Why You Should Use A Heart Rate Monitor on Your Run

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We all want to improve. We turn to friends, coaches, the internet all for information on how we can increase our speed and milage, train for a race, and avoid injury. But has anyone told you to wear a heart rate monitor while you run? You may not think much of it but for some people this could be a huge benefit especially if you are someone who tries to go on an “easy” run and ends up winded and realizing your pace was no where near “easy.”

So what are the benefits to using a heart rate monitor? Using one can help runners not run too fast too often. You will also understand what zone you are in when you are working out and completing certain runs. Plus, with all the smart watches out on the market today, keeping track of your heart rate can tell you what your VO2 Max is and help predict race times.

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Zone 1- moderate activity (basic warm-up/recovery)

Zone 2- weight control (fat burn)

Zone 3- aerobic training (endurance)

Zone 4- anaerobic training (increases maximum performance capacity-speed)

Zone 5- maximum effort (develops speed)

When you are training and working on your long run and endurance your heart rate should be in zones 2-3. You are at a comfortable pace, easy breathing, the load on your muscles is low, and you will have light fatigue.

If you are working on your speed, improving VO2 max intake, working on building more strength in your legs, you will want your heart rate to fall into zones 4-5 with a recovery phase in zone 1. You will build up lactic acid in these zones due to NOT using oxygen but that’s okay since you are working on fatiguing your muscles.

It will take your heart rate monitor a few runs to better know your correct resting, target and max heart rates. You could use the equation to help find your max heart rate (220-age) but research has suggested using the equation may prove to be inaccurate for most people.

I recently got a Garmin Forerunner 230 that came with a heart rate monitor. I have used one in the past but not consistently. It has been interesting to see where my heart rate is at and I am someone who has to learn to slow down on easy runs, and the heart rate monitor has proved helpful with that!

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10 comments

  1. Great post! I’ve got a monitor tucked in a drawer so will get it out now and start using it. Though I’m sure I read somewhere that people using gadgets were prone to overindulge afterwards as they tend to over reward themselves!

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    • Thanks! I’ve read articles on that as well. Everything should be taken into account and done in moderation. You shouldn’t rely solely on just your HR monitor. You should go for runs without it also. But we over indulge even without using a gadget. Just because our heart rate was in the fat burning zone or you ran 6+ miles doesn’t mean you should stuff your face with cookies and fries and everything that’s bad but delicious. Even though I’m guilty of doing this one in a while!

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  2. Great post. I love heart rate training and am in all honesty a bit obsessive about it. In my opinion everybody should use a HRM when training. The specificity is great and you are so right when you talk about going for an easy run and it ending up much more than easy. Using a HRM can relsove the problem of over training on a session so long as you stay disciplined with it. The only problem I see with HR training is that people don’t like it because at times you have to run slower than you want and HR training gives us a bit of a reality check on how fit we actually are rather than how fit we think we are! HRM is a fantastic tool, far too underated in my opinion. Thanks again for the post and sharing the HRM love 🙂

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    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! I agree some of us get a reality check when using it and even though it may put a damper on how fit we believe ourselves it be it does help put a perspective on our training and where improvement could be made! Thanks for reading and commenting!!

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  3. I love my heart rate monitor. I really like to use it to track the residual fatigue that can build during. Straining cycle . My resting heart rate will be higher and my easy runs will typically move up into the next tier no matter how slow I go. This is a great indication that my body is needing an additionally rest day. Without my heart rate monitor. I may miss the subtle hints. Great post!

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