A running exhaustion experiment was used to explore the correlations between the time-frequency domain indexes extracted from the surface electromyography (EMG) signals of targeted muscles, heart rate and exercise intensity, and subjective fatigue. The study made further inquiry into the feasibility of reflecting and evaluating the exercise intensity and fatigue effectively during running using physiological indexes, thus providing individualized guidance for running fitness. Twelve healthy men participated in a running exhaustion experiment with an incremental and constant load. The percentage of heart rate reserve (%HRR), mean power frequency (MPF) and root mean square (RMS) from surface EMG (sEMG) signals of the rectus femoris (RF), biceps femoris (BF), tibialis anterior muscle (TA), and the lateral head of gastrocnemius (GAL) were obtained in real-time. The data were processed and analyzed with the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scale. The experimental results show that the MPF on all the muscles increased with time, but there was no significant correlation between MPF and RPE in both experiments. Additionally, there was no significant correlation between RMS and RPE of GAL and BF, but there was a negative correlation between RMS and RPE of RF. The correlation coefficient was lower in the constant load mode, with the value of only −0.301. The correlation between RMS and RPE of TA was opposite in both experiments. There was a significant linear correlation between %HRR and exercise intensity (r = 0.943). In the experiment, %HRR was significantly correlated with subjective exercise fatigue (r = 0.954). Based on the above results, the MPF and RMS indicators on the four targeted muscles could not conclusively identify fatigue of lower extremities during running. The %HRR could be used to identify exercise intensity and human fatigue during running and could be used as an indicator of recognizing fatigue and exercise intensity in runners.
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