From 6 to 200 MPH

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

San Francisco Marathon Top Finisher Resting Heart Rate

Michael Wardian is escorted by event staff after winning ... Brant Ward / The Chronicle

When my son and I got home after running the San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon, I logged in to my computer to check the race results and some news about the event.  I came across an article about the overall winner, Mr Michael Wardian.  That he had severe food poisoning, and spent the rest of the day and night vomiting but early Sunday morning, the 37-year-old elite runner from Arlington, Va., smiled as he crossed the finish line and won the San Francisco Marathon, coming in unofficially at 2 hours, 27 minutes and 6 seconds - more than 7 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. 

What caught my attention though, is his resting heart rate of 31 bpm. Three years ago, while at the office of a pulmonary specialist for my asthma problem, the nurse monitoring my heart rate stepped out of the room in a hurry. She came back with the Doctor. Upon entering the room he saw me with my Long Beach Marathon shirt and without looking at the monitor or listening to my heat beat, he told the nurse, I was good. Turned out the nurse freaked out because of my heart 44 bpm.

When I got home, I searched  from the computer about low resting heart rate.  I came across an article about athletes having resting heart rate as low as 40 bpm.  Average heart rate is from 60 to 100.  I am no athlete and never played in a team sport before so, I was worried.

When I saw my regular Doctor the following day, I told him about the incident at the Specialist office. Asked
him if my low bpm is normal.  He told me it's not normal but not to worry about it because of my running activities. That he will be worried if I am obese, can't walk a mile and smoker.  He also told me that my blood pressure medicine (beta blocker) might be affecting my bpm. Changed the dosage of my medication and my resting heart rate is now 49 bpm.

Still not clear to me how low resting heart rate affect the performance of an athletes.

Mr. Michael Wardian  recently placed third in the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley, where temperatures reached 130 degrees. But he had never won the San Francisco Marathon, finishing second twice.

2nd Half Marathon Result:
Time: 2:05:20
AG Place(65-69) - 3rd out of 20


  1. Congratulations on another fast HM finish, sir! About the low resting heart rate - my doctor (cardiologist who did my physical before I ran BDM) told me the same thing. My resting heart rate is rather low, and he attributes it to the amount of running that I do. I asked him if it was normal, and he neither said yes nor no. He simply said it is expected. Not quite the answer I had hoped for, but he assured me that I had nothing to worry about.

    Good luck on your next races!

  2. 3/20 is awesome! Sad that the numbers dwindle in the higher age groups though.

    BPM meds can cause slowing, yes, so can being really well conditioned ;)

    It's all relative so hard to compare. When I was in my 20s I hit a low of 37 when I was running. Today I'm at 46 or so. The bigger the spread between that and your max HR gives more working heart range (WHR) ..your accelerator pedal to push down.

    Of course it's hard to know your Max HR without a treadmill test. I had one when I started running and it seems my max is close to 165-170. (220 -age fairly close for me)

    Anyway, enough about that...good job on that half!

    I didn't run SF this year at all..kinda bored with it after running it 3yrs in a row..needed a break.

    Plus it's just gotten too crowded for the marathon because of all the halfers. Really it's a halfers race now.

  3. @Julius ___ Thanks for dropping by, Julius! Can't imagine the nurse reaction if the 31bpm was my HR. I think she will put an oxygen mask on me before getting the doctor.

    How is your NYCM training? I heard that the hardest part of the race for non-New Yorker, is to get to the starting line. Good Luck!!!

  4. @Paul ___ Thanks Paul. I know that if there is someone out there who can educate me on resting heart rate, it will be you. I think the San Francisco event already max out. The bridge was really crowded and safety was an issue. My son (he ran the full) said that several runners tripped on the compressed rubber cover of the bridge expansion gap/grate. My son got elbowed on the chest. Walkers and slow runners(they were supposed to be on the last wave) made matter worst. Heated arguments between runners can be heard. It's not fun anymore.

    The fun is now on the 2nd half marathon which for the first time sold out early. Could have ran 2 minutes faster but like to have consistent split times.

  5. Art, You rock and way to go. Big congrats and a well done. I e-mailed you but had to try out my posting thing in your blog site. Thanks again for helping out start my blog. Much obliged. Old man Joe in NJ.

  6. @Joe ___ Thanks Lakay. I like to run with the 70 plus Boys, someday.