting to read so many different scenarios that’s occurring for you all.

    I started running for weight loss and ended up loving to run, so after getting completely fit I continued to run and lift weights. My issue was I never finished a run without gasping for air, thinking I was going to die from the lack of oxygen during the last 10 minutes (or 1 mile) of my runs.

    Then I got injured and quit running but started riding a bike, doing intense outdoor exercises with multiple large hills.

    After a few months of nearly daily bike rides, I started running again. It was the most amazing thing that I had ever experienced in my life. My 30 – 40 minute runs that used to end with me gasping for air ended with me forcing myself to quit running to avoid injury since I was able to nearly double my run time without ever feeling like I was breathing hard. I literally felt at the end of those runs that I could have continued with the runs until the end of time, without ever needing more oxygen.

    Unfortunately that success led me to more long runs that my body wasn’t accustomed to, and I ended up tearing my plantar plate. After surgery and a very long recovery time, I’m back riding and running – and wondering why I’m not sucking wind when I’m running near my max heart rate.

    I have done the max heart rate test on a treadmill, but it was a few years ago, so I’m currently using the following formula to calculate my mhr:

    Multiply your age by 0.7 and subtract that figure from 208. Using that formula, my mhr is 179.9. I run for multiple minutes at 168 to 170 and I still feel perfectly fine in regards to oxygen, but I force myself to slow down when I hit 170. If I feel like I’m breathing well enough, should I be slowing myself down?

  27. 7 years into mountain biking and lot’s of Strava “competition”, but just recently started wearing a HRM, as I wish to start training on a stationary.
    Interestingly, I can ride the trails comfortably at 150-160 bpm, but on the stationary it’s a challenge to get above 140 bpm.
    52 YO and ride 4-5x /wk , 6-8 hrs

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