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I am just a few weeks shy of 49; took up running about 18 months ago for a 6 month period; resumed about 4 weeks ago. Today, I ran 4 miles in 44 minutes, preceded by 3 minutes of warmup and 3 of cooldown. I know
from past experience that my maximum heart rate is 180-190 - as
measured via the treadmill grips after a series of 10 mph sprints
intervals, two minutes each, which is about as fast and as long as I can stand that pace. ( so far )

Guidelines for heart rate during a long run suggest 70-80% of maximum,
which would be 133-152. I've been slowing down, in an effort to get my
rate down to that range; this run was about 5.5 mph. Yet, at the end
of the 44 minute run, my heart rate was at 160. It settled to 140 within
30 seconds, 130 within 60 seconds, and 120 within 120 seconds. It was
a good workout, but not an overly strenuous one - I felt I could probably
have gone on for some while, but I have only been doing 2.5 mile runs
previously, so I figured I'd stick at this level for a few runs, before
pushing further. I was breathing easily and sweating moderately,
no cramps in the legs, no stitches or discomfort.

I alternate long slow distance runs with interval runs, where I
sometimes sprint at 9 or 10 mph for a minute or two, sometimes
run at an easy pace from 6-7.5 mph, sometimes walk.

All of this is on a treadmill.

My goals include building endurance and speed - I'd like to see if I
can be competitive in 5k and 10k runs - and reducing body fat.
When I am comfortable with 6 mile runs, which should be in a few
weeks, I plan to join a running group.

I also do weight training several times a week.

Meanwhile, about heart rate goals - am I pushing too fast? Should
I run more slowly for a while? Am I burning fat efficiently, or do
I need to worry about burning off muscle at this pace?

Thanks for any advice.

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Based on your higher maximum heart rate (MHR), 190, your age, 49, and assuming a resting heart rate of 60. The 70-80% range for you should be around 151-164 range

Your recovery rates were pretty good too.

It doesn't appear to me that you are pushing to hard. Especially if you felt good toward the end.
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