Does anybody use a Heart Rate Monitor

When I started out running a few months ago, I decided to buy a HRM - got one quite cheaply at a local electronics shop sale for $25 ( this model usually around $50) . There are all kinds and this was about the cheapest of them all -- but it seems to work OK and does most of what I want. I have compared it's result against an Android phone App that measures heart rate and the results seem accurate (as in they both give the same result).

I initially got it because I am very conscious of my age and I wanted to make sure that I didn't blow a gasket!! :) But after using it for quite some time, I got confident that I wasn't overdoing it and started to leave it at home. However, as I have now started this programme - and also very aware that it will ultimately require me to run non-stop for 30 minutes, I have realised that I have become a bit too cocky and have been running too fast. So, I have gone back to the HRM to force myself to run inside the appropriate easy running zone. This has been hard - because my current cardio fitness is such that it is difficult to run slowly enough to keep the HR down to the correct number . But I have managed it and I am now thinking that I will also use it to slowly advance my HR during each week - with say a 5 BPM increase each of the 3 days of the week - and then run a 5K at Parkrun without it on Saturday at whatever HR/breathe rate that I feel capable of.

Interested to hear of other's use of these devices.

12 Replies

  • To be honest, I found the default 'max heart rate' on my Garmin HRM to be waaaay too low. I believe they calculate it using the 'one size fits all' formula, which really doesn't fit all at all, so if you're using some default formula it might just be that the default is too low for you.

    Your 'easy' heart rate might just be higher than average like mine. I run at around 185bpm currently and I'm not about to keel over. It's not exactly easy but it's attainable for me and I don't gasp for breath or get stitch or anything.

    Perhaps if you are concerned about your heart because of your age, you could visit a doctor just to get a check over?

  • No -- I don't have any concerns now at all. And I understand what you say about "what exactly is anyone's max heart rate".

    But they can still be used usefully as simply a "what is my HR right now- and how do I feel" machine :) The point is that there are expert trainers who say that ALWAYS running at HIGH HRs (even for elite runners ) is not good - and long slow running is needed by all. They also say that when you use HRMs to do long slow runs , that "you need to leave your ego at the door" and do it even though it feels awkward and unnatural.

  • Hm, that's not what I was saying. How are you calculating your max heart rate? Have you had it assessed? If you haven't and you are just using the default settings of your HRM it could be out of whack with your actual max heart rate. Not sure who 'they' are, but you shouldn't have to be forcing yourself to go so slow you find it hard to go that slow, unless there's a medical reason to do so, that

    seems like very silly advice.

    Just to reiterate what I mean - according to Garmin default settings I'm running at 99% of my max HR when I run at 185bpm, but in reality I am running at about 70% of my max HR as my max is just naturally higher than average - it's no less healthy. I've made it to week 7 (25mins running constantly) with no problems getting through my runs. We're all different and HRMs shouldn't be the be-all and end-all for directing your running.

  • Well, firstly my HRM doesn't have any default settings - and as I said , I understand completely what you are saying about Max HR . The only real way to get it is to be tested -- but there are a number of well know formulas out there that can be averaged and which (apparently) are reasonably accurate.

    A HRM is really only just a tool - and tools can be used in different ways.

    As for your thoughts on long slow running - do some research on Dr Phil Maffetone eg

  • I've got a heart rate monitor on my garmin , I haven't used it yet because I'm not very good with this kind of thing . I don't know what my heart rate should be oranything . But when I run I just run to what felt comfortable to me & was doing 5k in roughly 34 mins . I have been out of action 9 wk ( injury ) not heart attack lol .& was wondering if I should use it . I'm starting back from wk 1 & I'm 56 in April . Any advice greatly appreciated .

  • Rockette

    As Scarlet said above - we can't really use HRM's in an absolute way - unless we know exactly what our maximum heart rate is.

    But as I said - it is a tool and tools can be used in different ways. In my case, I know that I have been running too fast - I can feel it. But I can't really quantify it - and also, during a run on the roads, my HR goes up and down depending on all sorts of things (like hills) -- so my HRM allows me to "see" what is happening in a more exact way rather than just my general "feelings". This allows me to adjust my efforts to keep them in the range that I have determined that I want.

    In many respects, this is not so important for 5K's - and not so important for people with a good cardio base. We can actually all run a 5K completely anaerobically -- that is what the 18 minute runners are doing . But to get there or anywhere near it, we need to firstly develop our aerobic base and this is what I am using a HRM to do. But I also have a longer term goal to run further than 5 Ks - and for that a good aerobic base is really important to have.

  • Ok I haven't any ambition to enter any marathons so I should be fine . Thanks for your reply .

  • Interesting thread. Technology is used extensively for the elite athletes to assist them in their training. I would not want it to dictate my running though. It would be 'nice' to know what my heart rate was but only as a personal fun guide as i enjoy stats. Whenever i have used the equipment at the gym it is constantly telling me my heart rate is too high which only inspires me to push it harder. I can't actually remember but i'm fairly sure i've recorded heart rates of over 200. Normally at rest i have an extremely probably abnormal low heart rate of below 60 so i'm not sure whether the machines are telling me i should be dead. Provided your body does not go into full distress mode i think you can over complicate things. As you have raised the issue, for my own interest i will ask the elite park runners if they use their heart rate monitors to assist their training. I am also in my 60's so i suppose i ought to take more notice of my heart rate but i just enjoy the physical exertion.

  • Interesting thread. I've not used heart rate as a training tool yet, simply because I've not calculated my MHR. This article in Runners World suggests the age-based formulae are not very accurate. They suggest doing two 3 minutes sprints to find your MHR as here:

  • I've been doing my runs on a treadmill and checking my HR on it regularly. I'm not sure what is a good or bad rate (I've tried the calculations but still unsure) but it has been very interesting to see my HR not going so high as quickly and coming down faster, which I assume is my fitness improving and body getting used to the exercise. I'm currently on w5r2 but on an enforced 2 week rest - very frustrating!

  • I have just started interval training based on y heart rate as I want to lower my heart rate over time as I run faster . Having worked out my max HR, I am just started a programme where I do 30 second sprints, followed by 2.5 mins of 'steady' running, keep my HR between 70-80% of my HR. Similar principal to the C2k walk/run really. It is true that the steady pace feels really slow, but I will persist for a while. After only a few sessions, I think I can see my HR recovery improving already.

  • Heart rate monitor, no. Defilbrilator, always.

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