Okay, your shoes are tied and new playlist is lit, it’s time to go for a run… you can do this. *Insert some mantras about being strong* Music starts and you’re getting yourself warmed up. Let’s go- one foot in front of the other. Your heart rate starts to pick up and you begin breathing a little bit faster. Keep moving those legs… heart rate is still climbing as you’re trying to catch your breath. OMG. Why am I running? It’s only been one minute?! Keep going, keep moving. As you continue running it doesn’t seem to be getting any better… Only 2 minutes?! How can I keep moving *I am strong* How does anyone do this for miles and miles?! You approach the three minute mark and start to fall into a rhythm. Your heart rate is up but you don’t quite feel out of breath anymore. What is this magic?!
Your cardiovascular system is especially crucial during exercise as oxygen demand and waste production in your active muscles increase. The initial responses of your cardiovascular system allow your body to meet the increased demands placed on it with exercise. The average resting heart rate is about 60-80 beats per minute. At the onset of exercise, your heart rate and breathing rate begin to pick up to meet the increased demand for oxygen by your body. Your heart rate is proportional to the intensity of the exercise- as intensity increases, so will your heart rate. Going from walking to a high intensity activity such as running will quickly increase your heart rate.
As you settle into a rhythm and maintain your pace, your heart rate will even out at a certain number of beats per minute. Your breathing rate will follow suit while both remain elevated above resting levels. This plateau is referred to as “steady state” and is the optimal heart rate for your body to meet the demands of the work (running) which you are doing. Steady state takes a few minutes to achieve and is not the same for everyone. For elite athletes, their bodies may be able to adapt to these physical demands quickly and reach steady state under 3 minutes. For those who may not be as physically fit, it could take upwards of 4-5 minutes to reach this plateau. Those who are not as conditioned may also have a higher heart rate at the same exercise intensity (in this case, running pace).
Let’s be honest, those first few minutes of running might suck. As you continue to run for a little bit longer with each week, you will continue to build your endurance. Increased cardiorespiratory endurance (heart and lungs) relates to the body’s ability to sustain prolonged, dynamic exercise using large muscle groups. In this case, we are talking about running longer distances and being able to deliver oxygen rich blood to those working muscles. Being able to maintain this level for longer periods of time shows improvements in aerobic fitness.
Anyone out there new to running? Any of our experienced runners have a story to share? Maybe something about your fitness or training journey! Share it in the comments below!