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Train Properly With a Heart Rate Monitor

Posted on March 3, 2022 by Cecil Rivas

Using a Heart Rate Monitor takes the guesswork from your runs. A heart rate monitor not only provides you permission to run slower but also lets you know when you aren't running hard enough.

Runners - it is time to reevaluate that old belief"training faster is better", eliminate the guilt as soon as your training run wasn't quite as fast as what you'd have enjoyed. What we now know is that to achieve your running goals you need to train at the proper intensity. To enable us to train at the appropriate intensity, we will need to understand what our heart rate is and stick to a proper training plan with a mixture of speed or interval workouts, tempo runs, recovery runs and more runs all done in your target heart rate zone. How can we know what our target heartrate zone is? Well since it's directly linked to a maximum heart rate, first, we will need to take a look at discovering your maximum heart rate.

The first, most crucial part of the puzzle, is locating your maximum heart rate. There are many schools of thought with this one and probably the one that we hear about most which has been around for years is:

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) = 220 - "your age" (for a 40 year old this would be 220 - 40 = 180, making 180 beats per minute your MHR)

However, Runner's World has developed a more reliable method, which appears to be more precise for many runners. It is:

For runners under 40: MHR = 208 - (.7 x your age)

For runners 40 and over MHR = 205 - (.5 x your age)

You may also use the field test that's possibly the most accurate indication of your MHR. Wearing a heart monitor, and making certain you are well hydrated, first do a proper warm up run. Then at a track or a rather steep hill run hard for 2-3 minutes. Repeat this two more times trying to push yourself harder every time. On the third and last repeat, push yourself as you're going for the gold. Immediately following the last repeat, check your pulse and this amount should be a great sign of your maximum heart rate.

With this information, now you can figure out what your target heart rate should be for your workout. The heart rate zones that you need to operate in will be determined by the level of the workout that you're attempting to attain. Familiar workouts and their target zones are:

Retrieval, Long or Easy Runs... 65%-75%

Tempo runs... 87%-92%

Interval Repeats (shorter bursts of speed throughout your run). .95%-100%

These are percentages of your MHR. You might also assemble different target zones based on the workout that you're trying to attain.

A measurable benefit of training with a heart rate monitor is the ability to track your progress. If you regularly run a 9 minute mile with a mean speed of 145 beats per minute, as you enhance your heartrate will lower for the exact same 9 minute mile. So rather than training at a speed of 9 minutes per mile, instead you train in an average of 145 beats per minute. You will then always be working your aerobic ability and will finally be coaching at a quicker pace then a 9 minute mile

Another helpful piece of information your heart monitor can provide is the Resting Heart Rate (RHR). This is far easier to work out than your MHR. All you will need to do is be sure to leave your heart screen on your night stand before going to bed and first thing in the morning, without going around too much, put it on and alas you have your RHR. Do this for a week or so to get a great indication of your true RHR. As you track your RHR, you will most likely see days your heart beat is greater than usual. This may be a result of several things, among which is over-training. This is useful information because then you'd know to back off your workout and have a rest day or workout on your recovery zone rather than doing periods or pushing yourself too hard. This also quantifies why some days you feel more tired than others - tech does not lie (usually).

For the ones that are new to heart monitors, it's a fantastic idea to have an observation period, in which you just wear your track in your runs and evaluate the way you feel in contrast to what speed your heart is beating at, also considering what your RHR was that morning. If you're training, you will quickly have the ability to recognize the improvements. Focus on your body, set realistic objectives and heart rate monitors can be the best asset to any athletes training program.