Using a heart rate monitor for running
Tips on using a heart rate monitor for running for the greatest health benefitsOne of the many wonderful things about running is you only need a pair of good sneakers to get started - and some people say not even that. Heart monitors arenít necessary, but they are a useful tool when youíre ready to take your training to the next level. They prevent over-training, under-training and help you to pace yourself during races.
Using a heart rate monitor for running allows you to measure the intensity of your run. Being able to monitor the numbers gives you more control of each workout in the context of a training plan to ensure you train properly. Whether youíre preparing for your first 5k or preparing for a marathon, varying the intensity is an effective way to avoid injury and burnout.
Get to know your heart rate
Wear the monitor on runs, when youíre running errands and hanging out at home. Pay attention to how the rate fluctuates with different activities, high fast it elevates and how long it takes to decline. Understanding how the numbers correlate to the way you feel is important in determining how much intensity you can safely and comfortably handle right now.
Note that everyone is different. A number of running books, blogs and magazines include the heart rate numbers for elite athletes or mention training in certain "zones". New runners tend to make the mistake of setting their own boundaries based on someone elseís threshold. This often leads to pushing too hard, too fast or not challenging yourself enough and neither scenario is in your best interest as a runner.
Using a heart rate monitor for running means training wonít be a guessing game. Follow these steps in order to train safely and race at the best pace you can. Your age, fitness level, size and gender will all affect your heart rate, not to mention any medications you take and the altitude you run at.
Women tend to have higher heart rates than men because their hearts are smaller. Unfit people have faster heart rates, but this will improve with exercise.
In order to use a monitor properly, you need to first get an accurate reading of your lactate threshold. This is basically the highest intensity you can run at without unbearable discomfort. You'll find it easier to retain full control of your breath at any intensity below this threshold.
Measure your lactate threshold by either going to a sports medicine facility or taking the DIY route. Runnerís World outlines an odd, but effective way to find your limit and determine which zone you should train in.
Consider the lactate threshold your red line. This is the point where your body shifts from using a lot of oxygen to dipping into glycogen to sustain the high intensity. Mentally, this is when you start wondering how much longer until its break time.
Many training plans will lay out distances to run each day and when to rest. Itís up to you to determine your pace based on your race goals and current fitness levels. Stay below the lactate threshold on easy and moderate training days, and for longer distances. Go just above the red line during speed and interval workouts, but be sure to drop below it during rests.
It may seem difficult to imagine now, but gradually youíll be tuned into your body and able to sense how close you are to the red line without constantly glancing at the monitor. As your fitness improves, this threshold will shift and youíll be able to fine-tune your training. This is when youíll get faster in running and may even set a new personal record (PR) at your next race.
Try it! Using a heart rate monitor for running is a great way to break up the routine and engage your mind in this activity your pour your heart into.