Posted by: Curious | 2008/01/09

Treadmill - speed & heart rate

Hey there.
I've been exercising on a Treadmill (stamina II) since November the 15th - starting out at 20 minutes and am now on 40 - 45 min per day - 6 days per week. I am about 25kg overweight and suffer from low blood sugar levels.
My main goal is to get fit, feel better and lose weight (not specifically in that order.) I must admit that I am feeling 100% better than ever before, - no sleeplessness, fatigue - although the odd tired feeling get hold of me, however, I usually excercise past this feeling.
When I started my heart rate was about 122beats (according to the treadmill reading - and would go up to 160. I now start at about 82 sometimes 73 but the last two or three days the top beating was up to 189 - 195. target heart rate is supposed to be 117. i know these figures but really have no clue what they mean and if i'm doing something wrong. My other concern is that i really can't run for more than 2 minutes at a time. it feels like my blood rushes to my brai and my hair on my scalp comes to life! I just feel all panicky when that happens. I start off on 1.6 and go up to 6.8 at walking (very brisk though) when i do 7.5 i have to run, but can only do 1 min or two. This is very frustrating as i'm feeling as though i'm just not getting fitter. My weight is also constant however, I've lost about 5cm around the hips and 4 around the waist. How can I improve on the fitness level and what do i need to change regarding my eating habits (something thats been fairly normal over the last three or four months - I am on a healthy eating plan although twice a week I indulge in something out of the ordinary. I don't normally eat sweets, chocolates & cakes though and use no sugar in my drinks or meals. Please give me some advice on the excersicing for weight loss on the treadmill and especially how to get to a stage where I can run at 7.2 for 10 minutes or more. Thanks for your help.

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Our expert says:
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Hi Curious

That heart rate now is very high by comparison with what it used to be. Now, I am assuming you're running at the same speed as before? if so, then perhaps you should consider seeing a doctor about the heart rate. I don't wish to alarm you of course, and it may really be nothing, but it's always better to be safe, particularly given your blood sugar problems.

The other thing, which will sound very mundane, is that your treadmill might be giving an incorrect reading here - the heart rate function on the treadmills are, in my experience, often a little fragile and tend to give some erratic measurements so you might be seeing a number that is false...!

I would not worry too much about target heart rates like that 117 - I don't think that those are very helpful. I would instead try to set up a session that is more controlled. At the moment, it seems to me that your session is one progressive hill, in that you start slow and get faster and faster - that's like running up a hill that gets steeper and steeper. And I suspect that if you backed off this a little and gave your body a chance to adapt and respond to the training, then you would find that you regain some control over the session and your fitness. For example, at the moment, you're unable to handle 7.5 without stopping in a minute. So my approach would be to get up to 7.0 and see if you can do 3 minutes, maybe 4 minutes there. In a week you'll find that because you're able to handle 7, you can edge up to 7.2 and still go for 4 minutes, and then up to 7.4, and so on. In a little while, what used to feel very uncomfortable will start feeling quite manageable. But at the moment you never even give yourself the chance, because you're straight in, and get faster and faster until you can't anymore.

So what I would do is look on the Fitness page of this site, click on Programmes, and then choose one of the running/walking programmes. They start off with just walking, and then gradually, over weeks, build up to running. And I think that is a better approach than trying to run every day.

Finally, on the diet side, best bet is to speak to a dietician - I would not make any claims about knowing the best about diet. I do feel, however, that if you can just get throught the next little while and get your fitness up to the point where you can run, you'll see weight come down too. I've got no doubt that your training is working - you're losing centimeters, big time, and so it's happening. It's just a matter of getting to the next level of fitness, and im sure a programme will help with that!

Good luck

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